Oscar statue

Who’s going to scoop the big prizes at this year’s Oscars? The voters’ ballots are all in and the accountants are currently doing the counting. Will James Cameron’s Avatar leave the other contenders feeling blue? Or will Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker blow everyone away?

With only a handful of days remaining before Sunday night’s ceremony, we’re going to predict the night’s big winners, sorting out the dead certs and the close calls … and revealing the films and stars who would win if we had our way.

Best film

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

This year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expanded its shortlist of Best Film nominees to a 10-strong field  – but for weeks it’s been clear that the contest is a two-horse race – Avatar versus The Hurt Locker; James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster against his former wife Kathryn Bigelow’s low-budget Iraq war action movie; the Battle of the Exes.

Which one is going to win? Both have nine nominations apiece. And both have won major pre-Oscar awards. Cameron’s Avatar ruled at the Golden Globes, but after her Bafta triumph, Bigelow and The Hurt Locker appear to have winning momentum behind them.

That momentum may be enough to propel The Hurt Locker over the finishing line on Sunday. The banning of Locker producer Nicolas Chartier from Sunday’s ceremony for campaigning openly against Avatar has come too late to make a difference. Bigelow’s film is the front-runner… but I reckon Hollywood will look at the bottom line and give the Best Film Oscar to the game-changing, history-making Dances With Smurfs, sorry, Avatar – the highest-grossing film of all time and the movie that has proved 3D can be a spectacular success.

Will win: Avatar
Should win: The Hurt Locker

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
James Cameron – Avatar
Lee Daniels – Precious,
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds

This is where Bigelow will win the Battle of the Exes and become the first-ever female winner of the Best Director Oscar – and she’ll do so for a movie belonging to a traditionally male genre: a full-on, kick-ass, testosterone-fuelled action movie.

Will win: Kathryn Bigelow
Should win:
Kathryn Bigelow

Best Actor

Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Five times an Oscar nominee, Jeff Bridges will finally bag that Academy Award on Sunday. And he’ll thoroughly deserve it: he’s wonderful as Crazy Heart’s washed-up, whisky-soaked country music star. That said, it’s a shame that Colin Firth, after his very fine performance in A Single Man, will go home empty handed.

Will win: Jeff Bridges
Should win: Colin Firth

Best Actress

Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Carey Mulligan – An Education

Splitting their acting awards between drama and comedy, the Golden Globes handed out one gong apiece to Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep earlier this year. Which one will win on Sunday? Well, as much as I found Meryl a hoot in Julie & Julia, this one has Sandy’s name on it.

Bullock’s force-of-nature performance in the uplifting The Blind Side gives the Oscar voters a chance to reward a much-loved star. We love her for her comic roles, of course, but her more serious turn here will go down well with an Academy that takes drama more, er, seriously than comedy.

As for me, I’d love to see the Oscar go to the radiant Carey Mulligan for An Education.

Will win: Sandra Bullock
Should win: Carey Mulligan

Best Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Matt Damon – Invictus
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger

Christoph Waltz’s cunning SS colonel stole Inglourious Basterds from under the nose of Brad Pitt & co and he’ll waltz off with an Oscar too for a performance that oozed suavity, wit and menace – in four different languages. I’m sure he’ll stick to English, though for his acceptance speech.

Will win: Christoph Waltz
Should win: Christoph Waltz

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique – Precious
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Penélope Cruz – Nine
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart

Vera, Penélope, Anna, Maggie: don’t bother preparing an acceptance speech. Not even just in case. This one is going to Mo’Nique.

Will win: Mo’Nique
Should win:
Mo’Nique