Anyway, here are my predictions for the major awards:
- Best Picture: Avatar. But I could be very wrong. The conventional wisdom is that it's between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, but there are a couple of things to consider here when it comes to my prediction. First is that The Hurt Locker has been racking up the pre-Oscar awards by the boatload, so there's momentum there. There was a story about some rather annoying email campaigning from Hurt Locker producers, but I don't know that that will really hurt their chances... Second is that with the expansion of the category to 10 nominees comes a change in the way that the votes are tabulated. This year, this category will be decided by an instant-runoff voting process rather than a straightforward first-past-the-post vote (like every other category). Voters are ranking all 10 nominees against each other, and movies that aren't ranked high will start to drop off the list (this is, of course, a drastic simplification of IRV). This will tend to favor movies that have more of a consensus. It's not enough for Avatar or Hurt Locker to get the most #1 rankings, it also has to garner #2 and #3 votes (and so on). The implications of this are unclear. I think both Avatar and Hurt Locker will be placed high enough on the lists that they're both still frontrunners, but the prospect of a Dark Horse also emerges here, and in this case, I think that might be Inglourious Basterds (which would be my #1 pick, were I voting). I think part of the reason Avatar will win is that it's just made so much money and the Hollywood insider crowd might want to thank it for opening the gates for 3D and seeing movies theatrically again (wait a year though, as 2010 will be the year where 3D becomes overexposed, and will include some high-profile failures). As a result of all this, I'm actually not that confident about my pick. This is actually a good thing, as it makes the ceremony more interesting when you don't know the results...
- Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. This one is much less interesting. I suppose there's still a chance for an upset, but even Bigelow's primary competitor (and ex-husband), James Cameron, seems to be campaigning on her behalf (noting in interviews that he thinks it's her year). Regardless of how Best Picture turns out, I'll be very surprised if Bigelow doesn't win this award. Of the nominees, she's certainly the favorite, but if I were voting, I'd be going with Tarantino...
- Best Actress: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side. I never saw The Blind Side, so I guess I should just keep my mouth shut here, but Bullock certainly has the momentum here. Her main competitor is Meryl Streep, who's been nominated 16 times and won twice. I haven't seen An Education, but my understanding from the film nerd community is that Carey Mulligan should be winning this award. In the end, I think Bullock has enough goodwill that she'll win...
- Best Actor: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart. This one's pretty well locked up, though I suppose there's an outside chance for someone like Jeremy Renner or Colin Firth to make a run at it... Still, Bridges is a popular guy and this could be seen as a sorta lifetime achievement award (in addition to rewarding this specific performance, which I have not seen, but which seems pretty popular)...
- Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique for Precious. Another one I haven't seen, but she seems to have the momentum here.
- Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. He's the standout here, but there's an off chance that Christopher Plummer will get the nod as a sorta lifetime achievement award. But I think that would be a crime, as Waltz was tremendous...
- Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino. I honestly can't see it going to any of the other nominees, not even Hurt Locker (the appeal of that movie is very much the visuals, not the story or dialogue).
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner. Another pretty strong bet here. I think the screenplay awards tend to go to movies that are more mainstream and that feature snappy, memorable dialogue, all of which points to Up in the Air. Plus, the Academy seems to love Reitman, and this will give them a chance to award him without upsetting the big guns in the Director or Picture races.
- Editing: Avatar. I expect Avatar to rack up the technical awards (and I think that's really what Cameron is campaigning for, as I think he knows this is where his bread is buttered).
- Cinematography: Avatar. See above re: technical awards.
- Visual Effects: Avatar. See above re: technical awards.
- Musical Score: Up. This is probably my blindest guess.
- Best Song: "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. Yeah, another blind guess.
- Makeup: Star Trek. Why not Avatar? Because they didn't use any makeup (and thus weren't even nominated)! It was all digital.
- Best Animated Film: Up. Though I would probably give it to Fantastic Mr. Fox, that would be a big upset here. It's pretty much a lock for Pixar...
- Best Documentary: The Cove. Documentary is always a bit of a wildcard, but I think The Cove will take this, though I suppose it's possible that Food, Inc. will tickle the right politics in the Academy (i.e. these are the folks that gave Inconvenient Truth and Bowling for Columbine an Oscar)
- Best Foreign Language Film: Un prophéte. Another wildcard category, but the things I'm hearing about this movie are so good that I find it hard to believe that anything else will win. But I've most frequently been wrong with these wildcard categories...
Update 7:12 pm: I always forget that 8 pm marks the start of the Red Carpet BS, which I don't think I can stomach (even with the drinking), so updating will probably start around 8:30 when the actual ceremony starts. Oh, and Barbara Walters special? Maybe I'll put that on in the background, but I'm so happy she's retiring from that gig. She's a terrible interviewer. Then again, probably better than me (who'd end up producing something like the Chris Farley Show).
Update 8:24 pm: First beer of the night, Westmalle Dubbel. Tasty and kinda dry, makes me want to drink more. Could be dangerous. Anyway, show is about to begin. Let's do this thing.
Update 8:30 pm: Well, that's a different way to open the ceremony - trot out the best actor/actress nominees and... then just announce their names. This is a kinda dull opening, is it not? Oh wait, NPH! Oh fuck, a musical number. Shit! I thought we got this crap out of our system last year. Where's my beer?
Update 8:34 pm: Seriously, what's up with all this musical bullshit? It's not like there are any musicals that were nominated (except Nine, but that one won't be winning or anything), and indeed, it's not exactly a popular genre these days. Why?! Ok, finally, Alec and Steve. Let's hope they're actually funny.
Update 8:39 pm: Ok, I laughed a few times. Not bad, Aleve Martwin. It's a bit scripted and stiff, but still fun.
Update 8:43 pm: The Avatar bit was funny, but not as funny as this would have been. George Clooney doesn't look like he likes this... but there's no real joke there, so I guess he's fine. Basterds jokes are great.
Update 8:48 pm: After a relatively restrained opening act, we've got our first award. They're really stretching out these nominee announcements... Woody Harrelson looks shockingly not high. I was reading a book recently where a young con-girl was stringing along a perverted old man - and the whole time, I was picturing Christopher Plummer (that doesn't mean anything, but still). Best Supporting Actor goes to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. And I'm 1 for 1...
Update 8:50 pm: Uber-Bingo! Bearded Waltz threw me for a moment, but it fits. He clearly had his speech prepared.
Update 8:52 pm: Ryan Reynolds is channeling Rod Serling while reciting the plot of The Blind Side. Seriously, I'm expecting Sandra Bullock to sprout a tiny third arm out of her forehead or something. Hey, I just noticed, not a single montage yet. What's the over/under this year? Let's call it 10.
Update 9:00 pm: Aha! Montage #1! Right? Heh, but it's a great use of animation. The best two were even the best two movies (Fantastic Mr. Fox was my favorite though). If crowd clapping was how they judged this, the winner would be Up. And it is, in fact, Up, making me 2 for 2. And a pretty good speech too. Well done.
Update 9:05 pm: Ohhhhh, awesome, does this mean I don't have to suffer through live performances of the best song category? Thank God! And Crazy Heart song wins! I'm 3 for 3 (incidentally, having listened to the snippits of all the nominees, this one probably deserved to win too). Speech is just straightforward Thank Yous... and only one of them talked. Weird. Must have been told to keep it short.
Update 9:05 pm: Best picture nominee District 9, introduced by Chris Pine from Star Trek. It's kinda amazing that District 9 got nominated at all. Check out John Scalzi's notes on how SF will fare tonight. I pretty much agree with his thoughts...
Update 9:16 pm: Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr are doing well here. Good stuff. And Best Original Screenplay goes to... The Hurt Locker? What the fuck? That's the worst written of the nominees. Tarantino has to be pissed, and deservedly so. This is bullshit. Speech is mildly political, and obviously prepared. I'm 3 for 4. This does not bode well for either Inglourious Basterds or Avatar when it comes to best picture.
Update 9:18 pm: Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick are still alive? But this is a nice tribute to John Hughes, and let's see if there's a montage. Yep, Montage #2! Score.
Update 9:20 pm: Interesting that Hughes gets his own montage instead of just getting shuffled into the annual Dead People Montage. Not saying he doesn't deserve it (and it's not like the other dead people can complain), but it's still interesting.
Update 9:24 pm: Jeeze, even the 20 second recap of the first 20 minutes of Up is undeniably effective.
Update 9:27 pm: Devin Faraci is also liveblogging over at CHUD. Regarding Samuel L. Jackson's presentation of best picture nominee Up, "Get these muthafuckin' balloons off mah muthafuckin' house!" Classic.
Update 9:32 pm: Zoe Saldana looks a lot like a human version of a Na'vi! Oh, wait. Nevermind. Ok, so this Montage (#3) is all about Hollywood trying to convince us regular schlubs that the short films categories are important... and pretty much failing. Some of these do look great though. Logorama apparently has 2500 copyright violations in it's short running time... and hey, it wins! Score. Ohhh, he's French. Huh. "3000 non-official sponsors whose logo appeared in the film." Hehe. Funny. I wonder when they'll get sued.
Update 9:43 pm: Awesome, I'm glad someone sacrificed their dignity to make fun of Avatar. Ironically, he's presenting the award for best makeup, which Avatar isn't even nominated (and yep, Ben Stiller just mentioned that fact). And the winner is... Star Trek. Score, I'm 4 for 5. Alas, probably the only award for Trek. Speech is pretty much straight thank yous. Referred to Paramount as "that robot" which will probably get them fired. Hey, it's one of the winners' anniversary. Hope his wife is in the audience.
Update 9:45 pm: I feel like A Serious Man is getting better in my mind. Some movies get worse as you get further away from them. A Serious Mind gets better. Of course, I want to rewatch it, but I have this feeling that it will be even better the second time around. Definitely glad it got nominated (and I don't think it would have made the cut in a 5 nominee field)...
Update 9:52 pm: Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Precious (I refuse to type the subtitle to this film, and will type even more explaining that I won't than I would if I just typed the subtitle). Well, I suck this year! 4 for 6. Guy seems very heartfelt in his speech - I don't think he expected to win. Good on him, though.
Update 9:55 pm: Oh wow, a Bringing Down the House reference. Sweet. And... Montage #4. Hey Roger Corman! Wait, is this some sort of series of lifetime achievement awards? Or are they different. Well, Here comes Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall. Wait, they're not going up to the stage. I don't think anyone understands what's going on. What is going on? Oh shit, Robin Wiliams. Run!
Update 10:01 pm: Best supporting actress goes to... Mo'Nique for the movie I won't type out. And I'm 5 for 7. What is she talking about with the reference to "politics"? Another speech that seemed well prepared. Hrm, never saw An Education, ut I probably should at some point.
Update 10:08 pm: Sigourney Weaver looks la lot like a human version of a Na'vi! Oh, wait. Nevermind. Art Direction goes to Avatar. Shame I didn't pick this award. I think James Cameron might be more excited about these tech awards than he is for director or best picture. Whoa, heavy acceptance speech. Doctors told him he wouldn't survive, and now he has an oscar. And the third guy doesn't get to say anything.
Update 10:12 pm: Now Keanu Reeves. He looks high. And Costumes, another award I don't pick, goes to... some movie I never heard of! Yay! Whoa, "I already have two of these." You stay classy, Sandy Powell.
Update 10:15 pm: I didn't see Precious, but I actually do want to at some point. In other news, I've moved on to Allagash Fluxus and have opened a bag of Gibbles, the official thin pretzel of Kaedrin.com.
Update 10:19 pm: Sweet. Paranormal Activity parody is hysterical. And they're finally acknowledging that horror is underappreciated by the academy... by showing us a montage (#5). Good stuff though...
Update 10:25 pm: Awesome use of Morgan Freeman voiceover. Hehehe. I didn't pick this award though. This intro is surprisingly informative. Again, the Oscars are trying to convince us that the next award is legitimate (but more successfully this time). And the award goes to... The Hurt Locker. It's looking like it will be a sweep for Hurt Locker, which is a shame. I mean, it's a fine film and all, but if it wins all the awards, I'll be a bit disappointed.
Update 10:28 pm: How the fuck did Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen get nominated for anything? Well, the award goes to Hurt Locker. Again. These guys just won the other sound award. Huh. Again, bodes well for Hurt Locker's chances later in the night... and wow, Elizabeth Banks looks gorgeous. And of course, she's presenting the nerd sci-tech awards. Nice.
Update 10:30 pm: If I had my way, Inglourious Basterds would win every award it was nominated for. I'm still ticked off that Tarantino lost in the original screenplay award. Travesty!
Update 10:37 pm: I was a little worried about this Allagash beer I mentioned earlier, but it's great. It says on the label that it's "Ale Brewed with Sweet Potatoes & Black Pepper" which gave me pause. But again, it's awesome. Ahh, Sandra Bullock takes the stage for Cinematography award. And the award goes to... Avatar! Go me, I'm 6 for 8. For a speech that is primarily Thank Yous, it was actually pretty good. I dunno, maybe I'm delirious at this point. Or drunk. These beers are strong, after all.
Update 10:39 pm: Yay Dead People (montage #6)! And crap, a live musical performance.
Update 10:49 pm: What the hell is going on with Sam Worthington's glasses? By the way, he looks la lot like a human version of a N... yeah, that joke's pretty much played it's course, hasn't it? YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Interpretive dance! Please hold, whilst I drink my beer.
Update 10:53 pm: The winner for best score is Up, and I'm 7 for 9. Another speech that feels prepared, but actually pretty cool.
Update 10:58 pm: Outstanding visual effects goes to Avatar, and deservedly so. Again, Cameron looks overjoyed. Hey, Jason Bateman! Presenting Up in the Air. Good, solid movie. But not a best picture.
Update 11:05 pm: Best documentary goes to The Cove, and I'm 8 for 10. Is it that Fisher Stevens? Yes, it is that Fisher Stevens. Wow. Anyway, I never saw The Cove, but from what I can tell, this was well deserved.
Update 11:08 pm: Editing award. Again with the explanation of the award, but again it's actually pretty good. And the award goes to The Hurt Locker. And I'm 8 for 11. I drastically underestimated the Hurt Locker, I guess. Does this bode well for Hurt Locker for the big awards, or are these all consolation awards? Hey, these winners gave thanks to Sam Raimi! Cool...
Update 11:10 pm: Keanu Reeves: War is a drug, kinda like the stuff I just did before I came up on stage. Hehehe. Still don't know if Hurt Locker will win the best picture award, but it looks more likely than it did this morning. Ooooh, stay tuned for humorless dick, Sean Penn! I will, Oscars!
Update 11:19 pm: Pedro and Quentin, an interesting pair. And I'm pretty sure Tarantino is high too. This really is shocking. I never would have pegged Tarantino and Reeves as looking more high than Harrelson. And best foreign picture goes to... The Secret in Their Eyes. Well, I'm 8 for 12. Ohhh, he makes a Na'vi joke, that falls completely flat, but I like it. And this guy is funny because he's trying to speak English but he clearly is flustered. I don't think he expected to win.
Update 11:21 pm: Depending on who you talk to, Avatar is the most profitable movie of all time, or the accounting is so twisted that it didn't make anything. Sorry, but the 3D bump, while important, certainly didn't account for all of the money this film made. The truth is, despite how much it's gotten on my nerves, it did make going to the theater a necessity again, which is more than you can say for most movies.
Update 11:34 pm: What the hell is this motley crew of presenters for the best actor award? Really random. Jeff Bridges so knows that he's going to win. Vera Farmiga is awesome. Her dress... not so much. I guess I see where they're going with these presenters. Great anecdote by Tim Robbins (or is it Ted). And a S.W.A.T. reference. Classy. "Good Luck Jeremy" translates to "You're probably not going to Win." Best actor goes to...shit, they'r e announcing the nominees... for the third time. Ok, Jeff Bridges wins, and I'm 9 for 13. Congrats Jeff. And I thin he's high. Yeah, definitely high. The Dude abides.
Update 11:37 pm: Jeff Bridges has been married for 33 years, certainly an oddity in Hollywood. Probably because he and his wife were high the majority of the time.
Update 11:51 pm: Another random accumulation of presenters for best actress, though like best actor, they are all related to the nominees in some way. Humorless dick Sean Penn presents the winner... Sandra Bullock. And I'm 10 for 14. "Did I really earn this, or did I just wear y'all down?" Heh. It's funny because it's kinda true (I shouldn't say that since I haven't seen the movie, but still). But her acceptance speech is quite classy.
Update 11:58 pm: Barbara Streisand has won as many Oscars as Meryl Streep. Just noting that without comment. And best director goes to Kathryn Bigelow. Good on her, well deserved! First female to win best director. She looks sooo appreciative. Don't sell yourself short, the script had nothing to do with your win. And she dedicates the award to the military. Congrats to her, it's a well deserved award.
Update 12:03 am: And Hurt Locker wins best picture. That was quick! Not much of a surprise at this point. And I'm 11 for 16. Or maybe not, I apparently missed an award at some point. . Apparently I'm 12 for 17. Must have been drinking too much. Anyway, that works out to around 70%, which isn't my worst ever, but it was close...
Update 12:09 am: And that about wraps everything up. An interesting year, but overall, an uninspired ceremony. Which is pretty much the usual...nothing especially memorable about this year, except that Hurt Locker won more than it deserved... On the other hand, I certainly liked Hurt Locker better than Avatar, so what am I complaining about...
Update: For those overseas or who haven't seen the ceremony, check out Alex's last-minute overview...