Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oscar 2010: Nomination Predictions

As someone who follows the Oscar race religiously throughout the entire year, I sometimes feel a little silly posting my own predictions shortly before the nominations are announced (for those of you out of the loop, Christmas -- I'm sorry, nomination -- morning is Feb.2). There's a sense that I'm just regurgitating the prognostications of others and reiterating the selections of dozens of precursor awards bodies. And with so many sure things this year, the point of announcing my eleventh-hour predictions seems especially moot.

Yet, in the relatively short time I've been maintaining this blog, I've consistently published my Oscar-y thoughts, predix, hopes and reactions from nominations time on through to the big show, and I'm not about to stop now. So while you may have already seen the following names and titles on a bajillion other websites, you've not yet heard Your Movie Buddy chime in and say his piece. Behold my predictions, with a few longshot hunches tossed into the mix.


Vera Farmiga
, Up in the Air:
I've long felt this stellar actress was destined for a nod, and I'm glad she'll finally gain recognition for her smart and sexy turn as the female equivalent to George Clooney's connection-averse traveler.

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air:
The scene-stealer of this film's dynamite trio, Kendrick ably displays all the drive, naivete and hopeful humanity of a career-hungry 20-something, while also boasting comedic instincts uncommon for someone so young.

Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds:
Methinks the Academy is going to want to reward one of the gals in this talented ensemble, given the surge of attention and good fortune the movie has seen throughout awards season. Diane Kruger's work is more of the supporting nature but, in a film with no real leads, Laurent's performance is far more indelible.

Mo'Nique, Precious:
No contest. There's a reason Mo'Nique has collected damn near every Supportting Actress award: Hers is the best performance of 2009. A shoo-in for the win.

Julianne Moore, A Single Man:
There's a chance for The Messenger's Samantha Morton, Crazy Heart's Maggie Gyllenhaal or one of the Nine gals to upset, but I'm thinking voters will go for another fine turn from this former Oscar favorite, a veteran actress who's due for a win, let alone another nomination.

Bailee Madison, Brothers:
The best child performance I've seen in years. Steals the show in a movie that already has a trio of fine performances.


Matt Damon
, Invictus:
Though his work here isn't anything all that special (like Morgan Freeman, he's given very little to do), Academy members will want to acknowledge Damon's very good year, which also included a memorable lead performance in The Informant!.

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger:
Speaking of good years, Harrelson popped up all over the place in 2009, often adding some much-needed spark to movies like 2012. He has a faithful ability to become an asset of his films, and his work in this potent drama won't go unnoticed.

Christian McKay, Me & Orson Welles:
The buzz for McKay has faded a bit, but his performance -- a little known thesp stealing the show from the sidelines -- is the stuff Supporting Actor nominations and awards are made of (think Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road). Plus, the portrayal of Hollywood legend Orson Welles should be hard to resist, at least for veteran voters.

Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia:
Tucci's villainous performance in The Lovely Bones has been the one getting all the attention, but given that film's lousy reception, my guess is the actor will instead be recognized for his understated, loving turn opposite Meryl Streep, with whom he shares remarkable chemistry.

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds:
Like Mo'Nique, a slam-dunk, and well-deserved. Tackling four languages (!!) and enlivening Quentin Tarantino's unmatched dialogue in ways both fearsome and funny, Waltz should easily add a golden boy to his heap of precursor awards. (Bless him, I'm just dreading another lame-o, overly rehearsed speech.)

Zachary Quinto
, Star Trek:
Total geek sophistication. Proves the resemblance was only the beginning. Quinto nailed this character.


Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side:
As much as it pains me to say it, Bullock will surely get in for her feisty turn as real-life Southern belle Leigh Ann Touhy, and she poses the biggest threat to Meryl Streep's victory (ridiculous). Friends, I adore Sandra Bullock, but this is not an Oscar-worthy performance, and her inclusion results in some far more deserving women getting shafted. If she weren't so popular, she might have received a Globe nod at best.

Helen Mirren, The Last Station:
With her 2006 turn in The Queen still fresh in voters' minds, Mirren seems to be experiencing a bit of the Judi Dench effect: being synonymous with quality and garnering attention for appearing in a prestigious picture. Am I discrediting the value of the performance? Absolutely not. But you know what I mean.

Carey Mulligan, An Education:
Poor Carey Mulligan. Once the indisputed frontrunner, she's now taken a back seat to the neck-in-neck race between Bullock and Streep. I know I caught some disappoinment in her eyes during one of the recent award shows. I would have liked to have seen her nab at least one trophy (maybe the BAFTA?). The beauty of her performance is we get to watch her bloom right along with her character. It's this exciting, organic process -- makes you feel like you're witnessing something extraordinary.

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious:
And speaking of which, I've been telling people for months now, if you're going to see Precious, try to catch an interview with Gabby Sidibe first, just so you can see how extreme a departure the character is from this first-time actress' actual persona. It's a truly remarkable transformation, and the knowledge of it makes the performance that much more special.

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia:
Oh, how I hope Meryl Streep takes home the Oscar this year! She certainly has plenty of odds/details in her favor: dead-on portrayal of a real-life icon, Oscar-worthy performance in a mainstream movie that practically everybody saw, newfound box-office clout, and the little fact that she's, well, Meryl Streep. Seriously, though, I don't think there was another '09 performance that made me happier...and I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard.

Abbie Cornish, Bright Star:
As if I had to say anything. Yet, since we're on the topic, I'd also nominate Tilda Swinton in Julia, Nicole Beharie in American Violet and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist over Bullock in The Blind Side. Just sayin'.


Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart:
The favorite to win, and the most deserving if only because he's responsilbe for creating the most fully-formed charcter. There's no telling where Bridges ends and Bad Blake begins. He's also got that whole long-overdue, career-high thing going for him.

George Clooney, Up in the Air:
Many believe Ryan Bingham is Clooney's best performance. I see where they're coming from. It's a perfect performance -- another fine turn from perhaps our last great male movie star.

Colin Firth, A Single Man:
The latest actor to garner Oscar's attention for going gay. I kid, I kid (sorta). Under the direction of first-timer Tom Ford, Firth goes the heartbreaking route, and is finally given an opportunity to show audiences what he's truly capable of (don't they always say it takes one insightful director to bring out the best in an actor?).

Morgan Freeman, Invictus:
This nomination bothers me because it was set in stone before any cameras even started rolling. Of course Freeman is a phenomenal actor, but the same can't be said for this performance. Freeman fares better than Damon, but there's still disappointment in just how drama-free the whole package is. Big name actor + big name role + big name director does NOT an Oscar worthy performance necessarily make.

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker:
Quite the opposite, here's a performance no one saw coming, but has made little-known Renner a recognizable face throughout awards season. There's a terror and a terrified vulnerability to Sgt. William James, a fine vessel to carry us through Bigelow's gripping suspense thriller.

Matt Damon
, The Informant!:
Handles the dry, dense dialogue with whirling dexterity, and gained mucho weight for the role to boot (not that that really matters). Way better than his and Freeman's Invictus work combined.


Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker:
The indisputed front-runner, who has my vote for so many reasons. 1. Makes better use of the sheer, stand-alone power of images than any other filmmaker this year. 2. Would be the first female director to win the award (!) 3. That should be enough, and my head is starting to hurt...

James Cameron, Avatar:
Blows away expectations and delivers an absolutely amazing cinematic experience. Love him or hate him, mediocre script or no mediocre script, the man knows how to make big, mind-blowing movies in a way Michael Bay might only dream about.

Lee Daniels, Precious:
Another milestone-maker, if nominated, Daniels will be only the second African American to land A Best Director nod, following John Singleton for Boyz in the Hood in 1991. I'm glad to see Daniels' buzz hold out until the end -- I'll be heartbroken if Clint Eastwood nabs his much-deserved spot.

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air:
Exhibiting directorial acumen well beyond his 32 years, Reitman will surely find himself among the five nominees, even if it's come down to a Bigelow-Cameron race. His ability to sustain the funny-sad tone of his film throughout is highly impressive, as is his handling of the timely subject matter. Never forced, just classy and naturally poignant.

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds:
Modern movies would be sorely lacking without the presence of QT, whose wild and crazy WWII rewrite surged forward with more individuality and clarity of vision than most of what 2009 had to offer. A master of form, narrative, dialogue, style, even music, QT's return made this film buff realize just how long he'd been absent -- and how much I missed him.

Jane Campion, Bright Star:
She made the year's most beautiful film. Period.


At this point, the one to beat.

An Education
In my opinion, a default nominee, despite its glowing lead performance.

The Hurt Locker
Hot on Avatar's heels.

Inglourious Basterds
A critical darling that pulled through in the end. One of the year's boldest and most passionate.

Another default nominee. Like Freeman, it was presumably in the game before production began.

A front-runner since Sundance, its subject matter wows as much as its performances.

A Serious Man
Sure to get the most votes from the technical branches, it's another well-crafted piece from the Coen Bros.

Star Trek
Though this spot may (deservedly) go to District 9, I think the more popular sci-fi title will find itself in the running. It's extremely beloved.

Like Star Trek, Up should help affirm the Academy's hopes of being more inclusive with their 10-wide field. That, and it truly is one of the year's best.

Up in the Air
Once the front-runner, now a dark horse. Either way, Up in the Air is in play, standing as a defining film for our times and a superb film for any time. My favorite of 2009.

In the Loop
One of the funniest, and certainly one of the most brilliantly written, comedies in years. Has you laughing so hard and scrambling to keep up with its lightning-quick dialogue, a repeat viewing is practically required. No arguments here.

*Check back next week for official nominations and my prediction scores!


Brandon Schultz said...

GOD I hope Sandra does not win the Oscar. I love her, but no. Not fair.

And I really hope Christoph has been told that his acceptance speeches have been awful, so he should not try to theme this one. And I hope he takes that advice. Otherwise, my guess for his theme is "gold." That would be a good Oscar party door prize game...what will Christoph Walz's speech theme be?!

I wish Gabby Sidibhe could win something.

And I hope Morgan Freeman does not win, either. That would also be ridiculously unfair.

Lauren said...

I think George Clooney needs to stop playing himself in every single movie he's in. I don't call that acting, I call it a Cameo. (Don't hit me!) I know he'll be nominated, because that's all that ever happens, but Carey Grant had much more depth than Clooney will ever have, so I truly hope he does not win anything that has been rightfully earned by someone else.