Critics' Circle dinner, The New York Times reported that Dujardin did a quite
decent Robert De Niro impression -- "You talkin' to me?" -- addressed directly
to De Niro. That takes nerve.)
Not so certain: Will enough Academy voters watch "Shame" to elevate Michael Fassbender to this list? Was "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" just too confusing to earn a nod for Gary Oldman? Will the general lack of enthusiasm for "J. Edgar" prove fatal for Leonardo DiCaprio? Is Ryan Gosling canceling himself out between "The Ides of March" and "Drive"?
Probably not: Owen Wilson was utterly charming in "Midnight in Paris" -- but my guess is not enough voters will notice. And Paul Giamatti, who has a history of being ignored in this category ("Sideways"), will likely suffer the same fate for his wonderful work in "Win Win."
Sure things: Go ahead and reserve seats at the Governor's Ball for Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Viola Davis ("The Help") -- this is perhaps the safest bet of the entire ballot, and the statuette's surely going to go to one or the other. (Fun Oscar prep: Watch them going head to head, splendidly, in their one mutual scene in "Doubt" a few years back.)
Not so certain: Three of the following five women are likely to fill out the ballot: Michelle Williams ("My Week With Marilyn"), Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs"), Tilda Swinton ("We Need To Talk About Kevin"), Charlize Theron ("Young Adult") and Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia"). The question is, which three?
Probably not: I'd love to see Mia Wasikowska recognized for her lovely performance in "Jane Eyre," or Elizabeth Olsen for her electric work in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," but it seems unlikely.
Best supporting actor
Sure things: Elder statesmen do well in this category, so expect to hear the names of Christopher Plummer (probably for "Beginners," not "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and Max von Sydow ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"). Kenneth Branagh also seems likely on the ballot for his skillful impersonation of Sir Lawrence Olivier in "My Week with Marilyn."
Not so certain: I'm hoping the Academy will realize that it's their last chance to honor Alan Rickman's oozingly perfect work as Severus Snape; this time in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2"? Also with a decent shot: Albert Brooks for his unlikely turn as a villain in "Drive"; Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in "A Dangerous Method"; Jonah Hill as a fish-out-of-water math whiz in "Moneyball."
Probably not: Despite a groundswell of support for Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who so charmingly played the role of the dog in "The Artist," it seems likely that only two-legged performers will be nominated.
Best supporting actress
Sure things: I still think she's got a lead role, but Octavia Spencer is sure to turn up in this category for "The Help." Jessica Chastain's a likely nominee as well, though whether it'll be for "The Help," "Tree of Life" or "Take Shelter" is uncertain. Also a safe bet, though silent: Berenice Bejo, in "The Artist."
Not so certain: Janet McTeer should get some support for her gender-bending role in "Albert Nobbs." This year's Hailee Steinfeld Representative of Youth might well be Shailene Woodley, for "The Descendants." It's hard to bet against Vanessa Redgrave, but voters may not have watched "Coriolanus," which doesn't have much buzz. Conversely, the popularity of "Bridesmaids" might vault Melissa McCarthy onto the ballot.
Probably not: Past Oscar winners like Kate Winslet ("Carnage"), Marion Cotillard ("Midnight in Paris") and Judi Dench ("My Week With Marilyn").
Elsewhere, bet on "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" to make the list for adapted and original screenplays, respectively; "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" to be a presence in the technical categories; and those adorable songs from "The Muppets" -- most likely "Man or Muppet" and/or "Life's a Happy Song" -- to turn up on the best song list. And then, let the campaigning season begin ... the Oscar ceremony itself is just a month away. I'll be up early to check out the nominees; see you then.
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