The 82nd Academy Awards (2009): Oscar Morning

FOR AN OSCAR MORNING TRACKING SHEET, CLICK HERE. My predictions are in BOLD.

On Tuesday morning, February 2, 2010, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be announcing its nominees for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. It will be broadcast live at just after 5:30a PST (6:30a MST, 7:30a CST, 8:30a EST).

While the morning shows will cover the event, they are on tape delay for the rest of the country, so watching those will get you the information later than most everyone else. Your best bet is to watch live coverage on E! and maybe CNN Live or some of the other news channels (if they feel like it). I will, however, be updating my site with the information as I receive it.

The first announcement I post will be the short list of categories announced live, then as I get more information, I will update that post with the rest of it.

Every year, I provide a primer for Oscar Nominations Morning, a way to help you get in the right frame of mind and understand what's going on and when.

The most important thing to know before sitting down to the announcement, is what order the categories will be announced in. To make it easier, I have put them in order below so you can just follow along as you need to. In addition, I have prepared a .pdf file you can print out and check off as the nominees are announced (it's what I usually do anyway).

Since 1991, Supporting Actor and Lead Actor have always been announced ahead of their associated counterparts. For the last three years, Supporting Actress and Lead Actress have lead their counterparts. So, we'll go with the current trend.

Best Supporting Actress

The supporting categories are the ones with the most potential for fluidity. They have one or two spots that are fluctuating in most predictions and could provide some sense of what’s going to happen, but not likely a lot.

With three M names all in competition for spots, you’ll have to be quick on your toes to spot the potential surprises. Then there are the Nine ladies and Up in the Air leaving the Inglourious dames Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent (who might be figuring in the Best Actress race instead) all to fight it out.

The first name read off will either start with C or F. Marion Cotillard was pushed lead but shouldn’t have been, thus her chances at a nomination here are lowered. Cruz, however, is still a strong contender, despite her film collapsing almost entirely in most other races. If she isn’t first, then it’s going to be the pair of Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air. It’s also possible these two could be separated in the announcement by another pushed-as-lead spoiler Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart.

If Cruz is there, there’s virtually no way Gyllenhaal makes it in unless two of the three M’s fail. Following Kendrick in the announcement might be Diane Kruger or we might jump right into the M’s. Again, if Cruz is there, it’s virtually impossible for Kruger to get in without losing a majority of the M’s.

After Cruz/Farmiga/Kendrick (or whomever replaces Cruz if already announced), Mo’Nique will be listed. If she’s the third name, then the last two will be Julianne Moore and Samantha Morton. If she’s fourth in the lineup, then either Moore or Morton has bitten the dust.

(Cotillard), Cruz, Farmiga, (Gyllenhaal), Kendrick, (Kruger), (Laurent), Mo’Nique, Moore, (Morton)

Best Supporting Actor

There is little question that the fifth name read will be Waltz, preceded by Tucci. The first three spots, however, are potentially in flux and could yield some interesting results.

By my predictions, the first name to be read off will be Woody Harrelson. If he’s not, then it’s either Matt Damon for Invictus or Robert Duvall for Crazy Heart. This latter would be the biggest upset this category has ever seen, but the former would be extremely likely.

Even if Damon or Duvall is first, Harrelson should be second. If his isn’t the second name read off (especially if that second name is Anthony Mackie), he’s out of it. Depending on how things have gone, the second or third name may well be Christian McKay, but because of the stronger year-end performance of his film, we could see Mackie pull that second/third slot.

If all goes as planned, McKay will be the second name after Harrelson or Damon and then we’ll have either Alfred Molina (the third M in this supporting category) or Plummer. If it’s Plummer third, then Tucci will take fourth. If any of the three M’s comes up fourth, then Waltz will fill out the category.

(Damon), (Duvall), Harrelson, (Mackie), McKay, (Molina), Plummer, Tucci, Waltz

Best Actress

For a name other than Sandra Bullock to be read off first, worlds would have to collide, but it could happen. Long shots Shoreh Aghdashloo and Emily Blunt could head up the list, but most money is on Bullock taking the lead. The only question is what name will be read second. If it’s Helen Mirren, then the last three will be fairly easy to choose. If it’s not Mirren and instead is Carey Mulligan, then the last three spots would be Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe and Meryl Streep, these last two guaranteed to close out the list no matter what happens.

So, the question is what to do with the second and third spot (or third only if we’ve all be shocked by a name other than Bullock being read first and Bullock second). Second could be Abbie Cornish, Marion Cotillard (if the Weinsteins get their way), Maggie Gyllenhaal (if Fox Searchlight gets its way), Melanie Laurent or Helen Mirren. Most prognosticators are putting the soft Mirren as second, but any one of those other names could be read third. If that happens and Mirren is third, either Mulligan is out or Sidibe and I would guess it’s Sidibe. Mulligan’s pic is still too strong.

(Aghdashloo), (Blunt), Bullock, (Cornish), (Cotillard), (Gyllenhaal), (Laurent), Mirren, Mulligan, (Ronan), Sidibe, Streep

Best Actor

This list will start out with two names. Jeff Bridges and George Clooney. After that, we should have a fairly clear shot to Colin Firth, but either Matt Damon or Daniel Day-Lewis could interject. If Day-Lewis gets in, then Nine has re-emerged as a Best Picture nominee. However, Firth should be third.

Fourth on the list will either be Ben Foster in a surprise, Best Picture-here-we-come nomination The Messenger. More than likely, it will be Morgan Freeman’s name read out fourth, but if isn’t, then something has already occurred to throw things off and Firth may well be listed fourth. If either of these occurs, either Freeman ends up fifth or left off altogether. The fourth name on the list could also be Joseph Gordon-Levitt (earning his film a nomination for Best Picture) or Jeremy Renner.

If Renner is fourth, we’ll have a surprise fifth spot to either Peter Sarsgaard or Michael Stuhlbarg. If we’ve already seen Alfred Molina nominated, it could be that the fith name is indeed Sarsgaard. It will mean that An Education is a far bigger threat than anyone expected. But more than likely if Renner is fourth or left off altogether, the most likely beneficiary is Michael Stuhlbarg.

Bridges, Clooney, (Damon), (Day-Lewis), Firth, (Foster), Freeman, (Gordon-Levitt), Renner, (Sarsgaard), (Stuhlbarg)

Best Director

This is the tightest and most set list of contenders in some time. There are three names guaranteed to be read out and two that are on the cusp but feel safe. But, since this category is announced alphabetically by film name, we won’t have a guaranteed first-up mention of Kathryn Bigelow. Instead, James Cameron will be the first name read aloud.

The second name on the list will tell us a lot more about what’s to come than any other. Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 appears to be the first real contender for the second mention. If it is, then the rest of the slate will come down to potentially four names. Surprises from Bright Star, Broken Embraces, An Education and (500) Days of Summer could come in second, but, if Blomkamp isn’t second, then it will be Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

She’ll then be followed by Inglourious Basterds making up the first three or four slots of the day. If it’s only three, then the remaining tow films will likely be Precious and Up in the Air or Precious and The White Ribbon. If Inglourious Basterds is fourth, then the final slot is between Precious, Up in the Air and The White Ribbon with Invictus, The Messenger, A Serious Man, A Single Man and Where the Wild Things Are as potential spoilers in the line-up.

Avatar, (Bright Star), (Broken Embraces), District 9, (An Education), ((500) Days of Summer), The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, (Invictus), (The Messenger), (Precious), (A Serious Man), (A Single Man), Up in the Air, (Where the Wild Things Are), (The White Ribbon)

Best Original Screenplay

Will (500) Days of Summer be alphabetized before all others or, as it should be, filed under the letter F? We’ll see as it should be the first name announced, or at least the second.

The alphabetically challenged could easily announce Avatar first, or some combination of surprise contenders Bright Star, Broken Embraces and Duplicity, but my guess is (500) Days will be listed first, followed if we not so lucky, by Avatar second. If (500) is first and The Hurt Locker is second, then the remaining three films should be fairly clear to envision. If Avatar sneaks in, the big question is which of Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man and Up will be left out. My guess non-Oscar contender A Serious Man. But, I have a feeling the Academy will once again ignore Avatar and put the Hurt in second.

Third should be easily followed by Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, then we have two spots left, likely to go to A Serious Man. If The Messenger makes a surprise appearance as the fourth name on the list, Up should be fifth. If not, then A Serious Man is fourth and Up fifth. If Up just so happens to fall into fourth place, then it’s The White Ribbon filling in. Matter of fact, you can expect that as a strong possibility if Haneke gets nominated for director as both Mike Leigh (Vera Drake) and Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) accomplished the same feat.

(500) Days of Summer, (Avatar), (Bright Star), (Broken Embraces), (Duplicity), (The Hangover), The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, (The Messenger), A Serious Man, Up, (The White Ribbon).

Best Adapted Screenplay

Whereas last year’s race, and many recent races, in the Adapted Screenplay category was woefully under-represented, this year’s category is flush with strong contenders for nominations. Only Up in the Air and Precious seem secure with spots. While I doubt The Blind Side, The Lovely Bones or The Road will make this list, anything can happen. Crazy Heart could be carried along by Jeff Bridges and District 9, if it’s already a Best Director nominee, should also figure here making it likely the first or second title announced. If it’s first, there’s so much more to come. If it’s second to Crazy Heart, there’s not much wiggle room left.

Second or third on the list will either be An Education or Fantastic Mr. Fox. Fox benefits from being written by a previous Oscar nominee. An Education will get in if the film is stronger than expected. At this point, if we’ve seen Alfred Molina nominated, the An Education takes spot 2/3 and Fantastic Mr. Fox may get left out.

The third of fourth title announced is likely to be Precious, the film that most people expect to do better than many seem to want it to. If it’s third, then it’s possible A Single Man sneaks in as the fourth nominee or possibly even Star Trek, previewing a Best Picture nomination for the film. If Precious is fourth, fifth place goes to Up in the Air.

If it’s Up in the Air coming in fourth on the list, then Where the Wild Things Are will make a shock entry at number five and its chance for a Best Picture nomination increases dramatically.

(The Blind Side), (Crazy Heart), District 9, (An Education), Fantastic Mr. Fox, (Julie & Julia), (The Lovely Bones), (Nine), Precious, (The Road), A Single Man, (Star Trek), Up in the Air, (Where the Wild Things Are)

Best Foreign Language Film

Seldom does the Foreign Language Film category tell us much about voters’ thoughts. And this point we’ll already know how they feel about The White Ribbon, so we’re really not going to clean much here. The first name on the list will help determine what the rest of the slate looks like. If it’s Ajami, then the slate is still in flux. If it’s Kelin, things are a little easier to predict and if The Milk of Sorrow or Un Prophète is first, then we’ll have a very easy-to-choose list.

Only Un Prophète and The White Ribbon are expected to be guaranteed slots in this lineup. There is no title on this list that couldn’t possibly make the nomination list, so I’ll leave it at that.

(Ajami), Kelin, (The Milk of Sorrow), Un Prophète, Samson & Delilah, El Secreto de Sus Ojos, The White Ribbon, (Winter in Wartime), (The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner)

Best Animated Film

Go ahead and put check marks next to the last two films on the list, because the likelihood of The Princess and the Frog and Up not having the final two slots is virtually nil.

The rest could be a bit murky. The first name that appears on the list should tell us exactly what the remaining four will be. Will it be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Coraline? If it’s the former, then the remaining four should be Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog and Up. If Coraline is first listed, then your remaining line up should be Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ponyo, The Princess and the Frog and Up.

If neither film starts things off and it’s Disney’s A Christmas Carol or Fantastic Mr. Fox, something is entirely messed up and Ponyo is in as is one other rather obscure choice.

That’s pretty much it. If Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Monsters vs. Aliens or PGA-nominee 9 make the list, we could have a seriously distressed list and lots of prognosticators and critics screaming foul.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, (Disney’s A Christmas Carol), Fantastic Mr. Fox, (Monsters vs. Aliens), (9), (Ponyo), The Princess and the Frog, Up

Best Picture

With ten potential nominees to choose from, many of the Best Picture nominees will be in flux until Anne Hathaway, co-presenter of the nominations announcement, speaks their titles aloud. Here is a breakdown of every contender in the list in order and what the likelihood of a nomination is considering what has come before in the live announcements.

 

(500) Days of Summer – Although I lead off with this film, I don’t know how the Academy will alphabetize it. We may also never know as it’s not a film that a lot of people see as a strong contender, but it still could place. If it picks up any earlier nominations outside of the Original Screenplay category, it most likely will be nominated. If it misses Original Screenplay, it won’t be nominated here.

Avatar – This is one of a small handful of guaranteed nominees. It is very likely to be the first to lead off the list and no matter how it performs in the earlier announcements, even if it doesn’t appear in Best Director, it will make it into this race.

The Blind Side – It was a box office blockbuster, but isn’t well received with critics, still Sandra Bullock is guaranteed an Oscar nomination, which makes this a threat. If it picks up any mention other than Best Actress, it is most likely a Best Picture nominee. Otherwise, expect it to be left behind.

Crazy Heart - What could easily sneak into the second or third spot in this list is a film whose lead performance is chugging along to a career Oscar. While its lack of critical support may hurt the film, never underestimate a celebrated performance carrying a weaker film into the Best Picture race, especially when there are ten spots to be filled.

District 9 – Not likely to be left behind, one of the stronger second-tier contenders for Best Picture, District 9 is guaranteed a slot if it appears in Best Director and very likely if it shows in Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s also guaranteed if Sharlto Copley comes absolutely out of nowhere to pick up a Best Actor nomination, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

An Education – Also a strong second-tier contender, everything hangs on a nomination for Carey Mulligan if she doesn’t appear and the film doesn’t show up in either Adapted Screenplay or Supporting Actor, it’s hopes may be dashed, but if Lone Scherfig makes a surprise two-woman field in Best Director, a guarantee this will be.

(500) Days of Summer – Listed twice just in case it’s filed under “F”.

The Hangover – It was a box office success, has already earned a sequel and has awards from the Golden Globes, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and even a WGA nomination. If that wasn’t enough, this change to 10 nominees is the kind of niche this kind of film was designed for.

The Hurt Locker – Guarantee number 2 of the day. Its absence will be the biggest shock in some time (second probably only to Kathryn Bigelow not getting a Best Director nomination). Still, if Bigelow doesn’t appear as Best Director, the chances of a nomination don't diminish entirely, but they do fade a bit. Less serious are failures to receive nominations in Best Actor and Best Origianl Screenplay. A Best Supporting Actor nomination all but solidifies this result.

Inglourious Basterds – A box office success, a critical success and a precursor success. So much attention, positive even, should present no challenge for this being a nominee.

Invictus – At this point in the announcement, the number of previous nominees will determine if this film really makes the cut. Morgan Freeman has to be nominated for Best Actor or Clint Eastwood for Best Director for this to even be a possibility. If Avatar, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds are all included, but so are either The Blind Side, (500) Days of Summer, The Hangover, or a combination thereof, then we will probably see Invictus missing out. Still, if none of those latter three films makes the cut, Invictus could still be in.

The Messenger – Like Invictus, this is a borderline nominee that hinges on the quantity of films that come before it. If there are seven already mentioned, it’s out. If there aren’t, then it could be in still.

Nine – Nothing has faded faster than Nine’s chances (except maybe The Lovely Bones), but it still earned a PGA nod, so it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. This will prove whether Harvey Weinstein is on fire or just doing well (Inglouriuos Basterds is already in). Again, if seven films have preceded it, it’s out. If it gets nominated for either Best Actress or twice in Best Supporting Actress, it has a decent shot of getting included here.

Precious – One of the guarantees, Precious is very likely to be either the seventh or eighth film on the list. If it’s an earlier number, we’ll have a few more surprises in store, if it’s number 8, then only Up and Up in the Air seem likely to fill out the void.

A Serious Man – A lot of this film’s chances hinge on other nominations.  If there are eight films on the list already, A Serious Man is done for. If there are fewer than six, then it could be in. If seven, it’s either this or another.

A Single Man – Like A Serious Man, most of its chances depend on what has come before. At eight slots (or even 9), it’s dead in the water. At seven, it’s chances are decent, but at 6, it is very likely. A nomination for Adapted Screenplay will mean a lot for its chances, but none means abysmal things.

Star Trek – There will be a lot said if this film earns a nomination. If there are seven films mentioned already, it’s in. If there are eight, it’s probably out. If nine, it’s definitely out. If it has picked up an Adapted Screenplay nomination, a nomination here is pretty much assured.

Up – The big question is will this be the first animated film nominated for Best Picture since Beauty and the Beast? The answer is: most likely. The only thing that would unhinge its chances is if enough voters say “you have your own category” and jettison it to Best Animated Feature. If it doesn’t appear, then that is the reason, but it should very well be the ninth film mentioned (if it’s the eighth, then see below).

Up in the Air – Another surefire nominee, filling out the most likely final slot. If it fails to earn a Best Director nomination, it could miss out, but I don’t even think that could phase its chances. If it’s mentioned in Actor, twice in Supporting Actress, Director and Original Screenplay, then go ahead and check this one off on your list.

Where the Wild Things Are – Which brings us to the end of the alphabet and the test of the new category. It had a modest box office showing and critics were easily divided, but if it’s picked as Adapted Screenplay, then you may want to keep an eye out for Up in the Air coming in as the ninth film, because that means this one has earned a nomination. But it’s been so infrequently mentioned that I doubt many voters will pick it up.

((500) Days of Summer), Avatar, (The Blind Side), (Crazy Heart), District 9, An Education, ((500) Days of Summer), The Hangover, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, (Invictus), (The Messenger), (Nine), Precious, (A Serious Man), (A Single Man), Star Trek, Up, Up in the Air, (Where the Wild Things Are)

 

 

There you have it, a quick rundown of all of this year’s live-announced categories and how to use some of those picks in later categories to determine potential nominees. Although it takes some practice and experience to follow the awards like this, it is kind of fun. It adds a measure of surprise and anticipation. “What? You mean George Clooney didn’t get nominated? What will they nominate instead?” So, take the above and enjoy the announcements.