The Quad’s 2010 Oscar Picks

Who will we the coveted gold statue? Tune into ABC on March 7th 8/5pm to watch. Credit to The Academy for the Press Photo.

Quad critics Matt Hoffman and Monica Castillo select the most likely winners, as well as the most deserving nominees, from this year’s Academy Awards lineup.

They will also cover the event live this Sunday on the Quad’s twitter feed. Check it out!


“Avatar,” “The Blind Side,” “District 9,” “An Education,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” “A Serious Man,” “Up,” “Up in the Air”

Matt– Will Win: “Inglourious Basterds”

“Inglourious Basterds” has several things going for it: It currently has a lot of positive-buzz momentum; it’s based around WWII, which is catnip to Academy voters, and its director (Quentin Tarantino) is a respected industry veteran who has yet to win a Best Picture or Best Director statuette. But maybe I’m just thinking wishfully because I don’t want to see “Avatar” win.

Personal Favorite: “District 9”

This was a tough choice. I loved “District 9,” but I could probably recommend several of the other nominees just as heartily. The decision to expand the Best Picture field to ten movies may have been just a ploy to raise the Nielsen ratings, but I do like that it’s bringing prestige to outstanding films that wouldn’t traditionally be seen as Oscar material.

Monica--Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

It’s powerful, it’s emotional, and it’s pretty intense to boot. Oscars have the tendency to pick the darker movies (“No Country for Old Men,” “Crash,” etc.) for the gold. This little gem has survived harsh shooting conditions, money problems, and real-life death threats to become a critically acclaimed success story. “The Hurt Locker” has already won the producer’s guild award and Kathryn Bigelow won for best director for her guild. It certainly has promise. Plus, I am cheering for Kathryn to defeat her ex-husband James Cameron’s “Avatar,” because I like a good old Hollywood revenge story.

Personal Favorite: “Up in the Air”

I love Jason Reitman’s work. He hasn’t turned out a bad movie since he began his big screen debut with the dark comedy “Thank You for Smoking.” This movie is totally out of our time: awful economic conditions, huge cutbacks, and new changes to all sorts of industries. As a child of parents who have seen their business and income go down the drain, this movie really connected with me as I am sure it did with a lot of other audiences. The characters in the movie are well developed, and points to Jason for taking on airport security measures to film his story. I’ll be happy if either of these nominees take home the Oscar.


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

Matt– Will Win: Jeff Bridges

Personal Favorite: Colin Firth

But, to be fair, I haven’t seen “Crazy Heart.” So, you know, grain of salt.

Monica–Will Win: Jeff Bridges

It’s the DDDuuuudddeeee. Who doesn’t want to see that happen?

Personal Favorite: George Clooney in “Up in the Air” or Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”

Yes, it’s George Clooney playing George Clooney, but I think he finally tailored the role so you can feel his pain rather than just dismiss him as a preening whiner. I chose Morgan Freeman because I just love listening to the guy talk. Oh, and he portrayed a popular historical figure, which more often than not wins an Oscar.


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

Matt– Will Win: Christoph Waltz

Personal Favorite: Christoph Waltz

I was torn between Waltz and Harrelson on this one, but I have to respect the fact that Waltz leaped out of total obscurity with a performance that made pretty much everyone who saw “Basterds” stand up and take notice. Bravo, sir.

Monica–Will Win: Christoph Waltz

Personal Favorite: Woody Harrelson

I’m just as torn as Matt on this one. Both are equally deserving of the award, as they were quite memorable in their own right. Possibly even stealing the film, these two took their limited screen times and did not let the audience forget them. I would be happy with almost any of the nominees in this category; there’s not one I explicitly dislike.


Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”), Helen Mirren (“The Last Station”), Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”), Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”)

Matt– Will Win: Meryl Streep

Personal Favorite: :-(*

*From now on I’m just going to type a frowny-face emoticon whenever I’ve only seen one or none of the nominated films. In this case, I’ve only seen “Precious,” and although I definitely thought Sidibe put in a good performance, I can’t really say that I thought she was better than any of these other actresses. I’m a bad critic, I know.

Monica–Will Win: Gabourey Sidibe

She has the newcomer status and has taken the very powerful role of a girl trapped in the hellhole of an abusive family. Say what you will about the melodrama that marks the movie-but it is her performance that makes the audience ultimately sympathize her and cheer her on through the film.

Personal Favorite: Anybody else who isn’t Sandra Bullock.

Can you tell I was unimpressed and unmoved by this performance? Meryl is Meryl, Helen is Helen (meaning these two women are amazing actresses and are, by default of their talent, worthy of an Oscar), Gabourey Sidibe has my respect as a newcomer, and unfortunately I have not been able to see Carey in “An Education.” I am, after all, a college student on a budget. Feel free to contribute to my “education.”


Penélope Cruz (“Nine”),Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Crazy Heart”), Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”), Mo’Nique (“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”)

Matt– Will Win: Mo’Nique

Personal Favorite: Mo’Nique

I feel kind of bad that I’m not showing “Up in the Air” any love, since I actually liked it a lot. However, Mo’Nique’s performance in “Precious” (especially her last scene) is pretty hard to ignore.

Monica– Will Win: Mo’Nique

See above.

Personal Favorite: Vera Farmiga

I’m sorry, I’ve got no love for any of the actresses in “Nine.” There might have actually have been too many. Yet, I liked Vera’s character in “Up in the Air”; she’s not what you expect at all, and she even beats George at his own game. Priceless. I do like Anna Kendrick in her role as well, seeing as her character matures in the film in a “coming of age” fashion.


“Coraline,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “The Secret of Kells,” “Up”

Matt– Will Win: “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Because how often does the Academy get the chance to give this award to anyone besides Pixar?

Personal Favorite: “Up”

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Monica–Will Win: “Up”

Possibly the best Pixar film I’ve seen yet. There, I said it. The only one to make me cry, cheer, and get overtly sentimental about balloons. It’s certainly not just a child’s film, and I believe Pixar took the art of computer animation up a notch with the addition of so much emotional strife. Animating real life problems of all ages. Plus, they finally conquered the challenge of animating humans and making them the main characters. (“Ratatouille” comes close, but it is Remmy the rat that leads the story.) Did I mention the jungle and cityscape flyovers were just gorgeous? There was not anything in the film I did not like.

Personal Favorite:”Up”

Yes, I did like it all that much. However, “The Secret of Kells” may compete on the underdog ticket on this one.


“Avatar,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” “Nine,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Young Victoria”

Matt– Will Win: “Avatar”

Personal Favorite: 🙁

“Avatar” is the only one I’ve seen. Sorry, I know you were all eagerly awaiting my opinion on this one.

Monica–Will Win:”Sherlock Holmes”

Not my favorite incarnation of Holmes (evidence), but I did think their design for Victorian London made it glamorous in its filth. Sort of like Mugatu’s Derelict Collection in “Zoolander.”

Personal Favorite: “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

There are not many films that can make you feel like you are having an acid trip while completely sober. This one however, makes it quite clear you must be sober to follow but will make you trippy if you follow too closely. As I like to say, “triptastically” good.


“Avatar,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)”

Matt– Will Win: “Avatar”

Personal Favorite: “Inglourious Basterds”

“Basterds” cinematographer Robert Richardson gave the film a nicely earthy look, something he accomplished for the more recent “Shutter Island” as well.

Monica–Will Win: “Inglourious Basterds”

“Avatar” should not be in this category. Period. There was no art in light exposure, lens, or filters. It did not use the film stock as artistic medium at all. This is digital. Keep it with special effects. Thanks. I really enjoyed the look “Inglourious Basterds” showed off. It sets a mood, a tone for the story that is being shown on the screen. That is what good cinematography is supposed to do. Think about “The Godfather” and how dark and foreboding it looked. You knew something was going to happen even before it did happen. Foreshadowing outside the literary realm, if I may.

Personal Favorite:”The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)”

It’s in black and white; I’m biased on this one.


“Bright Star,” “Coco Before Chanel,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” “Nine,” “The Young Victoria”

Matt– Will Win: “Coco Before Chanel”

Personal Favorite: 🙁

Not one.

Monica–Will Win: “Coco Before Chanel”

Personal Favorite: “The Young Victoria”

It is before the “black gown to mourn her husband” Victoria. I liked these costumes because they lent the film a lighter, but mature tone for the film as if to represent the period in her life when she was still young and poised to become the Queen of England.


James Cameron (“Avatar”), Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”), Lee Daniels (“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”), Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”)

Matt– Will Win: “Inglourious Basterds”

On the basis that this award usually coincides with the Best Picture nod. If “Basterds” doesn’t win here, I might have to reconsider my pick for the big one.

Personal Favorite: “Inglourious Basterds”

I’ve got some issues with this movie, but in terms of cinematic craft, it’s hard to find someone who knows what they’re doing better than Quentin Tarantino. The suspense scenes in this film put most modern “thrillers” to shame.

Monica–Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow

Personal Favorite: Jason Reitman

It matches my Best Picture picks but so be it. I think these two, Quentin Tarantino, and Lee Daniels did amazing jobs themselves.

Dear James Cameron, call me when you have returned to your “Aliens” and “Terminator” roots. I am not a fan of your Smurf-ish Amazonians battling to save their homeland from invaders. I have seen this storyline in “Fern Gully,” “Pocahontas,” and “Dances with Wolves.” Thank you for the entertainment and the 3D glasses that cost me $2 extra, but personally, I do not feel that the picture is worthy of the award that defines the pinnacle of artistry in motion pictures. Nothing personal, just not to my taste.

A fan of your old stuff,


“Burma VJ,” “The Cove,” “Food, Inc.,” “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” “Which Way Home”

Matt– Will Win: “Food, Inc.”

Personal Favorite: 🙁

I am an ignorant boor.

Monica–Will Win:”The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

Personal Favorite: Can’t say I know much else about the others to properly give a guess. It’s anyone’s game?


“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 à la Berlin”

Matt– Will Win: “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”

But really, your guess is as good as mine.

Personal Favorite: 🙁

[Sad muted trumpet sound]

Monica–Will Win: “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”

Yup, it’s a lucky guess for the office pool.


“Avatar,” “District 9,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Matt– Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

Personal Favorite: “The Hurt Locker”

I’ve got some issues with “The Hurt Locker” as well, but its action sequences are awesome, and they owe their success in great part to their masterful editing.

Monica–Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

I may take insult if “The Hurt Locker” does not win for editing. A good part of the intensity you feel from watching this movie is just how good the editing is. It would be a crime against the movie not to see it win.

Personal Favorite: same as above


“Ajami,” “The Milk of Sorrow (La Teta Asustada),” “A Prophet (Un Prophéte),” “The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos),” “The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)”

Matt– Will Win: “A Prophet (Un Prophéte)”

Personal Favorite: 🙁 But I’ll say “The Milk of Sorrow” because it’s from Peru and I like Peru.

Monica–Will Win:” “The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)”

Hey, they were nominated in another category, so good odds right?

Personal Favorite:”The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)”

They should really look into making some of these films a bit more accessible for moviegoers.


“Il Divo,” “Star Trek,” “The Young Victoria”

Matt– Will Win: “Star Trek”

Personal Favorite: 🙁

Whaddya want from me, there are only three of ’em.

Monica–Will Win: “Star Trek”

Personal Favorite: “Star Trek”

Two words: Spock ears.


“Avatar,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Up”

Matt– Will Win: “Avatar”

Personal Favorite: “Up”

Honestly, the only one of these soundtracks that I kind of remember is “Avatar” ‘s, and all I remember is thinking that it was very melodramatic. I guess it had to be, though.

Monica–Will Win:”Sherlock Holmes”

Hans Zimmer has done it before, chances are he can do it again. Plus it was interesting to hear Irish fiddles in a movie score.

Personal Favorite:”Up”

I loved everything about this film-music very much included. Light and breezy, a perfect reflection of the house that floated away on balloons.


“Almost There” (Music and Lyric by Randy Newman, “The Princess and the Frog”), “Down in New Orleans” (Music and Lyric by Randy Newman, “The Princess and the Frog”), “Loin de Paname” (Music by Reinhardt Wagner, Lyric by Frank Thomas, “Paris 36”), “Take It All” (Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston, “Nine”), “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” (Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, “Crazy Heart”)

Matt– Will Win: “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)”

Personal Favorite: 🙁

Hey, wasn’t Ryan Bingham the name of George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air”? I should see “Crazy Heart.”

Monica–Will Win:”The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)”

The Dude sings, man, and it really ties the movie together.

Personal Favorite: I am biased to Randy Newman since “Toy Story.”


“French Roast,” “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” “The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte),” “Logorama,” “A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Matt– Will Win: “A Matter of Loaf and Death”

The Academy loves Wallace and Gromit, and who can blame them?

Personal Favorite: “Logorama”

That’s right, I’ve only seen one of the films nominated for Best Actress, but I’ve seen all of the Animated Short nominees. Go figure. “Logorama” depicts an urban landscape composed entirely of advertising symbols, and while I kind of wish that its clever conceit had been instilled with more of a purpose, I still have to give it credit for copyright-defying ballsiness. Fun fact: I originally pronounced this short’s title lah-gorama instead of loe-gorama, because I am a moron.

Monica–Will Win:”A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Who doesn’t love Wallace and Gromit?

Personal Favorite: So, basically this sections of the nominees are to figure out who’s the hardcore movie buff? Or may the best Las Vegas better win.


“The Door,” “Instead of Abracadabra,” “Kavi,” “Miracle Fish,” “The New Tenants”

Matt– Will Win: “The New Tenants”

I don’t know. It’s got Vincent D’Onofrio, why not.

Personal Favorite: 🙁

Boy, there are a lot of categories, huh?

Monica–Will Win:”Instead of Abracadabra”

Personal Favorite:”Miracle Fish”
Both are lucky guesses. I will most likely be terribly wrong on this.


“Avatar,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Star Trek,” “Up”

Matt– Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

Personal Favorite: “The Hurt Locker”

Again, virtuosic editing is “The Hurt Locker”‘s greatest strength.

Monica–Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

Matt explains it all.

Presonal Favorite: “Up”

It’s a wonderful movie. I thought I told you?


“Avatar,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Star Trek,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Matt– Will Win: “Star Trek”

Personal Favorite: “Star Trek”

Because I know you’re wondering: Sound editing concerns the quality of the various audio tracks on a film’s soundtrack, while sound mixing judges how well those tracks are adjusted relative to each other. You’re welcome.

Monica–Will Win:”Avatar”

There I don’t completely hate “Avatar.”

Personal Favorite: “Star Trek”

What is Transformers doing at the Oscars?


“Avatar,” “District 9,” “Star Trek”

Matt– Will Win: “Avatar”

A real head-scratcher, this one.

Personal Favorite: “Avatar”

Whatever else you might think of it…

Monica–Will Win:”Avatar”

It deserves this one however, the jungle was quite beautiful and the creatures, quite scary. Cheers!

Personal Favorite:”Star Trek”

It’s wishful thinking.


“District 9,” “An Education,” “In the Loop,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” “Up in the Air”

Matt– Will Win: “Up in the Air”

Personal Favorite: “Up in the Air”

I can’t say that I’m familiar with the source material of any of these movies, but “Up in the Air” was definitely very well-written.

Monica–Will Win: “Up in the Air”

Personal Favorite:”Up in the Air”

It’s almost as original as they come. Plus it helps that director Jason Reitman also co-wrote his own movie. I loved how well written the emotions, the characters, and the irony are to work together here.


“The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “The Messenger,” “A Serious Man,” “Up”

Matt– Will Win: “Inglourious Basterds”

Personal Favorite: “The Messenger”

A lot of good choices here, but “The Messenger” is really great and deserves more attention than it’s gotten.

Monica–Will Win: “Inglourious Basterds”

Personal Favorite: “A Serious Man”

Because I knew you thought I was going to pick “Up” again.

Well, that about wraps it up for our Oscar picks. Make sure you are signed up for the Quad twitter feed, as we will be covering the event live this Sunday. Stay tuned!

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