Best Picture: While The Artist is this year’s clear frontrunner with big wins at the Golden Globes and Producer’s Guild Awards, The Descendants and The Help are close on its heals. If this were a year with five nominations Midnight in Paris and War Horse would round the pack. But this isn’t a five-film year, nor is it a ten. Rather than explain the complicated, new system, just note that there could as many ten or as few as five films nominated pending on the number of votes a film receives. The totally will likely be around seven or eight with the sheer number of worthy-contenders. Odds favor darker dramas (like our pick for best film of the year, The Tree of Life) over an already largely comedic selection of sure-bets.
Locks: The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, War Horse and Moneyball
Could surprise: The Tree of Life, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Ides of March Bridesmaids and Drive.
Best Director: The first four selected are pretty guaranteed with the last spot pretty open for Fincher, Spielberg or Malick depending on how well the Academy is going to share the love among their respective “fifth place” films.
Locks: Michael Hazanavicius – The Artist, Martin Scorsese – Hugo, Alexander Payne – The Descendants, Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris, David Fincher – Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Could surprise: Steven Spielberg – War Horse, Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life, Tate Taylor – The Help, George Clooney- The Ides of March
Best Original Screenplay: This race is a little more open beyond the first two or three picks. A selection of comedies that include Bridesmaids, 50/50, Win Win, Beginners and Young Adult will fight for the remaining spots.
Locks: Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanivicius – The Artist, Asghar Farhadi – A Separation, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wigg – Bridesmaids, Will Reiser – 50/50
Could surprise: Mike Mills – Beginners, JC Chandor – Margin Call, Diablo Cody- Young Adult
Best Adapted Screenplay: This is one of the least competitive categories this year with the nominees fairly decided.
Locks: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian – Moneyball, Tate Taylor – The Help, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – The Descendants, John Logan – Hugo, Steven Zaillian – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Could surprise: Richard Curtis and Lee Hall – War Horse, Christopher Hampton- A Dangerous Method, Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Clooney – The Descendants, Brad Pitt – Moneyball, Jean Dujardin – The Artist, Michael Fassbender – Shame, Leonardo DiCaprio – J. Edgar
Could surprise: Gary Oldman- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,
Locks: Viola Davis – The Help, Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams – My Week With Marylin, Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs, Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Could surprise: Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin, Charlize Theron – Young Adult, Kirsten Dunst- Melancholia
Best Supporting Actor: Besides the obvious frontrunner Plummer, the race is pretty open the others listed here, with Hill and Brooks standing a very good chance of receiving nominations.
Locks: Christopher Plummer – Beginners, Ben Kingsley – Hugo, Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn, Jonah Hill – Moneyball, Albert Brooks – Drive
Could surprise: Nick Nolte – Warrior, Armie Hammer – J. Edgar, Patton Oswalt- Young Adult
Best Supporting Actress: The five picked here should find nominations unless the Academy doesn’t take McCarthy as seriously as the press seems to.
Locks: Octavia Spencer – The Help, Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids, Berenice Bejo – The Artist, Jessica Chastain – The Help, Shailene Woodley – The Descendants
Could surprise: Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs, Carey Mulligan – Shame, Keira Knightley- A Dangerous Method