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I don’t know why I like making my annual Oscar predictions so much. Most years, including this one, it is blatantly obvious well in advance of Oscar night who is the overwhelming favorite to win in all of the major categories. But maybe that is exactly why-even if we can’t actually sit through the long, long, long ceremony- movie buffs pay any attention at all to Oscar. It’s the one time each year we get to pretend we are all cinematic experts and our opinions actually matter.
So if you need a little help with the Oscar betting pool at the office, or if you just want to see if your predictions are different than mine, read through my thoughts on several of the Oscar categories. (After that, be sure to go check out the Beliefnet Film Awards and see who the winners are!)
Best Actress
The nominees: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”; Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”;Carey Mulligan, “An Education”; Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”; Meryl Streep, “Julie and Julia”
Sandra and Meryl have been sharing the awards limelight this red carpet season. Both of their performances have humor and heart, but only one is considered a truly serious actress, so this category really is a toss-up.
Who should win: Meryl Streep should win for once again creating a memorable characterization of a strong woman – this time as the feisty, iconic Julia Child.
Who will win: Sandra Bullock will win because Oscar wants to not only acknowledge her, but all of us in mainstream America who adore her.
Best Actor
The nominees: Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”; Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”; George Clooney, “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth, “A Single Man”; Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
Though many critics have heaped praise on Morgan Freeman for another commanding performance in “Invictus,” it has been Jeff Bridges who has been picking up most of the awards while Colin Firth has been doing the talk show circuit trying to get anyone to notice his performance in “A Single Man.”
Who should win: Colin Firth should win because the man is underrated as an actor and it’s time to give Mr. Darcy a little respect.
Who will win: Jeff Bridges wll win because he has had a long, wonderful, yet Oscarless career and Oscar loves to give Hollywood royalty his or her due.


Best Supporting Actress
The nominees: Penelope Cruz, “Nine”; Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”; Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”; Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”; Mo’nique, “Precious”
Historically speaking, this award always goes to a fresh-faced newcomer. I am not sure Mo’nique fits that description exactly. Still, Mo’nique has won many of the big awards coming into Oscar night so she would seem to be the favorite. However, I predict an upset. I think Oscar will go with someone who hasn’t won, but is still an ingénue with a potentially long, illustrious career.
Who should win: Maggie Gyllenhaal should win for making the most of not that exciting of a role as a single mom in love with the wrong guy.
Who will win: Maggie Gyllenhaal will win because she is an indie film queen goddess and has quietly been gathering support , I think, for her performance.
Best Supporting Actor
The nominees: Matt Damon, “Invictus”; Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”; Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”; Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
This category has actually been kind of a snoozefest, to be perfectly honest. No one seems to be noticing Damon’s or Harrelson’s fine performances, but then again, how people had even heard of Christoph Waltz before Tarantino put him in his movie?
Who should win: Christopher Plummer should win, well, because he is Christopher Plummer, and is magnificent in all of his movies – even ones like this that no one saw.
Who will win: Christoph Waltz has won all of the awards this season, so it would seem he would be a slam dunk in this category.
Best Director
The nominees: James Cameron, “Avatar” ;Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” ; Quentin Tarantino ,”Inglourious Basterds” ; Lee Daniels, “Precious”; Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”
I am sure both Quentin Tarantino and Jason Reitman will win Oscars eventually, but this year they find their movies up against a critical darling in Kathryn Bigelow and a special effects genius in James Cameron, so Quentin and Jason will have to wait.
Who should win: Kathryn Bigelow should win for creating a suspenseful, fresh war movie on an indie-sized budget and will now become the first female director to win an Oscar.
Who will win: Kathryn Bigelow will win because even fellow nominee and ex-husband James Cameron says she deserves to win. Now that’s what I call support.
Best Picture
The nominees: “Avatar”; “The Blind Side”;”District 9″; “An Education” ; “The Hurt Locker” ; “Inglourious Basterds”; “Precious”; “A Serious Man”;”Up”; “Up in the Air”
Oscar decided to switch things up and change the rules allowing a whopping ten movies to be nominated in the Best Picture field. The idea was to make this category more interesting and accessible to the average moviegoer, but I don’t think that worked. I think it simply confused the voting process while still leaving the important, artsy films on top.
Who should win: Well, in an overcrowded category, my sentimental favorite has to be the animated picture “Up,” which will win for Best Animated Feature.
Who will win: It could be an upset with “Avatar” winning, but I still think it will be “The Hurt Locker” because it is a movie about an important social issue and Hollywood rarely gives an Oscar to special effects movies like “Avatar.”

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