With the Oscars on tap for Sunday, March 7, we asked Team Hammock members to give us their picks for best picture of 2009. In an apparent grab for bigger ratings and louder buzz (if that is even possible), the Academy Award pool expanded to 10 nominees this year. More Hollywood manipulation? Maybe. But the blend of huge, popular movies and smaller, niche films makes the prognosticating a lot more fun.

Esteemed Hammock Academy members give the Oscar to:

Ben Stewart: I’ve only seen Up, Avatar, Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and District 9. I think The Hurt Locker is far and away the best movie of all of these, so I would have to pick that as my favorite.

John Lavey: The Hurt Locker. Only seen two others: Up and Inglorious Basterds. From what I’ve seen, I will say the performance by the Nazi colonel (Christoph Waltz, up for Best Supporting Actor) in Inglorious Basterds was memorable.

Megan Morris: The only movie of all of these that I’ve seen is Inglourious Basterds, and despite its historical inaccuracies I really liked it. (Funny, good plot, Brad Pitt, etc.)

Barbara Logan: Ask me tomorrow after I watch The Hurt Locker tonight. I do like the idea of Kathryn Bigelow beating her ex-husband. I will be rooting for Jeff Bridges for Best Actor. Loved him in Crazy Heart. Great story about second-chances with a lovely soundtrack.

Rex Hammock: I saw all but three of the films nominated for Best Movie: I missed District 9, An Education and Precious. That means that every movie I saw in 2009 was nominated for Best Movie. Oh, except for “The Hangover.” And it should have been.

I feel certain Avatar will win for best movie, but each of the movies nominated were good in their own way. The Hurt Locker was riveting. Up was beautiful, charming and wonderfully executed. The Blind Side was inspiring — and the best Sandra Bullock performance ever (although my geek friends would say that distinction goes to the 1995 film, The Net). And Inglorious Basterds was both disturbing and funny. But a $2 billion box office goes a long way in garnering Oscar votes, I think.

Jamie Roberts: I’ve seen everything but Precious and Inglourious Basterds, and I’ll try and get in those two this weekend. Hurt Locker would be my pick, even though Up in the Air, another movie of our time, was wonderful, too. (And George is never a bad idea.) Its consolation prize will probably be best adapted screenplay. As for best actor, I’m with Barbara: Jeff Bridges is THE man. Although she won’t win, best actress should go to Carey Mulligan. She was fantastic in An Education, a gem of a movie. The scenes of Paris made my heart explode.

And for the less active movie-goers in our office:
Bill Hudgins: I went to a movie last year but cannot recall what it was. [30 minutes later] STAR TREK! – I knew I saw a movie last year!

Patrick Burns: I don’t see The Hangover on the list.