Monday, February 1, 2010

Oscar Charts, Round 2: The Eve of the Nominations

A lot of the eventual winners are set in stone -- and so, too, are the majority of the nominees -- but there is still some intrigue surrounding the few remaining wild card slots. Which two films will fill the last two Best Picture slots? Will it be A Serious Man and The Messenger? District 9 and The Last Station? Or will the Academy go way audience-friendly by recognizing The Blind Side and Star Trek? And what about Julie & Julia? Or, hell, even The Hangover? Or the inevitable nominee that fell completely out of the race but could still come back in a shocker, Nine?

How about Best Director? Four of the five slots seem to be sure bets, but what about the last one? Is it Clint's? Or a sleeper like Neill Blomkamp? Or Lee Daniels, who seemed like a lock when Precious first hit theaters? An animation director like Pete Docter for Up? Or will there be two female nominees for the first time ever, with the inclusion of An Education's Lone Scherfig?

This whole "10 Best Picture Nominees" thing is slightly altering the shape of the Oscar race, and for more categories than merely Best Picture. The doors haven't been swung wide open, but they have been opened to wider than they have in several years. The announcement, which comes at 5:30am Pacific, will be interesting to watch for one primary reason: it will be fascinating to see who sneak in through that wider opening.

Tomorrow, Cinema Squared becomes Oscar Central, with reports and extensive analysis of all the nominations. And then we will settle into the "Who's Gonna Win" game for the next month.

The updated prediction charts follow after the jump:

1. Avatar
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Up in the Air
4. Inglourious Basterds
5. Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire
6. Up
7. An Education
8. Invictus
District 9
The Last Station

Outside looking in: The Messenger, A Serious Man, The Blind Side, Julie & Julia,  Star Trek, Nine,

Note: I feel like District 9 is gonna have a surge of support that will get it into this race. That leaves just one slot left, and it could conceivably go about seven different ways, and even if you pare it down to the likeliest of competitors, it still seems like three different films are in serious contention. I have a weird feeling that The Last Station could be one of those literary period pieces that swings in without much attention to take four of five nominations, including Best Picture. I will cling to that limb, though I am fully aware that A Serious Man or The Messenger could take the last spot.

1. James Cameron, Avatar
2. Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
3. Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
4. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
5. Lee Daniels, Precious

Outside looking in:  Lone Scherfig, An Education; Neill Blomkamp, District 9; Pete Docter, Up; Clint Eastwood, Invictus

Note: The top four are locks; for the wild card fifth slot, I will go with Daniels, who was a huge sensation when Precious first started buzzing a few months ago. Eastwood is a possibility, but for my money, the likelier sleeper candidates are Scherfig or, most likely, Blomkamp, whose vision is the primary reason why District 9 gets the BP nod.

1. Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
2. Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
3. Carey Mulligan, An Education
4. Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
5. Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Outside looking in: Zoe Saldana, Avatar; Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria; Marion Cotillard, Nine

Note: Seems locked. If there is one upset contender, it's Saldana, but that seems unlikely.

1. Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
2. George Clooney, Up in the Air
3. Colin Firth, A Single Man
4. Morgan Freeman, Invictus
5. Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Outside looking in: Tobey Maguire, Brothers; Viggo Mortensen, The Road; Ben Foster, The Messenger; Peter Sarsgaard, An Education

Note: Another case where it seems pretty well set. Maguire could sneak in for his well-loved turn in Brothers, but that seems like the only logical substitute.

1. Mo'Nique, Precious
2. Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
3. Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
4. Julianne Moore, A Single Man
5. Samantha Morton, The Messenger

Outside looking in: Penelope Cruz, Nine; Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds; Susan Sarandon, The Lovely Bones;

Note: This one's a little more up in the air. The top three are locked, and Julianne Moore seemssolid in the four slot. For the fifth, I'll go out on a limb and say Samantha Morton in The Messenger, though it would be an odd fit if the film didn't score the BP nod as well. Penelope Cruz is the top contender to steal the fifth slot away from Morton, and Diane Kruger is a long-shot.

1. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
2. Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
3. Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
4. Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
5. Alfred Molina, An Education

Outside looking in: Matt Damon, Invictus; Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated
Note: Top four are locked. I will bet that the Academy recognizes the wonderful work of Molina in An Education for the fifth slot, though conventional wisdom has Matt Damon filling it for Invictus.

Tune in tomorrow to see how wrong I was...Happy Oscar Dreams...

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