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Take note, Academy, here are your picks for this year’s Oscars

By Edward Truong

March 3, 2010 9:51 p.m.

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, and for some reason, both my ballot and my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.

I’m a little confused, because I’m pretty sure the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences basically relies on the expertise of college newspaper arts and entertainment editors when deciding who to hand the Oscar to. But it’s been a pretty busy year, with 10 Best Picture nominees and two hosts.

I understand that some things are going to get lost in the shuffle, so I’ll just publish my picks here and the Academy can go ahead and factor those in when placing all those trophy-engraving orders. You’re welcome, Academy.

Sound Mixing: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

I actually had better things to do this summer than pay to see Michael Bay blow up more stuff and make Megan Fox pretend to be scared of CGI robots, but I did see the trailer to this film. Based on those three minutes, I would say that sound mixing was unparalleled. Kudos, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson, start writing your acceptance speeches.

Animated Feature: “Up”

While Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was a delightful and quirky adventure in stop-motion animation, Pixar’s “Up” was a reminder of both the storytelling and technological prowess of the Disney subsidiary. It was a touching, funny story that was charming, sad at moments, full of memorable characters and visually stunning.

Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique (“Precious: Based on the Novel “˜Push’ by Sapphire”)

Though I’ve always thought Mo’Nique’s most defining role was her groundbreaking performance as Countess Vaughn’s mother in the UPN masterpiece, “The Parkers,” I’m glad the rest of the United States was exposed to her talents in “Precious,” where she played a villain so despicable that even Cruella de Vil would feel a little queasy.

Actress: Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”)

Everyone must feel bad for Amy Adams, who had to play the modern-day counterpart to Streep’s role as Julia Child. While Adams was stuck with a pretty limited role as Julie Powell, a whiny blogger tackling Child’s recipes in New York, Streep had the opportunity to shine as she embodied the bold personality of America’s first female television chef.

You couldn’t help but count down the minutes until Adams’ dreary story line ended and you returned to Streep in postwar Paris as she discovered her passion.

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”)

Stanley Tucci deserves credit for his transformations. While he played a loving and supportive husband to Streep in “Julie & Julia,” he was terrifying in the ultimately underwhelming Peter Jackson adaptation of “The Lovely Bones.”

While his versatility is impressive, he is doomed to pretend to smile as Christoph Waltz’s name is called as the winner of this category for his part in Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist tribute to World War II movies, “Inglourious Basterds.” Waltz cheerfully sprints with his role as Hans Landa, the sneaky and evil Nazi who is flattered by his designation as the “Jew Hunter.”

Actor: George Clooney (“Up in the Air”)

As soon as the movie “Crazy Heart” was released, buzz for Best Actor immediately began building up for Jeff Bridges for his role as a self-destructive country music singer. Bridges is practically guaranteed the award, given his newfound reputation as an underrated actor whose time to shine has been long overdue.

However, Clooney did a pretty bang-up job as Ryan Bingham, corporate executioner in “Up in the Air.” As usual, Clooney was likable and charming in his role in a particularly relevant film for this day and age.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”)

Call it affirmative action if you must, but I would like to see a female director win the honor, a rare opportunity. It’s not simply because she’s a woman: Bigelow deserves kudos for fearless filmmaking and creating a suspenseful and engaging drama set in Iraq.

Her work, unlike the work of her ex-husband James Cameron, focuses equally on the visuals and the story line. Bigelow makes her characters appear three-dimensional, and you don’t even need to put on those stupid glasses. Cameron had his chance to be “king of the world,” as he put it, so it’s time for us to crown a queen of the world.

Picture: “The Hurt Locker”

I’ll be honest, I liked “The Hurt Locker,” but I wasn’t blown away (pun intended) by the film as much as some critics seemed to be.

A lot of the other films were excellent works, too. “District 9″ was an impressive debut from filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, “Up in the Air” is Jason Reitman’s best work as a director so far, “Precious: Based on the Novel “˜Push’ by Sapphire” was a stunningly emotional punch to the gut, and “The Blind Side” re-imagined Sandra Bullock as a sassy blonde Southern woman.

But only one film can be the winner, and I really don’t want it to be “Avatar.” I’m sorry, it was cool, and I felt like I was really in Pandora, where apparently Papyrus is the font of choice. But the story line seemed unoriginal, and the movie felt really long. At least in “The Hurt Locker,” I was looking at the screen more than I was looking at my watch.

“Tuned In” runs every other Thursday. E-mail Truong at [email protected]

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