As promised, the Academy has increased their Best Picture category to 10 nominees. What’s interesting is the inclusion of Up. After the Academy snubbed Wall-E of a Best Picture nod, they finally came to their senses. Now that Up is among the nominated film, I’m curious how this is going to play out. Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds are serious contenders of that category, but I hope they don’t give it to Avatar. Even with it’s monstrous success in the box office, the numbers don’t always translate to cinematic gold. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, is a masterpiece with its superb directorial control. Inglourious Basterds is quite excellent as well but I’m guessing it’ll fit more on the Writing category. Up in the Air was good but not Best Picture worthy, IMHO. A Serious Man is just plain complicated and masterful; it’s going to be the dark horse of this category. I haven’t seen Precious and An Education but they also received quite some buzz last year especially on the acting side, so a Best Picture is unlikely — but! — since I still haven’t seen them, I don’t want to conclude anything; the same with The Blind Side.
I seriously hope that Kathryn Bigelow wins the Directing category. She won this year’s DGA award for feature film against James Cameron and other heavy-weight contenders. Her directorial control in The Hurt Locker is superb (second to none, according to Jason Reitman, whom I completely agree with).
Jeff Bridges will be tough to beat in the lead actor category. He received plenty of kudos from critics for his role in the Crazy Heart. Jeremy Renner is also a possibility for his role in the Hurt Locker. He delivered his role excellently in that movie. I haven’t seen A Single Man (the film directed by Tom Ford) and Invictus, so I cannot opine anything on Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman.
As for the lead actress category, Meryl Streep, as usual, was fabulous as Julia Child. Critics also lauded Sandra Bullock for her role in The Blind Side — quite a turn around from the disastrous All About Steve. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is also tough to beat for her role as Precious. Carey Mulligan, though, I’m not quite sure but many hailed her performance in An Education. Honestly, I still cannot believe she’s the same girl from 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.
Supporting role, IMHO, should be given to Christoph Waltz and Mo’nique. Costume will be given either to Coco before Chanel or Young Victoria; I’m leaning on the former. White Ribbon is a shoo-in for Foreign Film, and Star Trek for Makeup. Visual effects is no doubt going to Avatar; the movie is visual eye-candy from start to finish. As for Original Screenplay, it’ll be either Inglourious Basterds or A Serious Man. But I got to say that Up’s being in that category makes the choice even harder to make.
The Oscars will be held on March 7. Year 2009 has given us plenty of excellent films and performances, so I’m pretty much psyched how this is going to play out. Visit the official Oscar website here for all the nominees this year.