Yep, it’s that time of year again: time to see who’ll top the worst-dressed list, who’ll deliver the sappiest acceptance speech, and just how many trophies The Hurt Locker will take home. But, there’s a big difference between who’ll win and who should.
Here are my best bets for the top 10 categories. Check ’em out and let me know your thoughts, but don’t blame me if you don’t sweep the office pool. And don’t forget to tune in to the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, airing on Sunday on ABC.
Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
Who Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Who Should Win: Inglourious Basterds
Why: Only three films have a legitimate chance of winning Best Picture: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Inglourious Basterds. But because Avatarâ€™s mastermind, James Cameron, and Inglourious Basterds’ writer/director, Quentin Tarantino, and distributor Harvey Weinstein are all hated by hordes of Academy voters, the Kathryn Bigelow-directed war drama will take home the eveningâ€™s top prize.
Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
Who Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow
Who Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow
Why: Bigelowâ€™s meticulous and mesmerizing work, accompanied by her Directors Guild victory, will result in history being made as the Academy finally honors its first-ever female Best Director winner.
Nominees: 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
Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan
Why: Newbies Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe would both have had a great shot at taking home gold had they been nominated in different years; but they werenâ€™t, and as a result, theyâ€™ll cancel each other out. Helen Mirren, on the other hand, never had a shot. She got her trophy a few years ago for her role in The Queen. Oh, and nobody saw The Last Station. So, weâ€™re down to first-time nominee Sandra Bullock and sixteen-time nominee and two-time winner Meryl Streep. In the closest race of the evening, Sandra will edge out Meryl for two reasons: sheâ€™ll probably never receive another nom, and Meryl will be back in the mix again next year.
Nominees: 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 Win: Jeff Bridges
Who Should Win: Colin Firth
Why: Despite Firth’s heartbreaking performance and Clooneyâ€™s award-worthy work, Bridges will have to make room on his crowded mantle for his very first Oscar. Voters love him; heâ€™s won every major award leading up to Sunday; and with four previous noms, everyone feels that itâ€™s simply his turn to take home the trophy.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Moâ€™Nique (Precious)
Who Will Win: Moâ€™Nique
Who Should Win: Moâ€™Nique
Why: With Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick splitting the vote and Penelope Cruz out of contention, it comes down to first-time nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and fellow newcomer Mo’Nique. While a few critics think Moâ€™Niqueâ€™s polarizing personality could hurt her chances coming down the home stretch, there’s really no doubt in my mind that sheâ€™ll emerge victorious and deliver a mag’nifique acceptance speech come Sunday.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Who Will Win: Christoph Waltz
Who Should Win: Christoph Waltz
Why: Let’s be honest: Christoph Waltz gave one of the best supporting performances in recent memory. And with minimal competition from his fellow nominees, the 53-year-old Austrian actor will easily waltz away with his first, much-deserved Oscar.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominess: The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal), Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino), The Messenger (Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman), A Serious Man (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), Up (Bob Peterson and Pete Docter)
Who Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Who Should Win: Inglourious Basterds
Why: Basterds could give Locker a run for its money, but Mark Boal will triumph over Quentin Tarantino and the equally deserving Coen brothers. Best Pic nominee Up doesnâ€™t have a shot; and The Messengerâ€™s nomination was a victory in and of itself.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominess: District 9 (Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell), An Education (Nick Hornby), In the Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche), Precious (Geoffrey Fletcher), Up in the Air (Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner)
Who Will Win: Up in the Air
Who Should Win: An Education
Why: In an effort to prevent Up in the Air from being shut out on Oscar night (which could very well happen), Academy voters will likely award Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for their timely script â€¦ unless they hand they statue to Nick Hornby, prohibiting An Education from also going home empty-handed.
Best Animated Feature
Nominess: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up
Who Will Win: Up
Who Should Win: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Why: Not only is Up a fan favorite, a critical darling, and a box-office behemoth, itâ€™s also only the second animated film in history to be up for Best Picture. As a result, itâ€™s guaranteed to topple the four other films, giving Pixar its third consecutive win in the category, following in the footsteps of WALL-E and Ratatouille.
Best Documentary Feature
Nominess: Burma VJ; The Cove; Food, Inc.; The Most Dangerous Man in America; Which Way Home
Who Will Win: The Cove
Who Should Win: Food, Inc.
Why: Despite the fact that Food, Inc. was the most fascinating film of 2009, bet on The Cove to bag the Oscar. The tragic dolphin-hunting doc has swept the pre-Oscar soirees, and its producers have been campaigning harder than just about everyone in Hollywood, except for Harvey Weinstein and that guy who tried to trash Avatarâ€™s Best Pic chances.
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