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Tall Writer’s 2010 Oscar Picks

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This year, the Best Picture category returns to a 10-nominee set as hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin tag team for comedy amid several costume changes as they hope to keep the ball rolling from Hugh Jackman’s varied hosting work last year. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards will be televised live on Sunday, March 7 on ABC. Here are my winning picks (in bold).

Best Picture

  • 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

The first year since 1944 with more than five nominees can make everyone happy with a nice mix of realism and escapism. Blind Side was a surprise as Star Trek didn’t make the cut. No Julie & Julia or (500) Days of Summer either. Avatar is the front runner here. Avatar accomplished filmmaking breakthroughs and represents a modern rarity, which Pixar and a few other studios follow — taking the time to make a great film. The pressure should lie with the end product and the storytelling. Yes, Avatar does not have a screenplay nomination here and has received harsh criticism for unoriginality in a derivative story written by director/producer James Cameron, but it's still the best picture this year.

Best Animated Film

  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up

Many didn’t see Secret, while the obvious five-nomination front runner Up also got a much deserved best picture nomination. The other three nominees are very unique, but Up combines strong filmmaking, music, storytelling, setting, and characters into an unforgettable and highly entertaining story. Will Pixar’s incredible string of hits ever end?

Director

  • James Cameron, Avatar
  • Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
  • Lee Daniels, Precious…
  • Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Clint Eastwood didn’t make the cut while Bigelow hopes to be the first female directing winner. Cameron’s already king of the world with a statue for Titanic and Bigelow almost has a guaranteed win by getting the Director's Guild award.

Actress

  • Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren, The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan, An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
  • Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

British actresses swapped as Mirren replaced Emily Blunt for Young Victoria as Last Station gets some much deserved attention. Streep is the closest contender to Bullock who gets her first nomination and likely win, perhaps by popular vote because Blind Side also got a Best Picture nod. Bullock's longevity and appealing persona boost her chances along with her cumulative work.

Supporting Actress

  • Penelope Cruz, Nine
  • Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
  • Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
  • Mo'Nique, Precious

Cruz got the only major nomination for the high profile, but little seen musical Nine while Up in the Air had a double dose of great actresses. Kendrick has a great future while Farmiga cements herself at the top of the actress talent pool. Mo’Nique’s realistic and dramatic portrayal is the best here, an achievement which adds some credibility to "crossover" actresses and actors coming from stand-up or music.

Actor

  • Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
  • George Clooney, Up in the Air
  • Colin Firth, A Single Man
  • Morgan Freeman, Invictus
  • Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Bridges is long overdue for a win after multiple nominations while newcomer Renner gets a much deserved nomination. Bridges' singing talents come through, but his ability to perform and permeate audiences with his characters fuel this win.

Supporting Actor

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

A great set including men who could also headline any film. Plummer caps off an incredible year, but Waltz’s mesmerizing performance wins out here. His beginning dialogue scene in the Frenchman's house is enough. Tarantino again showcases an extraordinary performance in an extended role, which pushes a deserving actor into the spotlight.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
  • Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
  • Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
  • Bob Peterson, Pete Docter & Tom McCarthy, Up

Boal won the Writers Guild Award and has good momentum. Up continues Pixar’s screenplay recognition as Messenger and Serious get deserved attention. Tarantino has his sole win with Roger Avary for Pulp Fiction. Boal succeeds with the first modern Iraq war movie, which balances taut realism and shocking scenarios as audiences follow along side military characters instead of being dragged along.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9
  • Nick Hornby, An Education
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
  • Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
  • Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Loop gets some nice recognition with their only nomination. Directors Blomkamp, Iannucci, and Reitman stretch their creative skills here while Reitman also gets a directing nod for a well-timed and personal film. Reitman and Turner also won the Writers Guild award. The generational conflicts, modern work environment and personal searches for life satisfaction balance well within each character.

Best Cinematography

  • Avatar
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • The White Ribbon

Bruno Delbonnel (Prince) has three nominations under his belt while Robert Richardson (Basterds) has six plus two wins for JFK and The Aviator. Look for first time nominee Mauro Fiore to take the prize here.

Best Editing

  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious

Editing enhanced Locker to a high level, though District 9 and Precious bring a similar intensity. Avatar and Basterds have longer running times.

Best Original Score

  • James Horner, Avatar
  • Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker
  • Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes
  • Michael Giacchino, Up

Still humming Giacchino’s memorable score. Desplat stays on a roll from last year’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If Avatar gets on a roll, Horner could add to his mantle of two, but things are looking Up for Pixar.

Best Original Song

  • "Almost There," The Princess and the Frog
  • “Down in New Orleans," The Princess and the Frog
  • "Loin de Paname," Paris 36
  • "Take It All," Nine
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)," Crazy Heart

All nominees feature each film’s great musical incorporation into the story. “The Weary Kind” is the most personal here. Randy Newman’s multiple Frog nominations split votes, which reduces their larger exposure advantage. It’s been a long time since these nominees were actually heard on the radio. 1998’s “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic seems to be the last big one. Avatar tried another love epic again with Leona Lewis, but didn’t even get nominated.

Best Makeup

  • Il Divo
  • Star Trek
  • The Young Victoria

High frequency helps Star Trek here, which wins one for the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Eric Bana is almost unrecognizable as Nero and somehow they make Zoe Saldana look even more beautiful as Uhura.

Best Sound Editing

  • Avatar
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Star Trek
  • Up

Pandora’s amazing world deserves recognition for the audio work as much as the visuals here. Christopher Boyes has already won four Oscars and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle has a nomination, but they still win here. Most remaining nominees already have multiple nominations while Michael Silvers (Up) has an Incredible Oscar win.

Best Visual Effects

  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • Star Trek

Usually the film production who spend the most money win here, but District 9 could pull an upset because they did a lot with a limited budget – it’s their best chance among their four nominations.

Best Costume Design

  • Bright Star
  • Coco Before Chanel
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • The Young Victoria

Imaginarium and Young Victoria are the Costume Designers Guild winners, so these likely contenders will battle it out. Sandy Powell (Young Victoria) already has two Oscars, so first time nominee Monique Prudhomme wins here, though it would not be a surprise if four-time nominee Janet Patterson wins for Bright Star.

Best Art Direction

  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria

Avatar and Holmes are the Guild winners, but Victoria certainly has a chance. Imaginarium has a good chance to win out (their other nomination is in costume), but Avatar is the choice. Art direction with real objects is challenging enough, so recognition should be given for creators of this amazing world.

Enjoy the Oscars!

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About Tall Writer

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  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    I agree with you almost across the board, except in two cases:

    I think Hurt Locker wins Best Picture.

    Morgan Freeman wins Best Actor.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/tall-writer/ Tall Writer

    Yes, it’s going to be close for Best Picture. Locker’s been gaining momentum and it’s not impossible for a release on home video to win now…it might be better. Freeman was the only casting choice for that role; Mandela even mentioned him by name. Just wish Eastwood would have got nominated for Best Director.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Interesting pick of winners, but not clear about a few things.

    “Avatar is the front runner here.”

    Not sure where you get that. The buzz and many of the awards given out already make it “Hurt Locker”

    “British actresses swapped as Mirren replaced Emily Blunt”

    How were they swapped? Didn’t hear Blunt got nominated for an Oscar.

    “Bullock who gets her first nomination and likely win, perhaps by popular vote”

    Other than Best Pic with its weighted voting, I am pretty sure everyone wins an Oscar by popular vote.

    “an achievement which adds some credibility to “crossover” actresses and actors coming from stand-up or music.”

    With past winners like Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Jennifer Hudson is there really a need to add credibility?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Freeman will absolutely not win Best Actor.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/tall-writer/ Tall Writer

    Yes, interesting. It’s an opinion remember. Mirren got nominated instead of Blunt who deserves some recognition for The Young Victoria. As mentioned, other factors seem to influence Bullock’s vote beyond basic merit of the performance. Mo’Nique definitely adds to that “crossover” credibility. Hopefully that “clears things up”. Can’t wait until Sunday.

  • Lisa E

    It’s going to be a great Oscars. Like the picks. Makes me think about the politics and business, but the artistic and creative elements as well.

  • Jeff

    Wow! Great picks. Think you only missed best picture and adapted screenplay on the first three pages!

  • Jeff

    …and sound editing and costume design missed on the 4th page. Wow! Only missed 4 out of 18! Good choices. Best picture was a surprise, but not too many Oscars for sci-fi in the past either. Star Wars got nominated for best pic, but didn’t win either.