The Cheat Sheet: Academy Awards

The Cheat Sheet: Academy Awards
Roll over photos for a quick look at the 82nd-annual Academy Awards nominees. Winners are highlighted in red:
Best Picture
  • A Serious Man
  • An Education
  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • The Blind Side
  • Precious
  • Up
  • Up in the Air
Best Director
  • Kathryn Bigelow
    The Hurt Locker
  • James Cameron
    Avatar
  • Lee Daniels
    Precious
  • Jason Reitman
    Up in the Air
  • Quentin Tarantino
    Inglourious Basterds
Best Actress
  • Sandra Bullock
    The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren
    The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan
    An Education
  • Gabby Sidibe
    Precious
  • Meryl Streep
    Julie and Julia
Best Actor
  • Jeff Bridges
    Crazy Heart
  • George Clooney
    Up in the Air
  • Colin Firth
    A Single Man
  • Morgan Freeman
    Invictus
  • Jeremy Renner
    The Hurt Locker
Best Supporting Actress
  • Penelope Cruz
    Nine
  • Vera Farmiga
    Up in the Air
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Crazy Heart
  • Anna Kendrick
    Up in the Air
  • Mo'Nique
    Precious
Best Supporting Actor
  • Matt Damon
    Invictus
  • Woody Harrelson
    The Messenger
  • Christopher Plummer
    The Last Station
  • Stanley Tucci
    The Lovely Bones
  • Christoph Waltz
    Inglourious Basterds
'A Serious Man'
Writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen have seized the opportunity afforded by the Oscar-winning success of their last film, "No Country for Old Men," to make their most personal, most intensely Jewish film, a pitch-perfect comedy of despair that, against some odds, turns out to be one of their most universal as well. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: Focus Features
'An Education'
Invariably funny and inexpressibly moving in the way it looks at a young girl's journey from innocence to experience, this film does so many things so well, it's difficult to know where to begin cataloging its virtues. What's easy is knowing where you'll end up, which is marveling at the performance by Carey Mulligan. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics
'Avatar'
Think of it as "The Jazz Singer" of 3-D filmmaking. Think of it as the most expensive and accomplished Saturday matinee movie ever made. Think of it as the ultimate James Cameron production. Whatever way you choose to look at it, "Avatar's" shock and awe demand to be seen. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox
'District 9'
This movie is very smart sci-fi, but that's just the beginning; as the alien-human conflict escalates and our human hero hits hard times, it becomes a scathing social satire hidden inside a terrific action thriller teeming with gross aliens and regrettable inter-species conflict. And it's a blast. -- Betsy Sharkey

Photo credit: TriStar Pictures
'The Hurt Locker'
This film has the killer impact of the explosive devices that are the heart of its plot: It simply blows you apart and doesn't bother putting you back together again. Tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment
'Inglourious Basterds'
Ah, that most inglourious of basterds, Quentin Tarantino. What is good about the film is so very good as to outweigh the rest. He plays tension like taffy, stretching it (and us) as far as he can, particularly in the fine opening gambit with Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa, one of the most bone-chilling villains ever. Is it outrageous and impolitic? Absolutely. Is it too long? Definitely. Is it worth seeing? Without question. -- Betsy Sharkey

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company
'The Blind Side'
Watching "The Blind Side" is like watching your favorite football team; you'll cheer when things go well, curse when they don't, and be reminded that in football, as in life, it's how you play the game that counts -- though winning doesn't hurt either. Based on the remarkable true story of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, the movie stars Sandra Bullock as a spitfire of a mom. In the end, this is Bullock's movie. -- Betsy Sharkey

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
'Precious'
Nothing quite prepares you for this rough-cut diamond. A rare blend of pure entertainment and dark social commentary, this shockingly raw, surprisingly irreverent and absolutely unforgettable story of an obese, illiterate, pregnant black Harlem teen is one that should not be missed. -- Betsy Sharkey

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films
'Up'
Centered on cranky 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) floating off to parts unknown when his house gets hoisted into the air by exactly 20,622 helium balloons, "Up" is not only good, it's one of Pixar's best. Rarely has any film, let alone an animated one powered by the logic of dream and fantasy, been able to move so successfully -- and so effortlessly -- through so many different kinds of cinematic territory. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: Disney/Pixar
'Up in the Air'
Director/co-writer Jason Reitman makes it look easy. In this comic drama about a road warrior played by George Clooney, he blends entertainment and insight, comedy and poignancy, even drama and reality, things that are difficult by themselves but a whole lot harder in combination. This film does all that and never seems to break a sweat. -- Kenneth Turan

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Kathryn Bigelow
The 58-year-old Bigelow is the fourth woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar. No woman has yet won the honor. Her harrowing Iraq war drama also received a best picture nomination. Bigelow has won numerous honors this year, including from the Directors Guild of America, Critics' Choice, Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Bigelow was nominated for the Golden Globe but lost to her ex-husband, James Cameron. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment
James Cameron
A dozen years ago, the 55-year-old director's epic "Titanic" took the world and the Academy Awards by storm, winning best picture, as well as best director for the filmmaker. He also shared an Oscar for editing the film. His first feature since "Titanic" already has topped the worldwide box-office record of his 1997 release. Will Oscar gold follow? He received three nominations for film, director and editing. The 3-D science-fiction fantasy won the Globe for best dramatic film and best director. -- Susan King

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox
Lee Daniels
The 50-year-old producer-director earns his first best director Oscar nod for the story of an African American teenager abused by her parents, as well as another nod as a producer of the best film nominee. A former casting director and manager, Daniels is nominated for a DGA award, Spirit awards for directing and producing, the NAACP Image award for directing, as well as for best film and best independent film. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films
Jason Reitman
The 32-year-old son of "Ghostbusters" director-producer Ivan Reitman receives his second best director Oscar nomination for the dramedy about a corporate downsizer. Two years ago, he earned his first nod for the comedy "Juno." The youngest filmmaker to receive two nods for best director, he also is nominated, with Sheldon Turner, for best adapted screenplay. Reitman and Turner received the Golden Globe for the screenplay, as well as honors from Critics' Choice, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Board of Review. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Quentin Tarantino
The 46-year-old movie fanatic and one-time guest judge on "American Idol" earns his second best director Oscar nomination and a screenplay nomination. He received a best director nod 15 years ago for "Pulp Fiction" and shared the screenplay Oscar with Roger Avery for that thriller. Tarantino won the Critics' Choice award this year for best screenplay. -- Susan King

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company
Jeff Bridges
The son of legendary actor Lloyd Bridges and brother of Beau Bridges, the 60-year-old actor has received the lion's share of the awards this season -- including the Los Angeles Critics Assn., Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his touching performance as boozy country singer Bad Blake. He received his first Oscar nomination 38 years ago in the supporting actor category for "The Last Picture Show." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Fox Searchlight
George Clooney
The 48-year-old earns his second lead actor nomination as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer who begins to question his isolated life. Two years ago, he was nominated for a lead actor Oscar for "Michael Clayton," and he won a supporting actor Oscar four years ago for the spy thriller "Syriana." The prolific Clooney also was nominated in 2006 for directing and co-writing the best picture nominee "Good Night, and Good Luck." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Colin Firth
The 50-year-old producer-director earns his first best director Oscar nod for the story of an African American teenager abused by her parents, as well as another nod as a producer of the best film nominee. A former casting director and manager, Daniels is nominated for a DGA award, Spirit awards for directing and producing, the NAACP Image award for directing, as well as for best film and best independent film. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films
Morgan Freeman
The 72-year-old Freeman earns his third lead actor nomination for his role as South African President Nelson Mandela, who hopes to bring his country together through a championship rugby match in Clint Eastwood's uplifting drama. Freeman previously earned nominations in this category for 1989's "Driving Miss Daisy" and 1994's "The Shawshank Redemption." He received his first Oscar nomination as supporting actor for 1987's "Street Smart" and won five years ago in that category for Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Jeremy Renner
The 39-year-old Renner earns his first lead actor nomination for his role as expert bomb defuser Sgt. First Class William James in this taut Iraq war drama. Renner, who has appeared in such films as "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "28 Weeks Later," won a lead actor award from the National Society of Film Critics, as well as a breakthrough performance award from the National Board of Review. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment
Sandra Bullock
The 45-year-old actress receives her first lead actress Oscar nomination as the real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy, a no-nonsense Southern wife and mother in this box-office blockbuster. Bullock is the year's Cinderella story -- in a few weeks, the actress went from dark horse to Oscar favorite after winning the Critics' Choice Movie Award (she tied with Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia"), the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama and a SAG award. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Helen Mirren
After winning the best actress Oscar three years ago for playing Elizabeth II in "The Queen," the 64-year-old British thespian earns her second nomination in this category as Sofya, the beleaguered wife of writer Leo Tolstoy in the period drama. Mirren, who first began to get notice in Michael Powell's 1969 "The Age of Consent," earned her first Oscar nomination in the supporting category for 1994's "The Madness of King George." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Carey Mulligan
For her glowing performance as Jenny, a British teenager who has an affair with an older man, the 24-year-old British performer receives her first Oscar nomination for lead actress. The petite Mulligan already has received numerous awards, including the British Independent Film Award, and the National Board of Review and the Toronto Film Critics Assn. awards. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Gabby Sidibe
The 26-year-old native of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn earns a lead actress nomination for her film debut as Precious, an African American teenager with an abusive mother. Winner of the National Board of Review award for best breakthrough performance, Sidibe also has received several critics' honors for her poignant performance, including from the Florida Film Critics Circle and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films
Meryl Streep
For her turn as famed French chef Julia Child, the 60-year-old actress earns her staggering 16th Oscar nomination and her 13th in the lead actress category. She received her first supporting actress nod for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and won in that category for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer." Streep won her lead actress Oscar for 1982's "Sophie's Choice." She's received numerous accolades for her role as Child from critics' groups and won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Columbia Pictures
Penelope Cruz
Last year's Oscar winner for supporting actress for her comedic turn in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," the 35-year-old Spanish superstar picks up her second nod in this category for another broad performance, this time as Carla, the highly emotional mistress of a movie director. A muse of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, Cruz received her first Oscar nomination for lead actress for his 2006 drama "Volver." -- Susan King

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company
Vera Farmiga
As Alex Goran, the sexy executive who romances a corporate downsizer, the 36-year-old Farmiga earns her first Oscar nomination for supporting actress. Critics first took notice of Farmiga in the 2004 independent drama "Down to the Bone." She also starred in the 2006 Oscar-winning best film "The Departed." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Maggie Gyllenhaal
The 32-year-old Gyllenhaal earns her first Oscar nomination for supporting actress for her role as Jean Craddock, a single mother and freelance journalist who falls in love with a boozy country singer. Gyllenhaal, who leans toward small dramas, did appear in the 2008 blockbuster "The Dark Knight." She had until now been overlooked this awards season for her work in the drama. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Fox Searchlight
Anna Kendrick
The 24-year-old Broadway musical performer received her first supporting nomination for her role as a young, tightly wound corporate employee in the Jason Reitman-directed film. Kendrick, who is known as Jessica Stanley to "Twilight" fans, has earned nominations from critics' groups for her complex and funny performance, as well as for the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG award. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Mo'Nique
The 42-year-old stand-up comedian, actress and talk-show host is the odds-on favorite to win the supporting actress Oscar for her role as Mary, the abusive, lazy mother of a pregnant teen. Her nomination comes on the heels of receiving an overwhelming majority of critics' awards, including honors from Los Angeles, New York and the National Society of Film Critics. She also received the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG award. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films
Matt Damon
The popular star of the "Bourne" thrillers earns his first Academy Award nomination in the supporting actor category as South African rugby star Francois Pienaar. Damon was nominated 12 years ago for lead actor for the drama "Good Will Hunting" and won an original screenplay Oscar with Ben Affleck for that film. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Woody Harrelson
The 48-year-old actor came to fame 25 years ago on the classic NBC sitcom "Cheers" as the naively sweet bartender Woody. Since the series left the air in 1993, he's appeared in numerous films, including 1996's "The People vs. Larry Flynt," for which he received a lead actor Oscar nod. In his current war-time drama, Harrelson plays a hard-bitten soldier assigned to combat death notification detail. Harrelson won the National Board of Review award. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Christopher Plummer
The elder statesman among the nominees this year, the 80-year-old Canadian actor receives his first Oscar nomination for his performance as Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in the period drama. Plummer, who made his film debut in 1958's "Stage Struck," is best known as Capt. Von Trapp in the 1965 best picture winner, "The Sound of Music." -- Susan King

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Stanley Tucci
The versatile character actor, 49, garners his first Oscar nomination as supporting actor for his role as George Harvey, the murderer of a teenage girl. Tucci has received numerous nominations for his performance in the Peter Jackson-directed thriller, including Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG award. -- Susan King

Photo credit: Paramount-Dreamworks Studios
Christoph Waltz
The 53-year-old Austrian has left the competition in the dust this awards season, winning practically every honor possible for his chillingly delicious performance as the vicious Nazi Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic. Waltz has won the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG award. Numerous critics' organizations have also named him best supporting actor, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., National Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics Circle. -- Susan King

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company
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