Cop Out

Tracy Morgan, Bruce Willis, Seann William Scott| R | [

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REVIEWED BY SARA VILKOMERSON

COMEDY

Want to hear one of the world's dirtiest knock-knock jokes? This movie's for you. Stuffed with raunchy gags and about every obscenity imaginable (both are specialties of director Kevin Smith), this comedy benefits from the contrast between Morgan's manic energy and Willis' seen-it-all cool. Smith winks at classic buddy films like Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop, and Morgan's character tosses off Willis' Die Hard catchphrase "yippie ki-yay, motherf-----!" The plot? Who cares! The fun comes from watching this duo get in and out of absurd situations; Morgan even manages a chase scene dressed as a giant cell phone. Scott brightens things further, showing up as a pesky thief with a knack for scene stealing.

WHO WILL WIN? WHO SHOULD WIN? MOVIES EDITOR SAMANTHA MILLER CHOOSES FAVORITES FOR THE BIG NIGHT MARCH 7

best PICTURE

AVATAR

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker Up

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

A Serious Man

Inglourious Basterds

Up in the Air

Ten movies are vying this year, but the race looks to have narrowed to two. And it's tough to choose: In one corner, box office Goliath Avatar, with the exquisite effects that made us all feel like awestruck kids again. In the other, The Hurt Locker, the indie Iraq War movie that delivered its dramatic power the old-fashioned way: riveting performances and high explosives. I'll give the edge to Avatar—for reinventing, in every way, how we see movies.

SHOULD WIN: Avatar

WILL WIN: Hurt Locker

best ACTRESS

Sandra Bullock

The Blind Side

Helen Mirren

The Last Station

Carey Mulligan

An Education

Gabourey Sidibe

Precious

MERYL STREEP

Julie & Julia

Gotta love a superstar Oscar showdown, and we've got one in Sandra vs. Meryl: two tremendously entertaining turns in otherwise uneven crowd pleasers. Bullock's tart wit balanced Blind Side's sappy story, but Streep's joy as Julia Child left me hungry for more. No one else could have pulled off that soufflé.

SHOULD WIN: Streep

WILL WIN: Bullock

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

In a great year for the guys (all are must-sees), Bridges lucked out with the Oscar role of a lifetime. As a washed-up country singer who finds a reason to be a better man, he's as authentic, layered and emotionally honest as a great Merle Haggard song.

SHOULD WIN: Bridges

WILL WIN: Bridges

best SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Penélope Cruz

Nine

Vera Farmiga

Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick

Up in the Air

MO'NIQUE

Precious

The horrific abuse a mother inflicts on her own child in Precious can seem hard to believe, but when you look into Mo'Nique's cold, deadened eyes, it's all too viscerally real. Her terrifying portrait of an everyday monster blows away the rest.

SHOULD WIN: Mo'Nique

WILL WIN: Mo'Nique

best SUPPORTING ACTOR

Matt Damon

Invictus

Woody Harrelson

The Messenger

Christopher Plummer

The Last Station

Stanley Tucci

The Lovely Bones

CHRISTOPH WALTZ

Inglourious Basterds

By far the best part of Basterds, Waltz's vicious Nazi officer was chilling, charming and altogether mesmerizing—in four languages, no less. The Austrian actor's lengthy, almost unbearably tense first scene—interrogating a French farmer about the whereabouts of a Jewish family—was a tour de force of menace, but he was also pretty darn scary just eating strudel.

SHOULD WIN: Waltz

WILL WIN: Waltz

best ANIMATED FEATURE

Coraline

Fantastic

Mr. Fox

UP

The Princess and the Frog

The Secret of Kells

Loved the quirky Mr. Fox and the jazzy Princess. But how can you top Up's magic? The tale-of-a-marriage sequence early in the movie told a perfect love story in a few wordless minutes, and when the balloons unfurled . . . my heart soared.

SHOULD WIN: Up

WILL WIN: Up

best DIRECTOR

James Cameron

Avatar

Kathryn Bigelow

The Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino

Inglourious Basterds

Lee Daniels

Precious

Jason Reitman

Up in the Air

Cameron squares off against his ex-wife Bigelow in what could be the most fascinating race of all. No slight on Cameron's genius, but I'm joining the many in Hollywood pulling for his long-underrated ex, who'd be the first female director to win. Her expert hand with action, suspense and casting (on a paltry budget) guided The Hurt Locker to greatness.

SHOULD WIN: Bigelow

WILL WIN: Bigelow

>2012

Big, noisy and over-the-top, this silly disaster film is a CGI marvel. The DVD features a commentary on how they made those mountain-swallowing waves.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

The film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's weird, fuzzy monster tale is a magical, melancholy meditation on childhood.

>• She flaunted an American accent in HBO's In Treatment. Now the Aussie, 20, goes British as the title character in Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland.

THE BASICS

A native of Canberra, Australia, Mia (last name pronounced Vah-shee-kov-ska) once trained as a ballet dancer and is set to play the lead in the upcoming Jane Eyre.

HER AMERICAN ACCENT

"It isn't hard. In Australia we grow up watching Sesame Street, so we hear [the accent] a lot."

FAST-LANE FEAR

"Driving in L.A. freaks me out a little bit. I'm a tiny bit dyslexic, I think," she jokes.

BEING ALICE

With many of the characters rendered in CGI, "I'd say 80 percent of the time I was acting with sticky tape and a tennis ball," says Wasikowska. "It was wonderful working with Johnny [Depp]."

SHUTTERBUG

"I love photography. I document the places I'm able to travel to, and that's really therapeutic."

>2012

Big, noisy and over-the-top, this silly disaster film is a CGI marvel. The DVD features a commentary on how they made those mountain-swallowing waves.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

The film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's weird, fuzzy monster tale is a magical, melancholy meditation on childhood.

>• She flaunted an American accent in HBO's In Treatment. Now the Aussie, 20, goes British as the title character in Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland.

THE BASICS

A native of Canberra, Australia, Mia (last name pronounced Vah-shee-kov-ska) once trained as a ballet dancer and is set to play the lead in the upcoming Jane Eyre.

HER AMERICAN ACCENT

"It isn't hard. In Australia we grow up watching Sesame Street, so we hear [the accent] a lot."

FAST-LANE FEAR

"Driving in L.A. freaks me out a little bit. I'm a tiny bit dyslexic, I think," she jokes.

BEING ALICE

With many of the characters rendered in CGI, "I'd say 80 percent of the time I was acting with sticky tape and a tennis ball," says Wasikowska. "It was wonderful working with Johnny [Depp]."

SHUTTERBUG

"I love photography. I document the places I'm able to travel to, and that's really therapeutic."