Out of the ten movies nominations for Best Motion Picture for this year's Oscars, I've seen only one--District 9. It was great, and I suspect the other nine movies in the category will not top it when I get around to watching them. The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds stand the best chance out of the pack, but District 9 set the bar pretty high.
And that's the thing when it comes to Oscar season. I don't often watch the telecast and when I do I never tune in for the entirety. That's because I haven't seen more than a few of the movies nominated in any of the categories. Sorry, I'm just not a theater buff anymore thanks to the price hikes for tickets. I'm also about an hour's drive from the closest Empire Theaters Complex, so calculate the gas money required too.
I love movies, but watching the Oscars--or any awards show for that matter--feels like a wag of the finger by the establishment, shaming me for not racing to the box office on opening night. I'm the outsider looking in. In-depth analysis and debate over the racial undertones of Precious isn't a conversation I can join, because I haven't seen it yet. I've only heard what a bunch of critics and pundits and movie-goers have said about it.
I can, however, still be one among many in predicting who will win the Oscars. Doesn't take a genius to hazard a guess.
Best Actor: Who will win? Jeff Bridges. It's practically a spoiler by Hollywood. It's his turn, they say. And aside from George Clooney, I've heard absolutely nothing from the media about the other nominees--and the Clooney rhetoric died out months ago. Bridges is just one of those guys who you can't believe hasn't won an Oscar yet. Why not give it to him for this role, where he showed as much passion in his discussions of the film as he put on the screen.
Best Actress: Who will win? Sandra Bullock. She keeps insisting she won't win, and I can't decide if she's exuding genuine humility towards her peers or if it's a calculated campaign. Either way, Meryl Streep squawking her best Julia Child impression isn't going to win. At least it shouldn't. But is a comedic actress playing a pat and dour Texas mother all it takes to win the hearts of the Academy?
Best Original Screenplay: Who will win? Joel and Ethan Coen for A Serious Man. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Oscars are going to recognize a film that got very little love at theaters, made by two very talented filmmakers. I also think it'll be a bit of a middle finger to Quentin Tarantino. Who should win? Quentin Tarantino.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Who will win? Geoffry Fletcher for Precious. I don't see Precious walking away with many awards--maybe Mo'nique--so this will be like their consolation prize. Up in the Air might have a shot at winning with Jason Reitman, but I doubt it.
Best Director: Who will win? Kathryn Bigelow. It's not a lock, but the narrative being pushed is that it's time for a woman to win this award. It's true too, as it's overdue for a woman to be recognized behind the camera. And Bigelow certainly has the chops. And The Hurt Locker looks friggin' amazing, judging by the trailers and the buzz. Who should win? James Cameron. I haven't seen Avatar, and honestly I'm in no hurry too, but I'll give credit to the guy for putting together the movie that has arguably taken special effects to a new level. It takes a helluva captain to steer that ship ... even if he comes off as a smug, vain prick.
Best Motion Picture: Who will win? Avatar. Like I said, I don't plan on seeing this unless someone makes me (that's how I ended up sitting through Titanic). But the sheer spectacle of this movie and the money it has made are likely to push this thing to the Moon. It doesn't really matter if the actual story is derivative and shallow--take a look at some of the other movies that have won Best Picture. If Bigelow wins for Best Director, I think Cameron is a lock to win this one. Who should win? District 9. I say that only because I saw it and loved it. The Hurt Locker sounds like a superior story to Avatar, but in the realm of sci-fi I'll go with the underdog.
That's it. My picks. My batting average in this kind of thing is terrible, so I won't be surprised if I come in dead last in the Oscar pool. Maybe I should have made my predictions for the Razzies too, as I wouldn't mind seeing Sandra Bullock win two nights in a row.