And finally I reach the biggest category of them all... Without any ado whatsoever, I present my Best Picture predictions:
1. The Artist
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Unknown director, largely unknown leading actors, filmed in black & white... Why does this appear to be a frontrunner? Being an authentic-looking throwback to the silent era, from everything I've read about it, The Artist's refreshingly original presentation in its time (genuine silent movies not really having been made much over the past 80 years) has won over everyone who's seen it, and definitely ranks as one of my most anticipated movies of the year. If it's even half as good as it looks like it could be, we'll be in for a serious treat, and quite possibly the most unique Best Picture winner for a long, long time.
- 95% chance
2. Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Stephen Daldry last three movies (Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader) have all done extremely well with the Oscars, and due to this movie's subject matter, I doubt it will be any different. Many people believe this is the frontrunner in the category, and due to the fact that Daldry has not yet won an Oscar, they may be right. But until it is screened by a wider audience, there is no way of knowing how well it's going to be received. This could very well be Daldry's year.
- 90% chance
3. The Descendants
Directed by Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne's previous directorial effort 'Sideways' proved quite popular among critics, and The Descendants is shaping up for a similar reception. With leading performances by George Clooney and newcomer Shailene Woodley, both of which appear to be locks in their respective acting categories, the chances of a win for The Descendants are slim, due in large part to the fact that comedies - dramatic in nature or not - seldom win Best Picture. But does that make a nomination any less likely? Absolutely not.
- 85% chance
Directed by Bennett Miller
Bennett Miller's last picture was the incredibly well-received Capote, and this time with a PG-13 rating and far more likable lead, he's back again with a far more digestible (though not as accessible to non-baseball fans) drama, written by Oscar-winning screenwriters Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List, Gangs Of New York). My favorite movie of the year so far, and though I don't feel it has much chance of winning, it should be considered a leading candidate for nomination.
- 80% chance
5. War Horse
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Despite my losing faith in Steven Spielberg's talent coming off of quite possibly the worst directorial effort of his entire career (Indiana Jones 4... yuck), that doesn't change the fact that critics, or rather Oscar voters, love him. He's probably the biggest name in Hollywood, and it's no surprise. He's managed to turn almost everything he touches into gold (Oscar gold, that is), and even if it isn't as powerful as some people might hope it to be, War Horse looks like it could very well be just another in a long line of Spielbergian Oscar magnets.
- 75% chance
6. J. Edgar
Directed by Clint Eastwood
As I've previously mentioned, the mere thought of Clint Eastwood & Leonardo DiCaprio working together on the same movie is in itself an aphrodisiac, but when you combine the peripheral actors (Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer) with the fact that it's a biopic of an interesting historical figure, you know that the Oscar possibilities are endless. I don't think the trailer is going to do this movie justice, but I guess we'll find out this November.
- 75% chance
7. The Tree Of Life
Directed by Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick's latest creation may be too artistic and personal for the Oscars, but the beautiful visuals and excellent performances by Pitt and Chastain just might win over fringe voters. Though it is practically already guaranteed nominations in the visual categories, Best Picture and some of the other main categories could be hard for it to earn nominations in, but I think it stands a reasonable chance. Quite possibly the hardest movie of the year to predict nominations for...
- 70% chance
8. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II
Directed by David Yates
Wait, did I just say The Tree Of Life was the hardest movie to predict? Well, maybe the second most difficult, because Harry Potter 7 Part II could quite easily throw a monkey wrench that could very well destroy my entire list of predictions. When an iconic pop culture movie manages to succeed at the Oscars, it always gives us a big shock, but with Harry Potter, we haven't seen that happen yet. Jaws, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Avatar -- all of these were nominated for Best Picture, so why hasn't Harry Potter also been nominated yet? It grossed over $1 billion, has an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is the final chapter of quite possibly the biggest pop culture phenomenon of all-time. Why shouldn't it get a nomination? The real question is if the Oscars, at this point in time, are able to take Harry Potter seriously. And I sure hope they do.
- 65% chance
Other potential nominees coming soon.