My logic is based on the premise that in an ordinary year, James Cameron would be the obvious win for best director for the sheer enormity of his achievement with Avatar, technologically and visually.
But his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow has been anointed as the first woman to win best director for The Hurt Locker. Because Avatar doesn't have screenplay or acting nominations, and based on The Hurt Locker's many wins, including the ten-best PGA, as well as the DGA and WGA, in an ordinary year it would be safe to assume that The Hurt Locker is the front-runner for best picture.
But this is the year of ten best picture contenders, which throws everything out of whack. (I hope that the Academy sees the wisdom of throwing out this needlessly complex and impure method of picking the year's best motion picture.) I predict that The Hurt Locker will win both best picture and director (despite the late-innings controversies--600 people handed in ballots on the last day) and that Avatar will dominate the technical categories.
UPDATE: I admit that it is likely that The Hurt Locker will win one or two of the categories I have ceded to Avatar. I just don't know which ones. In my gut I feel Avatar advancing on best picture. But my head says it's The Hurt Locker. Check out the final Gurus 'O Gold, where several Oscar experts, including me, have made changes in the past week. We all want to look good tomorrow!
The contests that are not in the bag include original screenplay--WGA winner for The Hurt Locker, newcomer Mark Boal vs. popular Quentin Tarantino, whose Inglourious Basterds wasn't eligible for the WGA--and various technical categories that pit The Hurt Locker against Avatar: cinematography, editing, sound mixing and sound editing. In the 24th episode of Oscar Talk Kris Tapley and I run through our reasoning on all our picks. Tune in Monday for our recap.
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)
El Secreto de Sus Ojos
Rick Carter & Robert Stromberg Avatar
Mauro Fiore Avatar
Sandy Powell The Young Victoria
Stephen Rivkin, John Refua, James Cameron Avatar
Michael Giacchino Up
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" Crazy Heart
Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle Avatar
Christopher Boyes, Tony Johnson, William B. Kaplan, Andy Nelson, Gary Summers, James M. Tanenbaum Avatar
Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones Avatar
Animated short film
A Matter of Loaf and Death
Live action short film
Documentary short subject
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant