Expanding upon our early handicapping of Oscar picks, FilmEdge finalizes our Academy Award predictions in all 24 categories:
Performance by an actor in a leading role:
> Jeff Bridges, CRAZY HEART
Jeff Bridges remains the clear favorite for Best Actor, adding to his collection of awards (including the Golden Globes and SAG) for his performance as country music singer Bad Blake in CRAZY HEART. Jeremy Renner or Colin Firth would be the next choices, but Bridges is the second closest thing to a lock this year.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
> Christoph Waltz, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
And here’s the absolute lock at the 2010 awards, Christoph Waltz with the overwhelming momentum in the category with a suitcase full of critics’ list wins dating back to late last year plus SAG and Golden Globe victories. Ja! Ja! Ja!
Performance by an actress in a leading role:
> Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION
FilmEdge takes a chance on the first upset of the awards, despite Sandra Bullock being an odds-on favorite for THE BLIND SIDE. We’re not just convinced that Carey Mulligan’s praised work in AN EDUCATION didn’t also make her film a standout. But did enough Academy members see it to vote for her. We may blank on this one, but you can’t play them all safely!
Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
> Mo’Nique in PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘PUSH’ BY SAPPHIRE
FilmEdge thought there was a chance that Maggie Gyllenhaal might steal this in a one-two acting punch from Jeff Bridges CRAZY HEART’s nomination and nearly certain win, but Mo’nique has swept the category across the board including at last night’s Film Independent Spirit Awards. Lock number three on the ballot.
Best animated feature film of the year:
This competitive category boils down to three leading contenders: FANTASTIC MR. FOX gained more than a cult following and drew critical appreciation for Wes Anderson’s quirky vision, and Disney splits the difference between THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and the Disney/Pixar hit UP. Henry Selick’s work remains high quality animation pushing the boundaries of the stop-motion artform, but CORALINE just didn’t catch on as well. UP directed by Pete Docter is most likely to rise above the rest for a win.
Achievement in art direction:
> AVATAR Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg | Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
AVATAR technical onslaught may well begin here with its astounding, imaginative art direction which delivered the splendor prompting James Cameron’s film into the high-grossing stratosphere. Nothing against the other nominees, but none of them were given the opportunity to create a world which truly had never been seen before.
Achievement in cinematography:
> THE HURT LOCKER – Barry Ackroyd
As stunning and technically groundbreaking as Mauro Fiore’s work was in AVATAR, Barry Ackroyd has more than a good chance of upsetting Oscar for his indispensible cinematography for THE HURT LOCKER. It would have been a lesser film without Ackroyd’s eye for detail and feel for storytelling composition. In the end, it’s a much easier job to lure audiences into Pandora’s lush forests than it is to entrance viewers in the deadly desert war in Iraq. FilmEdge will applaud either win, but gives the 6-5 edge to Ackroyd in a less obvious, equally deserving effort.
Achievement in costume design:
> THE YOUNG VICTORIA – Sandy Powell
These are the categories that make or break one’s Oscar pool ballots and FilmEdge claims no expertise in this regard. We’re going with Sandy Powell’s period designs for this film since the odds are with such a selection are good given Academy history: contemporary films don’t often stand out as ‘costume dramas’ which tend to pick up the hardware. Monique Prudhomme could win for the fantasy stylings of THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS, but FilmEdge can’t rank a doctor above a British monarch where costuming is concerned.
Achievement in directing:
> THE HURT LOCKER – Kathryn Bigelow
Jason Reitman will likely get rewarded for UP IN THE AIR in another category, but he’s stepped into the clash of the titans in this category. James Cameron delivered another visually stunning epic and once again became the king of the box office world, but we don’t see the Academy giving him the gold for directing what he’s expected to direct, in a sense. The problem with exploding the envelope when you make your films is that people expect nothing less from you. FilmEdge gives the advantage to Kathryn Bigelow for making a dramatically difficult story into a highly compelling film that was anything but an easy sell in theaters.
Best documentary feature:
> THE COVE
FilmEdge picked THE COVE in our previous blog update article and nothing’s changed our mind.
Best documentary short subject:
> THE LAST TRUCK: CLOSING OF A GM PLANT
This category can be another Oscar pool buster for handicappers, but we’re giving the edge over this domestic documentary over the equally timely and emotionally-charged topic of a devastating earthquake in CHINA’S UNNATURAL DISASTER: THE TEARS OF THE SICHUAN PROVINCE. FilmEdge suspects voters’ hearts and minds were centered closer to home after the last year and THE LAST TRUCK hits closest in this regard.
Achievement in film editing:
> THE HURT LOCKER – Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
I always enjoy Sally Menke’s work in Quentin Tarantino’s films and she deserves her nomination for helping deliver that uniquely branded style of film entertainment. The developing nominee rivalry between AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER ensues in the Editing category as well. In the end, I think Bob Murawski and Chris Innis did a better job supporting THE HURT LOCKER’s storytelling psychology with involves audiences in an emotionally challenging, uncomfortable environment. Their ACE award win pushes them over the top.
Best foreign language film of the year:
> THE WHITE RIBBON (Germany)
Another pick FilmEdge added in our last blog update and we still give it the edge over France’s UN PROFETE.
Achievement in makeup:
> STAR TREK – Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
Rarely to ‘typical’ makeup efforts created for dramas like IL DIVO or THE YOUNG VICTORIA prevail in a category that mostly celebrates creature creations since its inception. The trend continues for STAR TREK in likely its one and only win this year — though even that will make history for the Oscar-shunned franchise.
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
> UP – Michael Giacchino
Multi-nominated musicians crowd this category as usual, but James Horner’s and Hans Zimmer’s compositions took back seats to the visual spectacle and character personalities of their respective films. Only Michael Giacchino’s touching, humorous and soaring score for UP contributed to the success of story and character in true stand-out style. The third time will be the charm for Michael in his first Academy victory.
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
> CRAZY HEART – “The Weary Kind” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Randy Newman has proven to be money in the bank composing songs for Disney animation, but he may be splitting his own votes with two tunes from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. FilmEdge expects the emotional power from Jeff Bridges’ performance in CRAZY HEART to win the hearts of voters and the Oscar for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.
Best motion picture of the year:
> THE HURT LOCKER
Recent chatter speaks of a late surge by Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS as a possible vote stealer from long-running favorites AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER. But Q has always been the bridesmaid in Best Picture nominations, earning a Best Screenplay reward instead for PULP FICTION. He might well do the same this year as this recent buzz is likely too late to push AVATAR aside as major competition. But the recent PGA win puts THE HURT LOCKER over the top on FilmEdge’s ballot.
Best animated short film:
> A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH (Aardman Animations)
Another pool ballot challenge with THE LADY AND THE REAPER and LOGORAMA poised nearby, but FilmEdge opts for Nick Park who has proven unbeatable in this category, losing only one nomination in 1991… to his other film also nominated that same year.
Best live action short film:
> THE NEW TENANTS
Admittedly, FilmEdge is plucking our pick out of thin air, but we’re choosing THE NEW TENANTS over KAVI (since voters may find a SLUMDOG-like story too last year) and THE DOOR’s Chernobyl horror too depressing. Good luck prognosticating this category.
Achievement in sound editing:
> AVATAR – Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
AVATAR faces tough competition between THE HURT LOCKER, STAR TREK and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, but the film’s technical sweep should continue here. THE HURT LOCKER is a very close second on our ballot.
Achievement in sound mixing:
> AVATAR – Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
Same mix, different track with sound mixing competition, though FilmEdge suspects THE HURT LOCKER could upset here. But we’re leaning slightly to AVATAR to maintain its technical category sweep… if only because Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy was the showier piece.
Achievement in visual effects:
> AVATAR – Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
Visual effects is much easier to predict for AVATAR, if only that DISTRICT 9 and STAR TREK simply ran up against the next-gen CG stunner of the year and perhaps the decade.
> UP IN THE AIR – Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
A closer than usual contest in this column, Reitman and Turner’s timely tale of economic collapse and human isolation is the right script at the right time, and probably UP IN THE AIRS only reward from Academy voters. PRECIOUS has generated tremendous buzz and momentum across the board, but this will be one of those Oscar peculiarities which reward a film in one category for its efforts getting shut out in others (Best Actor, Director, Picture).
> THE HURT LOCKER – Mark Boal
Recent buzz has Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS script taking the gold, which is much more likely than it stealing Best Picture this year. It’s the category in which Tarantino is an automatic contender. But again this film is a case of results Tarantino is expected to deliver, and FilmEdge found his oft-delayed and resumed script played out in pieces one could almost map out through Tarantino’s career development. Unless an upset occurs — always possible with wild card Q in the mix — we’re giving Mark Boal the edge for a thoroughly unexpected, topical, tense war drama of timing.