The time has come once again.  The 2010 Oscars are just a week away.  I’ve rambled on about my love for the Academy Awards too many times so I won’t repeat myself.  It’s just exciting to see a bunch of great films and performances honoured.  Hopefully they’re ones I approve of.


Don’t forget to enter my 10th Annual Oscars competition.  I have selected 5 of the more wide-open categories below (some trickier than others) and everyone is invited to pick who they think will be the winner.  You can enter through the front page of my website.


Now yes, I have gambled on the Oscars yet again this year.  Just two bests.  The first was $500 on Avatar to win best picture at odds of $3.  I got very good odds because I backed it in early January before the Golden Globe Awards.  Unfortunately, The Hurt Locker has picked up huge momentum in the meantime and looks like winning.  The second is a roughie - $80 on Carey Mulligan to win best actress at odds of $11.  I don’t think she’ll win but after snatching the BAFTA (where she had home field advantage), she may yet have a chance if there’s a vote split between Streep and Bullock.  That said, my 8 year winning streak looks set to come to an end.  I am up just over $4,533 for the past 15 years so I’m not complaining.  Fingers are crossed a little tighter this year though.


The ceremony kicks off at 11am next Monday and for the first time ever, I’ve taken the day off work to watch it live.  Back when Channel 9 only showed a delayed telecast, I used to have to hide somewhere so as not to hear the results.  Thankfully those days are behind us.  I can’t wait and you’ll be able to follow my thoughts on Twitter – - on the day.  A full blog wrap will follow as well as details of my competition winners.


There is much to discuss so here’s my 2010 form guide with details on who I think will win.  Enjoy!


Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air


Ok, I’m going with The Hurt Locker.  It’s won the British Academy Award, the Director’s Guild Award (the most important of all lead up awards) and the Producer’s Guild Award.  It’s also won the majority of critics prizes.  This has been talked about as a “David v. Goliath” race over the past 2 months.  Can a film which made $12m defeat a film which will make in excess of $700m?  The answer looks like being yes.  The strange thing is that now The Hurt Locker is the Goliath in this race with Avatar being David.  Avatar still has a chance but I can’t say it’s a strong one.  Inglourious Basterds is the only other film with any sliver of a hope.  It won the best ensemble award at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards and could sneak home in a Crash-like upset.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Directing

James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Kathryn Bigelow has this one in the bag.  She’s about to make history and become the first woman to ever win the Oscar for best director.  Only 3 women have been previously nominated in this category which is astonishing.  I don’t know the answer to this question but it’s worth debating if you’re tired by this part of the ceremony – has the fact that The Hurt Locker is directed helped its chances?  Are people giving it extra praise and attention because it’s directed by a woman?  I don’t know the answer to those questions but I do know Bigelow will win this Oscar.  Matt’s Pick:  Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

With The Hurt Locker sweeping many guild awards, Jeremy Renner isn’t without hope here.  However, I’m confident that 5-time nominee Jeff Bridges will break his duck and finally win an Academy Award.  He’s a highly regarded actor who has made some great speeches along the way.  This is his time to shine.   Matt’s Pick:  Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Most of the acting races look fairly predictable but if there’s going to be a surprise, it’ll be in the best actress category.  Meryl Streep was the early favourite.  Yes, she’s won twice before but her last victory was in 1983.  She’s had 11 consecutive losses since that time.  Streep is well overdue and this looked to be her year.  Along came Sandra Bullock.  She won the Golden Globe and then the ever important Screen Actors Guild Award.  This makes her the favourite.  But let’s not be too hasty.  The Guild win was significant but did they give it to Bullock only because Streep won in that category two years ago (for Doubt)?  It’s possible and if so, the Oscars may be a different story.  How much love is there for Bullock within the much smaller Academy?  Let’s not rule out Carey Mulligan either.  She won the BAFTA and there are a lot of people who are members of both the American and British Academies.  But did she win mainly because she’s British and was on home turf?  That seems more likely but don’t rule out a Mulligan victory – particularly if Streep and Bullock split their votes.  I need to tip at least one upset so I’m going with Mulligan.  Matt’s Pick:  Carey Mulligan, An Education


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

And the Oscar goes to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  I hope he’s got room in his house for his Oscar statue.  Given that he’s won 10,000 other awards this season, I have my doubts.  Matt’s Pick:  Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

The same thing can be said of Mo’Nique.  When the same actor wins every single award, it makes you wonder if they ever run out of speech material.  Do they just say the same thing at every awards show?  Or do they save up their best material for the Oscars?  We’ll find out soon when Mo’Nique steps to the stage.   Matt’s Pick:  Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Up in the Air

Academy voters tend to spread their support in the major categories.  Up In The Air won’t be winning any other categories but as one of the more popular best picture nominees, it’s strongly tipped to win this category.  Many see its script as its strongest asset and it’s won a bunch of awards to date.  I think it’s a deserved win.  Matt’s Pick:  Up in the Air.


Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

This is a tricky one.  The Hurt Locker is the frontrunner given it will win best picture and best director.  But let’s not forget the brilliant writing of Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds.  Tarantino has won in this category before – back in 1995 for Pulp Fiction – but I don’t know if too many voters will remember this.  Now comes the part of my form guide where I have to make my biggest decision.  When it comes to the Academy Awards, there are two possibilities – (1) the Oscars will be shared around, or (2) one film will sweep most categories even if it doesn’t deserve it.  Slumdog Millionaire did this last year (8 Oscars, really?).  If I tip Hurt Locker here, I’ve got to lean towards it in the technically categories too.  It pains me to say it (because I think Avatar is a better film) but yes, I think a Hurt Locker sweep is on the cards.  It won a lot of awards at the BAFTAs (not so easy for an American film) so I don’t see how it won’t happen back home.  Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Editing

District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

The editing award is an interesting one as it’s often the barometer for the best picture Oscar.  It is either won by a big action film (e.g. Speed, The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum) or the film which goes on to win the best picture Oscar.  I don’t think I can pick anything else here but The Hurt Locker.  Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Cinematography

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

I’m getting angry now.  I feel I’m in another position where I have to pick The Hurt Locker over Avatar.  The White Ribbon took the guild award (in somewhat of an upset) but I think it has little chance against the Avatar v. Hurt Locker battle.  I see voters being anti-Avatar in this category (unnecessarily I believe) because of its reliance on visual effects.  Sigh.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Art Direction


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Now, this is interesting.  No Hurt Locker here.  Were the voters not impressed by the military uniforms?  The good news is that it’s someone else’s turn to win.  But which film?  Avatar looks to be the favourite as it’s the only best picture nominee in the list.  Hmmm, this is tricky though.  Will there also be a voter backlash against Avatar because they don’t believe the sets are real?  The Guild was shared between Avatar, Hurt Locker and Sherlock Holmes.  Does this mean Holmes has a realistic chance here?  It did make a lot of money – something that Nine, Parnassus and Young Victoria did not.  Tricky, tricky, tricky.  It’s definitely between these two films but which one?  Avatar won the BAFTA so I’ll give it my preference. Yay Avatar!   Matt’s Pick:  Avatar.


Best Achievement in Costume Design

Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Now this is where it gets really interesting.  I’ve deliberately selected this category in my pick the Oscars competition because there’s no Hurt Locker and no Avatar.  In fact, none of these films made much money at all the box-office.  How many voters have actually seen them?  The Academy tends to favour historical dramas in his category (The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marie Antoinette) but that doesn’t rule any of these five films out.  The Young Victoria won the BAFTA and the Costume Designers Guild Award so it’s earned my selection.  Matt’s Pick:  The Young Victoria.


Best Achievement in Makeup

Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

What an odd category.  Just three films – an Italian film which no one will have heard of, a sci-fi action blockbuster which made oodles at the box-office, and a period piece film also nominated in the costume design category.  Interesting indeed.  It’s got to be between Star Trek and The Young Victoria.  Given it’s popularity, I’ll lean towards Star Trek but I think it’ll be a close race.   Matt’s Pick:  Star Trek.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes

This is one of my favourite categories.  I have a collection of close to 200 film scores.  My favourite for this year is the score for A Single Man but sadly it’s not nominated.  The Hurt Locker inclusion surprises me.  Given all the action, I don’t even remember it having much of a score.  Perhaps I’m wrong.  It does show much support for the film though (which I’ve alluded to earlier).  Avatar is probably the favourite but composer James Horner has won before (for Titanic).  Disney films tend to do well in this category which gives Up a strong chance.  I don’t know if I agree with their choice but yes, I do think Up will sneak home.  Matt’s Pick:  Up.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Almost There from The Princess and the Frog
Down in New Orleans from The Princess and the Frog
Loin de Paname from Paris 36
Take It All from Nine
The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart


The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart is a beautiful song and surely it must win here.  The two noms for The Princess & The Frog all but eliminate its chances (votes will be split).  Paris 36 would seem unlikely (it’s foreign language and this is its only nomination) and Nine was so poorly received by both the public and critics.   Matt’s Pick:  The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart.


Best Achievement in Sound

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Two choices – Avatar or The Hurt Locker.  I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again – The Hurt Locker sweep is on the cards.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker.


Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Ditto.  And let’s be honest – how does a normal Academy member (who is entitled to vote just like anyone else) distinguish between sound and sound editing?  Beats me.   Matt’s Pick:  The Hurt Locker


Best Achievement in Visual Effects

District 9
Star Trek


The easiest category of the night.   Matt’s Pick:  Avatar.


Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Fantastic Mr Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

I’d like to see Fantastic Mr. Fox spring an upset but let’s be honest, Up is the only best picture nominee in this list so how could it lose?  Bonus points at any Oscars party goes to anyone who has actually seen The Secret Of Kells.   Matt’s Pick:  Up.


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Ajami (Israel)
El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina)
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
The Prophet (France)
The White Ribbon (Germany)

You have two choices here.  France and Germany have been pitted against each other once again.  Will it be The Prophet (which won the BAFTA and the runner-up award at the Cannes Film Festival)?  Or will it be The White Ribbon (which won the Golden Globe, the European Film Award and the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival).  I’ve seen A Prophet and think it’s overrated so I’m going with The White Ribbon.  Upsets can happen in this category though because to be able to vote, you must have gone to special screenings to prove that you saw the film.  I guess they don’t trust the likes of George Clooney and Julia Roberts when they say they checked out El Secreto de Sus Ojos at their local multiplex.  Matt’s Pick:  The White Ribbon.


Best Documentary, Features

Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Documentaries are becoming more and more prominent each year in cinemas.  Gone are the days when this category was the perfect time for a toilet break.  Recent winners included Man On Wire, An Inconvenient Truth, March Of The Penguins and Fog Of War.  They’re often better than the films which take home the best picture Oscar.  I have issues with the film but The Cove has won the lion’s share of best documentary awards to date.  I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t win here.  Matt’s Pick:  The Cove.


Best Documentary, Short Subjects

China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit à la Berlin

Now this is the part where you can go to the bathroom.  It’ll take them long enough just to read through the list of nominees – such long titles!  I don’t know which film to pick.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Given the significance of the global financial crisis in America, let’s go with The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.  Matt’s Pick:  The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.


Best Short Film, Animated

French Roast
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Let’s hope they get these categories out of the way early.  I’m sure they’ll get some young stars (e.g. Miley Cyrus, Zach Efron, Taylor Lautner) to present so that the audience won’t be switching channels.  A Matter Of Loaf and Death is a new Wallace & Gromit short from Nick Park.  Wallace & Gromit films won in this category back in 1994 and 1996.  They also won best animated film in 2006.  The Yanks seem to love them so I dare not tip against them.   Matt’s Pick:  A Matter of Loaf and Death.


Best Short Film, Live Action

The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants

Last… and most certainly least.  I believe in the importance of short films but this is one category which doesn’t interest me at the Oscars.  There’s no chance to see them (well, some are available on Youtube) and I don’t care much about who wins.  There is an Australian connection this year though with Sydney-born Luke Doolan nominated for Miracle Fish.  He’s done amazingly well to get this far so let’s hope the “miracle” continues.  Go the Aussies!   Matt’s Pick:  Miracle Fish.


That’s it from me.  Let’s hope it’s a great Oscars and that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin do a super job as hosts.  A few upsets would be nice too.  Go Avatar!