So, today saw the announcement of the nominations for the 2010 Academy Awards. For the first time since the Forties, the Best Picture Oscar is a ten-horse race, but there were few real surprises among the rest of the nominees.
Because I love nothing better than making a fool of myself on the internet, I’m going to go through the major categories and pick the likely winners, as well as who I’d like to win each award. I’ll also nominate those who can consider themselves unfortunate to miss out, as well as a few potential dark horses.
In a little over a month’s time (7th March), the Oscars will take place, and I’ll look back at my picks and see how well – or, more likely, how poorly – I did. Here goes…
Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Mo’Nique – The comedienne and ex-talk show host delivered an unforgettable, fearless performance in Precious, and would be a fully deserving recipient of the gong.
Will win: Mo’Nique – The sheer ferocity she displays as the protagonist’s abusive mother surely makes her a shoo-in for Oscar.
Dark horse: Anna Kendrick – Hollywood loves a performer working outside their comfort zone, and Up In The Air gave the Twilight alumna a chance to spread her wings a little.
Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Christoph Waltz – A phenomenal performance from the little-known Waltz might, perhaps, be the main reason for Inglorious Basterds’ strong presence at this year’s awards.
Will win: Christoph Waltz – Surely the safest bet of the night. Has deservedly won several trophies during awards season, and the Oscar statue will round things off nicely.
Dark horse: Stanley Tucci – It’s extremely hard to see past Waltz, but Tucci’s twitchy turn as the antagonist in Peter Jackson’s uneven adaptation of The Lovely Bones was quite a departure for this fine actor.
Should win: Carey Mulligan – An Education saw a hugely confident, layered performance from Mulligan, perhaps best known to British audiences for her role as Sally Sparrow in the terrifying Doctor Who episode Blink.
Will win: Sandra Bullock – Perhaps the second best place to put your money. Bullock’s The Blind Side rather appropriately took critics and audiences by surprise, scoring the actress’s biggest box-office to date.
Missing in action: Saiorse Ronan – It should be two for two this year for the astonishingly talented teen, following on from last year’s well-deserved nod for Atonement. Her portrayal of Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones was perhaps overlooked by critics dissatisfied with the film itself. That, or the Academy voters struggled to spell her name correctly on the nominations form…
Should win: George Clooney – Five almost equally impressive performances make up one of the hardest-fought categories this year. But in Up in the Air‘s Ryan Bingham, Clooney arguably found the role of a lifetime, one which both played to the actor’s strengths while giving him plenty of emotional meat to chew on. The actor rose to the challenge superbly.
Will win: Jeff Bridges – Any one of the other four stands a decent chance, but Bridges won the Golden Globe and has received rave critical notices for his turn as a washed up musician in Crazy Heart.
Missing in action: Sam Rockwell – Bafflingly, Duncan Jones’ wonderful, atmospheric Moon missed out completely, without a single nomination in any category. It’s a huge shame for a superb piece of sci-fi anchored by a mesmeric performance from Rockwell. The actor can consider himself extremely unfortunate to miss out. One of the most glaring omissions since Jim Carrey missed out on a nomination for The Truman Show.
Will win: James Cameron – For his work in transforming film-making technology as well as the clarity of his vision, Cameron seems a likely winner for a hotly-contested category. It’s almost certainly between him and his ex-wife for the gong, but I think the Avatar director will nick it.
Should win: Kathryn Bigelow – Much of The Hurt Locker‘s impact comes from Bigelow’s intelligent, gritty, unfussy direction. Ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable degrees, this is the experienced helmer’s best work to date.
Missing in action: Spike Jonze – Some predicted Where the Wild Things Are might make the long list for Best Picture, but it missed out completely, even in technical categories like Best Art Direction, while Karen O’s stirring soundtrack was a notable omission from the musical categories. Jonze was never really a likely candidate for inclusion, but his underrated film deserved better than the total snub it got from the Academy.
Should win: Avatar – I agonised over this for quite some time, but couldn’t ignore the impact James Cameron’s 3D spectacular had on me. All those in with a chance of winning are, I believe, flawed in some way. The Hurt Locker is a terrific, tense thriller, but its incredible Metacritic rating of 94 does seem a little high. Up in the Air is hugely enjoyable, yet perhaps a little slight to be a truly worthy winner. Pixar’s Up is a wonderful film, but not the studio’s best. Inglorious Basterds is by turns amazing and self-indulgent. But while its story is both familiar and predictable, Avatar is the most invigorating cinema experience I’ve had in recent years, and a masterpiece of escapist entertainment. Flawed, but in my book, it’s worthy of the highest honour.
Will win: The Hurt Locker – One of the best-reviewed films of 2009, Kathryn Bigelow’s blistering bomb disposal thriller has won a clutch of awards so far, and I think it will pip its two closest rivals, Avatar and Up in the Air, for the big one.
Dark horse: Up in the Air feels a little too breezy and lightweight for a Best Picture win, but its old-school Hollywood charm could see a film tipped as an early Oscar frontrunner make a late charge for the prize.