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Oscar: Who WILL and Who SHOULD Win

February 2, 2010


It’s that time of year again.  This year, the Oscar race heats up with twice as many nominees.   As I suspected, it really all boils down to five horses who are legitimately in the race.  Here are my thoughts and predictions.


All hail the King


Gloriously re-inventing history

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9

An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
This race can be narrowed down to a final four:  Avatar, Inglorious Basterds, Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker.  These are the only players who have a legitimate chance.  
Who WILL win:  It’s a tie:  Avatar has got the goods, and it is a game-changing film, one whose innovation in FX and filmmaking may trump its weak overall screenplay and obvious diatribes.    If voters don’t drink James Cameron’s Kool Aid, the other winner may turn out to be Up in the Air – a critic’s darling with that rare combination of sterling performances and a stellar screenplay.  Plus, Oscar loves a dark horse, and young director Reitman has been turning out consistently winning work on his past three films. 
Who SHOULD win:  Inglourious Basterds.   Quentin Tarantino’s polarizing film may scare off Oscar’s old guard, but Basterds was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a decade. It is a vibrant burst of energy in a category filled with status quo contenders.    If it doesn’t win the big prize, its superb editing richly deserves to win its category, and Christoph Waltz is a shoe-in for supporting actor. 

and the Lifetime Achievement award goes to...

 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

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Jeff Bridges. He’s got it sewn up – he’s swept all the major awards this season, and he’s the type of actor Oscar loves to award – a late bloomer who has been consistent for decades, but never had that one role to showcase their overall talent – until now.  Speaking of Jeff Bridges – rent The Fabulous Baker Boys and see what I’m talking about.



Academy voters need "An Education"...

 Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Who WILL win:  Sandra Bullock.  She’s another actress who has been a consistent box office winner, and Oscar loves a mainstream actress who throws herself into a biographical role  (see Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts).

Who SHOULD win:  Carey Mulligan.  Imagine Kiera Knightley, only charming and with talent.  Talk about a star in the making.  She was a scene-stealer in Pride and Prejudice, and is soon to be seen in Wall Street 2.  Until Sandra Bullock stole her thunder, she had a decent shot.  Alas, no more.


Waltzing away with a win (I couldn't resist)

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Cristoph Waltz.  The opening scene of this film is one of the most memorable and tense in all of film history.  Waltz will walk away with Basterds only major award.


Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious

Who WILL win:  Mo’Nique.  Her Golden Globes acceptance speech was, well, pure gold.  She’s a classic supporting actress winner:  chewing scenery all the way to the podium.

Who SHOULD win: Vera Farmiga or Anna Kendrick.  Even George Clooney needs back up.  Farmiga was a stunner in The Departed, and Maggie Gyllenhall is sure to snag an Oscar one of these days for her consistently moving performances, but this is not her year.


The ultimate revenge on a ex spouse? Steal his Oscar right out from under him...

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

Who WILL win:  James Cameron.  When you only make a movie once every decade (in this case, 12 years) it had better be incredible.  Cameron’s films are flawed – they are FX spectacles, designed to shock and awe.  He attracts fine actors (Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ed Harris) but doesn’t give them the screenplays they often deserve.  Still, this is the category I wouldn’t mind him walking away with.  Avatar is a game-changer of a film, and this award should go to the director who is the most innovative or the most influential.  OR – it should go to the director who has directed the best film.  See below…

Who SHOULD win:  Kathryn Bigelow.  She trained under her ex-husband, who happens to be…James Cameron, making this year’s race the most interesting  in years.  It’s down to these two sci-fi/action vets at the height of their careers.  I must admit, it would be supremely satisfying for a female director to FINALLY walk away with the big prize, and deservedly so.  Until The Hurt Locker, Bigelow’s work has been largely overshadowed by her male cohorts, but her films  Strange Days, Point Break and Blue Steel are all undervalued. 


Let's face it; if you didn't enjoy Up, you are a heartless shell of a human being.

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

 Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Docter, Peterson and McCarthy for Up – Pixar’s most moving and genuinely touching film since Toy Story. 


District 9 - what the Avatar screenplay SHOULD have been...

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Who WILL win:  Reitman and Turner for Up in the Air, a charming comedy which will earn more Oscar love than any other comedy in the past decade.

Who SHOULD win: Blomkamp and Tatchell – District 9.  These showed others (ahem…James Cameron) how allegory can be done WELL in the context of science fiction.  District 9’s powerful faux documentary style was an in-your-face thrill ride, but it wouldn’t have packed a sucker punch without its meaningful screenplay and dimensional characters. 


Up will float away with the Oscar

Best Animated Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Up.  Period.  Unless…Fantastic Mr. Fox has a rabid fan base and it may sneak in for a final fight.  Keep your eyes and ears to the foxhole and see what happens… 


Pandora - everyone's favorite CGI vacation spot

Best Art Direction
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Who WILL and SHOULD win: Avatar.  Expect Cameron’s epic to sweep the technical categories.  All of the nominations are well-deserved.  What Cameron didn’t put into the screenplay he put into the creation of the world of Pandora. 

Best Cinematography
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Avatar.  See above. 


Try not to trip over your hoop skirts, Your Majesty.

Best Costume Design
Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Who WILL win:  The Young Victoria. This category traditionally favors period pieces, and the more hoop skirts the better.  Bright Star’s more moving and convincingly costumed characters are middle class, and therefore the costumes are less flashy.  Expect the queen to take all on Oscar night.

Who SHOULD winBright Star. 


jarring editing = brillaint film

Best Editing
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Who WILL and SHOULD winInglourious Basterds or The Hurt Locker.  Either one’s effectiveness is truly the work of outstanding editing.  They both deserve the win, but Locker may walkt out with the gold in the end. 


So, what are you, elf?

Best Makeup
Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Star Trek.  Say hello to the film’s only big win of the night.  Thank you, Vulcan ears.

Best Score
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Up.  They’ve already got the Golden Globe to prove it. 

Best Song
“Almost There,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname,” Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner & Frank Thomas
“Take It All,” Nine, Maury Weston
“The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham

Who WILL win:  T-Bone and Bingham for “The Weary Kind”.  It will be worth it just to have Meryl change her name to T-Bone.

Who SHOULD win:  Weston for “Take It All”.  It was a ballsy, old-school musical number that was one of Nine’s few original  tunes to make a mark. 


I will crush you with the size of my estimated budget...

Best Sound Editing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Who WILL and  SHOULD win: Avatar AGAIN,  unless Star Trek can pull out another surprise with it complex battle scenes.

Best Sound Mixing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Who WILL and SHOULD win:  Star Trek….Just kidding.  It’ll totally be Avatar AGAIN.

Best Visual Effects
District 9
Star Trek

Seriously?  Do you even need to ask.  If you insist:  AVATAR!






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