Tahar Rahim and Jacques Audilard at the world premiere of "Un Prophete" at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival last May.

Tahar Rahim and Jacques Audilard at the world premiere of "Un Prophete" at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival last May.

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

'A Prophet' tries to crash Oscar's Foreign Language Film race

One of last year's best dramas features a striking debut by newcomer Tahar Rahim

It's been an incredibly dramatic year for the three men behind France's acclaimed drama "A Prophet" (or "Un Prophete" as the filmmakers would prefer).  The film was generally regarded as the best picture at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it made its debut, but lost the prestigious Golden Palm to Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon."  And since then, that's been a constant outcome for director Jacques Audilard, writer Thomas Bidegian and breakout star Tahar Rahim.

"Loser, loser," Bidegian jokes after we chatted following the Golden Globes last month. "That's been our life for the past six months.  We travel 6,000 kilometers. We put on a tux.  We go, we sit.  We applaud Michael Haneke, we have a couple of drinks and we go home."

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Sachas Baron Cohen on the 2008 Golden Globe Awards.

Sachas Baron Cohen presenting at the Golden Globes.  He's hit the big time now.

Credit: AP Photo

Tina Fey and Sacha Baron Cohen hope to crack Oscar up

The cast of 'Jersey Shore' to parody Oscar's biggest contenders

Oscar producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic may have had their first choice to host the Academy Awards swatted down by the Academy board, but they have still found a way to get Sacha Baron Cohen on the big show.

It was announced today Cohen will make his first appearance on this year's 82nd Academy Awards to present an award. Cohen has previously only appeared in person, and not as one of his famously outlandish characters, to present  at the Golden Globe Awards.  Joining him are returning presenters Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Ben Stiller.  Additionally, Jason Bateman has attend the show previously, but this will be the first time he will present.  Fey had a very memorable bit with this year's co-host Steve Martin during last year's show as did Ben Stiller alongside Natalie Portman.

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Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz having fun with the photogs at the annual Oscar nominee luncheon.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

No surprises in Supporting: A 'Bastard' all the way

2010 Oscar Predictions continue with Best Supporting Actor

When the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor is a previously unknown Austrian character actor best known for his television work it makes you consider, "Why exactly isn't there a race here?"  Christoph Waltz received rave reviews for his role as the terrifying and hilarious Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's summer blockbuster "Inglourious Basterds," but was his performance so good there was absolutely no competition? Well, it's never that easy, but it may be the sad truth.

To be clear, Waltz is not slipping by.  He deserves all the accolades he's won including the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor honor, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and even the American Screen Actor's Guild Award.  What's surprising about this inevitable outcome is that Waltz's turn wasn't heralded as the second coming like other recent portrayals such as Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood," Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls," Helen Mirren in "The Queen" or Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men." But, unfortunately for those of us looking for a bit of Oscar drama, the field hasn't shaped up to challenge him.

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Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey at the Toronto premiere of "Precious"

Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey at the Toronto premiere of "Precious."

Credit: AP Photo

Madea is going from Jail to the Oscars

Tyler Perry will present at the 82nd Academy Awards, is Oprah Winfrey next?

Proving that this year's Academy Awards may be its most populist ever, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that movie mogul Tyler Perry will make his debut on the 82nd Academy Awards as a presenter.

Better known for his big screen role as the sharp tongued Madea, Perry has become an industry unto himself with such profitable hits as "Madea's Family Reunion," "Why Did I Get Married?" and "Meet the Browns."  This past year Perry, who writes, stars and usually directs his own films, appeared in another filmmakers work for the first time when he played an Admiral in J.J. Abrams "Star Trek."  Obviously, while this pundit and many viewers would like for nothing more than Madea to show up "herself" and giving a talking to the Academy audience, its expected Perry will appear as himself.

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Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor discuss their new thriller "The Ghost Writer."

Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor discuss their new thriller "The Ghost Writer."

Watch: Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor navigate politics in 'Ghost Writer'

Former James Bond also calls out CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Continuing controversy over Roman Polanski aside, you couldn't have asked for a better debut for the director's new thriller "The Ghost Writer." 

Opening in just four theaters this past weekend, "Writer" did an impressive $183,000 or $45,752 per screen.  More importantly as it expands across the country over the next few weeks, the critics completely embraced it.  The film has an 81% average on Rotten Tomatoes and a strong 76 on Metacritic with reviewers from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal supplying raves.  The reception won't do much to help Polanski's image, but it's a big boost for two of the film's stars: Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor.

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George Clooney in "Up in the Air"

Could stronger involvement by George Clooney on the campaign trail helped "Up in the Air" outside the Adapted Screenplay race?  We'll never know.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Will Best Picture contender 'Up in the Air' have to settle for screenplay?

2010 Oscar Predictions continue with Original and Adapted Screenplay

In a long awards season, the weeks from early to December to the end of February feel more like a decade than the few months the constitute.  So, it's no surprise that the Best Picture frontrunner at that critical juncture is rarely the winner when Oscar eventually crosses the finish line.  That, sadly, is the fate that has met Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air."

Adored when it debuted at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals in early September, "Air's' campaign was built on a groundswell of buzz and critical acclaim timed to peak for its limited debut in December. At that time, "The Hurt Locker" was only as a potential Best Picture nominee, but unlikely winner; "Air's" only real competition was expected to be Clint Eastwood's "Invictus"; and after early bad buzz, "Avatar" was perceived as just a Sci-Fi player at the box office.  And while "Air" continued to perform well in theaters and Academy screening rooms, as the holidays grew closer the story dramatically became about a surprising raves for "Avatar" and the domination of year end accolades by "Locker."  So, while Paramount Pictures pulled out every stop possible to ease the tide, "Air" has slowly, slowly, slowly faded from the spotlight.  Except from the one race it has dominated: screenplay.

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"Up" is the frontrunner to win Best Original Score.

"Up" is the frontrunner to win Best Original Score.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

2010 Oscar Predictions: Will 'Up' and 'Crazy Heart' sing?

Best Original Score and Best Original Song rundown

The 82nd Academy Awards are less than two weeks away and with members in the homestretch with only seven days to submit their ballots, its time to wrap up this long awards season with some final predictions.  And while we're not suggesting you head to Vegas, but Awards Campaign has a very strong track record over the years when it comes to Oscar.

Up until the weekend before the big show, we'll be reviewing each category and letting you know what to expect.  Some awards are ripe for an upset, some will be as predictable Shaun White winning an Olympic snowboarding competition and a select few will go right down to the wire.

That being said, there will be some caveats.  There is absolutely no reason to cover the Visual Effects race this year, because effectively there isn't one.  Flat out, if "Avatar" doesn't win that statue it will rank higher than "The Golden Compass'" upset win over "Transformers" in 2008 which was one of the biggest Academy shockers of all time.  Don't expect that sort of surprise in 2010.

Let's get this party started, by livening up our rundown with some sweet, sweet music predictions.

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Carey Mulligan at the 2010 Orange British Academy Awards

Can any of Oscars' young designers create a dress as impressive as the one Carey Mulligan wore to the BAFTA's on Sunday night? 

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Academy bringing its own 'Project Runway' to the Oscars

Public gets to vote on gown worn during the show

Proving the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can drag themselves into the 21st Century, the Oscar org announced a new contest today that allows the public to vote on an aspect of this year's 82nd Academy Awards.  No, voters won't get to determine any winners -- perish that thought -- but they will get to decide which gown is worn by one of the many Awards escorts during the show.

Beginning today at 5 PM PT, the public can vote on Oscar.com in the "Oscar Designer Challenge 2010."  Designers from around Los Angeles, er, the country are participating including:  Fernanda Carneiro (Los Angeles), Elda De La Rosa, (Chicago), Ivy Higa (New York), Phong Hong (Los Angeles), Rania Salibi (Phoenix), Oday Shakar (Los Angeles), Ari Sheuhmelian (Los Angeles), Oliver Tolentino (Los Angeles) and Kelsy Zimba (New York). (Who knew all the good designers were in LA? Certainly not the industry in NY...).  Voting ends on March 1 with the winner being announced during the live ABC arrivals show before the big show.

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Maria Bello talks about her new drama "The Yellow Handkerchief."

Maria Bello talks about her new drama "The Yellow Handkerchief."

Maria Bello shows her loyalty to 'Yellow Handkerchief' and Haiti

Acclaimed actress talks about her two trips to help those in need

Hollywood is full of actors who take their commitments to supporting the films the appear in seriously, but Maria Bello may just define industry loyalty among her peers.  Whether it was promoting the highly controversial "Downloading Nancy" or working tirelessly to get the word out on "The Cooler," Bello has rarely missed a chance to help a project she was involved with get some recognition.  That may make you conclude she's an opportunist, but in fact, she is always more focused on the work at hand than pushing her own career.  So, it came as no surprise that when the drama "The Yellow Handkerchief," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008 (there have been two complete iterations of the festival since) finally found an avenue to theaters, Bello was on hand to help give it some attention.

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Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at the premiere of "New Moon."

Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart will be reuniting at the 82nd Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

'Twilight' goes to the Oscars as Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart confirmed to present

Plus: Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron will be on hand for more tween love

As revealed here way back in early January, Taylor Lautner will be presenting at this year's 82nd Academy Awards.  However, not only will the "Twilight" star be appearing at the Kodak Thater, but his co-star Kristen Stewart will be on hand as well.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Lautner, Stewart, Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus would all be part of the March 7 event today

This isn't surprising as co-produce Adam Shankman has made it a priority to get younger "stars" to appear on the show and "New Moon" was one of 2009's biggest blockbusters.   Last year,  Robert Pattinson made his Oscar debut as a presenter. It is unclear if he will return for a second go around.  Lautner and Stewart will be joining Anna Kendrick, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Up in the Air" in representing the popular "Twilight" franchise.

Both Cyrus and Efron, however, have previously appeared on the Academy Awards.  Efron participated in a musical number with last year's host Hugh Jackman and Beyonce a year ago.  Cyrus was also on hand for the 81st edition of the show.

While Lautner only has "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" in the can, the Oscar appearance is a huge opportunity for Stewart to promote her upcoming drama "The Runaways" opening only a few weeks after the show on March 19.  Efron is an old friend of Shankman's having appeared in the director's musical "Hairspray" and in "17 Again" which he produced.  Cyrus was overlooked in the Best Original Song category for her contributions to "Hannah Montana: The Movie," but she also has her first non-"Hannah" role on deck in "The Last Song" on March 31.

While last year's show tried to keep as many of the presenters secret, it's unclear if this year's edition will announce all of the attendees beforehand.  Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will co-host Hollywood's biggest night on Sunday, March 7.  The Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.  As always, look for continuing coverage on HitFix and Awards Campaign.

 For the latest in breaking entertainment news and commentary follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

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