Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Before killing Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal won Best Picture tracking a U.S. bomb squad in Iraq. Fifty years from now, we may look back at Bigelow & Boal as the collaborative lens through which we interpret this time of war, mining Oscar gold from Middle Eastern sand and proving film cameras can deliver the most powerful shots heard round the world.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)  James Cameron (Avatar)

Avatar is a prime example of how not to write a script, due to its lazy choices and blatant plot ripoff. But to exclude the highest grossing movie of all time would be antithetical to our mission of balancing art and entertainment. And so, I’ll award Cameron not for his writing, but for his vision, opening Pandora’s box with a 3D technology that will either revolutionize or kill the industry. The jury is still out.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)    George Clooney (Up in the Air)

Having given Jeff Bridges his statue for The Big Lebowski, I’ll instead throw my support behind George Clooney’s timely portrait of a selfish businessman firing employees and jetting frequent-flyer style.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)   Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer)

It’s too soon to know whether (500) Days of Summer will become a rom-com classic, but with the rising stars of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I have a hunch this one will catch fire. No warm-blooded male could resist Deschanel in this unique film that jumps in time, debates The Graduate, paints split-screens of expectations vs. reality and inserts a Hall & Oates musical number.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique (Precious)  Heather Graham (The Hangover)

Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Abdel Raouf Dafri, Nicolas Peufaillit)

Before Rust & Bone (2012), French filmmaker Jacques Audiard landed one of Empire’s Top 100 Films of World Cinema, sandwiched between Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2.

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

Before Rooney Mara in the 2011 Hollywood remake, Noomi Rapace played Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish original, directed by Niels Arden Oplev. This adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s hit novel tells of a young female hacker who aids a journalist’s search for a woman who has been missing for 40 years.

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Written & Edited by Jason Fraley / Graphic Design by Josh Fraley