Who would win, who should win and why, sudhish kamath takes a shot at the guessing game
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Because The Dude did pretty much everything Mickey Rourke did last year as The Wrestler (and Rourke was unlucky to return home empty handed since the Academy preferred Sean Penn's inspiring gay act) but Jeff Bridges is almost sure to go home with the prize because he also sang like the legendary Country singer he was supposed to be. Simply brilliant.
It's unlikely that the Academy would give another gay performance an award for Best Actor again, so we can safely rule out Colin Firth ('A Single Man').
Morgan Freeman's height and accent aren't going to help him nail an award for his portrayal of Mandela ('Invictus') and George Clooney's classy understatement may not be enough to get him the golden statuette.
Jeremy Renner did good (Hurt Locker) no doubt in an author-backed role but none of these contenders have had to put in that extra effort that Bridges had to bring his unforgettable character alive. Clearly, the role of a lifetime.
Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
I haven't really seen Helen Mirren in The Last Station, so this really is a blind call.
Meryl Streep has done much better work and gone unrewarded before, so she is hardly the favourite for a role she could've pulled off in her sleep (Julie and Julia). Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire) did an earnest job but her physicality contributed more to the role than the histrionics required.
That leaves us with young Carey Mulligan who completely won me over with as the vivaciously vulnerable teen who falls for a much older charming con man in 'An Education'. But given that the young woman has time on her side, the Academy is likely to go with the favourite Sandra Bullock to reward her maternal instincts that make 'The Blind Side' work. Also, it's a Sandra Bullock we've never seen before.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Now, this is the easiest prediction to make since the actor who made drinking milk seem like the most dangerous thing in the world with his calm, composed and collected dialogue delivery and suave wickedness has practically swept almost every single award he's been nominated in for this role.
Matt Damon (Invictus) played the perfect foil to Morgan Freeman, Stanley Tucci looked super sinister in The Lovely Bones and Woody Harrelson did a neat job of breaking down towards the end of The Messenger but none of these three seem like worthy competition to Hans Landa.
And since I haven't seen The Last Station, I will refrain from commenting on Christopher Plummer.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire
I want Maggie Gyllenhaal to win this one for she really gave it her all in Crazy Heart but Mo'Nique got herself a much stronger role in Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire and if not for anything else, Mo'Nique may walk away with it as the solitary token award for this film that's been nominated in multiple categories.
Penelope just won one last year in the same category, so the Academy may give Nine a pass. The ladies from 'Up in the air' Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick have Reitman to blame. He made them both underplay with great restraint. If I had to choose between them both, Vera Farmiga of course.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up In The Air
That's a prediction I didn't like to make because I like 'In The Loop' much better than 'Up In The Air' but given that the Academy hasn't really taken comedy seriously (not one among the ten nominated Best Films can be called comedies) and because Up In The Air will get unlucky in the Best Director and Best Film race, the Academy is likely to honour Reitman's brilliance with this compensatory award. Though if we are to go purely on merit, 'In The Loop' ought to get it for making swearing look so cool in its wickedly funny political satire.
The other three in the category are nowhere in the same league as these two films and it would be a shame if 'Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire', 'District 9' or 'An Education' won this category.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Now, this is a well-fought category with some absolutely delightful films. It's likely to go to Quentin Tarantino because the Academy may give one each of Best Film and Best Director to James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow to show that it cares as much for the biggies as it does for the independent films and then give the Best Original Screenplay to make it up to Tarantino since Basterds is the third highest nominated film with eight nods. But if this is not power of dialogue and conversations in building tension, what is?
Yes, The Messenger explored in greater depth what The Hurt Locker did without relying on the manipulative device of making the leading man walk up to diffuse the bomb every few scenes. The Hurt Locker was about the brewing tension between life and death, The Messenger dug deeper by exploring impact of war on not just soldiers but their families and relationships, raised larger questions about the system and explored grief. Grief is more difficult to explore than tension, so with due respect to Mark Boal and his research for The Hurt Locker, The Messenger was a more difficult film for a writer.
The fact that Up's best and most powerful moments figure in the first act is proof that the screenplay goes downhill thereafter. So let's just give it up for Inglourious Basterds and Quentin Tarantino.