Aug 6, 2009

The Oscar race starts here

My determination to predict the Oscars without having seen a single film have come unstuck: I've seen one of the movies I think is going to be a serious contender in at least three categories. Other than that I'm flying blind, so here goes.

Let's start with the safe bets: Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela in a Clint Eastwood film (Invictus) would seem to have best actor sewn up.

Supporting actor I think is going to go to Stanley Tucci for Julie and Julia. The movie carries a strong whiff of Tucci's wonderful breakthrough film, Big Night. (He's also in another contender this year, Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, so he's showing due diligence.) Other contenders are Alfred Molina for An Education, Matt Damn for Invictus, but Tucci has been delivering treasurable performances for many years now — exactly the mixture of technics and twinkle the Academy loves.

Actress is a little trickier. The front runners are clear enough — Sarandon for The Lovely Bones, Streep for Julie and Julia, Hillary Swank for Amelia and Carey Mulligan for An Education. I think we've all had enough of Hillary Swank, no? I know which I'd like to see win — Mulligan — about which more later.

Best Picture. Ten nominees aren't going to significantly widen the race, I don't think. There may be polite nods to Funny People, Up, or Avatar, but I think it'll be between Invictus, The Lovely Bones, and An Education. Invictus has the look of a Ghandi, to me: big and clunky and potent. But Clint's won twice, and recently. An Education is the one I've seen and think has the most potential for American audiences to fall in love with. It's the only 'small' movie up there, too, which gives it an asymmetric bounce. And the Lovely Bones, well, from the outside things look hopeful: the book was lousy, but hit a nerve — exactly the kind of bad book which has an mystifying habit of making for a good movie. Could Jackson turn in something as good as his Heavenly Creatures? If so he gets his second director Oscar as well and Steven Spielberg starts to sweat.

It all comes down to The Lovely Bones. It's the one piece of the puzzle around which the others fit. If it's good, we have a winner. If it's not, we have a race.

Best original screenplay: Nick Hornby or Judd Apatow.
Best adapted screenplay: The Lovely Bones.
Best documentary: Anvil! The Story of Anvil!
Best animated feature: Up
Special Effects: Avatar
Score: Clint Eastwood

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