Last year, I was 20/24 in Oscar predictions, which I'm pretty sure I'll never beat.
Should win: Up
Will win: The Hurt Locker
I can't say why a particular film deserves to win, but I can tell you why each one won't win. The Hurt Locker? Early release date and small box office. Avatar? All flash and no story. A Serious Man? Coens have won too recently. Up? A token pick; The Academy actually hates animated flicks. An Education? Produced outside the U.S. and lost the BAFTA. District 9? See Avatar. Inglorious Basterds? Too "trendy." The Blind Side? Too cliche. Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire? Too depressing. Up In The Air? Glib, superficial, and a total chick flick. Come to think of it, that makes it perfect Oscar bait. And with 10 nominees, that makes an upset all the more possible.
The pick is Up because not only should Wall-E have been nominated last year, it should have won the damn thing. I demand retribution for that in the form of a win for Disney/Pixar. Despite being somewhere in the middle of Pixar's list, it is one of its lightest and funniest. Up has brilliant voice acting, technical competence, and is wonderfully written. Its "failed purpose" theme makes it required viewing for crabby old guys everywhere. Hell, it deserves to win based on the first 10 minutes of the film alone.
Should win: Quentin Tarantino
Will win: Kathryn Bigelow
Tarantino is going to be the next Marty Scorsese…I can't see him winning until he turns 95 too. Bigelow and her low-budget film beat her ex-husband and his megabucks magnum opus. Sweet revenge. Tarantino gets my nod for this year's prestige pic and a great ensemble cast performance, but the director usually has to win for the film to win it all.
Should win: Morgan Freeman
Will win: Jeff Bridges
We've seen this scenario before, haven't we? I'm thinking Mickey Rourke vs. Sean Penn of last year. And Bridges played basically the same character that Rourke did. I believe Clooney is a real contender. My pick is for Morgan Freeman despite playing an "Oscar-bait" role, but he won't win because he's won too recently in a Clint Eastwood film. And watch out for Colin Firth, everybody! Big upset potential.
Should win: Meryl Streep
Will win: Sandra Bullock
Tough call here. Sandra Bullock hasn't seemed to win over the critics, judging by the minor league awards, but I think the Academy will carry her through. Academy seems to like a comeback role, even though Streep was better. However, The Blind Side was better than Julie and Julia by a lot, so I'm torn. My gut instinct still tells me Streep will win, just as it was correct two years ago in telling me that Cotillard would upset Christie. Oh well…
Best Original Screenplay
Should win: Up
Will win: The Hurt Locker
Good field this year, and a tough one to pick. Writer's Guild was kind of all over the map this year, and I can't believe that Avatar was nominated for their original screenplay award. Gotta go with Up to support my Best Picture claim above, but I would not be upset at all to see A Serious Man win either. And since Ebert has called this one for Inglorious Basterds, it's wide open as far as I'm concerned. My streak of 14 consecutive correct picks in the writing categories could be at risk. Hurt Locker won the Guild award, but did not compete against Up and Inglorious Basterds.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Should win: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Will win: Up in the Air
Having seen only three of the films, I can only guess. I'll go with what the Guild said and pick Up in the Air to win because of the whole "unemployment bad economy" thing it has going on, which the voters seem to like for some reason. District 9? Give me a break.
Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Christoph Waltz
Will win: Christoph Waltz
Have to agree with them on something. Strong multi-lingual comedic performance combined with an extraordinarily weak field in this category make Waltz my 2010 Academy Awards Lock of the Week. Hopefully, newcomer status doesn't hurt him.
Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Mo'nique
Will win: Mo'nique
Penelope Cruz plays a crazy ex-lover so well that she should win an Oscar. Oh wait, she did. Last year. Same role. Mo'nique's character was a bit too nuts to be really convincing, but there's not much competition. If Maggie Gyllenhaal wins, I'll be livid…she was brutal in Crazy Heart and should not be nominated.
And the rest:
Animated Feature Film: Up
Art Direction: Avatar
Cinematography: The Hurt Locker
Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Documentary Feature: The Cove
Documentary Short: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Foreign Language Film: Das Weisse Band
Makeup: Star Trek
Music (Original Score): Up
Music (Original Song): "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)"
Short Film (Animated): A Matter of Loaf and Death
Short Film (Live Action): The Door
Sound Editing: Avatar
Sound Mixing: Avatar
Visual Effects: Avatar