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Oscar Patrol: Best Actor, 19 Weeks of Endless Countdowns Left

The Projector

The 2012 Oscar nominations come out on Tuesday, January 24, exactly 19 weeks from today. Thus, we begin our weekly -- hey, we do lots of posts every week; we need some evergreens! -- breakdown of major Oscar categories. (Here's how we did it a couple of weeks before the nomination announcements last year.) It's so early that this is absolute guesswork, no "locks" or anything. But now that the film festivals are starting, some humans have actually seen these movies. That always helps. Let's dig in, with the "Locks," those "On The Bubble," those "Still Holding Out Hope" and the poor souls who will have to make do with the "For Your Consideration" ads. Today: Best Actor.

LOCKS

(None)

ON THE BUBBLE

George Clooney, "The Descendants." The glowing reviews out of Venice -- and the lukewarm ones for "The Ides of March," in a role that's kind of supporting anyway -- would seem to make this the favorite of Clooneygasm '11.

Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar." Sure, no one has seen the movie yet, but do you think he's going to be terrible in this?

Gary Oldman, "Tinker. Tailor. Soldier. Spy." The Oldman resurgence in the Nolan-Batman/Harry Potter age has been pleasant to watch, and he appears a good bet to lead the charge here.

STILL HOLDING OUT HOPE

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist." If the movie catches on, he's essentially in every frame.

Michael Fassbender, "A Dangerous Method." This is the more traditional Oscar movie, but "Shame" is the performance everyone's raving about. Of course, it also might be rated NC-17.

Michael Fassbender, "Shame." See above.

Ryan Gosling, "The Ides of March." We sense "Drive" is gonna end up with better reviews, but this is the showier role. Well, at least it has more than 11 lines of two-word dialogue.

Woody Harrelson, "Rampart." If he was nominated for "The Messenger," how could he not break through in an even better showcase?

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball." We doubt it, but people are talking about it.

Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter." The performance is supposedly mesmerizing: We're seeing it next week.

INCLUDED SO THEY'LL KEEP BUYING FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION ADS

Matt Damon, "We Bought A Zoo."
Paul Giamatti, "Win Win."
Ryan Gosling, "Drive."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "50-50."
Christoph Waltz, "Carnage."
Owen Wilson, "Midnight In Paris."

(Next Week: Best Actress.)