Oscar predictions: Three months to go

Ryan Gosling earned a Spirit nod for "Drive," but I have a feeling "Ides of March" may be his better shot with the Academy.

Story highlights

  • "The Tree of Life" and "Dragon Tattoo" stand the best chance of climbing the ladder
  • Can a master like Scorsese top the French whippersnapper Hazanavicius?
  • It feels like Viola Davis vs. Meryl Streep for the win
It's been a busy 24 hours in Awardsland, with the announcement of the New York Film Critics Circle and Gotham Award winners as well as the Spirit Award nominees.
How does everything that's happened so far shake up the overall Oscar race? Well, the dominating performance by "The Artist" with the New York critics and the Spirits committee certainly cements its status as the frontrunner.
But since the Spirit Award nominees are only voted on by a small number of people, we shouldn't suddenly count out George Clooney for "The Descendants" or Glenn Close for "Albert Nobbs" just because they didn't make the cut. Oftentimes the Spirit Awards favor darker, grittier performances and lesser-known performers, and Clooney isn't exactly known as an indie-film mainstay. So he's still at the top of my predictions list for Best Actor. Here's how I see everything at this early date.
Best Picture
1. "The Artist"
2. "The Descendants"
3. "War Horse"
4. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
5. "Midnight in Paris"
6. "The Help"
7. "Moneyball"
8. "The Ides of March"
9. "Hugo"
10. "The Tree of Life"
11. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
12. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
13. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2"
14. "Young Adult"
15. "J. Edgar"
The unknown quantities at this point are "Dragon Tattoo" (which failed to win any New York critics awards) and "Extremely Loud" (which no one has yet seen). "The Tree of Life" and "Dragon Tattoo" are the two films that stand the best chance of climbing the ladder in the weeks to come. I'd say only the top 13 above really have any shot at a nomination.
Best Director
1. Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
2. Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
3. Steven Spielberg, "War Horse"
4. Stephen Daldry, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
5. Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
6. David Fincher, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
7. Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
8. Bennett Miller, "Moneyball"
9. Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
10. Tate Taylor, "The Help"
11. George Clooney, "The Ides of March"
12. Steve McQueen, "Shame"
This is a great mix of relative newcomers and living legends. Can a master like Spielberg, Scorsese, or Malick top the French whippersnapper Hazanavicius?
Best Actor
1. George Clooney, "The Descendants"
2. Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
3. Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
4. Michael Fassbender, "Shame"
5. Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"
6. Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
7. Woody Harrelson, "Rampart"
8. Ryan Gosling, "The Ides of March"
9. Ryan Gosling, "Drive"
10. Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"
11. Demián Bichir, "A Better Life"
12. Matt Damon, "We Bought A Zoo"
Gosling earned a Spirit nod for "Drive," but I have a feeling "Ides of March" may be his better shot with the Academy. Although at this point I wouldn't be surprised if neither one ends up panning out.
Best Actress
1. Viola Davis, "The Help
2. Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
3. Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"
4. Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
5. Charlize Theron, "Young Adult"
6. Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
7. Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
8. Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
9. Keira Knightley, "A Dangerous Method"
10. Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia"
11. Felicity Jones, "Like Crazy"
12. Ellen Barkin, "Another Happy Day"
The first four seem like locks, while Theron is a very shaky fifth place. Mara is the wild card at this point. It certainly feels like Davis vs. Streep for the win. Meanwhile, Jones topped Olsen for the Gotham breakout prize but I'm sensing "Martha" is the bigger overall contender.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
2. Max Von Sydow, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
3. Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"
4. Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
5. Albert Brooks, "Drive"
6. George Clooney, "The Ides of March"
7. Christoph Waltz, "Carnage"
8. Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"
9. Tom Hanks, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
10. Robert Forster, "The Descendants"
11. Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
12. Stellan Skarsgard, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
This is perhaps the toughest major category to predict. I wasn't bullish on Brooks' chances for "Drive" but the New York win and the Spirit nod prove that I may be wrong. And most of my Oscar-prognosticator colleagues think I'm too high on Branagh's prospects for "Marilyn" but I wonder if Michelle Williams could lift him into contention as well.
Best Supporting Actress
1. Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
2. Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"
3. Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
4. Vanessa Redgrave, "Coriolanus"
5. Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"
6. Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
7. Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
8. Sandra Bullock, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
9. Judy Greer, "The Descendants"
10. Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life"
11. Kate Winslet, "Carnage"
12. Carey Mulligan, "Shame"
Chastain won the New York critics prize for "The Help," "The Tree of Life," and "Take Shelter" but is a prime candidate for vote-splitting, unfortunately. Wouldn't it be wild to see Melissa McCarthy nominated alongside Vanessa Redgrave?