2010 Oscar Predictions

It’s that time of year again! This time, being in Japan, it’s probably one of the hardest years for me to predict the winners. In some ways, this year is very predictable but in other ways it is not. Nonetheless, it should be very interesting. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the Oscars (at the very least, not live), but I will definitely review the results afterwards. Here’s my ballot

(You can review the full ballot of nominees and use this ballot to cast your own personal predictions here: http://us.imdb.com/Behind/ballot/IMDb_RTO2010ballot.pdf)

1. Best Picture: “Avatar”
2. Best Leading Actor: Jeff Bridges, for “Crazy Heart”
3. Best Leading Actress: Sandra Bullock, for “The Blind Side”
4. Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, for “Inglorious Basterds”
5. Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, for “Precious”
6. Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, for “The Hurt Locker”
7. Best Original Screenplay: “Inglorious Basterds”
8. Best Adapted Screenplay: “Up in the Air”
9. Best Cinematography: “Avatar”
10. Best Editing: “The Hurt Locker”
11. Best Art Direction: “Avatar”
12. Best Costume Design: “The Young Victoria”
13. Best Makeup: “Star Trek”
14. Best Original Score (Music): “Up”
15. Best Original Song: ‘The Weary Kind’ from “Crazy Heart”
16. Best Sound Mixing: “Avatar”
17. Best Sound Editing: “Avatar”
18. Best Visual Effects: “Avatar”
19. Best Animated Film: “Up”
20. Best Foreign Language Film: “The White Ribbon”
21. Best Documentary : “The Cove”
22. Best Short Documentary: “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
23. Best Short Animated Film: “A Matter of Loaf and Death”
24. Best Short (Live Action) Film: “Kavi”

And as is usual fare, with my predictions comes some commentary on some of what I chose. The numbers correspond to above.

1. Wow, Best Picture-what is being called one of the toughest races in recent years. It reminds me of the Oscars in 2006, in which the best film of 2005 was “Crash”, even though I had suspected “Brokeback Mountain” would have won. I guessed wrong that year. I haven’t incorrectly guessed the Best Picture category for the last three years (of course, I wanted “Babel” to win over “The Departed”, but that’s another story). So I have a little bit of pride in this category.

But I think I will try what I did in 2005 and predict the film that I would rather not see win the Oscar, and that is “Avatar”. I think it’s pretty clear that the Best Picture winner will be either “Avatar” or “The Hurt Locker”. Picking between the two is what is difficult. Frankly, I just don’t think that “The Hurt Locker” has enough steam going for it. I know there’s some other major ‘Best Picture’ awards it has earned (Producer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, etc.) and comparatively, Avatar hasn’t done so much in that area; though winning the Golden Globes is a huge step.

The fact is, though, that everyone and his mom saw Avatar. It’s not the film audience that is voting for the Oscar, but the sheer amount of people who have seen it is staggering. The box office info is no mystery-over $700 million domestically, $2 billion worldwide; and you know what? It’s still in theaters. If it wins Best Picture tonight like I think it will, it will probably have earned itself another $100 million dollars so that people like me who still haven’t seen it can.

The Academy obviously doesn’t need to help the film’s success any more by giving “Avatar” the Oscar, but it may want to reward it. After all, the fact that there are 10 Best Picture nominations this year is, I think, a response to “The Dark Knight” not being nominated last year for Best Picture. The Academy wanted to expand to 10 nominees for films like “The Dark Knight” that do enormously well in the box office, but are still overshadowed by more ‘artsy’ films like “Milk” and “The Reader”. And it’s not like “The Dark Knight” was an unworthy film, anyways.

Again, this race is close, but I think the steam of “Avatar” in the box office will translate to a win this year. James Cameron has come out of his shell to create a technically superior film to all of the other nominees this year. While I would like “The Hurt Locker” to win, and despite its awards these last few weeks, I still think “Avatar” has this one.

2-6. These 5 nominees are near locks in my opinion. The only two that might see a different outcome is Best Actress and Best Director; Best Actress being the more likely of the two to see someone else win than my predictions.

I can’t say Sandra Bullock is a great actress, because frankly I haven’t seen many of her films. I thought she was really good in “Crash”, but that was in no way a huge role for her. In “The Blind Side”, Bullock is at the forefront of the film. And I’m feeling that this will be her year. Meryl Streep may sneak in with her nomination.; she’s been nominated many times recently and has yet to win. In the same way that Kate Winslet won last year after having been nominated so many times, Streep may be on center stage accepting this award tonight. But I have a feeling that Streep will have to stay seated as she is so used to doing already and watch another deserved actress walk away with the Oscar.

With the steam that “Avatar” has for Best Picture, there’s also a chance that James Cameron, who has taken much time off from directing, may walk away with the Oscar for Best Director. After all, this film has quite a lot going on, but perhaps that is better saved for the producers, who will likely walk away with the win. James Cameron also produced, but this award is for directing. “The Hurt Locker” is being called one of the best depictions of this particular war, and despite having no support from the military in filming, the film still succeeds. Sound like a Best Picture winner? Sounds more like good directing to me. Like many others, I think Kathryn Bigelow has this one. I won’t call it a lock, but it’s fairly likely nonetheless.

14. “Avatar” would seem the likely winner here on the surface level. Filmtracks.com calls its music the one with the most ambition this year. “Avatar’s” ambition, in general, has held up pretty strongly this year. However, I think back to “Up” and while I can’t remember much of its themes, the opening montage alone would probably elevate this one to a win. In the past, many Pixar movies have been nominated for its music, including one of my favorites for music, “Finding Nemo”. Michael Giacchino did very well with his Academy Award from the video game industry for “Medal of Honor: Frontline”, and has since been mainly with Pixar for its music. This is probably his year at the movies’ Academy.

16 and 17. Oh boy, I always seem so confident about these categories when I vote, but for the last two years I have been wrong for both of these categories. Though my theory about these categories held true for the Oscars of 2008 (for the films of 2007), that whoever wins Sound Mixing will go on to win Sound Editing if it was nominated for that one, I had falsely predicted “Transformers” for both, when I should have picked “The Bourne Ultimatum” for at least Sound Editing. And while I thought “Wall-E” would walk away with at least Sound Editing last year, alas “The Dark Knight” did, even though “Slumdog Millionaire” got Sound Mixing.

This year, the technical spectacular that is “Avatar” should get both. Many people are suspecting it might only win one or the other and not both. But if I had voted for “The Dark Knight” for both last year like I probably should have done, I would have at least gotten one of them correct. So even though “Avatar” may not take home both, I think it will, and my money is going to “Avatar” for both.

24. This is perhaps one of the hardest categories to predict, along with the films nominated for Best Short Animated Film, although I think that’s more clear-cut than this one. The subject of “Miracle Fish,” for example, is intriguing. A boy who is bullied wakes up one day with no people around him. The movie plays like a fantasy for him at that point. But the depressing ending may be too much for the people who watched all five films. So, it may be easier just to go with a Wallace and Gromit short, in the end.

Although I haven’t talked much about the other categories in-depth, I did talk pretty thoroughly about Best Picture. Also, to be honest, many of the picks I had for the categories I didn’t mention were more or less what I have heard from other sources will be the winner. But then again, it’s kind of the way it goes with this kind of voting. I feel very strongly about these ones, and hopefully I can miss less than 5 (that’s the amount I missed last year). So while I may not see it live, I can’t wait to see what the winners are. And although my money is on “Avatar” for the big win, I will be more happy to see “The Hurt Locker” win.