Oscars 2010: Experts expect an 'Avatar,' 'Hurt Locker' showdown

avatar-hurt-locker.jpgWith the Oscars only days away, the water cooler buzz about who will take home the golden statue is heating up.

To help you sound like you know what you're talking about when you pipe in, we've compiled a sampling of Oscar predictions from movie buffs who really know their stuff -- including Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, Tom O'Neil from GoldDerby.com, Scott "Movie" Mantz from Access Hollywood, New York Magazine's Vulture and Reel Empire.


BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: "Avatar," "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up," "Up in the Air"

The Prediction: Most predictors out there are calling it a showdown between the low-budget "Hurt Locker" and the highest grossing movie of all-time, "Avatar." While early predictions seemed to side with the mighty "Avatar," the little movie-that-could has picked up steam in recent months by sweeping year-end awards.

All of our predictors went with "Hurt Locker," except for Tom O'Neil, who actually picked "Inglorious Basterds." Some predictors say Tarantino's latest film could take home the Oscar due to split votes between the two lead contenders.


BEST ACTOR

The Nominees: Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), George Clooney ("Up in the Air"), Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker")

The Prediction: Whereas early predictions called this a possible toss-up between George Clooney and Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges seems to have pulled ahead with wins at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, Golden Globes and the SAG Awards.

Our Oscar predictors are all on the same page with this one. All predict Jeff Bridges will take home the Oscar for his performance in "Crazy Heart."


BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"), Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education"), Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"), Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia")

The Prediction: The early frontrunner for Best Actress was Carey Mulligan, but Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep snuck into the running late last year. Bullock took home several year-end awards, which has put her out front.

All five of our predictors put Bullock at the podium on Oscar night. Access Hollywood's Scott Mantz calls "The Blind Side" Bullock's "Erin Brockovich."


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: Matt Damon ("Invictus"), Woody Harrelson ("The Messenger"), Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station"), Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones"), Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds")

The Prediction: Since Christoph Waltz has taken home every acting awards since the Cannes premiere of "Inglorious Basterds," all our predictors feel confident in naming him their pick. "A sure thing," says Ebert.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Penelope Cruz ("Nine"), Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart"), Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air"), Mo'Nique ("Precious")

The Prediction: No real debate in this supporting category either. All five of our predictors point to Mo'Nique to take Oscar home on Sunday (Mar. 7). Prior to her role portraying a hardened, abusive mother, Mo'Nique was known mainly as a comic. Her impressive and unexpected performance has won her every award so far this season.


BEST DIRECTOR

The Nominees: James Cameron ("Avatar"), Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds"), Lee Daniels ("Precious"), Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air")

The Prediction: James Cameron might have been the frontrunner after his Golden Globe win, but Kathryn Bigelow (interestingly, Cameron's real-life ex) has won every other guild award, including the Directors Guild Award. The latter is a major predictor for Best Director, having accurately predicted the winner all but six times in Oscar's 61-year history.

Once again, our Oscar predictors are all on the same page, predicting Kathryn Bigelow will take home the golden statue. This would make her the first woman ever to win the Oscar for Best Director.

Zap2it will provide full coverage of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. Tune in to ABC this Sunday, Mar. 7 to watch, and check back here for all the wins, upsets, fashion, key moments and more.

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Photo credits: Getty Images, Summit Entertainment