BEST ANIMATED FILM
Will win AND should win: Up
In a fabulous year for animation (how great was Fantastic Mr. Fox?), Up raised the bar with that ridiculously moving first act.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will win: Hurt Locker; should win: Inglourious Basterds
One of the toughest races to call, this category pits the Best Picture front-runner (The Hurt Locker) against an ingeniously talky script by Quentin Tarantino. Both screenplays are deserving. But it would be nice to see Basterds get some love.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win AND should win: Up in the Air
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner may not have worked together, but they crafted perhaps the funniest and most touching screenplay of the year.
Will win AND should win: ”The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart
You won’t hear me complaining that there won’t be any Best Song performances this year. But Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett’s Crazy Heart theme is far and away the best of the bunch.
Will win AND should win: Kathryn Bigelow
Even if Avatar steals Best Picture, Bigelow will make Oscar history as the first female filmmaker to take the Best Director prize. And she did it by making the best ”guy movie” of last year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win AND should win: Mo’Nique
Here we have a fascinatingly tight race between…oh, who are we kidding? Mo’Nique is the mother of all locks this year. And deservedly so.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win AND should win: Christoph Waltz
Another race with absolutely no suspense. How could anyone top Waltz’s showboating turn as the world’s most charming SS colonel?
Will win: Sandra Bullock; should win: Carey Mulligan
Bullock and Meryl Streep are locked in a super-tight race, but my heart’s with An Education‘s Mulligan, so unforgettable in her first-ever lead film role.
Will win: Jeff Bridges; should win: Colin Firth
Bridges’ sweep of the three big U.S. pre-Oscar awards (SAG, Broadcast Critics, and Golden Globe) means he’s a lock. But the British Academy also showed they have impeccable taste by recognizing Firth for his emotional turn in A Single Man.
Will win AND should win: The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker, Avatar, and Inglourious Basterds may all get a similar number of No. 1 votes from the Academy. But in the all-important second and third rounds of voting, the more polarizing films stand to lose out to Locker, which has the most overall support.