The 2010 movie season is officially halfway over, although in terms of the Oscar season it hasn’t even begun. The second half of the year is where all of the major Awards contenders show up and get the buzz going as precursor season begins. It is exceedingly difficult for a first half of the year release to remain strong throughout the Awards season, but in 2009 two films managed to do so impressively – Pixar’s Up and eventual Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker.
The question now is which films from the first half of 2010 are here to stay? Here are my picks for ten Oscar nominations that seem like sure things.
1) Toy Story 3 for Best Animated Feature
Out of everything that we have seen the first half of the year no film has been as universally adored as Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Calling the film a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination is a huge understatement – the film is pretty much locked to win it all.
2) Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone is being heralded as the breakthrough performance of the year. Unless another newcomer shows up and eclipses her or the veteran actresses bring it strong in the second half of the year, she should be a sure thing. She may suffer from the Carey Mulligan syndrome where an earlier release causes a deterioration of buzz, but as long as people are still talking about Winter’s Bone, they will be still talking about Jennifer Lawrence.
3) Iron Man 2 for Best Visual Effects
Besides The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which is almost guaranteed to get shut out at the Oscars, Iron Man 2 is the only live-action blockbuster we have seen this summer. Summer is when the visual effects are usually on full display and the lack of competition this year seems surprising. Iron Man 2 probably won’t take the top prize with Inception and Tron: Legacy waiting in the wings to dethrone it, but so far it’s looking like clear sailing for an Oscar nomination.
4) Winter’s Bone for Best Picture
Traditionally there is at least one Best Picture nomination for a film that was released pre-July and with 10 nominees last year, there was room for two – Up and The Hurt Locker. Of all the films released so far in 2010, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone has the best shot at a Best Picture nomination with huge critical support and a Sundance victory under it’s belt already. It’s chances at actually winning Best Picture are TBA pending the release of the 2010 fall fare.
5) Toy Story 3 for Best Sound Editing
All five of Pixar’s last films have received a nomination for either Best Sound Mixing or Best Sound Editing. Pixar spent 11 years working to perfect Toy Story 3 and the aural aspects benefited greatly. The sound team goes above and beyond what other animated films to create a truly rich listening experience and they deserve to be rewarded for it. One of these years they might actually win.
6) How to Train Your Dragon for Best Animated Feature
Poor Dreamworks. They finally release a film that is widely loved by critics and audiences and before the Oscar season even gets started Pixar has to go blow them away again. Nevertheless, How to Train Your Dragon still definitely has its supporters and it can look forward to being a respected runner-up in the Animated Feature category.
7) Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work for Best Documentary Feature
While Toy Story 3 was busy tearing up the Box Office another film was making the art house rounds and winning over critics and crowds. Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg’s documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work has been hailed as one of the funniest movies of the year and is currently sitting well with a score of 79 on Metacritic. The documentary category is pretty unpredictable, but the Academy loves to reward big named talent and Joan Rivers and the Oscars have a long tradition.
8) Clash of the Titans for Best Visual Effects
If there were only three nominees for Best Visual Effects Clash of the Titans would get beat out by Inception, Tron: Legacy, and Iron Man 2, but with the expansion to five nominees in the category it has a strong shot. So far this hasn’t been a huge year for great visual effects with a lot of studios relying on sub-par 3D instead of above-par CGI. If the Academy isn’t distracted by Titans’ bad 3D, it will notice it’s otherwise impressive visuals.
9) Toy Story 3 for Best Picture
I don’t think that it is automatic that one animated film will be nominated every year now that there are 10 best picture nominees. However, as long as Pixar keeps releasing amazing films that prove to be among the best of the year they will keep getting well-deserved notices. With a score of 91 on Metacritic I imagine that Toy Story 3 is still going to be talked about at year’s end, which is why it will probably find it’s way onto the Best Picture shortlist.
10) Alice in Wonderland for Best Costume Design
One of the few things that this otherwise awful film had going for it was it’s costume design. 7-time Oscar nominee and 2-time winner Colleen Atwood will probably find her name back on the nominations list for her work in Tim Burton’s curious film.
Any nominations that you see forthcoming that I missed?