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.
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.