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Oscars Tag

noconcessionsThere are two components to the Academy Awards. One is the awards show, this Sunday night on ABC. I feel for returning host Chris Rock, who will have to be very deft indeed to navigate the program through the shoals of controversy it’s found itself in. #OscarsSoWhite threatens #OscarsSoEarnest, with much hand-wringing and regret over diversity. Well-intended it will be, necessary it will be–but, please, let’s have a few jokes, too.

Then there are the awards themselves, which after a longer-than-usual period of fluidity and second-guessing have solidified into a winning slate. Or seem to have solidified–there may be surprises yet. Bear in mind that while I’ve won my Oscar pool over the last few years it’s usually with 17 or 18 correct guesses, so if you have a

noconcessions1Somewhere in the welter of Academy Awards coverage there was an interesting observation: that in boxoffice terms the eight films nominated for Best Picture this year, combined, haven’t totaled the domestic haul of one of last year’s nominees, Gravity. That may change with the wide release today of one of this year’s anointed, Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of American Sniper. After cleaning up in New York and Los Angeles for a few weeks, it’ll take from Taken 3 and kick Paddington‘s bear ass, and break an earnings record for the typically frigid month of January.

American Sniper is the most alertly directed film Eastwood, 84, has made in several years–watching the likes of Hereafter and J. Edgar, you get the feeling he was talking more to that empty chair than to the cast and crew. Like most of his recent output, including last summer’s Jersey Boys–a typically half-engaging, half-sleepy enterprise–it runs about 135 minutes. Little is wasted, however; it’s taut, and tense, as cleanly executed

noconcessionsWeren’t the Academy Awards great this year? I mean…wait, whoa, they’re still coming? This Sunday?

I kid, I kid. But doesn’t it feel like the Oscars are already in our collective rearview mirror? Don’t you kind of long for them to be? Oscar fatigue is worse than ever this year, and it’s not just the one-week scheduling bump involving the Olympics. We’re all a little

It’s time once again for my annual Academy Award predictions. For those keeping score, here are my results in recent years: 2010 (17 out of 24), 2011 (20 out of 24), 2012 (17 out of 24) and 2013 (16 out of 24).

American Hustle (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)
Captain Phillips (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers)
Dallas Buyers Club (Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers)
Her (Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers)
Nebraska (Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers)
Philomena (Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers)
12 Years a Slave (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers)

PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave. For the first time in many years, there’s no clear front-runner for Best Picture. The Producers Guild of America Award was no help, as it was a tie between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but it serves to indicate just how close this year’s Best Picture race will be. It could easily be awarded to Gravity since this year’s Directors Guild of America Award went to Alfonso Cuarón — and a Picture/Director split is somewhat rare. But despite all that, as much I’m never comfortable predicting a Picture/Director split, I think 12 Years a Slave is the slight favorite.

David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTION: Alfonso Cuarón. Since the Directors Guild of America has an excellent track record of predicting Best Director winners (it’s only been wrong seven times in over sixty years of DGA Awards), Alfonso Cuarón is most likely to win the Oscar.

Christian Bale for American Hustle
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTION: Matthew McConaughey. Months ago, I thought Robert Redford would be tough to beat in this category, but he wasn’t even nominated. Shows how much I know. That pretty much leaves Matthew McConaughey, especially after his win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. While I won’t be surprised though if Bruce Dern’s name is called, McConaughey is the favorite here.

Amy Adams for American Hustle
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Judi Dench for Philomena
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

PREDICTION: Cate Blanchett. After winning both the Golden Globe and the always important Screen Actors Guild Award, Cate Blanchett appears to be the favorite.

Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club


Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County
June Squibb for Nebraska

PREDICTION: Lupita Nyong’o.

noconcessionsRemember when the summer movie season began on Memorial Day weekend? When the holiday movie season kicked off on Thanksgiving? No? In our tweet-speed society, I understand. Nowadays summer starts in early May, or even late April, and the holiday crop started blooming two weeks ago. To this pack of early risers we can add the awards season set, those movies likely to loom large among critics societies across the country and around the world in the run up to the Oscars next March 2. Remember all those prestigious December openings? A thing of the past–best to capture the zeitgeist in fall, and hang on to it as your movie vacuums up citations that can be featured on the posters until, with luck, late winter. (“Best Film of the Year–100 Critics Groups!”)

(And those groups are voting earlier. To keep up with the Joneses in the offline universe, my own peeps, the Online Film Critics Society, bumped up its announcement of the year’s best to Dec. 16, which meant that the awards screeners

noconcessionsLast year I was selected to participate in the prestigious poll, conducted by Sight & Sound magazine once every ten years, to determine the top 50 greatest films ever made. I’d like to think that my scribblings here contributed to my selection as a nominator but what that sealed the deal, frankly, was my placement on the masthead of the equally venerable Cineaste, which recently added me to its Editorial Board. The tide carried me in.

Realizing that I was there almost by happy accident I doubled down and, as the staff lowbrow, the one who gets the horror and Japanese softcore DVDs shoved in his in-box, tried to do good. It’s an impossible assignment, so I found a rationale I could live with and stuck to it. Here’s how I voted.

tumblr_lwvvmx3zhs1qha7bwo1_500Not a tremendous correlation, as you can see. I figured Citizen Kane and Vertigo could take care of themselves, and they did (though I can think of two or three other Hitchcocks besides Notorious that I value above Vertigo, which shook up a solid if staid selection by leapfrogging Kane). I subbed “favorite” for the difficult “best” as my guideline, not that there aren’t dozens more that I could have chosen. They’re movies I treasure.

What from 2012 will crack the 2022 poll? Nothing, given that that the whippersnapper of the bunch is 2001’s Mulholland Dr., and that placed #28. The poll is like a wine cellar stocked with the eldest vintages. Maybe in 2032 something will bubble forth.

For now, however, I can close the book on 2012 by declaring it

rev+houseAs I begin putting together my annual Academy Awards predictions, one thing is certain — if Ben Affleck had been nominated for Best Director as he should have been, this year would be a whole lot easier. I don’t recall a time in recent memory when the Directors Guild nominations differed so much from the Best Director Oscar nominations. Only two of them matched this year (Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee) which makes it especially hard to call the Best Picture and Director winners since the DGA winner is usually a good indicator of both. As usual, if I have any last-minute changes before the big night, I’ll post them in the comments section. For those playing along, here are my results in recent years: 2010 (17 out of 24), 2011 (20 out of 24) and 2012 (17 out of 24).

noconcessionsAnd here they are. And here I am, back with that promised “more commentary.” In a spread-the-wealth category that showed more love to, say, The Master and less love to Argo than I would have expected, my gut predictions to win in the major categories: Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, and Tommy Lee Jones. Dig that crazy non-alphabetical listing on TV–Oscar’s going radical. Any more shakeups to come? In the meantime we’ll all learn to live with host (and nominee) Seth MacFarlane and his strangely plasticized demeanor by Feb. 24–his getting-to-know-you cold open in the wee hours wasn’t bad. (Or too bad.)

So let’s break it down, with a few observations.

How are some Christmas movies like Christmas trees? They’re dead by New Year’s. I have before me screeners (thanks, Online Film Critics Society!) of Anna Karenina, Hyde Park on Hudson, Hitchcock, This is 40, Promised Land, and The Impossible. (The latter two I saw at screenings before the discs arrived.) None are exactly terrible–the much-nominated Silver Linings Playbook was a much harder sit–but I knew while watching them that none were going to amout to much in end-of-year contests, which frankly is what they’re marketed for. And, outside of a few technical nods and Naomi Watts’ live-through-this performance in The Impossible (a triumph of her ability to wear

“Top 10 lists now?” I hear you say. “Isn’t February 26 a little…late?” Actually, right on time, given tonight’s big event, and I don’t mean the latest episode of The Walking Dead, not that I’d blame you for switching over amidst what it likely to be a corpse of an Oscar competition. Or, if you ask me, premature–I really should do these in July or August, when I’ve had more of a chance to see a fuller spectrum of what 2011 had to offer under optimum conditions (The acclaimed Certified Copy stuttering and buffering on Netflix Instant doesn’t count as an “optimum condition,” but the upcoming Criterion Blu-ray would.) Come to think of it, 2021 may be the best time, when it’s possible to take a big picture look at the big pictures to see what really held up. (Gosford Park, from 2001, yes; A Beautiful Mind, not so much.)

But you’ve got to take a stand sometime. The nice thing about doing it now is that you don’t have to elaborate on your choices too much, so here it goes, from 1 to 10, with some elaboration:

A Separation. I pegged this as my best picture of the year in October, and like The Social Network in 2010 it didn’t budge. Sometimes you just know these things. In release now so seek it out.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Even viewed as a screener this leapt out at me. Quite a stunning feat of adaptation.

Hugo. A good year for Marty, with this and the fine documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, which is on HBO Go.

1/2 Melancholia. All of Kirsten Dunst’s amazing performance. Kiefer Sutherland’s surprisingly withdrawn one. The incredible prologue. The sound design. The ending. (The wedding, Lars von Trier’s typically weirdo casting of everyone else, expendable.)

Here we go with my annual Oscar predictions. In 2010, I got 17 right, but last year I did much better, with 20 right out of 24. This year I am posting my predictions one week before I normally do, as I will be on a cruise during the week leading up to the big night, Sunday February 26. In fact, this will be the first time I can remember that I won’t be able to watch the show live, all because of my cruise. I know, poor me. I shall post my final tally in the comments as soon as I can. And as always, good luck in your Oscar pools!

The Artist (Thomas Langmann, producer); The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor); Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin); The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan); Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese); Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum); Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt); The Tree of Life (Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill); War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy)

PREDICTION: The Artist. With both the Producers Guild of America award and the Directors Guild of America award, The Artist looks poised to win Best Picture. If there’s an upset here it will likely be Hugo.

Demián Bichir for A Better Life; George Clooney for The Descendants; Jean Dujardin for The Artist; Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Brad Pitt for Moneyball

PREDICTION: Jean Dujardin. If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d have been certain this is Clooney’s year to win. But The Artist and its star are gaining momentum, especially with Dujardin’s win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. As many SAG members are also Academy members, I’m going with Dujardin.

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis for The Help; Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady; Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn

PREDICTION: Viola Davis. The notion that “Meryl Streep wins every year” is pretty much not true. She’s only won the leading actress Oscar one time, for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and she also took home the supporting actress Oscar once for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). A more accurate observation would be “Meryl Streep gets nominated every year but hardly ever wins.” In fact she currently holds the record for acting nominations with 17, second to Jack Nicholson with 12. While Streep’s chances of winning are better than normal this time, I still think Viola Davis will take home the Oscar. And with her recent win at the SAG awards, it’s even more likely that this is Davis’s year to win.

As we head into awards season, I thought it might be fun to compile an Oscar-related list of when the Academy got it flat balls-out wrong. So, with the test of time on my side, here are ten films that really should have won Best Picture. Before we begin, there are two obvious omissions from this list. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) has certainly stood the test of time, but it’s hard for me to dispute that year’s winner, The Best Years of Our Lives and its very frank portrayal of three veterans returning home from WWII. And while Saving Private Ryan (1998) seems like a film that should have taken home the top trophy, Shakespeare in Love is such a great film in its own right (with an arguably superior screenplay) that while it annoyed me initially, I did eventually calm down. Now let’s all take a deep breath and proceed.

Citizen Kane (1941)
The actual winner: How Green Was My Valley.
The other nominees: Blossoms in the Dust, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion.
Listen, I love How Green Was My Valley, one of the many great movies from director John Ford, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that throughout the years, Citizen Kane repeatedly shows up as number one on many lists of the best films of all time. In addition to its non-linear storytelling, Orson Welles’s directorial debut is visually groundbreaking cinema in terms of its use of low camera angles and most importantly its use of lighting, in-camera techniques and optical printing to keep the foreground and background all in sharp focus.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
The actual winner: My Fair Lady.
The other nominees: Becket, Mary Poppins, Zorba the Greek.
It’s a crime that Stanley Kubrick never won an Oscar (other than for Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey) and this is the year it probably should have happened. One can also make a good case for A Clockwork Orange (1971) but the competition that year, namely The French Connection, was tough. Incredibly, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, though Kubrick was nominated for Best Director that year, in which Oliver! took home the top prize. I’ll admit I’m biased because I don’t personally care much for musicals, but — getting back to 1964 — Strangelove is iconic Kubrick and one of the greatest satires of all time.

With great fanfare the nominees for the 84th annual Academy Awards were announced early yesterday morning…and then the E! Channel commentators started discussing the more urgent matter of nominee Jonah Hill’s hair. But we have more substantive topics to discuss in the run up to the big show on Feb. 26. Feel free to join us.

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants


The Help

Midnight in Paris


War Horse

The Tree of Life

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Oscarwatch: Out of nine nominees only a handful have shown any traction with audiences, so look for host Billy Crystal, unlocked from cryofreeze, to revive his “Who are these people?” schtick from the 1997 ceremony. On the other hand, does an audience that made

Alright, kids, here we are — the final installment of this year’s Soundtrack Saturday Best Original Song special series. For my final special edition post, I figured it would make the most sense to explore a year from the aughts, and there were two candidates that really stuck out to me as being interesting: 2001 and 2005. Ultimately, I chose 2001 because one of my favorite artists of all time was nominated — and caused a lot of controversy upon arriving at the Oscar ceremony.

This was an interesting year for the Oscar telecast, as it received the lowest ratings in four years and dropped to second place in the Nielsen ratings for the first time in broadcasting history. Why? Because so many numskulls were watching Survivor, that’s why. This happened again in 2003 when you people decided you’d rather watch American Idol (boo!). If only my Superbowl was as popular as the actual Superbowl.

A quick recap of the 2001 ceremony:

The 73rd Academy Awards
Date of telecast: March 25, 2001
Host: Steve Martin

(Per Academy rules, all nominated films were released between January 1 and December 31, 2000, in Los Angeles County, California.)

Best Picture: Gladiator
Best Actor: Russell Crowe, Gladiator
Best Actress: Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich
Best Supporting Actor: Benicio del Toro, Traffic
Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock
Best Director: Steven Soderbergh, Traffic

And now for our category.

The Oscar went to…

“Things Have Changed” (performed by Bob Dylan; music and lyrics by Bob Dylan) from Wonder Boys.

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Thelma & Louise (Fox/MGM, 1991)

To tie in with “Oscar Month” Fox has been reviving the ghosts of ceremonies past on Blu-ray, with fresh-to-the-format transfers of MGM titles it now handles, including Moonstruck (1987), Rain Man (1988), and Dances with Wolves (1990). I was most intriguing by the prospect of another spin in the Thunderbird with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, so take it away, girls…I mean, women.

The Story: No need to rehash that, right? Suffice it to say that Thelma & Louise has become a fable for our generation. It’s one of those films where just about everything went right, as if by magic, though another zeitgeist film, The Silence of the Lambs, gobbled up most of its six Oscars nominations. Its one win was for Callie Khouri’s constantly surprising, and canny, screenplay–putting guns in the hands of female protagonists was nothing new, but making Thelma (Davis) and Louise (Sarandon) the repository of the film’s grit and heart and great sassy humor and letting us be the judge of their actions was a masterstroke. The actresses are at the top of their game here, as if they had known each other forever, and by the end they glow with a spiritual fulfillment.

It’s their movie…but it’s too simplistic to say that the film is

Here we go with my annual Oscar predictions. Last year, I got 17 right out of 24 possible categories, which isn’t terrible. The 83rd Academy Awards will be broadcast this Sunday, Feb 27.  If I change my mind on any of these before the big day, I’ll post any last-minute changes in the comments below. And I’ll post my final score too, even if it’s embarrassing.

Best Picture
127 Hours (Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson, producers); Black Swan (Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin); The Fighter (David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg); Inception (Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas); The Kids Are All Right (Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray); The King’s Speech (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin); The Social Network (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin); Toy Story 3 (Darla K. Anderson); True Grit (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin); Winter’s Bone (Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan)

Prediction: The King’s Speech. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have said The Social Network was a lock to win this. But in light of recent guild awards, namely both the Producers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America awards both going to The King’s Speech, it looks like Speech is going to take this year’s top prize.

Animal Kingdom (Sony Pictures Classics, 2010)
Also available on Blu-ray

The writer-director of this Australian crime drama, David Michôd, describes co-star Jacki Weaver as a “national treasure.” Here in the U.S. the 63-year-old actress is pretty much buried treasure, familiar from only a handful of long-ago film credits like Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). That all changed with her sweet-and-savage role in Animal Kingdom, for which she received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress. “You thought you were tough in The Fighter, Melissa Leo? You don’t know what tough is.”

The Story: Tagged as an Oz Goodfellas, the movie put me more in mind of the moodier, more intimate At Close Range (1986), where Sean Penn and bandit Christopher Walken stared down the barrel of a gun at their family squabbles. The movie is set in Melbourne, “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world,” Ava Gardner allegedly remarked when she filmed the apocalyptic On the Beach there in 1959. That dead-end quality seeps into this one, which begins as teenage Joshua (James Frecheville) watches passively as an EMT unit removes his mother’s heroin-ravaged

Liam Neeson is the star of Unknown–an unusual choice, as Neeson may be the most known actor around. There’s little that’s ambiguous about Neeson, who was large and in charge as far back as Suspect (1987), where he made the part of a homeless deaf mute at the center of a mystery, meek and frightened as written, as commanding as Rhett Butler. We may only be able to guess at certain aspects of Oskar Schindler or Michael Collins or Alfred Kinsey but playing real-life figures on film Neeson gives them stature and authority. Seeing him on Broadway in a 2002 revival of The Crucible was like watching an oak tree that had sprouted legs and could declaim Arthur Miller. Those pipsqueak witch hunters had a hell of a time bringing him down.

Unknown, from the Dark Castle funhouse (Gothika, Ninja Assassin, etc.), means to take an axe to this image, which has only hardened since he’s become a midlife action star in Taken and played Zeus (Zeus!) in Clash of the Titans. Neeson is Dr. Martin Harris, an eminent biotechnologist, who arrives in Berlin to deliver a paper at a high-level world conference. The jetlagged Harris leaves behind a vital briefcase at the airport, necessitating a trip back from his hotel to retrieve it. The embarrassing errand is cut short when the taxi is involved in an accident that sends it into the river, and puts him into a coma. Waking at the hospital alone

Let’s talk about this year’s Oscar nominations. I know they were last Tuesday, but…what? They were the Tuesday before that? Two Tuesdays ago? What…ah, jeez.

Such is my life these days. Besides little remora-like comments on other folks’ hard work around here I’ve been scarce from the Popdose universe, not because of Oscar, but because of another little guy, Ryan, who came into our lives on Jan. 15, just after I wrapped up my end-of-2010 posts (whew!). He joins his toddling sister, Larissa, and together they’re double trouble. When they’re finally put down for the night (or, in the baby’s case, two hours before the next feeding), I mean to post, and there have been things to post about. Like the passing of the great John Barry. Like the passing of the great Tura Satana, the unforgettable “Varla” of Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which I first saw at Northwestern and really heightened my higher education. (If only they’d worked together; what a theme Barry could have written for her.) Like The Green Hornet, The Rite, and Sanctum.

(Just threw that in to see if you’re paying attention. There is nothing to say about any Hollywood movie that opens in Jan-Feb. Not these, anyway. Daily reviewing is a grim job in the dead of winter.)

So, yeah, I’ll say it: As a film guy these days, I’m a loser. Oh, sure, I’ve watched some DVDs, and that will translate into prose soon (“any day now” growls the boss, who does not believe in such extravagant paternity leave). I feel bad that instead of posting I tend to nap between onslaughts of parenting.

But not as bad as the people who shed blood, sweat, and tears on Barney’s Version (pictured) and The Way Back–which I’ve designated this year’s Loser Oscar Nominees.

Let me define this for you. They are not bad Oscar nominees. They are not Biutiful, a movie that may very well be good, but that title (awful) and the grossly overinflated rep of its director will keep me from ever seeing it, at least before the Oscars air. They are not

Note to self: Sentiment outranks everything else when picking a Best Foreign Language Film winner in the Oscar pool. I’m not-so-secretly pleased that the stone-cold, auteurist-approved White Ribbon didn’t blue-ribbon it, despite critical hosannas. But my favorite, A Prophet (Un prophète), didn’t make it, either.

Okay, folks — it’s time for my annual Oscar predictions. I say “annual” because I make them every year, but this will be the first one officially published anywhere. I might change my mind with some of these, but if I do I’ll post updates in the comments section as we get closer to the big event on Sunday. Also, I’m not going to constantly cite the full, long-ass title for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire here. It’s Precious. Moving on …

Best Picture
(James Cameron, Jon Landau, producers); The Blind Side (Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson); District 9 (Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham); An Education (Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey); The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro); Inglourious Basterds (Lawrence Bender); Precious (Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness); A Serious Man (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen); Up (Jonas Rivera); Up in the Air (Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman)

Prediction: The Hurt Locker. In the past the Best Picture winner has generally corresponded to the winner of the Producers Guild of America and Directors Guild of America awards. This year The Hurt Locker won both the PGA and DGA honors, which would normally mean it’s a shoo-in for Best Picture. However, with ten Best Picture nominees this year instead of the usual five, some of the votes could end up being split, so no one should be surprised if Avatar squeaks by. There’s also the recent controversy about Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier campaigning by e-mail, urging people to vote for his film so “we will win and not a $500M film,” undoubtedly a reference to Avatar and its huge budget. However, I’m sticking with tradition and making The Hurt Locker my official prediction for Best Picture. (If you ask me, District 9 should win … but no one’s asking.)

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