I’m the first to admit that I’m no expert on newer movies so it’s not always easy for me to comment on award shows. However, I usually find the Oscars are pretty easy to predict even if you haven’t seen a single nominated movie. They’re really pretty easy to figure out if you follow the buzz, know the politics, and have an idea of how the Academy tends to vote. Well, at least it’s easy to figure out the main categories anyway. It’s hard to guess something like Best Sound Mixing just based on buzz.
This year, the real safe bets are Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Mo’nique for Best Supporting Actress, and Jeff Bridges for Best Actor. All three of them have won at both the Golden Globes and the SAGs, so it’d be very surprising if anyone else won in those categories. Best Actress will be very close between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock. It’s been neck-and-neck between those two at the other award shows. However, I have a feeling it will most likely go to Meryl this year. The Academy loves to give awards to make up for snubbing someone in the past and Meryl hasn’t won an Oscar since 1983.
Best Picture is actually a little hard to call this year. A lot of people think Avatar is a shoo-in, but I really don’t get that at all. First of all, a sci-fi movie has never won Best Picture before. Sure, there’s a first time for everything, but the only thing Avatar seems to really have going for it is its special effects. I haven’t heard anything particularly good about the screenplay. I fully expect it to do very well in the technical categories, but they don’t give Best Picture to the most technically innovative movie. The only time I think a movie won Best Picture for being technically innovative was when The Broadway Melody won in 1929. If you look at the nominees from 1929, it’s pretty clear that it was the year when the Academy was just geeked up about talkies. I’m not at all surprised Avatar was nominated for Best Picture, but I don’t see it actually winning.
I think it’s ultimately going to come down to The Hurt Locker and Inglorious Basterds. I was initially thinking The Hurt Locker would be a sure shot to win this year. It seems like it’d be typical Academy fare, but then it didn’t win at the Golden Globes or the SAGs. It did win at the DGAs, which is a pretty good indicator of what will win Best Picture at the Oscars. However, Inglorious Basterds won at the SAGs. The SAGs aren’t as good as the DGAs for predicting the Oscars, but the SAGs are good at predicting upsets. It’s also worth noting that Tarantino hasn’t won or even been nominated for anything since Pulp Fiction, which lost for Best Picture in 1995. The Hurt Locker seems more like the typical Best Picture winner, but I have a feeling it’s very likely that Inglorious Basterds could pull an upset and win.