If you’re going to enter an office Oscar pool but don’t know the difference between Up and Up in the Air, we’re here to help. First, Seattle Met film critics offer their predictions for who will win (and who should win) on Sunday; then we check what the bookies have to say. The results—your own personal cheat sheets—are below. We also list the essentials to throwing a quality Oscar party.
The critics: Matt Halverson (senior editor, hater of Avatar ) and Laura Dannen (arts editor, three-time winner of Oscar party pool).
The bookie: Since Las Vegas doesn’t actually take bets on the Oscars (under the assumption that someone, somewhere down there knows the outcome before the show), we used the odds from Irish bookmakers Boylesports.com. Quick tutorial: 2/1 odds means it pays $2 for every $1 spent. 1/2 odds pays $1 for every $2 spent (plus your original bet). Basically, it’s not even worth betting on 1/2 because it’s such a sure winner.
And the results…
Matt’s Pick (who should win): Up In the Air. It’s a cathartic punch to every crappy boss’s soft stuff.
Laura’s Pick (who will win): Avatar. James Cameron seemingly doesn’t need a good script to make big winners (read: Titanic ). And did you see this in IMAX?!
Bookie’s Pick: Avatar by a whisper. 20/21 Avatar, 4/5 The Hurt Locker, 16/1 Inglourious Basterds, 66/1 Up In the Air, 66/1 Precious, 100/1 An Education, 100/1 District 9, 100/1 The Blind Side, 100/1 Up, 100/1 A Serious Man.
M If for no other reason than to save us the indignity of a self-aggrandizing Jim Cameron acceptance speech, please—please—let it be Kathryn Bigelow.
L Kathryn Bigelow. Ye who gets the top Director’s Guild Award gets the Oscar. Plus, those silent panoramic shots of men running from explosions were stunning.
B 1/5 Kathryn Bigelow, 11/4 James Cameron, 25/1 Jason Reitman, 25/1 Quentin Tarantino, 50/1 Lee Daniels.
M Sometimes the bear eats you. But finally, after nearly 40 years in Hollywood—and five Oscar nominations— Jeff ‘The Dude’ Bridges should finally get to eat the bear. And chase it with a white Russian.
L Jeff Bridges. He’s long overdue, and though George Clooney turns in a great performance, he’s still kind of playing himself.
B 1/5 Jeff Bridges, 4/1 George Clooney, 16/1 Colin Firth, 20/1 Jeremy Renner, 20/1 Morgan Freeman.
M I’m a sucker for Sandra Bullock. Sue me.
L My heart says Meryl Streep, my head says Sandra Bullock. Give it to Bullock, since Julie and Julia didn’t get any other major nominations.
B 4/6 Sandra Bullock, 7/4 Meryl Streep, 8/1 Carey Mulligan, 12/1 Gabourey Sidibe, 50/1 Helen Mirren.
M Has anyone other than Christoph Waltz ever made the simple act of drinking milk so unnerving?
L The only times I stopped watching Inglourious Basterds from behind my hands was when Christoph Waltz was onscreen. Easy pick.
B 1/20 Christoph Waltz, 12/1 Woody Harrelson, 20/1 Stanley Tucci, 28/1 Matt Damon, 33/1 Christopher Plummer.
M ‘Should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ are irrelevant here: Mo’Nique —and her frying pan—has this one in the bag.
L Mo’Nique, another clear winner. And now I’m starting to worry that the Oscars will be hideously boring.
B 1/12 Mo’Nique, 8/1 Anna Kendrick, 12/1 Penelope Cruz, 16/1 Vera Farmiga, 33/1 Maggie Gyllenhaal.
M Cynics who claims they didn’t cry at the four-minute montage of cranky Carl’s married life in Up are full of something much heavier than the helium.
L Up, Pixar’s most complex film to date. I heard grown men cry during it.
B 1/20 Up, 7/1 Fantastic Mr Fox, 25/1 Coraline, 28/1 The Princess and the Frog, 28/1 The Secret of Kells.
M Inglourious Basterds. Throw Quentin Tarantino a bone here for shutting him out of best picture and director.
L Inglourious Basterds. There’s something to be said about Tarantino writing poetry-as-dialogue for a Nazi war flick.
M To the Academy members who didn’t vote for the insanely profane banter of In the Loop: $%#@ off.
L Up In the Air, as a consolation prize for not winning best picture. Or director. Or actor, actress…
Critics’ Picks for:
Animated Short Film A Matter of Loaf and Death
Live Action Short Film The Door
Art Direction Avatar
Costume Design Coco Before Chanel
Documentary The Cove
Documentary Short China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
Film Editing The Hurt Locker
Foreign Language Film The White Ribbon
Makeup Star Trek
Music—Original Score Up
Music—Original Song “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart
Sound Editing The Hurt Locker
Sound Mixing Inglourious Basterds
Visual Effects Avatar
What you need for a quality Oscar party:
—A printable ballot of nominees, available here.
—A fake Oscar for the winner of the pool, available from $7.90 at Issaquah Trophy & Awards.
—Classy cocktails. Try this recommendation from Sauced editor Jessica Voelker: a gin-and-Cherry Heering concoction called A Rose By Any Other Name.
—Snacks that last throughout the marathon viewing session (there are two hosts and 10 best picture nominees this year, so this thing could go all night). We recommend one-stop shopping at DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine in Pike Place Market; stop by on Saturday between 2 and 4pm to sample their wine and cheese.
Not interested in hosting (and the subsequent cleanup)? Then head to any of these viewing parties at bars around town instead.
The 82nd Academy Awards air Sunday, March 7, at 5pm PT on ABC.