The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
The expansion of the category has had some impact on the talk around the Oscars, mostly negative. It would appear that you could easily eliminate five films from the top category as being also-rans, if still good films. Where last year it would have served mostly just to allow The Dark Knight its nomination and sate the anger of so many over-hyped fanboys/girls, this year it felt as though the Academy was just reaching further to grab films from all corners, as if to indicate that they are not scared of honouring ‘popular’ films. The fact that they have never really done this and the actual small films almost always get screwed, that was left to the side of the discussion.
James Cameron for Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels for Precious
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air
This category seems to break down into three categories as regards the chance each has of winning the prize. In the last category, essentially the no-hopers, are Lee Daniels and Jason Reitman. Reitman is the kind of director who will consistently struggle to win this prize as his skill comes through his ability to manage performance and tone rather than anything visually spectacular or inventive. Up in the Air is a pristine film with some well-composed images, but it’s script and performance-driven, similar to Juno and Thank You for Smoking. He deserves plaudits, but they won’t be sufficient for the prize. Lee Daniels has promise as an inventive director, but too many choices fall flat in Precious and he won’t win.
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
George Clooney for Up in the Air
Colin Firth for A Single Man
Morgan Freeman for Invictus
Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker
This one feels like it’s been complicated in recent weeks, too. I still don’t think Jeremy Renner will have the momentum to take the prize and I would be shocked if Clooney wins, even though I would cite Up in the Air as his finest performance. He should also, as argued by Stephanie Zacharek, be rewarded for his great role in Fantastic Mr Fox, but unfortunately that film, like Clooney, will go home empty-handed.
Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Helen Mirren for The Last Station
Carey Mulligan for An Education
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Okay, let’s get going. This undoubtedly to be the most interesting category of the lot, if interesting for you is having four possible winners. A couple of months back, I was pretty sure that Carey Mulligan was a shoe-in to win this – she had all the momentum and buzz to get her over the line. Then things started to shift and, as I said, I think there are four possible winners here. Before we kick off then, let’s just say, Helen Mirren won’t win.
Matt Damon for Invictus
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger
Christopher Plummer for The Insider
Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
A few months ago, this would have been a serious race between two of the contenders. Really, up until anyone with a Twitter or blog saw The Lovely Bones, Stanley Tucci was the major frontrunner to take the prize. After seeing that performance, I would argue strongly for his inclusion, but for his role in Julie & Julia instead. Due to the poor reviews for Peter Jackson’s horrendous film, Tucci will have to give up his leading place in the category to Mr Waltz.
Penelope Cruz for Nine
Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air
Mo’Nique for Precious
Filling up three paragraphs on this category is going to prove difficult, hence the start of this section being guarded with meta-waffle about the difficulty of writing this column. The reason it’s difficult is precisely the same reason it is difficult to fill three paragraphs on any complete inevitability. I could probably waffle on for even longer about such inanities, but I’ll get stuck in now. Mo’Nique will win.
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell for District 9
Nick Hornby for An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci and Tony Roche for In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up in the Air
There was at least a degree of surprise at the BAFTAs this year that it wasn’t one of the English nominees that took home this prize. After all, An Education managed to garner eight nominations overall and ended up walking home with little in return from the one place it would have felt most favoured. I’ve never been a big supporter of that film – it’s beautifully acted but the construction ends up feeling rushed and gives the film a slightness which undermines the acting – but, even with that known, I don’t think Nick Hornby has any chance of going home with this.
Mauro Fiore for Avatar
Bruno Delbonnel for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Barry Ackroyd for The Hurt Locker
Robert Richardson for Inglourious Basterds
Christian Berger for The White Ribbon
I have a slight problem in this category as I’ve been debating whether Avatar should really be eligible for a cinematography prize given that everything being filmed has been created. There has always, to me, seemed a need for the cinematography prize to be handed out on the basis of the photographer having captured what is tangibly in front of him. I’ve come around to the idea, however, as Avatar’s spectacular look is achieved, if not through literally filming the world of Pandora, through the advice and guidance that the cinematographer would have given. This advice will have contributed to the immersive nature of the film and, so, I’ll happily accept and applaud Fiore’s nomination.
Fantastic Mr Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
I don’t know that there is even much point in putting anything after the jump for this category. Though other studios in the animation world continue to put out good stuff for the most part, absolutely nobody is close to competing with Pixar on storytelling, complexity of characters or catering to a wide audience in a satisfying and stimulating way. Up will win and, probably, should win purely for the opening ten minute sequence, easily the finest piece of filmmaking in the past year.
I did predict a few little while ago, but much has changed in the interim and I feel it necessary to update my prediction season for the nominees, something I will do again in early February just before the nominations are announced.
The primary change is the fall of Nine, previously considered a shoe-in for most categories, which looks likely to win absolutely nothing outside of a possible couple of technicals. Add to that the rising popularity of Inglourious Basterds and the seemingly-unstoppable attention being given to The Hurt Locker, plus the apparently disastrous The Lovely Bones, and some things have to change.
Below then are my predictions for the top few categories, with some explanation as to why and, bold as it may be, my predictions for the likely winners in each category.
As we are prone to do, it feels like to kick-off the Oscar buzz season as awards from major film festivals begin to roll in and the ceremony approaches. I realise that this may feel like the kind of wishing-life-away feeling that it given as you walk into shops in mid-September and see Christmas stock out all over the place, but these will get more frequent as we get closer and can begin to actually predict what could win. This is more to provide an interesting gauge of how buzz works, how it changes and how wrong we could well end up being by the time the awards come around.
So, just for the big few categories, here’s what seems like it’s going to cause a stir this year: Continue reading →