The Oscar Warrior’s 2010 Predictions – Part 1

It’s once again the time for ComingSoon.net’s Oscar Warrior to give his picks for whom the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) are likely to honor at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Having already written quite a bit for our preview, we’ll try our best to avoid repetition of what’s already out there.

At this point, many critics groups have picked their winners and the prestigious Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice Awards), the Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globes), and the Screen Actors Guild have announced their nominations. For the first time, we’re also including the International Press Academy’s Satellite Awards as a precursor, though they’re more important for their winner than the nominees, since like all but SAG, they allow more than six in each category.

Oscar ballots have gone out and we’re only a few short weeks away from the announcement of the Oscar nominations on Jan. 25, and while we do have a much clearer picture of how things might play out than we did a few weeks back, there’s always room for surprises, and hopefully we’ll get a couple this year.

One thing to bear in mind is that the Academy’s acting division nominates actors, the directors nominate directors, writers writers, etc, so groups like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who nominate the Golden Globes, and the Broadcast Film Critics, are not necessarily the peers of those getting nominated and they may be either more or less influenced by some of the forces that tend to influence members of the Academy, things like marketing campaigns, perks like interviews, luncheons, etc., general politics (actors and filmmakers the like vs. ones they don’t) and others. Academy members might also be watching movies and performances and the technical aspects of a movie in a different way than critics and journalists being experts in whichever field in which they nominate.

With that in mind, the Screen Actors Guild are the strongest precursors for the Oscar acting categories we’re going to discuss in Part 1 than other groups; they generally have the best track record in terms of nominating the same actors as the Academy. That said, they’ve sometimes gone 4 for 5 or even 3 for 5 when there’s category mix-ups like Benicio Del Toro winning a SAG as a leading actor for Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, but supporting for AMPAS, while Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated in SAG’s supporting category. They also nominated Kate Winslet as supporting for The Reader, a category she won, before the Academy put her where she belonged in lead, which she also won. While most if not all of the Academy actors are in SAG, it’s a much smaller and more selective group that nominate for the Oscars, another thing to bear in mind.

So there are a lot of factors involved and a good month between the time most of these awards and nominations are announced and the deadline for Academy members to turn in their own nominations, so there’s a chance they can start backing other movies during that time as they have in the past. (The Pianist, Pollock and last year’s Crazy Heart are a few examples of latecomers that received support from AMPAS.)

We’ve included all the precursor awards and nominations where applicable and factored them into the equation, bearing in mind that the Academy has often gone against tradition and the critics, nominating things they enjoyed which didn’t necessarily get early awards season attention. Bear in mind that “My Picks” are the ones I’d like to see get nominated even though they generally don’t have much of a chance at this point in the game.

Guide:
HFPA = Hollywood Foreign Press Association
BFCA = Broadcast Film Critics Association
NBR = National Board of Review
SAG = Screen Actors Guild
PGA = Producers Guild of America
WGA = Writers Guild of America
DGA = Directors Guild of America
NYFCC = New York Film Critics Circle
LAFCC = L.A. Film Critics Circle

Lead Actor

Let’s start with one of the races that was looking like it was going to be a tough one, not in terms of who was likely to win–that seemed to have been decided months ago–but who would fill in the other four nomination slots. Things are certainly clearer now than they were a few months back.

The Frontrunner:

At this point, there’s very little that can stop Colin Firth from winning his first Oscar for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech (Weinstein Company). Many Academy members appreciated his performance in Tom Ford’s A Single Man last year, though he ended up being overlooked in favor of Jeff Bridges’ late entry into the race for Crazy Heart. Whether or not this is Firth’s finest performance, it certainly is a strong performance that has him trying to replicate the speech patterns of a famous king who suffered through a terrible stammer until he was helped by an Australian speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush, who is also up for a supporting nomination. Firth’s performance benefits from him playing a real person as well as playing royalty or a leader, both which give one an advantage in this race. Firth is generally affable and eloquent and will be up for doing whatever press and promotion necessary to get people to see the movie, which includes kissing up to the Academy. Both the New York and L.A. Film Critics agreed on giving Firth their coveted honor, and he’s likely to be adding Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards to his mantle before Oscar night comes around. With that in mind, he is the clear frontrunner and nothing short of a drunken temper tantrum involving racist slurs will stop him. And we highly doubt that could ever happen.

Bubbling Under:

Back in early September when The King’s Speech started generating buzz, there was only one other male performance that was getting attention and that was James Franco’s portrayal of trapped hiker Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours (Fox Searchlight), a performance which drives the film from beginning to end but has only received a couple of precursor awards despite Franco’s recurring nomination. Essentially, he’s in the same position as Colin Firth was last year.

Jesse Eisenberg has been getting attention for his acting dating back to the indie Roger Dodger and after eight years of trying to find himself and finally having a hit with last year’s Zombieland, his turn as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s The Social Network (Sony) was so different from everything we’ve come to expect from him. The film has a lot of support and is even thought to be a frontrunner for Best Picture, and much of that comes down to Eisenberg’s performance, which already earned him an honor from the National Board of Review and a bunch of critics’ groups, both good indicators of him being nominated.

Jeff Bridges won his first Oscar last year, so how fortuitous is it that he was cast immediately in Joel and Ethan Coen’s first Western True Grit (Paramount)? The performance is somewhat of a scenery-chewer, but people seem to be enjoying his Rooster Cogburn enough for the movie to have done big business over the holiday. Only one actor has won an Oscar two years in a row in recent years and that was Tom Hanks, and it’s doubtful that Bridges will follow but it’s also clear that many people are loving the movie specifically for his character which gives him a good chance at one of the four slots.

Fifth Slot Shoot-Out

Robert Duvall’s performance as a hermit who rejoins society in Aaron Schneider’s Get Low (Sony Pictures Classics) was the type of performance that had many people raving since Toronto 2009, and the Academy does greatly respect the actor enough to have nominated him six times prior–he won previously in 1984–so it makes sense that they might want to honor him again since who knows whether he has another great performance in a movie like this in him? The honest fact is that the role is very similar to Bridges in the much higher-profile True Grit and Paramount has a lot more money to spend on promotion, even if Sony Pictures Classics did get their screeners out early enough that all the Academy members would have seen it already. Duvall has already received a SAG nomination, which is a good start.

By comparison, Ryan Gosling has received a couple of key nominations for his performance in Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Co.), but the Screen Actors Guild bypassed him in favor of Bridges, so one has to wonder whether they feel as strongly about the tough indie drama as they do the others.

The big category spoiler this year is Javier Bardem, who has easily given the greatest actual ACTING performance of the year (and maybe his career) in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, and while actors should be able to appreciate it, the movie is 2 and half hours of slow-build that not everyone can appreciate. There’s a good chance Biutiful will get an Oscar nomination as Mexico’s entry into the Foreign Language category, but the last time Bardem was up for a performance in a foreign language film was The Sea Inside, for which he was snubbed. Furthermore, Bardem has been snubbed by all the previous groups, which essentially puts him in the same position as Ed Harris for Pollock, who was also nominated for an Oscar despite being ignored everywhere… except the Satellite Awards, where Bardem also has a nomination. We could definitely see Bardem be the “surprise nomination,” but that would be instead of Duvall.

The last potential nominee in this category is Mark Wahlberg, who might coast into the category due to the general love towards The Fighter (Paramount), which Wahlberg helped get off the ground. Wahlberg was nominated for a Golden Globe, who snubbed Bridges, but nowhere else, so he is in position #7 or 8, which is not good when there are only five slots.

Longshots

Two actors worthy of a nomination, but that are more than likely to get edged out due to the number of actors vying for the category, are Paul Giamatti and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Giamatti stars in Richard J. Lewis’ adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s popular novel Barney’s Version (Sony Pictures Classics). It’s just a fantastic performance from the always-great actor that sadly looks likely to get snubbed just like his performance in Sideways. He did receive a Golden Globe nomination, but that was because they have five slots to fill and Giamatti was nominated for comedy/musical.

Leonardo DiCaprio also gave solid performance both in what’s likely to be the Oscar-nominated Inception (Warner Bros.) and in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (Paramount), but Leo might not have as an easy ride to Oscar night as in past years with so many strong performances getting a lot more accolades leading up to it. Any other year, he’d be in for sure.

The Story So Far:

HFPA/Golden Globes: Drama – Eisenberg, Firth, Franco, Gosling, Wahlberg
Musical/Comedy – Johnny Depp (X2), Giamatti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey
BFCA/Critics Choice: Bridges, Duvall, Eisenberg, Firth, Franco, Gosling
SAG: Bridges, Duvall, Eisenberg, Firth, Franco
NYFCC: Colin Firth
LAFCC: Colin Firth
NBR: Jesse Eisenberg
Satellite: Colin Firth

My Pick(s): Two foreign actors have given amazing performances in long-form biopics, one about a bank robber, the other about a terrorist, and they’re both just amazing. Vincent Cassel changed his looks multiple times for the two-part crime-thriller Mesrine (Music Box Films) as did Edgar Ramirez for Olivier Assayas’ portrait of the terrorist known as Carlos (IFC Films). Both movies thrived from the diverse amount of dramatic sequences the two actors were able to carry over the course of their 4-hour plus running times. Sadly, Cassel may not be eligible due to the length of time it took to release the movie in the States and Carlos received its debut on the Sundance Channel, which means it’s also ineligible for Academy Awards.

Predictions: Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco (alternates: Javier Bardem, Mark Wahlberg)

This is Colin Firth’s to win.


Lead Actress

This has been a busier than usual year for a category that often has the same five actresses being named right and left, but this year, there have been a couple of deviations.

The Frontrunners:

The one sure thing that everyone can agree on is that Natalie Portman will be receiving her second nomination for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) as Nina Sayers, a Lincoln Center ballet dancer who starts cracking under the pressure of training and competition. It’s another great performance done under the auspices of a director who has already directed Mickey Rourke and Ellen Burstyn to Oscar night, though Portman has a better chance of winning because it’s a performance that starts in one place and then goes somewhere completely unexpected. Although being a genre film might put off some Oscar voters, particularly the women who have been somewhat mixed on the film’s underlying message, Portman has the benefits of youth since eight of the last ten actresses who’ve won in this category were under 35.

The only thing stopping Portman from coasting to a win is that many people feel this is Annette Bening’s year to finally win a much-deserved Oscar, similar to Kate Winslet a few years back. Her performance in Lisa Cholodenko’s a href=”http://www.comingsoon.net/films.php?id=56816″>The Kids Are All Right (Focus Features) is certainly on par with some of her best roles, and this layered role will be her fourth nomination without having won and Academy members may feel she’s due, although the film’s lesbianism and the gay porn scenes might put some of the older members off, similarly as Black Swan.

On Their Heels:

For the first time in seven years, actress Nicole Kidman is giving an Oscar-worthy performance in John Cameron Mitchell’s drama Rabbit Hole (Lionsgate), a film that’s been building momentum late in the season as it’s been getting screened more and more. There’s no denying that Kidman’s performance has all of the elements that the Academy loves and it’s probably time she returned to her status as a Oscar-worthy dramatic actress. The thing is that being based on a play, Rabbit Hole is the sort of dramatic fare the Academy actors division will cherish, and the film doesn’t have any of the stigmas of Black Swan or The Kids Are All Right. Even so, it’s doubtful anyone will have forgotten some of the many bad movies/decisions Kidman has made since her last win.

The Academy just loves to discover new talent, which is why we’ve seen the likes of Caterina Murino, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Gabourey Sidibe nominated for their first major roles. On top of that, the Academy has often nominated some of the best performances out of the Sundance Film Festival each year, which is why there always seems to be a movie or performance that makes its way from the January festival all the way to Oscar night, including Terrence Howard for Hustle & Flow to the nominations last year for Lee Daniels’ Precious. Although one would think Bening’s performance in “Kids” might fulfill that slot, this one actually belongs to Jennifer Lawrence, who blew audiences away with her performance in Debra Granik’s Southern drama Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions). In some ways, she’s in the same place as Melissa Leo, who was nominated a few years back for Frozen River only without the money of a Sony Pictures Classics behind a campaign.

Another Sundance movie with a lot of acclaim is Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, which has another terrific performance by Michelle Williams. Williams already received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain opposite her late husband Heath Ledger, and she’s really been impressing people with her work since then. She has a good chance at taking the fifth slot although she’s battling against a lot of competition, which brings us to…

The Category Spoilers:

The crazy thing about The Kids Are All Right is that Annette Bening isn’t the only amazing performance in the movie and her co-star Julianne Moore brings just as much to the table, although she’s mostly been snubbed by everyone other than the Golden Globes, who conveniently had an extra slot in their Comedy/Musical category. It’s been a long time since there have been two lead actresses nominated for the same movie, and Bening has more of an advantage over Moore, even if the redheaded favorite also has been nominated four times without a win, the last time in 2002.

The last serious contender is Swedish actress Noomi Rapace who portrays the cyberpunk hacker Lisbeth Salander in the foreign film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Music Box Films), based on one of the biggest bestsellers of the year. Ms. Rapace received a nomination from the Broadcast Film Critics as well as a Satellite but was snubbed by SAG, who tend not to be as supportive of foreign performers who may or may not be in their group. The Academy certainly has more of an international reach and we wouldn’t be that surprised if she got in, bumping Williams and/or Lawrence. The dark thriller has a similar problem as Black Swan, being a genre film, but the book is popular enough that members will watch the movie.

Longshot:

Although Hilary Swank got a SAG nomination for her performance in Tony Goldwyn’s drama Conviction (Fox Searchlight), that seems very much like an anomaly, because Swank has been as good or better in plenty of other movies, and she’s barely gotten even a mention before this nomination. The only conclusion must be that there were too many split votes between some of the other options allowing her to get in.

The Story So Far:

HFPA/Golden Globes: Drama – Halle Berry, Kidman, Lawrence, Portman, Williams
Comedy/Musical – Bening, Anne Hathaway, Jolie, Moore, Emma Stone
BFCA/Critics Choice: Bening, Kidman, Lawrence, Portman, Rapace, Williams
SAG: Bening, Kidman, Lawrence, Portman, Swank
NYFCC: Annette Bening
LAFCC: Hye-Ja Kim for Mother
NBR: Lesley Manville
Satellite: Noomi Rapace

My Pick(s): While I love Noomi and I’d be very happy if she were nominated, the performance that really blew me and others away this year was Lesley Manville in Another Year (Sony Pictures Classics), playing a woman going through a mid-life crisis much to the annoyance of her friends. The movie received a lot of early love and Mike Leigh has a great track record for directing actresses to Oscar-nominated performances but sadly, the movie is too much of a bummer for Oscar voters. I also love Hye-Ja Kim’s performance in Mother, but she’s even less likely to get nominated despite the love from the L.A. Film Critics.

Predictions: Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams (alternates: Julianne Moore, Noomi Rapace)

Right now, it looks very likely that the recently-impregnated Natalie Portman will win this one, barring unforeseen circumstances or last-minute support for Bening.


Supporting Actor

A few months back, there really was only one name that was being mentioned as a sure nomination, that being Geoffrey Rush, but since then, other names have risen to the fore, and another actor has stepped forward as the new frontrunner. Otherwise, there have only been six or seven names under serious consideration though they’re all taking back seat to…

The Frontrunner:

And so it came to be that as soon as David O. Russell’s The Fighter (Paramount) screened at the AFI film market in November that actor Christian Bale suddenly jumped into the lead for his portrayal of crack-addicted former boxer Dicky Edlund. Having lost a ton of weight and picked up all of Edlund’s mannerisms, it’s the type of transformative performance that Bale has done so well in the past with films like The Machinist, but this time, he’s doing it in a boxing movie, a genre that the Academy has often shown appreciation for. (See Robert De Niro’s win for Raging Bull and Sylvester Stallone’s nomination for Rocky.) As is often the case in this category, it’s debatable whether he’s really in a supporting role, something that’s helped the likes of George Clooney and Benicio Del Toro have easy wins against actors who really do only appear for significantly less screen time.

The Spoiler

A lot of people are loving The King’s Speech, and it’s just as much for the speech therapist character played by Geoffrey Rush as it is for Colin Firth’s commanding performance. One can argue that Rush’s performance is nothing that much greater than many of his other performances and that he just was given a great script and character, but that’s not to detract that his work in the film is definitely worthy of recognition. Unfortunately, not being as showy a role means that he’s taking a backseat to Bale and will be for most of awards season.

The Others

This is where things get interesting because the other three slots are likely to go to three of the five following:

Jeremy Renner received his first Oscar nomination for Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker last year, and many feel that he’s the best part of Ben Affleck’s crime-drama The Town (Warner Bros.) Furthermore, Renner is the only other supporting actor to have been nominated in all of the precursors across the board which is generally a good sign that he’ll get into the Oscar nominations even if one wonders how much support the movie has as a whole.

Another actor who shines in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right is actor Mark Ruffalo as the sperm donor who throws the female leads’ lives into disarray, and though it’s not a particularly flashy role (similar to Rush), it’s hard to deny that most people like the movie just as much for his character as anything else. Ruffalo didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination nor did he get a Satellite nomination, which doesn’t mean much, since they’re both press groups, but he’s been delivering amazing performances for years without ever receiving an Oscar nomination so this seems like his year.

The love for David Fincher’s The Social Network should extend to the actors and while Jesse Eisenberg is very likely to get a nomination for his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, many have been just as impressed with hot Brit Andrew Garfield as his former friend turned nemesis Eduardo, who has a lot of powerful emotional scenes. Garfield didn’t receive a SAG nomination but with so much support for the movie and numerous critics’ nominations, he definitely should be in consideration by those who love the movie.

John Hawkes’ name showed up later in the race as the Screen Actors Guild took note of his performance in Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone as Jennifer Lawrence’s uncle, and it is a great performance and role. The Screen Actors Guild have often gone four for five and at this point, it feels like Hawkes is the most likely to be left out in favor of the ones above.

Sam Rockwell was one of the six nominations for the Critics’ Choice Awards for his performance as a wrongly-convicted inmate in Tony Goldwyn’s Conviction, but with no support from SAG or critics groups, it’s hard not to feel like he may get dropped off despite being more than worthy of getting recognition for the multi-layered performance. Like Ruffalo, he is more than deserving having never been nominated despite a strong body of work.

Longshots

Michael Douglas is looking at the odd man out, having only been nominated for a Golden Globe for his return as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox). Some will probably see that as a sympathy nomination following the notice of his suffering from throat cancer, but it’s doubtful the Academy can justify such nomination in such a crowded category.

Considering how many people seem to be digging the Coens’ True Grit (Paramount) and how popular Matt Damon has proven among Academy voters with his nomination last year for Eastwood’s relatively weak Invictus, it’s strange to think he wouldn’t get nominated for a movie more Oscar voters dig. His character is kind of dumb, but we can see him being the category spoiler when the Academy members who love the movie (and Westerns in general) go a bit nuts with the movie while filling out their ballots.

The Story So Far:

HFPA/Golden Globes: Bale, Michael Douglas, Garfield, Renner, Rush
BFCA/Critics Choice: Bale, Garfield, Renner, Rockwell, Ruffalo, Rush
SAG: Bale, Hawkes, Renner, Ruffalo, Rush
NYFCC: Mark Ruffalo
LAFCC: Niels Arestrup from A Prophet
NBR: Christian Bale
Satellite: Christian Bale

My Pick (s): Ever since I saw The Karate Kid (Sony) back in March, I’ve been raving about the performance by Jackie Chan, seriously some of the best acting of his career and the fact that it’s being ignored due to the film being a family popcorn movie, essentially, is a great shame. It’s one of the strongest performances of the year from someone that normally wouldn’t even be considered in Oscar season. It’s just as shocking that Vincent Cassel’s performance as a lecherous ballet director in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has not been getting the attention of his female co-stars; I said it before and I’ll say it again that it’s Cassel’s best English language role and performance ever. (Maybe the same can be said for Chan, too!) Lastly, while Jacki Weaver is getting all of the attention for the Aussie crime-drama Animal Kingdom, we thought Ben Mendelsohn created a villain equally as fascinating in his menace as Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men and Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. It’s a shame that we’re the only ones remembering how much he brought to the film.

Predictions: Christian Bale, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush (alternates: Matt Damon, Sam Rockwell)

Christian Bale wins his first Oscar nomination.


Supporting Actress

This is a strange year for the category, especially following last year when Mo’Nique was the frontrunner from the get-go and she effortlessly coasted through awards season taking one honor after the next for her performance in Lee Daniels’ Precious. This year is a little odder because there are a number of great performances and some of them actually ARE supporting roles, but there seems to be six actresses fighting for five slots, which aren’t good odds for one of them.

The Frontrunner:

Roughly a year ago, Melissa Leo was best known for her role on the television show “Homicide” and little else but a surprise acting nomination for Frozen River immediately put her on a lot of radars, and an amazing year of supporting performance has really increased her profile as a film actress. She had a small role in Tony Goldwyn’s Conviction (Fox Searchlight), but what’s really impressing just about everyone is her role in David O. Russell’s The Fighter (Paramount), playing the chain-smoking mother of Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale who seems to have her own best interests at heart. She’s received nominations from all the major precursors though she was omitted from the Satellite nominations.

Nipping At Her Heels:

Like in past years, this is a category that can go in any number of different directions, especially because there isn’t a dynamic performance like that of Mo’Nique or Jennifer Hudson that’s receiving universal acclaim.

As has often been the case in recent years, there are a number of other actresses vying for pole position and back in September, that spot belonged to Helena Bonham Carter, who gives a witty performance in The King’s Speech (Weinstein Company), which may not seem like a big challenge dramatically, but adds a lot to the film while supporting the performances by Firth and Rush.

One of the strongest contenders and a potential spoiler for Leo is Australian actress Jacki Weaver, whose amazing performance as a crooked granny in David Michôd’s crime-drama Animal Kingdom (Sony Pictures Classics) has been highly touted by critics. Weaver’s snub by SAG was rather disconcerting, but they may have just missed the mark on that one, and it’s doubtful she won’t be nominated with the amount of love she’s gotten from groups like the NBR and winning the Satellite Award in the category. Being one of the first screeners sent out by Sony Pictures Classics should help a lot as Weaver will have more time to campaign than some of the others.

For the third year in a row, actress Amy Adams has given a performance that people feel is awards-worthy, this time for the sports drama The Fighter as Mark Wahlberg’s supportive bartender girlfriend. It’s hard to believe anyone will feel her performance is as strong than Leo’s, who really is playing a very different character, but the movie is most likely to be this year’s Babel or Gosford Park in receiving multiple nominations in this category.

The last actress who has been mentioned in all previous precursors is Mila Kunis, former child actress from “That ’70s Show” who took on a more dramatic role, but only slightly, in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan as Natalie Portman’s presumed rival. It’s not Kunis’ first dramatic role–anyone remember the sequel to American Psycho? Yeah, thought not–but she brings a lot to the movie.

She’ll be fighting it out for the fifth slot with Hailee Steinfeld, the talented newcomer featured in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, who has been getting raves across the board. One thing that may hurt Ms. Steinfeld’s chances are that many will likely see Mattie Rose as the film’s lead, and her placement in the supporting category in some groups might be contested, putting Steinfeld in a similar place as Scarlett Johansson for Lost in Translation, who suffered due to category confusion. Since the lead actress category is already fairly jam-packed, there’s a good chance Steinfeld will get snubbed despite having a SAG nomination precursor.

Longshots:

It’s really a shame that actress Barbara Hershey hasn’t been getting more love for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, but she’s unfortunately been lagging behind her younger (and sexier) co-star Mila Kunis. The movie marks a huge return to the screen for Hershey, and there’s a possibility older Academy voters may appreciate that, being that she hasn’t been nominated in this category since 1997.

Likewise, Dianne Wiest has won twice out of the three times she’s been nominated in this category and her performance opposite Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole is another winner. Other than the Satellites, Wiest has been left out of most of the nominations, but that doesn’t knock her out of consideration.

The Story So Far:

HFPA/Golden Globes: Adams, Bonham Carter, Kunis, Leo, Weaver
BFCA/Critics Choice: Adams, Bonham Carter, Kunis, Leo, Steinfeld, Weaver
SAG: Adams, Bonham Carter, Kunis, Leo, Steinfeld
NYFCC: Melissa Leo
LAFCC: Weaver
NBR: Weaver
Satellite: Weaver

My Pick: It’s been a long time since Rosamund Pike was a Bond Girl, but two fantastic performances this year, one in Barney’s Version (really the female lead) and the other in Made in Dagenham (Sony Pictures Classics), just really have impressed us. Though she received a Satellite nomination for the former, she seems to be getting ignored by everyone else despite giving two solid supporting performances, making us think she’s going to be nominated for something very soon if not this year.

Predictions: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Mila Kunis, Melissa Leo, Jacki Weaver (alternates: Hailee Steinfeld, Dianne Wiest)

Right now, we’ll go with Melissa Leo, but this is the category where surprises are possible and we may see Jacki Weaver pulling a big-time Marisa Tomei/Marcia Gay Harden shocker on Oscar night.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will announce their Oscar nominations on Tuesday, January 25, followed by the Screen Actors Guild announcing their winners on Sunday, January 30, and the Oscar winners will be presented their awards on February 27.

Look for Part 2 with our picks for Director, Screenplay and Best Picture early in the New Year.

Before then, I just want to give a couple holiday shout-outs and special thanks to some of the individuals whose thoughts and opinions and year-round arguments about all things Oscar have helped contribute to this column. Most of these individuals and their sites are analyzing the Oscar races year-round and this article could not have been written without their thoughts and opinions, debate and dissent throughout the past few months:

Sasha Stone of Awards Daily
Scott Feinberg of ScottFeinberg.com
Erik Childress of Cinematical/EFilmCritic
Katey Rich of CinemaBlend
Nathaniel Rogers of Film Experience
Jeffrey Wells’ Hollywood Elsewhere and
Guy Lodge from In Contention.

From Around the Web

monitoring_string = "df292225381015080a5c6c04a6e2c2dc"