In Depth Look at the 2010 Oscar Nominations

By: Carson O’Shoney
(UTC/The Loop)
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Well, the Oscar nominations are out, and there are a few surprises. Everyone knew there would be big nominations for the likes of Avatar and The Hurt Locker, but with the best picture field expanded to ten, a few unlikely players snuck in the race. This article will guide you through the major nominees and help you win the pool at your favorite Oscar night party.


Anne Hathaway and Academy President Tom Sherak announce the 2010 nominations

The Nominees:

  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up in the Air

In my last article, I correctly guessed eight out of the ten nominees. I guessed wrong about Invictus and Nine, and I wasn’t the only one. Many experts were surprised to see both left off the list. The two surprises were The Blind Side and District 9. The former is a family-friendly, feel-good sports movie while the latter is a low-budget science fiction movie. Neither genre is an Oscar favorite. While the Blind Side was a hit with audiences, it’s not the type of movie that usually receives a best picture nomination, especially considering that it only received one other nomination (for Sandra Bullock).  

District 9 was the underground hit of the year, and was considered a dark horse contender for best picture. However, the Academy’s history with science fiction is not a good one. This is the first year since 1982 that a science fiction film has been nominated for best picture (E.T.). District 9 was considered even less likely thanks to the guaranteed nomination of another sci-fi, Avatar. However, it made it in and we now have two sci-fi noms in the same year for the first time ever.



The Hurt Locker


The Hurt Locker. The intense Iraq war drama has the right mix of style and substance; its great story supplemented by solid performances and perfectly captured by director Katheryn Bigelow. There is almost an even split among experts as to who will take home the final award. I believe The Hurt Locker is the most deserving, but the Academy doesn’t always get everything right.


Avatar. The last time James Cameron came around with a new movie chocked full of groundbreaking technology and stunning visuals it won 11 Oscars (1997’s Titanic). This time around, Avatar has no acting nominations, which could hurt its chances, but something tells me the Academy will get caught up in the fresh and exciting technology and give Cameron his second Best Picutre. I’d love to be proven wrong.

The Nominees:

  • Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
  • George Clooney, Up in the Air
  • Colin Firth, A Single Man
  • Morgan Freeman, Invictus
  • Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

No surprises here, each of these were favored to receive a nomination for best actor. The best storyline may be from relative unknown Jeremy Renner. He’s been in movies and television for years now, but has never had a high profile gig like this one. He’s been thrust into the spotlight with his excellent performance in the Hurt Locker.



Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart


Jeff Bridges. He’s been receiving praise left and right for his performance as a down on his luck country singer named Bad Blake in the movie Crazy Heart. On top of his great acting, he gets to show off his vocal chops, too.

Jeff Bridges. Sometimes the Academy does get it right. He’s long overdue for an Oscar, and with his role as Bad, he’ll finally get it. After he won at the Golden Globes, he became the heavy favorite for the Oscars.

The Nominees:

  • Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren, The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan, An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
  • Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

No real shockers here, either. However, Helen Mirren is a bit surprising for the very seldom-seen The Last Station. I personally disagree with Sandra Bullock’s nomination, though her win at the Golden Globes made a nomination inevitable.



Gabourey Sidibe in Precious


Gabourey Sidibe. She came out of nowhere to give a powerful performance in her first acting job. She is an upbeat and happy person who is the polar opposite of her role as the titular Precious, a pregnant 16-year-old living in the Bronx who is abused by her mother and raped by her father.

Meryl Streep or Sandra Bullock. The victory over Streep at the Golden Globes gives Bullock the slight edge here, but the Academy loves Streep, who has been nominated for more acting Oscars than anyone else in the Academy’s history. This race is the closest of all the acting categories, as Bullock’s win at the Globes was an upset many people think will be corrected at the Oscars.

The Nominees:

  • Matt Damon, Invictus
  • Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
  • Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
  • Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
  • Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Another category with not many surprises. Christoph Waltz came out of nowhere to sweep everything so far, and is expected to do the same at the Oscars.



Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Christoph Waltz. His tour-de-force performance as Col. Hans “The Jew Hunter” Landa has won over fans and critics alike. He has won most of the major acting awards so far, including the Golden Globe, for being evil in four languages.

Christoph Waltz. His already legendary performance has cemented his place in Oscar history. Woody Harrelson provides his biggest competition, but even he is a big long shot.

The Nominees:

  • Penélope Cruz, Nine
  • Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
  • Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
  • Mo’Nique, Precious

The Best Supporting Actress category is similar to the Best Supporting Actors, one nominee came out of nowhere and seems like a lock to win the statue. Although already famous as a comedian, Mo’Nique took a sharp turn as the abusive mother in Precious.



Mo'Nique in Precious


Mo’Nique. Her performance as the abusive mother in Precious was as powerful as it was unexpected. I doubt any experts expected the star of Phat Girlz (iMDB rating 2.2) to ever be nominated for an Oscar, let alone be a runaway favorite.

Mo’Nique. Her Golden Globe win made her a lock for this year’s best supporting actress statue. Her closest competitors cancel each other out, as they both star in the movie Up in the Air.

The Nominees:

  • Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
  • James Cameron, Avatar
  • Lee Daniels, Precious
  • Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

These five have been the favorites since award season started, but this category really comes down to a battle between ex-spouses. James Cameron vs. his ex-wife Katheryn Bigelow. Tarantino has a chance to leap frog them both and win his first Best Director Oscar, but the majority of the focus has been on Cameron and Bigelow.


James Cameron and Katheryn Bigelow


Katheryn Bigelow. She is already only the third woman to be nominated for the Oscar, but she would become the first female director to ever win the award, should she go on to win. Her film has received the best reviews of the year, thanks largely to her directing. She made the tension palpable, and that’s why she’s a leading contender for the award this year.

James Cameron. To give credit where credit is due, James Cameron has brought about some major new technology to the industry, and may have forever changed the way movies are made. He deserves recognition for everything that he has brought to the table with his latest epic, Avatar. However, in my eyes he does not deserve the best director statue. He didn’t get great performances out of his actors (as recognized by there being no nominations for actors on Avatar), but the Academy will still bestow him with another Best Director award simply because of everything else.

Those are my predictions for the major categories at this year’s Academy Awards. Tune in to ABC on March 7th at 8pm Eastern to watch the ceremony live. For a full list of nominations and more information on each movie, click here.

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  1. There’s no doubt in my mind that Avatar will be a big winner this year. It’s the only movie in the whole line up that has that wow factor!