A&E’s bets for the Oscars

Our predictions and preferences for the wins, plus a couple local experts weigh in.

PHOTO COURTESY 20TH CENTURY FOX

PHOTO COURTESY 20TH CENTURY FOX

Kara Nesvig and Tony Libera

Thank God awards season is almost over, since we can only take so much Ryan Seacrest and Joan Rivers squawking away on the red carpet. WeâÄôve seen heavyweights like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild go down in a blaze of glory and gossip, but of course theyâÄôre nothing compared to the granddaddy of all awards shows, the Oscars. We here at A&E like to throw down bets just as much as the next person, so hereâÄôs who weâÄôd like to see take home the trophies. Best Actress Kara says: This award should go to charming ingénue Carey Mulligan, who is enchanting in her star-making turn in âÄúAn Education.âÄù But it probably wonâÄôt, which means the statue will end up in the hands of Sandra Bullock for her chicken-fried turn in âÄúThe Blind Side.âÄù Forgive me if IâÄôm wrong, but highlights and a Southern accent do not a Best Actress make. IâÄôm still sore about Abbie Cornish being snubbed for âÄúBright Star.âÄù Tony says: The simple fact that Sandra Bullock is even nominated for Best Actress says a lot about the validity of the Academy Awards, but thatâÄôs another matter. As âÄî ahem âÄî precious as it would be to see Gabourey Sidibe win the gold, IâÄôm going to go with Helen Mirren. A) SheâÄôs already got an Oscar under her belt and B) At 65 years old, sheâÄôs a stone-cold cougar. Local director Chris Strouth says: The Academy does like underdog actresses in breakout roles, so it could be Gabourey Sidibe. But then Sandra BullockâÄôs role in âÄúThe Blind SideâÄù has been super buzzed since before it came out. In my mind itâÄôs a toss up between those two. Sure, thereâÄôs a slight chance for Meryl Streep, but she already has two. Three might be a tad gauche. Best Actor Kara says: I have a soft spot for movies about washed-up and timeworn troubadours, so even the trailer for âÄúCrazy HeartâÄù makes me cry. My voteâÄôs for Jeff Bridges. I generally find Colin Firth brilliant in everything except âÄúMamma Mia!âÄù and wouldnâÄôt mind him stealing it for Tom FordâÄôs âÄúA Single Man,âÄù but I might be fashion-biased. Tony says: With his grizzled nonchalance and drunken machismo, Jeff Bridges seems like a lock for Best Actor. Still, it was not too long ago that Sean Penn ripped olâÄô Osckey-boy from Mickey RourkeâÄôs leathery grasp. HereâÄôs hoping The Dude has better luck. Chris Strouth says: Jeff Bridges seems the best bet for best actor. The movie has a buzz, and it seems like after 10 nominations over 30 years, itâÄôs about damn time. Star Tribune movie critic Colin Covert says: I think itâÄôd be a huge upset if anyone other than Jeff Bridges won Best Actor. HeâÄôs got so many things going for him. It was an outstanding performance, no question about it, but itâÄôs also the latest in a very distinguished body of work. He has always been consistently good. HeâÄôs a well-liked person whoâÄôs probably going to benefit from that. ItâÄôs his turn. Jeremy Renner did a very good job in âÄúThe Hurt Locker,âÄù and upsets are possible. Best Supporting Actress Kara says: It is a universally acknowledged truth that this award will go to MoâÄônique for âÄúPrecious.âÄù She won the Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award, so do the math. The Academy is predictable. Tony says: Again, thereâÄôs a lack of talent in the pool, which makes MoâÄônique the best bet. SheâÄôs an absolute psychopath in âÄúPrecious,âÄù and something about psychos just rubs Academy voters the right way. (See: âÄúMonster.âÄù) Chris Strouth says: MoâÄôNique, since âÄúPreciousâÄù is sort of the anti-âÄùSlumdog Millionaire.âÄù ItâÄôs the feel bad movie of the year and she is the other breakout in it âÄî I think itâÄôs hers to lose. Best Supporting Actor Kara says: The trophy for Best Supporting Actor has Christoph WaltzâÄôs name written all over it. Even my mom was freaked out and amused by his sadistically charming Colonel Hans Landa. I was pleasantly surprised to see the delectable Stanley Tucci nominated for âÄúThe Lovely Bones,âÄù a movie that was generally ignored/panned by critics. Tony says: If Christoph Waltz doesnâÄôt win, there should be rioting in the streets. His performance as Landa is as creepy as it is strangely comedic, and heâÄôs got a joie de vivre thatâÄôs refreshing in comparison to his Hollywood competition. Chris Strouth says: The only reason it wouldnâÄôt be Christoph Waltz would be an act of God. I mean did you see the movie? Tucci was too creepy; no one saw âÄúThe MessengerâÄù and Matt Damon is a strong contender, but in a field crowded with names, I think it belongs to the unknown. Best Animated Feature Film Kara says: During the course of âÄúUp,âÄù I cried (a lot) âÄî about four times. It usurped all other Pixar movies in my heart forever, so since it wonâÄôt win Best Picture, it should win Best Animated. From the whiskers on CarlâÄôs face to the impeccable sound editing to the vibrant colors, itâÄôs perfect. Tony says: This might be the closest category of the whole ceremony. âÄúCoraline,âÄù Henry SelickâÄôs adaptation of Neil GaimanâÄôs masterpiece, is a worthy choice for its macabre visuals and its masterful use of 3-D technology and âÄúUpâÄù could win for its simultaneously tragic and heartwarming story, helped by PixarâÄôs unmatched track record. But as a Wes Anderson devotee, IâÄôd like to see âÄúFantastic Mr. FoxâÄù win. The stop-motion photography is so intricate that it makes âÄúGumbyâÄù look like a third grade production, and the all-star cast âÄî featuring George Clooney and Meryl Streep, two current Oscar nominees âÄî pushes this film into the realm of the sublime. Best Director Kara says: Everyone knows by now that at one point, nominees James Cameron (âÄúAvatarâÄù) and Kathryn Bigelow (âÄúThe Hurt LockerâÄú) were married. What âÄúUs WeeklyâÄú-worthy drama will ensue if she wins over him! But she wonâÄôt, because even though Cameron basically remade âÄúFerngully,âÄù I have a feeling that heâÄôll grab another award for âÄúAvatar.âÄù If Bigelow wins, which is unlikely, sheâÄôd be the first woman in Academy history to do so. If weâÄôre putting money on it, my dollars go to Cameron, though of course IâÄôd love to hear Quentin TarantinoâÄôs slightly unhinged acceptance speech. Tony says: IsnâÄôt it about time that that Frankenstein monster Quentin Tarantino took home the prize? Yeah, chances are that James CameronâÄôs going to win it, but âÄúInglourious BasterdsâÄù shows Tarantino at his directorial peak. Killing Nazis has always been fun, but never has it looked so good. Best Picture Kara says: LetâÄôs have a look-see at some of the contenders in this newly-expanded category. WeâÄôve got two emotional heavy-hitters, âÄúPreciousâÄù and âÄúThe Blind Side,âÄù two films with the word âÄúUpâÄù in the title (âÄúUpâÄù and âÄúUp in the AirâÄù), a Minnesota movie courtesy Coens (âÄúA Serious ManâÄù) and a retro piece starring the deliciously sexy Peter Sarsgaard (âÄúAn EducationâÄù). Then thereâÄôs an alien movie (âÄúDistrict 9âÄú) and a war piece (âÄúThe Hurt LockerâÄù). Cross your fingers that âÄúAvatarâÄù doesnâÄôt nab the Best Picture Oscar and that Quentin TarantinoâÄôs epically awesome Nazi-killing âÄúInglourious BasterdsâÄù swoops in instead. Tony says: It would be a real treat if âÄúAvatarâÄù didnâÄôt win, just because it would add some semblance of legitimacy to the Awards. Sure, âÄúAvatarâÄù is dazzling and fun to watch, but eye candy doesnâÄôt merit an Oscar win. âÄúInglourious BasterdsâÄù might be imperfect, but the bar scene alone should win Best Picture. Chris Strouth: Personally I like âÄúAvatar,âÄù because it really upped the ante on what filmmaking can be. That said, I doubt it will win. My money is on âÄúPrecious.âÄù Films like that donâÄôt come along often enough, and when they do, they rarely make that kind of connection with the public. Colin Covert says: ItâÄôs probably a 50/50 split between âÄúAvatarâÄù and âÄúThe Hurt Locker.âÄù âÄúAvatarâÄù is greatest financial success of all time and âÄúThe Hurt LockerâÄù has just barely made its money back. It would really say something about the art house versus the multiplex if âÄúHurt LockerâÄù won. I think itâÄôs only slightly likely, but likely, that âÄúAvatarâÄù will win because in so many ways, it pushes the concept. HereâÄôs a possible future for the movies, letâÄôs take it in this direction.