Predicting next week’s Oscar nominations

Wade:

Best Picture

Normally, this category wouldn’t be so hard, but the jump from five to 10 nominees requires a little more effort in the decision-making process.

It’s pretty clear that Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and (as much as it pains me to say) Avatar are all in the race, with films like Precious, An Education and Invictus pulling in behind.

With the final three nods, I believe the Academy will attempt to please the masses, acknowledging Star Trek, 500 Days of Summer and Up, making it only the second animated film nominated for Best Picture ever.

500 Days of Summer
An Education
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Precious
Star Trek
Up
Up in the Air

Best Actor

Really, the race seems to be between three guys right now: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and new kid on the block Jeremy Renner.

It’s probably also fair to say that Colin Firth has a spot in the group and that the fifth and final spot is Morgan Freeman’s to lose.

I just can’t resist my instinct to think that Michael Stuhlberg or Sharlto Copley will snake it right out of Freeman’s hands. No guts. No glory.

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Sharlto Copley, District 9
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress

For what is normally the least exciting category at the Oscars, the Best Actress contenders are making it exciting for everyone this year.

After her Screen Actors Guild win on Saturday, Sandra Bullock wrapped up her nomination right then and there, and it simply wouldn’t be the Oscars if Meryl Streep weren’t in the mix.

Two newcomers, Gabby Sidibe and Carey Mulligan, are riding the buzz circuit, and Emily Blunt has been late out of the gate but is gaining on everyone fast.

Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor

There is little to no doubt that Christoph Waltz has this category in the bag. Beyond his name though, the other four slots are up for grabs.

Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci seem to have a good chance at nabbing their first nods, and I have to believe that the Academy will finally acknowledge Christopher Plummer with his first as well.

The fifth spot will be filled by either Matt Damon or Anthony Mackie. Damon is the safe bet as Mackie hasn’t hit the awards circuit radar this entire season, but The Hurt Locker is too good for voters to pass up.

For now, I’ll say Damon, but don’t underestimate a good war movie when it comes to the Oscars.

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson,
The Messenger
Christopher Plummer,
The Last Station
Stanley Tucci,
The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz,
Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

I think it is safe to say that Mo’Nique, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are shoe-ins at this point.

I would slip Julianne Moore in there without sweating too much, and if it were up to me, Melanie Laurent would take that last spot. I don’t think I’m allowed to do that though, because she’s being pitched as a “Best Actress” contender.

None of the Nine women have a chance anymore, since the movie opened to rather mediocre acclaim, so I will pencil in Samantha Morton for now and see if the war movie mantra holds for this category too.

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Samantha Morton,
The Messenger

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino and the two Canadian boys, James Cameron and Jason Reitman, have all but secured their places in the Best Director category.

It is that last spot that has caused some debate. In my mind, it is between Oscar-favourite Clint Eastwood and the South African freshman Neil Blomkamp with District 9.

There will be people who throw Lee Daniels’ name into the mix, but I just don’t think he deserves it. I’m confident the Academy will recognize this too.

Kathryn Bigelow,
The Hurt Locker
Neil Blomkamp, District 9
James Cameron, Avatar
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino,
Inglourious Basterds

Peter Kuling:

Best Picture

The most shocking thing about this category is that the Academy opened it up to 10 films as a means of getting bigger box office pictures recognized; this can best be summed up as The Dark Knight principle (the movie wound up placing sixth in this category last year and thus dropped off the ballot).

Of course, the dominant movie in this category will also be the biggest box office hit, so James Cameron’s Avatar will definitely lead the pack. However, I think there are going to be some surprises.

My personal favourite is Inglourious Basterds, and expect guaranteed nominations for Precious, The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air.

Avatar
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Julie & Julia
Precious
Star Trek
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
Up

Best Actor

After Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke’s wrestle last year, the Best Actor category seems, for lack of a better term, “up in the air.”

While Jeff Bridges stands the best chance to win for his Kris Kristofferson-inspired country singer in Crazy Heart, the nominees up against him aren’t a sure thing.

Make sure to look for George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth.

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

This category looks easier to figure out, especially when you’ve got Meryl Streep appearing in two stellar roles this year.

Streep as Julia Child will be the frontrunner nominee. Also, long overdue since her fantastic role in Paul Haggis’ Crash, Sandra Bullock will score a nomination for The Blind Side.

Other picks worthy of mention here are Gabourey Sidibe, Carey Mulligan and Emily Blunt.

Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidebe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor

Personally, I can’t wait for Christoph Waltz to receive his nomination in this category for Inglourious Basterds.

His performance was by far the best of anyone in any category all year; no one expected this kind of work from a relatively unknown Austrian actor.

The only upset could be Christopher Plummer; filling out the rest of the category will be Stanley Tucci, Matt Damon and Alfred Molina.

Matt Damon,
Invictus
Alfred Molina,
An Education
Christopher Plummer,
The Last Situation
Stanley Tucci,
The Lovely Bones
Christopher Waltz,
Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

This category likewise offers us a frontrunner outshining everybody, since the Academy loves to honour unexpected screen perfection.

Standing more of a chance than her co-star Gabourey Sibide, Mo’Nique will be tough to beat in this category.

Also aiming for her spot will be Julianne Moore, Vera Farmiga, Diane Kruger and, my longshot but total dark horse, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Vera Farmiga,
Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal,
Crazy Heart
Diane Kruger,
Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique,
Precious
Julianne Moore,
A Single Man

Best Director

I can’t wait to see what happens in this category as I don’t believe it’s locked up for Cameron.

While Avatar is certainly an amazing motion picture, I predict a modified Saving Private Ryan effect will strike Cameron, giving him Best Picture but not Best Director.

Voters will grow disaffected with Cameron personally, thinking of his film as a great team effort.

Nonetheless, I predict he will garner a nomination, losing to either his ex-wife director Kathryn Bigelow or to long-overdue Quentin Tarantino.

The two round-out nominees will be Jason Reitman and Lee Daniels.

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

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