In less than two weeks, the Academy Award nominations will be announced, therefore, now is about the time predictions start to surface. Though I have yet to see a lot of the films that are most likely to be nominated, given word-of-mouth, the awards they have already received, and personal preference, I have compiled my predictions.

Below the line are my wishful thinking and/or alternate possibilities pools, though I won’t be considering them my official picks.

Best Picture
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“The Tree Of Life”
“The Help”
“Midnight In Paris”
“War Horse”

UPDATE: “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part Two”

Not saying there will be nine contenders in the Best Picture category, but if it extends that far, these are the nominations I’m predicting. I would be willing to bet that “The Artist” is almost a lock for being nominated. The sheer amount of attention it has gained since its release is baffling. I also believe “Hugo” is basically locked. With Martin Scorsese at the helm and the positive reviews it has received, it is just the film that the Academy is looking to award. As polarizing as “The Tree Of Life” has been, I think the Academy will honor it all the same. “Drive” is pure wishful thinking.

UPDATE: The more I look over the potential nominations, the more I feel the final “Harry Potter” could pull off an upset and show up in the final 10 (or less) Best Picture noms.

Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”
Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
Michael Shannon, “Take Shelter”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “J. Edgar”

George Clooney is locked for his performance in “The Descendants”. If you take a look at all the critics awards Clooney has received, you will agree. Predicting that “The Artist” will be a big player at this year’s Oscars, Jean Dujardin will definitely gain a nomination as well. This year, if the critics circles weren’t awarding Clooney for his performance, they were awarding Michael Shannon for his role in “Take Shelter”. Shannon has only been nominated once for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Brad Pitt’s performance in “Moneyball” has been hailed as one of the year’s best as well. Pitt’s nomination will hinge on whether “Moneyball” is recognized by the Academy. In my opinion, this was Michael Fassbender’s year. He nailed every performance and for that, he definitely deserves a nomination. I believe that since Ryan Gosling was robbed from his “Blue Valentine” performance last year (which was rated NC-17 in theaters), Fassbender will provide redemption with his performance in the NC-17 drama.

Gary Oldman deserves a nomination. I would be glad to trade Pitt for Oldman in the nomination circle. Following my viewing of “J. Edgar” I thought for sure the Eastwood film would be a big player at the Oscars but with absolutely no buzz, I am hard pressed to say it will make the cut. Leonardo DiCaprio definitely delivers an award-worthy performance, but I feel that not a lot of people share that sentiment. However, Eastwood always finds a way, so don’t count them out quite yet.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Albert Brooks, “Drive”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
Viggo Mortensen, “A Dangerous Method”
Andy Serkis, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Patton Oswalt, “Young Adult”
John Hawkes, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Alan Rickman, “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part Two”

Expect a heated battle between Albert Brooks and Christopher Plummer in this category. Their awards this year are basically split across the board. My early prediction is Albert Brooks taking the Academy Award. That leaves the rest of the category wide open. The rest of my picks are basically based on hearsay. Kenneth Branagh gained a lot of attention for his performance in “My Week With Marilyn” and even though I’d rather see someone else in his spot, this is usually how the Oscars play out. Also, I feel Andy Serkis for his motion capture performance in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will be an attraction, which is exactly what the Oscars have been aiming for (plus I personally think it would be cool  to see him nominated). Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud could easily find a nomination.

I can’t bring myself to give Nick Nolte a nomination for “Warrior”, though people have been toying with it. Seeing Patton Oswalt nominated for an Oscar would definitely be nice to see. Last year, my wild card nomination was John Hawkes for “Winter’s Bone” which actually played out so I thought I would apply my same wishful thinking to his performance in “Martha Marcy May Marlene”. My wild card this year would have to be Alan Rickman for his final performance as Severus Snape.

Actress in a Leading Role
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”
Tilda Swinton, “We Need To Talk About Kevin”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”
Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Felicity Jones, “Like Crazy”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

Michelle Williams has been raking in the awards this season (which playing Marilyn Monroe basically locks you in for an Oscar nomination anyway). Tilda Swinton has gained tons of attention for her performance in “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and I’m hoping that translates t0 an Oscar nomination. I will be completely surprised if Meryl Streep is not nominated. The fifth spot was a tough one, so I’m basically shoveling all my hopes at “Melancholia” gaining some attention through Ms. Dunst, though most people believe Glenn Close will wind up in this category.

Felicity Jones did win Sundance, which usually favors well in gaining a nomination (see Jennifer Lawrence from “Winter’s Bone” last year). Elizabeth Olsen has also debuted nicely this year. I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Rooney Mara showed up in this category either.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”
Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
Jessica Chastain, “The Tree Of Life”
Carey Mulligan, “Shame”
Melissa MCarthy, “Bridemaids”

I see “The Artist” and “The Descendants” popping up across the board. Carey Mulligan is usually a safe bet, but I do see another “Blue Valentine” split on the horizon, with either Mulligan or Fassbender being nominated in their respected categories, but not both. This has also been Jessica Chastain’s year and she deserves a nomination, for whatever film the Academy sees fit though I narrowed it down to “The Tree of Life”.

I’ve read that Janet McTeer’s in “Albert Nobbs” and Vanessa Redgrave in “Coriolanus” are being talked about, but if anyone will surprise in the nominations it will be Melissa McCarthy. Though I whole-heartedly feel “Bridesmaids” is not the type of film that is normally honored at the Oscars, the sheer volume of attention this film has gained places Melissa McCarthy in a pretty favorable position.

Animated Feature Film
“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Winnie The Pooh”
“Kung Fu Panda 2”
“Arthur Christmas”

It’s a two film year in the Animated Feature category. I’m predicting “Rango” to take the whole thing, but Spielberg’s “Adventures of Tintin” will be right there beside it. As far as the rest of the category, your guess is as good as mine. “Puss In Boots” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” have a good chance since their predecessors were also nominated for Oscars. Also, “Winnie The Pooh” screams Academy attention and “Arthur Christmas” has been popular in the critics circle, though none will stand a chance against “Rango” and “Tintin”.

Art Direction
“The Artist” (Lawrence Bennett; Gregory S. Hooper)
“Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part Two” (Stuart Craig; Stephenie McMillan)
“Hugo” (Dante Ferretti; Francesca Lo Schiavo)
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Maria Djurkovic; Tatiana MacDonald)
“War Horse” (Rick Carter; Lee Sandales)
“The Help” (Mark Ricker; Rena DeAngelo)

“The Artist” will continue with its domination. Also, “Hugo” will definitely show up in this category. “Harry Potter” deserves the nomination and if the Academy decides to focus on Potter, this is definitely one of those categories. “Tinker Tailor” deserves it. “The Help” could battle it out for the final position, but I see “War Horse” taking this one. Even the ADG lists films like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” which could sneak in, “The Descendants” and even “Drive”.

“The Artist” (Guillame Schiffman)
“Drive” (Newton Thomas Sigel)
“Hugo” (Robert Richardson)
“The Tree Of Life” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
“War Horse” (Janusz Kaminski)
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (Jeff Cronenweth)
“Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part Two” (Eduardo Serra)
“Melancholia” (Manuel Ciaro)

Love it or hate it, “The Tree of Life” is taking this award. It has basically taken every critics award there is and has left no room for any other films. Filling the rest of the spots is based purely on hearsay, expectations, and wishful thinking. Between “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “Drive”, the majority of these nominations could easily shift between the two depending on which film the Academy latches onto more. I will continue to pick “Drive” just because I want to see it win.

“Harry Potter” is notorious for showing up in this category as well and could easily take a nomination. “Melancholia” runs the lines of “The Tree Of Life” as far as experimental, but based on its director, I feel “Melancholia” will be snubbed this year.

Costume Design
“The Artist” (Mark Bridges)
“The Help” (Sharen Davis)
“Hugo” (Sandy Powell)
“Jane Eyre” (Michael O’Connor)
“My Week With Marilyn” (Jill Taylor)

“The Artist”, “Hugo”, and “The Help” are basically locked for this category. “Jane Eyre” and “My Week With Marilyn” seem like the perfect picks.

Michel Hazanavicus, “The Artist”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Terence Malick, “The Tree Of Life”
Woody Allen, “Midnight In Paris”
David Fincher, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
Nicholas Winding Refn, “Drive”

I’m taking two long shots on Malick and Refn, but with the DGAs nominating Allen and Fincher, I could easily be proven wrong.

Documentary (Feature)
“Bill Cunningham New York” (First Thought Films)
“Buck” (Cedar Creek Productions)
“Pina” (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
“Project Nim” (Red Box Films)
“Undefeated” (Spitfire Pictures)

Can anyone say “snubbed’ for Werner Herzog this year? Two amazing documentaries that were renowned by every film critic, yet none of them made it to the final five. Behind Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, “Project Nim” has been gaining the most attention, though I will hold onto my personal favorite documentary this year in “Buck”.

Film Editing
“The Tree Of Life” (Hank Corwin)
“The Artist” (Anne-Sophie Bion)
“Hugo” (Thelma Shoonmaker)
“War Horse” (Michael Kahn)
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (Kirk Baxter; Angus Wall)
“Drive” (Matthew Newman)

Foreign Language Film
“A Separation” (Iran)

“Elite Squad: The Enemy Within” (Brazil)

“Le Havre” (Finland)

“Pina” (Germany)

“The Flowers of War” (China)

UPDATE: “In Darkness”

UPDATE: “Monsieur Lazhar”

UPDATE: “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale”

If you look at the awards from the film critic circles for Best Foreign Language film, you would be hard-pressed to even assume there was more than one foreign film released this year, aside from “A Separation”. Universally praised, I would be willing to bet  that this film takes the Oscar.

UPDATE: The Academy narrowed their list of Foreign Language films down to nine, therefore, three of my picks were already knocked out.

“The Artist” (Julie Hewett; Cydney Cornell)
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ (Nick Dudman; Amanda Knight)
“Hugo” (Morag Ross; Jan Archibald; Anni Buchanan)
“Albert Nobbs” (Matthew Mungle; Lynn Johnson; Martial Corneville)
“The Iron Lady” (Marese Langan; Mark Coulier; J Roy Helland)

I see “The Artist” and “Hugo” locking in right now, with “Harry Potter” remaining a front runner compared to “Albert Nobbs” and “The Iron Lady”.

Music (Original Score)
“The Artist,” Ludovic Bource
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” Alexandre Desplat
“Hugo,” Howard Shore
“War Horse,” John Williams
“Hanna,” The Chemical Brothers

Music (Original Song)
“Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs”
“Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
“The Living Proof” from “The Help”
“Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets”
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

Mainly just guessing on these predictions, both the song from “Albert Nobbs” and “The Help” have created some buzz. Plus, with Elton John composing the song for “Gnomeo & Juliet” I wouldn’t at all be surprised at that nomination. And if the Muppets do not get at least one nomination, I will be extremely upset, but as you can see I am banking on two.

Sound Editing
“Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part Two”
“Super 8”
“Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”
“War Horse”

Sound Mixing
“Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part Two”
“Super 8”
“Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”
“War Horse”

Visual Effects
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two”

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

“UPDATE: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“The Tree Of Life”

Expect to see “Hugo” and “Harry Potter” in this category for sure. “On Stranger Tides” was a likely pick just because the previous three had all been nominated for Best Visual Effects with Dead Man’s Chest actually taking home the award. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is the same visual effects masters that brought you “Avatar”, so there-in lies a pretty good indication. The original “Transformers” was also nominated for Visual Effects, so placing “Dark of the Moon” in this category isn’t a stretch either.  If anything were to sway my decision away from any of these films, it would be the VGA’s which place “Captain America” in one of its top nomination spots, but the rest of these films are all nominated as well.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“The Descendants” (Alexander Payne; Nat Faxon; Jim Rash)
“Moneyball” (Aaron Sorkin; Steven Zaillian)
“Hugo” (John Logan; Brian Sieznick)
“The Help” (Tate Taylor)
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (Steve Zaillain)
“Drive” (Hossein Amini)
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Bridget O’Connor; Peter Straughan)

UPDATE: “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part Two

Having started this predictions list some time ago, my predictions nailed the WGA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplays. I think “The Descendants”, “Moneyball” and “Hugo” are basically locked. “The Help” is one that could get recognized or it could get bumped, and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” will probably pick up more steam than I’m projecting in my other categories, but it is entirely possible it will take the fifth spot in this category.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“Midnight In Paris” (Woody Allen)
“Young Adult” (Diablo Cody)
“Beginners” (Mike Mills)
“Bridesmaids” (Annie Mumulo; Kristen Wiig)
“50/50” (Will Reiser)

“The Tree Of Life” (Terence Malick)
“The Artist” (Michel Hazanavicious)
“Win Win” (Thomas McCarthy; Joe Tibani)
“A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi)

I chose to slightly differ from the WGA nominations in my Original Screenplay category. We agreed on 4 out of 5 with “Midnight In Paris”, “Young Adult”, and “50/50”. How weird would it be to have a successful Woody Allen film not get nominated? Also, Diablo Cody is on a roll with her screenplays and I see “Young Adult” following suit. The last film we agreed on, despite my better judgment was “Bridesmaids”. Though I enjoyed the film, I just don’t see it as Oscar fodder. My only different choice was “Beginners” which I thought was nicely written.

The WGA put “Win Win” in their nominations, which I have mixed feelings about. It was nicely written, but not necessarily worthy of an Oscar nomination. I feel like if anything were to sneak into this category, it would be the highly praised “A Separation” in the foreign category. Also, even though it was a silent film, “The Artist”, having been nominated in all these other categories, could show up, as well as “The Tree Of Life”.

So there you have my Academy Award nomination predictions. Though the DGA, WGA, and SAG award winners will more clearly present some strong Oscar predictions, I wanted to get my predictions out before the masses.

Though I am probably not giving “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” enough attention and most likely being blinded by my favoritism towards “Drive”, “The Tree Of Life”, and “Melancholia”, I am hoping for some surprising outcomes (not surprising for me but in the grand scope of things). I also feel like “The Artist” and “Hugo” are major front runners in this year’s Oscars (though I have yet to see either of them). “Moneyball” and “The Descendants” are two very strong possibilities to lead the pack as well.

Let me know what you think in the weeks to come.

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