Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oscar Predictions: Lead Acting

Now, let’s move onto the categories most people like the best – the actors.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
For Him: A true acting legend. He received his first Oscar nomination nearly 40 years ago, and this year he received his fifth – and he still has not won. He has won pretty much every precursor that really matters, and people love him in the film. Nominations for Gyllenhaal and the song The Weary Kind show that the Academy really does like the movie.
Against Him: But do they really love the movie? I mean, it still could not break into Best Picture, even with 10 slots this year. Not being a Best Picture nominee hasn’t hurt previous winners, but that was when there were only 5 nominees. Is this really Bridges’s finest work, no matter how good he is?

George Clooney, Up in the Air
For Him: A true movie star. No one does this type of role better than Clooney, who has transformed himself into an Academy favorite in the last few years. He is Hollywood’s poster boy for intelligent, adult movies that people actually want to see, as well as being beloved for his politics. Often times they want to give a star a lead Oscar after they won supporting. He is one of only two nominees from a Best Picture nominee.
Against Him: But the fact remains, that he does have an Oscar at home, something that Bridges – who has a much longer track record than Clooney does not have. They will undoubtedly give Clooney another Oscar at some point in his career – this just isn’t going to be that year.

Colin Firth, A Single Man
For Him: Firth has a track record stretching back well more than a decade of giving solid performances. He has never even been nominated before this year, and people were amazed by his performance as a closeted gay man in the 1960s. For some reason, the Oscars still think its daring when a straight man plays gay,
Against Him: The film got no other nominations, meaning that while they may love Firth, they didn’t necessarily love the film itself – something that is important when you are going for the win. Because he has never been nominated before, they don’t really feel they owe him a win yet. That will be his next nomination.

Morgan Freeman, Invictus
For Him: Freeman is beloved, and him playing Nelson Mandela is absolutely perfect casting, and something that Freeman brought off tremendously well. Oscar loves it when famous people play other famous people, and Freeman is their only chance to reward that in this category.
Against Him: Even with a big Oscar campaign, and Clint Eastwood, behind the film it still could not get into the 10 wide Best Picture nominee slate – meaning I don’t know how much they actually liked the film. I have a feeling that many checked off Freeman’s name out of laziness this year. He already has an Oscar, so there is not great need to give him another one for this movie.

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
For Him: Renner is hoping to become this year’s Adrian Brody – that largely unknown star of a movie that the Academy obviously loves who upsets his competition. He did win a few critics prizes, and people do love the movie and his performance a lot.
Against Him: Brody’s main competition was Nicholson and Day-Lewis who had four Oscars between them at the time, whereas Renner’s competition is Jeff Bridges – a beloved actor who has never won before. While it’s true when people talk about the performances in the movie, they mention Renner first, when they talk about the movie, they mention Bigelow first.

Who Will Win: I think Bridges’ time has finally come and he’ll take home the Oscar easily this year.

Who Should Win: Renner would get my vote, as he delivered the most intense performance nominated this year. Bridges should have won for The Big Lebowski.

Least of the Nominees: Don’t get me wrong, I love Morgan Freeman, and given the material he had to work with in Invictus, he delivered as good of a performance as I think was possible. Having said that, I am the only one who is tired of seeing Freeman play saints? Remember his first Oscar nominated performance, playing a viscous pimp is Street Smart? Why can’t Freeman do that again?

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
For Her: She is a big star, and has had a career year. Getting The Blind Side to over $200 million at the box office rests on her shoulders, and The Proposal did very good as well. She has won the Globe and the SAG award already, and the fact that the film slipped into the 10 wide Best Picture category helps her out tremendously.
Against Her: She has never been an Oscar actress before – not even coming close to a nomination in the past, and sometimes, they make big stars wait a little while before they give them an Oscar. Although the film did get into the Best Picture category, it has a lot of detractors as well.

Helen Mirren, The Last Station
For Her: She is an Oscar favorite, currently on her fourth nomination. Oscar loves historical biopics, which this is, and love over the top theatrics, which she delivers in spades in this movie.
Against Her: In my mind, she is WAY too far over the top here. Plus she won an Oscar already and not that long ago. The Last Station didn’t really get very good reviews, and other than Plummer, she is the films lone nominee. It’s just not her year.

Carey Mulligan, An Education
For Her: One of the breakout stars of the year, Mulligan carries An Education – a Best Picture nominee – on her back. She is charming and beautiful in the movie, and has already gotten roles before of her work here. She is a major star of tomorrow, and Oscar sometimes rewards that. She has won a few critics awards, and has had people talking about the performance since it premiered at Sundance last January.
Against Her: She has not really played the Oscar game this year – concentrating on her work instead of campaigning. An Education started off very strong, but has faded a little bit down the stretch, as has she losing to Bullock at both the Globes and the SAGs. Because she is so young, and so talented (and beautiful), she will undoubtedly have another shot one day.

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
For Her: Hers is the most loved film by Oscar – picking up six nominations this year. She is the title character, and despite the fact that she was a complete unknown when she was cast, she carried the film, giving a subtle, quiet, emotionally powerful performance.
Against Her: Unlike Mulligan, she seems to be more of a one off talent than a future star. Mo’Nique is winning in supporting actress, so they will not feel the need to give the film another win. I have a feeling the nomination is going to have to be enough.

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
For Her: She’s Meryl Streep! Although she has won two Oscars in the past, she hasn’t done so in more than 25 years, and on her last few nominations there have been quite a few people saying she deserves her third – after all, she has been nominated more than anybody in history. Oscar loves a biopic of famous people, and Streep plays Julia Child just about perfectly. It’s also an audience hit, which helps.
Against Her: The film didn’t get any other nominations, meaning that although they love Streep, they don’t love the movie as much. To those for whom impersonation is not enough, I doubt that they will be swayed by Streep here. And even though it has been a while, she does have two Oscars.

Who Will Win: Sandra Bullock came out of nowhere in the late going of the game, proving all the people who said it was going to Mulligan vs. Streep wrong. I suspect the steamroller season she has had recently will continue, and she’ll win.

Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan is far and away the best of the nominees this year. Sweet, innocent, naïve, yet somehow mature. It’s a brilliant performance.

Least of the Nominees: I know most of the internet people are picking on Bullock, but I would gladly take her best performance to date (which isn’t saying all that much really), over Mirren’s over the top theatrics. And although I know I will anger people, I’d probably pick her over Streep as well.

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