2010 Oscar Predictions

7 03 2010

Well dear readers, the fateful day is finally upon us.

Tonight the 2010 Academy Awards will go down in the annals of Hollywood history.

Who will be best dressed? Worst? Will Avatar and James Cameron have as big of a night as he did in 1997 when Titanic won 11 awards? Will Avatar and The Hurt Locker split the vote on the huge field of Best Picture nominees leading to a dark horse winner?

All of our questions will be answered during the live telecast at 8 pm EST.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the categories and examine who most likely will win as opposed to who should win.

I’m going to fit in one more Best Picture nominee this afternoon – Up in the Air. Can’t wait to see what’s going to happen tonight.

Best Animated Film

Nominated: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, UP

Will Win: UP or Coraline.

Should Win: UP

This may seem like a pretty clear cut category. Of course the Academy would recognize one of the most brilliant animated films to be released in a long time, and Pixar seems to have a lock on the category which has only been around since 2001 (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and WALL-E have all won). However, with UP being nominated for Best Picture as well, it may split the votes. Some academy voters may want to see the second animated film ever nominated for the big award to win and might pick the second best animated film of the year for this category. In that case, Coraline would take the cake. It’s inventive plot and astounding visuals would sway voters to her side. Let’s hope the voters realize UP has no chance in the big dance and recognize it as it deserves – as an animated film.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominated: Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Penelope Cruz (Nine), Mo’Nique (Precious)

Will and Should Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)

Absolutely no question about this one, Mo’Nique will take this award tonight. Even without seeing the entire movie it’s apparent from the clips on the late night shows and at past award shows this season that Mo’Nique delivers an amazing performance as Mary, who physically, mentally and sexually abuses her daughter Precious throughout her life. The subject matter is Oscar gold as the academy loves films that delve into the gritty world of real life without glossing over the truly uncomfortable aspects of the world, and Mo’Nique is said to have delivered the performance of a lifetime. I can’t wait to hear her speech. If the Golden Globes was a warm up of her acceptance tonight, I expect a lot of tears from both her and myself.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Should Win: Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)

The buzz around this category is leaning strongly towards Christoph Waltz, whose portrayal of a Nazi soldier in Inglourious Basterds is sadistic and cunning. There’s no doubt that he delivers a great performance, especially in the opening scene of the movie as he interrogates a German farmer about his former neighbors, a family of Jewish people. However, the movie drops the ball shortly after that scene and not even Waltz can rescue it. He does a decent job with what he is given, but thinking about what could have been overpowers his performance.

Christopher Plummer on the other hand is being nominated for the first time after a long and storied career. He delivers a masterful performance as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, all but disappearing into the character. Unlike Waltz’s character, Plummer’s allows him to explore different emotions and Plummer manages to exude them all with a grace that can only come with age and experience. If Heath Ledger could win this category last year just because he was dead (let’s be honest with ourselves, his performance in The Dark Knight was amazing, but it was made so because he was no longer with us…) then Plummer should take it home based on the breadth of his performance in this particular role, and as a testament to his entire career.

Best Actor

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

Will Win: Jeff Bridges

Should Win: Can’t answer – have only seen one of these films

It’s Jeff Bridges year for this category. Bridges has won the Golden Globe, SAG Award, L.A. Film Critics and Broadcast Film Critics awards for his portrayal of the singer Bad Blake. He has the award season momentum to take this performance all the way to the Oscar podium. If anyone can take it from him it will most likely be Morgan Freeman, who will win because the Academy seems to enjoy when actors step into the huge shoes of historical figures like Nelson Mandela.

Best Actress

Nominated: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Will Win: Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep…with a heavy emphasis on Sandra Bullock

Should Win: Helen Mirren (The Last Station)

You’d think that only two women were nominated for this category if you listen to any sort of pop culture. Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock are supposedly duking it out for the top spot with Bullock stating she doesn’t expect to win at all. Her modesty may net her the award for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Touhy in The Blind Side. Admittedly, Bullock delivered an outstanding performance in the drama, given that she’s mostly known for her romantic comedies, but it’s not that hard when you’re given a strong woman who really exists to portray. What did Bullock truly do in the movie? She wore a blonde wig and spoke with an accent. The great character came through the true story aspect of the film. Meryl Streep’s performance is very much in the same vein. She played Julia Child and she played her well. She had her mannerisms down pat, she captured her voice¬† (though, I have to say, she seemed to match Dan Aykroyd’s Julia Child more often that the actual woman) and she had fun with the role. But she didn’t deliver the performance of a lifetime.

Helen Mirren on the other hand did the same thing as Streep and Bullock. She played a woman who existed in real life and she played her well. What makes her performance different is the passion conveyed every moment she’s on the screen. It sucks you in and makes you root for her as every emotion possible plays across her face. She became Sofya Tolstoy in all every sense of the word. It will be a sin for her not to win, and that sin will be committed tonight.

Best Picture

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

Will Win: Avatar

Should Win: The Hurt Locker

This is the first year that there are 10 nominees for Best Picture, and the extended field is showing it’s weaknesses. Sure, 5 might be too few a number, but 10 is way too many when films that fall short of excellence, like Inglourious Basterds are making the cut. That being said, Avatar will take this one home. Just like Titanic, Cameron is being glorified as a genius this awards season and the fact that he created an entire world with new creatures, flora, a language and characters will sway the votes towards him. There’s no doubt that the visual aspect of Avatar was amazing. It was pure eye candy. But the story falls flat as it’s been seen everywhere from animated films like Fern Gully and Pocahontas to Dances With Wolves. Conversely, The Hurt Locker proved to be a movie heaped in tension. This film has both a plot and depth as it explores a bomb squad in Iraq, both key aspects to a best picture that Avatar lacks. It wouldn’t exactly be an upset if The Hurt Locker wins, though. It’s running a close second as we get closer to show time.

Best Director

Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarentino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Will Win: James Cameron or Kathryn Bigelow

Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow

It’s the battle of the exes in this category as well. Both directed critically acclaimed films and both stand a decent chance of winning tonight. However, Bigelow should take this one, especially if The Hurt Locker loses out on Best Picture. Sure, Cameron directed an epic film, but most of his directing took place on a green screen and everything external to the actors was added digitally after filming. Bigelow, on the other hand, dealt with filming in the desert in Amman, Jordan. No comfy Hollywood sound stages here, Bigelow dealt with all the external forces of directing her actors in the real world.

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Edison Force

20 08 2009

Director: David J. Burke

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Justin Timberlake

Released: Direct to DVD (2005)

I recently discovered Edison Force on Amazon.com. I knew that Justin Timberlake had been working on a movie with Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman a few years ago (when you’re an *NSYNC fan you know these types of things) but had never heard anything about it after it was filmed.

It didn’t take long to find out why.

The plot, about an elite team of special forces police officers – who just happen to be corrupt – in the city of Edison who are discovered and exposed by a crack journalist, is decent, and probably could have done fairly well, had it not been coupled with the script which Freeman, McDermott, LL Cool J and Timberlake have to muddle through.

The opening scenes of the movie place you directly in the field with McDermott and Cool J who are officers on the F.R.A.T. task force. Suspense is high as cross-fire interrupts an Irish Dance competition and one of the dancers faces a scary reality. Cut to (presumably) that night and McDermott and Cool J are again after criminals, this time druggies in the underdeveloped side of Edison. Once again, camera angles, music and lighting place a heavy emphasis on suspense and drama as these two officers bust the two dealers in an abandoned house. The viewer knows that the movie can’t continue choppily jumping around with the two officers saving the day in different scenarios so it’s obvious that something will happen. It’s also obvious what that something is – the two are corrupt. And even more predictably, one is questioning his conscience as he goes through the motions.

Enter Justin Timberlake’s character: Josh Pollack, a fresh-faced young journalist at the hometown newspaper. He’s the one assigned to cover the court case of one of the drug dealers and he’s crack reporter that uncovers the internal corruption rotting Edison from the inside out just by noticing that the dealer says “thank you” to LL Cool J.

Makes sense, right? Well, no, not really if you look at everything else Timberlake’s character does. Disregards his editor to write a full article when the paper only has space for a brief? Check. Editorializes a hard news piece? Check. Tries to circumvent the PR process at the local police to get the story? Check. Doesn’t understand Federal Freedom of Information Act basics? Check.

Full disclosure: I worked as a journalist for the past four years.

There are certain things you learn in that time and there is NO way that any hometown newspaper would hire a reporter, especially a court reporter, without that experience. This character, however, knows next to nothing about channels of communication in print media. FOIA, Public records laws are a non-entity for him and allegations are a completely acceptable form of journalism.

I literally laughed out loud at how clueless this journalist was.

If you look past that, however, and suspend your disbelief that a journalist knows none of these things and that A-list actors decided this was a good choice in their careers, the movie is enjoyable. It’s very compelling when you see how F.R.A.T. is trying to intimidate Pollack, as that does, in fact, happen in the journalism world. It’s also entertaining to watch Morgan Freeman, Pollack’s editor, try to teach this horrible reporter how to break a story.

The movie tires itself out, though. By the end there are only two things that can happen: Timberlake dies, or Timberlake’s story gets published. Publishing the story, however, wasn’t enough for writers. Instead, everything had to come up smelling like roses. The story gets published, F.R.A.T. goes down, the cop with a conscience finds a way to get out of the business and everyone ends up living Happily Ever After. It’s a contrived ending to a contrived story.

If you like watching Justin Timberlake, this movie is pleasant. If you like corrupt cop vs. journalist movies, it’s intriguing. If you like good, believable movies? Ones in which the actors disappear and take on the persona of their characters? In which you take the time to learn the characters names? It’s not for you.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s really crappy, but the final vote on this one: BAD