Let the Oscar race begin

Tom Andrew

The Oscar race is well underway as Hollywood’s elite will gather together under one roof March 7 to announce the winners in over 24 categories.

These include the Best Picture category which now has 10 competing films as opposed to five in past years.

This year’s race has several first time nominees, like Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side” and Jeremy Renner for “The Hurt Locker.” There are also many repeat nominees like Meryl Streep, for “Julie & Julia,” making this her 16th Oscar nomination, and Christopher Plummer, for “The Last Station.”

Most Oscar ceremonies aren’t free of controversy, and many times performers will use their winning moments to showcase their activist sides to promote what they believe in. Other times it’s merely the winners themselves that create controversy, like Marisa Tomei winning for her performance in the film “My Cousin Vinny.”

Nevertheless, this year’s Oscars will surely have a few surprises, even if it is the banter between first time host Alec Baldwin and returning host Steve Martin.

Here are my predictions for the top categories.
The race for Best Picture is twice as tough this year with 10 nominees. “Avatar” and “Up in the Air” will most likely gather the majority of the votes, but I think when the dust settles, it will be “Avatar” that takes home the award. “The Hurt Locker,” however, could be the surprise winner.

For Best Director, the race will be between James Cameron for “Avatar” and Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”. My vote goes to Kathryn Bigelow, but it could be close.
Best Actor seems like it could be a done deal with most thinking George Clooney will go home with the award, but I say it will be a race between Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth, with Bridges winning in the end.
In the Best Actress category, the race has many wonderfully talented actors. With all of the buzz surrounding Meryl Streep’s dead-on portrayal as Julia Child and the fact that she has had 16 nominations and only two wins should make this her year. She should have won for her performance in “The Devil Wears Prada” three years ago, so this will make up for that loss.

There are high expectations for Christoph Waltz from “Inglourious Basterds” to win for best supporting actor. And he will, but it would be great to see Christopher Plummer walk away with the award.

Best Supporting Actress will most surely go to Mo’Nique from “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” but she will have some stiff competition from Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, nominated this year for “Up in the Air.” Farmiga was much better in last year’s “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, and Anna Kendrick.

The Oscars will air on ABC at 8 p.m. EST and 5 p.m. PST.