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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: District 9

Predicting Oscar: Best bets for best picture

March 5, 2010 |  7:00 am

GraphicMuch like erratic swings in the stock market, the fates and fortunes of films in the Oscar race rise and fall with each passing awards show and critic's top 10 list.

A closer look at the winners from the film awards handed out so far this season would seem to indicate a clear favorite for best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday: "The Hurt Locker."

The Kathryn Bigelow-directed film has been nominated by each of eight major industry guilds and critics groups that we looked at for the chart at left -- and it won half of the top honors.

The next closest competitor: "Up in the Air," with two wins and nominations from all but one group.

"Precious," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Avatar," ranked by number of nominations by the eight groups, round out the top five in the newly expanded field of 10 best picture nominees.

Down at the bottom of the list, with no nods among the eight groups: "The Blind Side," starring acting nominee Sandra Bullock. But just like the whims of the financial markets, you can never count a movie out until the final bell sounds.

-- Brady MacDonald


L.A. Times reviews of the 10 best picture nominees:

* The Hurt Locker
* Up in the Air
* Precious
* Inglourious Basterds
* Avatar
* An Education
* A Serious Man
* Up
* District 9
* The Blind Side

L.A. Times award show coverage:
* Critics' Choice
* Producers Guild
* National Board of Review
* Golden Globes
* Directors Guild
* Writers Guild
* Screen Actors Guild
* American Film Institute

Video: Screenplay, foreign language, documentary Oscar noms -- surprises and snubs

February 2, 2010 |  3:09 pm

Perhaps you missed  "The Messenger," "District 9" and "In the Loop" when they were released? Don't fret -- apparently you're not alone.

"The writers branch every year takes unusual films," says Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan. "They're always taking films that almost no one else takes, and they're always picking stuff from left field." 

Turan and film reporter John Horn fill you in on the thinking behind the academy's recognition of  these films, all nominated in the adapted screenplay category. And Turan explains why he thinks "An Education" was especially noteworthy.

Horn and Turan also take on foreign language and documentary films, including a particular documentary  they're both disappointed did not make the cut. Which one? Listen to their discussion, which took place at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills.

-- Lisa Fung


Directors Roundtable Video: Is there even a race for the supporting actor and actress Oscars?

Video: Kenneth Turan and John Horn on the Oscar best picture nominees

Video: Who will win the Oscar for best director? And who was overlooked?

Oscar nominee reactions

Panorama: Front row at the Oscar nominations

Envelope Directors Roundtable series: The videos

Oscar nominations announced

The three biggest surprises of Oscar morning

February 2, 2010 |  6:40 am

Osc We'll have a full take on Oscar nominations a little bit later in the morning, but a quick rundown of the biggest surprises that hit us right off the bat.

* Screenplay shockers: Lots of mayhem on both original and adapted script sides. First, there's the fact that "District 9" was even considered for adapted. (It's based on a short, and it's always a question how the writers branch is going to view it). Second, it actually landed on the nominee list. Meanwhile, the indie dark horse "In the Loop" joins the South African sci-fiction film in the category, becoming one of the smaller movies ever to get a major Oscar nom. And the original side brought its own surprise: "The Messenger" takes a slot that most thought would go to "(500) Days of Summer."

* Supporting actress: Penelope Cruz getting a nomination for her mistress-y turn in "Nine" isn't a total surprise, but Maggie Gyllenhaal for her role as a single-mother journo in "Crazy Heart" is. The actress pushes out a four-time nominee who had been on almost everyone's shortlist, Julianne Moore in "A Single Man."

* And, finally, the great unknown of this season: the 10 best picture slots. Six films that were virtually a sure bet all made the cut ("Up," "Up in the Air," "Inglourious Basterds," "Avatar," "Precious," "The Hurt Locker"), but the other four saw some drama. "District 9" and "The Blind Side" each take slots, despite doubts, certainly coming into the season, that they would land on the list. "A Serious Man" and "An Education" take the other two spots -- which had been expected but then became more of a question mark of late. The movie that's left without a chair when the music stops?  Clint Eastwood's "Invictus." Not a good day to be Dirty Harry -- his pre-season contender is shut out of both best picture and best director categories.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Oscar statues. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times


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