Oscar nominations are out and everyone in the Blogosphere has been discussing the most prestigious award ceremony over the last few days. I don't usually get too caught up in the Oscars because, for one, everyone else covers it so throrougly and two, I usually haven't seen a ton of the nominated films. Often the nominees are obscure titles that haven't been in wide release or ones that I have no real interest in. But what the heck, I'll throw my two cents in this time around. I'm covering only the major awards, of course, and for each category I'll be predicting who will win, who I would vote for if the Academy was dumb enough to induct me, and someone who I felt was worthy of nomination. That's not to say (generally speaking) that he/she/it should be nominated in place of someone/thing that was nominated. I think the Academy did a better job this year than they have in recent years in terms of nominating the right people. So way to go, Academy!
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Prediction: Jeff Bridges - I still haven't seen "Crazy Heart" but Bridges seems to be a sure thing here.
My vote: Clooney, though Renner was great as well. In truth, this is an extremely strong category this year. I don't think you can make a legit case against any of these guys.
Also deserving: Sam Rockwell, "Moon", Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "500 Days of Summer" - Rockwell was spectacular in his own version of "Cast Away"/"I Am Legend." Levitt showed great range in the unique "500 Days."
Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Meryl Streep, "Julie and Julia"
Prediction: Bullock - this one is completely locked up, the other nominees need not show up.
My vote: Having only seen one of these movies, it would have to be Bullock.
Also deserving: Maya Rudolph, "Away We Go", Amy Adams, "Sunshine Cleaning" - It was shocking to see Rudolph in a serious role and she delivered a stirring performance. "Cleaning" has gotten no award show love but I'm still not convinced Amy Adams didn't give the best female performance I saw all year.
Matt Damon, "Invictus"
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglorious Basterds"
Prediction: Waltz - if Bullock is a lock, Waltz is like the kind of lock that goes on a state of the art bank safe. No one else is coming home with this award...
My vote: Waltz - ...and no one else should take home this award. Waltz was perfect.
Also deserving: Brad Pitt, "Inglorious Basterds", Jude Law, "Sherlock Holmes" - I thought Pitt was comedic genius as the head of the Nazi hunting troop in "Basterds." With his take on Watson in "Sherlock Holmes," Law breathed a new life into his career that he will surely destroy when his new film "Repo Men" hits screens later this year.
Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Prediction: Monique - I haven't seen "Precious" and I don't intend to, but I've heard Monique is a shoe-in.
My vote: Kendrick/Farmiga - Honestly I can't decide who was better and I have a feeling that will only help Monique's campaign; Farmiga and Kendrick will split the vote too much for one of them to win. If pressed, I would vote Kendrick.
Also deserving: Emily Blunt, "Sunshine Cleaning", Melanie Laurent, "Inglorious Basterds" - Again, "Cleaning" got no love and it's a shame. Blunt was incredible. And for the first time, I'm calling foul on the Academy. Melanie Laurent was GANGBUSTERS in "Basterds." I haven't seen "Nine" but there's no freaking way Penelope Cruz did ANYTHING in that movie that equalled Laurent's work.
James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
Quientin Tarantino, "Inglorious Basterds"
Lee Daniels, "Precious"
Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"
Prediction: Bigelow - This will be the first time in the history of the Awards that a woman has won Best Director. Totally deserving.
My vote: Cameron - All of these directors are more than deserving (again, excluding "Precious" as I haven't seen it). But I don't know how I could not vote for Cameron. You can rip Cameron on his script and his story all you want (and it would be deserving) but as far as direction, the work he did on "Avatar" is so extensive that I don't think you can vote against him.
Also deserving: Neill Blomkamp, "District 9" - Blomkamp's work came out of nowhere. An excellent sci-fi tale with powerful yet subtle Apartheid themes, it is SHOCKING that this dude put this together on the budget he had (reportedly under $30 million).
"The Hurt Locker"
"A Serious Man"
Prediction: I think they'll balance this out. If "Avatar" wins Picture and Bigelow wins Director, I think the voters take care of either Tarantino or the Coen Brothers and vote for "Inglorious Basterds" or "A Serious Man."
My vote: "Inglorious Basterds" - I haven't seen "A Serious Man" yet but I think "Basterds" was the best, most inventive script I've seen put to the screen in a while.
Also deserving: "Moon," "500 Days of Summer" - Both were truly unique which is what I usually look for in this category.
"In the Loop"
"Up in the Air"
Prediction: "Up in the Air" - And the splitting up of the awards continues. This was a fantastic, real, sometimes depressing but never devastating movie that was wonderfully structured.
My vote: "Up in the Air"
Also deserving: "The Road," "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," "Where the Wild Things Are" - Bringing "The Road" to the screen without losing the tone of the book was a difficult process. "Harry Potter 6" was perhaps the best of the bunch in terms of bringing the book to the screen as it was invisioned. And "Wild Things" tackled an incredibly difficult task in turning a beloved children's book of about 8 pages into a full movie that captured the essence of said book.
"The Blind Side"
"The Hurt Locker"
"A Serious Man"
"Up in the Air"
Prediction: "Avatar" - I think "The Hurt Locker" is "Avatar's" biggest competition. But for all its flaws I'm not sure the Academy is going to pass on "Avatar." Honestly, though, I don't think you can go wrong with "Avatar," "Hurt Locker," "Basterds," "Up," or "Up in the Air." They were all excellent.
My vote: "Up" - The first Pixar film to get the respect that company deserves, I personally think "Up" was the best movie I saw all year. It is unique, it is funny, it is visually appealing, and it is emotionally relevant in a way that most of these movies weren't.
Also deserving: "Moon" - Having no budget hurt but having no support from the studio hurt worse. This was a fantastic movie and unfortunately no one will ever see it.
I might actually watch this junk this year,