Award Shows 2010: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards

I fucking hate the Oscars.

Let’s just put that on the table first. The broadcast is too long, too smug, not entertaining, and as I stated during the Golden Globes last month, all awards shows are by their very natures intolerable circle jerks of self-congratulation. The Oscars are the worst of the lot. It’s the longest, the smuggest, the masturbatoriest awards show of them all. Guaranteed the dual hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, will fall flat more often than not throughout the night. There will be weepy speeches we can’t understand. Sean Penn will be presenting Best Actress, and I promise he will say something political that he thinks sounds smart but really just makes us all hate him even more. The broadcast will run long. Winners will begin snapping at the orchestra not to cut them off. Though the nominees for Best Original Song will not be performing this year, we will be subjected to multiple song and dance numbers. (Tip to the producers: Instead of depriving actual nominees of the chance to perform in order to save time, how about you scrap the song and dance numbers?)

That said, I love the Oscars.

There’s nothing like it for pomp and ceremony. I have so many issues with how the awards are presented and with the actual broadcast format, but no award means quite what an Academy Award means. It’s the most prestigious, the most elite, the hardest to win, and the Oscars inevitably create a next-day conversation of who deserved their win and who was cheated. Too often these days we can’t remember one year to the next who won, but each year we do get at least one unforgettable speech, that one person who genuinely wanted to win and wasn’t afraid to show it (this year I think Inglorious Basterds nominee Christoph Waltz will provide that moment). The red carpet fashion will be at its riskiest, most glamorous, and downright outrageous. Whatever happens on Oscar Sunday, we will be talking about it for days afterward. So here are my official, probably wrong, Oscar picks–who will win, who should win, and who could stage an upset.

Best Picture

Who will win: The Hurt Locker

Who should win: The Hurt Locker

Who could upset: Avatar

There’s no question in my mind that The Hurt Locker was the best movie of 2009. It’s a masterful piece of filmmaking, a total effort with excellent acting, writing, direction, photography. It’s a war movie that doesn’t preach. It’s a brutal and exhausting examination of the terrible price our soldiers pay on a daily basis. It’s harrowing and painful and intense and I held my breath the entire time I was watching it. The Hurt Locker should win and I believe it will win, but if anyone else could take home the top honor of the night, it would have to be the blue cat people of Avatar.

As for the field of 10 nominees this year, I don’t love the idea. After several years of taking shit for nominating movies no one’s ever heard of, the Academy decided to up their Best Picture field to 10 nominees from the traditional 5. It has been done in the past, but to me this decision says, “Instead of nominating the top 5 films of the year, regardless of how much money the film did or didn’t make, we’re just going to nominate MORE films.” It’s quantity, not quality.

Best Director

Who will win: Kathryn Bigelow

Who should win: Kathryn Bigelow

Who could upset: James Cameron

Just like Best Picture, this category comes down to an excellent movie vs. blue cat people. Cameron won at the Golden Globes, but Bigelow has since picked up the Directors’ Guild Award and the BAFTA for The Hurt Locker. I really really really hope Bigelow wins because I want to see the expression on Cameron’s face when he watches his gorgeous ex-wife accept the top prize over him while his mummified current-wife looks on.

Best Actor

Who will win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Who should win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Who could upset: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

I had previously thought Renner’s turn as a bomb-defuser in Iraq was the best performance of 2009 by an actor, but then I saw Bridges in Crazy Heart, and he totally blew me away. However, Renner has been largely ignored until now, so I wonder if he could pull off the win based on the Academy feeling like it’s his time now. This is a solid category–throw a dart and you hit a deserving winner. But Oscars are given on a basis of popularity and politics, and Bridges is both popular and well-known. I think he wins over Renner simply because no one knows who Renner is.

EDIT: Renner’s performance was as good as I initially thought and Bridges’ not as special as it originally seemed.

Best Actress

Who will win: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Who should win: Carey Mulligan, An Education

Who could upset: No one

Let’s call this Erin Brockovich 2.0. This category perfectly demonstrates that Oscars are not based on performance, but on politics and popularity. Don’t get me wrong–I love Sandra Bullock. She’s entertaining, and she is talented, and she’s a fairly powerful producer in her own right. There is a lot to admire about Bullock, plus she’s one of those people who has the kind of personality that though she doesn’t cater to expectations, everyone likes her anyway. There’s no question The Blind Side is Bullock’s best performance in a long time, and it reminds that Bullock can do more than be a funny lady. That said, her performance is nothing on Carey Mulligan’s in An Education. Unfortunately for Mulligan, no one saw her movie and its distributor, Sony Pictures Classic, is notorious for not spending money on Oscar campaigns. Meanwhile, Bullock has a surprise hit behind her and a monster campaign. Her win will appease the masses who say the Academy is out of touch with Middle America, and it will make everyone feel good because really, who doesn’t like Sandra Bullock?

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds

Who should win: Throw a dart

Who will upset: No one

Like the lead actor category, the supporting category is stuffed with deserving nominees. Waltz has been cleaning house all award season, and I would like to see him win just to get another awesome acceptance speech from him. Most winners try so hard to act all cool and nonchalant about winning, like, “What, little ole me?” Waltz meanwhile leaps onto stage and can’t talk fast enough, thanking everyone and anyone he’s ever met. At both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs he managed to convey genuine gratitude and excitement, and I think he’ll give an epic tear-inducing speech at the Oscars.

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Mo’Nique, Precious

Who should win: Again, a dart category

Who could upset: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

I don’t see anyone upsetting Mo’Nique, but if anyone could, it would be Gyllenhaal. But she won’t. This is Mo’Nique’s Oscar to win, bought and paid for. Ba-dum-ching.

Best Original Screenplay

Who will win: Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker

Who should win: Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker

Who could upset: Joel & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

I initially picked Quentin Tarantino as my upset, but then I remember how intensely most of the Academy hates him. That never helps. Meanwhile, the Academy loves the Coen brothers, outsider-y though they are. It won’t matter. No one is upsetting Boal, and no one should upset him. His script was the best among a strong field.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who will win: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Who should win: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Who could upset: Nick Hornby, An Education

This is Reitman’s consolation prize. Between Avatar and The Hurt Locker he’s been shut out of the bigger awards, but the Academy likes him so they will give him this. There’s a lot to like about Reitman. He’s genuinely talented and though he comes from a filmmaking family (he is the son of Ivan Reitman), he has worked his way up through progressively larger productions, culminating in Up in the Air, his biggest film to date. I think he will succeed in mainstream movies where too-quirky-for-his-own-good Wes Anderson failed.

Best Animated Film

Who will win: Up

Who should win: Up

Who could upset: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

They ought to just call this category “Pixar’s Annual Oscar”.

Best Documentary Film

Who will win: The Cove

Who should win: I don’t care

Who could upset: Who knows

Once again, I have not seen any of these movies, but everyone is talking about The Cove, so I will pick it to win.

Best Foreign Language Film

Who will win: The White Ribbon

Who should win: Who knows

Who could upset: A Prophet

I also have not seen any of these, but everyone talks about The White Ribbon and A Prophet. The White Ribbon won at the Golden Globes last month, so I picked it to repeat at the Oscars.

Best Art Direction

Who will win: Avatar

Who should win: The Young Victoria

Who could upset: Nobody

The technical categories are where Avatar will shine, which is how it should be. Though the movie sucks, the visuals were spectacular. That said, I did not like Avatar, so I don’t think it should win any of these categories.

Best Cinematography

Who will win: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker

Who should win: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker

Who could upset: Mauro Fiore, Avatar

One of The Hurt Locker’s top achievements was its realistic photography. Many people thought it was a documentary when it first rolled out last year. And that’s what Kathryn Bigelow and lensman Barry Ackroyd wanted you to think. I was happy to see that Bruno Delbonnel was nominated for his work on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was one of the most visually arresting films in the HP series. That’s kinda saying something at this point.

Best Costume Design

Who will win: Sandy Powell, The Young Victoria

Who should win: Sandy Powell, The Young Victoria

Who could upset: No one

Sad that The Young Victoria, which was a very good movie featuring great performances from Emily Blunt in the titular role and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert has been reduced to the Obligatory British Costume Drama Which Will Win Only The Best Costume Design Oscar. Remember The Duchess last year? Yeah.

Best Film Editing

Who will win: Bob Murawski & Chris Innis, The Hurt Locker

Who should win: Bob Murawski & Chris Innis, The Hurt Locker

Who could upset: Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua & James Cameron, Avatar

All night, people. We’ll see this all night. The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar. Murawski and Innis deserve it, they’ll probably win it, but like Best Cinematography, this category will really tell you who spent the most money lobbying the Academy ran the best campaign.

Best Makeup

Who will win: Barney Burman, Mindy Hall & Joel Harlow, Star Trek

Who should win: Who cares?

Who could upset: No seriously, who cares?

Nothing against the men and women who work hard in hair and makeup departments across Hollywood, but let’s be honest. If this category moved to the Scientific & Technical Awards, which do give away real Oscars, just not during the main telecast, would anyone notice?

Best Original Score

Who will win: Michael Giacchino, Up

Who should win: Michael Giacchino, Up

Who could upset: No one

This is a nice score, and every gets really sentimental when talking about it. I think because of how the music carries the “A Married Life” sequence in Up.

Best Original Song

Who will win: “The Weary Kind” (Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett), Crazy Heart

Who should win: “The Weary Kind” (Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett), Crazy Heart

Who could upset: No one

Please. It’s the best.

Best Sound Editing

Who will win: Christopher Boyes & Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Avatar

Who should win: Christopher Boyes & Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Avatar

Who could upset: No one

It’s a technical award, so I’ll give it to Avatar. Besides, it’s fun watching everyone but James Cameron win.

Best Sound Mixing

Who will win: Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson & Tony Johnson, Avatar

Who should win: Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson & Tony Johnson, Avatar

Who could upset: No one

The Academy either needs to combine Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing and call the new category Best Sound Design (nominate the mixer and the editor together), or Best Sound Mixing needs to go to the Scientific & Technical Awards. Shave a few minutes off the telecast.

Best Visual Effects

Who will win: Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham & Andrew R. Jones, Avatar

Who should win: Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham & Andrew R. Jones, Avatar

Who could upset: No one

Again, this is exactly the sort of Oscar Avatar should be winning.

Best Short Film (Animated)

Who will win: Nick Park, A Matter of Loaf and Death

Who should win: Erm…that guy

Who could upset: Anyone else in the category

I haven’t seen any of these. I will never see any of these. This category should probably also go to the Scientific & Technical Awards.

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Who will win: Luke Doolan & Drew Bailey, Miracle Fish

Who should win: Luke Doolan & Drew Bailey, Miracle Fish

Who could upset: Not a clue

I picked Miracle Fish because it has the best title. Since I will never see any of these shorts, that’s all that matters.

Best Short Film (Documentary)

Who will win: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

Who should win: These guys, I guess

Who could upset: Everybody

Again, haven’t seen them. Never will. Get it off the main telecast.

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3 Responses to “Award Shows 2010: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards”

  1. First, I am printing your blog up as a cheat sheet for Sunday…thank you very much. I am counting my $50 now.

    Second, I am betting The Academy gives Best Director to Cameron for Avatar. It’s the highest grossing movie of all-time (again) with never-before-seen special effects, AND it was in 3D. I am not saying he deserves it. I am saying that there is enough SFX stuff going on, plus enough dough to bake the world’s largest pizza, for it to be a legit award.

    If he mentions “King of the World” I am going to smash my TV.

    By the way, when adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” is the highest grossing movie of all time. Will someone tell Cameron that. Please.

  2. …and Avatar for Best Picture for the same reasons as above. I’m not saying I like it. I’m just saying it is.

  3. [...] Best of 2009, and I did single out Jeremy Renner’s performance as the best of that year, although I gave the Oscar to Jeff Bridges. In retrospect, I should have stuck with [...]

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