Today, ballots will be sent out to members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, allowing them to make their picks for the 2011 Oscar nominations (announced Tue., Jan. 25).
By now, most of the frontrunners have already been determined, from 'The Social Network' in Best Picture to Christian Bale ('The Fighter') in Best Supporting Actor.
But just in case there are a few undecided voters out there, we're highlighting six under-the-radar films and performances we think deserve nominations.
Check them out after the jump.
Best Picture: 'Winter's Bone'
Say what you will about the expansion to 10 Best Picture nominees. Yes, it made room for a few questionable nominees last year ('The Blind Side,' anyone?), but it also highlighted movies that otherwise never would have had their moment in the spotlight -- films like 'District 9' and 'A Serious Man.' This year, we're hoping the spotlight will go to 2010's best indie, 'Winter's Bone,' which stars Oscar favorite Jennifer Lawrence as a poor teenager in search of her missing father. The movie was every bit as well-acted and executed as blockbusters like, say, 'Inception,' and if the Academy were to name it one of their 10 best movies, it would prove that the newly expanded field actually works.
Best Director: Debra Granik ('Winter's Bone') and Lisa Cholodenko ('The Kids Are All Right')
After Kathryn Bigelow made history in March by becoming the first female to win Best Director, you'd think it would open the door for more women to be nominated in this category. But for whatever reason, 2010 is looking to be a return to the boys' club, with expected nominees ranging from David Fincher, to Christopher Nolan to Darren Aronofsky, among other men. Which is a little sad, because two of the year's best films -- 'Winter's Bone' and 'The Kids Are All Right' -- were directed by women. Granik and Cholodeno carried on the torch in 2010 with two beautifully crafted indies, and given their strengths beind the camera, deserve to be recognized among the higher profile movies like 'The Social Network,' 'Inception' and 'Black Swan.'
Best Actor: Jim Carrey, 'I Love You Phillip Morris'
After getting snubbed twice in the late-'90s, for 'The Truman Show' and 'Man on the Moon,' it seems likely that Jim Carrey will never be nominated for an Academy Award. But if voters are still feeling guilty about it, they could always make it up to him by nominating his performance in the subversive and wildly funny movie 'I Love You Phillip Morris,' in which he plays a con-man determined to be with his boyfriend (Ewan McGregor), whom he met in prison. It's the type of wacky -- but mature -- performance we haven't seen Carrey deliver since 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' in 2004, and reminds us all why we fell in love with his spot-on comedic skills in the first place. Now if only the Acadmey would fall in love with him, too.
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, 'I Am Love'
Back in November, film critic Roger Ebert tweeted, "No Oscar voter should DARE to nominate for Best Actress without seeing Tilda Swinton in 'I Am Love'" -- and he's absolutely right. In 'I Am Love,' Swinton is at the top of her game, playing a Russian immigrant who marries into a wealthy Italian family, and later, has an affair with her son's business partner. It's a tour-de-force from an actress who has contributed some of the best performances in the last 10 years, and if voters actually see movie, there's no way they can justify overlooking her. (Yep, she's that good.) Besides, after last year's painful snub, they owe it to her.
Best Supporting Actor: Armie Hammer, 'The Social Network'
'Social Network' co-star Andrew Garfield should have no trouble getting nominated here for his sympathetic performance as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. But if voters really "liked" the movie, they'd make room for Armie Hammer, as well, who played the hunky Winklevoss twins so well, most people didn't realize it was the same actor in both roles. Hammer stole every scene he was in with memorable one-liners ("I'm 6'5", 220 and there's two of me!"), and since the movie's release, he's caught the eye of some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Clint Eastwood, who recently cast him in his upcoming J. Edgar Hoover biopic. A nod for Hammer's star-is-born performance could kick-start what already appears to be a successful movie career in the making.
Best Supporting Actress: Barbara Hershey, 'Black Swan'
No offense to Mila Kunis, who was wonderful in 'Black Swan,' and seems to be well on her way to earning an Oscar nomination in this category. But if any of the movie's female supporting players deserves to be nominated, it's Barbara Hershey, who so deliciously played Natalie Portman's 'Mommie Dearest'-esque stage mom in the movie. As the caring -- but mostly terrifying -- Erica Sayers, Hershey kept us all on our toes (the cake scene?), and played the villain in a way that was both scary and funny -- but never over the top. If anything, her performance served as a sad reminder that Hollywood just doesn't use enough of her these days.
Tell us: Which Oscar longshots will you be rooting for on nominations morning?