The countdown is here. Only one week until the 82nd annual Academy Awards, where the best in film (at least according to a bunch of people who work in film) are recognized. We'll offer our predictions next Sunday in this space, as well as chat online during the show at www.timesfreepress.com/oscars. For now, here are some thoughts about the films and folks who were nominated, some who weren't and our hopes for Hollywood's most glamorous night.
Biggest Nomination Snub
Casey Phillips: "The Hangover" won a Golden Globe for Best Comedy and was named a Top 10 film of 2009 by the American Film Institute, so why shouldn't the Academy recognize it in even one category? Because ... wait ... no, there's no good reason.
Holly Leber: General sentiment on both the movie and its authors has been mixed, but I thought authors-turned-screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida did a fantastic job of capturing a love story in "Away We Go." The characters were flawed and beautiful.
Most Predictably Sentimental Award
Casey: He may not be as easy on the eyes as Kate Winslet, but Jeff Bridges is a fellow perennial bridesmaid at the Academy Awards. Four past fruitless nominations and a heart-wrenching turn in "Crazy Heart" make this year a chance to give this Cinderella Man a reason to smile.
Holly: If Meryl Streep wins, which I think is unlikely, it's going to be because it's been 27 years since she's won an Oscar and the Academy (aka a jury of her peers) thinks her time has come again. Don't get me wrong. She was a tres bonne Madame Child, but there were just superior performances this year.
The Cheering for the Underdog Award
Casey: Quentin Tarantino's last nomination ("Pulp Fiction" for Best Picture) was 16 years ago, and I'd be delighted if he walked away with the statue for "Inglourious Basterds." He faces stiff competition from "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker," but dreaming big is the point here.
Holly: The Academy has always been a boys' club. No woman had ever won the statue for directing and only a few have been nominated. Kathryn Bigelow pulled out a gritty, understated look at soldiers stationed in the Middle East with "The Hurt Locker." I'd love to see her break the celluloid ceiling.
Most Likely Future Oscar Nominee
Casey: At 24, Carey Mulligan is one of this year's youngest nominees, but she's being called this generation's Audrey Hepburn for a reason. Expect to see plenty of her long after "An Education" is collecting dust.
Holly: Neither earned Oscar nods this year, but both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt are consistently strong performers. Both got Golden Globe nominations (for "(500) Days of Summer" and "The Young Victoria," respectively) and are expected to keep rising. These two are not flavor-of-the-month actors.
Most Likely To Cry During an Acceptance Speech
Casey: Me, if Sandra Bullock defies the odds and my fervent wishes by taking the stage to accept the award for Best Actress.
Holly: I'm going to say Mo'Nique. She's gotten pretty teary onstage. Let's just hope she shaves her legs this time; otherwise Joan Rivers might also do some weeping.
WHERE TO SEE THEM
Missed any of this year's Oscar picks and want to catch up before next Sunday? Fear not. Many of the top nominees are still playing in local theaters or are already available on DVD.
"The Blind Side" (Picture, Lead Actress): Showing at East Ridge 18 and Northgate 14.
"Crazy Heart" (Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Song): Showing at Majestic 12 and East Ridge 18.
"A Single Man" (Actor): Showing at Majestic 12.
"Avatar" (Picture, Art Direction, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects): Showing at Majestic 12, East Ridge 18, Wynnsong 10, Northgate 14 and Battlefield 10.
"District 9" (Picture, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Adapted Screenplay)
"The Hurt Locker" (Picture, Lead Actor, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Original Musical Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay)
"Inglourious Basterds" (Picture, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay)
"Up" (Picture, Animated Feature, Original Score, Sound Editing, Original Screenplay)
"A Serious Man" (Picture, Screenplay)
"Julie & Julia" (Actress)
PICK 10 VS. PICK 5
The 82nd Academy Awards mark a return to form by doubling the Best Picture nomination pool to 10 films for the first time since 1944.
Casey: When they were announced earlier this month, the Best Picture selections didn't reflect the adventurousness I expected. Instead, the extra spots went to mainstream filler titles like "Up" and "District 9." I would have liked to see more acknowledgment given to quirky titles like "In the Loop" and "(500) Days of Summer."
Holly: I'm pretty sure that the doubling up started after a hullabaloo last year over "The Dark Knight" not being nominated. Sure, it's hard to whittle down a year's worth of film into five best and expanding the numbers might have been worthwhile, but what about gems like "The Hangover" or "The Brothers Bloom"? And really, I don't think "Up" should be allowed to get nominations for both Best Picture and Best Animated Feature. It's double-dipping. Pick one.