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Sentinel staffers make their Oscar picks

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Academy Awards

Sentinel staffers make their Oscar picks

Who will win the coveted Oscars? I sat down with my right hand man, film writer Sean Bottai. Here are our predictions and our preferences. For a full list of nominees, go here.

Don't forget that we will be liveblogging on Sunday. We intend to leave no potshot untaken, no bad dress unmocked, no self-righteous acceptance speech unlampooned. 

Best Picture

Will Win - Avatar/ Should Win - Inglourious Basterds

It's sort of a fiasco, but I loved Tarantino's postmodern pastiche. But that won't keep the Na'avi from bogarting the prize. I don't begrudge Cameron all the technology hype he's won. Avatar is reasonably fun but it's a stupid movie with shitty stupid characters. Basterds ain't stupid. It's got bad taste and big ideas; vision and venom. That's the kind of film we should reward. (SB)

Will Win - Avatar/ Should Win - The Hurt Locker                                          

The whole new method of deriving the winner via a ranking system and a runoff contingency will only help a big production like "Avatar;" it's arguable that including ten films instead of five will split indie viewers' votes between Tarantino's picture, the Coens', et cetera. Despite a recent scandal involving an email appeal from producer Nicolas Chartier, "The Hurt Locker" should win. It's not any more stupid than the war it portrays. The relentless and decentered plot reflects the situation in Iraq and inaugurates the embedded-era war film in innovative ways. (MG)

Best Director

Will Win - Kathryn Bigelow/ Should Win - Quentin Tarantino

It pains me to dis Kathryn Bigelow, but "The Hurt Locker" is a very dumb movie ridden with bad cliches and stock characters. Gender politics aside, she doesn't deserve the prize. It should go to Tarantino for his madcap, inventive cinephilic romp. (SB)

Will Win - James Cameron/ Should Win - Lee Daniels

"Avatar" is technically innovative, so this one will go to its helmsman, and not his more-talented ex-wife Bigelow. But when a first-timer and a comedian both receive noms, and a pop star (Mariah Carey) is a convincing social worker, that's a sign of superlative directing. "Precious" is too difficult to watch to garner this for Daniels, which is a damn shame.(MG)

Best Actress 

Will Win - Sandra Bullock/ Should Win - Carey Mulligan

Mulligan's is the kind of performance I love: articulate, uncalculated, utterly true. Bullock's is the opposite: schlocky, drawly, contrived. I actually love trashy melodramas and thought Bullock was fun, but its fun like an episode of Grey's Anatomy is fun. You can see right through it, but you needed to be manipulated and pandered to and it was there for you. Mulligan's luminous. (SB)

Will Win- Sandra Bullock/ Should Win - Helen Mirren

Am I an anglophile with a crush on Mirren that goes back to "Cal" and a Tolstoy lover? Yes. Do I agree with Sean about Bullock? Of course. I must say that this category feels weak this year, and that as a former actress, that pisses me off on principle. (MG)

Best Actor

Will Win - Jeff Bridges/ Should Win - Colin Firth

A Single Man's a bit of a mess, but Firth's so vulnerable and mannered that you can't help but love him. I'm actually super unimpressed with the crop of nominees in this category. I think Clooney, Renner and Freeman are prefectly servicable in their roles, but best performance of the year? Michael Stuhlbarg was better. So was Ben Foster. So was Sam Rockwell. I love Jeff Bridges; his turn in Crazy Heart is charming and appropriate, but we all know this is gonna be a lifetime achievement Oscar, which I hate. Firth owns it. (SB)

Will Win - Jeff Bridges/ Should Win - Jeff Bridges

The Dude abides. And while this award is, indeed, back payment for Bridges' entire oeuvre, his performance is brave without being too big (see Mickey Rourke last year), and obviously a challenge for any actor. While Colin Firth and George Clooney both deserve accolades for their respective films, I do think that "Crazy Heart," while not a great film, would not have been a very good or even a passable film without Bridges' raw performance. (MG)

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Mo'Nique/ Should Win: Vera Farmiga

You can bet that Mo'Nique (and her breastsesses) will be delivering another sanctimonious speech for her Monster Mommy role. But Vera Farmiga deserves it, for her causal sexy confident turn in Up in the Air. She's the only one of the five nominees who performance doesn't rely on "shrill' as her go-to for conveying emotion.

Will Win - Mo'Nique/ Should Win: Mo'Nique

I don't care how long a speech Mo'Nique gives. This performance may be my single favorite film performance of the year. This role was a difficult one, with the potential to become a caricature in about six different scenes, and Mo'Nique is completely believable and  pitch-perfect throughout. The climactic scene tells us more about the underside of motherhood and womanhood than we ever wanted to know. Also, Vera Farmiga bugs me. (MG)

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win - Christoph Waltz/ Should Win - Christoph Waltz

It's high camp, but Waltz is pretty damned perfect as Tarantino's "Jew Hunter." Despite Waltz's mortifying speeches at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. "A stage actor acts on the stage," Waltz began at the SAGs, before launching into a dissertation on the craaaaaaffft of acting. Horror. Be sure to tune in to Sunday's telecast for his final act of public flagellation. (SB)

Will Win - Christoph Waltz/ Should Win - Christoph Waltz

"Inglourious Basterds" was a silly, indulgent film. Waltz stole it, hands-down. His was the only performance that rose above the limitations of the genre film put forth by Tarantino; his version of his caricature character sang, unlike, say, star Brad Pitt's. I would, however, like to give props to my childhood crush (Herr Von Trapp was hot, y'all) Christopher Plummer, who had to play Tolstoy. That ain't easy. (MG)

Who deserves a statuette this year? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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