Oscar Rewrite: 2009


Best Picture: The Hurt Locker   Up in the Air

No film better captured the Great Recession than Jason Reitman’s masterpiece about a selfish businessman (George Clooney) jetting frequent-flyer style. Reitman brought in real unemployed workers, telling them he was shooting a documentary on job loss, to get honest reactions. As for the supporting cast, it’s hard to beat Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) and Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down).

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Before killing Bin Laden, director Kathryn Bigelow made history as the first woman to win Best Director, beating ex-husband James Cameron (Avatar) by tracking a U.S. bomb squad in Iraq.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

If Anthony Hopkins can win Best Actor with 16 minutes of screentime in Silence of the Lambs, then surely we can move Christoph Waltz’s villain to the Best Actor category, which he won at Cannes.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

Four years after playing a recovering racist in Crash, Sandra Bullock won a much deserved prize as the nurturing football mom in The Blind Side, where she proved that social change isn’t complete until good folks stand firm in the mainstream arenas of Sunday luncheons and Friday night bleachers.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)

Having moved Christoph Waltz up to Best Actor (see above), our Supporting Actor prize goes to Zach Galifianakis for hilarious off-the-way character Alan in The Hangover. Comedies never get enough credit, so we’re raising our fingers with Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper for The Wolfpack.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique (Precious) Zoe Saldana (Avatar)

Zoe Saldana’s Na’vi heroine Neytiri not only launched her to future sci-fi/action success in Star Trek (2009) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), it saved Avatar’s lazy script and mediocre lead role.  Avatar broke box office records and remains No. 14 all-time adjusted for inflation, as James Cameron opened Pandora’s box with a 3D technology that will either revolutionize or kill the industry. TBD.

Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)  (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer is destined to become a rom-com classic, thanks to the chemistry between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a script that jumps around in time, debates The Graduate, paints split-screens of expectations vs. reality and inserts a Hall & Oates musical number.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Precious The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg from a novel by Stieg Larsson)

Before Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s 2011 Hollywood remake, Noomi Rapace (Prometheusplayed Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s hit novel about a young female hacker who aids a journalist’s search for a woman who has been missing for 40 years.

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