Earlier in the new year I gave what would be my personal picks for the mainstream movie awards. If you haven't checked it out, go to my archives and see what I felt were the best movies, directors, and performances of last year.
Now, in honor of the March 7th airing of the Oscars, I thought I'd throw out my predictions on what the voters will choose. So for the prominent categories here are my thoughts on the winners to be.
First, let's take a closer look at the category Best Animated Film. I haven't seen the Princess and the Frog. I personally disliked Coraline, The Fantastic Mr Fox wasn't too bad, but Up takes the cake. Now I know this post is suppose to not be about me, but I'm also looking at this objectively. For starters, Up is also nominated for Best Picture (which it has no shot winning). Being that the film has found it's way into that tier of movies, you have to assume UP as the winner of Best Animated Film.
Next, let's see what's going on behind the scenes for Best Director. Tarantino and Lee Daniels are the long shots here. Tarantino's film is kind of a farce, and Precious was filled with superb acting, not so much direction. That leaves the newby Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), the underdog Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and the highly decorated James Cameron (Avatar). Reitman did a fantastic job and he's just getting his feet wet, so the voters know his time will come. The tough choice is between former husband and wife Bigelow and Cameron. Both movies were very entertaining, but I'm going to give the nod to Cameron. Most people will turn a cold shoulder to a movie with a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but Cameron revolutionized CGI and this will be his reward for it.
Onward we go to Best Supporting Actor and Actress. On the men's side, we can throw out Christopher Plummer (The Last Station) and Woody Harrelson (The Messenger). Neither movie has the buzz to carry either of those actors. Matt Damon was good but not great in Invictus, and I can't see Stanley Tucci winning for The Lovely Bones. By default, that leaves Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) as the victor for the gentlemen. Now, to the women we go. The hardest part for me in this category is I haven't seen Nine. There's some serious buzz around the film, so that makes Penelope Cruz a real contender. That being said, I'm gonna break down the rest of the field first and get back to Cruz later. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) was very good, but nowhere near good enough. The two nominees from Up in the Air (Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick) were both great, but they're going to hurt each other's chances in this one. Finally, we can't leave out Mo'Nique (Precious). Her performance was hands down the best in the movie, and most likely the best of any actor or actress all year. The voters may want to give it to Penelope Cruz, but you can't ignore such a groundbreaking character. Hence, Mo'Nique will come away victorious.
Now, let's continue on to Best Actor and Actress. We'll look at the lead women first this time. Sorry to say, but Helen Mirren (The Last Station) is a mouse amongst giants. The other 4 women all have a fighting chance. Gabi Sidibe (Precious) was very convincing, however, most people think she was overshadowed by Mo'Nique (which she was), so I don't see her pulling out the "W". Carey Mulligan (An Education) did a fantastic job (and it was a wonderfully movie) but she doesn't have the pedigree to keep up with Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) or Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side). Both of these actresses gave glaring performances, but ultimately, the feel good true-story will catapult Sandra Bullock to the trophy. In addition to the women, the men have a competitively intriguing field this year. In all fairness to Colin Firth, I did not see A Single Man. I heard he was excellent in it, and I will offer up my opinion as soon as I view the film. On the contrary, I don't see him having a good chance at winning the award anyway. Morgan Freeman carried Invictus, and Jeremy Renner was stellar in The Hurt locker, yet I see this as a two-horse race. George Clooney was a delight in Up in the Air and Jeff Bridges gave a superb performance this year as well. Throughout his career Bridges has been overlooked, I think this is the year he finally gets rewarded. So expect a fun speech from the Crazy Heart star.
Finally, we've reached the climax of the evening. Who will win Best Picture?!? This is the first year the Oscar's placed 10 films in the field. Let's sift through a few of these. The long shots with almost no chance of winning are Up, Inglourious Basterds, and District 9. The next crop of could-be's includes the Coen Brother's fun little film A Serious Man, An Education, The Blind Side, and Precious (unfortunately). So there's a 3 way race left, including Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, and Avatar. Let's take a close look at each film:
Up in the Air - Jason Reitman is a very talented up-and-coming director (Juno, Thank You For Smoking). This films tells the story of an emotionally unattached man, whose job is to go in and fire people for larger companies. He spends almost all of his 365 days a year on the road, allowing for him to have no dependence on other people. George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick were all noteworthy characters, and the storyline moves very well.
The Hurt Locker - This modern day film shows the reality of war. The movie centers around Jeremy Renner who stars as a bomb defusing unit's highest ranking officer. You see the real life struggles of being a soldier of a country at war. The film was very intense and dramatic, thus giving it the most buzz going into Sunday evening.
Avatar - James Cameron's blockbuster has grossed over a billion dollars world-wide. The film is a sight to see, and everyone should at least watch this movie once. Cameron creates a utopia known as Pandora. There's millions of ways to spin and describe the storyline, but the true beauty lies in the world we visualize on the screen.
Unfortunately for Cameron, we saw last year (The Dark Knight) that grossing an enormous amount of money doesn't win you a best picture award (perhaps a best director one?). So I see The Hurt Locker bringing home the statue. It's a smaller budget film that resonates well with the viewer.
I hope you tune in Sunday night and enjoy the Oscars as much as I will.