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Oscar Race Kicks Off: 82nd Academy Award Nominations Announced

Anthony Baltierra, Haley Greenwald-Gonella |
February 1, 2010 | 6:07 p.m. PST

Staff Reporters

The coveted Oscar.
(Anthony Baltierra)

Before sunrise this morning local press and international media turned their sights to Wilshire Blvd. and to the bright stars of Hollywood's films.  Major media outlets prepped their equipment just after midnight and then reconvened to schmooze and grab breakfast with fellow colleagues at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday.

Press gathered together, waiting for the go-ahead that came at approximately 5:20, which preceded a mad-dash up a flight of stairs to ready lights and cameras.  Today heralds the home stretch of this year's award season and our continued fascination with one special man:  Oscar.  

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards amidst cheers and the flickers of flashbulbs. 2008 Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway, clad in a cream colored suit and tangerine heels, and chipper Academy president Tom Sherak revealed ten of the categories live from the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. The nominees for the other fourteen categories were given in an official press release and listed on the Academy's website after the news conference.  

Avatar and The Hurt Locker tied for the most nominations with a total of nine, including noms for Best Picture, Director, Cinematrography, and editing. Inglorious Basterds was also nominated in the same categories and scored eight nominations in total.

Precious and Up in the Air (press favorites) used the strength of their acting performances to collect six nominations each. Disney and Pixar's Up landed five nominations, while District 9, Nine, and Star Trek recieved four noms each. Overall, twenty-two different films earned multiple Oscar nods.

The Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 7, 2010 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. The telecast will be co-hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.  Sherak assures that the event will be a "night to be remember."

Here is the complete list of nominations, including an analysis of the major categories and an interview with film historian and USC adjunct facutly member, Leonard Maltin

Best Picture

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The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
For the first time since 1943, there are more than five nominated films for Best Picture. The move to expand the field to ten films calls back to the Oscar ceremonies from the mid-Thirties and early Forties. In those years, ten nominated films was the norm, though there were years when the number of nominated films was as low as eight and as high as twelve. Many called the move a ratings ploy since it created a better chance for popular films to gain a nomination, which might entice more viewers to tune in. With the declining ratings of recent Oscars telecasts, the Academy is certainly desperate to attract viewers, but the supporters of the move say it will give more films the recognition it deserves.
With seven of the films sure bets to earn nominations (An Education, Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up, and Up in the Air) the expansion led mostly to speculation about which films would make it in at the bottom half of the bracket. Would the Academy recognize the science fiction genre by selecting District 9 and/or Star Trek? Could surprise summer comedy hit and Golden Globe winner The Hangover make the cut? Or perhaps the more adult-oriented It's Complicated would be chosen to represent comedy. 
The selection of the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man was expected by many experts, as was the selection of critically acclaimed District 9. The major surprise came with the nomination for The Blind Side, which to this point hadn't received any recognition from any of the other major awards. It's selection was a welcome surprise to the those in attendance, though, as it was greeted by heavy cheers.
Though it won't be a major player in this race, Up did became only the second animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture (Beauty and the Beast pulled off the feat in 1992).
The battle for the top prize seems to realistically be between Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Up in the Air. The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air split most of the critics prizes, Up in the Air won the National Board of Review's highest honor, Avatar won took the Globe, Basterds won the SAG Ensemble Cast award, and The Hurt Locker was awarded the Producer's Guild award. Avatar may have just been crowned the all-time box office champ (in terms of total revenue, at least), but a heavily criticized script may be it's undoing. Up in the Air has lost the momentum of it's early victories in the critics awards while Basterds was oly able to take three critics prizes besides the SAG victory. That leaves The Hurt Locker as the lead horse. Will any of the other three contending films be able catch up to it? It's entirely possible, but highly unlikely.        

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Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Bastards
Nominations for Bigelow, Cameron, Reitman, and Tarantino were a given as they helm the four films with the best chance to walk away with the Best Picture prize. All four directors were also nominated by the Broadcast Film Critics, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and the Director's Guild, while only Reitman was left off the BAFTA short list. Early on in the awards season, Clint Eastwood looked like a lock to be the fifth nominee, but Invictus quickly lost steam, evidenced by its lack of a single BAFTA nomination, Eastwood's absence from the Director's Guild, and the film's absence from the Best Picture category. Instead, Daniels, who was the final Director's Guild nominee, picks up the Oscar nomination and becomes only the second African-American to be nominated in this category, despite being neglected at the Globes and BAFTAs.       
With Tarantino and Reitman most likely getting rewarded in the screenplay categories, this category has come down to a battle between ex-spouses Cameron and Bigelow. Cameron, who previously won the award for Titanic, picked up the directing honor at the Globes, but Bigelow dominated the critics prizes and was honored by the Director's Guild this past weekend. Only the fourth female director to ever be nominated, it appears Bigelow will accomplish what Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion, and Sofia Coppola couldn't: be named Best Director by the Academy.  
Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Bridges, Clooney, and Firth were all locks to be nominated after each picked up Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA nominations. Freeman and Renner's nominations were also expected since each actor made the cut at most of the other major award shows (Freeman was left off the BAFTA list and Renner failed to pick up a Globe nom). It is the first nomination for Firth and Renner while the other three actors are past nominees.
Clooney had the early lead in this category when he picked up 13 critics prizes, but Bridges now has a major edge after being recognized at the Broadcast Film Critics, Globes, and SAG awards. It also doesn't hurt that Clooney and Freeman already have Oscars on their mantel. With this being his fifth ever Oscar nomination, a win for Bridges would also serve as the Academy honoring Bridges' entire career. Plus, it would give rise to millions of "The Dude won an Oscar" tweets. 


Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Another year, another Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep as she picked up her record-extending 16th acting nomination. She is actually quite the slacker in the Oscar noms considering she has garnered 25 Golden Globe noms in her career. Streep's shadow looms especially large this year as she is joined by three first-time nominees. At 45, Bullock is the oldest of the first-timers and her nomination comes a day after "earning" her fourth career Razzie nomination (for All About Steve). Mulligan and Sidibe earn their first noms at the age of 24 and 26, respectively. Mirren, who won the award for The Queen in 2007, picked up the fourth nomination of her career.   
This category seems to be the only acting race that hasn't already been decided. After Mulligan and Streep split the majority of the critics prizes, the Oscar seems to be a battle between Streep and Bullock. The two tied for the Broadcast Film Critics award and each won a Golden Globe. Bullock may have now pulled ahead after winning the SAG award, but Streep should take the BAFTA, where Bullock isn't even nominated. Bullock has given some crittically acclaimed acceptance speeches already, though, and voters might fall under the common impression that Streep wins every award every year - even though she hasn't won an Oscar since 1983. 
Best Supporting Actor
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Matt Damon, Invictus

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanely Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
To no surprise, Waltz earned his first nomination for his portrayal of the vile Hans Landa. Veteran actors Plummer and Tucci also claimed their first Oscar noms, while Damon and Harrelson each earned their second over a decade after their first nomination.
It didn't really matter who got nominated since Waltz wrapped up the Oscar months ago. After taking home 25 critics awards, the Globe, and the SAG (he'll add the BAFTA in a few weeks), there is no chance any other name is called on Oscar night. Now "that's a bingo!"

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Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious
Cruz is the reigning Oscar winner in this category and the only one with a previous nomination to her credit (she now has three). Farmiga, Kendrick, and Mo'Nique's nominations were expected, but few predicted Gyllenhaal, who didn't make the cut at any of the other major awards, would pick up the final nomination.  
As with Waltz, Mo'Nique has a lock on this award. Great ready for another emotional acceptance speech from her. 

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Cohen & Ethan Cohen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Lannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Best Animated Feature
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Best Animated Short Film
French Roast
Granny O'Grim's the Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
A Matter of Loaf and death
Best Foreign Language Film
El Secreto de Sus Ojos
The Milk of Sorrow
Un Prophete
The White Ribbon
Best Documentary Feature
Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daiel Ellsberg and the Pentegon Pappers
Which Way Home
Best Documentary Short Subject
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit a la Berlin
Best Live Action Short Film


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The Door

Instead of Abracadabra
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants
Best Makeup
Barney Burman, Mindal Hall  & Joel Harlow, Star Trek
John Henry Gordon & Jenny Shircore, The Young Victoria
Aldo Signoretti & Vittorio Sodano, Il Divo
Best Original Score
Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker
Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox
James Horner, Avatar
Michael Giacchino, Up
Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes
Best Original Song
"Almost There," The Princess and the Frog
"Down in New Orleans," The Princess and the Frog
"Loin de Paneme," Paris 36
Take It All," Nine
"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)," Crazy Heart
Best Sound Editing
Christopher Boyes & Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Avatar
Paul N.J. Ottosson, The Hurt Locker
Michael Silvers & Tom Myers, Up
Wylie Statesman, Inglorious Basterds
Mark Stoeckinger & Alan Rankin, Start Trek
Best Sound Mixing
Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson & Tony Johnson, Avatar
Michael Minkler, TonyLamberti & Mark Ulano, Inglorious Basterds
Paul N.J. Ottosson & Ray Beckett, The Hurt Locker
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers & Geoffrey Patterson, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Best Art Direction
Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg & Kim Sincliar, Avatar
Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Sherlock Holmes
John Myhre & Gordon Sim, Nine
Dave Warren, Anastasia Masaro & Caroline Smith, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Patrice Vermette & Maggie Gray, The Young Victoria


Best Cinematography


Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker

Christian Berger, The White Ribbon
Bruno Delbonnel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Mauro Fiore, Avatar
Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds
Best Film Editing
Julian Clarke, District 9
Chris Innis & Bob Murawski, The Hurt Locker
Joe Klotz, Precious
Sally Menke, Inglourious Basterds
John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin & James Cameron, Avatar

Best Costume Design

Colleen Atwood, Nine

Catherine Leterrier, Coco before Chanel
Janet Patterson, Bright Star
Sandy Powell, The Young Victoria
Monique Prudhomme, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Best Visual Effects
Robert Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh & Burt Dalton, Star Trek
Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros & Matt Aitken, District 9
Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham & Andrew R. Jones, Avatar

Post nominations announcement, Leonard Maltin was the hot commodity.  He was approached by members of the press to weigh-in on the happenings of the pre-dawn event. And the glittery statues adorning the halls of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater promise, truly, that "you've never seen Oscar like this."
(follow the authors on Twitter @tonybaltierra and @cometgonegreen)



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