The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
If the number of nominees had been five, as it had been for the past 66 years, industry consensus says the finalists would have been Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up in the Air. So eliminate the other five right off. Of the remaining quintet, the only two to be nominated in all major categories Picture, Director, Screenplay, Leading Actor/Actress and Supporting Actor/Actress are Precious and Up in the Air. Normally that level of approval across the board would make them favorites, but not this time; each film will have to settle for a door prize (Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay, respectively). Inglo Bast has the great steel balls of its ambition but not the emotional pang that Oscar likes to feel in his aged chest.
That leaves two films standing: Avatar and The Hurt Locker. You'd think Kathryn Bigelow's intimate war drama, which has cadged a paltry $19.3 million worldwide, would be no worthy Oscar competitor to her ex-hubby's all-time money earner, with more than $2.5 billion in the till and lots more coming. Yet James Cameron can't match The Hurt Locker's stash of gold medals from the Hollywood guilds, many of whose voters are also members of the Motion Picture Academy. The producers', directors', writers' and editors' groups all chose The Hurt Locker over Avatar. No film in Oscar history has won all those guild awards and then lost Best Picture. Also, Avatar was not nominated in the acting and writing categories, and no film has won Best Picture without getting either of those nominations since ... Grand Hotel in 1932.
History says The Hurt Locker an excellent choice, and a near great film. I say, or perhaps I simply hope, that the members will consider the future of movies and see that it is Avatar. Cameron's film doesn't bow to history; it makes it.