Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oscar Predictions

The two most predictable awards of the night. I went overboard with analysis anyway.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
For Him: He is a big movie star, who has never won an acting Oscar (he won for screenplay back in 1997). He is in a feel good movie, from a legendary director (Clint Eastwood). He nails the difficult South African accent.
Against Him: Does anyone really love Invictus? The film couldn’t make it into the Best Picture lineup, even with heavy hitters like Eastwood and Freeman behind it, and 10 slots. His nomination strikes me as rather lazy of the Academy, and there is no where he’s going to get much support for the win.

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
For Him: Harrelson had a great year – completing his comeback with his performance here, not to mention Zombieland and 2012. He has been nominated before (for The People vs. Larry Flynt), but has not won. The Messenger is a small movie, but one that has struck a chord with everyone who has seen it – and he is one of the main reasons why.
Against Him: How many people actually did see it? So far, it still has under $1 million at the box office, and it doesn’t seem to being get much of an Oscar bump. While the Academy has welcomed him back into the fold after years away, it doesn’t strike me as they want to give him the award this year.

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
For Him: He is a true acting legend, who at 80 has received his first Oscar nomination – that’s right, he has never even been nominated before- and Oscar loves to make up for past slights. Oscar loves a good biopic, and playing Leo Tolstoy gives Plummer an opportunity to hit many different notes.
Against Him: In recent years, being old and never being nominated has got people like Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee into the race, but not won it for them. It has actually been a while since they have given it to an old guy as a makeup prize – unless you count Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine. His movie didn’t get very good reviews.

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
For Him: Tucci had a great year – first with his fun, sympathetic performance in the audience favorite Julie and Julia, and then as the child murdering pedophile in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. The two performances could not be more different, and they really do show off his range this year. He is a well liked actor who has never even been nominated before.
Against Him: Which means they won’t feel obligated to give him the win – that will be next time. The Lovely Bones was one of the most anticipated films of the year, but when it came out it disappointed most critics. Some feel he is too far over the top here, and should have gotten in for Julie and Julia instead. It’s just not his year.

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
For Him: The lone nominee from a Best Picture contender (and one that received 8 total nominations), the Academy obviously likes his film the best. They also love it when someone comes out of nowhere and delivers a remarkable, instantly iconic performance – and Waltz certainly qualifies as that as his villainous turn is the most talked about in the movie. He has been winning prizes for this since the Cannes film festival, including the two most important awards – the Globe and the SAG.
Against Him: Some don’t like the movie, and think that it trivializes the Holocaust. Also, they don’t feel a need to reward Waltz, as he is a newcomer – at least to them. Plus, since they have give this awards to villains the last two years, perhaps they want to go happier this year. His speeches this awards season have been BORING (but really, I’m reaching here).

Who Will Win: Waltz has been the frontrunner all season, winning practically everything, and I doubt that will change now.

Who Should Win: Waltz is far and away the best in this category. In fact, I’d say he gave the best performance of the year in any category.

Least of the Nominees: A tough call for me. Damon played a rather boring, generic role as well as it could have possibly been played. It’s not his fault it was so vanilla. Whereas I thought Plummer was uneven in a more challenging role. And I'll just add this as well - as much as I like Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones - he played the role perfectly - we've seen him be much better in the past.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
For Her: She has become an Oscar favorite in recent years – this being her third nomination in the past few years. Despite the fact the film got weak reviews, most people loved her performance in it. She is a sexual firecracker.
Against Her: She just won last year – and for a film and performance that got much better reviews. There are many who think that Marion Cottilard was better than Cruz in Nine, but category confusion kept her out. The movie is not that well liked, and some were underwhelmed by her big musical number. This just isn’t her year.

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
For Her: Farmiga finally broke through with the Oscars, after a few years of flirting on the outskirts of the category. Of the two Up in the Air women, she has the meaty, more adult role in the film. She gets some points for playing the type of character that mainly are written for men.
Against Her: She will split the vote with her Up in the Air co-star Kendrick. She has never really been able to break through this year and beat Mo’Nique at any of the award shows. This is a good introduction for her to the Academy – but she’ll have to wait for another year.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
For Her: Gyllenhaal has barely missed being nominated in the past, so this nomination was a long time coming. Could Bridges have been as good as he was without a scene partner like Gyllenhaal to push him into his top game?
Against Her: Her nomination was somewhat of a surprise, and surprise nominees rarely, if ever, turn into surprise winners. She has been absent for most of the other nominations this year, and so hasn’t proved she can beat Mo’Nique. Will they really give two acting awards to a film not nominated for Best Picture? I think not. Plus, well I have yet to read anything bad about Bridges work, Gyllenhaal's character - and performance - seems to rub some the wrong way. It's just not her year.

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
For Her: She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s spunky – all things that the Academy loves to reward in this category. Her supporting role in the Twilight series has upped her profile with audiences, and her nomination here puts her near the front of the generation of young female talent out there right now.
Against Her: She will lose votes to her co-star Farmiga. She is one of the few people to actually beat Mo’Nique this year for a major award – but that was the National Board of Review and happened a long time ago, and I doubt anyone cares. The nomination will certainly help her career, but she’ll have to wait until another year to win.

Mo’Nique, Precious
For Her: She has pretty much been an unstoppable force all awards season – winning every major critics award, the Globe and the SAG. The Oscars love it when someone they previously thought didn’t have acting chops proves everyone wrong. She has a larger than life role, and she rips into with a vengeance – but shows the real person underneath. This is Precious’ only real chance at a win, and they’ll want to give it something.
Against Her: Some will still dismiss her as merely a comedian who got lucky. She has been talked about so much this year that some maybe sick of her by now.

Who Will Win: Mo’Nique has been unstoppable all season long, and there is no way that the Academy is not going to follow suit.

Who Should Win: I am torn here. I loved Kendrick’s sweet innocence in Up in the Air – turning someone who I thought would be one note into a real person. But Mo’Nique is simply brilliant in her movie, and she has some emotional weight behind her performance as well.

Least of the Nominees: Without a doubt, this time it’s Penelope Cruz. She is fine in her musical number in Nine, but she spends the rest of the movie crying. How they nominated her, and not Cottilard who is the emotional heart of that movie, is beyond me.

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