Friday, March 5, 2010

I made my Oscar picks ...

Have you made yours?

It’s another one of those Oscar years when several of the major categories are locks.

For many, that makes for a boring broadcast of the prestigious awards show, which recognizes achievements in film. But the biggest prize of the night at the 82nd annual Academy Awards — Best Picture — seems to still be up for grabs. And one of the acting categories — Best Actress — isn’t all locked up, either, with Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock vying for the golden statue.

The Oscars air live 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Here are my thoughts on the big categories.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Nominees: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”; George Clooney in “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth in “A Single Man”; Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”; Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”
My take: Bridges is the favorite for his role as a washed-up country singer. “Crazy Heart” seemed to come out of obscurity this year just before awards season began, and suddenly Bridges’ name was on everyone’s lips in Hollywood.
If it hadn’t, Clooney or Firth would be duking it out. But as is, there’s no competition.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Nominees: Matt Damon in “Invictus”; Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”; Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”; Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
My take: Christoph Waltz’s speeches at the various awards shows have been murder to get through. He rambles. He pauses a lot. He has about as much spark as Ben Stein. But the point is, there’s a reason he’s been making them.
Waltz’s performance as “The Jew Hunter” was chilling and clever and even humorous. If there’s a curve ball to be thrown, Harrelson will win for his role as an officer with the Army’s Casualty Notification service. But I doubt it.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Nominees: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”; Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan in “An Education”; Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”
My take: If there was justice in the film world Carey Mulligan would have swept awards season for her fiery performance as a teenager in love with an older man in 1960s England. Sadly, Mulligan hadn’t won a thing until last week’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, where she won best actress. But the BAFTAs usually lean toward British nominees. (Firth won for best actor, too.)
Instead, Streep and Bullock have been winning most of the awards, with Bullock taking the Golden Globe. Despite my inkling that Bullock has the edge, I cannot bring myself to check the box beside her name on my ballot. Her performance was one-note, flat, lifeless ... I could go on.
So, instead, I have to go with Streep as the likely winner. Besides Mulligan, I wasn’t terribly excited by any of the performances. But when does Streep not deserve an award?

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Nominees: Penélope Cruz in “Nine”; Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”; Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”; Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”; Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
My take: As much as I’d like to root for Gyllenhaal, who has the best attitude about being nominated — simply enjoying the surprise honor — I cannot. Anyone who doesn’t know — with absolute certainty — that Mo’Nique is a sure thing hasn’t been paying attention. At all.

Achievement in directing
Nominees: “Avatar,” James Cameron; “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow, “Inglourious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Lee Daniels; “Up in the Air,” Jason Reitman
My take: History will be made Sunday when Bigelow becomes the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best director. For one, Oscar loves to get political, and the female aspect certainly helps out here.
Plus, despite the hype surrounding “Avatar,” the academy is made up of snobs, and I can’t see them getting behind a cartoon blockbuster (for all intents and purposes) for best direction.

Best motion picture of the year
Nominees: “Avatar”; “The Blind Side”; “District 9”; “An Education”; “The Hurt Locker”; “Inglourious Basterds”; “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; “A Serious Man”; “Up”; “Up in the Air”
My take: This is the category that leaves room for debate. Some people think “Avatar” will win, given its recognition as best picture at the Golden Globes. Some think it will be “The Hurt Locker,” given its win at the BAFTAs and Critics Choice Awards. Others think “Up in the Air” will sneak up and take this one, simply because Oscar has enjoyed a surprise or two in the past, and the acclaimed film hasn’t received the recognition it deserves as of yet.
In a year when there is no clear winner — because all of the nominees are flawed — one must go with his or her gut. And mine says “The Hurt Locker.”

1 comment:

  1. I've been a staunch supporter of The Hurt Locker and glad to see that it won. It's a better movie overall compared to Avatar. I agree with Roeper when he said that Avatar's story is corny.