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Final Oscar Picks: The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 6, 2010 at 1:38AM

Here are my final picks for this year's Oscars.
Thompson on Hollywood

Here are my final picks for this year's Oscars.

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)

Supporting actor:
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Supporting Actress:
Mo'Nique (Precious)

Original screenplay:
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Adapted screenplay
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)

Animated feature

Documentary feature
The Cove

Foreign film
El Secreto de Sus Ojos

Art direction:
Rick Carter & Robert Stromberg Avatar

Mauro Fiore Avatar

Costume design:
Sandy Powell The Young Victoria

Stephen Rivkin, John Refua, James Cameron Avatar

Star Trek

Michael Giacchino Up

“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" Crazy Heart

Sound editing:
Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle Avatar

Sound mixing:
Christopher Boyes, Tony Johnson, William B. Kaplan, Andy Nelson, Gary Summers, James M. Tanenbaum Avatar

Visual effects:
Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones Avatar

Animated short film
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Live action short film
The Door

Documentary short subject
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Franchises, Stuck In Love, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Avatar, Screenwriters

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.