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).
- The Blind Side
- District 9
- An Education
- The Hurt Locker
- Inglourious Basterds
- Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
- A Serious Man
- 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
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Princess and the Frog
- The Secret of Kells
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.