No real shockers there. I hated Precious, but I would have been stunned if it hadn’t made the list. It’s the sort of “liberal guilt” movie like Crash that Oscar voters love. Of the remaining nominees (The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, and Up) the big surprises are District 9 and The Blind Side. I liked District 9, but it’s way too flawed to warrant inclusion. If the academy wanted to recognize a sci-fi flick, I would have much rather seen Moon get the nod. I haven’t seen The Blind Side, but man does the trailer look awful. Other movies more deserving of making the cut than The Blind Side or District 9: In The Loop, The Road, Sin Nombre, and Goodbye Solo. All were excellent movies that fit well within the parameters of what Oscar voters usually go for. Clint Eastwood’s Invictus is also conspicuous by its absence. I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s Clint and it’s the kind of movie that tends to get best picture nominations. But hey, the dude’s got more than a few statues, so I’m not gonna’ feel too sorry for him.
For the most part, the nominations in all the categories are about what I would have expected. The only real glaring omission I can think of is Melanie Laurent not getting nominated in the “Best Actress in a Leading Role” category for Inglourious Basterds. My guess is the ensemble nature of the film’s cast made it hard for some voters to decide if it was a lead performance or a supporting performance, but since her character is the glue that holds the movie together I’d have to say lead. I also have to mention the one nomination that really struck me as ridiculous: Anna Kendrick in the “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” category for Up in the Air. For playing a one-dimensional comic relief character we’ve seen in a million other movies, she gets an Oscar nomination? Please. Much more deserving would have been Sari Lennick for A Serious Man or Gina McKee for In the Loop.
Okay, on to my Oscar predictions. I think this is going to be one of those years where no one movie walks away the big winner. Avatar will probably wind up with the most statues at the end of the night thanks to a lot of technical awards, but I think all the big nominees will each get their piece of the pie in the major categories.
Best Picture – This one is between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, and my gut tells me it’s going to Avatar. It’s not the best movie of the year by a long shot, but it broke new ground technically, made a shit-load of money, and was better than it had to be while doing it. I’d love to see The Hurt Locker win, but it probably isn’t going to happen.
Best Director – Again, it’s between James Cameron for Avatar and his ex-wife Katherine Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. And again, while I’d love to see The Hurt Locker take it, I think it’s going to go to Avatar.
Best Actor – Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, although in true Oscar tradition this will really be for his excellent past work as much as it is for the film he’s nominated for. I’ll be okay with that, but my pick would be Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker.
Best Actress – This one is a tough call, especially since I haven’t seen most of the performances in question. I’m gonna’ throw a “hail Mary” on gut instinct alone and say Sandra Bullock. No preferred winner since, as I mentioned, I haven’t seen most of the nominees. But as much as I didn't like the movie, Gaboury Sibide was excellent playing the title role in Precious, so if she wins I'd be a lot happier than if Bullock does.
Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. If you’ve seen the movie, you know why. He’s my preferred choice as well, although Woody Harrelson winning for The Messenger would be okay in my book, too. The guy had a great comeback year in 2009 with this on one end of the spectrum and Zombieland and 2012 on the other.
Best Supporting Actress – Monique for Precious. She’ll deserve it, too, as she really went to the limit in portraying the mother from Hell. That said, I’d like to see Vera Farmiga win. She was absolutely perfect in Up in the Air.
Best Original Screenplay – This is either going to The Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds. I think this will be the consolation prize for The Hurt Locker. If Basterds does win, then it means I was probably wrong about the “Best Director” category and Bigelow will get that one as her consolation.
Best Adapted Screenplay – I think this one will go to Up in the Air. Precious has a real chance, though. My pick would be In the Loop, but that ain’t gonna’ happen.
Best Animated Film – Up. It’s commercial, it’s good, it’s Pixar. This is probably the one pick I’m most certain of. That said, I’d be happy to be proven wrong and see The Fantastic Mr. Fox get it instead.
Best Documentary – I haven’t seen most of these, but this category tends to reward socially relevant movies about topics of current interest. With that in mind, I think it’s going to be Food, Inc. That just happens to be the one documentary on the list I’ve actually seen, and I liked it, so I’d be happy with that outcome.
And that’s as far down the list as I’m going to go, folks. The awards ceremony airs