Monday, December 21, 2009

Oscar Picks: December 2009

Before I get around to picking my Oscar choices for this month, I have to comment on the Satellite Awards, which were presented yesterday. Shohreh Aghdashloo for Best Actress - Drama? Michael Stuhlbarg for Best Actor - Comedy? The Maid and Broken Embraces for Best Foreign Film? Nine for Best Comedy over Up in the Air? And, I kid you not, 2012 took home two awards? Well, for all they've done wrong, they did get a few things right, such as Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director and, surprisingly, (500) Days of Summer for Best Original Screenplay. Still, these awards are a mess; don't expect them to be echoed the next few months. This month made picking the Oscar nominees a lot easier. Thanks to all of the precursor awards, as well as the releases of all the films in contention. So, armed with a wealth of knowledge, these are my new predictions. BEST PICTURE An Education The Hurt Locker Precious Avatar Up Up in the Air Invictus Nine Inglourious Basterds A Single Man
The critical lashings that The Lovely Bones is recieving has ultimately taken the film out of this race. All of the others are still safe, but The Last Station is likely to fall out because most of the attention is on the film's two leads (yes, Christopher Plummer is a lead. I will not be fooled.). Surprisingly, Avatar seems to be a critical darling, and thanks to its good reviews and innovative tech, it now seems like the real deal (the Golden Globe nod for Best Drama didn't hurt either). I'm torn, however, on that last spot between two men: A Serious Man and A Single Man. Though A Serious Man has recieved more accolades as a film overall, its track record has been spotty thus far. Therefore, riding on its leads and its reviews, I'm picking A Single Man to make the top 10.
BEST ACTOR Morgan Freeman, Invictus George Clooney, Up in the Air Colin Firth, A Single Man Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
I'm finally giving in and including Bridges, since he's picking up plenty of nominations for this role. Hal Holbrook was a longshot of a choice to begin with, anyway. With Nine earning mediocre reviews, it seems unlikely that it will score too many major nominations, which means that I doubt Daniel Day-Lewis will earn another nomination this year. I'm going with Renner for the fifth nominee because his performance, though not really an "Oscary" one, will be noticed now that The Hurt Locker is picking up so many prizes. Not to mention Renner himself has recieved attention from some of the biggest groups, including the BFCA and the SAG.
BEST ACTRESS Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia Carey Mulligan, An Education Gabourey Sidibe, Precious Helen Mirren, The Last Station Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side The first four have been locks for a long time now, so that's not surprising; unfortunately, that means no Abbie Cornish. Saorise Ronan was another longshot choice, but I still hope she gets some recognition for being the best young actress of her generation (apologies, Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin). Of course, this means that Bullock is now going to recieve her first Oscar nomination, thanks to plenty of critics awards consideration and two Golden Globe nominations (everyone's so busy celebrating her that no one seems to remember All About Steve, which is good for her....). I'm not exactly fond of this choice, since I think there were better performances (re: Cornish and Ronan) that should be recognized, but one can't fight the inevitable. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Alfred Molina, An Education Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones Christopher Plummer, The Last Station Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Despite his near absence from the precursor awards, I'm standing by Molina as an Oscar nominee, especially with An Education moving back into the spotlight. I do realize though that this may be another fool's prediction, since Matt Damon seems to be getting a lot more attention (though Invictus has been only decently recieved). I'm dropping Damon in favor of Harrelson, who is on a roll this fall and has recieved steller reviews for his performance in The Messenger (as well as Zombieland, which is one of my personal favorite movies of the year). All of that momentum should push him to nomintation #2 (he was previously nominated for The People vs. Larry Flint).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Mo'Nique, Precious Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air Julianne Moore, A Single Man Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air Penelope Cruz, Nine This category is set in stone. Barring some sort of upset, this will be the Oscar category. BEST DIRECTOR Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Lee Daniels, Precious Jason Reitman, Up in the Air James Cameron, Avatar Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds I hate to exclude Clint Eastwood from this category, especially considering how much the Oscars love him, but Invictus just hasn't been strong enough. The same goes for Rob Marshall, who was at one point a sure thing. Although Tarantino's films are usually very polarizing, there's a lot of love this year for Basterds, and I think that a second nomination in this category will be his reward for it. And with Avatar heating up, it seems impossible for James Cameron to not be nominated, though sharing the category with his ex-wife Bigelow could create some awkward tension.

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