Well, with the Academy Awards ceremony less than two weeks away on 7 March (starting 8 March morning, Singapore time), have perceptions changed at all, as more of the key awards of the season have been handed out?
Among the nominees, who’ve had time to lunch together, as well as pick up more gongs, some have gained momentum as favourites, while others are gaining favour in people’s opinions as possible winners.
Our inhouse experts, Ken Kwek, yours truly and inSing.com’s Movie Lover contest winner Noor Hidzir Junaini, were unanimousin selecting Christoph Waltz as the expected Best Supporting Actor winner, for his astonishing turn in Inglorious Basterds.
And while we split our vote in the other major categories, there were majority votes for Avatar (Best Picture), Jeremy Renner of The Hurt Locker (Best Actor), Sandra Bullock of The Blind Side (Best Actress), Mo’Nique of Precious (Best Supporting Actress), and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (Best Director).
Going by consensus among critics/voters around the world, the category favourites are as follows:
The Hurt Locker, which incidentally has returned to local screens this week, is far and away the favourite. It was the favourite of most American critics (based on critic association votes), and has widespread support, winning at the British equivalent of the Oscars (the BAFTAs) and at the Producers Guild Awards as well.
Meanwhile, Avatar is the ostensible second-favourite, with its most notable nod coming at the Golden Globe Awards. It has most likely been edged out by The Hurt Locker for many other awards this season.
Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker, is the favourite over her ex-husband James Cameron (Avatar). She also snagged the most important predictor for this category, the Directors Guild Award. Bigelow was also tipped to win by the majority of American critics associations and at the Critics Choice Awards.
Cameron, however, could snatch this award at the Oscars; he was endorsed at the Golden Globes and presumably finished second-best to Bigelow at many of the award ceremonies so far.
This is a hard category to gauge. On one hand, it seems Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), should be favourite. Next to Sandra Bullock, his is the feel-good story of the season; he is a veteran actor known for his excellence over the years. The fact that he won the Screen Actors Guild Award is a good sign.
Still, George Clooney (Up in the Air) was favoured by many American critics, and he runs a close second to Bridges in key awards won. Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth (A Single Man) are dark horses while Morgan Freeman seems to be out of the running, despite an eye-catching turn as Nelson Mandela in Invictus.
The favourite here is without a doubt Sandra Bullock. She has done well in many major awards, such as the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. Interestingly, though, she was not the choice of any of the major American critic associations.
Best Supporting Actor
This is the easiest category to predict. Christoph Waltz has been universally endorsed by the experts. It’s hard to imagine anyone, even the great Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), scuttling Waltz’s special moment.
Best Supporting Actress
Mo’Nique has the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. She is most definitely the front-runner.
Some support has come for up-and-coming Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), but it would be considered a major upset if she, or anyone else, were to win.
Now that we’ve taken a consensus view of how the experts see the Oscar race shaping out, let’s cast the eye towards the oddsmakers. From Las Vegas to the United Kingdom, major oddsmakers have also weighed in on their choices.
Why are we taking their input into consideration in this debate over the quality of acting and filmmaking? While we do not endorse betting on the Oscars, some oddsmakers have in years past proved to be rather credible prognosticators.
In a totally unscientific aggregation of their handicapping, below are their predictions (in order of merit, 1 being the favourite):
1. Avatar / The Hurt Locker
2. Inglorious Basterds / Up in the Air
1. Kathryn Bigelow
2. James Cameron
3. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) / Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds)
1. Jeff Bridges
2. George Clooney
3. Colin Firth
1. Sandra Bullock
2. Meryl Streep
3. Carey Mulligan
Best Supporting Actor
1. Christoph Waltz
2. Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
3. Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress
2. Anna Kendrick
3. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) / Penelope Cruz (Nine)