It's Official: The race for gold at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards is on, baby! First off, love it or hate it, the Academy has decided to nominate 10 films instead of 5 and what a range of films it is, with the inclusion of the tearjerker The Blind Side. There have not been more than 5 films nominated in one year since 1943. Hopefully the brass will get the upswing in numbers they've desperately been trying to recapture since 1997 when Titanic swept so many awards. Even without the inclusion of five extra films, this would have been an exciting year with the gargantuan Avatar, directed by James Cameron (his 2nd directing nom), pitted against The Hurt Locker, the little movie that could and also one of the most riveting films of last year. That movie is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Cameron's ex-wife and the fourth woman ever to be nominated for best director (behind Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola). Personally, I think it would be awesome if Bigelow won. Not only is she deserving for creating such a powerful war film but it would be nice to show Cameron that he's not the only "king of the world." I was surprised that The Hangover, arguably the funniest movie of last year, was left off the list.
The other major nominees bring a mixture of plenty of new blood and some old standbys. I don't mean that disparagingly but it seems there's a few this year that we could have predicted in our sleep (hello, Morgan, Meryl and Penelope). Having said that, the new kids on the block are as follows: Colin Firth, Jeremy Renner, Christopher Plummer, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz, Sandra Bullock, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Vera Farmiga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick and Mo'Nique. It's nice to see Vera Farmiga and Maggie Gyllenhaal both nominated...finally.
Those who were shut out include Julianne Moore for A Single Man, Alec Baldwin for It's Complicated, Ben Foster for The Messenger, Abbie Cornish for Bright Star and perhaps the most glaring omission, Emily Blunt for The Young Victoria.
This year Meryl Streep once again breaks her own record and scores her 16th Oscar nomination. Sadly, once again, this will not be the year she wins her third award. That honor will more than likely go to Sandra Bullock (I hope not) or Carey Mulligan. I would like to see Sandra win just not for this film.
Other nominees who have been down this carpet before are Jeff Bridges (5th), George Clooney (2nd), Morgan Freeman (5th), Matt Damon (his 2nd but 1st for acting), Woody Harrelson (2nd), Helen Mirren (4th) and Penelope Cruz (3rd).
In the director's realm, new and old are almost split evenly down the middle. Jason Reitman, James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino all score their second nods while Lee Daniels and Ms. Bigelow are first timers.
No matter who wins or just politely claps while thinking, 'I can't believe she won', this should be a thrilling race.
Stay tuned as I will soon be making my predictions in every single category.