10 Oscar Nomination Locks from the First Half of 2010

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.

View the Complete Oscar Predictions

Any nominations that you see forthcoming that I missed?

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  • I’m with you on #1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10.

    As far as the others:

    I know nothing about sound editing, so I have no clue whether “Toy Story 3” will get a nod in that category.

    There are still some pretty high-profile animated films out there (such as “The Illusionist”). If there’s 5 nominees, “How to Train Your Dragon” is a lock. If there’s 3, we’ll see.

    As for “Clash of the Titans”, it will likely sneak in with 5 nominees. But the film has been so universally panned, and the visuals just look like run of the mill CGI stuff. So I doubt that’s a lock.

  • Owen

    You don’t think that Alice in Wonderland will get a nod for visual effects?

    I wasn’t all that impressed by Clash of the Titans special effects.

  • Renard

    Why in your BEST PIC predictions on the link have “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON” in the Top 10 instead of “TOY STORY 3”? I think you made typo. “TOY STORY 3” more rightfully deserves one of the ten slots.

  • Yeah, those haven’t been updated since a few weeks before ‘Toy Story 3’ was released. I should get on that.

  • shle896

    It would be great if “A Piece Of Work” was recognized. It has become such a surprise hit.. and true delight that seemingly came out of nowhere – the perfect Oscar movie!

  • Andrew R.

    #2-Very likely.
    #3-Alice in Wonderland is more likely.
    #5-I don’t know much about Sound Editing…yes?
    #6-Very very likely.
    #7-This is a tough category.
    #8-I don’t know.
    #10-Yes…unless the people who really hate this film (I thought it was mediocre) knock it out.

  • Jack

    Lol, How To Train Your Dragon should win the Best Animated feature, and maybe even the Best Movie of the year awards. Everyone’s seen ToyStory before, and is familiar with the gags and chuckles, and yes it is a good movie franchise. But HTTYD brought something different and deeply heartfelt to the movie screens this year. It is easily MUCH better than “any” of the Toy Story movies that I’ve seen.

  • Jeff

    I agree with Jack. How to Train your Dragon is very original, heartwarming, funny and it made great use of parallelism. it is also my favorite film of the year and top 5 ever. It would be awesome if it got a Best Picture nom, but I doubt it will happened. However, it deserves to win Best Animated Picture. I always liked Pixar more than Dreamworks, but I actually like HTTYD more than any Pixar film I’ve seen.

    It really is a shame that HTTYD came out the same year as TS3, otherwise HTTYD would have hands down been the best animated film of the year.

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