Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Oscar Odds

Full-fledged, extensive Oscar predictions are coming in January, but I’d like to keep a running list of my predicted nominees up until that point. I’ll expand to include other categories later. Remember to check back in January for analysis and revised predictions.

Best Picture
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

No change in this list – I’ve now seen Avatar and feel quite secure about its placement here. Much as I’d love to see it get snubbed, I’m going to have to reclassify Precious to the upper echelon of contenders. I’m not sure why people are doubting Invictus, especially since “Letters from Iwo Jima” made it in after not being recognized at many of the precursors a few years ago. Oscar voters like Clint; that’s all there it is to it. This ten-nominee system was meant to honor films like Nine, which is why I think it will still end up here. The two that could fall off due to lack of support would be A Serious Man and An Education, and also got get left off if voters want to honor more mainstream movies. I think this lineup looks pretty good, though, and still only The Messenger sitting in eleventh place ready to snatch a spot away from one of the weaker contenders.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds

Nothing to add here; everything I said last week still stands. Directors Guild of America nominations will be announced on January 7th, and if anyone besides these five directors appear on that list, there might be a change, but otherwise I’m confident in these guys (and gal).

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

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

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

I’m not sure why people have so little faith in Matt Damon (Invictus). He’s received Golden Globe and SAG nominations from a film that seems to be well-liked, yet many are leaving him off their list of predicted nominees. I don’t think that Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles) has the thunder to steal his spot, and Alfred Molina (An Education) is pretty much out of the race at this point.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Mo’Nique, Precious

I’m still set on these five, but Nathaniel over at The Film Experience is predicting two upsets, and I’d like to at least acknowledge them in preparation for their possible occurrence since he’s been my go-to primary source for Oscar intelligence for a good eight years now (thanks, Nathaniel). He foresees the replacement of Penelope Cruz (Nine) by costar Marion Cotillard (Nine), noting that she is actually a supporting performer and might do shockingly well if voters reclassify her. I’m not so sure, and I think Cruz has a much showier role. Both are recent Oscar winners (within the past two years) and could easily end up here, but I don’t think both could. The other possible upset is Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds), which would make me gloriously happy since (AFT Awards spoiler!) she’s my winner in this category. Apparently, SAG considered Laurent a lead and therefore she couldn’t be nominated in the supporting category, and thus the less impressive Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds) ended up with a nomination for the film, which was a clear favorite with voters. I just hope that her inclusion isn’t at the expense of the majestic Julianne Moore (A Single Man), whose SAG snub has led to some shying away from predicting her. If anyone had to be dropped, I wish it could be Mo’Nique (Precious), though it’s unlikely that her bad attitude would lead to a snub come nomination time rather than for the win. The other wild card is Samantha Morton (The Messenger). It’s worth noting that Morton has two Oscar nominations but only a precursor Globe nod for one and a corresponding SAG nod for neither. She’s a late starter, and a subtle but highly praised film like “The Messenger” could be just the ticket for her. It was a way for voters to show their enthusiasm for “In America” back in 2003, which surely would have been up for Best Picture if there were ten nominees back then but had to settle for two acting nods and a screenplay mention instead. Back to this year, my predicted five are the likely contenders, and it’s only a matter of who will knock any of them out, if at all.

Best Original Screenplay
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

Reader Richter Scale kindly pointed out that “District 9” is contending in the adapted category, leaving one spot open. Most will predict 500 Days of Summer, but I think this is the perfect way for The Messenger to break through in a small way without knocking out one of the Best Picture nominees or having either Ben Foster or Samantha Morton surprise.

Best Adapted Screenplay
District 9
Julie & Julia
Up in the Air

It’s tough to decide which of my predicted five from last week to take out now that I’ve learned District 9 belongs here. Invictus should be safe because the screenplay to Clint Eastwood’s last Best Picture nominee, “Letters from Iwo Jima,” earned a nod even though no one saw it coming. Precious and Up in the Air are also locked. Though I’m predicting An Education for Best Picture, I think it will miss out here in favor of Julie & Julia. There are often screenplay nominees that never had a chance at Best Picture, like “Away from Her,” “Little Children,” and “Notes on a Scandal.” We’ll see if the same holds true this year.

Best Animated Feature
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog

I’m adding this category this week, just to note that I’m predicting the same five films that earned Golden Globe and Annie Award nominations. The Secret of Kells also earned an Annie nomination for Best Feature, but that was its sole mention and it’s not well-known enough to grab a spot. Some may have faith in Monsters vs. Aliens, but the real threat to usurp a spot is Ponyo, from director Hayao Miyazaki, who won this award back in 2002 for “Spirited Away” and was nominated again in 2005 for “Howl’s Moving Castle.” I can’t decide which of the five I’ve listed above would be swapped out for one of these, so I’ll stick with this list for the moment.

Check back every Monday for a slightly updated list of Oscar predictions. Please chime in the comments with your thoughts!

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