Tomorrow morning is just another Thursday for some people, but for us film lovers, it’s the second coming of Christmas. Alright, that was too far. But it is the announcement of Oscar nominations, almost six weeks before the actual ceremony, and we’ll get an idea of just which films will dominate the box office and audience chatter for that time. Without further adieu, I break down the locks and possibilities to come for tomorrow’s nominees in the six main categories.

BEST PICTURE

LOCKS:

  • Argo
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Amour
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • The Master
  • Moonrise Kingdom

For those who aren’t familiar with the ridiculous rules they have now, there will be anywhere from 5-10 nominees on tomorrow’s telecast. Some say it will be around 7 or 8, others a full ten. I see it being right around 8 or 9, but there is that distinct possibility it reaches ten. There are many popular films this year that have divided critics’ groups; the six above are absolute locks, the ones we’ll see on there no matter what. The top four on the lower list are the ones that will make it if there’s a full ten: I see Beasts and Django sneaking in, with a total of 8. I could be wrong, and that wouldn’t surprise me, but if you’re a betting man, those are the six to go all in. 

BEST DIRECTOR

LOCKS:

  • Ben Affleck, Argo
  • Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
  • Ang Lee, Life of Pi
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Michael Haenke, Amour
  • Tom Hooper, Les Misérables
  • David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

The four above are mortal locks, with no way of them being beaten out by anyone. The only way any of them misses is if the Academy somehow ignores Lee’s brilliant vision and replaces him with Haenke or Hooper, and then one of those other three filling out the last slot. This one is the most tricky because of how few there are in play, and I can see any of those three taking that last slot. If I had to put down money, it would be with Hooper, because of his following. 

BEST ACTOR

LOCKS:

  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
  • Denzel Washington, Flight
  • Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
  • John Hawkes, The Sessions
  • Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
  • Richard Gere, Arbitrage

Daniel Day-Lewis will win the Oscar this year, there’s no doubt in my (or anyone else’s) mind, and he deserves it. Who will be joining him is an interesting mix. Phoenix notoriously trashed the awards season, making him seem less and less likely to sneak in for a great performance in a great film. Jackman is essentially a lock, but I wonder if the Academy will embrace him as much as Hathaway and the idea of the film. Hawkes will probably sneak in and grab a deserved nod, but could Golden Globe nominee Richard Gere make it in? I see Hawkes and Jackman grabbing the final two.

BEST ACTRESS

LOCKS:

  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
  • Helen Mirren, Hitchcock

This is going to be a really, really good race. Chastain and Lawrence will be a pretty close call until the end, and both are incredibly deserving (with Chastain making a larger impact on her film). Riva is a critics’ fave and will become the oldest nominee in Oscar history; I sincerely hope Wallis becomes the youngest, and I can see her appeal carrying through, especially if her film grabs a Best Picture nod. Watts is so great, but I have a feeling she’ll be overlooked. I see Cotillard grabbing a deserved nod for her work, although Mirren could very well sneak in and grab an oddball nod. Wallis and Cotillard close out the five.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

LOCKS:

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
  • Alan Arkin, Argo
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
  • Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Javier Bardem, Skyfall
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
  • Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
  • Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
  • Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike

This is a tricky race. I can see those top three as absolute locks with no way of them budging, and I’d assume De Niro is guaranteed his first recognition in 20 years, but the Academy has never been kind to making sense. What could happen? DiCaprio and Waltz both grabbing nods and sealing out the top five, but if only one makes it, it’ll be DiCaprio, since he’s so rarely noticed for his tremendous work and the Oscars will oblige. McConaughey and Jackson are those wild cards, but Bardem is a distinct possibility for a film that will light up the crafts. DiCaprio grabs the final slot.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

LOCKS:

  • Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
  • Sally Field, Lincoln
  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions

POSSIBILITIES:

  • Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Judi Dench, Skyfall
  • Amy Adams, The Master
  • Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
  • Ann Dowd, Compliance

Hathaway will win this year, there’s just no way the hype doesn’t carry over. This is the messiest category because of those bottom five can take up the remaining two slots: Dowd has been taking a lot of critics’ awards, and Adams is the favorite that has died out, but Smith and Dench are titans that deliver strong performances in their films, like it or not. Kidman has scored numerous nominations for a film many dismissed, but does she have a chance? I see Adams (hopefully) grabbing her deserved nod and Kidman helping round out the top five.

Written by Eric Forthun