2010 Academy Awards

Get your Oscar pool ready, the nominations are in

Get your Oscar pool ready, the nominations are in

James Cameron may again be the king of the world – but his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, most certainly is the queen. And their respective movies – Bigelow’s critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker and Cameron’s phenomenally successful Avatar – will be viewed as heavyweight contenders in a David-versus-Goliath match-up during the weeks leading up to next month’s presentation of the 82nd annual Academy Awards.

That’s the scenario most Hollywood insiders and industry observers took away from Tuesday’s early-morning announcement of Oscar nominations. Complicating the plot: This year, for the first time since the 1943 Oscar ceremony, there are 10 Best Picture nominees instead of the usual five. Which means that, in addition to competing against each other for the hearts and minds (and votes) of Academy members, Avatar and The Hurt Locker – leaders of the pack with nine nominations each – will be facing off against The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds (the scourge of proofreaders everywhere), Precious, A Serious Man, Up and Up in the Air.

There is, of course, the possibility of a surprise twist. After all, Academy bigwigs expanded the Best Picture category in the first place to allow for the inclusion of more “populist” nominees, box-office hits that actually have been seen by significant numbers of people – like, say, last year’s conspicuously un-nominated The Dark Knight. With more of those movies in play, it’s assumed, more viewers will be sufficiently interested to tune in and boost ratings for the March 7 Oscarcast. At the same time, it’s also assumed that the suspense quotient will be raised by the possibility, however remote, of an upset by a high-grossing crowd-pleaser like The Blind Side.

It’s a long shot, to be sure. But if you doubt that a true underdog could ever triumph over more heavily hyped competitors in the Best Picture category, go talk to the makers of Reds and On Golden Pond, the “sure things” that split the vote and lost the gold to Chariots of Fire back in 1982.

My early line Oscar predictions:

Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart

George Clooney in Up in the Air

Colin Firth in A Single Man

Morgan Freeman in Invictus

Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

Likely Winner: Bridges. Possible upset: Clooney.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Matt Damon in Invictus

Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Christopher Plummer in The Last Station

Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones

Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Mortal lock: Waltz

Actress in a Leading Role

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

Helen Mirren in The Last Station

Carey Mulligan in An Education

Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Likely winner: Bullock. Possible upset: Streep. (Yeah, I can’t believe I typed that, either. But let’s face it: This is Bullock’s time. And good for her.)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Penelope Cruz in Nine

Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air

Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Mortal lock: Mo’Nique

Adapted Screenplay

District 9, Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell

An Education, Nick Hornby

In the Loop, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, Geoffrey Fletcher

Up in the Air, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Likely winner: Up in the Air. (Think of it as a consolation prize.) Possible upset: In the Loop.

Original Screenplay

The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal

Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino

The Messenger, Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman

A Serious Man, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Up, Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Likely winner: Inglourious Basterds. Possible upset: The Hurt Locker. (Especially if there’s need for another consolation prize.) Conspicuous by its absence: Avatar.


Avatar, James Cameron

The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow

Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, Lee Daniels

Up in the Air, Jason Reitman

Likely winner: Bigelow. (When enough voters fall in love with the idea of making history, history is made. Just ask Barack Obama.) Possible upset: Cameron.

And Best Picture? Well, it’s good to be the king. But even better to be the top moneymaker in the world.

News_Golden Globe 2010_The Hurt Locker_movie poster
Kathryn Bigelow is nominated for best director for "The Hurt Locker." The movie is up for best picture as well.
News_Academy Awards_nominees_Avatar_movie poster
"Avatar" garnered nine nominations, tying "The Hurt Locker" for the most nominations this year.
News_Clifford_T-Day Notes_Precious_the movie_poster
Gabourey Sidibe is nominated for best actress in a leading role for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." It's also up for best picture.
News_Houston Film Critics' Awards 2009_Up in the Air_movie poster
George Clooney is nominated for actor in a leading role in "Up in the Air." The movie, produced by Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, got a best picture nomination.
News_Academy Awards_nominees_The Blind Side_movie poster
Sandra Bullock is a favorite to win best actress for her role in "The Blind Side." It also received a surprise nomination for best picture.