All week long you guys have been voting in our redblog polls for who you WANT to win some of the major Oscars and who you think WILL win the gold baldies tomorrow night.
I’ve always said the key to enjoying the Oscars is not to get upset when what you WANT to win doesn’t, and the key to winning Oscar POOLS is to completely IGNORE what you WANT to win. Luckily, while gambling is illegal in most states, if you ARE (illegally) putting money on the winners, this is one of the easiest years in a long time to fairly confidently predict most of the big categories. Of course having said that now watch there be an exciting evening of stunning upsets.
And be sure to swing by during the red carpet and the ceremony tomorrow
evening–I’ll be doing some live-blogging (not as extensively as for
previous awards shows) and hosting a live chat. So come on over and join
us in snarking about outfits and complaining when our favorites lose!
With that in mind, let’s run down some of my choices for wants and winners tomorrow night and see how they match up against yours.
We’re in agreement here (as we are in a lot of the polls): I would love to see my beloved Inglourious Basterds win for QT here, but I think we all know The Hurt Locker will take it (the big question is, will the Academy members give HL screenplay and director to make up for giving Avatar Best Picture?).
You guys want District 9 and Up in the Air to win–fine, fine choices, but I’m gonna split with you and cast my wishes for In the Loop and An Education, and if I had to pick one, it’d be An Education. I hope to write tomorrow about how much I simply head-over-heels love that film. As for who WILL win, we’re in agreement: we both say Up in the Air. I have mostly positive feelings about Jason Reitman’s film–maybe I don’t adore it as much as some do, but I like it plenty. Unfortunately, this is the only major award Up in the Air has a shot at, which is why I’m certain it’ll get it. (You guys have Precious in a close second, but I think the Academy will see that more as an actors’ film than a writer’s film.)
Nearly unanimous agreement all around: Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett’s “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart is not just an achingly run-down-lovely song, but it fits the film perfectly, serving its tone, themes, and plot. Though I think we’ll all be curious to hear just what “Loin de Paname” from Paris 36 sounds like and why it made the list. Maybe it’s the greatest movie song we’ve never heard. (I’m not being snarky–when you think about “Falling Slowly” from Once two years ago, you realize there are always some gems out there that maybe aren’t heard enough.)
I think we all know and agree what WILL win. I’ve talked a lot in the comments this week about why I’d like to see someone other than Pixar win one of these for a change, but that’s not a knock on the wonderful Up. I just like to see new ideas and styles promoted. So while I agree with you guys that Up will win, I’d really love to see an upset by Fantastic Mr. Fox, one of my favorite films of last year. I doubt very much that will happen, but in a year that seems very predetermined it’s nice to dream of a few upsets.
Over the jump: the acting and directing awards and Best Picture!
I’m sorry, is anyone else even running in this category? I don’t mean to demean Matt, Woody, Tucci and the tremendous Mr. Plummer, but this has been Christoph Waltz’s Oscar since last summer. And my god how deservingly so. Everyone always says the other nominees did great work, but honestly Damon’s best work last year was in The Informant! not Invictus; and Tucci was creepy as a serial killer in The Lovely Bones, but he was better, more honest in Julie & Julia. I’m as happy as anyone to see Harrelson back on the movie scene these days, but his nom for The Messenger was more a “welcome back” than anything else. We all agree: Waltz should win, will win.
Maybe Mo’Nique hasn’t had her Oscar locked up and nailed down as long as Waltz–there were some dicey times last fall when it seemed she might let it slip away–but make no mistake, she’s taking it home tomorrow. We all agree she’ll win, but when it comes to who we want to win, things get a little more varied. You guys have Mo’Nique ahead in the WANT poll, but you also showed some love to all the other nominees, especially Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart. As for me, I loved Gyllenhaal, too, but I thought Vera Farmiga was just fantastic in Up in the Air, especially given the way our perception of her character shifts throughout.
You guys are very nicely mirroring most of the odds on this one. Bullock is the front runner for The Blind Side, but Streep could sneak in and pull off the upset. I agree–the Academy might feel Streep is due for her third Oscar out of 16 nominations, but my sense is they know she probably still has better performances ahead in bigger, more important roles than Julie & Julia. I think they’ll hold off. And this will cause Moviegoer’s head to explode, but I think Sandra Bullock is only just “okay” in The Blind Side. The film’s a triumph of emotion-tugging over factual accuracy, but Bullock’s performance isn’t what makes it all work. She does a solid, decent job, but it’s really nothing special. However, it’s a feel-good role and EVERYONE in Hollywood who’s worked with Bullock–from actors and directors through crew–absolutely adores Bullock. They know this might be her best shot at a Best Actress Oscar and they’re going to give it to her. However, if you’re looking to pick an upset to get out in front of your pool, this would be the place to go for it.
As for me, while I agree with you that Bullock will win, my heart, my pick is with Carey Mulligan for An Education. I will gush and fawn at much greater length tomorrow in my review of the film, but suffice to say it’s just a marvelously charming performance that also just happens to be stunningly nuanced and complex.
Again, who are the other nominees? We all agree Jeff Bridges will be strolling off with this one tomorrow night and rightfully so. The only crime here is that it will be his first–after four decades of tremendous performances in a variety of roles, the man should have a shelf full of gold by now. Let this one represent them all: The Last Picture Show, Fat City, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, King Kong (okay, just kidding about that one–but growing up I loved him in it), Cutter’s Way (please, please go find it–a staggeringly good overlooked gem), Starman, Tucker, Fabulous Baker Boys, Fisher King, American Heart (another overlooked great performance), Fearless, Wild Bill, White Squall, The Big Lebowski, The Contender, The Door in the Floor, even The Men Who Stare at Goats (the best performance in a frustratingly uneven film.) And that’s not even mentioning how many times Bridges has stepped into a popcorn movie like Iron Man or TRON or Jagged Edge and made it even better. This man is a national frakking treasure.
That said, his fellow nominees all did fine, fine work this year. Any other year Clooney would be the front runner for Up in the Air (you guys loved him, too), and Freeman was very good in Invictus even if the rest of the film didn’t match the strength of his performance. And when it came to playing things close to the vest, Renner was unbelievably great in The Hurt Locker, and Firth was shattering in A Single Man.
Here’s where we start to really differ. You all know my heart is personally with Quentin Tarantino for the WANT to win. You guys want to see Katheryn Bigelow win, with Cameron and Tarantino very close behind her. Where I really disagree with you is on who WILL win. You say Cameron over Bigelow. Uh uh, no way. The chance to give Best Director to a female for the first time ever–and an incredibly talented and well-liked director as well–will be too great to pass up. No one in Hollywood thinks of Cameron as a great “director”–as a virtuoso conductor of dazzling spectacle and action, sure, but not a “real” director. I’m sure Bigelow will win, but if somehow all the anti-Hurt Locker scandals and whispering campaigns of the past weeks DID trickle down to hurt her chances (and I doubt very much they did), then it’d be Tarantino or Lee Daniels taking home the gold in her stead. Not Cameron, no way. (Congrats, Jimmy–I’ve just guaranteed you’re gonna win it now.)
And this is where I get VERY nervous. Before we get into the hows and whys of this topsy-turvy 10-nominee, preferential voting system, let me just say that yes, my personal WANT is of course Inglourious Basterds, my favorite film of 2009. (An Education is a very close second.) You guys want Avatar, with Hurt Locker and Basterds a distant second and third.
When it comes to who WILL win, as we all know I’ve been predicting Avatar since December and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from (fairly accurately) predicting Oscar winners over the past 25 years, its to stick with your gut instinct–don’t let the months of campaigning and theorizing get you thinking and talking your way out of it. So I say Avatar and you guys do too.
Now let’s get into all the ways in which we could be gloriously wrong tomorrow night.
My picking Avatar is not because I love the film–as I’ve said repeatedly, I think it’s a nice, shallow, summer action film that looks amazing. But the whole point of having 10 nominees is to give the Oscars more popular appeal. Ratings have been down, and the best way to get them back up is to award a hugely popular film–one that also points toward the technological and financial future of the Industry. Avatar got people actually pouring back into theaters this winter for must-see stuff on the big screens, and Hollywood knows where its bread is buttered.
However, with the exception of the Golden Globe (which has a pretty dicey, easily manipulated and small voting block), Hurt Locker has beat out Avatar at all the other major awards ceremonies, including from the producers and the directors. And actors make up the largest voting block in the Academy–and we a
ll know Avatar ain’t no actor’s flick. So in many folks’ eyes Hurt Locker is the front runner tomorrow night, tempest-in-teapot scandals or no.
But here’s where the new preferential voting system comes in. It’s too complicated to get into here in detail, but basically it boils down to if your film is both loved and hated by members of the Academy (which you could make a case that both Avatar and The Hurt Locker are), then even if you have more number one votes than any other film, you could LOSE if you don’t have a lot of second and third place votes. That COULD (and it’s a longshot) open the door for Inglourious Basterds to slip through and win. Especially if Avatar and The Hurt Locker split the vote and Basterds gets a ton of third-place votes. Same could be said for Up in the Air or even Precious.
Still, I’m trying to stick to my rules: Don’t bet your heart (I can’t let how much I WANT an Inglourious Basterds win to sway me) and stick to your gut. I’m still going with Avatar.
See you all tomorrow evening right here at redblog so you can mock me for just how wrong I turn out to be!