Predicting the Oscars? Rhymes with "Pitch."

3/05/2010 Posted by Admin

Academy Award Predictations 2010

Rhymes with "Pitch"

by Christopher Smith

When it comes to predicting the Academy Awards, which air Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC, William Goldman said it best--nobody knows anything--which is a good reason why most of Congress will feel right at home watching the show.

Sure, it's a bitch predicting the unpredictable, but in the spirit of the season, it's time to go for it, throw knives into the wind and fearlessly predict who will win--even if it means cutting my own throat in the process.

So be it. I’m on a horse.

Hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this year’s event promises more tension than catching Angelina Jolie lurking around a playground with a duffel bag in hand. Or teens struggling to make it in a world where glittering vampires don’t exist. Or Tiger Woods signing balls and making fun of his last name in “therapy.”

I’m telling you, the tension is palpable.

Several key races are proving difficult to call, particularly since the Best Picture category has been expanded from five to 10 films because, you know, Hollywood likes what the Academy has to offer--its stamp of approval.

Beyond that, who knew that in the Best Actress race, Meryl Streep would be staring down Sandra Bullock, of all people, and that Bullock would be staring back just as hard--only with a knife clenched in her teeth? Or that in the Best Director race, Kathryn Bigelow would be going head-to-head against her ex-husband, James Cameron? Or that Pixar, for the first time in years, is seriously threatened by another film. While their movie “Up” is favored to win, nobody could have conceived that Wes Anderson would come out of nowhere with “Fantastic Mr. Fox” to provide them with their stiffest competition yet.

But there you have it. It’s a bizarre year, to say the least, but what year isn’t bizarre when Joe Jackson is still kicking it? And so, without further ado, here’s my list of the predicted winners:

For Best Picture, the nominees are the Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker,” the groundbreaking “Avatar,” the beautifully complex “Inglourious Basterds,” as well as “Up in the Air,” “Precious,” a nice surprise in “District 9,” “A Serious Man,” “An Education,” “The Blind Side” and another surprise in “Up.”

While the nominees have been expanded, the race comes down to three. Who’s going to win? Take your pick. With the Weinsteins publicly swearing they will push “Inglourious Basterds” through to a win, nobody should bet against them--they’ve done it before and the movie, by the way, is deserving. But by the same token, nobody should underestimate how much voters can be turned off if they are pushed too hard--by the Weinsteins or especially by Nicolas Chartier, the producer of “The Hurt Locker” who sent out emails asking voters to vote for his film and thus breaking Academy rules and being banned from the night’s events as a result.

If there is an elephant in the room, it’s the $2.5 billion “Avatar” has made worldwide. Some will say that’s a large enough award, but this is Hollywood, where no award or ego is too large. It’s also difficult to discount just how fabulous the movie looked, which is why it’s more likely to win for Best Art Direction than for Best Picture. So, the movie that has the best chance to win? In spite of everything, and that fact that I think “Inglourious Basterds should win, it’s “The Hurt Locker” for the win.

In the race for Best Actor, the nominees are Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart,” Colin Firth for “A Single Man,” George Clooney for “Up in the Air,” Jeremy Renner for “The Hurt Locker” and Morgan Freeman for “Invictus.” This one isn’t even close. Look for Bridges to take it for his terrific performance in “Crazy Heart,” a career highlight in a career that deserves recognition in the form of a golden exclamation point.

The award for Best Actress features one of the more unlikely events in years, and everything you’ve heard is true. Sandra Bullock’s work for “The Blind Side” is going to be enough for a win. She’s not only going to trump Carey Mulligan for “An Education,” the wonderful Gabby Sidibe for “Precious” and Helen Mirren for “The Last Station,” but also--bang a drum, please--the great Meryl Streep for “Julie & Julia.” Is Bullock deserving? Not for me, but she did have her best box office year ever, her performance was very good, she’s likable, and Hollywood, in turn, sometimes likes to share the love. Expect her to win. That said, I’m hoping for Streep or Sidibe.

As for Best Supporting Actor, Woody Harrelson stepped up his game in a major way in the underseen “The Messenger,” but this year will find him and Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”), Matt Damon (“Invictus”) and Christopher Plummer (“The Last Station”) all losing to the year’s best supporting performance. That belongs to Christoph Waltz’s fiercely memorable turn as “the Jew hunter” in “Inglourious Basterds.” Anyone who saw the movie knows why he should win, and likely will be cheering when he wins.

In the Best Supporting Actress category, Mo’Nique will win for her fearless, unrelenting performance in “Precious” over Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”), Vera Farmiga ( Up in the Air”), Penelope Cruze (“Nine”) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Crazy Heart”). If anyone could offer an upset, it’s Farmiga, whose sophistication and seamlessness linger. But if that does happen, it will be one hell of an upset, which is sort of fitting. When it comes to upsets, they almost always occur in this category.

One of the night’s great delights will be the award for Best Director: In Hollywood, which likes to think of itself as liberal (it’s not), there still are barriers to smash through, such as a female winning this very award. If you don’t know your Academy history, no female director ever has won in this category, which is unthinkable but true. That said, this will end when Kathryn Bigelow wins for “The Hurt Locker.” In doing so, she will trump her ex-husband James Cameron for “Avatar,” Quentin Tarantino for “Inglourious Basterds,” Jason Reitman for “Up in the Air” and Lee Daniels for “Precious.” Each director gave us five gifts, but what Bigelow pulled off in “Locker” is something so raw, insightful and powerful, she must win.

Rounding out the evening is the race for Best Foreign Language Film, and here is where the going gets tense. Among the nominees, which include Israel’s “Ajami” and Peru’s “The Milk of Sorrow,” the race is between three movies--Argentina’s beautifully realized “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” France’s mob film “Un Prophete” and Germany’s unshakable movie, “The White Ribbon.” While I’ll toss back a martini if either film wins--each is a must-see on DVD--I’m going against convention and choosing “The White Ribbon” for the gold even though “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” might take it.

Meanwhile, there’s Best Animated Picture, with Pixar’s “Up" up against “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Coraline,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Secret of Kells.” Look for “Up” to win, though I’d prefer it if “Fox” or “Coraline” ran away with the award.

In the writing categories, Best Adapted Screenplay will go to Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for “Up in the Air,” while Quentin Tarantino will win Best Original Screenplay for his superb work on “Inglourious Basterds,” thus narrowly besting the favorite, Mark Boal, for “The Hurt Locker.” Best Documentary Feature will go to “The Cove,” Best Song will go to “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart,” Best Original Score will go to Michael Giaccino for “Up,” Best Art Direction will go to “Avatar,” and Best Editing will go to Chris Innis and Bob Murawski for their terrific work in “The Hurt Locker.”

So, is any of this correct? Some of it is, some of it isn’t, but let’s at least hope for upsets--they give the night an electrical jolt and make the proceedings interesting. “Inglourioust Basterds” might just win for Best Picture. After being snubbed for 28 years, Streep deserves some overdue recognition for her performance in “Julie & Julia.” Cameron has the highest-grossing movie of all time, so nobody should rule out “Avatar” for Best Picture. Beyond its billions, his movie features technology that will forever change movies--and make Hollywood even more bank because of it.

What’s clear is this: When it comes to predicting the Academy Awards, remember, nobody knows anything (I likely just proved that), which is why it's good to have an Academy Awards party, which I am--in a big way. Celebrating your triumphs and drowning your sorrows with a house filled with good friends can almost be as entertaining as the show itself.

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