For me, the months leading up to the Oscar nomination announcement are generally the most fun. At that time you can scramble to see what’s taken seriously, what’s coming out, what little film has mainstream potential and, inevitably, what classic pieces of cinema will be totally ignored by the Oscars and, thus, by American moviegoers in general. By the day before, there are complete locks in virtually every category (this year it’s The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants), making the only excitement that’s left be a little glimmer of hope that small films could surprisingly get recognized.

The categories to look out for this year are Best Actress, Best Film Editing (and its telling closeness to Best Picture) and Best Original Screenplay. All signs point to Glenn Close being nominated but a strong piece of me believes she will fall into that “not actually that surprising” snub category. Rooney Mara is hot right now, the film is fresh on people’s minds and her role could represent a growing subgenre of “bad ass” females that became suddenly popular in 2011 (this is a good thing, by the way). Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Olsen have been unfairly left out in the cold for their similarly interesting turns. Mara looks like the swallowable (read: mainstream) performance to lead all.  Tilda Swinton gives a remarkably textured performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin, the kind that often flies under the radar. Luckily, Swinton already has the name recognition and Oscar credibility to be taken as a mainstream type. She’s showed up on every precursor thus far so I can’t see her being left off. Close’s performance in Albert Nobbs is a testament to the power of commitment and effort, however, her layers, not to mention the poor film around her, doesn’t do these efforts much justice. The small sample size of voters I’ve talked to have hardly even seen the film. They may vote sight unseen but my gut tells me she will be on the outside looking in.

Film Editing always seems to mirror Best Picture very closely. I’m on the fence about the final film to get into the best picture race – between Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and War Horse. My sense is that the way the wind blows Best Editing, it will also blow Best Picture. For that reason, I believe both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will sneak into the Best Picture and Best Editing race. From an editing perspective, Dragon Tattoo is the most obvious, with the most prevalant past Oscar love (two noms for Baxtor and Wall + a win last year). Don’t be surprised to see War Horse or Moneyball in the Best Picture AND Editing categories.

The Original Screenplay category has one sure thing for nomination, likely, for the win: Midnight in Paris. As much because of honorary reasons as legitimate merit. Beyond that, The Artist is, of course, locked in. However, the rest of the category could be the spot where some fantastic, hardly recognized movies, get nods. My hope is to see Take Shelter, A Separation, and Bridesmaids find a place. I’d be happy for Martha Marcy May Marlene, 50/50, or Win Win to show up, not because these are as deserving but because of their small film integrity. Once the dust settles and the reality sets in that Hollywood will always honor the most comfortable and comforting films, never really recognizing the arduous glory that is small, thoughtful pictures, one must turn to categories like this to find joy.

Anyway, here goes my best shot at this year’s crop:

Best Picture:
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

If there Are Ten Nominees (in this order):
War horse
The Tree of life

The rest after the jump.

Best Director:
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrance Malick, The Tree of Life
Alt: David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Actor:
George Clooney, The Descendants
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Jean Dunjardin, The Artist
Alt: Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Actress:
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Viola Davis, The Help
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Alt: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Albert Brooks, Drive
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Alt: Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Best Supporting Actress:
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Bernice Bejo, The Artist
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Alt: Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus

Best Original Screenplay:
Midnight in Paris
The Artist
A Separation
Take Shelter
Alt: Win Win

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Descendants
The Help
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alt: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Cinematography:
The Tree of life
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
Alt: War Horse

Best Costume design:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Artist
Jane Eyre
The Help
Alt: My Week with Marilyn

Best Art Direction:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
The Artist
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Jane Eyre
Alt: The Help or War Horse

Best Film Editing:
The Artist
Gil with the Dragon Tattoo
Alt: War Horse or The Descendants

Best Makeup:
The Iron Lady
Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
Alt: Anonymous

Best Original Score:
The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Help
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Alt: War Horse

Best Visual Effects:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Tree of Life
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Alt: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Best Foreign Film:
A separation
In Darkness
Alt: Superclasico

Best Original Song:
Star Spangled Man, Captain America: The First Avenger
Lay Your Head Down, Albert Nobbs
The Living Proof, The Help
Pictures in My Head, The Muppets Movie
So Long, Winnie the Pooh
Alt: Man or Muppet, The Muppets Movie

Best Sound Editing:
Super 8
Adventures of Tin Tin
Alt: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Sound Mixing:
Super 8
War Horse
Alt: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Best Documentary Feature:
Project Nim
We Were Here
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Alt: Bill Cunningham New York

Best Animated Feature:
Arthur Christmas
Puss in Boots
Adventures of Tin Tin
Winnie the Pooh
Alt: Kung Fu Panda 2

Best Live Action Short:
The Road Home
The Shore
Tuba Atlantic
Love at First Sight

Best Animated Short:
Magic Piano
La Luna
Morning Stroll
Paths of Hate

Best Documentary Short:
Pipe Dreams
Incident in New Baghdad
The Barber of Birmingham
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
In Tahrir Square: 18 days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution

12 – Hugo
10 – The Artist
8 – The Help
6 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5 – The Descendants
4 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
3 – Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Drive, The Tree of Life, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2 – Pina, Adventures of Tin Tin, Super 8, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Muppets Movie, Winnie the Pooh, A Separation, Bridesmaids, Take shelter, My Week with Marilyn, The Iron lady, Jane Eyre
1  – Raju, The Road Home, The Shore, Tuba Atlantic, Love at First Sight, Magic Piano, La Luna, Morning Stroll, Paths of Hate, Luminaris, Pipe Dreams, Incident in New Baghdad, The Barber of Birmingham, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution, Project Nim, Buck, We Were Here, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Arthur Christmas, Rango, Puss in Boots, Hanna, Albert Nobbs, Bullhead, In Darkness, Footnote, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Warrior, Young adult, Beginners, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, War Horse, Shame

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  1. Tommy D says:

    Nice picks. Looks like we have a lot of the same stuff. I agree with you — it is interesting how there is often a lot of overlap between the nominees for Best Picture and Best Sound Editing. And I also have a feeling that Dragon Tattoo will just barely squeeze into the Best Picture nominees.

    One thing I’m really curious about is if 50/50 will get a Best Original Screenplay nod. I thought its blending of comedy and drama was executed superbly.

    My picks are below:

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