March 1, 2010

82nd Academy Awards Winner Predictions

Although I saw fewer new releases in 2009 than in any year in the last five or six, and although the new releases that I did see were generally disappointing, it doesn't mean that I still don't love commemorating the end of another movie year. As I've said before, for me it's not about the awards, it's about the ceremony of finishing one year and beginning another - call it a movie birthday or New Year's celebration if you like. 

Only a handful of my favorite feature films and documentaries from 2009 were even nominated, so it's not like I have a lot on the line here, but predicting the winners is a February/March ritual that I've done every year for as long as I remember. Last year I correctly predicted 19 of the 24 categories - pretty good but not good enough to win a "real" Oscar pool, and an inflated number in a year that was pretty easy to predict anyway (Slumdog Millionaire was an easy favorite across the board). 

Outside of the acting categories I don't think there are nearly as many sure things this year. Nevertheless, here are my fearless choices, for no one's amusement but my own:

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
  • George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
  • Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
  • Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Matt Damon in “Invictus”
  • Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
  • Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
  • Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
  • Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
  • Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
  • Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
  • Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
  • Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
  • Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
  • Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Animated Feature Film

  • Coraline” Henry Selick
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
  • The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
  • The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
  • Up” Pete Docter

Art Direction

  • Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
  • Nine” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
  • Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • The Young Victoria” Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray


  • Avatar” Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker” Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds” Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon” Christian Berger

Costume Design

  • Bright Star” Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel” Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine” Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell


  • Avatar” James Cameron
  • The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
  • Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
  • Up in the Air” Jason Reitman

Documentary (Feature)

  • Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
  • The Cove” Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
  • Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
  • Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
  • Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
  • Rabbit à la Berlin” Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Film Editing

  • Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9” Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Joe Klotz

Foreign Language Film

  • Ajami” Israel
  • The Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada)” Peru
  • A Prophet (Un Prophète)” France
  • The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)” Argentina
  • The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)” Germany


  • Il Divo” Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Music (Original Score)

  • Avatar” James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker” Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
  • Up” Michael Giacchino

Music (Original Song)

  • Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Picture

  • Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • The Blind Side” Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Producers
  • District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
  • An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
  • The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers
  • Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
  • A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
  • Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
  • Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

  • French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
  • Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park

Short Film (Live Action)

  • The Door” Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
  • Instead of Abracadabra” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
  • Kavi” Gregg Helvey
  • Miracle Fish” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
  • The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Sound Editing

  • Avatar” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds” Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek” Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up” Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Sound Mixing

  • Avatar” Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds” Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek” Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Visual Effects

  • Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9” Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek” Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
  • An Education” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
  • In the Loop” Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
  • Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
  • Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • The Messenger” Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
  • A Serious Man” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy


  1. Cinematography is a really intriguing category for me. Hurt Locker and Avatar look like the two battling it out, but Berger's work on The White Ribbon has certainly been well-documented. His work had arguably the greatest impact on the final film out of any of the nominees, and if White Ribbon ends up losing the Foreign Language category, it could very well steal the Cinematography Oscar. Should be interesting.

  2. I have to admit I wouldn't have picked Berger if not for the ASC prize he took last week. Heck, I never even got out to see The White Ribbon so I'm just going on speculation here. Personally my choice would be select parts of THL but the whole of Avatar.

  3. Daniel - I saw The White Ribbon and the cinematography is excellent and distinctive. But if voters have Avatar on the brain (of Hurt Locker, they will go that route. In my opinion, it should be Basterds - but it looks like Tarantino's film will be the most grievously overlooked film of the evening. It's my pick for Best Picture.

    As for Bullock - your prediction is astute - but it simply makes me groan - even though the competition isn't that formidable this year.

  4. I've been doing very little research into the buzz or expert predictions, at least less than most years, but I've picked up on a few threads claiming Basterds might be a dark horse winner if Avatar and THL split votes. The cinematography was terrific, of course, and I'd be fine with Tarantino taking a screenplay award home, smug and self-congratulatory as he already seems.

    Eh, Bullock, I'm over it, probably because I'm not pulling for any of those other nominees. As far as I'm concerned the best leading actress performances of the year were Martina Gusman in Lion's Den and Arta Dobroshi in Lorna's Silence.

  5. I went back and forth with AVATAR on several of these. I have a problem with the cinematography and art direction simply because there was nothing there to film, it's all CG. I wonder if voters will as well. I'm predicting it to win both categories, but I kind of hope I'm wrong. WHITE RIBBON deserves cinematography, but I don't know who would beat it for art direction.

    I wish I had your guts to call HURT LOCKER for sound mixing. It deserves it, but those two categories usually don't split. I have a sneaking suspicion they will, but I couldn't bring myself to call it.

  6. Good point about Avatar. It come down to whether voters think the cinematography, even if not shot "on location", was realized enough. Maybe it looked so real that it will be awarded on that alone, kind of like a secondary Visual Effects award. Who knows.

    And sound mixing was a real toss up. Traditionally it's always either a war movie or a sci-fi/action movie for editing and mixing, but there's usually only ONE of those movies that stands out each year. I just went for the Hurt Locker momentum on this one.

  7. These are all excellent picks and I agree with nearly every one. However I am faily certain Michael Giacchino will cop the Oscar for Best Musical Score, rather than James Horner, whose AVATAR score (though loved) is largely derivitive from his other work including GLORY.

    I do suspect that THE WHITE RIBBON will win Best Foreign Film, and perhaps cinematography, but Audiard's film has a solid shot.

  8. Thanks, Sam - you know I pretty much completely overlooked Giacchino when I was making that pick. Just having heard the theme to Up again the other day, I think you're right that it's probably his to lose. I really loved Horner's, though.

    I just had to double check my Best FLF because I had forgotten what I picked. The White Ribbon is the favorite, though if the Prophet doesn't win than it will probably be El Secreto.

  9. Notebaly missing from this article...."Who Should Win" What, did get you get lazy this year? What a bust! My bold prediction? Carey Mulligan!

  10. I told you Hurt Locker would take it.

  11. Ah, Beav. Not lazy, just less-than-inspired. I think my "should win" pronouncements have been replaced by my five-part Best of Year roundups. Mulligan - ha! Nice try, but no one could have beaten the Razzie award-winning Sandra Bullock.

    Film-Book, no real surprise that it won for those who were reading the tea leaves the last couple of months. Of course, there were still some surprises, namely Adapted Screenplay. I don't know what I was thinking with some of these picks (Best Original Score - see my earlier comment), so I ended up 15/24, only slightly worse than my "live ballot" last night, where I switched up Original Screenplay for Boal and El Secreto for BFLF.


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