Predict the Oscar winners? NOW? Before the nominees have even been announced? Are you crazy? Luckily, today, I am. And if you're feeling crazy, feel free to agree or disagree with me on this crazy, somewhat-pointless-yet-immensely-fun exercise.
Please keep in mind I'm talking about who WILL win, not who SHOULD win—two totally different things here. If I had to bet money, today, this is what I would bet. I suppose I've just seen way too many movies recently.
BEST PICTURE: The Hurt Locker
All the other movies seem to have something going against them. Up in the Air and Invictus were good, not great. Avatar was good but flawed. A Serious Man was too under the radar, and the Coens just won the best picture two years ago. The Hurt Locker is that movie that got rave reviews in the summer and those haven't stopped.
BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
A woman has never won best director and I think Academy members have been looking for a great film they can honor, and that's The Hurt Locker. There's no clear frontrunner here, so I feel like she has the edge. It doesn't feel like Jason Reitman's time yet for Up in the Air. The only real competition is James Cameron for Avatar, but I think she wins.
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
First of all, I think it will not be Morgan Freeman nor George Clooney because they've won before. So at this point it boils down to Colin Firth for A Single Man, and Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart. Firth is a Brit (the Academy loves Brits) and a gay-themed drama is ripe for an Oscar. But Bridges is older, always great, and has never won. Robert Duvall previously won an Oscar for playing an alcoholic washed-up country singer (Tender Mercies, 1983) and I think Bridges wins—less because this was the greatest performance of his career, and more an honoring for a career of great work.
BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Toughest category of the year. I really have no idea here so let's say Meryl Streep, who is nominated like eight times a year but hasn't won since Sophie's Choice (1982). She's overdue for Win #2, and there is absolutely no frontrunner here. With 10 best picture nominees this year, the Academy seems to realize their show is dying and they are trying to reach out and please more people. That's why Bridges and Streep will win - people want them to win. I think that if this weren't a turning-point year for he Academy, indie standout Carey Mulligan (An Education) takes it home.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
This is a tough field here, and the dark horse is Christopher Plummer if he gets a nod for The Last Station. The Academy tends to favor older nominees, British nominees, and actors who have done lots of great work but haven't been recognized. Plummer is all those! But like Heath Ledger last year, it's just impossible to ignore Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. He made that movie. I don't see Basterds winning anything else, so that gives Waltz an edge.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique (Precious)
This one seems like a done deal. Precious got a lot of buzz, but I don't see it winning in any other categories, which gives Mo'Nique a great shot here.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NOMINATE: Sharlto Copley (District 9)
I just saw this movie recently because I couldn't pay my wife to go with me in the summer. Have you seen it? It's fantastic, and the best thing about it is the lead actor, Sharlto, this unknown South African guy who never acted in a major film before. He carries the whole thing on his shoulders and that's just amazing. He doesn't have to win; just nominate him ... please.