Sunday, March 07, 2010

You thought Superbowl Sunday was in February? Really?

I'm BACK. After sleeping through the Oscars last year in a hotel bed in London, I am so glad to be back on American soil gearing up for the big night.

That said, I am an somewhat unhappy Yank. After last year's totally predictable set of winners, I'm sad to say that this year isn't shaping up to be much better. No less than 3 out of the 4 Acting categories are sure things, and I wouldn't be surprised to find myself 6 for 6 in the major categories. I realize that, if a film/nominee deserves the award, then it doesn't matter if it makes the show predictable. That said, I like it a little better when there's more variety.

Best Picture
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up in the Air
Predicted winner: The Hurt Locker
If I was voting: Avatar
Possible upsets: Avatar

Analysis: 10 nominees means that the field is spread for a greater chance of an upset, right? Not even close. This race is between 2 films, folks. From a personal standpoint, while I admired The Hurt Locker, in the end, it seemed to me to be a really well-made war film, but nothing that terribly revolutionary or groundbreaking. On the other hand, Avatar was an accomplishment the likes of which I've never seen before. After its victory at the Golden Globes, I think Avatar seemed like a much stronger contender than it does now. The Hurt Locker has picked up a lot of momentum with major victories at the Producer's Guild Awards and BAFTA's. All of the signs right now point to a victory for The Hurt Locker, but Avatar is definitely lurking on the horizon.

Best Director
  • James Cameron - Avatar
  • Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
  • Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
  • Lee Daniels - Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • Jason Reitman - Up in the Air
Predicted winner: Kathryn Bigelow
If I was voting: James Cameron
Possible upsets: James Cameron

Analysis: Imagine this. The only two nominees with a chance in this category used to be married. Who would have thought we'd see that? Kathryn Bigelow has all the momentum right now, and, most importantly, the Director's Guild Award. Sadly, gender is playing a big role in this race, when it shouldn't even be an issue. The Academy has only nominated 4 women for this award in its history, with none of them walking off with Oscar. The pressure is on the Academy right now to change that. That said, I still believe that James Cameron's achievement is much more significant than Bigelow's, despite the fact that she definitely deserves her nomination.

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
Predicted winner: Jeff Bridges
If I was voting: Jeff Bridges
Possible upsets: None.

Analysis: Jeff Bridges has won almost every major award leading up to Oscar night, and I think that tonight will be no different. There are some strong performances in this category, but I don't see anyone beating The Dude.

Best Actress

  • Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren - The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan - An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe - Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia

Predicted winner: Sandra Bullock
If I was voting: Carey Mulligan
Possible upsets: Meryl Streep

Analyis: If you would have told me last year that Sandra Bullock would be the favorite to win any major Best Actress award, I would have thought you were nuts. I don't think she's really got a ton of range to work with. That said, I think she's clearly the front-runner here. Ordinarily, I'm a big Streep fan, but don't think her performance as Julia Child is nearly as good as it's getting credit for. There were a number of times that I felt that it drifted into caricature, which is certainly not what she was going for. One question: what happend to Abbie Cornish? How did her work in Bright Star manage to fall off the Oscar map?

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Matt Damon - Invictus
  • Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
  • Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
  • Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
  • Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Predicted winner: Christoph Waltz
If I was voting: Christoph Waltz
Possible upsets: None.

Analysis: This category is closed. No one else stands a chance. In a year defined by sure things, this is the surest of them all.

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: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Predicted winner: Mo'Nique
If I was voting: Vera Farmiga
Possible upsets: None

Analysis: Mo'Nique is the heavy favorite here, and has won nearly every major award of the season. Personally, I absolutely loved Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air. Her presence in the film was effortless nuanced and confident in its maturity. That said, she has no chance here, as any opportunity that she might have had is undercut by the nomination of co-star Anna Kendrick, who is the winner of my own award for Least Deserving Nominee. I have no idea what people saw in this performance. Oh well. Congrats, Mo'Nique.

In closing, here are a few more picks for you. Quentin Tarantino/Inglourious Basterds for Best Original Screenplay. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner/Up in the Air for Best Adapted Screenplay. The White Ribbon for Best Foreign Language Film, with a possible upset coming from A Prophet. Up for Best Animated Film. "The Weary Kind" for Best Original Song

Here's hoping that Steve Martin (one of my favorite Oscar hosts) and Alec Baldwin ROCK the HOUSE.

Enjoy the show.