Sure, there are always curve balls, surprises and whatnot, but if you pay a modicum of attention you should be able to guess at least 17 out of 24 picks correctly.
The season obviously changes and films fall in and out of favor, so there's really no point in making several predictions during the year. You'll recall at one point "Precious" had a lot of heat, so did "Up In The Air," along with its star George Clooney and director Jason Reitman. Films always surge and then their Oscar buzz dies down or goes up; it's simply always ebbing and flowing (see "Avatar" and the more recent "Inglourious Basterds").
Either way, like every year, we just wanted to put our picks down for posterity. Here's how we think the night will go down.
In case you forget, here are all the nominations in full.
Who will win: “The Hurt Locker” — The "Lockergate" fiasco will backfire, the Academy voting branch will see it for what it is, a smear campaign, and the members will vote on the quality of the film
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker” — It's a remarkable piece of work and compared to all the other nominees, it's the only film in the final 10 that feels like it is deserving of a Best Picture. It has a weight and import to it.
Nice Try: Harvey Weinstein, at least you can still move the needle and are probably good at character assassination pieces that might help your film. 'Inglourious' will not take it, sorry.
Who will win: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” — The first female ever, who made a kick-ass, intense film that is replete with action, but has miles more depth than the average action picture? Hell, yes.
Who Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” — No one wants to see James Cameron up there again.
Who will win: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart” — He's been nominated four times before and has never won. It's his achievement award and he deserves it.
Who Should Win: Colin Firth for “A Single Man” or Jeremy Renner for “The Hurt Locker” — However, it's not necessarily his best performance ever and Renner and particularly Firth truly blew us away. Alas, it will certainly not happen.
Who Will Win: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side” — She has SAG, Globes, all the pre-awards on her side. The mathematical statistics are on her side.
Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan, “An Education” — A stunning and wonderful performance that announces a newcomer that will undoubtedly be up at the podium again.
Who Should Have Been Nominated Instead of Bullock: Abbie Cornish, "Bright Star" — Nope, we're still not over that snub, but seriously, it's a terrific performance, flush with emotions that you feel in your gut on a visceral level.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds” — There's absolutely no stopping this win. He's a shoo-in and it is a pretty solid performance if a little too queeny for our taste sometimes.
Who Should Win: Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger” — Harrelson's tightly wound and psychically damaged solider was better, frankly.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Who Will Win: Mo'Nique, “Precious” — She's a beast in this picture; a force of nature, but she saves this exploitative and garish movie from being a total waste of time.
Who Should Win: Monique, “Precious” — See above.
Who will win: “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis — Best Editing always (generally) goes to Best Picture and this is where we're putting our money.
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis — See above.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Who will win: “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal — Perhaps the closest race out there. But Boal by a hair because he won the WGA award.
Who should win: “Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino — Not everyone at the Playlist adored Tarantino's WWII film, but anyone who can read can acknowledge the script is a sheer enjoyable masterpiece. A bit of a shame the movie wasn't quite as good.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Who will win: “Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner — It's an ace adaptation, no two ways about it, filled with heart, soul and humor. Too bad the film wasn't quite as good.
Who should win: “Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner — See above.
Who will win: “The White Ribbon” Christian Berger — God, this category is for once, incredibly hard to call. Still, he won the Cinematography guild award, so he should take this one as well, making it the first purely digital cinematography win in the Academy's history and for a black and white digital film no less.
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker,” Barry Ackroyd — We prefer the film and still like Ackroyd's work better. Note, however, that not too many people saw "The White Ribbon" compared to "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker," so both films could power over the guild win.
Who Will Win: “The Young Victoria,” Sandy Powell — She has all the guilds in her favor.
Who Should Win: “Bright Star,” Janet Patterson — The costumes in this one are gorgeous and much more expressive.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Who will win: “Up,” Pete Docter — It's all sewn up. Don't bother voting against it.
Who should win: “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Wes Anderson — It's a nice return to form for Anderson, who found a way to make his meticulously crafted diorama-like world work in his favor. While not perfect, it's a more consistent film than "Up," which kinda dies after that first magical 30 minutes.
Who will win: “The Cove” — A supremely compelling doc transformed into a riveting thriller and a tremendous piece of work that truly deserves this award.
Who should win: “The Cove” — See above.
Who will win: “Avatar” — *Update*: Forgot that "Avatar" had also won a guild award, so we're changing our pick here, sue us. The Academy usually goes with period pieces here, but the all encompassing world created in "Avatar" will probably trump “The Young Victoria.”
Who should win: “Nine,” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim — While a poor movie, the aesthetics and look were ace.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Who will win: “El Secreto de Su Ojos” - Argentina — What? Who? All the foreign film prediction experts are claiming it'll go this way. We have yet to see it but trust their judgements. Plus the Foreign Branch likes to play it safe and this film apparently fits the bill.
Who should win: “Un Prophète”- France — A tremendous piece of work that should have won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.
Who will win: “Star Trek,” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow — Cause there is crazy Romulan make-up and what not.
Who should win: “The Young Victoria,” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore — And frankly, we won't be surprised if it wins. In fact, when it comes to our personal Oscar pools, you may see this switch.
*note, we might change our vote last minute here
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Who will win: “Up,” Michael Giacchino — Giacchino's score, which added some weight and memorable themes to Pixar's most beloved film yet, was no slouch and is a favorite to win here.
Who should win: “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Alexandre Desplat — This is simply a score we loved more, which brought an autumnal warmth and sprightliness to the proceedings that livened up Anderson's fractured take on Dahl's story.
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
Who will win: “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyrics by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett — An incredibly moving song that nails the bittersweet tone of the shaggy dog picture exactly.
Who should win: “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett — See above.
Who will win: “Avatar,” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle — It won the guild and hell it is deserving.
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker,” Paul N.J. Ottosson — Still, we think the 'Locker' should sweep sound. Doubtful that it will happen though.
Who will win: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett — It won the guild and we're not surprised. The sound is actually a huge part of what makes this film so intense.
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett — see above, however, don't be surprised if "Avatar" wins this regardless. It might make a big technical sweep.
Who will win: “Avatar,” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones — It wasn't quite the eyeball fucking experience that Hitler promised, but the 3D did look kinda cool.
Who should win: “Avatar,” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones — 3D!! 3D!!
Here are the short categories. We haven't seen these so we'll be posting our predictions last minute in whatever party pool we're part of (honestly we haven't had time to do an ounce of research here yet). Stay tuned to this space though as we will eventually make some picks here.
Update 3.7.10 at 1:23 pm EST: OK, the plan was to go to the IFC center and catch all the shorts today to get some sort of informed opinion, but the trains in Brooklyn are kind of fucked up this weekend so that plan is botched. So we've basically looked at what most of the experts we trust are saying and formed an opinion based on five of six people we like. *Note: all the experts seems to be taking "Avatar" for Best Cinematography which makes us want to change our pick, but we're not going to do it. We still think it's "White Ribbon" or maybe even more probable, "The Hurt Locker," but we'll see we suppose. We are tempted to change our pick to "Avatar" but are resisting the urge.
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
“A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
“The Door” Juanita Wilson and James Flynn