Here's a rundown of some races to watch...
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker
Bigelow could be the first woman nominated for Best Director to actually win. The Academy likes that sort of thing. And this movie was really directed: its performances, its suspense, its set pieces, were Hitchcock-worthy. What's more, the country (or at least the whole industry, and its extended family) is rooting for Kathryn, who took the coveted DGA award. Put Katherine Bigelow down as the New Orleans Saints of the Oscars.
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
The Academy adores Meryl. And she did give the best technical performance, as Julia Child. But the Academy thinks, "Meryl always wins, and she will win again." So it's time to celebrate the beloved Sandy Bullock—it feels like her year. She reliably opens movies, she promotes them, and she works and works. In The Blind Side, she gave a heart-rending performance that helped elevate what might have been a by-the-numbers sports biopic into a blockbuster movie classic. And this time, she worked way outside her comfort zone. Meryl always works outside her comfort zone. In fact, she probably doesn't have a comfort zone. It's Complicated might have been her comfort zone...and she seemed finally uncomfortable! So Sandy Bullock will win.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
He's playing a broken-down country singer. Enough said.
Add this to the list of blind or otherwise disabled people, psychopaths and savants (should we add troubled gays?) that win at least nominations. If you sing, and you're drunk or a drug addict, you're halfway there. The difference is, Jeff deserves an Oscar (as he does for most of his jobs.) He should have won for all his performances, like The Fisher King (which admittedly I am [http://www.lyndaobst.com/movies.html]prejudiced about), or Big Lebowski, or Door in the Floor, or... Never mind: he didn't, so he's winning now.
Screenwriter: Jason Reitman for Up in the Air
The academy views Up in the Air, and movies like it, as wonderful starts to the long careers of children of kings—like Sofia Coppola with Lost in Translation. And it's also a long tradition that wonderful, innovative efforts not otherwise awarded get screenplay awards (even when the creator doesn't have famous parents, i.e. Charlie Kaufman.)
It's like kindergarten: everyone worthy gets an award.
Best Supporting Actor will go to Christopher Waltz, the Austrian fellow in Inglorious. He's so marvelously devilish you want to call him "Waltz" and then dance with him. Woody was glorious in The Messenger. I loved him, and I'm rooting for him. But not enough people saw the movie. Also, I loved Basterds, as did many, and classic Academy-think is to find a supporting actor award for an unheralded worthy movie. That's why the fabulous Mo'Nique will win for Precious and Christopher Waltz for Inglorious—and for poor Harvey Weinstein, who executive produced it.
Harvey deserves an Oscar just for staying in the business. Frankly, we all do.
P.S. It should be noted that the biggest non-story of the Oscars is the war of the roses between ex-spouses Cameron and Bigelow. He was her mentor, she his protégé, and Ellen Ripley incarnate—the gorgeous broad who wanted to make action pictures. And he made sure she did, as her executive producer—both while they were married for three years, and after. There is none of the protégé-mentor resentment here that you often see, as her success (at first modest —Pointbreak, Strange Days), never dimmed his, (to say the least!), and now that she's broken out, he seems genuinely buoyant. He said on Charlie Rose that he's rooting for her to win best director and for Avatar to win Best Picture. "I have so many Oscars," he said. "She should win." So the King of the world has become magnanimous.