Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Oscar Nominations Predictions

2010 Oscar Nominations Predictions

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now officially Oscar season. Love 'em or hate 'em, the Oscars will be the height of conversation for the next month or so, and is historically one of the highest-rated shows on television every year. It's one of my favorite times of the year because it allows me to feed my obsession endlessly.
And in that spirit, I give you my predictions for the nominations in all the major categories this year. These are based on other professional critics' predictions, various awards given out, and several top 10 lists. But, these are not copycat lists- these are my own informed predictions of what I think will- and will not- be nominated based on what I've observed. (No, I have not seen all of these movies I'm putting down. Some of them haven't even been wide-released yet.) There is also an emphasis on Best Picture (remember there's ten nominees this year) because, let's face it, that's the only award that really matters.
Last year, I didn't get any category completely correct, so this year, I have added an alternate nominee for every category in case something I pick is wrong.
After the nominations are announced, I'll do a follow-up post with the complete nominations and grading how close my predictions were. The nominations will be announced at 6:30 am Tuesday, February 2nd. The press conference should air on any channel showing the news at that time, but ABC is your best bet.

Best Picture

An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Single Man
Star Trek
Up in the Air

Alternate: It's Complicated

All right, where to start? I think the shoo-ins here are Hurt Locker, Precious, and Up in the Air. The latter also seems currently poised to win. They all have been universally applauded for their bold storylines and audience-pleasing techniques. It's hard to explain why Inglourious Basterds is so well-loved: it's a slow, talky, crude, and very violent movie from Quentin Tarantino, a guy who hasn't been nominated for any award for over a decade. But, everyone loves it (I do too), and Oscar won't ignore it. Avatar's massive box office performance and mostly-good reviews will also land it a spot, and while some think it's a front-runner, I think an epic sci-fi film will have trouble winning. Some say Invictus is also a shoo-in, but that movie seemed to me more like just another inspirational sports drama. But the presence of Clint Eastwood behind the camera and Morgan Freeman in front of it will propel it into this supersize race. The little indie films that no one has seen will be represented this year by An Education and A Single Man, as both have been universally acclaimed and have made it on many top-ten lists. With so many other good movies, these will both have trouble finding traction to be taken seriously.
Now to my two unusual nominees. Only one animated movie in history has ever been nominated for Best Picture (Beauty and the Beast, in case you were wondering), and it seems it would stay that way if it wasn't for the new policy of ten Best Picture nominees. I think another Disney film, Up, will get a shot this year, although I find it very unlikely it could win. My other dark-horse nominee is Star Trek, which you probably won't find on many critics' prediction lists. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but take a look at the facts- critics loved the film for its revival of the dead franchise, its hip style and fast-paced action, and pitch-perfect cast. It made a helluva lot of money this summer, has showed up on many top-10 lists, and was even nominated for Best Picture by the Producers Guild of America. I think that the expansion to ten nominees was made for movies like Trek, which wouldn't have a chance in hell otherwise. Plus, with this system, it's possible for this to get a Best Picture nomination without getting very many other nominations. (You may note I'm not putting it down for any other major categories, directing, writing, or acting; not to say that it's not worthy, just that it's not the type of movie the Academy nominates for those things.)
I put It's Complicated down as an alternate because it's the kind of old-fashioned, star-studded romantic comedy that Oscar likes, but it opened to mixed reviews, which will probably ultimately hold it back from this race.
Whatever the nominees are, I'm sure it'll be an exciting race, as it's already proved to be historic.

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Alternate: Clint Eastwood, Invictus

This category consists of what I consider to be the front-runners for the Best Picture race: Bigelow, Cameron, or Reitman could win at this point. Precious wouldn't be what it is without Daniels' vision, and the Academy should be prepared to give Tarantino (a winner for writing, but not for directing) another shot at this award.
I still don't think Invictus is a relevant enough movie to garner a nomination here, but the Academy may find that nominating Eastwood again to be simply irresistable.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Alternate: Viggo Mortensen, The Road

Clooney's a shoo-in here, and currently on track to win it. Freeman plays a real person (South African president Nelson Mandela), so he'll also be included. Firth, normally a good actor you just overlook, is getting the best reviews of his career. The entire film Crazy Heart seems like just one big campaign to get four-time nominee Bridges his first win, which immediately makes me skeptical, but he has the support of the all-powerful critics, and thus will be included. Renner's performance in The Hurt Locker is amazing and one of the highlights of this already-great movie, but the fact that he's an almost complete unknown- and that the movie opened in the summer- will slow him down. But the film's recent release on DVD will earn him the nomination last-minute.
The long-awaited film The Road opened to only lukewarm reviews, but critics everywhere seemed to agree that Mortensen was the best part of the whole thing. He might get a dark-horse nomination last-minute.

Best Actress

Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Alternate: Meryl Streep, It's Complicated

Mulligan and Sidibe are the shoo-ins here; I'm picturing a win for the latter. Bullock has the biggest hit and the best reviews of her career for The Blind Side, and the Academy will finally notice this talented actress- playing a real person is what will really do it, though. The Young Victoria is really structured around Blunt's performance, so it'd be a waste if she wasn't nominated. And Streep just can't stop racking up nominations. She was nominated last year, and currently holds the record for the most nominations for an actress. This year, she will break her own record with her delightful performance as Julia Child in the Julia half of the film.
Of course, Julie & Julia opened in August, and Streep's other shiny performance in It's Complicated came out just last month. The Academy is known to have a short memory, so Streep might upset herself in the nominations this year. (The rules say you can't be nominated twice in the same category.)

Best Supporting Actor

Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated
Matt Damon, Invictus
Alfred Molina, An Education
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Alternate: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

This race is difficult to predict. Waltz's scene-chewing performance in Basterds is the only sure thing, and the little-known foreign actor seems poised to get a well-deserved win. Damon plays a real person and proves his worth as an actor, and will recieve another nomination for Invictus, rounding out that film's major awards chances. Molina has lost some steam lately, but his tender performance in the little-seen indie should go along nicely with costar Carey Mulligan's sure-thing nomination. Tucci should also get nominated for his intensely creepy turn as a serial killer in The Lovely Bones, desite the film itself not getting much love. (That is, of course, unless the Academy gets confused and nominates him for his other good performance in Julie & Julia.) Baldwin's funny and brave performance in It's Complicated should provide this category with its only comedic role, which it usually does award.
The Messenger is unmistakeable Oscar bait, as is Harrelson's unsympathetic performance, but the film has lost a lot of steam lately and will probably be forgotten.

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Alternate: Samantha Morton, The Messenger

Mo'Nique and Kendrick are the best bets here; both performances elevated the movies to a new level and provided them with their most memorable scenes. I can imagine either winning at this point. (And for those of you who think Mo'Nique's arrogance in having just one name will shut her out, may I remind you that Cher has an Oscar.) Farmiga's nomination will go along nicely with Kendrick's, and she deserves it for giving a performance even sexier than George Clooney's. Moore will also get nominated for her small but memorable part in A Single Man. Poor reviews have ruined Nine's chances in most categories, but Cruz- last year's winner- should still get recognized for her steamy role as a mistress.
Again, The Messenger will probably end up getting forgotten this year, but if it isn't, Samantha Morton should also get nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay

District 9
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A Single Man
Up in the Air

Alternate: An Education

Mixed bag of stuff here, including three Best Picture nominees-to-be. I imagine a win for the hilarious Up in the Air, but an upset from the highly dramatic Precious is possible. A writing nomination for A Single Man will go well with its other nominations, while the sci-fi actioner District 9 was widely applauded for its originality. Fantastic Mr. Fox doesn't have nearly enough lift to get it in the Best Picture race, but Oscar does occasionally recognize animated films here.
The campaigns for An Education seem to be focusing mostly on its acting, not writing, and besides, the film may be too mellow even for Oscar. But, if not, it will go nicely with its other nominations.

Best Original Screenplay

(500) Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
It's Complicated

Alternate: A Serious Man

The amazingly tense script for The Hurt Locker should make it a front-runner, as will Quentin Tarantino's irresistable script for Basterds. Pixar films do tend to be nominated here, although they are always long-shots for the win. Up was one of the most original films of the year. It's Complicated was also praised for its very funny romantic comedy directed at adults, and Summer's surprisingly funny script was also something unique.
The film is losing a lot of steam, but the Coen brothers' film A Serious Man may get a last-minute nomination for writing.

Best Animated Feature

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog

Alternates: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline

The fact that it's even being considered for Best Picture should make it an easy win for Pixar's wonderful Up. The other nominees should be Fantastic Mr. Fox, loved by critics and hated by audiences for its inventive use of stop-motion, and Disney's Princess and the Frog for its revival of traditional hand-drawn animation.
There are usually three nominees here, but if there are five, they will probably be the moneymaker Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the critic's darling Coraline. The latter opened in January, so it's going to be very difficult to get nominated since the Academy always has such a short memory.

If you've made it this far, you're probably going to be up at the wee hours of the morning watching the nominations with me, so more power to ya! Once again, the nominations will be announced live during a press conference at 6:30 am (Colorado time) Tuesday, February 2nd. The Academy Awards themselves will be on Sunday, March 7th.
And, as usual, I want to see comments on this post! Chime in with your opinions and let me know what I missed. Movies are things to be celebrated, and the Oscars are a perfect opportunity to get people talking about the movies of the past year, so start talking.

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