Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Midnight In Paris
Other Contenders - Drive, The Tree of Life, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Bridesmaids, 50/50, The Ides of March, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Young Adult, My Week With Marilyn
Commentary - So no, my actual predictions did not change and here is why. Drive and The Tree of Life have been racking up critical support and got the BFCA nod. But the Globes shunned them (except Brooks), and SAG, really shunned them, including Brooks, who was looking like a surefire bet. The critics may love them, but until either of them gets some sort of guild support, they are currently my nine and ten, and not predicted. That being said, the rest remains stable. It looks like The Artist is the frontrunner, with Hugo and The Descendants hot on its tails. I think that Hugo could be a problem for The Artist. Their subject matter is so similar that it could pull votes away, or end in a split BP/BD. While not in the top three, it also looks like War Horse (I know it got no SAG support, but neither did Hugo, let's face it they were not actor's movies) is in, but no winner since Braveheart has failed to get a SAG ensemble nod, so it should settle for a nod. The Help is looking particularly strong, and while The Artist will most likely win the SAG, don't be shocked if the starpower of The Help is too overpowering. Despite lack of any real critical notice, Midnight in Paris gets the SAG nod, the BFCA nod, and the Golden Globe nod. It will definitely get the WGA nod, and most likely the PGA, and Allen is always a threat for Director (and he got a Globe nod), so I say Midnight in Paris is in. The last two slots are not as safe. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is probably still in, as it is a tear jerker with Stephen Daldry, Tom Hanks, and Sandra Bullock behind it. But without Globe or SAG recognition it is not as secure as it once was. Finally, Moneyball took a hit with critics, but it got some SAG love (not the ensemble, but Pitt, and surprisingly Jonah Hill keeps popping up), and it got the BFCA and GG. I think it gets the PGA nod, and WGA nod, and gets an eighth spot.
Stephen Daldry "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Michel Hazanavicius "The Artist"
Alexander Payne "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese "Hugo"
Steven Spielberg "War Horse"
Other Contenders - Woody Allen "Midnight In Paris", Tate Taylor "The Help", Nicholas Winding Refn "Drive", Terrence Malick "The Tree of Life", Bennett Miller "Moneyball", George Clooney "The Ides of March", David Fincher "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Commentary - Until the DGA, this one seems to be a little big in limbo, once again Drive and The Tree of Life have made some great gains, but they are going to have to get some guild support for their films, to carry over their critical success. I can safely say that I think Michel Hazanavicius, Martin Scorsese, and Alexander Payne are pretty safe bets, and in the last two slots I am going with old Academy favorites. But Refn and Mallick will have their devout supporters, and one of them could make the cut. Woody Allen is defintely in the mix, and love or hate The Help, if it continues its strong showing, Tate Taylor could pull off a nod. I still think that Fincher and Miller are in this too, and could be dark horses, as both of their films are good, and both are previous nominees. And despite all the love for Ides of March, I don't think it has many possibilites outside of Adapted Screenplay, although in the mess that is the Best Actor race, a surprising Ryan Gosling could be a factor.
George Clooney "The Descendants"
Leonardo Dicaprio "J. Edgar"
Jean Dujardin "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender "Shame"
Brad Pitt "Moneyball"
Other Contenders - Demian Bichir "A Better Life", Gary Oldman "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", Ryan Gosling "The Ides of March", Ryan Gosling "Drive", Michael Shannon "Take Shelter", Thomas Horn "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Woody Harrelson "Rampart"
Commentary - So Jean Dujardin, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt are the top conteders as expected. But after going 3 for 3 with SAG/BFCA/GG, Leonardo Dicaprio has overcome bad reviews to make the cut for J. Edgar, and I think he will get an Oscar nod. So what about the fifth slot? This one is particularly tricky. Amazingly Demian Bichir got a nod for A Better Life, so can he get a Javier Bardem-esque nomination? He is definitely in the race, but Bardem was a former winner, so his presence in the race wasn't shocking. I am not completely sold on Bichir, simply because the other branches may not recognize him as SAG did. Gary Oldman has fallen after getting no GG/BFCA/SAG nominations, and only BAFTA recognition can keep him in the race. Michael Shannon and Woody Harrelson have gotten in on smaller movies before, but both needed some boost, and neither got it. I am starting to think Ryan Gosling can take some love, but for which film, Drive or The Ides of March? So with all these questions in mind, I am hoping that the Academy recognizes the brilliance of Michael Fassbender (The Globes did), and he slips in the fifth spot. Although this can be wishful thinking.
Glenn Close "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis "The Help"
Meryl Streep "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Michelle Williams "My Week With Marilyn"
Other Contenders - Charlize Theron "Young Adult", Rooney Mara "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", Elizabeth Olsen "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Anna Paquin "Margaret", Felicity Jones "Like Crazy", Kirsten Dunst
Commentary - Well, poor Charlize Theron, despite GG and BFCA love, looks like the SAG didn't go for her, and Young Adult may have to settle for only a screenplay nod. In her place, Tilda Swinton has come on strong, winning some critics awards, and getting the whole trifecta SAG/GG/BFCA. After a couple of years of being ignored, Swinton looks like she is back in the race. Also coming in strong back in the race is Glenn Close. It looks like her and her co-star, despite being left out of critical notices, are making a gain in the race, with a SAG/GG nod. Beyond that, the top three contenders, Davis, Williams, and Streep are still in a close race, but Williams has been racking up critical mentions, and could be the one to beat.
Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh "My Week With Marilyn"
Albert Brooks "Drive"
Jonah Hill "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer "Beginners"
Other Contenders - Max von Sydow "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Patton Oswalt "Young Adult", Armie Hammer "J. Edgar", Andy Serkis "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", Viggo Mortensen "A Dangerous Method", Ben Kingsley "Hugo", John Hawkes "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Ezra Miller "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Commentary - This category has a few shakeups, as Max von Sydow and Patton Oswalt have moved down, due to lack of SAG/GG/BFCA love (Oswalt did get BFCA, but that was it), and Albert Brooks, while still in the race, took a big hit with the lack of a SAG nomination. Nick Nolte has survived the dead buzz for Warrior, and got the SAG/BFCA nominations. Although the Globe would have helped too, I think he has solidified himself as a contender once again. Kenneth Branagh and Christopher Plummer, both considered sure bets are still in this thing, and I am betting with Sydow not being as strong as once thought that Plummer has a clear shot for the win. At the SAG, two young contenders shocked us all with nominations. Of course I am talking about Armie Hammer and Jonah Hill. My guess is that only one gets in, and since Hill also got the Globe nod, and Moneyball is a much better movie with Best Picture buzz, I am putting him in the fifth slot for now. Also, despite the critical support, I think a miracle is needed for Andy Serkis to get in, which is a shame.
Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bojo "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy "Bridesmaids"
Octavia Spencer "The Help"
Shailene Woodley "The Descendants"
Other Contenders - Janet McTeer "Albert Nobbs", Vanessa Redgrave "Coriolanus", Sandra Bullock "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Carey Mulligan "Shame", Jessica Chastain "Take Shelter", Jessica Chastain "The Tree of Life",
Commentary - Well, after the critics were too scared to pick a film the big guns, all chose Jessica Chastain for The Help, and I think that is her nomination vehicle. She will be joined by her co-star Octavia Spencer and Berenice Bojo, both of who are top contenders for the win. It is the last two slots that are offering up some trouble. Janet McTeer, Shailene Woodley, and Melissa McCarthy seem to be fighting it out for the last two slots. It was surprising when the Globes snubbed McCarthy, and then even more surprising when the Actor's branch didn't. I think that tells us a lot, and while she is shaky, I am officially on the Melissa McCarthy bandwagon. In the last slot I am going with Woodley. I know Janet McTeer is a veteran, and got the SAG nod, but I don't know if the rest of the Academy will be so generous to Albert Nobbs, and will be so to The Descendants.