Oscars Preview: And The Nominees Are?

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It's officially red carpet season in Hollywood. Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards will be announced later this morning in Los Angeles. Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep talks with reporter Kim Masters about some likely nominees.


When the Oscar nominations come out this morning, 10 movies will be up for Best Picture. That's double the traditional five. Steve Inskeep got the scoop from reporter Kim Masters, who's following all things Oscar from Los Angeles.

STEVE INSKEEP: Okay. Ten Best Picture nominations?

KIM MASTERS: Yes, 10, and the irony is there could have been maybe two or three. You know, they were trying to expand the Oscars to get the popular movies in, and surprise, surprise, the popular movies would've been in them regardless.

Now, you are going to see certain movies in the mix. Maybe "Up in the Air," I mean, definitely "Up in the Air," "Inglourious Basterds." But there are really two movies, I think, that are in contention here. Steve, can you guess which two are in contention?

INSKEEP: No. I have no idea, no clue, but one of them might start with an A.

MASTERS: Yes. So, one of them does start with an A - that would be "Avatar," the biggest picture of all time, likely to pass $2 billion in gross. And that is up against, it seems at this point, a little movie, perhaps the lowest-grossing movie ever to be in contention, "The Hurt Locker."

INSKEEP: Well, let's give a listen to these two movies, so we get a sense of the difference between the two of these major contenders.

(Soundbite of movie, "Avatar")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (as character) We have an indigenous population of humanoids called the Na'vi. They're fond of arrows dipped in a neurotoxin that will stop your heart in one minute. They are very hard to kill.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Hurt Locker")

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (as character) Twenty-five.

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (as character) Twenty-five meters, Roger that.

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): (as character) Butcher shop, 2:00. Dude on the phone.

Unidentified Man #3: (as character) Why is Eldridge running? Come on, guys, talk to me.

Unidentified Man #4: (as character) Drop the phone.

Unidentified Man #3: (as character) I can't get a shot.

INSKEEP: You go from a fantasy about killing and war to a brutally real depiction of killing and war.

MASTERS: To the real battle at the Academy - the battle of the exes. Because the two directors of this film - James Cameron for "Avatar" and Kathryn Bigelow for "Hurt Locker" - used to be married. And so this is the battle of the exes. Now, I had a chance to ask Kathryn Bigelow about Cameron some years back. She would not talk about him at all. But they've gone to great lengths to make it clear that they are friends. And he's made it clear he is rooting for her.

Also, that would be the first time a woman director - should she win Best Director - has won. I can't believe we're saying that in 2010, but that's the way it is.

INSKEEP: And I find something striking about a woman director of an acclaimed war film.

MASTERS: Yes, she is unusual for that. Her films are, you know, known to be -to use a probably bad word - masculine. You know, kind of dark, tough, gritty, big action. You know, she is certainly an atypical female director but she is a female director.

INSKEEP: Okay. So 10 films will be nominated for Best Picture Oscar this morning. We've named two that seems likely to be in there. Eight others will be in. What about the Best Actor and Actress categories?

MASTERS: We seem to have a little bit of a race in Best Actress, which would be Sandra Bullock versus Meryl Streep. Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side"; Meryl Streep for "Julie and Julia." Sandra Bullock won the Golden Globe. Meryl Streep, of course, is Meryl Streep, so we'll see how that turns out. You know, some people thought "The Blind Side" could have been on Lifetime, but she's quite popular, Sandra Bullock.

And Best Actor, you know, there's kind of a frontrunner there. I'm going to quiz you again, Steve. Who is it?

INSKEEP: I dont know. George Clooney, I dont know.

MASTERS: You don't know? You're so not in L.A.

INSKEEP: Well, it's true.

MASTERS: Jeff Bridges seems to have a commanding lead for playing an aging country singer in "Crazy Heart." He is so good in that movie that it seems to be sort of a film draped around a performance, and he is a formidable contender. It's hard to know who can take it from him.

INSKEEP: Kim, thanks very much.

MASTERS: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Kim Masters hosts THE BUSINESS on member station KCRW.

MONTAGNE: And that, of course, Steve Inskeep talking to Kim.

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