My apartment complex is having an Oscar party later on today, with the big screen television and probably the latest cast of regulars to attend these special events (including one old lady whose scratchy voice is like nails down a chalkboard and whose personality grates worse than a school marm). I had suggested a party for Oscar to the concierge and was surprised that he agreed to have one (complete with popcorn and soda, though the telecast starts at 5 p.m. Pacific time).
This is my favourite award show and only one of two that I watch (the Golden Globes is the other one). I like making predictions, though I'm usually not that great at it. The show is actually more exciting to watch when unexpected people win, and dull when all the people who were predicted to win actually do (the year The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept the awards was probably the most boring Oscar show I've seen, though the win was well deserved).
The interesting thing about this awards is that a lot of the wins depend upon "momentum." Up in the Air was the early on favourite to win Best Picture, but now the race seems to have boiled down to Avatar versus The Hurt Locker. You know Hollywood is loving this battle, because of the personalities involved: James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. They were a married couple in the early 1990s. Now, they consider each other good friends. Still, it makes for good copy: a titanic battle between a divorced couple!
My prediction is that Avatar will win Best Picture, but Kathryn Bigelow will win Best Director. She's only the fourth woman to be nominated and I think Hollywood is going to help her break the glass ceiling this time. Besides, James Cameron already has a Director's Oscar for Titanic, and he won't go away empty handed, with producer credits for his Avatar.
The most unique thing about the Academy Awards this year is that they expanded the Best Picture pool to ten nominated films, rather than the usual five. I thought that was a bad idea, because it dilutes the prestige of the nomination. Would there even be ten worthy films? I guess that the Academy decided to do this because of the nominees in recent years being small films that many people have not seen (I still have not seen 2008's Best Picture No Country For Old Men or Million Dollar Baby from even earlier in the decade).
For Best Actor, I would like to see Morgan Freeman win for his portrayal as Nelson Mandela. He would only be the fifth African American to win Best Actor, the fourth since 2002. However, one thing that the Academy often does is give IOU Oscars to actors who were passed over in previous years for far more memorable roles. Thus, I believe the momentum is on Jeff Bridges to win this year, for the Oscar-cliche role of washed out has been trying to find redemption. Are talking about the actor or the character? In my own Best of awards, I named Jeremy Renner as the Best Actor for 2009 because he had the most impressive performance. I wouldn't mind seeing him win an Oscar, but I think the honour for him is in just being nominated and he's young enough that he may be nominated again (depending on how well he chooses his roles).
With Best Actress, I think Sandra Bullock has the win locked down. She's America's sweetheart in the role of a lifetime, where she plays against her normal character type. Her role in The Blindside is the equivalent of Julia Roberts' Oscar-winning role in Erin Brockovich a decade ago. If there is an upset, it might be that the Academy has finally decided to give Meryl Streep another Oscar after being nominated practically every year and going home empty-handed. Also in this category is Gabourey, the young actress who plays in Precious. She has zero chance of winning, as many Academy voters probably think she was essentially playing herself and being nominated was the honour for her. There's not a whole lot of roles for a young lady like her to play, so this may be her fifteen minutes of fame. I hope she enjoys it fully.
I think Mo'Nique might win Best Supporting Actress, though, for her mother-from-hell role in Precious. Its kind of a shame that the villain often wins over the hero (heroine) for awards, but that says a lot about what kind of roles have the most meat. With Best Supporting Actor, I think if the Golden Globes is an accurate predictor of who takes home the Oscar, the actor from Inglorious Basterds will win this one. Haven't seen that movie, yet. Not a big Quentin Tarantino fan.
We'll see about the rest. Should be a good show!