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.
Thanks to BAFTA, the British Film Academy, we must tread carefully around the two actress categories now. For the second time in three years, critic groups have more or less fell in line when the studios have specifically campaigned an actor or actress in a particular category. Despite better judgment over the years, many of them listed Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Scarlett Johansson (Lost In Translation) and Kate Winslet (The Reader) as supporting players even though their characters had as much, if not more, screen time than their male counterparts. And Keisha was most certainly the lead character. Just as Mattie Ross is in the Coens' True Grit.

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.
1. Melissa Leo ('The Fighter') - Won BFCA & Globes like Bale. Yet snubbed completely by BAFTA. Still the frontrunner, Brits.
2. Amy Adams ('The Fighter') - BAFTA did not snub her. Neither did BFCA, the Globes, Chicago or SAG.
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.
5. Jacki Weaver ('Animal Kingdom') - L.A. & NBR have agreed 8 times since 1982. Five won the Oscar. All were nominated. Marisa Tomei also got snub by Chicago & BAFTA and was nominated for 'In The Bedroom'. Last year, Julianne Moore was not for 'A Single Man'.

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.
LONGSHOT: Lesley Manville ('Another Year') - Sony Classics pushing her for Lead. BAFTA has her in supporting.
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.
2. Geoffrey Rush ('The King's Speech') - BFCA/Globes/Chicago/SAG/BAFTA nominees are 10-0 for an Oscar nomination since 2001.
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.
4. Andrew Garfield ('The Social Network') - Of the five groups, only snubbed by SAG. As were nominees Paul Newman (2002) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (2007). Jack Nicholson missed Oscar nod in 2006. BFCA/Globes nominees here 23-for-25 since 2001. The two who missed were also snubbed by SAG. Even with Chicago nom, last SAG snub with other three nominations - Paul Newman in 2002.
5. John Hawkes ('Winter's Bone') - Snubbed by BFCA, Globes & BAFTA. So were Djimon Hounsou (2002), William Hurt (2005), Jackie Earle Haley (2006), and Michael Shannon (2008)

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.
LONGSHOT: Michael Douglas ('Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps') - Globe nominee and potential Bale upset on Jan. 16.

BEST ACTRESS
(NOTE: If Hailee Steinfeld is nominated for Lead, then she will likely replace Michelle Williams in the Top 5.)
1. Natalie Portman ('Black Swan') - First the BFCA. Then the Globes. Next SAG. Then the Oscar.
2. Annette Bening ('The Kids Are All Right') - Only other actress to get all five nods from BFCA, Globes, Chicago, SAG and BAFTA. That's a 17-0 stat right there.
3. Jennifer Lawrence ('Winter's Bone') - Got 4 of the 5 above. Only a BAFTA snub. That was OK for five actresses since 2001. Only bad news for Angelina Jolie in 2007 for 'A Mighty Heart', another woman on a search for a dead man. But ignore BAFTA and just get nods from BFCA, Globes, SAG and Chicago, you have a 22-in-23 chance in being nominated.
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.
ALTERNATE #2: Noomi Rapace ('The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo') - A BFCA & BAFTA bump did not help Saoirse Ronan last year.
UNDERDOG: Julianne Moore ('The Kids Are All Right') - Nods from just Globes and BAFTA were not good news for Meryl Streep (2002), Uma Thurman (2003), Scarlett Johansson (2003 - Girl with a Pearl Earring), Keira Knightley (2007) or Kristin Scott-Thomas (2008)
WISHFUL THINKING: Carey Mulligan ('Never Let Me Go')
BEST ACTOR
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.
2. Jesse Eisenberg ('The Social Network') – Nominated by BFCA, Globes, Chicago, SAG and BAFTA.
3. James Franco ('127 Hours') – And with those five, actors are a perfect 20-0 in getting a nomination since 2000. So congrats to Firth, Eisenberg & Franco
4. Jeff Bridges ('True Grit') - Ryan Gosling (2006) & Richard Jenkins (2008) were snubbed by the Globes when BFCA, SAG, and Chicago nominated them. Jeremy Renner (2009), like Bridges also got BAFTA nod. All were Oscar-nominated.
5. Robert Duvall ('Get Low') – If Oscars were in August, he might have won. BFCA/SAG got Sean Penn nominated in 2001. But not 2007's Emile Hirsch (in Penn's 'Into the Wild.')

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?
LONGSHOT: Mark Wahlberg ('The Fighter') - Jude Law & Michael Caine translated a single Globe nod to Oscar since 2001. Six others did not.
WISHFUL THINKING: Leonardo DiCaprio ('Shutter Island')

BEST DIRECTOR
1. David Fincher ('The Social Network') - Won New York, Los Angeles & Chicago. Also BFCA, Globes and National Board of Review. Oscar coming soon.
2. Christopher Nolan ('Inception') - 3 DGA nominations from last six films. That is early Spielberg territory.
3. Darren Aronofsky ('Black Swan') - Has won half as many awards as Nolan this season.
4. Tom Hooper ('The King's Speech') - BFCA/Globes/Chicago/DGA/BAFTA nominees are 14-1 for Oscar nod. Last shut out in 2001. Top four qualify.
5. David O. Russell ('The Fighter') - Nods from DGA & Globes may just be enough to make DGA 5-for-5 for a second year in a row.

ALTERNATE: Danny Boyle ('127 Hours') - BFCA/BAFTA Nominee Paul Haggis got in for 'Crash' in 2005.
UNDERDOGS: Joel & Ethan Coen ('True Grit') - Only nominated by the BFCA. Just like Steven Spielberg (2002), Jim Sheridan (2003), Ron Howard (2005) and Sidney Lumet (2007) who were not nominated for Oscars.
WISHFUL THINKING: Martin Scorsese ('Shutter Island')

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. 'Inception' – Second most honored script after 'The Social Network'.
2. 'The King's Speech' – Won BFCA's Original Award. They were wrong in both categories in 2009, but nomination a lock.
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.
5. 'The Fighter' – BFCA/WGA/BAFTA nominee. All other contenders only have one mention apiece with aforementioned groups and guilds.

ALTERNATE: 'Another Year' – Mike Leigh's last three Oscar nods here were not precluded by a WGA nod. Watch out, Micky Ward.
LONGSHOT: 'Blue Valentine' - 'The Messenger''s script got nominated with zero support from any of the groups or guilds.
WISHFUL THINKING: 'Four Lions'



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.
3. 'True Grit' - WGA nominees hitting 70% here since 2000. BFCA/Chicago/WGA/BAFTA nominee just like 2005's 'Capote'. Only snubbed by Globes too. Probably gave them no shwag.
4. 'Toy Story 3' - Five of the last six Pixar scripts received a nomination. BFCA/Chicago/BAFTA nominee just like 'An Education'.
5. 'The Town' – Adaptations getting a PGA accompaniment to their WGA nod are 20-for-25 since 2000. Seabiscuit only had BFCA/WGA support and got nominated.

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?
LONGSHOT: 'Rabbit Hole' – Chicago was the only group to acknowledge this potential sleeper nominee. 8-of-14 when standing alone.
WISHFUL THINKING: 'Shutter Island' - San Diego nominated it, but no match for The Social Network.
BEST FOREIGN FILM
(NOTE: No rankings here. Just pure guesswork.)
'Biutiful' (Mexico)
'Confessions' (Japan)
'Dogtooth' (Greece)
'In a Better World' (Denmark)
'Incendies' (Canada)

ALTERNATES: 'Even The Rain' (Spain) , 'Life, above All' (South Africa), 'Outside the Law' (Algeria), 'Simple Simon' (Sweden)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
1. 'Toy Story 3'
2. 'How to Train Your Dragon'
3. 'The Illusionist'

ALTERNATE: 'Tangled'
UNDERDOG: 'Despicable Me'


BEST PICTURE
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'
2. 'Black Swan' - Only film other than #1 to be nominated by BFCA/Globes/Chicago/BAFTA as well as PGA/DGA/WGA & SAG Ensemble. Only 11 films since 2001 can claim that. All nominated including 6 of the 9 Best Picture winners.
3. 'Inception' - Second most awards of the season with 48. Only missed SAG ensemble nomination from above.
4. 'The King's Speech' - 25 awards and 90 nominations. Many still pending. Only missed WGA nod from above and that is because it was disqualified from contention.
5. 'The Fighter' - Got nominated by six of the eight groups and guilds. Including PGA/DGA/WGA/SAG which is 23-0 since 2001. 'Almost Famous' last film to get snubbed with that combo.
6. 'True Grit' - A film has not won Best Picture without a DGA nomination since 'Driving Miss Daisy'. But the nomination should be a no-brainer.
7. 'The Kids Are All Right' - Winner of Globes Best Comedy has not been nominated since 'Sideways' in 2004. Last three though only got a single nomination from above. 'Kids' got four.
8. 'Toy Story 3' - If 'Up' got nominated, this has to as well. Right?
9. '127 Hours' - 8 BAFTA nominations including Best Director. BFCA, PGA & WGA nominee. 7th in overall awards for the season. Yet so many think its going to miss because of squeamishness and poor box office.
10. 'Winter's Bone' - Last five years a film has been nominated without a PGA & WGA nod. Last four without PGA, WGA OR DGA.

ALTERNATE: 'The Town' - PGA has never matched 100% with Oscar. Last year they were 8-for-10. Nine might be best to hope for in 2010.
UNDERDOG: 'Another Year' - Lesley Manville and Screenplay chances need to increase for this to move up.
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.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
1. 'Waiting for "Superman"'
2. 'The Tillman Story'
3. 'Inside Job'
4. 'Exit through the Gift Shop'
5. 'Waste Land'

ALTERNATE: 'Enemies of the People'
UNDERDOG: 'Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould'

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
1. 'True Grit'
2. 'Black Swan'
3. 'Inception'
4. 'The King's Speech'
5. 'The Social Network'

ALTERNATE: '127 Hours'
UNDERDOG: 'Shutter Island'

BEST EDITING
1. 'Inception'
2. 'Black Swan'
3. 'The Social Network'
4. 'The King's Speech'
5. '127 Hours'

ALTERNATE: 'True Grit'
UNDERDOG: 'Shutter Island'

BEST ART DIRECTION
1. 'Inception'
2. 'The King's Speech'
3. 'True Grit'
4. 'Alice In Wonderland'
5. 'Shutter Island'

ALTERNATE: 'Black Swan'
UNDERDOG: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I'

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
1. 'The King's Speech'
2. 'Alice In Wonderland'
3. 'True Grit'
4. 'Black Swan'
5. 'Kick-Ass'

ALTERNATE: 'Shutter Island'
LONGSHOT: 'Robin Hood'

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
(NOTE: 'Black Swan', 'The Fighter', 'The Kids Are All Right', and 'True Grit' have all been disqualified.)

1. 'The Social Network'
2. 'Inception'
3. '127 Hours'
4. 'How To Train Your Dragon'
5. 'The King's Speech'

ALTERNATE: 'Alice In Wonderland'
LONGSHOT: 'Tron: Legacy'

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
1. "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" ('Burlesque')
2. "I See The Light" ('Tangled')
3. "If I Rise" ('127 Hours')
4. "We Belong Together" ('Toy Story 3')
5. "Shine" ('Waiting for "Superman"')

ALTERNATE: "There's a Place For Us" ('The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader')
LONGSHOT: "Coming Home" ('Country Strong')

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
1. 'Inception'
2. 'Alice in Wonderland'
3. 'Tron: Legacy'

ALTERNATE: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1'
LONGSHOTS: 'Iron Man 2', 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and 'Hereafter'

BEST MAKEUP
1. 'Alice in Wonderland'
2. 'True Grit'
3. 'The Wolfman'

ALTERNATE: 'The Way Back'
LONGSHOTS: 'Jonah Hex', 'Barney's Version' and 'The Fighter'

BEST SOUND
1. 'Inception'
2. 'Black Swan'
3. 'True Grit'
4. '127 Hours'
5. 'Shutter Island'

ALTERNATE: 'The Town'
LONGSHOT: 'The Fighter'

BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
1. 'Inception'
2. 'True Grit'
3. '127 Hours'
4. 'Black Swan'
5. 'How To Train Your Dragon'

ALTERNATE: 'Toy Story 3'
LONGSHOT: 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

NOMINATION LEADERS (if the above holds true)
11 - The King's Speech
10 - Inception, True Grit
9 - Black Swan
8 - 127 Hours, The Social Network
6 - The Fighter
4 - Alice In Wonderland, Toy Story 3
3 - How To Train Your Dragon, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone