Alright, y'all. Last day of predictions here. ...Until Monday, anyway. I'll be quite sparing on the commentary (where 'quite sparing' here means mostly none), as tech awards are notoriously difficult to predict, and any words of wisdom I could provide would have only been made up on the spot to fill space. Plus, not many people know or care who might get nominated for Art Direction, or Sound Effects Editing, or other things that are highly interesting to me, but less interesting to the sane. So here we go.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
or: The Lovely Bones, A Single Man
I'm going out on a limb here predicting two sci-fi films. I'd expect at least one to miss, and it's not going to be Avatar (though some are skeptical on its nomination chances here), so look for Star Trek to lose out to The Lovely Bones, A Single Man, or even Where the Wild Things Are. Or Nine. So many options.
The Young Victoria
or: Sherlock Holmes, Julie and Julia, Coco Avant Chanel
It's probably a mistake to predict An Education here, but I've had a hunch since I saw the film, and I'm sticking with it for now. Any of the other three I listed could easily sneak in, and Bright Star or Nine could easily sneak out. Watch for a surprise nomination for Avatar here if the Academy goes insane.
or: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Terminator Salvation
I can't see any of these three missing. District 9 is the most vulnerable, but all three were critically acclaimed and huge hits, whereas Transformers, the next closest in the race, was almost universally hated (by people with taste, that is). Fun fact: this category whittles down potential nominees to a seven film shortlist from which the nominees are chosen. In addition to the five titles I already discussed, the other two films on the shortlist are 2012 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Both have no chance, but it's nice to make it that far, I suppose.
or: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
It's really just a heat between The Road and Imaginarium. The other two are in for sure. The reason I'm so sure it's only between four films is that this category also creates a seven film shortlist, and the other movies (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Young Victoria, Il Divo) are just about inconceivable as nominees. Then again, I would have said Click and Norbit were inconceivable as nominees. Sometimes this branch nominates terrible movies.
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
or: Star Trek, Precious
This category is worthy of notice, because only eight films (It Happened One Night, The Life of Emile Zola, The Best Years of Our Lives, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man For All Seasons, Annie Hall, Ordinary People) have ever won best picture without a nomination in this category, and the last time it happened was in 1980. So, I'm not saying that you can't win best picture without a nomination here. It's just not likely. That being said, I don't think District 9, Star Trek, or Precious has a chance to win best picture. The Academy just likes to fill this category out with action movies.
The Hurt Locker
The White Ribbon
or: A Single Man, Bright Star
I'd like to take Nine out of the top 5 here, but it doesn't seem likely. No one remembers Bright Star, and people, for whatever reason, seem unwilling to recognize the lensing brilliance of A Single Man. I've heard rumors that Avatar will miss here because of its largely digital imagery, but I doubt it. The film draws so much of its power from its visuals; I'm sure the Academy will take notice.
A Single Man
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
or: Sherlock Holmes, Bright Star, The Last Station, The Road
This category is so difficult to predict. Up, Avatar, and The Informant! are in. I'm guessing with my heart on the last two. I love those particular scores, but I acknowledge that they probably won't make it in. For now, however, I'm keeping them in my top 5.
The Hurt Locker
or: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Sherlock Holmes, Up
I should probably have Transformers in the top 5 here, but I'm holding onto the hope that the Academy will realize that Transformers had a shoddy mixing job, regardless of the quality of the elements mixed. We could be surprised, however, by a complete left-field contender. Who, after all, would have predicted Wanted being nominated in the sound categories last year?
Sound Effects Editing
The Hurt Locker
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
or: District 9, Inglourious Basterds
I really feel like District 9 will find its way into the nominees in this category, but I just can't figure out which film it would replace. My heart says Transformers, but my mind suggest Up. Still, Pixar films have a wonderful track record with this category, so I don't know. It'll be a surprise.
"The Weary Kind"-Crazy Heart
"Almost There"-The Princess and the Frog
"I See You"-Avatar
"(I Want To) Come Home"-Everybody's Fine
or: "Down in New Orleans"-The Princess and the Frog, "Take it All"-Nine
I hate predicting this category. There's no guarantee that there will be five nominees (because of the weird nomination process here, anywhere from two to five songs can be nominated), and the music branch is notorious for snubbing the big, obvious contenders (last year's "The Wrestler," anyone?), so I really have no idea. I picked four obvious ones, then assumed that voters would choose Paul McCartney (who wrote the song from Everybody's Fine). I'm probably wrong. Luckily, I don't care: this category is mostly worthless.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Only the last spot is up for grabs. Will the Academy go populist with Meatballs, or will they favor more international fare with Ponyo? I'm gonna have to go with populist on this one, even if the Academy has loved Miyazaki in the past.
Foreign Language Film
The White Ribbon-Germany
The Secrets of Her Eyes-Argentina
Samson and Delilah-Australia
or: Winter in Wartime-The Netherlands, Kelin-Kazakhstan
I can't say much on this subject, as I haven't seen any of these films. The White Ribbon and A Prophet have been sweeping international film awards, Samson and Delilah has been stirring up buzz on the indie circuit, and Israel is experiencing a film renaissance of sorts. This category is all kinds of schizophrenic, though. Voters never can decide what they want. This category makes a nine film shortlist from which to select nominees. The other two possible films are The Milk of Sorrow from Peru, and The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner from Bulgaria. Gotta be my favorite title of the year. Naming your film that takes balls.
Mugabe and the White African
The Beaches of Agnes
Every Little Step
or: Under Our Skin, Burma VJ, Valentino: The Last Emperor
Here's another category that I can't approach intelligently, even though The Cove, Food, Inc., Every Little Step, and Valentino: The Last Emperor are at the rental company that I frequent. Oh well. I picked the films with the most positive buzz, and then went for an indie suggestion with The Beaches of Agnes. We'll see.
That's it, folks. Tune in Monday for my final (and by final, I really mean it this time) Oscar predictions, then again on Tuesday to see how my predictions match up to the actual nominations.