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And the Oscar goes to...

Best Picture

There is no Oscar more coveted than the award for Best Picture of the Year. This year, the usual five nominees have been doubled to a whopping 10 films for consideration.

"District 9" would be better suited to win awards for visual effects and editing. "An Education" and "A Serious Man" will not win because of their failure to thrive in the American box-office.

"Precious" and "The Blind Side" were very hard-hitting and emotional, but they do not stand in comparison to the other nominated films. The real competition this year is between "Inglourious Basterds," "The Hurt Locker," "Up in the Air" and "Avatar." These films have been the most successful in theaters and have made a lasting impression on audiences.

While the Academy will most likely choose one of these movies, most would agree that "Avatar" should win Best Picture. James Cameron's latest masterpiece has amazed audiences since its release and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. While it may have a dead lock on the other categories it has been nominated for, an Oscar for Best Picture would be the ultimate recognition for its greatness.

Christopher Spall can be reached at

Best Supporting Actor

This year's Oscars offer a variety of talented actors competing for the Best Supporting Actor award.

Woody Harrelson portrayed maniac Mickey Knox in "Natural Born Killers" and a one-handed bowler in "Kingpin," but by stepping outside the box once again, Harrelson is a soldier tasked with the job of breaking bad news to the next of kin and mentoring young soldiers in "The Messenger." Coupled with his standout work in the genre flick "Zombieland," even if Harrelson doesn't win, he has reminded us once again that few can match his versatility.

Stanley Tucci is another veteran actor who has never truly gotten his due; Now, he finds himself in the undesirable situation of giving a jaw-dropping performance in one of the most disappointing films of the year. Cast as a vile child murderer, Tucci is unrecognizable in Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones," putting on an act that made audiences' skin crawl. Out of the five nominees, he is the most dependable supporting actor in film and deserves the win, but probably won't receive the Oscar.

Unquestionably the favorite to take home the win on Oscar night is Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds." The 53-year-old Austrian veteran was convinced he'd never make it in the states — then he met Quentin Tarantino. His endearing presentation as "Jew Hunter" Hans Landa has clearly won over voters.

Jacalyn Estrada can be reached at

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Best Actress

The Best Actress category welcomes several first-time nominees this year including Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe and Sandra Bullock, who has been in over 30 films. Oscar veterans Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep return for their fourth and sixteenth nominations, respectively.

Sidibe is astonishing in "Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push' by Sapphire" and she encourages the audience to watch her story closely. She plays Claireece "Precious" Jones, an overweight, pregnant teen living with an abusive mother in Harlem. Sidibe turns what could have been an impossible role into one of depth and passion.

Bullock is the surprise winner-of-the-year story, receiving praise for a role she almost didn't accept in "The Blind Side." She plays the strong-willed Leigh Anne Tuohy, who changes the life of young Michael Oher when she gives him a place to stay, a desire to learn and the inspiration to play football. Bullock's performance is tough, funny and scene-stealing, essentially becoming the focus of an otherwise overrated film.

Sidibe deserves the win for her heartbreaking and inspiring turn as Precious.

But the fact remains that fan-favorite Bullock has won all the right awards for her feel-good turn leading up to the Oscars. Academy voters will appreciate the work she's done this year with leading both "The Blind Side" and "The Proposal" to box office gold.

Erin Bell can be reached at


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