Oscars: Who will win?

UPDATE 3/3 The Oscar balloting process may now be over, but negativity surrounding The Hurt Locker is still dominating the news, as producer Nicolas Chartier has now been banned from attending the Oscar ceremony as punishment for sending campaign emails to voters.

2/25 And as if on cue, the Hurt Locker backlash is ratcheting up. Paul Reickhoff of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has written an essay in Newsweek pointing out what he perceives as the film’s inaccuracies, saying they “reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military.” Since there are only five days left in the balloting process, many voters have already turned in their ballots.

2/21 The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air‘s victories at the Writers Guild Awards don’t change much in the overall awards race—since Inglourious Basterds was ineligible for the Writers Guild prize, The Hurt Locker didn’t have much competition in the original screenplay category. And Up in the Air has swept the adapted-screenplay awards all season long.

2/16 This weekend’s Eddie Awards ceremony, in which The Hurt Locker topped Avatar to win the American Cinema Editors prize, still puts Locker in the lead for the Academy Award. Meanwhile, Avatar‘s James Cameron is packing in the campaign stops in New York: He’s being honored by environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., at a cocktail party tonight followed by a Q&A for Screen Actors Guild members, while tomorrow he’ll be feted at a lunch and will tape an episode of Inside the Actors’ Studio.

2/12 Now that the Academy Award ballots have arrived in voters’ mailboxes, the campaigning is heating up once again. Best Actress nominees Sandra Bullock and Gabourey Sidibe have been making the talk-show rounds, while Inglourious Basterds teammates Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz were just honored at a Manhattan lunch hosted by Harvey Keitel. Here are my predictions of who will win in the eight major categories when the Oscar ceremony takes place on March 7.

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

Prediction: The Hurt Locker In the (albeit brief) history of the Producers Guild Awards and SAG Awards, no film has ever won Best Picture without winning at least one of the four major guild prizes (PGA, SAG, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild). Avatar already lost PGA and DGA to The Hurt Locker, and it wasn’t even nominated for SAG’s best ensemble prize (Inglourious Basterds won that one). And even though it was nominated, it’s obviously not going to win the Writers Guild award. So I’m siding with history and putting my money on The Hurt Locker.

BEST ACTOR
Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart
George ClooneyUp in the Air
Colin FirthA Single Man
Morgan FreemanInvictus
Jeremy RennerThe Hurt Locker

Prediction: Jeff Bridges Bridges, a five-time nominee who’s never won, already has a Golden Globe, Broadcast Critics, and SAG Award on his mantel for Crazy Heart. But even more than that, I’m swayed by the standing ovations he’s routinely received at these award shows, where the audience includes dozens of Academy members. He’s got it in the bag.

BEST ACTRESS
Sandra BullockThe Blind Side
Helen MirrenThe Last Station
Carey MulliganAn Education
Gabourey SidibePrecious
Meryl StreepJulie & Julia

Prediction: Sandra Bullock This is clearly the only thing resembling a race in the acting categories. The Blind Side’s Best Picture nomination (compared to no other nods for Julie & Julia) means Bullock has the edge. But you can never count out Meryl Streep, who certainly has legions of fans in the Academy, who may be sick of seeing Bullock beat her. Still, it’s Bullock’s to lose right now.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Matt DamonInvictus
Woody HarrelsonThe Messenger
Christopher PlummerThe Last Station
Stanley TucciThe Lovely Bones
Christoph WaltzInglourious Basterds

Prediction: Christoph Waltz Waltz has been the front-runner for this award ever since Basterds‘ Cannes debut last May. There’s no way he’s losing.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penélope CruzNine
Vera FarmigaUp in the Air
Maggie GyllenhaalCrazy Heart
Anna KendrickUp in the Air
Mo’NiquePrecious

Prediction: Mo’Nique The mother of all locks this year. Precious is likely to lose five of the six trophies it’s up for, but not this one.

BEST DIRECTOR
Kathryn BigelowThe Hurt Locker
James CameronAvatar
Lee DanielsPrecious
Jason ReitmanUp in the Air
Quentin TarantinoInglourious Basterds

Prediction: Kathryn Bigelow Even if Avatar pulls out the victory for Best Picture, Bigelow still stands to make history as the Academy’s first-ever female Best Director. A similar result happened in 2001, when a blockbuster (Gladiator) took home Best Picture and the filmmaker behind a grittier entry (Traffic‘s Steven Soderbergh) won Best Director.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Prediction: The Hurt Locker This may just be the toughest race to predict. It’s definitely between Boal and Tarantino. Since the Academy likes to double up and give its Best Picture winner a screenplay prize as well, I’m thinking Boal’s you-are-there Hurt Locker script will take it…barely.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Prediction: Up in the Air This one, not so tough to call. With Up in the Air a true underdog in all its other races, this is the film’s best (and perhaps only) shot at a win.

What do you think of my predictions? On the money? Too safe? I’ll have updates on the Oscar season on Twitter (@davekarger) leading up to the big night.

Comments (240 total) Add your comment
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  • Shamrock

    Good picks. I agree with each one.

    • Sam

      Me too. I agree 100% with your predictions Dave! Nice job!

    • Nick T

      I may not approve of each one, but there all really to happen. His comment on Supporting Actress was funny.

      • TN

        If you don’t know the difference between there, they’re and their, you shouldn’t be posting comments.

    • Mark

      I do as well. I think this will end up being a pretty predictable Oscar show this year.

    • Shane

      I know I am in the minority, but I didn’t like The Hurt Locker. I am gunning for Inglorious Basterds to win. I would even prefer to see Avatar win over The Hurt Locker. I do think Kathryn Bigelow deserves Best Director though.

      • DKS

        I agree. Although I enjoyed the Hurt Locker, I also am rooting for Inglourious Basterds but will realistically go with Avatar.

      • CreepShow

        Same here. If anything I’m rooting for both Avatar and Inglorious Basterds. The Hurt Locker (although a well made movie) is just too dull, imo.

      • TPL

        You’re not a minority. War is hell is one thing, but after the Renner character finishes his duty , he returns home only to go back to mideast not so much because duty calls but because “War is a drug”? That’s deranged. Yeah I hope Bigelow wins, but Basterds or Avatar were a much more better time at the movies.

    • EGOT

      I totally and respectively disagree with best actress. Gabourey Sidibe in Precious should win, not Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side… I saw the blind side and after wards I wished I was blind, it was horrible.

      I think Sandra Bullock should become the next Sasha Grey, but older.

      George “The Man” Clooney should win best actor.

      • MB Chicago

        He is not predicting who *should* win, but who *will* win.

      • EGOT

        Chicago sucks! Enjoy your winter!

      • Fred

        I wish you were blind, too. Idiot!

    • holston

      I agree with picks but I don`t like the outcome. Hurt Locker does not deserve Best Original Script. Tarantino does.

      I don`t mind Hurt Locker winning Director and Picture, but the sweep is undeserved. Script, Editing, Cinematography and some other techs should not all go to Hurt Locker but if precursors are any indication, they will. It`s too much for a undoubtly fine movie but one that won`t stick in mind for very long.

    • Tonya

      I really couldn’t care any less who wins an award. The people that get awards for these films are so rich, and spoiled, to reward them is stupid. I watch a movie because I like it, and a lot of times Oscar winner movies suck. Enough of the awards, let them enjoy their money and disfuction, and who cares already.

  • Elsa

    I almost agree with everything… but I think original screenplay might end up in the hands of Quentin.

    • anonymous

      These are pretty good predictions, but I think UP might have a chance in the original screenplay category since it is nominated for both Best Picture and Best Animated Picture.

      • Q

        While you may be right, I would really hate to see The Hurt Locker win best screenplay. The script was without question the weakest part of that film. Inglorious Basterds and Up are far more deserving.

      • sean

        I utterly agree with Q. Bigelow made that script more than it was, and I appreciate when awards are won on their own merit and not on the backs of other nominees from their same film. The directing for Inglorious Basterds elevated the script (which was great to begin with) but in this case it’s the same person and Quentin deserves it. Up I agree was fantastic as well. The first 10 minutes of both films were mesmerizing. Hurt Locker for Director definitely, but not screenplay.

      • tony

        I also agree with Q. I don’t think the script stood out as a strong aspect of the movie. I think that 500 days of summer should’ve probably taken its spot. i think it will definitely take best picture and director, but i hope that Tarantino walks away with it.

      • holston

        Totally agree with Q. It`s a shame that Hurt Locker sweep will translate in Original Script win because the script was weak and the movie was elevated above averige writing thanks to performances and Bigelow direction.

        OTOH, Tarantino wrote a masterpiece.

  • elena

    I hope your predictions are spot-on, Dave, because I’m dreading an Avatar victory over The Hurt Locker. The Hurt Locker is something else entirely awesome, and Avatar has had its box office bonanza. Can’t Cameron be okay with making a bazillion dollars and leave the oscars to the more deserving The Hurt Locker (and by extension, Kathryn B)?

    • mishka

      Cameron said he wouldn’t mind to win but if that doesn’t happen, he would be pissed if the award goes to anyone else but Bigelow.

    • Tom

      Kathryn Bigelow won the Director’s Guild — she’s a virtual lock for the Oscar. And I think I read somewhere that the DGA has only failed to predict the Best Picture something like 6 times in 60 years…

  • sculliosis

    I still think meryl might be able to pull off an “upset”. This might be the first time she’s ever heard the phrase “underdog”.
    Also I think Tarantino will pull off original screenplay.
    but excellent picks.
    any chance we could get a pick list of foregin films, shorts, and such?

    • holly

      I would love it if Meryl won this year for Julie and Julia. I have seen both movies and though that Sandra Bullock was fine, but not better than Meryl. I’m rooting for Meryl for sure and will be extremely disappointed if she doesn’t win. I’m sure as much as I was extremely disappointed when Helen Hunt won for As Good As It Gets–espcially over Helena Bonham Carter for Wings of the Dove. Helena was fabulous in that movie.

      • George

        Helena Bonham Carter was robbed for The Wings of the Dove. Terrific film with an outstanding performance. That’s still on Oscar blunder I won’t forgive.

      • springs

        I’m pulling for Meryl too. She was fantastic in Julie & Julia.

  • John

    I think you are playing this year too safe. i agree that avatar is losing steam, big time, but a movie that is NOT is inglourious basterds. it won SAG – aka it has support, and harvey weinstein is pushing big time on this one.

    for now – i’d say:

    picture: basterds
    director: kathryn bigelow
    actor: bridges
    actress: streep
    supp-actor: waltz
    supp-actress: monique
    originalscreen: basterds
    adaptedscreen: upintheair

    • mike

      I so hope you’re right. I’m hoping Basterds will sneak in and nab Best Picture. You’re correct on its momentum not diminishing. If anything stops Hurt Locker and Avatar it will be this.
      And Streep, yes, I certainly hope so.
      And I will be astonished if “Hurt Locker” gets screenplay over virtually all the other nominees, especially Basterds.

    • Jane

      My exact predictions, John. I feel inglourious basterds can pull off the upset and win best picture especially with the preferential ballot system. And it is good to see I’m not the only one still in denial about Bullock. I just can’t see her winning.

      • Michael

        I think IB has definitely lost momentum by not being able to capitalize on its SAG victory. Remember, this is how it went down.
        Jan. 23: IB win Best Cast SAG–headlines: IB hurts The Hurt Locker at SAG.
        Jan. 24: The Hurt Locker unexpectly wins PGA over Avatar. Obviously, The Hurt Locker wasn’t too hurt.
        Jan. 30: Bigelow wins DGA, solidifying its chances.
        IB is a film without another chance to regain momentum. I think Universal and Weinstein expected that the SAG win would put IB in The Hurt Locker’s place in a race against Avatar. Big miscalculation! And IB really should have easily tied Avatar and The Hurt Locker in total nominations but couldn’t. And also, remember that the only SAG nominee not to get an acting nomination was Diane Kruger. (Again, her nomination would have given IB 9 nominations but the actors decided to replace her with Gyllenhall’s performance from the fresher Crazy Heart.) I’m sorry that your Tarantino fanboy disillusionment is keeping from the hard facts of the matter: IB has definitely lost momentum.

      • Jane

        The last year with a close race was 2006. The departed only had 5 nominations and still won best picture. Dreamgirls, Babel, Pan’s Labyrinth and The queen had more nominations. So to me, it really does not matter how many nominations the movie gets as long as it hits the main ones; Directing and Editing with acting nomination as a plus. Diane Kurger is just like Dev Patel last year. They both got the sag nomination because the actors were really feeling their films but missed out on the Oscar nom. She was hardly a contender before and her SAG nomination was a surprise. Her not getting the nomination says as much about IB momentum as Dev missing a nomination affected Slumdog. Dev was replaced by Michael Shannon. With ten nominations and preferential ballot, people have to be really passionate about the film that wins more than ever. While I feel Bigelow has the Director wrapped up, Best picture is still up for grabs. Saving Private Ryan won both DGA and PGA and still lost best picture. What do Shakespeare in Love and Inglourious Basterds have in common other than they both won SAG?

      • Michael

        Shakespeare in Love had much better reviews than IB. (Check Metacritic if you don’t believe me.) Number of nominations do matter when your film has the potential to gain a lot of nominations. The Departed was a modern-day crime story and so it was going to be regulated to screenplay, director, editing, and acting. IB could have been nominated for a lot more, and it was, but there are still some holes (as a period piece, its shun in Art Direction comes to mind as 1) in how it should look. Comparing IB with Slumdog is pointless since Slumdog was the frontrunner with the DGA, PGA, and a WGA (whoa! You just showed me something that Shakespeare in Love had than IB won’t have due to its ineligibility.). Factor in the lack of Crash-like buzz after its SAG win and I doubt IB will end up pulling a Crash-like upset. Remember The Hurt Locker’s surprising PGA win on the day after IBs sure-to-win-best-cast-since-it-is-the-deepest-film-actor-wise SAG victory really killed any chance IB had at a BP victory.

      • Jane

        Michael, why do you keep focusing on the unimportant things? Inglourious basterds has the exact same metacritic score as Crash which won. At this point in the game, the critics are not a factor at all. Your point about the reviews is completely irrelevant. I was only comparing Slumdog to IB in terms of the supporting nominations and not in overall momentum. Both Dev Patel and Diane Kruger were never expected to get the Oscar nom so her missing out on the nom does not mean much. Again you focused on an unimportant thing. What is this Crash buzz you are talking about? Almost everyone was expecting BM until the envelop was opened. How does the THL’s PGA win the next day kill any chance for IB? That is a bizzare conclusion. I don’t get it. I am curious if you actually think the guilds are the deciding factor. IB not winning the WGA does not take away from the fact that it has the best screenplay of the year. There are several deciding factors including the behind-the-scenes campaign and when I asked what do SiL and IB have in common, I was refering to Harvey Weinstein. Obviously, Hurt Locker is the frontrunner but it is far from over. Avatar and IB still have a chance. IB has a very good chance IMO. I feel the new preferential ballot system will work in IB’s favor. I know the safe bet is the Hurt locker. I’m just going with my gut.

      • Michael

        Jane, your memory isn’t really good because there were people talking about a Crash upset before it happened. Crash had what Shakespeare in Love had: a SAG win followed by a WGA win. Crash also had the ACE win. So people were talking. Regardless of what you think, the WGA ineligibility is a huge factor of why IB won’t win Best Picture. It means that IB won’t have another chance to regain some momentum at a point when The Hurt Locker is winning guild awards. I don’t get how people think that because they like Tarantino, everybody likes Tarantino. IB is one of the most polarizing films of the year and that fact doesn’t bode well in the preferential ballot system. Did you read the reviews of the critics? Because I think the lower ones did a great job of expressing what was wrong with IB. And anyone that knows anything about film will probably agree that the historical drama setting limits what Tarantino can reference. If there’s a film that is going to upset The Hurt Locker, it will be UP, a film that doesn’t have enemies.

      • Jane

        You seem so fixated on this lack of WGA nom for IB. Looking at the facts, I know THL is the frontrunner but still I’m arguing for IB so there is really nothing you can say to change my mind. I’m going on a gut feeling. However, it is so bizzare the way you talk like IB not getting that WGA win ends all chances when the only reason it was not nominated was because it is not eligible. The guilds are a good indicator of the race but for some reason you think IB can’t win just because it didn’t get the WGA nom. There are many reasons why IB chances are low but it is so crazy to me that you actually believe the lack of the nom is so important. QT won the original screenplay oscar without a WGA nom. It is as if you expect the voters to forget that IB was a dialogue driven film because it didn’t get a WGA nom. The guilds are a good barometer. They gives us an insight into the industry insiders favor. They don’t necessarily determine the winner, especially when a top contender is missing.

      • Danno

        OMG Michael – Shakespeare in Love is by far the most overrated movie ever made. I read a recent poll actually here on EW that something like 97% of Oscar voters said if they could have a redo on that year they would vote for Saving Private Ryan. While we’re at it do you want to come on here and talk about some other noteable non-deserving Best Picture winners? What about the English Patient, or the grand-daddy of them all TITANIC???

  • Woot

    I feel like this year is too predictable. I foresee a curveball somewhere…

    • darthzelda

      I agree (and it follows on some years of fairly predictable awards). I think there will be at least one award that will make everyone gasp with surprise, that possibly to balance out rewarding some of the predictables, there will be that curveball…

      • Clementine

        I’m hoping that curveball will be Streep winning best actress after a million nominations.

      • CIP

        I’m hoping for Streep to finally win again!!!

    • Who

      The curveball will be Avatar winning 10 oscars. No one would expect that.

      • Woot

        Haha Who, i am beginning to like really like you

  • Eric

    I’m a little biased because I have not seen all the films nominated. I agree with most predictions. Best Picture and Best Director will probably go to either James Cameron or Kathryn Bigelow. Even though Sandra Bullock has won most awards this season I have a feeling she in a race with Gabby Sidble as well as Meryl Streep. I haven’t seen any of the movies for best actor categories but I have a feeling like Dave that Jeff Bridges has it in the bag. Standing ovations in a room full of academy members, I’m sold.

    • Roel

      Eric,
      Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep have actually won more awards for Best Actress; Bullock has won the most of the bigger and recent awards.

      • ron

        Roel, and what were those awards that Streep won? She did not act, she did an impersonation and the movie overall was not that good!

  • bunker

    Makes sense to me.

  • aandw1991

    I’m usually very excited at this point in the season about the Oscar race. This year I just don’t care. There are some good films nominated and some good performances, but nothing I feel passionate about.

  • Jonathan F.

    I am in love with the Hurt Locker.

    • D

      Such an overrated movie.

      • Trent

        If anything, underrated!

      • Danno

        The Hurt Locker is outstanding. I’m a little upset that Moon isn’t nominated for anything.

  • mishka

    Picture: Avatar
    Actor: Jeff Bridges
    Actress: Meryl Streep (overdue)
    Supporting Actor: Christopher Waltz
    Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique
    Director: Kathryn Bigelow
    Original Screenplay: The Hangover (the biggest snub ever, the Academy messed up big time on this one)
    Adapted Screenplay: Precious (although Up might win this)

    • harry

      These would be my picks except Best actress will go to Sandra She was awesome

    • ron

      Mishka, no one deserves an award because they are long overdue. The performance by Streep was nothing special, just a real bad impersonation. Sandra, on the other hand, her performance was the meat of the movie and it was fantastic.

  • Jim

    Is Jason Reitman going to finally allow the guy who, basically, co-wrote the script to come up on stage with him at the Oscars and give a speech? And if not will someone, please call him on it this time. Or at least ASK him about it. They have the entire post-Oscar Q&A session to ask questions for a reason. Other than that he’s a great director and great writer, who deserves all of the acclaim. The other guy just deserves some credit for his work as well.

    • Johnification

      I agree that credit should be given where credit is due, but with short times for acceptance speeches, shared-winners often work out in advance which of them will do the talking come acceptance time. It makes sense that it’s Reitman, since he also directed it and it’s seen as “his” film. The co-winners always share the stage, too, assuming that they’re both actually at the ceremony.

  • scott

    Let’s get real here. Meryl has won MANY more awards than Sandra Bullock this year. Meryl won lots of critics awards including NY. Sandra won no critics awards except for the BCFA where they TIED. They both won Golden Globes. Sandra won the SAG. Please try to report things honestly, Dave. Get the facts straight.

    • Michael

      What’s got your panties in a bunch? Can you read? Dave did say the race is close but with the surprising BP nomination for The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock appears to have the edge. That’s all he wrote.

      • scott

        Yes, Smarty Pants, I can read. Apparently you can’t. He says Meryl’s fans may be sick of seeing Bullock beat her. She beat her once. ONCE. Maybe you should read it again.

      • Michael

        A SAG win can be a big indicator.

      • Freddy

        Yes, Bullock won the SAG….because Meryl won last year. Repeat awards in back to back years are very rare.

      • D

        Yeah Scott, in the big races, which everyone sees on TV. Dave has a point, back off.

    • ron

      Scott, you need to get your facts straight. Streep won her award in comedy, even though the movie was not funny; Sandra won for drama! And she will will the Oscar because her performance was far better than Streep and isn’t that why you should get the award?

  • Mike

    I agree with these, though I have been wondering all season, why isn’t Carey Mulligan at the head of the pack?

    • Maria

      She was great in An Education, but even the critics voted for Meryl and Sandra, so if she won, I’d begin to believe in the Academy again.

  • Alex

    Good call with The Hurt Locker wins!
    I agree with your picks: Except Best Actress. I really think its going to Meryl Streep.
    Ok, I’m mostly hoping Streep’s going to win – but in a year when the acting categories seem like a foregone conclusion, a Streep win will be quite an ironic surprise.

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