We’ve had a week to digest these kooky Oscar nominations, and the dust settling reveals some very specific two-horse battles in three of the major categories. I think there are a handful of shoo-ins on Oscar Night. Mo’Nique will win Best Supporting Actress. Chris Waltz will win Best Supporting Actor. And Jeff Bridges will win Best Actor (sorry, Clooney. You already have your gold). Allow me to break those tight races down for you. They’re gonna come down to the wire.
BEST ACTRESS – BULLOCK VERSUS STREEP
Sandra Bullock won both the Golden Globe and SAG awards for her turn in “The Blind Side.” She’s a well-liked star who is having the best year of her career, and an Oscar would be the fitting cap to it all. However, there’s one problem with all this, and that is that Meryl Streep’s performance in “Julie and Julia” is absurdly brilliant. Name one other actor who could pull of that role. Could Sandra Bullock do it? No. Could Streep have done well in Bullock’s “Blind Side” role? Yes, she could have. Streep has already won a Best Actress Oscar, but that was ages ago. She has yet to be properly rewarded for this late string of hits that cements her place as the finest actress movies have ever known. I think Bullock is the clear leader now, but that will become fuzzier and fuzzier as we get closer. Streep’s mastery will be awfully hard for voters to ignore.
BEST DIRECTOR – BIGELOW VERSUS CAMERON
Of all the women nominated for Best Director in the past, Kathryn Bigelow is probably the first to have a legitimate shot at winning it all. In the past, nominations were considered their own victories for directors like Sofia Coppola and Jane Campion. But come on. It’s 2010. Have we really gone this long without a woman being honored for this award? Hasn’t it been far too long, to the point of outright embarrassment? Not only does Bigelow deserve the honor, but she made a movie that all but grabbed you by the throat and DEMANDED you hand it to her. I can think of no better first-time female director winner than the woman who took on a subject matter that is usually the hallmark of male directors, and blew past them with it. “The Hurt Locker” is awesome, and Bigelow’s direction (and her genius casting eye) are a big reason why.
The only reason to deny Bigelow her rightful place in history is that her ex-husband made, you know, the biggest movie of all time. Again. At this point, James Cameron is less a director than he is a G8 leader. His movie employed thousands of people over the course of five years, and has opened up new doors to profitability for Hollywood. It’s hard to deny the man his due. I expect this to be perhaps the tightest race of all. Don’t be surprised if “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” somehow split the picture and director categories one way or the other. Speaking of which…
BEST PICTURE: AVATAR VERSUS HURT LOCKER
Which do you go with? The biggest movie ever, or the best movie ever made about the current Iraq War, a movie that will likely hold up many years from now? It’s not as easy of a call as it looks. And how will the whopping eight other nominees play into this? Could “Up In The Air” fans take away votes from those who don’t want to see “Avatar” win?
Hang tight. This is only just getting started.