And it has come down to this. The final week before the Oscar nominations. The major guilds have weighed in. The two most corrupt precursors have handed out their awards in hopes that Oscar will match and therefore increase their relevancy. Those of us at Sundance who care enough will be setting their alarm clocks for 5:30 in the AM to watch the nomination announcement live on Tuesday, Jan. 25. And wouldn't you know it, but the dang Brits have thrown a wrinkle into our final guesstimations.
True it only affects a couple of categories, but who knows what devious devices exist within the heart of a voter looking to defy studio campaigning. And who knows what the final nominations will look like. Perhaps yours truly.
Except once again, Hailee Steinfeld has been getting lauded in the supporting category by over 15 groups, including the Screen Actors Guild. They also nominated Winslet as a supporting actress for The Reader, an award which she won from the guild. But then came BAFTA and she won for the same role in the Lead category, where they have just nominated Steinfeld. (And Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener in 2005 and Jennifer Connelly in 2001 for A Beautiful Mind, when everyone including the Oscars had them in Supporting.) The overseas Academy also ignored the listing of Lesley Manville as a Lead Actress on their screener case for Another Year and nominated her amongst the Supporting players. It can be hard to predict a list of five when it is unclear where a performance is going to end up. Oscar ballots were already due before the Globes, the BFCA or BAFTA announced their winners and nominees, so it's a little late for voters to rethink their choices.
But not for us playing the Oscar game. Despite whatever confident egos we might possess, somewhere inside we are always second-guessing our choices. How did we not see it? Why was I so adamant in sticking with that film. Here are things to pay attention to while the "ooohs" and "aaahs" are coming out of the press rows during the announcement:
- It will begin with one of the first categories. Someone is going to be getting snubbed out of Supporting Actor. Only Bale & Rush are safe at the moment. The numbers suggest that Jeremy Renner & Andrew Garfield should be in. But either of them could be left off to make room for Mark Ruffalo and John Hawkes. As good a time to play a hunch as any.
- Watch the early nominations for 'The Town' and 'Winter's Bone'. Both could have an acting nomination, but pay attention to Adapted Screenplay. Probably only room for one. But is it the token way to honor Affleck and the ladies or the paved path to a Best Picture nomination. Again, probably only room for one.
- '127 Hours' is everyone's favorite gut play for a snub in the weeks leading up to the nominees. Franco's nod is a lock. Danny Boyle is still likely on the outside looking in for Director, but might be closer than some believe. Watch out for that Adapted Screenplay category though. The numbers are very much in its favor. But if it is dropped there, it might make room for both 'The Town' and 'Winter's Bone' there...and Best Picture.
- Watch out for the 'Toy Story 3' snubbing. With competition stiff in both Picture and Adapted Screenplay, do not be too surprised if the Academy decides that 'Up' was enough to satisfy the 'WALL-E' snubbing and that they do not feel the need to give another Animated Feature top billing when they have their own ghettoized category, one which did not exist when the first two films were released. Two films that helped change the quality of animated films as we know it today. If any film is worthy of at least a token nomination for Best Picture it is this one. But I will stop panicking once it is one of the last nominees announced.
- Do not panic if 'The Social Network' does not lead in the nominations. It is up against films that will be tech-heavy. As many as five ('127 Hours', 'Black Swan', 'Inception', 'The King's Speech' & 'True Grit') could tie or out-nominate the Fincher film. Remember, do not panic. It is still the frontrunner. Until Oscar journalists try to drum up fake drama and the backlash campaign begins. And even then, it is still the frontrunner.
After that, what more is there to say. Well, plenty. But let us get to the final predictions.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
If Hailee Steinfeld is nominated for Lead Actress instead, I'm going to go with the longshot and say Lesley Manville finds her way into this category as she did with BAFTA.
3. Helena Bonham Carter ('The King's Speech') - And like Supporting Actor, BFCA/Globes/Chicago/SAG/BAFTA nominees are 10-0 for an Oscar nomination since 2001. BFCA/Globe/Chicago/SAG nominees 18-0 here since 2002. Your top three here share those latter accolades.
4. Hailee Steinfeld ('True Grit') - Until BFCA & Globes, she actually had more victories than Leo. She will be nominated, whether its Supporting or Lead.
ALTERNATE: Mila Kunis ('Black Swan') - BFCA/Globe/SAG nominees to be snubbed by Chicago are 3-0. Two of them were also snubbed by BAFTA.
WISHFUL THINKING: Chloe Moretz 'Kick-Ass'
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christian Bale ('The Fighter') - Won BFCA & Globes with great speeches. The Oscar is his to lose.
3. Jeremy Renner ('The Town') - BFCA, Globes & SAG nominees here are a perfect 23-0 since 2001. Morgan Freeman (2004) & Matt Damon (2009) nominated without Chicago or BAFTA nods. Of course, 'The Town' isn't an Eastwood flick.
ALTERNATE: Mark Ruffalo ('The Kids Are All Right') - Last six choices from New York were nominated. Globe snub puts him in same boat as Jake Gyllenhaal (2005) and Alfred Molina (2002). One nominated. One not. BFCA/Chicago/SAG nominees with Globe snub are 3-0 since 2003.
(NOTE: If Hailee Steinfeld is nominated for Lead, then she will likely replace Michelle Williams in the Top 5.)
4. Nicole Kidman ('Rabbit Hole') - BFCA/Globe/SAG nominees are 32-1 overall. 10-0 without mention from Chicago.
5. Michelle Williams ('Blue Valentine') - SAG also snubbed Keira Knightley for 'Pride & Prejudice' in 2005 and she was nominated by Chicago, Globes an the BFCA. Oh, and Oscar.
ALTERNATE: Lesley Manville ('Another Year') - Chicago was first mention since National Board of Review. History gives her a 1-in-6 chance. Lead, supporting or nowhere is anyone's guess now.
1. Colin Firth ('The King's Speech') - Has won 17 awards including New York, Chicago, BFCA and the Golden Globe. Don't bet against him.
ALTERNATE: Ryan Gosling ('Blue Valentine') - He has to knockout Duvall to get in. SAG snub gives him 50/50 shot at Oscar. Terrence Howard in '05 - Yes. DiCaprio for 'The Departed' in '06 - No. Will they nominate one without the other?
1. David Fincher ('The Social Network') - Won New York, Los Angeles & Chicago. Also BFCA, Globes and National Board of Review. Oscar coming soon.
3. Darren Aronofsky ('Black Swan') - Has won half as many awards as Nolan this season.
ALTERNATE: Danny Boyle ('127 Hours') - BFCA/BAFTA Nominee Paul Haggis got in for 'Crash' in 2005.
WISHFUL THINKING: Martin Scorsese ('Shutter Island')
1. 'Inception' – Second most honored script after 'The Social Network'.
3. 'The Kids Are All Right' – BFCA/Globe/Chicago nominees 8-0 since 2001.
4. 'Black Swan' – BFCA/Chicago/WGA nominees (Globe or No Globe) are 11-0 since 2001.
ALTERNATE: 'Another Year' – Mike Leigh's last three Oscar nods here were not precluded by a WGA nod. Watch out, Micky Ward.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. 'The Social Network' – Not even Mark Zuckerberg can steal Aaron Sorkin's Oscar at this point.
2. '127 Hours' – BFCA/Globes/WGA/BAFTA nominees are 11-0 since 2001.
ALTERNATE: 'Winter's Bone' - Either this or 'The Town' gets the 'Philip Morris' WGA spot. Feels right they want to honor Affleck somewhere doesn't it?
'In a Better World' (Denmark)
ALTERNATES: 'Even The Rain' (Spain) , 'Life, above All' (South Africa), 'Outside the Law' (Algeria), 'Simple Simon' (Sweden)
1. 'Toy Story 3'
2. 'How to Train Your Dragon'
3. 'The Illusionist'
1. 'The Social Network' - 90 awards total to this point. Previous award leaders were 'The Hurt Locker', 'Slumdog Millionaire', 'No Country For Old Men' (w/98) and 'The Departed'
WISHFUL THINKING: 'Shutter Island' - Should have been a contender in 2009. Falls behind 'True Grit' & 'The Fighter' on Paramount's 2010 campaign.
And the rest of the feature film categories you will have to go online to find after the live announcement.
2. 'The Tillman Story'
3. 'Inside Job'
4. 'Exit through the Gift Shop'
5. 'Waste Land'
ALTERNATE: 'Enemies of the People'
ALTERNATE: '127 Hours'
ALTERNATE: 'True Grit'
BEST ART DIRECTION
ALTERNATE: 'Black Swan'
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ALTERNATE: 'Shutter Island'
LONGSHOT: 'Robin Hood'
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
1. 'The Social Network'
ALTERNATE: 'Alice In Wonderland'
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
ALTERNATE: "There's a Place For Us" ('The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader')
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
2. 'Alice in Wonderland'
3. 'Tron: Legacy'
ALTERNATE: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1'
2. 'True Grit'
3. 'The Wolfman'
ALTERNATE: 'The Way Back'
2. 'Black Swan'
3. 'True Grit'
4. '127 Hours'
ALTERNATE: 'The Town'
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
2. 'True Grit'
3. '127 Hours'
5. 'How To Train Your Dragon'
ALTERNATE: 'Toy Story 3'
NOMINATION LEADERS (if the above holds true)