With the Oscar nomination announcement just hours away, I'm going to throw out some last minute predictions for who's definitely in, who's probably in, who might squeak in, and who's so not in that I'll slap my grandmother if they actually are. [Note: I have no grandmother, so that claim is kind of empty. It sounds impressive nonetheless.]
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) practically has his name engraved on the trophy, so no guesswork is needed there. I'll also be rather shocked if Woody Harrelson's name doesn't appear for his fine work in The Messenger. The rest of the field is not so clear. Likely fellow nominees are Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), for whom this would - amazingly - be a career-first nomination, Alfred Molina (An Education), and Stanley Tucci (I'm rooting for Julie & Julia, but his Lovely Bones performance is more likely - hmph). A possible wild card, who has been largely overlooked this season, is Anthony Mackie for The Hurt Locker. A nomination for The Hurt Locker means something else, too - a more general support for that film, which would seem to boost its chances for Best Picture.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Like Mr. Waltz, Mo'Nique (Precious) is a foregone conclusion. Also pretty much guaranteed to hear their names called are Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga (both for Up in the Air - if they only pick one, I'd say it's Kendrick). Julianne Moore (A Single Man) seems another safe bet. Given her SAG nomination, Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) is a strong possibility; less so (and criminally, in my opinion) is fellow Basterd Melanie Laurent, who might suffer from confusion over whether she belongs here or in the lead actresses' field. A wild card might show up here as well, in the form of Rosamund Pike (An Education), or Samantha Morton (The Messenger). Also, don't count out last year's winner in this category, Penelope Cruz (Nine).
At least three locks for this category - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up in the Air), and would-be-first-time nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man). Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is also extremely likely, as is Morgan Freeman (Invictus). Spoilers here could be Matt Damon (The Informant!), Ben Foster (The Messenger), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), or Viggo Mortensen (The Road). In the "crazier things have happened" department, I wouldn't be that surprised to see Brad Pitt here as well for Inglourious Basterds. Another nomination that, like Mackie's, would indicate a general support for his film.
Each of these, if omitted, would be HUGE snubs at this point - Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Carey Mulligan (An Education), and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) - so I fully expect to hear all four of their names tomorrow. There are several options for the fifth slot, but the likeliest is Helen Mirren (The Last Station). Other possibilities include Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria), Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces), and *maybe* Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds). Again, there's category confusion for her, but she *ought* to be considered a lead. Sadly, probably the most deserving performance of the year - Tilda Swinton (Julia) - will likely be overlooked. I'd be overjoyed to be wrong. (It's also possible that her film is ineligible, but I'm not sure.)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
I'd be shocked to not see The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds, but the other slots are harder to predict. I'd be surprised not to see Up recognized here, as well as 500 Days of Summer and A Serious Man (not to be confused with the Colin Firth movie with a very similar title). And I'd say Avatar has a pretty good shot (as much as it might annoy some people). Another possibility - *sigh* - The Hangover. Look, I love it, but I'm boggled at the Oscar coverage it's gotten. It's like talking Oscars about Porky's, yanno?
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Up in the Air, Precious, and An Education all seem like locks to me, and probably District 9 as well, I'd love - LOVE - to see In the Loop included. And Crazy Heart would be a good choice here, too.
I fully expect this to line up with the Directors' Guild nominees. Meaning Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lee Daniels (Precious), James Cameron (Avatar), and Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds). A possible wild card could be Lone Scherfig (An Education), who would make an unprecedented second woman in the directing race. In the "it'll never happen, but wouldn't it be awesome" department, I'd jump for joy if Pete Docter (Up) was honored here. Ain't gonna happen, but I can dream.
Oy, here we go. Okay, there's five titles you'll definitely hear - Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up in the Air. I'll be quite shocked if any of those are left out. The other five slots are a bit murkier, and the debate among prognosticators seems to be whether the expansion to ten nominees will favor more populist fare or indie stuff. My (ignorant) guess is a little of both. I'd be surprised not to see An Education show up. I'd also be surprised, not to mention very disappointed, to see the animation curse keep Up from being considered for the big prize, especially with twice as many slots. A Serious Man will probably be included, with many feeling it's the Coens' finest work since Fargo. District 9 is also quite a strong possibility. And despite its lukewarm reception from critics, the Academy's Eastwood-love could very well squeak Invictus onto the list. Other possibilities are Star Trek and The Messenger. In the "Winter Olympics in Hell" department, The Hangover. Seriously, just no. I'm not even going to bold the title for you. :P
So there we have it! Tune in tomorrow to find out how wrong I was!