The Oscar nominations will be announced in just over an hour's time so I've left it incredibly late this year to turn in my annual predictions and picks, but I've hastily written them up for your reading pleasure below. Hopefully you will get chance to take a look before you hear the Oscar nominations themselves. For whatever reason it has been a quiet year for the Oscars and the Awards race hasn't felt as thrilling as it has previously. I have talked to a few WhatCulture staffers today and they, like me, had forgotten the Oscars were even to be announced today. Maybe it is the lack of the fanboy favourites like The Dark Knight or Toy Story 3 or even The Social Network that has caused this indifference to the Oscars this year, though I'm not even sure indifference is the right word. I and a few others here attended the very first press screening of The Artist out in Cannes and we said then and there this was the movie to watch this year. No other film, as good as The Descendants is, has really challenged The Artist that is on such another level to everything else made this year (except Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) that the race has felt like a forgone conclusion for months. In a race or a boxing match, it is only ever as interesting as the calibre of the two opponents squaring off. Well with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy being ignored by too many, The Artist has simply ran away with it. Anyway please do leave your own comment with your predictions and check back at 1.30pm UK time for the live Oscar ceremony to take place; Best Supporting Actress Predictions Octavia Spencer, "The Help" Jessica Chastain, "The Help" Berenice Bejo, "The Artist" Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants" Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids" Best Supporting Actress category is shaped by two actresses locked in from The Help, along with Berenice Bejo's flamboyant talkie film star from The Artist. Then there seems to be four actresses' fighting for two positions but I suspect Shailene Woodley's turn in The Descendants and Melissa McCarthy's hilarious performance from Bridesmaids will be the ones to get the nods. I know the Academy don't usually recognise comedies or performances in them but McCarthy's recent SAG nomination and the chance from them to show how hip and current they are should steer her ok. Missing Out:Janet McTeer from Albert Nobbs along with Carey Mulligan's performance in Shame as a rank outsider but she's so cold in the race at this point to get anything but a courtesy mention. My Picks: My predictions match my five picks in that category. Best Supporting Actor Predictions Christopher Plummer - "Beginners" Kenneth Branagh - "My Week With Marilyn" Jonah Hill - "Moneyball" Albert Brooks - "Drive" Ben Kingsley - "Hugo" 82 year-old Christopher Plummer's name is pretty much assured to be on his first Oscar statute this year for Beginners. What a career he has had and he is more than deserving of this award, though I can't say Beginners holds his best ever performance but he gives the best performance out of this year's Best Supporting lot and that is how the Oscars should always work. He was also absolutely magnificent in his small but emotive turn in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and he looks so revitalized on screen that he may have another ten years of acting in him! He was last nominated in 2010 from The Last Station but this years it feels like his. Kenneth Branagh was born to place Laurence Olivier on screen and his turn will see him nominated for My Week With Marilyn. Jonah Hill showed he could do more than just comedy and he will be recognised for Moneyball. I would love to see Albert Brooks nominated for Drive and I think he will just sneak in, though the film he was in certainly plays against him. Ben Kingsley's turn in Hugo I think will get the final slot though he doesn't have as many supporters as he should. Missing Out:Nick Nolte in Warrior (he was fine but how many times have we seen the drunk loser of a Dad on screen?), Armie Hammer in the forgotten J. Edgar, Patton Oswalt in the not power-punching enough Young Adult and Brad Pitt's lifeless performance in Tree of Life. My Picks: The same except I would swap Ben Kingsley for Colin Firth's turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a movie criminally underlooked at the Awards race this year. Best ActressPredictions Viola Davis, "The Help" Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady" Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn" Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs" Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin" Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams are locks for the category. The rest are battling out for the two remaining spaces but as little seen as Albert Nobbs was, I think Glenn Close simply has to be nominated for her shear dedication to the role. Tilda Swinton SHOULD be nominated for We Need To Talk About Kevin but I am slightly concerned that they are sick of nominating her because she's so far ahead of the pack of her generation, but I think she'll scrape in. Missing Out: In what is a toughly fierced category I think Charlize Theron's surprising Young Adult performance and Rooney Mara's fearless turn in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo miss out. In any other year they would have been recognised. There is some support for Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia but not from my end there ain't. My Picks: It was a hard one to call but I think the Academy will pick the correct five and leave Mara & Theron out. Great category this year. Best ActorPredictions: George Clooney, "The Descendants" Jean Dujardin - "The Artist" Gary Oldman - "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Brad Pitt, "Moneyball" Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar" George Clooney and Jean Dujardin are expected to be the two battling it out for the Best Actor prize this year and the rest are just afterthought nominations, despite Gary Oldman's astonishing turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy being the best performance in a motion picture I have seen this year. Just incredible. I have placed Gary Oldman on the list of predictions but it may very well turn out to be my heart ruling out against my head with Tinker Tailor being so ignored by the awards season. Brad Pitt's performance in Moneyball is definitely one to get nominated and then I think it will be the fact Leonardo DiCaprio is well loved, in an Clint Eastwood movie, and portraying a real life American figure that he will get the final nomination slot over the unfortunate Michael Fassbender in Shame. It is a shame but that is the way it is, J Edgar is the kind of movie routinely nominated at this stage. Missing Out: Fassbender as we've said and also Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) and Woody Harrelson (Rampart). Demián Bichir took a SAG nom for A Better Life but he won't be anywhere to be seen today. My Picks: I would swap DiCaprio for Fassbender. Best DirectorPredictions: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist" Alexander Payne, "The Descendants" Stephen Spielberg, "War Horse" Martin Scorsese, "Hugo" Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris" Michael Hazanavicius and Alexander Payne are locks. Martin Scorsese's wondrous Hugo is too, though I'm less certain, though it has no chance of winning Best Picture. Steven Spielberg is also a 100% lock for the Awards baiting War Horse. The last place is tricky but I think Woody Allen might just get it for Midnight in Paris because of his name, though Benedict Miller for Moneyball would have been a better choice. Well actually Tomas Alfredson's deliberate direction with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wipes the floor with all of them but try telling the Academy voters that. Missing Out: For putting together a very fine genre effort but nothing more, David Fincher misses out for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which is hardly Oscar fodder. Miller for Moneyball as we've said and Alfredson for Tinker Tailor. Tate Taylor has no chance of being nominated for The Help because the success of that film is elsewhere. Despite the ambitions from both, their imaginations got away with them and both Nicolas Winding Refn and Terrence Malick's Drive and Tree of Life respectively got away from both helmers and their films suffered. They won't be picked. Best Picture "The Artist" "The Descendants" "The Help" "Hugo" "Midnight In Paris" "Moneyball" "War Horse" I'm thinking there will be only seven Best Picture nominees this year and all of the above seem to be locks at this point. War Horse may be the surprise to some but come on, it's Oscar fodder all over and it is Spielberg. Missing Out: I just don't seen enough votes for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to make it, Bridesmaids has the comedy problem, The Ides of March and J. Edgar just haven't got the buzz to carry them. Drive has been ignored (rightly). Of course the huge shame is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which for me, along with The Artist & The Descendants are the top three motion pictures of the year, being left out in the cold. How that happened I don't know. If you asked anyone when the film was released in the UK in October whether it was going to go the distance the answer from everyone was that it would be a genuine Oscar contender but it just hasn't happened. Hopefully the British supporters will give enough backing and it will sneak in but I just can't see it. Tree of Life will also miss out, despite some supporters (although way diminished since the summer, just like I said) means it misses out. Shame is nowhere near. My Picks: As you know if it were me I would ALWAYS cap the Best Film nominees, like every other bloody category, to five so it would be The Descendants, The Artist, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Moneyball and The Ides of March. But alas, five isn't enough these days and The Ides of March just doesn't have the groundswell it should.
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