The 2012 Oscar nominations come out on Tuesday, January 24, exactly 20 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. Remember, this year, there will be at least five nominees, and no more than 10. In case you needed persuading that we really are just guessing.
ON THE BUBBLE
"A Dangerous Method." The reviews out of Venice are splendid, and David Cronenberg has never had anything nominated for anything before. (OK, "A History of Violence" had a writing nomination and a supporting nod to William Hurt.) The man is due, even if he's Canadian.
"The Descendants." Alexander Payne is back, and boy have we missed him. The bet here is that this is the George Clooney movie that's honored.
"The Help." Might be the most likely film to be nominated -- but not win -- on this list. "The Blind Side" made it, and whatever your thoughts on "The Help," it's a lot better than "The Blind Side."
"J. Edgar." No one's seen Clint Eastwood's film yet.
"Midnight In Paris." Fading a little bit, but only because we're heading into Festival Season. Still the one movie so far that everyone saw and left the theater happy.
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." So far, the best chance to be "The King's Speech," though some think that spot will be saved for "The Artist."
"The Tree of Life." Not a chance to win, but they'll want to honor Terrence Malick's head trip/Texas memoir somehow. As long as Sean Penn doesn't vote!
"War Horse." No one's seen Steven Spielberg's film yet.
STILL HOLDING OUT HOPE
"The Artist." Grierson's seeing it Friday in Toronto, and we await his report on whether or not the world is ready to nominate a silent film, even one so supposedly audience-friendly.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." Yeah, yeah, 9/11, never forget, but the book is cloying and overdone, and Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock seem all wrong. Oh, and about time for a trailer, isn't it?
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." Yes, yes, everyone has a Fincher boner, and the trailer looks terrific. But let's not get carried away: This is page-turning entertainment, not Serious Art, or whatever.
"The Iron Lady." They're gonna hate it at the BAFTAs.
"We Bought A Zoo." If you think Cameron Crowe has remembered how to be a filmmaker again, you have more faith than we do.
INCLUDED SO THEY'LL KEEP BUYING FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION ADS
"Martha Macy May Marlene"
"My Week With Marilyn"
(Next Week: Best Actor.)