Oscars 2010: My Nomination Predictions

Oscars2010Tomorrow, Punxatawney Phil will try and check out his shadow, but even if we have six more weeks of winter, we’ll at least have the list of Oscar nominations. The announcement will come Tuesday morning at 7:00 CST/5:00 am PST and will be announced by the lovely Anne Hathaway.

Ah, the smell of Oscar season. Yes, I will be up, despite having no full-time job/reason to, to tune in for the announcement (if I figure out the logistics), and you can check out my list right afterward. My predictions will arrive over the course of the 33 days from then until the big ceremony on March 7. For those wondering why so late, it’s because of the Olympics.

Nothing is more fun (or unnecessarily daunting) than predicting nominees! And if you’ve heard anything about this year’s ceremony, you know that the list of Best Picture nominees was doubled to include a whopping 10 films this year. This only makes the category more complicated (and fun) to guess, but in my opinion was a great move. I’ll give you my opinion about why I’m a fan of that another time.

I’m only including the major categories here as I define them. There are short lists for the technical categories that I could’ve used, but that’s completely overboard, even for me.

Let’s start small:

Music – Original Score

I’m sticking pretty closely to the Golden Globes list here. Winner Michael Giacchino (Up) is a shoe-in here and so is the sweeping epic score from James Horner (Avatar). Another likely contender should be the ever-present Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes) whose score combines modern action with the instrumental sounds of period-relevant folk instruments. Other scores I like that deserve nominations are that of Marvin Hamlisch (The Informant!), which puts a perky and welcomingly ironic ‘70s twist on a film taking place in the ‘90s. I was also drawn in by Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man) beautiful and stirring score of mostly piano and strings.

Music – Original Song

There’s no doubt that “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart, winner of the Golden Globe is going to secure a nomination. It’s just the kind of song the Academy gobbles up. It might not even be the only song from the film included, though it should be. Though no “My Heart Will Go On” “I See You” from Avatar will likely get in because if the Academy has any brains, they’ll nominate Avatar any legitimate chance they get to bring more attention to the ceremony. The Academy also loves Randy Newman and Paul McCartney, the latter of which always attracts good attention for the performances, so expect “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog or another song from that film as well as “(I Want To) Come Home” from Everybody’s Fine. Maury Yeston’s addition to Nine with “Cinema Italiano” seems ripe for a nom as well.

Best Documentary

Interesting how Food, Inc. ends up on Oprah the week before Oscar nominations. The investigative look at how our food is made and why it sucks is a top contender as well as marine wildlife expose The Cove. Other nominations (though they won’t matter) should go to The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers and a film I got to see at Columbia, Missouri’s True/False Film Festival a year ago, Burma VJ, should get a nod, which makes me feel cool. I’ll get my review up of that if it gets nominated for sure. The last spot is tricky, but some regional critics have given The Beaches of Agnes a lot of praise as well.

Best Foreign Language Film

Golden Globe winner and likely favorite The White Ribbon (Germany) should easily scoop up a nomination as should Globe nominee A Prophet (France). Other Globe films were not officially entries for the Academy Awards for their respective countries, so using the power of the short list, I’ve found a few other notables. The Secret in their Eyes (Argentina) should represent Spanish-speaking countries and I always trust the Israeli’s to get on the board, this year with Ajami. Lastly, I’m taking a stab at Samson and Delilah (Australia) because they speak Aboriginal and that’s probably awesome.

Best Animated Feature

This category has never been easier. Up will get nominated as will quiet critic’s favorite The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Wes Andersen-directed stop-motion film. Disney’s hand-drawn return The Princess and the Frog should get on the board with the critical support as will Neil Gaiman’s book-turned-film Coraline. The last spot is tricky after the success of “Ice Age 3,” but I’m going with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Best Original Screenplay

Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) is a lock in this category for a nomination. Also, Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) will easily see a nomination after being covered up thanks to the Globes’ Best Screenplay (original or adapted) category. Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man) have to be considered likely candidates here as well. After Andrew Stanton’s big win with WALL*E last year, also look for Bob Peterson (Up) to get nominated. Closing that category out I’m going with the world-wide popularity of James Cameron (Avatar) to beat out Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s certainly deserving (500) Days of Summer script.

Best Screenplay – Adapted

Much like with the Globes, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air) should win here if “Air” gets snubbed in every other category. A worthy competitor should be Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)’s awesomely creative screenplay that is strangely in this category, not the original screenplay one, i’m sure there’s a reason. Nick Hornby (An Education) looks to be another favorite here as should be the case with Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire). For my final pick I’m going to guess the Academy might be interested in adding a woman alongside “Hurt Locker” director Katherine Bigelow and go with the esteemed Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia), a very underrated script.

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Cleaning up the early awards this year has been Mo’nique (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) for her part as an abusive mother. Co-stars Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) should see repeat nominations as well. Academy favorite and last year’s winner Penelope Cruz (Nine) should hear her name yet again and then I’m going with Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), who played a German movie star/American spy, to jump in there for the last spot ahead of Julianne Moore (A Single Man) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart). I have a strange feeling the pull of “Basterds” will get her the spot.

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Surefire and leading candidate Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) heads up this list of predictions for his dynamic and quadri-lingual performance as the frightful “Jew Hunter.” Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), whose role delivering newly made widows the terrible news during the Iraq War has gotten lots of buzz will follow as will Stanley Tucci whether for The Lovely Bones or Julie & Julia I can’t be certain, though he got a Globe nom for the former. Christopher Plummer (The Last Station) will be the obligatory old actor to get nominated and my dark horse is Matt Damon (Invictus) as captain of the Springboks (I really wanted to type that word) rugby team, a performance showing that he truly is a dynamic actor.

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

Here she comes, the “I don’t deserve it” – and she’s right – Golden  Globe and SAG winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) for her compelling portrayal of the tough but selfless mother that made pro-football player Michael Oher who he is today. I have no problem with a nomination, but let’s keep it at that. Next, preserving her record will be Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) for putting on the accent (and the high heels) to become a phenomenal version of Julia Child. Up-and-comer Carey Mulligan (An Education) should be nominated as well as should one-time wonder Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) as a troubled and abused teenager. As much as I’d like to see Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria) on the list, my guess is she won’t beat out Academy regular Helen Mirren (The Last Station).

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role

Another Golden Globe and SAG winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) leads the nominations in this category for his performance as a fading country star. Right behind him are sure bets such as Colin Firth (A Single Man) for playing a man still in shock after the tragic loss of his lover and George Clooney (Up in the Air) as that guy who fires people and gets on a lot of planes. You also can’t forget the fact that Morgan Freeman (Invictus) just played Nelson Mandela, which is instant-nomination material. The final spot is not a lock, but I like Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) for his role as an adrenaline junkie soldier and I think the Academy will be interested in nominating that film where it can.

Best Director

What do I have to say about this category? Don’t mess with L.A. Times directors round table. The 2010 round table includes surefire nominees James Cameron (Avatar) as well as the young but awesome Jason Reitman (Up in the Air). The Academy will also be thrilled to honor Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and include one of the few female nominees ever in that category. You also have to credit the best part of his film, the creator himself, Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) and his superb direction. Although Neil Blomkamp would be awesome to have on the list for District 9 and Lone Scherfig (An Eductation) is likely deserving, directors round table wins and Lee Daniels (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) should secure the last spot.

Best Picture

Okay, here we go. I was actually impressed when I shopped this list around the net looking for comparisons and found I had agreed a lot with the likes of some major critics like Richard Roeper. I hope that disclaimer doesn’t make you think I stole his list – but I honestly didn’t. Here are my criteria: beyond the five locks that would’ve been the nominees any other year, I was looking for critical successes as well as to make sure the major studios were all included in seeing as that is definitely going to be the case in a 10-film category.

Coming in easily will be world-wide box-office smash Avatar seeing as it was the Globe winner and that it’s not only worthy but like The Dark Knight last year, people want to see it on that list, so it’s a business move if nothing else. Second will be most critic’s choice for best picture around the country, The Hurt Locker, which is the frontrunner should the Academy want to award a more traditional Oscar film. Right behind “Locker” is Up in the Air, my No. 1 entry on the Top 10 films of 2009. Next is going to be the hard-pushed Inglourious Basterds as the Weinstein Company always picks one film to push and Nine didn’t work out this year. It might not be a shoe-in with five films on the list, but with ten, no doubt about it. Rounding off the first half I have Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, one of the first acclaimed films of the end-of-year releases.

Here’s where I had to do some thinking. With a high percentage on Rotten Tomatoes, an entry on most lists and my gut instincts, An Education should make it onto this list (and give the UK an entry in the fight). Next, since part of the reason the expansion happened was give films such as WALL*E what it really deserved, look for Up to become what I think would be the first animated film ever up for Best Picture though I’m not confident in that statement at all. The expanded category will also prevent the Coen brothers’ phenomenal entry A Serious Man from slipping through the cracks (by virtue eliminating A Single Man to avoid confusion), a film not getting Oscar buzz but praised on high by critics.

For nomination number nine, I look back on this list and I see nothing for Warner Bros, the most successful studio of 2009. That means you can bet Invictus will land on the list even though a number of films were far better than it. It was a well-made movie, but an under-achieving one as far as I’m concerned. Lastly – and this was a tough decision for me – I want to pick one of the other fantastic sci-fi movies and couldn’t decide which of the two remaining to put on the list. But when it came down to it, I looked at my own list and remembered the originality and chose District 9 for the final nomination spot. Sony Pictures Classics has An Education, but Sony might have done some real pushing for this film. Interestingly, they own Paramount who made Star Trek, the film I’m snubbing with this pick, but I loved District 9 to much to not predict it.

So there are my predictions. Check back tomorrow and see how I did!


  1. I have seen some crappy posts but this one really impresses me. Good work!

  2. Jenni Hanley says:

    Inglourious Basterds should definitely win original screenplay, considering it, like every other contender in that category, doesn’t have a shot at best picture. Up in the Air should win adapted screenplay as well, considering it HAS been snubbed in all it’s nominations. Nick Hornby, however, should really get some credit for adapting An Education from just 25 pages of Lynn Barber’s novel.

    It’s unfortunate that Stanley Tucci is up against Christoph Waltz in the supporting actor category. Waltz should win, deservedly, but Tucci was the scariest villain I’d seen in years in The Lovely Bones. He made me want to hide in my room for several days. The fact that he did that, and did a complete opposite character in Julie and JUlia in the same year, is impressive.

    I agree about Sandra Bullock. Overrated. Meryl should get it for Julie and Julia–charming and exquisite. Though it’d be great to see a newcomer like Carey Mulligan get it.

    I think your top 5 are spot on, and I’d add An Education, Up, and Invictus as well. I really wanted to see A Serious Man. I wish I’d seen it so that I could venture a prediction, but oh well. There’s still time before the big night. I don’t think District 9 is so far off. It was one of those one’s that was a little underrated and everyone ended up Tweeting and loving it. So could be in for sure. The Dallas Morning News mentioned Star Trek actually, but I guess that’s one I don’t see happening. Lastly, I’m really pulling for The Hangover. It’s a long shot, yes, but after the Globe win, I’m a little more optimistic. This one, like Avatar, had popular appeal as well as critical support, which is rare. I know it’s unlikely for the Oscars to reward this kind of movie (humor), but here’s hoping.

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