Sad Hill Media

Film & Lesser Arts with Will Ross, Devan Scott, & Daniel Jeffery.

by Will Ross

Here's who should win (and, in some cases, who was overlooked for nomination) in this year's Oscar categories.

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Best Picture

Who Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is the finest American film since There Will Be Blood, and would be the lowest grossing film to ever win best picture. That alone would be a great reality check for the Oscars, which tend to favour pictures that have earned hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. Taut, suspenseful action and immaculate production make the film an exemplary character study. A Serious Man is too strange and inaccessible to the average moviegoer to even have a chance, but is also deserving of the award. Unfortunately, I fear that Avatar will take home the top honour simply for being the film that the most people saw. Still, I'll predict Hurt Locker for the hell of it. Well, the lowest grossing best picture winner ever - and one of the best choices the Academy has ever made.

Who should have been nominated: In the Loop, The White Ribbon, A Prophet, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox were all unfairly overlooked in favour of the far inferior Avatar, The Blind Side, An Education, and Precious.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Who Should Win: Michael Stuhlbarg's turn as a nervous, deeply troubled physics professor in A Serious Man created one of the most unique family man characters ever put on film. Criminally, he was not even nominated. Of the nominees, Jeremy Renner's turn as an adrenaline junkie in The Hurt Locker and Colin Firth's calmly suicidal man grieving his lover's death in A Single Man would be welcome victories. Jeff Bridges will likely take home the award for his career achievement and his solid performance as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. A good guess on my part. Bridges won.

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Actually, I consider Christoph Waltz's performance in Inglorious Basterds the best leading performance of the year, but he wasn't the one on the promotional posters for the film so he was relegated to supporting status. But that's another argument.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Who Should Win: The leading actress field this year was a little disappointing, as most major artistic films drew on leading men rather than leading women. With that said, Carey Mulligan's great performance in the disappointing An Education is deserving of the award, but hasn't got a chance at the Oscar. Sandra Bullock's pedestrian turn in The Blind Side is the likely winner. I was right on.

Best Supporting Actor

Who Should Win:
Christoph Waltz. He should win, and will win, no contest. And he did.

Best Supporting Actress

Who Should Win: Mo'Nique's performance as the protagonist's mother in Precious was one of the most monstrous villains in recent memory (for the purposes of the film, a little too monstrous). Anna Kendrick's performance as an ambitious but na
ïve young corporate visionary would be an equally welcome and deserving victory. And sure enough, Mo'Nique won.

Best Original Screenplay

Who Should Win: Inglourious Basterds or A Serious Man are equally deserving for their pitch-perfect cinematic structures. Basterds will take the award. The Hurt Locker won for its stupendous screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Should Win:
In the Loop is one of the greatest political satires ever filmed and written. Though I question its "Adapted" status (only one or two characters remain from its parent series The Thick of It), it's the funniest film of 2009 and a scathing, intelligent indictment of careerist bureaucracy in politics. However, the wonderful but occasionally bloated screenplay for Up in the Air is a far likelier winner. But the winner was the competent but underwhelming screenplay for Precious.

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Wes Anderson's work on The Fantastic Mr. Fox is his best since The Royal Tenenbaums, and is easily better than Precious or An Education, which earned their nominations for their popular support.

Best Cinematography

Who Should Win:
The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Das weiße Band are all marvelously shot films, and I can't choose one of the three as superior cinematography. I suspect, however, that the well-shot Avatar will win this for its sheer spectacle. It did.

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Roger Deakins' work on A Serious Man is some of his best, and since I consider him the greatest living cinematographer and he still has not won an Oscar, his exclusion from the race is a bitter disappointment.

Best Film Editing

Who Should Win:
The Hurt Locker's editing made it the most suspenseful film of the year, and though I usually lament the film with the "most" editing (rather than the best) being the one that wins, in this case I'd be happy to see The Hurt Locker win. Inglourious Basterds is on a similar level, but Avatar has a good shot at winning this award for its excellent cutting. Hurt Locker was the winner!

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Un prophète's fast pace made its 2.5 hour running time pass by in a heartbeat, and made the six-year prison sentence and suspenseful confrontations pass by smoothly without ever dragging. Gripping editing from beginning to end.

Best Art Direction

Who Should Win: Terry Gilliam's
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Gilliam, possibly the most consistently stunning director in terms of original art direction, still has yet to win an award in this category. Parnassus is fully deserving, but the more popular Avatar has a better shot for its ambitious, if not fully resolved or consistent, creation of a world. I was right on.

Best Original Score

Who Should Win:
A Single Man is one of the worst snubs of the year. Its score is one of personal heartbreak and mourning, and it should not only have been nominated, but is by far the most deserving of the award. Of the remaining nominees, Up has the best score by Michael Giacchino, who also showed skill last year with the catchy fanfare score of Star Trek. Giacchino's star continued to rise with a victory.

Best Original Song

Who Should Win: Weary Kind. And it will. Because it's the best original song of 2009. A deserved win for The Weary Kind.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Who Should Win: The Hurt Locker had the best sound mixing of the year, mixing the dialogue, war zone chaos and excellent score without a flaw, but
Avatar's also marvelous mix is the favourite. A surprising upset from The Hurt Locker!

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Who Should Win:
Avatar's sound editing is some of the most complete and immersive in years, but The Hurt Locker is equally impressive. Still, I bet on Avatar taking it home. Two sound awards for The Hurt Locker!

Best Visual Effects

Who Should Win: Avatar. Bet the house. No one is going to argue with this. No one did.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Who Should Win:
The Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of the most original and intelligent animated films I've ever seen, but Up is the lock, and only slightly behind it in quality. Up was the Winner.

Best Foreign Language Film

Who Should Win: Though I slightly preferred
Un prophète, which is in my opinion the greatest gangster saga since Goodfellas, either it or the likely winner Das weiße Band deserve the award. An upset - El Secreto de sus ojos.

Unfortunately, I slacked on my viewings of documentary and short films this year, and I haven't seen most of the films nominated for makeup or costume design, meaning I can't offer any reliable opinions on them.


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