Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The Time is upon us. Nomination Tuesday. There may be a few laughs. There will probably be a few tears. There will definitely be a few surprises. But unfortunately, there will not be any blood, unless Twilight: New Moon is nominated for Best Picture. Then I might be compelled to kill indiscriminately.

For "reel" though folks, tomorrow's Best Picture nominees are anyone's guess. Guys like Kris Tapley, Steve Pond and Dave Karger know better than I, but the bottom line is that none of us have a vote, and with 10 Best Picture nominees this year and a new preferential voting system, the once-predictable Academy is capable of anything. So let's give it our best shot, shall we?


The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up in the Air

ALT: The Hangover

I'd say there are 7 locks in this race and they're not who you might think. The vulnerable three are The Blind Side, Star Trek and oddly enough, Up, in that order from least to most. I really feel that District 9 is a lock and that Blomkamp is a Lee Daniels-backlash away from a Best Director nomination. It's Complicated, The Hangover, The Messenger, Invictus, Nine, The White Ribbon and (500) Days of Summer could all slide in here and shake up the landscape for the Big Prize. I think it really boils down to the consensus... what movies did everyone agree to like. A Serious Man is a polarizing film. Some love it, others hate it. That won't fly with Oscar... I think. Up wasn't nearly as beloved as Wall-E, which famously failed to land a nomination, bu the expansion to 10 nominees seems pre-designed to help Pixar escape the nomination ghetto.


Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

ALT: Neill Blomkamp, District 9

This category is pretty much sewn up. I don't think Blomkamp will be nominated for his first feature, and even though Daniels hasn't won over many people on the publicity circuit, he deserves credit for pulling off a tricky adaptation of difficult material. If there's a dark horse, it's Austrian helmer Michael Haneke for The White Ribbon. An Education helmer Lone Scherfig is an ultra-long shot.


Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

ALT: Matt Damon, The Informant!

This one is all but set in stone. If there's a weak link, it's Morgan Freeman who seems content to coast on his reputation at this point in his career, but the lure of him as Mandela will be too strong for voters to resist. Some feel The Road's Viggo Mortensen or The Messenger's Ben Foster could pull off a surprise nomination but if anyone sneaks into the field, it'll be Damon, who has hasn't been nominated since Good Will Hunting despite 13 years of steadily impressive work.


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

ALT: Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria

Again, I think you can take this category to the bank. It's possible that a lot of voters didn't see The Last Station but I think Mirren has enough support in the ranks. It'll be close but she should hang on against young upstarts Blunt and Abbie Cornish.


Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

ALT: Alfred Molina, An Education

UPSET ALERT! The Academy, as a group, is not dumb, nor is it blind. To ignore Anthony Mackie's stellar work in The Hurt Locker would be a crime on par with the nomination of Johnny Depp for Best Actor in Pirates of the Caribbean. Jeremy Renner would never have given the performance that he did, if Mackie didn't push him in every scene. Kathryn Bigelow would not be winning all these awards if Mackie didn't bring his A-game to the set every day. I think the Academy ends up recognizing his invaluable contributions. Molina's heat has been fading fast, especially with his co-star Peter Sarsgaard also competing in the category. If anyone else slips in under the radar, it could be Christian McKay whose portrayal of Orson Welles in Me & Orson Welles won raves across the board. Alec Baldwin has also been popping up on some lists but I think they'll only capacity in which you'll see him at the Oscars will be as co-host with Steve Martin. It would be embarrassing if Matt Damon got nominated here for Invictus in the same year he gave a better performance in the superior film The Informant!


Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique, Precious

ALT: Julianne Moore, A Single Man

UPSET ALERT! This is me going way out on a limb. Kruger got the SAG nomination but Laurent was clearly the heart and soul of Inglourious Basterds. The two foreign actresses could cancel each other out, or support for Basterds could overwhelm the mighty trio of Moore, Crazy Heart's Maggie Gyllenhaal and The Messenger's Samantha Morton. Meanwhile, Nine and its lovely ladies, including Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz, seems to have fallen off dramatically. As much as I loved A Single Man, I just don't see what was so special about Moore's performance, but if she is nominated, it'll likely be over one of the Basterdesses and Oscar darling Samantha Morton.


(500) Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man

ALT: Avatar

UPSET ALERT! Why is it such a given that Pixar's Up will be nominated here? Outside of its first 10 minutes, it's a completely forgettable film. Will that heartbreaking first sequence be enough to overpower the box office behemoth known as Avatar. I'm also not sure why The Coen Brothers are considered locks, but if the film finds enough support for a Best Picture nomination, then that passion will carry over to this category. If not, we could see The Messenger, The White Ribbon or possibly The Hangover. History says that since James Cameron wasn't nominated for Titanic, he's liable to miss out again this year. Not surprising since Avatar's strong suit wasn't its screenplay. On the other hand, you don't make $2 billion worldwide with a shitty script...


An Education
Crazy Heart
In the Loop
Up in the Air

ALT: District 9

UPSET ALERT! Tough category. Crazy Heart and In the Loop are not sure bets at all, and A Single Man, District 9, Julie & Julia or Fantastic Mr. Fox could very well take one of those two spots. But something tells me the Brits will assert their influence in this category and give In the Loop the boost it needs, and none of the three sci-fi Best Picture nominees will score writing nods, but they'll all score visual effects nods. I don't think the Star Trek duo of Kurtzman and Orci should get there hopes up here despite scoring WGA nods, although that recognition is a good sign for Crazy Heart writer/director Scott Cooper.


Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog

ALT: Ponyo

The Academy loves Miyazaki but something tells me that tomorrow's forecast will be Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which earned surprising critical acclaim and made a mint at the box office. Mary and Max and A Town Called Panic loom as long-shot contenders.


The Beaches of Agnes
Burma VJ
The Cove
Every Little Step
Mugabe and the White African

ALT: Food, Inc.

UPSET ALERT! I've got a feeling that Food Inc. will find itself on the outside looking in. The Daniel Ellsburg documentary could find its way into this field too. The Cove is the only real lock here but I admittedly haven't seen enough of the movies shortlisted for this award. Scott Feinberg is predicting four different movies in addition to The Cove, so clearly I know nothing.


Ajami - Israel
A Prophet - France
The Secret in Their Eyes - Argentina
The White Ribbon - Germany
Winter in Wartime - The Netherlands

ALT: The Milk of Sorrow - Peru

Call it a hunch. This is as much about the movies as it is the countries submitting them, which makes me think Israel's Ajami will get a nomination over Peru's The Milk of Sorrow, which itself could invade The Netherlands' spot. But Winter in Wartime just got theatrical distribution which makes me think it will score a nod after all, plus I've read that Peru's entry is pretty abstract. A Prophet and The White Ribbon will surely make the cut, as should Argentina's entry The Secret in Their Eyes.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Inglourious Basterds
Sherlock Holmes
Star Trek

ALT: A Serious Man

Could The Lovely Bones finally find some love here? It's possible, but something tells me Avatar and Basterds are locked, and Sherlock Holmes is a strong #3. I expect Harry Potter 6 and Star Trek to show up before Jess Gonchor's solid work in A Serious Man, while District 9 remains a serious possibility here.


The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

ALT: The Road

A Serious Man's Roger Deakins is always a threat here, and for my money, A Single Man featured the best cinematography of the year. But The Road's Javier Aguirresarobe could be the one who benefits if Nine registers as a zero with the Academy. It's definitely the one wearing the bulls-eye on its back in this category.


Bright Star
Inglourious Basterds
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

ALT: Coco Before Chanel

Shame that A Single Man isn't getting more attention for its classy threads, but so it goes for a film that has been criminally ignored this season. The most memorable costumes of the year, in my opinion, were Melanie Laurent's red dress and Brad Pitt's white tux in Inglourious Basterds. The stars of Nine basked in the glow of its high fashion, while the other three nominees all satisfy the Victorian quotient.


The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up in the Air

ALT: District 9

Something tells me that A Serious Man and (500) Days of Summer will draw the short straws in this category, especially if all three of the sci-fi films score Best Picture nominations. I thought Alan Edward Bell did a great job handling Summer's unique structure and successfully charting the peaks and valleys of that doomed relationship. If the Coens are, for some reason, ignored in the Original Screenplay category, a consolation nomination could manifest itself here under their editing alias Roderick Jaynes. I give Star Trek the nod over District 9 because it felt like the fastest film of the year to me, although both could get in if Tarantino's longtime editor Sally Menke pays the price for his long, talky scenes. Up in the Air's Dana Glauberman is a well-respected pro so she's definitely in.


District 9
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Star Trek

ALT: Il Divo

Oscar loves its actors who age but the work in District 9 and Star Trek is too showy to be ignored, and I'd "imagine" Dr. Parnassus will steal that third spot thanks to Terry Gilliam's wacky vision.


The Informant!
A Single Man
Star Trek

ALT: Sherlock Holmes

UPSET ALERT! Another tricky category. I bet Michael Giacchino scores a well-deserved double nomination here for his work on Star Trek and Up, although the latter is the safer bet. Hans Zimmer was ineligible last year for The Dark Knight, so he could get some sympathy love for his work on Sherlock Holmes, and Alexandre Desplat did some delightful work in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Hamlisch's marvelous score for The Informant! could be a critics-only thing but I think the veteran composer will hear his name, along with Abel Korzeniowski, whose work in A Single Man was the single best of the year. James Horner's Avatar score was actively forgettable but I doubt he'll be denied, especially since the Academy's orchestra will be playing his music all evening.


Avatar - 'I See You' by Leona Lewis and James Horner
Crazy Heart - 'The Weary Kind' by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
An Education - 'You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger' by Beth Rowley
Nine - 'Cinema Italiano' by Maury Yeston
The Princess and the Frog - 'Almost There' by Randy Newman

ALT: 'Down in New Orleans' from The Princess and the Frog

I really have no idea how this one goes, as the Music Branch is a fuckin' fickle bunch. If I was concerned about TV ratings, I would nominate U2 for singing "Happy Birthday" at this point. Crazy Heart's Bingham is guaranteed a nomination, as is Randy Newman, although I haven't heard any songs from that soundtrack so I'm not exactly a qualified expert. The Leona Lewis track at the end of Avatar was tacky and didn't really fit with the rest of the movie but Avatar has to get double-digit nominations somehow, right?


District 9
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Who knows? Who cares? This is for the stat-padders.


District 9
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Ditto. Except for the ongoing story about Transformers mixer Greg Russell, who has been nominated something like 11 times without winning once.


District 9
Star Trek

ALT: 2012

2012 featured non-stop mayhem but something tells me that black hole in Star Trek will be the difference. Plus it was, you know, a good movie. The flashy effects of Transformers 2 could also sneak in here over District 9.


Avatar - 10
Inglourious Basterds - 10
The Hurt Locker - 9
Star Trek - 7
Up in the Air - 7
District 9 - 5
Precious - 5
An Education - 4
Up - 4
Crazy Heart - 3
Nine - 3
The Blind Side - 2
The Last Station - 2
The Princess and the Frog - 2
Sherlock Holmes - 2
A Single Man - 2
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - 2
The White Ribbon - 2
(500) Days of Summer - 1
Ajami - 1
The Beaches of Agnes - 1
Bright Star - 1
Burma VJ - 1
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - 1
Coraline - 1
The Cove - 1
Every Little Step - 1
Fantastic Mr. Fox - 1
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - 1
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - 1
The Informant! - 1
In the Loop - 1
Invictus - 1
Julie & Julia - 1
The Lovely Bones - 1
The Messenger - 1
Mugabe and the White Elephant - 1
A Prophet - 1
The Secret of Their Eyes - 1
A Serious Man - 1
Winter in Wartime - 1
The Young Victoria - 1

1 comment:

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