Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Precious" to win best picture Oscar?

That's what In Contention's Kris Tarpley thinks. He's also predicting right now that Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique will win best actress and supporting actress respectively.

I'm not that sure. I remember this time three years ago I thought another film with an all-black cast, Dreamgirls, looked like a sure best-picture winner and it didn't even get nominated. I'm convinced Precious will get nominated this year and will be a strong contender, but, right now, my money is on Up in the Air to win the top award in a tight three-way race with Precious and The Hurt Locker.

I also think Cary Mulligan has a better chance to win the best actress Oscar for An Education, but I will agree that Mo'Nique is a lock for the supporting actress award.

I will also admit this: Those behind the Precious campaign are doing a fairly good job, even though they only got a half-full house for its screening last week to Oscar voters. The problem I have with their campaign is that it is based on preying on white guilt, which worked for Crash, but didn't work for Dreamgirls. But then Crash had a more diverse cast.

I have not seen Precious, but I have heard that the redemptive third act is preceded by two fairly raw first and second acts, much of which exploit black stereotypes. I'm not sure how well that will sit with Oscar voters.

The early box office for Precious has also been phenomenal, recording the fourth highest per-screen average in movie history. But, more than anything else, I think that popularity has fueled much of the excitement about it right now and that excitement might cool once Up in the Air opens Dec. 4.

If I had to pick the winners of the top six major races right now, I would go with:
Picture: Up in the Air
Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Actress: Cary Mulligan, An Education
Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious

It is interesting to note that every one of Tarpley's predicted winners made my list of nominees in my first Oscar poll of the season with the exception of Forever Enthralled, his pick to win the Foreign Language Film Oscar. That picture missed my list by one vote.

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