Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" has already won the Best Picture Award from the National Board of Review and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics, but three of the biggest guns and Oscar influencers are being announced within the next week. The big question is: can "Up in the Air" go for the sweep? Well, yes, but most likely no.
Los Angeles Film Critics - Sunday, Dec. 10
Contenders: "Up in the Air," "Hurt Locker," "500 Days of Summer" and "A Serious Man"
Lowdown: Intriguingly, LAFCA members haven't picked an Oscar winner for Best Picture since "Schindler's List" in 1993. So, if you're Paramount you may actually be rooting not to win this one. However, this is organization most likely the group to reward "The Hurt Locker" or a Coen's "A Serious Man." We're betting on the former, but our upset winner? The love letter to downtown LA, "500 Days of Summer."
New York Film Critics Circle - Monday, Dec. 11
Contenders: "A Serious Man," "Precious," "Hurt Locker" and "A Single Man"
Lowdown: Unlike their West Coast peers, the New York Critics tend to be all over the place. Over the past nine years their top prize has matched Oscar's twice ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "No Country for Old Men"), but four of their winners weren't even nominated for Best Picture ("United 93," "Far From Heaven," "Mulholland Drive," "Topsy-Turvey"). Moreover, they rarey duplicate LAFCA although always insist it isn't intentional (uh-huh). It's gut, but we're guessing "A Serious Man" or "A Single Man" wins here. This group likes to make a statement and both would certainly do that.
AFI Top Ten List - Wednesday, Dec. 13
Contenders: Anything with significant American funding.
Lowdown: AFI doesn't actually pick one Best Picture winner -- they are too political to do that -- but the ten will be a strong bellwether by many of who are serious contenders for Oscars final ten this year (and by not making the list who isn't). If "Avatar," "District 9" or "The Lovely Bones" make this list, their chances are markedly stronger than many believed. Then again, you can pretty much guarantee that "Up in the Air," "Hurt Locker" and "Invictus" will be on the roll call.
While you wax over what that means in the long run (and depending on the year it could mean zip) here's Award Campaign's current projections of the major categories that will be reflected in this week's Gurus of Gold and on The Envelope's Buzzmeter. Please note, last week "In the Loop" was mistakenly placed in the Best Original screenplay race, it's actually in the Adapted category and we're guessing it could still sneak in.
1. "Up in the Air"
If it keeps this up, it will soon have "Slumdog's" "inevitable" tag.
WB's got to be a little worried about this weekend's box office tracking, but we still think in a long race Eastwood's latest could still take the top prize.
Something happened on the way to the ball. The drama's chances of winning it all seem to be fading by the week. Did it peak too soon?
4. "The Hurt Locker"
Slowly becoming all about Bigelow for Best Director, but a NYFCC win would help big time.
Just hard to imagine it winning the top prize, but Best Animated Feature is a lock.
6. "An Education"
Will be very happy to be here.
7. "Inglourious Basterds"
In without having to run much of a campaign. If Weinstein's energy wasn't seemingly focused on "Nine" could it be a real Best Picture winner?
Reviews will be mixed to say the least, but it fills a slot when Academy members have to find ten to nominate.
9. "A Serious Man"
Still believe Focus will be able to ride the critical acclaim to a nomination.
Can hardly believe it myself, but the pretty spectacle of it all may sneak it in.
11. "The Lovely Bones"
The fact there are enough people who really love it could be enough.
12. "500 Days of Summer"
Cropping up in conversations, but is the campaign really there?
13. "District 9"
If it gets in many will be thrilled, if it doesn't there won't be much protesting.
1. Kathryn Bigelow
2. Jason Reitman
3. Lee Daniels
4. Quentin Tarantino
5. Clint Eastwood
No change from last week.
1. Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
2. George Clooney - Up in the Air
3. Morgan Freeman - Invictus
4. Colin Firth - A Single Man
5. Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
No change from last week.
1. Carey Mulligan - An Education
2. Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia
3. Helen Mirren - The Last Station
4. Gabby Sidibe - Precious
5. Saoirse Ronan - The Lovely Bones
No change from last week.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Mo'Nique - Precious
2. Marion Cotillard - Nine
3. Julianne Moore - A Single Man
4. Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
5. Vera Farminga - Up in the Air
It could go either way, but the tide is saying "Air" will get two ladies in and not "Nine."
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christoph Walsh - Inglourious Basterds
2. Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
3. Alfred Molina - An Education
4. Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
5. Matt Damon - Invictus
There is growing sentiment for "The Messenger's" Woody Harrelson, but AC doesn't believe that is more than Indie Spirit love. No change from last week.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. 500 Days of Summer
2. The Hurt Locker
4. A Serious Man
5. Inglourious Basterds
Basterds make the cut.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. Up in the Air
3. An Education
5. In the Loop
Perhaps a little wishful thinking for "Loop" to make the five, but the movie needs all the help it can get. Are you reading WGA and Writer's committee members?