The Pitt News picks Oscar favorites, winners

Best Picture

Andy

Should Win: “Up in the… Best Picture

Andy

Should Win: “Up in the Air” — No film this year so acutely captured the tenor of the times as Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air.” Essentially, it’s a refutation of the promise of work — the idea that a profession can be as rewarding as a relationship. Themes of unemployment, of groundlessness, of family and of the endless miasma of professionalism ring so inescapably clear that it’s hard not to leave the film profoundly affected. At a time when America needed a wake-up call, Reitman became our cinematic saving grace.

Noah

Should Win: “Inglourious Basterds” — I give you three simple reasons that “Basterds” should win: 1) It rewrites history, giving the Nazis a mean, Tarantino-style kick in the a**. 2) Not one actor in this entire film is ill-suited for his role — everyone is awesome. 3) Its soundtrack has “Cat People” by David Bowie, one more David Bowie song than the rest of the best pic nominees use.

Will Win: Toss-up — Even though there is a staggering number of nominees, the race boils down to two completely different though similarly excellent films. At the end of the night, depending on the flow of winners for the evening, the biggest prize will either go to “The Hurt Locker” or “Avatar.” More so, whichever film wins for Best Director will most likely see this category go to the opposite film — a rare occasion for the Oscars.

Best Director

Kieran

Should Win: James Cameron — As far as flat-out directing goes, there was no better film this year than “Avatar.” After providing perhaps the most technologically innovative films of the past few decades, and one of the most pleasurable and immersive viewing experiences imaginable, Cameron should once again have the right to declare his status as king of the (movie) world.

Andy

Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow — James Cameron’s ex has had a respectable career, but no movie of hers was such a singular triumph as “The Hurt Locker.” After years of unmemorable Iraq films, Bigelow delivered the Iraq war movie we’ve all been waiting for — harrowing, frantic, uncertain and human. Her pitch-perfect cinematic flourishes — the extreme slow motion, the unhinged camerawork — solidify “The Hurt Locker” as an essential study of war’s effect on the human psyche.

Will Win: Toss-up — Like the best picture race, this category really comes down to Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” and Cameron for “Avatar.” The recent indiscretions of the producer of “Hurt Locker” may ultimately tip the scales in Cameron’s favor, but until the ceremonies are under way, there is no way to predict who will take it.

Best Actor

Kieran

Should Win: Colin Firth — No other actor this year gave such a tender yet emotionally grounded performance as Firth did in “A Single Man.” Snubbed out of the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress races, it should be Firth who is rewarded for giving one of the most honest and realistic portrayals of a gay man in recent memory. But my personal favorite film of the year will likely walk away from the Oscars unrecognized.

Noah

Should Win: Jeremy Renner — It’s impossible to ignore Jeremy Renner’s performance as Staff Sergeant William James in the war thriller “The Hurt Locker.” Of course, he’s the underdog in this competition, going up against some of the greatest actors of our time, but he deserves it. Sergeant James, a bomb diffuser in modern Iraq, could have his life end at any moment. Is life worth living if your body parts might be separated three miles apart every time you do your job? And realism really pulls through in this category, because every other performance just has something contrived and unauthentic about it.

Will Win: Jeff Bridges — Bridges’s has risen from his humble beginnings in “Tron,” “The Fisher King” and the timeless “The Big Lebowski,” and now he’s being rewarded for his pity-inspiring performance as washed-up country singer Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” Didn’t see it? Didn’t like it? Then pretend that he’s winning an Oscar for all of his roles previous to the film — every single quirky, oddball character. And after already winning the Golden Globe and SAG Award, it’s only too likely that the Dude will be going home with an Oscar, and he surely abides.

Best Actress

Andy

Should Win: Sandra Bullock — Like this year’s other sensational actress Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock was a well-known but previously little respected star who hit a rut in her career. Case in point: New York Times critic Manohla Dargis called her previous film, “All About Steve,” “the worst movie on Sandra Bullock’s resume.” The “Miss Congeniality” actress should thank the fates that her worst movie was immediately followed by her best, “The Blind Side,” in which she plays a headstrong, sassy Southern wife. In every way, her performance is the anti-“All About Steve” — dynamic, memorable and real.

Noah

Should Win: Gabourey Sidibe — Sidibe needs to win this award. “Precious” was built upon performances, but even with Mo’Nique’s fantastic acting, the film would be nothing without Sidibe. This role couldn’t have been filled by anyone else. Sibide takes the Precious character and throws her through disaster after disaster but doesn’t forget to keep one thing essential — she’s still a little girl. It’s easy to forget that after cold rape, extraordinary violence and the hard perseverance constantly required with the lowest depths of poverty, that Precious isn’t an adult but a child. Sibide doesn’t forget this. Not once.

Will Win: Sandra Bullock — Breakout performances like this don’t come around too often, so Bullock’s rise in the ranks from mediocre actress to standout actress demands a reward. While “The Blind Side” isn’t likely to win Best Picture, it’d be an unwelcome surprise if Bullock walked away empty-handed.

Best Supporting Actor

Kieran

Should Win: Woody Harrelson — Dealing with the process of delivering news to families that their child or spouse has died fighting the war in Afghanistan, “The Messenger” is certainly not an easy film to watch. Harrelson’s performance, however, makes it worth sitting through the uncomfortable material, as the “Zombieland” actor struts his dramatic chops and displays an immensely impressive range of emotions while almost always maintaining his cool.

Andy

Should Win: Christoph Waltz — Like his character in the first scene of “Inglourious Basterds,” Austrian actor Christoph Waltz came out of nowhere and absolutely killed. Gleefully parading as a gentleman, Colonel Hans Landa’s intoxicating blend of brutality and sophistication renders him, at least in my mind, the most fascinating villain in recent cinema history. While Waltz owes much to Tarantino’s ever-intelligent script, none but the most practiced of actors could so deftly translate “The Jew Hunter” into a living, bantering, slaying criminal genius. While it remains to be seen whether “Inglourious Basterds” will go down as a classic, Waltz’s performance is sure to endure.

Will Win: Christoph Waltz — Let’s face it: you can’t leave a tour de force like Waltz’s Colonel Hans Landa unrewarded, and the academy knows this. It’d be a travesty to ignore this up-and-coming Austrian sensation — a man who can balance sophistication and a killer instinct to rival the greatest American actors. Look for Waltz’s name in a theatre near you very soon.

Best Supporting Actress

Kieran

Should Win: Anna Kendrick — Though I have been a huge fan of Kendrick’s since “Camp,” it was her perfect emulation of every over-achieving college graduate that made me see her as a Hollywood force to be reckoned with. Every scene in “Up in the Air” that she appears in crackles with energy and youthful exuberance, and she nails the nuances of anxiety and doubt that currently plague countless college seniors preparing to graduate.

Noah

Should Win: Mo’Nique — Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick of “Up in the Air” both deliver quirky performances, delivering the Reitman’s script line by line with the utmost wit. But who cares about wit when you can get grit, Mo’Nique style? Mo’Nique’s shocking performance in “Precious” as the abusive, unbelievable mother of the confused Precious ranks as one of the best supporting actress performances ever nominated. Her ferocity and violence literally kick you in the jaw, forcing you to crumple to the ground. Every time Mo’Nique slides onto the screen, you can’t help but want more.

Will Win: Mo’Nique — Who would’ve thought that an actress whose filmography included “Phat Girlz,” “Soul Plan” and “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins” could deliver one of the most terrifying, compelling performances in the history of film? But what will really win her a gold man: her fantastic final sequence in the film. Not to go into detail, but the scene truly solidified her as a great actress.

Leave a comment.