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Things looking ‘Up’ for best picture race

As Oscar shoo-ins Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges and Christoph Waltz all scored their nominations, the real race is in the best picture category.
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If you’ve been keeping up at all with the awards season, then the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards weren’t exactly full of surprises.

Oscar shoo-ins Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges and Christoph Waltz all scored their nominations and I’m putting it out here now, they’ll walk away with statues on Sunday, March 7.

So really, the show is all about which film will walk away with the best picture Oscar, and this year, the race is more interesting with the expansion of the category. Including 10 nominees instead of five was an idea cooked up to include more mainstream films than usual — solid films that were big box office winners.

To that end, we see “Up,” and it becomes only the second animated film to score a nod (“Beauty and the Beast” was the other). “The Blind Side” also made its way into the list — before the expansion to 10 it probably would have seen a fate similar to that of “Invictus.” Its actors (Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) were nominated, but it didn’t get a best picture nod.

The biggest surprise in the category might be the film that did not make the cut: “The Hangover.” Although some will argue its record-setting box office receipts make it worthy, its not a huge surprise that the Academy, a pretty conservative lot, didn’t go for it.

On Oscar night, the biggest surprise will probably be found in the best screenplay categories. Sounds like a snoozer, but really, the original and adapted screenplay categories award creativity in its purest form, and looking at the lists, it’s anyone’s game. Seeing “In the Loop” go against “Up in the Air” and “Precious,” for adapted screenplay and “Up” go against three war films, “Inglourious Basterds, “The Messenger,” and “The Hurt Locker” — that actually will be exciting. And it might be the only chance to see some of the season’s underdogs get the awards they deserve.

Will Razzie hurt Oscar chances for Bullock?Sandra Bullock’s awards season run looks like it might just end with an Oscar for her work in “The Blind Side,” but that could coincide with another award — a Razzie. Bullocks’ impressive turn in “The Blind Side” has gone a long way in helping audiences forget the disaster that was “All About Steve,” but the folks behind the Razzie’s didn’t forget, and bestowed upon her a Worst Actress of the Year nomination. Is there any way that a Razzie could hurt Bullock’s Oscar chances? Maybe.

“The Academy is full of snobs who will be furiously embarrassed if their choice for best actress ends up ‘winning’ worst actress at the Razzies,” said awards guru Tom O’Neil of “That invalidates their opinion and makes us question their voters’ judgment.”

But, if anyone has the hubris to take a Razzie win in stride, it’s Bullock.

“Ironically, Sandra herself probably won't take a Razzie win too hard, though. She's been refreshingly self-deprecating in her acceptance speeches lately at SAG and the Golden Globes referring to some of the lousy films she's made recently,” said O’Neil.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc