Chuck Jaffee: Marking Your Oscar Prediction Card |

Chuck Jaffee: Marking Your Oscar Prediction Card

Will your predictions already be filled out for the Academy Awards Sunday, March 7? Did you know that Best Supporting Actor and Actress are a foregone conclusion and that the sentimental favorite for Best Actor is very likely to win?

Did you know that for the first time in 65 years there are 10 Best Picture nominees instead of five? And that despite this cluttered marketing gambit, only two of the 10 have any chance of winning?

Are you plugged in enough to all this film falderal to sense that the Oscar category that stirs up the predictive juices the most is Best Actress?

Here’s a quick, early pronouncement of the major winners:

You never heard of Christoph Waltz. Regardless, he found a new way to play a Nazi in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” The combination of humor, charm, and sophistication he puts into his evil character has locked him into place for Best Supporting Actor Gold.

There’s more chance you know who Mo’Nique is. A comedienne and talk show personality, she tossed that easier television gigging aside and dove intrepidly into the role of a vile, lashing out, creature of a mother. Mo’Nique anchors the film “Precious,” a world where ugly is a powerful but misappropriating word. This, too, is a lock for a Supporting Oscar.

A bit less sure, Jeff Bridges saunters through all the Oscar scurrying as the sentimental favorite. Other actors especially like and respect what he’s done over the years. When he receives the Oscar for his fifth nominated role, this will (as Bridges has said) “blow his cover as an underappreciated actor.” In “Crazy Heart,” he’s riding into the sunset of a boozing career, someone who used to be a country western star. He swallows embarrassingly small perks for having once been famous.

Only “The Hurt Locker” stands a chance of grabbing one or both of the Best Picture and Best Director statuettes away from “Avatar.” “The Hurt Locker” has critical momentum to do so.

“Avatar” is the most picture of the year, not the Best Picture. James Cameron, the mastermind and shepherd of the biggest selling movie of all time is the most director of the year, not the Best Director. Granted, “Avatar” is an impressive visual and technological movie feast.

Whereas Cameron overworked a creatively dressed derivative idea, Kathryn Bigelow delivered fresh energy throughout. She kept the focus intensely personal. Bigelow — poised to become the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar — has not simply added another war film to cinema’s huge pile of war films.

“The Hurt Locker” sticks tightly with three soldiers in Iraq, a team of three soldiers: a death defier; a level-headed veteran; and a workaday guy who’d much rather be elsewhere. They diffuse bombs. It’s about doing the job. It’s about the personal strain of doing this very dangerous job. It is not about geopolitical commentary. It’s not about a clash of cultures.

I can’t do it. I can’t let my gut convince me that the biggest box office movie ever has to steal the Gold. “The Hurt Locker” and director Kathryn Bigelow are the best of the year. I predict they will win the Oscars.

It’s fair to call Meryl Streep’s Julia Child role in “Julie and Julia” merely a jaunty impersonation, but she puts wonderful humanity into a beloved figure. Whether it rates an Oscar for this particular role or not, it’s time to say to Meryl Streep, “Bon Appetit,” for her just desserts. She’s garnered Oscar nominations, on average, every other year, but her last Oscar win was 26 years ago.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City has written an Academy Awards newsletter for 31 years. Find the latest edition and his other articles for The Union at

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