Christmas has come early: It’s Oscar time (March 7). Time to pour yourself a glass of champagne and park it on the couch for three hours of mediocre comedy, mind-numbing live performances and 47 ridiculous speeches where self-involved actors (redundant) thank their people. I do this in the hope one or more of the following will happen: Someone will say something really, really funny, something really, really stupid, something clearly under the influence, or someone will fall (I’m not proud of it).
The other reason is to see how I did on predicting who will win. I’m usually about a B+. This year the format is slightly different: 10 films are nominated; there is no Best Original Song Live performances; Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin are hosting (if their SNL rivalry is any indication, they should be very funny.)
Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker , Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
There are a lot of films I liked better than Avatar, but having 10 on the list should dilute the competition. There is the remote possibility that James Cameron is so pompous people may not vote for Avatar. If I were I voting, I’d go with Inglourious Basterds.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
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
Bridges has this locked up. He gave a great performance in a pretty good movie, and he is overdue. Clooney’s performance was overrated. Colin Firth could have won, but for Bridges. Morgan Freeman has so spoiled us with his stirring performances this doesn’t really stand out, and Renner’s award is the nomination.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Helen Mirren in The Last Station
Carey Mulligan in An Education
Gabourey Sidibe in Precious
Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia
This is far from a sure thing. Gabourey Sidibe is in the running, as is Streep, although she suffers from the same problem as Morgan Freeman. And while Sandra Bullock is handicapped by not being ‘Oscar material,’ I am going with her.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Any other year Stanley Tucci would be the odds-on favorite for his turn as a child murderer. But relative unknown Christoph Waltz delivers a mind-blowing performance as the inscrutable Nazi colonel.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nomination was met with giggles for her turn as Bad Blake’s love interest. The Up in the Air women sort of cancel each other out. Penélope Cruz was delightful in Nine, but pales in comparison to Mo’Nique’s horrifying turn in Precious.
James Cameron for Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels for Precious
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air
Tarantino is the heavy favorite, but Kathryn Bigelow has three very important things going for her: her movie might be the little indie that topples the Goliath; she would be the first woman ever to win Best Director; and she is the ex-wife of the man Hollywood loves to hate, James Cameron. The key word that applies to Tarantino, on the other hand, is ‘overdue.’