Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Supporting Actress Smackdown!

I wrote a piece for this site a few weeks back, and the blogger, Brian, AKA StinkyLulu, was kind enough to invite me to his annual "Supporting Actress Smackdown!" You can read my opinions, as well as the opinions of seven other bloggers, about the five Best Supporting Actress nominees. If you've been paying any attention at all this awards season, you know exactly who wins, but there are a few interesting discrepancies between what I think and what some others think. Follow the link and enjoy! And make sure to comment while you're there!

Click here to see the StinkyLulu Supporting Actress Smackdown!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pick Yer Horses 2009

Is it really predictions time again? I feel like this Oscar season just crept up on me, even though I think about it almost every day. Contradictory? Maybe. I'm not a psychologist. I can't explain my own psyche.

Whatever the case, I'm offering the same deal as last year: a gift package including candy, candy, more candy, and an Oscar-winning film for anyone who can beat my predicitons. Of course, that's a tall order--matching me won't get you anything. You have to win. (Sorry, small but loyal band of blog followers--though you're welcome to predict against me, this prize offer is only available to friends on Facebook.)

The movie this year will be either--

A) Citizen Kane
B) Crash
C) The Departed
D) Slumdog Millionaire
E) American Beauty

If you beat me by enough (more than two), I'll even let you pick the movie!

As was the case last year, I'm not offering any more analysis--this post is purely prediction and prophecy (though I am also analyzing the Best Picture race, because I haven't done that yet).

I'm predicting all 24 categories this year. If you want nomination lists, they're available almost anywhere: The Film Experience, In Contention, and, of course, Wikipedia have them easily available. Best of luck! Check out my first 23 predictions, followed by a big section on Best Picture, below.

(Quick correction: I've been referring to Precious' screenwriter as Damien Paul all season, but the writer is actually Geoffrey Fletcher. I apologize for the error.)

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: The Cove

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Logorama

Best Foreign Film
Will Win: A Prophet (Un Prophéte)

Best Makeup
Will Win: The Young Victoria

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: The Door

Best Cinematography
Will Win: The White Ribbon

Best Film Editing
Will Win: The Hurt Locker

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Avatar

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Avatar

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Avatar

Best Costume Design
Will Win: The Young Victoria

Best Art Direction
Will Win: Avatar

Best Original Score
Will Win: UP

Best Original Song
Will Win: "The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: UP

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Up in the Air, Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner

Best Director
Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Mo'Nique, Precious

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Actress
Will Win: Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Actor
Will Win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Picture
It comes down to this, folks. This year's Best Picture category could go in directions none of us expected, or it could wind up going exactly the way everyone expected. There are so many variables: almost ever-shifting buzz from Up in the Air to Precious to Avatar to The Hurt Locker to now last-minute buzz for Inglourious Basterds of all things, the preferential balloting that could favor second or third place votes more than first place votes, and a field as diverse as most have ever seen.

The Hurt Locker would seem to be the frontrunner after winning most important precursor awards (the PGA and DGA chief among others), but a recent scandal involving a producer sending emails directly to Academy members threatened the campaign momentarily. However, most ballots were already turned in, so I'm not considering that a real story. In fact, the Locker folks have run an incredibly strong campaign all season long, and have never seemed anything but gracious. I say this is their race to lose, but they just might.

Avatar is supposedly much stronger in this race than I have considered it to be throughout the later stages of this season. Search me. To me, this will always be Dances with Na'vi, and I don't think I can ever get over that fact. Plus, I feel like this movie is a big "f*** you" to writers--we don't need you! We've got pretty effects! As a writer, especially one going to school for screenwriting, that really offends me. But I'm supposed to divorce myself from my personal feelings, and I am--that's why Blue Pocahontas isn't number 10 on this list. I think it's probably in second place, but being second isn't necessarily any better than being in third when the preferential ballot is concerned.

The reason for that is the same as why I still can't shake this nagging feeling that Inglourious Basterds will be our Best Picture winner next Sunday. In order to fully explain this, though, I'm going to have to stage a simulated balloting. I'm going to use a sample of 1,000 voters to best explain this.

Let's say, just tabulating first-place votes, the voting breaks down as such:

The Hurt Locker: 300
America Hates Blue People: 200
Inglourious Basterds: 100
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 75
Up in the Air: 70
An Education: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 55
A Serious Man (Who Isn't Single): 50
The Blind Side (Though You'd Have to Be Blind to Vote for This Movie): 50
UP: 49
Whatever Movie We Chose With the 9 in It: 1

The movie titles show you how cynical Oscar season makes me. Okay, so, after one round of balloting, District 86 falls off the radar, and whichever movie was ranked No. 2 on its ballots (er, ballot) gets its votes. Since they're both sci-fi films, we'll assume District's vote(s) go to I'm With Bluesy.

The Hurt Locker: 300
Avatar: 201
Inglourious Basterds: 100
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 75
Up in the Air: 70
An Education: 55
A Serious Man: 50
The Blind Side: 50
UP: 49

The next round of balloting, Pixar Shoots at Kids gets knocked off, and we can assume 9 of its votes go to the similarly-animated Avatar ('motion capture' my ass), while the other 40 go to the "family friendly" Always Look at the Blind Side of Life.

The Hurt Locker: 300
Avatar: 210
Inglourious Basterds: 100
The Blind Side: 90
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 75
Up in the Air: 70
An Education: 55
A Serious Man: 50

Wow, am I cynical about all this. Okay, all of A Serious Headache's votes go to the similarly indie An Education...

The Hurt Locker: 300
Avatar: 210
An Education: 105
Inglourious Basterds: 100
The Blind Side: 90
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 75
Up in the Air: 70

...and this is where things take a real turn. Flying with George Clooney's fans are probably all fans of Tarantino, as well, and so its votes go to Engloryuss Basters.

The Hurt Locker: 300
Avatar: 210
Inglourious Basterds: 170
An Education: 105
The Blind Side: 90
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire: 75

Same goes for the very divisive We Made Oprah Cry: Based on the Novel 'Pull' By Emerald.

The Hurt Locker: 300
Inglourious Basterds: 245
Avatar: 210
An Education: 105
The Blind Side: 90

Let's assume Sandra Goes Blonde's fans all love the box office success without a massive budget, so those votes go to Iyng&aea## Basterds as well.

Inglourious Basterds: 335
The Hurt Locker: 300
Avatar: 210
An Education: 105

Look what just took the lead! Now, let's give all of An Education's votes to the other indie, Why Did We Name Our Movie 'The Hurt Locker?'...

The Hurt Locker: 405
Inglourious Basterds: 335
Avatar: 210

...and then give Blue Man Group on Pandora's votes to the similar box office hit I Failed Spelling in 3rd Grade.

Inglourious Basterds: 545
The Hurt Locker: 405

Look what just won! I mean, the real voting obviously won't go this way, but it shows how Inglourious could very easily win. Here's the one caveat, though: as soon as a movie has 50% + 1 of the votes (the majority), that film is Best Picture. If something massively popular like Avatar can wrap this up early, it has a shot at making all this paranoia about the voting system all for nothing.

As far as the other Best Picture candidates are concerned, I don't think this system helps their chances much. Precious and Up in the Air could, in theory, appeal to the emotional sides of voters and pull a huge upset, but past that, the remaining films, The Blind Side, UP, An Education, District 9, and A Serious Man, aren't quite respected enough nor rewarded enough to pull out the win. As far as my prediction is concerned...

Best Picture
Will Win: The Hurt Locker

But know that I am not sure at all of that prediction.

If you're interested in making a run at my predictions for the prize, leave a comment with your full ballot in the comments section of this note on Facebook. One entry per person only, so once you've entered, you're stuck with your picks. If you're only interested in playing for the fun of it, leave a comment on the blog at Picks for prizes are due at 12:00 PM on Sunday, March 7. The Academy Awards are that night at 7:30.

Good luck to everyone in their predictions! This tumultuous season comes to an end in just eight days!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Awkwards! Honoring the Best in Film from 2009

UPDATE: I apologize for how much of a pain in the ass this was to read before. I've respaced the posting so that it may not be quite so difficult to read. Also, if you don't have an account on this site, you can still feel free to comment just by going to the comments section, selecting "Post a Comment," and selecting a name of your choice.

Remember how I said I don't like handing out "bests," boys and girls? Well, I lied!

Going back 100% on my earlier statement, today I will be handing out the inaugural Awkwards, honoring the best in film from the past year according to the staff of the soon-to-be-hopefully-maybe-not-but-thanks-for-asking-famous blog Awkward is What We Aim For: namely, me!

Unlike the Oscars, I only have 14 categories, and I only use six of the Academy's (technically, seven, but I use slightly different criterion for my Best Artistic Direction award). Some are more fun than others, but overall, I want to capture all aspects of a film in these categories that may have not as much to do with the technical work, but what, as an audience member, we appreciate.

I also award 5th through 1st, so no one feels left out. After all, these are by far the most important awards given out this season... (*snigger*... did I just snigger at myself?) The only other rule I have is that one performer can't be nominated twice in one category. So without further ado, let's get started with a fun one...

Best Ensemble
Away We Go
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
Up in the Air

5th Place: The small but special cast from Up in the Air.

4th Place: Great character actors show the protagonists all their possible futures in Away We Go.

3rd Place: The Europeans, Americans, and the incomparable Christoph Waltz all rock in Inglourious Basterds.

2nd Place: I dare you to try to ignore the passionate women of Precious.

1st Place: Each member of the cast brings something special to the table in An Education.

Best Individual Scene
The First Nightclub, An Education
The Supermarket, The Hurt Locker
Mary's Confession, Precious
The Phone Scene, A Single Man
Natalie's Hotel Lobby Breakdown, Up in the Air

5th Place: Watching an adrenaline junkie deal with the everyday doldrums is heartbreaking in The Hurt Locker.

4th Place: The sights and sounds of the nightclub are overwhelming for Jenny in An Education.

3rd Place: Anna Kendrick delivers the best comedic breakdown in recent memory in Up in the Air.

2nd Place: Precious' climax doesn't allow you much time to recover, but what an incredible confession.

1st Place: George's life is turned upside down by one phone call in A Single Man.

Best Supporting Actor
John Krasinski, It's Complicated
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Alfred Molina, An Education
Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

5th Place: Mackie was pitch-perfect and a true support for Jeremy Renner in his role as Sgt. Sanborn.

4th Place: Krasinski was having the time of his life outfunnying Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin at every turn.

3rd Place: Pain and pleasure are difficult to portray so well and so winningly, but Molina does it with aplomb.

2nd Place: Tucci's Oscar-nominated turn in The Lovely Bones can't hold a candle to his sweetly supportive husband to Julia Child opposite Meryl Streep.

1st Place: There's just no competition for the magnificent, mellifluous Waltz as Col. Hans Landa.

Best Individual Line
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
It's Complicated
A Single Man

5th Place: "It takes time in the morning for me to become George." One of the first lines from Firth in A Single Man sticks with you long after you've left the theater.

4th Place: "Real women sacrifice!" Mary Jones claims she's a real woman in Precious, but she's nothing but a monster.

3rd Place: "It’s not enough to educate us anymore, you’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it." Jenny so desperately seeks An Education of a different kind, but she makes a few missteps along the way.

2nd Place: "That's a bingo!" Landa's evil is infectious in Inglourious Basterds.

1st Place: "I'm a bit of a slut." Jane knows the affair is wrong, but just so right, in It's Complicated.

Best Supporting Actress
Emily Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning
Mo'Nique, Precious
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Rosamund Pike, An Education
Paula Patton, Precious

5th Place: Patton loves Precious so deeply, but she can't seem to save her.

4th Place: Blunt's American accent could have been the only neat thing about her performance in Sunshine Cleaning, but oh, did she do so much more with that role.

3rd Place: She's more than a ditz: Pike is both hilarious and surprisingly complex in An Education.

2nd Place: Natalie Keener may be Kendrick's breakout role, but she made it so much more fascinating than a simple ingenue.

1st Place: Mo'Nique is in a category of her own as the monstrous mother of Precious.

Best Use of Music
Crazy Heart
An Education
A Single Man
Up in the Air

5th Place: "Be... Italian..." Sure, the movie sucked, but the music sure was great in Nine.

4th Place: From the funky title sequence, Jason Reitman proves yet again what a master hand he is with music in film in Up in the Air.

3rd Place: The strings are as beautiful as the story in A Single Man.

2nd Place: "You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger" is the irresistible heart of An Education.

1st Place: Bad Blake's mournful "The Weary Kind" makes Crazy Heart all the better.

Best Title
(500) Days of Summer
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
It’s Complicated
Julie & Julia

5th Place: You get the focus of Julie & Julia through its title, but that title is witty and fun nonetheless.

4th Place: Calling to mind the most ridiculous Facebook relationship status, It's Complicated perfectly encapsulates the central conflict.

3rd Place: Jenny's search for An Education seems simple in its title, but the complexity lies just beneath the surface.

2nd Place: Inventive, quirky, and intriguing, (500) Days of Summer's title is everything the movie is as well.

1st Place: What else? Misspellings and all, Inglourious Basterds' title is pure genius.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Brad Pitt, Inglourious Basterds
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Peter Sarsgaard, An Education

5th Place: Slippery, manipulative, and all-too-perfect, Sarsgaard played his role as I wish Vera Farmiga had played hers in Up in the Air.

4th Place: His celebrity often causes me to forget how fun it is to watch Pitt create indelible characters like Lt. Aldo Raine.

3rd Place: Though it didn't appeal to me in the way it did for so many others, I did love seeing a washed-up Bridges sing (literally) for his life.

2nd Place: Kathryn Bigelow may have crafted The Hurt Locker masterfully, but Renner gave it real heart.

1st Place: The only film performance I can remember that brought me to tears, Firth is an emotional victim trapped in memory in Tom Ford's directorial debut.

Best Onscreen Chemistry
Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer
John Krasinski & Maya Rudolph, Away We Go
Jeff Bridges & Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Alec Baldwin & Meryl Streep, It's Complicated
Anna Kendrick & George Clooney, Up in the Air

5th Place: They're destined not to be together, which is sad, because there was a true charm to Bridges and Gyllenhaal's relationship in Crazy Heart.

4th Place: Snobby? Perhaps. Whiny? Definitely. But Krasinski and Rudolph are winningly charming in Away We Go.

3rd Place: He loves her, but she just likes him. The back-and-forth is always fun between these two hipster gods.

2nd Place: The over-50 set can be just as frisky and fun as young kids. Just ask Streep and Baldwin!

1st Place: The whiplash-inducing speed of their dialogue is just half the charm of Kendrick and Clooney. They also have a genuine, platonic affection that is so much more genuine than the chemistry between Clooney and Farmiga.

Best Artistic Direction
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
A Single Man

5th Place: Gritty and difficult to swallow at times, Precious' ambience amplifies the desperation of the characters.

4th Place: The color trick doesn't always work, but on that final fade-out, damn if A Single Man didn't create an artistic finale to remember.

3rd Place: The art direction is crazy and schizophrenic, just like Quentin Tarantino, and just like Inglourious Basterds.

2nd Place: There's a calm to An Education, despite the turbulent time period of the '60s so well-recreated for the screen.

1st Place: Yes, the story did suck, but Avatar's new world, Pandora, truly did show incredible artistic vision.

Best Actress
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

5th Place: It's hardly a supporting role; in fact, Gyllenhaal is the emotional anchor of Crazy Heart.

4th Place: She's mysterious in a way that Farmiga couldn't approach: Laurent is a revelation onscreen.

3rd Place: Sidibe throws up emotional walls and locks the world out in a way never before seen in a film.

2nd Place: Streep is always a force to be reckoned with onscreen, but her Julia Child is simply a delight.

1st Place: She may be a newer debut, but Mulligan proved herself as this generation's Audrey Hepburn in a brilliant star performance.

Best Finale
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Single Man
Up in the Air

5th Place: Life is an interminable cycle for Sgt. William James in The Hurt Locker's heartbreaking ending.

4th Place: So many possibilities are presented to Ryan Bingham in such an intriguing way as Up in the Air ends.

3rd Place: It's fun and funny, but Inglourious Basterds' ending is also completely appropriate.

2nd Place: She may not sing "Jai Ho," but that's because Precious' small step into a new life doesn't come in a grand sweep like Jamal's did in Slumdog Millionaire.

1st Place: Ironic, twisted, and in many ways, absolutely necessary, A Single Man's ending brings you to tears.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels, Precious
Tom Ford, A Single Man
Lone Scherfig, An Education
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

5th Place: It smells somewhat of student work, but Ford's directorial debut is moving and intriguing.

4th Place: Scherfig proves with her extremely likeable film that Bigelow isn't the only talented female director this year.

3rd Place: Daniels knows that the acting is the heart of a film, and he directs two undeniable female dynamos, along with countless other strong supporting performances.

2nd Place: He's the master of crazy: Tarantino manages to top even himself with Inglourious Basterds.

1st Place: Women can make movies just as well as men, as Bigelow proves with her directorial tour-de-force.

Best Picture
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
A Single Man
Up in the Air

Isn't it nice to see only five nominees? It's fairly obvious which five movies were my favorites this year from the other nominees; in case you were wondering, the other five in a group of ten would have been The Hurt Locker, It's Complicated, Sunshine Cleaning, Crazy Heart, and Away We Go.

In 5th Place: Somewhat surprisingly, Inglourious Basterds. Though it reaped a total of 10 nominations, it wasn't always greater than the sum of all its parts, though it was still an incredible movie.

In 4th Place: Precious. It wasn't afraid of telling you exactly what this world is like. If only all movies were as brave.

In 3rd Place: Up in the Air had a magic that can't be exactly defined, but charms you every time you watch.

In 2nd Place: A Single Man is a beautiful character study, and each moment enraptures you. You miss it instantly when it's over.

The Awkward for Best Picture of 2009 goes to: An Education. Somehow, I have a knack for loving movies that for others doesn't have the same appeal. But to me, the Lone Scherfig film is indelible, intriguing, and ultimately satisfying. Like Doubt last year (which would have been my Best Picture of 2008), An Education isn't flashy or over-directed like some films (Avatar), nor does it star some huge A-lister that gives the "Performance of a Lifetime" (Milk). Most of all, it doesn't rely on an artificially happy ending to lift your spirits (sorry, Slumdog!). Instead, it simply is what it is, and hopes to please you without pretending to be something it isn't. It truly is my favorite film from this past year.

If you only count the six Oscar categories (the acting, directing, and Best Picture contests), the nomination tally would look like this:

6 nominations
An Education

5 nominations
Inglourious Basterds

3 nominations
A Single Man
The Hurt Locker

2 nominations
Up in the Air
Crazy Heart
Julie & Julia

1 nomination
Sunshine Cleaning
It's Complicated

And if you count all the categories, the count is revised to:

12 nominations
An Education

10 nominations
Inglourious Basterds

8 nominations
A Single Man

7 nominations
Up in the Air

5 nominations
The Hurt Locker

4 nominations
Crazy Heart
It's Complicated

3 nominations
Julie & Julia

2 nominations
Away We Go
(500) Days of Summer

1 nomination
Sunshine Cleaning

Anything surprising on this list, readers? I'm a little surprised at how much I loved Inglourious Basterds and how much I didn't actually like The Hurt Locker--seriously, only 5 nominations and no Best Picture? Also, quirky comedies actually did pretty well. What shocked you? What makes you want to vomit on this list? Take it to the comments!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Writers, Directors, Writer/Directors

Here's some absolutely not shocking news for anyone who knows me/follows this blog: I hate the Best Director and Best Screenplay races, albeit for very disparate reasons. As a writer, I'm offended at the level of hero worship that goes on for directors. (Seriously, do you think they just make it all up on the spot? The writers and actors have just as much, if not more, to do with the brilliance of the movie!) As an Oscarologist, I don't like the screenplay races because they almost never go the way they're supposed to. (Those crazy writers always sink my prediction score!)

Still, my job is never done until I've examined all eight top races, so here I go, trying to analyze these tricky races. I actually like several of the directors this year (though James Cameron will never be my cup of tea, and I'm really starting to hate Jason Reitman), and a few of the screenplays are truly enjoyable, so maybe this won't be as much of a pain in the ass as it usually is.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker 75%
James Cameron, Avatar 15%
Lee Daniels, Precious 1.9%
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air .1%
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds 8%

As far as who deserves to be here, Bigelow is the one who is, absolutely no question, deserving of her nomination and her likely win. I'd throw Tarantino into her company, though still several tiers behind our frontrunner. However, they both have a similar problem, which I'd like to delve into briefly before continuing.

It's something I just can't get past for either: the extended, nonsensical, far-too-long-for-its-own-good scene that inhabits the halfway point of the movie. For Tarantino, it's the bar scene. For Bigelow, it's the scene with Ralph Fiennes. I can understand why Tarantino used the bar scene: he loves his ridiculous violence. But whereas all the other violence seemed so well incorporated into the story, this scene, which didn't really advance the plot all that much (though if you argue that it did advance the plot, it could have been done in 4 minutes, not 25), seems just out-of-place. I have a feeling that to get some extra money for budget, Bigelow included the Fiennes scene. The beauty of The Hurt Locker is that it has no plot, but this just didn't flow with the rest of the movie.

I respect what Cameron did in Avatar, and to be fair, he probably does deserve to be here, but I really don't respect how litle emphasis he puts on writing and, to a lesser extent, acting. He's the posterboy for why I don't like this category.

I loved Daniels' movie, and sometimes, we forget that incredible performances are in part due to the director's vision. There's a reason Mo'Nique thanks Daniels constantly when she makes acceptance speeches: he really did a phenomenal job with Precious when it was an incredibly difficult movie to pull off. Still, his directorial effort isn't comparable to any of the above, although I do appreciate the focus he puts on the writing and the acting.

Reitman has had an incredible streak of good movies, with Thank You For Smoking, Juno, and now Up in the Air. He may be the best director for contemporary, "of the moment" movies, but one has to wonder: how will they hold up in the future? And is his hand really that heavy, or has he simply gotten lucky?

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker 35%
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds 45%
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger 5%
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man 5%
Tom McCarthy, Bob Peterson, & Pete Docter, Up 10%

I love the Basterds and Locker screenplays, but I feel like Tarantino can't lose here. The other three are really there just to be nominated, which is a shame, because there were a few scripts that I would have preferred in those spots. But can I just say how much I really detested Up? I hate that this is the second animated movie nominated for Best Picture. It just really, really wasn't my cup of tea, and I think the underwhelming script had more than a little to do with that.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9 2%
Nick Hornby, An Education 8%
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, & Tony Roche, In The Loop 3%
Damien Paul, Precious 30%
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air 55%

How badly do I want to see In The Loop? Let me count the ways... Unfortunately, despite how great Paul and Hornby's scripts were, this is Up in the Air's to lose...and it just might, if Reitman and Turner can't get their shit together. They still don't seem to know each other when they give acceptance speeches together, and that's because this was an arbitrated credit, meaning the Writers' Guild of America decided they both deserved credit despite the fact that they didn't actually write the script together. (The Envelope at the Los Angeles Times has a really great article about this if you want to read more; I personally find it all a little ridiculous.) If they can't, or if they wind up splitting votes with supposed runner-up Paul, Hornby might benefit, or Paul might worm his way into the winners' circle over both the dysfunctional Air guys and Hornby's expert script. I'd say this is actually the harder-to-predict category over BOS, which is not what most seem to think is the case. Call me crazy.

...Nope, that was just as much of a pain in the ass as it always is. Any thoughts, folks? Am I crazy for not caring about, well, any of this? Am I just an actor worshipper? Take it to the comments!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Haven't I Made It Work This Season?

All right, boys and girls, I've been bad, and now I've got some 'splaning to do.

The Season to Date: Project Runway is In Again

Why haven't I blogged about any of the first five episodes this season of Project Runway? Well...'s complicated. (Sorry. Had to go for it.)

I've been ridiculously busy with Oscar blogging this season, which has kept me from really devoting any time to PR this season. Not only that, but I've had (more or less) a drama tournament every weekend that the show has been on, cutting into analysis/blogging time. I also had Kairos, which put me a week behind for a while, and I've only just caught up.

Not only that, though, but last season was so bad that I've found myself being prejudiced against this season, and actually rather unfairly. This season has proven itself to be both fresh and interesting. I really like the designers, and I think the top six or so (in my opinion, that is) are really some of the best the show's ever seen.

In preparation for tonight's episode, I'll briefly recap my feelings on the designers and the challenges so far. Contestants are ranked in order of likelihood to win from what I've seen so far.

Mila Hermanovski
She's a bitch, yes, but damn if her clothes aren't fine! Seriously, I get real "she could be HUGE" vibes from this woman, for so many reasons. First, she's just a fashionable woman all around. She always looks as good as her product does. Second, when I see a Mila Hermanovski go down the runway, I instantly recognize that it's hers. Third, she's got nerves of steel, which will be vital for a fashion career. Finally, picture this: "Who are you wearing, Sienna Miller?" "Oh, this is Mila Hermanovski." Sounds right, doesn't it?

Jay Nicolas Sario
I personally don't like Jay that much. I don't think his dress that won should have won, and his other high-scoring outfit was far more Maya's aesthetic than his. He's not that impressive, in my opinion. Still, the judges love him, and you can't argue wiht that. And, to be fair, he would have wiped the floor with last season's motley crew.

Emilio Sosa
He's a trash talker, yes, but Mila's a bitch, Jay's a little pixie, Amy and Ben need their audio cranked up, Anthony needs his audio cranked down, Maya needs a happy pill, and all the others are just kinda boring, so we have to live with their shortcomings. Plus, he's produced some great dresses, even if he could use a better editing eye. Regardless, so far, I like him. He could go the distance.

Amy Sarabi
Amy seems super cool, young, fun, and talented. So why isn't she confident? She produced my favorite garment of the season (her burlap sack look), and a few more that I've really liked. She needs to get rid of that whole "weird things on the bust" bender she's on, because overall, her looks are top-notch. Best stuff of the season. A few more showstoppers and she'll top this list.

Maya Luz
It's Kenley 2.0! But talented and less bitchy! I kinda love what Maya's been producing this season, but for some reason, I can't really get invested in her. Not in the way I can Amy, Mila, or Emilio, anyway.

Ben Chmura
For a contestant who's so quiet, I really like ol' Ben. He's got a quiet subtlety that I really like, and the fashion industry needs more designers like him. Now, he doesn't have a chance in hell of winning this thing, but still.

Jonathan Peters
I feel like Jonathan is a "personality" that simply hasn't been allowed to show his true colors yet. Even more than that, I don't really like any of the stuff he's done so far this season. He's kind of a cliché of what a Runway contestant should be like. And like my AP English Literature teacher, I don't like clichés.

Seth Aaron Henderson
Speaking of cliché... didn't we have this guy four seasons ago? Wasn't his name Jeffrey Sebelia? Didn't I hate him the first time? ...Yep, nothing's changed. Still hate him.

Anthony Williams
I want to love Anthony. I really do. He's fun, he's a kick in the pants, and the fashion industry doesn't have enough high-profil black designers. And I am proud of him for triumphing last week and getting the cover of Marie Claire magazine as his reward. But I just don't think he has "it." And you gotta have "it" for this business.

Jesse LeNoir
A few words: Jerk. Ass. Talentless. Copycat of Logan Nietzel from last season, who was himself a copy of countless Designated Straight Males. This one's no different: no chance at winning, not very entertaining along the way.

Janeane Marie Ceccanti
...we won't even discuss this one.

The Eliminated Contestants
I don't cry for any of the eliminated contestants--I would have sent each and every one home, too. Though I am a little sad we didn't see more from Christiane King. She was from Cote D'Ivoire, so I thought she might be cool. But overall, the eliminated deserve to be so.

My Win: Emilio Sosa
My Auf: Jesus Estrada

My Win: Amy Sarabi
My Auf: Ping Wu

My Win: Maya Luz
My Auf: Ping Wu

My Win: Amy Sarabi
My Auf: Jesus Estrada

My Win: Ben Chmura
My Auf: Janeane Marie Ceccanti

I'm still not completely on-board with this season, and I'll probably be very erratic in my blogging until Oscar season is over, because that's my focus. But what do you think? Any thoughts? Take it to the comments!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Act Your Way Out of This Paper Bag

Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestows acting nominations on a select 20 performances (and usually 20 individuals, though double nominations in one year in both lead and supporting aren't unheard of) that make up the "class" of that year. Last year's class was filled with mostly older, veteran actors (Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, and Viola Davis immediately spring to mind), and the class before that was all over the place (as young as Saoirse Ronan and as old as Ruby Dee; as foreign as Marion Cotillard and as homegrown as Tommy Lee Jones).

This year's class is surprisingly diverse, from former winners (Penelope Cruz, Helen Mirren) to young ingenues (Anna Kendrick, Carey Mulligan) to longtime favorites of the Academy (Streep, Jeff Bridges) to theater vets breaking through (Jeremy Renner) to long-respected actors finally nabbing a nomination (Christopher Plummer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Firth). On the other hand, it has a tendency to skew towards 'boring,' with nominees who can do their performances in their sleep (Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Matt Damon) to actors who served as nothing more than distractions in their films (Stanley Tucci, Vera Farmiga). 12 of the 20 are first-time nominees, including Kendrick, Renner, Mulligan, Tucci, and Farmiga, as well as Plummer, Gyllenhaal, Firth. The other four first-time nominees are surefire winners Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique in the supporting categories, Hollywood favorite Sandra Bullock, and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe. (The last nominee is Woody Harrelson, who I couldn't seem to find a box for him to fit into.)

Still, with the precursors all having had their say (overwhelmingly for Waltz and Mo'Nique, the majority for Bridges, and splitting between Bullock, Streep, and, to a certain extent, Mulligan for the Best Actress prize), this whole race feels very decided. Moving the Oscars back to early March instead of mid-February has had some unintentional effects, and for actors like Kendrick, Harrelson, and Clooney, it must be difficult to know they'll lose once again come Oscar night.

However, there is one thing that might sway what our memories are of this year: the return of the "surprise." Last year had approximately zero surprise winners in the acting races; after all, Heath Ledger was never going to lose, everyone was obsessed with Kate Winslet finally winning despite how underwhelming the performance was, Penelope Cruz was the frontrunner for weeks, despite sudden momentum for Viola Davis, and Mickey Rourke losing to Sean Penn really wasn't surprising, no matter what so many thought.

Hopefully, this year will yield a few surprises. What follows is my analysis of exactly how likely each contender's chance at the win is. Percentages are based on my wildly unscientific method known as "Absolute Guesses."

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart 50%
George Clooney, Up in the Air 15%
Colin Firth, A Single Man 8%
Morgan Freeman, Invictus 2%
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker 25%

Oddsmakers seem to want to make this race as locked as Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress, but I just don't see it the same way. Yes, sentiment is definitely with Bridges, and his opponents' inability to agree on either Clooney or Firth left him without a strong adversary in the race. I'd say he has a far better chance of winning than any of his competitors.

BUT: What to make of Renner? Yes, he was probably in fifth place for the nomination, but as far as the win is concerned, I'd say he has a much better chance. He's not an older veteran, as all four of the other actors are (Clooney and Firth kinda cancel each other out, and if Freeman hadn't phoned in his Invictus performance, he and Bridges would cancel each other out as well), and he's also in a movie that has a ton of goodwill right now, so I say if anyone will upset, it's gonna be him.

Clooney organized that Haiti telethon that raised over $60 million, which brands him as Hollywood's Chief Liberal Activist. This can be a positive thing for Oscar (Sean Penn's a double winner, after all), and a bad thing (they snubbed Penn for Best Director of Into the Wild in favor of Jason Reitman for Juno--yikes!). If this were a different year, if it felt like Clooney actually cared about this award, and if he hadn't won for Syriana in 2006, this would be a different story. But he really didn't have a chance two years ago for Michael Clayton, and he still doesn't have much of a chance now.

Firth gave a great performance, and he is easily my winner in this category (though I loved Renner and enjoyed Bridges as well), but for some reason, the buzz never materialized, so his chances are slim to none, and Slim just left town. He should be back in this race soon enough, but this is the performance of his career for now.

Freeman's performance is the stinker here. (Every race has to have a stinker, like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's performances last year.) It's nominated because it sounds prestigious and there wasn't a great fifth option. I haven't heard of one person who is super excited about this performance. Then again, the movie was a stinker, too, so maybe it isn't that much of a surprise that Freeman (and Damon) are the fifth-place finishers in their categories.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side 40%
Helen Mirren, The Last Station 5%
Carey Mulligan, An Education 10%
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious 15%
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia 30%

I guess that Bullock has the best chance here: she does have the buzz going in, after all. But let's be real here, folks: Bullock's portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuhoy was fun and is considered by many to be her best film performance to date, but it is not better than the brilliant performances from Mulligan, Sidibe, and Streep.

Tangent: I vehemently disagree with this idea that The Blind Side is Bullock's best work: watch Crash to see her at her absolute best. If she had won for that movie, I wouldn't have any problem. And that's something I really hate about the Oscars: it seems as though it's all a time-release system. Last year, it was deemed that Kate Winslet "deserved" to finally win an Oscar, so she won for The Reader, arguably the worst of her six Oscar-nominated performances. (I would have given her the Oscar for Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Little Children instead.) Bridges is getting a lot of the same buzz this year, though I actually think he's deserving for Crazy Heart. But Oscars should award the performance, not the career, and most certainly not the buzz. Bullock is campaigning on both. But it's truly not fair that she's got a great shot at winning for this. Tangent over.

Streep has a lot of fans in the Academy (they've nominated her 16 times; of course she has fans), and they're ravenous for Streep to finally receive her third Oscar after 28 years (but the momentum's really been building since The Devil Wears Prada, to be quite frank). They couldn't come through in the clutch last year, but her Doubt performance was hardly iconic and Winslet-mania had reached a fever pitch. Since there's been time for Bullock's buzz to cool, the voters might actually care about the performance and vote on that.

Then again, if they're voting on the performance, we might see a Sidibe win come March 7. She truly delivered the most raw, emotional performance of the year, and trust me: she's not just playing herself. If Streep and Bullock wind up splitting votes for veteran actors, a Sidibe win could happen. It won't, but it could!

Mulligan is the true victim of awards season. She just seemed so unprepared for everything, and to be frank, I like her character in An Education a lot more than I like her. She seems so weak and Keira Knightley-esque, not the confident, cute, interesting character she plays. I guess not every actor is like their character, but I'd expect her to be a thousand times more interesting than she actually is. I probably wouldn't give her the award either.

Mirren is this category's stinker. She didn't do much for the movie, and when you compare this performance to something like The Queen: damn. Step down much? She literally has absolutely no chance at the win. No qualifier necessary.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus 1%
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger 15%
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station 7%
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones 2%
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds 75%

In my mind, no one can beat Waltz here. I was tempted to just put him at 100% and let the others languish at 0%, but there's no such thing as an absolute lock. True, Harrelson could use his connections in the industry to pull out a stunning surprise win; after all, Waltz has few friends in the industry. But Waltz has missed exactly one precursor award (the National Board of Review award, to Harrelson), and that particular organization is looking like it will be batting .000 come Oscar time. Plummer should be honored to finally be nominated at age 80 after an illustrious film career, but Hal Holbrook couldn't beat another unstoppable villainous character, Javier Bardem, two years ago with the same "generation" campaign, and his performance was actually good! Not only that, but this category seems to have become the "you evil man!" award (Bardem, Heath Ledger, and now Waltz). Tucci could win on that theory, if his performance was any good, which it, uh, wasn't. And Damon is the stinker here: it's cool that he finally got nominated again after Good Will Hunting, but his nice-guy rugby captain just never caught fire with any precursor voting bodies. It's Waltz's to lose, and he won't.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine 1%
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air 1%
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart 3%
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air 5%
Mo'Nique, Precious 90%

If Waltz's win is locked, Mo'Nique's is stored in a fireproof, bulletproof vault in the best military fort money can buy. Again, yes, it is quite possible that a surprise winner could come out of nowhere. After all, I'm placing bets in the lead acting categories that there could be surprises. But here's the thing: the lead acting nominees are actually good. The supporting nominees, besides the inevitable winners? Not so much. Kendrick would have more of a chance if Farmiga weren't also nominated, but as it is, they'll vote-split. Cruz is the stinker of the category: I personally love her, but this wasn't even close to her best performance. Blame major accounts of category confusion for her nomination. And Gyllenhaal? She's done better work (Sherrybaby) and more high-profile work (The Dark Knight), so we'll chalk up her nomination to goodwill with voters and a family connection to previous nominee Jake Gyllenhaal.

I can't see any possible combinations of winners on Oscar night besides the following four:

1) Bridges/Bullock/Waltz/Mo'Nique
2) Bridges/Streep/Waltz/Mo'Nique
3) Renner/Streep/Waltz/Mo'Nique
4) Renner/Sidibe/Waltz/Mo'Nique

No matter what, the two supporting acting frontrunners will win. If Renner wins, Bullock won't: obviously, the Academy was feeling contrarian, and they won't follow Bullock's buzz. If Sidibe wins, Bridges won't for the very same reason as above. I'd say that if they're going with popular opinion, it will be group 1 for the win. If they want to honor the elder statesmen (and women), they'lll go with group 2. If they're feeling a little contrarian, they'll go with group 3. And if they're feeling very contrarian, it'll be group 4. If they're feeling even more contrarian than that, well, then we might just see Freeman/Mirren/Damon/Cruz. And I would laugh.

This will either be known as the year everyone knew who would win before the nominations were even announced or the year no one knew what was coming until the envelopes were opened. My ideal grouping would be Firth/Streep/Waltz/Mo'Nique, but out of the four above, I would pick group 3. Since it's not likely to happen, I'm hoping that group 2 is our real list of winners. What about you? Which of the four above groups would you like to see win on Oscar night? Which group do you think will win on Oscar night? Or would you have a whole other grouping altogether? Take it to the comments!

Next week, I'm breaking down the Screenplay and Director races, then the next week is Picture and my final predictions before showtime in all 24 categories, along with your chance to play along and beat my predictions!

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's on the Edge of Kenyon's Map?

If you applied to Kenyon College, you know that you had to write an essay following a truly ridiculous prompt, a few examples of which are listed below:

Neuroscientists have recently discovered the part of the brain most active in decision-making. What human trait would you most want to understand and what makes it significant to you?

You’re given a block of stone and a hammer and chisel. What would you carve and why?

Along the edge of ancient maps it used to say ‘Here there be monsters.’ What does it say at the edge of your map and why does it say that?

What recent discovery – either by you or by someone else – most excites you? Why is it important to you?

Though these prompts are hilarious enough on their own, I decided (after making the command decision NOT to apply to Kenyon) to craft my own “Kenyon essay prompts.” These are meant only to poke fun at how ridiculous Kenyon really is. Enjoy.

I danced in the hallway next to the water fountain. What does that mean to you, and why?

Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards. Who is interrupting your acceptance speech, and for what video would you be accepting the award?

Tupac was actually killed in a strange double homicide with John Lennon by Paul McCartney. What time did the homicide happen, and how can we blame Yoko Ono? Or George W. Bush? Hitler? Show your work.

Prove that the square root of 4 is ‘rainbows.’ What does it mean to you? What does it mean to me? What did it mean to your mother last night?

Pikachu, I choose you. How does that make you feel?

Sandra Bullock is likely going to win an Oscar next month over renowned thespian Meryl Streep. This implies that Sandra Bullock is a better actress than Meryl Streep. Is the world ending? Limit to 5 words.

You are sitting in a field of roses with an extinct breed of polar bear. What movie would you be watching, and what candy would you pay too much for at the concession stand?

Add your own in the comments!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snap Judgment of My Snap Judgment

I'm back from Kairos, and I'm reevaluating my snap-judgments before I left. Overall, this year's nominees are pretty satisfying, with some especially so (An Education hung in there!) and not so (THE BLIND SIDE?!?!?!?!). Below, the breakdown in full:

Best Picture
The Blind Side WRONG
District 9 CORRECT
An Education CORRECT
The Hurt Locker CORRECT
Inglourious Basterds CORRECT
Precious CORRECT
A Serious Man WRONG
Up in the Air CORRECT


Avatarwas going to be nominated, obviously, but I have serious doubts about its ability to win. Actors really don't like it, because they see it as representative of a future where they as actors aren't as necessary. Morgan Freeman has even called it "basically a cartoon," which undoubtedly pissed-off James Cameron. As a writer, it similarly offends me. Here's a fun fact for you, though: the last time a Best Picture nominee won without a single nomination in a writing or acting category was almost 80 years ago. Maybe this isn't that much of a two-horse race. Maybe The Hurt Locker is the clear frontrunner, and Avatar is just one of four films angling for an upset.

So... Who else is a little angry about this whole The Blind Side thing? Don't worry: you're not alone. We can heal together. Not that any other choice was that great; I don't fault the Academy members who couldn't come up with ten nominees. But The Blind Side?! My primary problem is that Blind seems more like a TV movie than a real movie, which is a bit unfair towards TV movies. I would take the poignant, touching Grey Gardens over this warmed-over Hallmark Movie Channel flick any day of the week.

I haven't seen District 9 yet, but I've heard that this one might be a touch overrated. Still, it's gonna help sink Avatar's chances (two sci-fi pictures in the big race is not better than one for James Cameron), so I'm all for it!

An Education is the prestigious-looking flick in this race; too bad this is a year when prestige doesn't matter too much. Normally, I'd say it had a tremendous shot at the top prize, but this beautiful, funny British pick will, unfortunately, be relegated to the second tier. One piece of advice, though: An Education just expanded its theater count, so there is absolutely no reason not to go see it. Carey Mulligan is truly a revelation, and the movie is, on the whole, better than most of last year.

The Hurt Locker came out of nowhere in getting 9 total nominations, tying Avatar and making this Best Picture race a total Battle of the Exes. I just wish the exes hated each other. Wouldn't that be so much more fun? I'd say right now that this is Locker's race to lose, but there's a whole host of things that could happen: will there be vote splitting between the two biggest flicks? Is Inglourious Basterds primed for an upset? What if Precious or Up in the Air regain their earlier momentum? We've got a month before showtime in which a whole lot can happen.

Speaking of the Basterds... With 8 nominations (high but not superb), including a high profile Best Supporting Actor nomination, and a Screen Actors Guild Best Ensemble Cast award, you know what Quentin Tarantino's movie is starting to remind me of? Crash. If actors are feeling really self-important this year, I'd say we might see an upset the likes of the Brokeback Mountain-destroyer from five years ago. I'm really thinking this movie could upset. Not über-confident in that theory, but still...

Precious is the best movie that isn't getting the awards it deserves. Seriously, this thing would have eviscerated the competition last year (then again, most of the movies here, even the second-tier ones, would have destroyed last year's ridiculously bad Best Picture nominees). I'm thrilled Mo'Nique is getting the recognition she so deserves (again, it's the best performance I've seen in years), but this movie is so phenomenal. Here's the good news: with an Oscar editing nomination, a SAG Best Cast nomination, and an Oscar directing nomination, along with the nice-to-have double acting nominations and writing nomination, this movie has all the elements necessary to win. Still, without that crucial SAG win, I'd say we shouldn't expect an upset, but then again, I'd say that with Basterds, it is the most likely to upset. (Similar to Education, this movie has re-expanded into more theaters, so you owe it to yourself to go see it.)

A Serious Man is the wrong Man: Tom Ford's A Single Man was a million times better than the Coen Brothers' Jewish-centric flick. And that's why it is honored just to be nominated.

Up is only the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. Cool? Yes. Is it the right movie? Not a chance in hell. It'll win Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score, nothing more.

Oh, Up in the Air. What happened? You've lost too many opportunities, my friend, including an Oscar editing nomination, a SAG Best Cast nomination, among others. That was the final nail in your coffin, and you're so close to being second-tier. And that's sad, because you truly are a phenomenal film.

If I had to rank their chances now, this is how the nominees would break down:

1) The Hurt Locker
2) Avatar
3) Inglourious Basterds
4) Precious
5) Up in the Air
6) An Education
7) District 9
8) The Blind Side
9) Up
10) A Serious Man

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart CORRECT
George Clooney, Up in the Air CORRECT
Colin Firth, A Single Man CORRECT
Morgan Freeman, Invictus CORRECT
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker CORRECT


Ding! Got all those right. On a side note, I just saw Crazy Heart, and Jeff Bridges totally deserves the Oscar he's going to win. Bridges, Renner, and Firth were all so phenomenal. I'd rank Bridges and Renner as the leaders of the pack (I know Renner was riding the bottom of the nomination list, but then again, that was for a nomination, and winning is a whole different game), with Freeman at the bottom.

1) Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
2) Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
3) George Clooney, Up in the Air
4) Colin Firth, A Single Man
5) Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side CORRECT
Helen Mirren, The Last Station CORRECT
Carey Mulligan, An Education CORRECT
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious CORRECT
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia CORRECT


Ding-ding! I love going 5-for-5, and the last-minute switch off of Emily Blunt paid off! If Bullock and Streep wind up splitting the veteran vote, I think Sidibe could steal. It all depends on how Precious plays with the Academy.

1) Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
2) Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
3) Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
4) Carey Mulligan, An Education
5) Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus CORRECT
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger CORRECT
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station INCORRECT
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones CORRECT
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds CORRECT


Whoops! I knew the switch from Plummer to Alfred Molina would bite me in the ass. I just didn't think Plummer had enough of a following in the Academy, but who knows what those old curmudgeons like anymore? I guess he could get the generational vote, but I doubt it. This one is Waltz's.

1) Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
2) Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
3) Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
4) Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
5) Matt Damon, Invictus

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine CORRECT
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air CORRECT
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart INCORRECT
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air CORRECT
Mo'Nique, Precious CORRECT


No one saw that Gyllenhaal nomination coming, so I don't feel too bad about missing it. I'm actually pretty proud of calling Cruz: I knew the Academy couldn't resist her. She's been nominated three times in four years. That's pretty freaking cool. You know who else has that exact same percentage? Meryl Streep. You know who else is the only repeat nominee from last year? Meryl Streep. You know who got a nomination every single time Cruz did? Meryl Streep. They must see each other a lot. I wonder if they text about boys and meet for brunch on the weekends like BFFs do.

1) Mo'Nique, Precious
2) Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
3) Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
4) Penelope Cruz, Nine
5) Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker CORRECT
James Cameron, Avatar CORRECT
Lee Daniels, Precious CORRECT
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air CORRECT
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds CORRECT


"That's a bingo!" A black man and a woman: is this really the category that has only seen either of the identifications four times TOTAL in its history? Pretty freaking cool. The rankings reflect the directors' films in the Best Picture race, and that isn't a coincidence.

1) Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2) James Cameron, Avatar
3) Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
4) Lee Daniels, Precious
5) Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker CORRECT
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds CORRECT
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger INCORRECT
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man CORRECT
Bob Peterson, Up CORRECT


Not bad for Best Original Screenplay. The Messenger was a bit of a shock for everyone. Didn't see that one coming.

1) Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
2) Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
3) Bob Peterson, Up
4) Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
5) Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger

Best Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9 INCORRECT
Nick Hornby, An Education CORRECT
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, & Tony Roche, In The Loop INCORRECT
Damien Paul, Precious CORRECT
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air CORRECT


Aaaaannnnd... boom. This was my weakest category. Kind of a total swap from last year.

1) Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
2) Damien Paul, Precious
3) Nick Hornby, An Education
4) Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, & Tony Roche, In The Loop
5) Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9

What do you guys think of the nominees? What are your picks for the winners? My score was 38/45: not too bad! Post your comments!