A doubled Best Picture field has meant some interesting choices for the Academy this year and could spell a steal for those films considered underdogs leading up to Hollywood's big night. But that doesn't mean all the categories are a lock, even with someone like Meryl Streep racking up her 16th nomination. Read on for our 2010 Oscar predictions.
Will win: Avatar
This cinematical force of nature has been unstoppable since it blasted into theatres in all three available dimensions. Question is, what language will James Cameron default to during his acceptance speech?
Should win: Inglourious Basterds or Precious
Quentin Tarantino shook things up years ago with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but may have achieved his most fully realized film with this, well, glorious WWII re-imagining. Though tonally quite different, Precious was another film that left an undeniable impression on its viewers and should be celebrated for its willingness to go to very difficult places.
Will win/Should win: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
I'm as surprised as anyone else that the woman who brought us Point Break would be an Oscar contender but alas, it was the '90s . Here, she presents an assured vision of a bomb squad on the brink in this tense drama that's already netted her a number of awards.
Actor in a Leading Role
Will win/should win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
The Dude eases into his most memorable role since he donned a bathrobe and a stained t-shirt to play Mr. Lebowski in this film about a washed-up country singer. Pretty much a lock.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Will win/should win: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Most of the time, when a performance is feted to this extent, people tend to doubt the hype and approach the material warily but Waltz deserves all the kudos and more for playing a slimy, opportunistic, though unabashedly gleeful, Nazi colonel.
Actress in a Leading Role
Will win: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Much like Oscar winner Halle Berry, who scored a Razzie for Worst Actress thanks to her turn in 2004's dreadful Catwoman, Bullock has, this year, straddled the line between an Academy-worthy performance and way-way lowbrow fare - All About Steve for which she's been added to the Razzie nomination pool - but despite the, ahem, varied work, common sense says this looks like a win.
Should win: Meryl Streep, Julie and Julie or Gabby Sidibe, Precious
Sure, the first is one of the most talented actors working today and the second scored an Oscar nom for her debut movie role but both are equally deserving when it comes to being trumpeted as the best actress in 2010. Alas, with America's (supposed) Sweetheart in the running, their chances seem slim at best.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Will win/should win: Mo'Nique, Precious
There's growing as an actress and then there's leaving everyone in the theatre scraping their jaws off the ground as you inhabit a monster so grotesque that even visiting that space for a day would likely be traumatic. Mo'Nique disappears into the role of an abusive mother and makes us entirely forget Soul Plane.
Foreign Language Film
Will win: The White Ribbon (Germany)
Full disclosure time: Having somehow not seen any of the films in contention for this category, I don't feel in any sort of informed position to weigh in who should win but when it comes to who will win, Michael Haneke's Golden Globe-winning The White Ribbon seems like an obvious frontrunner, followed closely by France's crime-drama Un prophète.
Animated Feature Film
Will win: Up
It's popular, heartwarming, cute and is brought to you by Disney/Pixar. Done and done.
Should win: Fantastic Mr. Fox
As a firm believer in the singular and lovely off-centre talent of Wes Anderson, his foray into stop-motion, and for a Roald Dahl adaptation no less, made imperfect sense. Not only did he enlist major acting talents in George Clooney and Meryl Streep, the visuals were astounding, forward-looking and sweetly nostalgic at the same time. Lovely.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Will win: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
After getting kudos early on in the awards race, this Canadian writer-director's recession tale has lost some steam on the way to the finish line and will likely only score a statuette in this category, up against too many heavyweights in its other nominated fields.
Should win: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell, District 9
Working from a script they wrote for the short Alive in Joburg, Tatchell and Blomkamp find an innovative, effective way to filter their apartheid tale through a sci-fi lens and tell a universal story that was gripping and eye-opening while advanced in its marriage of CGI and live action.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Will win/should win: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
It doesn't get much more original than a revisionist look at the events in Nazi-occupied France, which result in the crumbling of the Third Reich at the hands of a group of trigger-happy Jewish soldiers intent on revenge most bloody. The film boasts Tarantino calling cards like slyly intersecting storylines and his ear for quote-worthy dialogue and one has a feeling he knows it too when Brad Pitt's character, looking at his latest Nazi disfigurement, bluntly states: "I think this just might be my masterpiece."
Need a refresher? Head here for a full list of Oscar nominees.
Share YOUR Oscar predictions! Is it Avatar all the way or will the Academy Awards be a night of shocks and snubs? Sound off below!