Roll out the red carpet for the coveted Oscar

With the nominees announced just three weeks ago, it’s nearly time to roll out the red carpet for the 82nd Academy Awards, and find out who will take the prized Oscar 2009’s “Best Picture.”

This year’s Oscars ushers in quite a few recent changes, the first being that there will be two hosts presiding over the ceremony. The last time the Oscars saw multiple hosts was in the 59th Academy Awards in 1987 when Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan hosted.

This year, funnymen Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin take to the stage at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA.

Another change viewers will see on screen this year is that 10 movies from the past year have been nominated for the “Best Picture” category. “Avatar,” “The Blind Side,” “District 9,”  “An Education,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious,” “Up,” “A Serious Man” and “Up in the Air” were announced as nominees by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president, Tom Sherak, and actress, Anne Hathaway.

The last time the Oscars saw 10 films on the “Best Picture” list was in 1943, when “Casablanca” took the title.

Former president, Sid Ganis, announced last year that having 10 movies would, “allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.”

English and Film Studies professor, Dr. Christopher Wielgos explained that because of this, an unexpected winner could arise.

“It’s going to be really interesting because it’s going to spilt a lot of the votes. I think what it does is it will [create] a greater potential for a surprise winner,” said Wielgos.

Also interesting to note this year is that Disney/Pixar’s, “Up,” and James Cameron’s animated motion picture, “Avatar,” are in the running for “Best Picture;” the first time animated motion pictures have been nominated for the category since 1993.

Not only is “Avatar” up against nine other films for “Best Picture,” it’s also up for another eight categories, totaling nine nominations, alongside Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker.

Although “Avatar” has garnered the most nominations, Wielgos believes the movie won’t win “Best Picture,” but will be recognized for its technical achievements like “Sound Editing” and even end up taking home the Oscar for “Directing” for Cameron.

As for “Hurt Locker,” Wielgos explained, “While it is politically in line with the majority of voters in Hollywood, it’s still a war film. And so, if you’re a voter, you have to balance that off against any of [the] other feel-good movies, and I think they would much rather vote for the feel-good movies.”

Coming in behind “Avatar” and “Hurt Locker” is Quentin Tarantino’s war film, “Inglourious Basterds,” with eight nominations, including “Best Picture.”

Despite being nominated for it, Wielgos believes that Tarantino won’t take the title home, but will be recognized, however, for his original screenplay.

“I think they’re going to give Tarantino his kudos for writing, which he hasn’t gotten yet. He did get it for ‘Directing’ already for ‘Pulp Fiction’,” said Wielgos.

As far as the “Leading Actor/Actress” category, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock are on the list for their work in “Crazy Heart” and “The Blind Side,” respectively.

Bridges and Bullock, who both won for the “Best Actor—Drama” and “Best Actress—Drama” category during the 67th Golden Globe Awards are getting Oscar buzz, and Wielgos believes that it will translate, but also explains that there may be a couple of actors who could win it instead.

Wielgos explained that Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela in “Invictus“could win, but sticks to his prediction of Bridges because of his musicality in “Crazy Heart.”

“They’re going to decide that that was a much more difficult role to play. There aren’t that many actors that could’ve played that role, and done it well because of the singing and the musicianship that went into the role,” said Wielgos. “Jeff Bridges is an accomplished musician, although nobody knows that.”

As for the “Leading Actress” award, Wielgos predicts Bullock will take it home, but also thinks it’s a toss-up between Bullock and Gabourey Sidibe of “Precious.”

“A lot of commentators are picking [Sidibe] because they like the story of ‘Precious,’ and she’s a lesser-known actress,” said Wielgos.

But as for that coveted “Best Picture” title? Wielgos thinks back to last year’s Oscars, and how Danny Boyle’s rags-to-riches story in “Slumdog Millionaire“ took the prize.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if ‘Precious’ got it because of the story. Again […] Hollywood loves the rags-to-riches story; it’s Hollywood’s story, it’s almost every actor’s story,” said Wielgos.

He said that “Slumdog Millionaire” had a “magic combination” of a rags-to-riches story, and being artistically pleasing, and Lee Daniels’ “Precious“ does as well.

To see who takes top billing at this year’s Oscars, tune in Mar. 7 at 7 p.m. on ABC.

The Lewis Flyer

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