With today a total washout, on the field as well as in the trainer's room, let's gather everyone who isn't a New York viewer of Cablevision for an 82nd Annual Academy Awards chat and pick-the-winners pool. The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m.
Nominees are here. We used do an Oscar pool at my old Screen Jam blog at Baseball Toaster – I don't know if there's interest here, but would love to see your picks in the comments. Here are the guidelines – please total your own points when you're done:
4 points: Picture
3 points: Lead and supporting actor and actress, director, adapted and original screenplay, animated feature, documentary feature, foreign language film
2 points: Art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, makeup, original score, original song, sound editing, sound (sound mixing), visual effects
1 point: Documentary short, animated short film and live-action short film
Tiebreaker: Time of day that the telecast ends in Los Angeles.
If you've been following the best picture race, you know that it's considered a tossup between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." Neither would have my personal vote. "Avatar" was entertaining (astounding in all the places you'd expect) but had no emotional impact, while "The Hurt Locker" just struck me as a series of well-produced anecdotes without being deeply revelatory. Guy who defuses bombs in hellish spot and is just a little crazy doesn't break enough new ground for me.
It's been tough for me to decide what my favorite movie of the year was. There were several that I admired greatly and found affecting, including (but not limited to) nominees "Precious," "Up in the Air," "Inglorious Basterds" and "A Serious Man." The marriage montage in "Up" is probably the single best sequence in the movies of 2009. And I continually found myself frustrated that "Sugar" did not get more attention. This film was absolutely one of the finest of the year – in my top five without a doubt. That it was a baseball movie makes it all the more surprising, since it's so easy for a baseball movie to fail. But even with the pedigree of the filmmakers of "Half Nelson," "Sugar" just couldn't get off the ground for awards season.
Of the nominees, I find myself more and more coming back to "An Education," which was deeply moving and engrossing – with a radiant performance from Carey Mulligan, who won't win the lead actress Oscar but would also get my vote among the nominees I saw.
There are two Oscar favorites that I'm completely on board with. One is Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart." Outstanding and underrated actor giving just a terrific performance, and I couldn't have been happier about it. The competition in the category is tough, but the Oscar really has to go to him. Secondly, I don't know how Mo'Nique wouldn't get the supporting actress Oscar for her work in "Precious" – I don't think that race is even close.
Christoph Waltz has won all the pre-Oscar supporting actor honors for "Inglorious Basterds," but I'd be fine if Woody Harrelson had the out-of-nowhere upset for "The Messenger." Similarly, I enjoyed "Up," but would be even happier if "Coraline" won for animated film. (I'm still pouting that "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" wasn't nominated.)
I'll cut off my own thoughts there, but if you want more from an ESPNLosAngeles.com writer – and why wouldn't you? – check out Steve Mason's Oscar picks. For following the Oscars online, in addition to chatting here, check out Variety's coverage, along with the live blog at GreenCine led by Dodger Thoughts commenter CraigUnderdog.