It’s that time of year again – to rake in the $ on the annual Oscar office pool. I used to win regularly at my old office until they stopped the pool, because, well, I used to win regularly. So I’ll have pass on my prognostication prowess purely for your benefit, dear reader. Though don’t hold me liable if you don’t win – as you’ll see there are a few spots where I’m as anxious to know the outcome as anyone, most notably in the Best Picture category, where The Hurt Locker has garnered prizes and prestige left and right, but Avatar is the industry juggernaut. We’re talking Hurt Locker’s $20 million vs. Avatar’s $2.5 billion worldwide in box office. Of course the lowest grossing Oscar winner of all time was Annie Hall, which defeated another sci-fi blockbuster, Star Wars. Will history repeat itself?
Picture: Avatar. All the critical attention is on The Hurt Locker, but it’s hard to ignore an industry-changing film that also happens to be the highest grossing film of all time.
Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart. A lock from day one.
Actress: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side. Maybe Streep gets her third Oscar, but Bullock’s film was a bigger hit and rekindled people’s affection for the girl-next-door star.
Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds. No real competition.
Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious. Ditto.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. Pretty much everyone is eager to give a historical first Oscar to a female director. Best of all, she deserves it.
Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds. If The Hurt Locker is feeling momentum, it could take this, but I’m thinking there’s a contingent that wants to reward Quentin.
Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air. Swept most of the precursor awards in this category.
Animated Feature: Up. Another year for Pixar.
Foreign Language Film: El Secreto de sus ojos / The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina). Even though Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is the front-runner, in recent years a film that no one knows about (Departures; The Counterfeiters), due to the Academy requirement that voters must see all films. The inside buzz is that this Argentine thriller is ripe for the statue.
Documentary Feature: The Cove. One word: dolphins.
Documentary Short Subject: Two recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti give China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province currency, even over The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.
Live Action Short Film: The Door
Best Animated Short: A Matter of Loaf and Death. Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, back in action.
Art Direction: Avatar. It’s a blue world.
Cinematography: Avatar. Cameron invented new camera technology in order to see his actors as their seven foot blue selves. The only thing tripping up the film here is if voters think it was mostly done on computer.
Costume Design: The Young Victoria. Period usually wins out, and the more lavish the better. Sorry, Bright Star.
Editing: Avatar. Editing and Picture usually go hand in hand. Again, both could just as easily go to The Hurt Locker.
Makeup: Star Trek. Weak category offers a token award for this summer smash hit.
Original Score: Up
Original Song: “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart
Sound Mixing: Avatar
Sound Editing: Avatar
Visual Effects: Avatar
While we’re waiting for the big night, why not watch two films nominated for the Foreign Film Oscar: The Promised Land and Young Girls of Wilko