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From ‘Avatar’ to ‘The Hurt Locker’: HollywoodChicago.com Picks the 2010 Oscar Winners

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CHICAGO – Content Director Brian Tallerico and Staff Writers Matt Fagerholm and Patrick McDonald have merged their movie-loving minds and come up with the ultimate Oscar preview.

Win your office pool, impress your friends, and propose a toast to the nominees that should have been when The 82nd Annual Academy Awards are broadcast on Sunday, March 7th, 2010 at 7pm CST. And be sure to use the in-feature links to see our coverage of all the nominees.

BEST PICTURE

The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

The general consensus is that “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” are competing for the big prize of the night with some predicting a dark horse win for “Inglourious Basterds”. For the other seven nominees, just being nominated will have to do. The staff of HollywoodChicago.com barely gives the edge to “The Hurt Locker” with Patrick and Brian thinking that Summit Entertainment will lay claim to their first Best Picture. Matt goes with the popular favorite “Avatar”.

As Patrick says, “I would have no problem with “Avatar” taking the gold, but The Hurt Locker represents so much more – and even though it wasn’t in my Top Ten – can touch more souls than the previously mentioned fare.”

Brian would have a bit more of a problem with “Avatar” winning but expects that “it won’t happen as the film has proven a bit too divisive and the new preferential voting system should favor films more universally loved like “Hurt Locker” and “Basterds”. “Avatar” is probably #3.”

Matt sees the recent hubbub about inappropriate emails about “The Hurt Locker” as the deciding factor in a close race — “…co-producer Nicholas Chartier’s reputation-tarnishing email (begging Academy members to vote for his film) may cause the picture to unjustly lose the top prize. Plus, money talks in Hollywood, and “Avatar” has just crossed the $700 million mark domestically.”

Ironically, all three writers agree that “The Hurt Locker” should win the big prize and even agree as to the film that should have been nominated instead of one of the other nine choices - Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are”. It was Mr. Tallerico’s best film of 2009 and both McDonald and Fagerholm pick it as the film that history is likely to regard more positively than at least half of the nominees.

BEST ACTOR

Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

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

Last year’s tight race between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke has been supplanted by a clear frontrunner as all three writers predict a win for The Dude. Jeff Bridges has been nominated five times. He’s not going home empty-handed this time.

Brian thinks Bridges is actually deserving of what some may call a Career Achievement Award but Matt and Patrick point to a newcomer to the category and his excellent work in one of this year’s least seen nominees, Colin Firth in “A Single Man”. Patrick praises his “difficult emotional journey” while Matt cites his “richly layered and revelatory turn”.

As for who got snubbed, Mr. Fagerholm reaches back to an arguably career-best work from Joaquin Phoenix in “Two Lovers,” Mr. Tallerico thinks that Sam Rockwell is quickly becoming the new “most underrated actor alive” now that Bridges can no longer claim that title and that he should have landed a nod for “Moon,” while Patrick looks at an iconic turn in a popular film - “Zachary Quinto as Spock in “Star Trek.” He took a virtually impossible role NOT to caricature and made it as “human” as possible.”

BEST ACTRESS

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie and Julia

Once again, unity reigns in the “Will Win” department as we have all given into the likelihood that Sandra Bullock will win an Oscar for the wildly successful “The Blind Side”. And all agree that she’s shouldn’t be the winner with Matt and Brian pointing to Carey Mulligan’s star-making turn in “An Education” and McDonald rooting for La Meryl to win for the first time since “Sophie’s Choice”.

There’s even some agreement as to who should have been nominated. Brian gets nearly apoplectic when he even considers the number of snubbed performances better than Bullock’s - Abbie Cornish in “Bright Star,” Melanie Laurent in “Inglourious Basterds,” Maya Rudolph in “Away We Go,” and, especially, Tilda Swinton in “Julia” spring to mind. In fact, both Fagerholm and McDonald point to Cornish as well, clearly the most snubbed actress of the year.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

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

Like the rest of the world, there’s nothing but agreement here, as the staff at HollywoodChicago.com thinks the Academy will get it right and give the breakthrough male star of the year an Oscar for his internationally acclaimed work in “Inglourious Basterds”. Christoph Waltz started winning awards for his multilingual turn as Hans Landa in Tarantino’s epic back at Cannes and that’s not going to change on Oscar night. It may be the most locked award of the night.

An interesting tidbit courtesy of Mr. Tallerico - the last three winners for Best Supporting Actor comprise three of the most legendary villains of the new millennium - Landa in “Basterds,” The Joker in “The Dark Knight,” and Anton Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men”. Nice guys truly do finish last.

There may be complete agreement on who will win and who should win this category but who was snubbed produces different responses, indicating perhaps a lack of complete enough agreement to get these poor fellas nominated.

Patrick McDonald praises the entire ensemble of the great “In the Loop” but points to James Gandolfini as “a perfect example of an actor’s presence game-changing a role and the film.” Tallerico would have loved to see Gandolfini’s stunning vocal work in “Where the Wild Things Are” cited over “In the Loop,” but most regrets the absence of either of the supporting men of “An Education” - Alfred Molina and Peter Sarsgaard.

Fagerholm says, “Yet with so many fresh faces being recognized, Christian McKay’s exclusion from this category is an absolute robbery. He didn’t play Orson Welles so much as channel his larger-than-life soul. Like Streep’s Julia Child, one wishes McKay’s Welles was the central subject of his own picture. He may have been a force to be reckoned with in the lead actor category.”

Continue on to page two for the screenplays, director, and supporting actress:

Will's picture

Agreement by don't count out 'Basterds'

I agree with all your choices, but I wouldn’t count Inglourious Basterds out of Best Picture just yet…

The preferential voting system means that the votes from the movie that earns the least 1st votes will have its 2nd place vote redistributed to the other films (and so on).

If you look at the types of films that are likely to come last… e.g. ‘An Education’ or ‘A Serious Man’ - these are very ‘actor oriented’ pictures, and those Academy members who went out on a limb to choose those for 1st place, are likely to have picked a film where Actors are key. That would mean Inglourious Basterds rather than Hurt Locker (which seem to me to be more about ‘the message’ than ‘the acting’), and certainly more than Avatar (which is all about the spectacle). And don’t discount those 22% of Academy members who are Actors… Tarantino is a real Actors’ favorite.

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