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Oscars 2010: The Performances

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There are four acting categories and 20 nominees. That is a lot of performances and the funny thing is, there are always other great performances that we can argue about. I know there are performances I would have loved to have seen here that didn't make it, but I cannot take the argument too far as there are a number of performances I did not see. Sure, I saw most of them, but for as many movies as I see and the many more I try to see, there are always going to be a few that fall through the cracks.

This being true, I am primarily going to focus on the performance I think will win each category with a few notes along the way. This will not be as in depth as other Oscar columns that have come recently, but I am sure will get the general direction in which I am heading. I would also love to hear your thoughts on who you think will win.

2010's roster of nominees covers 14 films, with Up in the Air receiving the most acting nominations (three). Who will walk away with the big prizes? Read on.

Best Actor

The five nominees are Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker.

I see this category as a three-way race between Bridges, Clooney, and Renner. I hear Firth is very good, but the film never seemed to get any momentum going, which leads me to believe he is a dark horse. I have seen Invictus and yes, I think that Freeman is good, I just do not see it as a winning performance, although the Academy does seem to like biopics and their lead actors.

There are a couple of names that I feel have been overlooked for nominations. Among the non-nominees that deserve some recognition are Sam Rockwell for his great work in Moon, Viggo Mortensen for The Road, Nicolas Cage for his wild performance in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Michael Stuhlbarg for A Serious Man.

As for the winner?  Jeff Bridges, who gives one of the best performances of his career, will walk away with the top prize. For one, he is great in the film, giving a completely credible and engrossing performance as a broken down country star. Secondly, I think the Academy may feel bad about not giving it to Mickey Rourke last year. Well, not really, but I still think he will win (although it should be Sam Rockwell). Clooney would not surprise me, but he already has a win and Bridges is overdue. Jeremy Renner has a shot, but is a dark horse among the big three.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, Helen Mirren for The Last Station, Carey Mulligan for An Education, Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia.

I am at a major disadvantage when it comes to this category. I have only seen two of the performances. The funny thing is that one of the ones I saw is the one I would like to see win, while one of the ones I did not see is the one I am expecting to win. So far as overlooked performances go, I can only think of one that would have required thinking outside the box and never really had a chance. The performance would be Zoe Saldana from Avatar. As the Na'vi Neytiri, she was compelling and the character had depth and emotion. Interesting considering it is a motion capture performance.

As for the winner? I have a strong suspicion that Sandra Bullock will win for The Blind Side. I have not seen the film, but it has had such strong word of mouth and some great momentum through the awards season. On the other hand, I would rather see Gabourey Sidibe win for her work as the title character of Precious.

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon for Invictus, Woody Harrelson for The Messenger, Christopher Plummer for The Last Station, Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones, Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.

There are some very good performances, although once again, I did not see a couple of them (Plummer and Harrelson) and then you have Stanley Tucci, who was the best thing about The Lovely Bones. Fortunately, I feel fairly certain the winner will come from one I have seen. Of course, it is not hard to predict when he has been winning awards left and right leading to this ceremony.

It is funny, as I look at the nominees, even the ones I have seen, the winner is a foregone conclusion. Without a doubt Christoph Waltz will be walking away with the top prize. His work as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds is incredible. He is a force of nature as the film's villain. Whenever he is onscreen you will not be able to take your eyes off of him.

Yet there are still those who were overlooked. Primarily, I am thinking of Jackie Earl Haley who was electrifying as Rorshach in Watchmen.

Best Supporting Actress

Penélope Cruz for Nine, Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air, Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart, Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air, Mo'nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.

Finally, a category in which I have seen all of the nominees! Most of the performances here are very good, the one notable exception is that they nominated the wrong actress from Nine. Sure, Penelope Cruz was a little flashier and more prominent, but it was not the best one here. They should have nominated Marion Cotillard as Daniel Day Lewis's long-suffering wife. However, in the end it matters not as neither one is going to win.

My feeling is that Mo'nique is going to win. First off, her performance is eye-catching in its cruelty and builds to the revelations at the end. Secondly, the Academy loves actors that go through transformations and this is not the same Mo'nique we know from the comedy stage. At the same time, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick both gave strong performances and a win by one of them could signal a big night for Up in the Air.

Would I have preferred to see all of the nominated performances beforehand? Of course! However, I think it is still relatively easy to guess the winners or at least have a good idea of the likelihood of a given nominee. Be sure to check out the ceremony on March 7, 2010.

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About Draven99

  • Great analysis. Looking forward to the Oscars this weekend.

  • This year, the new voting system among the 6,000 Academy members may distort the true vote. Avatar deserves Best Picture for sheer originality and use of new technology; Jeff Bridges deserves Best Actor; Meryl Streep deserves Best Actress.

  • Well, you got them all right. Woohoo!

    As to best picture, which you didn’t address here, I can only say that “Avatar,” while dazzling to the eye and a technical triumph, I didn’t believe it was the best picture of the year, and apparently the voters didn’t either. I’m not sure how it would have come out if there had been but the usual 5 nominees, but when it comes down to it, “Avatar” is an old, oft rehashed story. Cameron’s vision apparently doesn’t go far beyond the technical.

    I haven’t seen “The Hurt Locker,” but it obviously struck more nerves than 8 foot tall blue beings with long tails and flat noses.


  • You’re right, to an extent. After listening to some interviews with Cameron, I feel the familiar story was a calculated risk. He is a tchnical director who wants his stories to be identifies with by the majority. The best way to do that is deliver something familiar. I am not saying this is a good thing to do, but it allows more of an in than a more experimental style, especially when you have an eye to a budget this large, box office dollars are a must.

    I do address the best picture category in a prior column. Also, if the ten nominees were based on my top ten, it would look quite different.