My apologies for Oscar Eye going MIA for a week there-- as you may have noticed, I was on the ground at the Sundance Film Festival providing all the coverage you could possibly want from our nation's snowiest film festival. But now I'm back in New York, and holy shit, the Oscar nominations are tomorrow! Believe me when I tell you this year's Sundance was so good that I forgot about the Oscars entirely.

We're so close to the nominations announcement that it's almost not worth throwing out some last-minute predictions, but hey, I'm a completist even after spending 10 days completely out of the loop. Of course the big news that happened while I was away is that Kathryn Bigelow won the Director's Guild award for Best Director, cementing her status as the Best Director frontrunner and meaning the men in the category will basically be playing catchup. Bigelow's win was no surprise, but a slight shock came in at the SAG Awards, where Inglourious Basterds walked away with Best Ensemble over competition like Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker. That doesn't automatically make Basterds a Best Picture winner, but it does make you think a little.

Anyway, tomorrow morning before I've even had my coffee, half these predictions will be proven wrong and everyone will be wondering how the conventional wisdom failed to predict this or that nominee. That's always the fun part, though, the surprises. I'll be up early to cover the nominees and figure out where all of mine went wrong... but in the meantime, here are my picks for nominees in the top categories, with whatever reasoning I can come up with. Forgive me. I'm still on mountain time.


oscar winner prediction
BEST PICTURE

Now's the time to start getting insecure and making crazy predictions, and with the nominations so close, it's tempting to do just that. I've got with a top 10 that feels very shaky, and District 9 or A Serious Man could easily be replaced with anything in the second column. These predictions largely go with conventional wisdom, but I'd be happy to be surprised.
oscar winner prediction
An Education
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

oscar winner prediction
The Blind Side
Crazy Heart
Julie & Julia
Nine
Star Trek
500 Days of Summer
The Last Station
oscar winner prediction
oscar winner prediction
Bright Star
Brothers
The Hangover
The Informant!
Public Enemies
Sherlock Holmes
A Single Man
The Road
Where the Wild Things Are


oscar winner prediction
BEST DIRECTOR

Didn't the DGA lineup just feel right this year? Usually one of the directors get bumped out in favor of the others, but with Invictus slumping in the home stretch and Oscar's love of congratulating itself on its diversity, Lee Daniels just feels right. Bigelow, obviously, will be the winner, so in a way it doesn't even matter.
oscar winner prediction
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
oscar winner prediction
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Rob Marshall, Nine
oscar winner prediction
Jane Campion, Bright Star
Tom Ford, A Single Man
Lone Scherfig, An Education
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John Hillcoat, The Road
Michael Hoffman, The Last Station
Michael Mann, Public Enemies
Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Jim Sheridan, Brothers

oscar winner prediction
BEST ACTOR
A rising tide raises all boats, and as Kathryn Bigelow has ascended to Best Director frontrunner, she's taken lead actor Jeremy Renner with her. The vulnerable one here now feels like Morgan Freeman, as Invictus fades. Either Stuhlbarg or Mortensen seems likeliest to take advantage if that happens.
oscar winner prediction
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
oscar winner prediction
Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
Viggo Mortensen, The Road
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man
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Matt Damon, The Informant!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer
Tobey Maguire, Brothers
Sam Rockwell, Moon
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Sharlto Copley, District 9
Johnny Depp, Public Enemies
Ben Foster, The Messenger
Hal Holbrook, That Evening Sun

oscar winner prediction
BEST ACTRESS

No one has shown up to challenge Helen Mirren's largely uncontested spot, so unless all the Academy voters miraculously saw Julia and fight hard for Tilda Swinton, the lineup that's been predicted for weeks is standing firm.
oscar winner prediction
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
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Marion Cotillard, Nine
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
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Tilda Swinton, Julia
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Natalie Portman, Brothers
Saiorse Ronan, The Lovely Bones

oscar winner prediction
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

I'm going a little crazy in this category, first predicting that the Invictus stumble will rob Matt Damon of his nomination-- not that he particularly deserved it-- and pass it on to Peter Sarsgaard instead. And then, a little crazier, I'm giving Stanley Tucci the nomination for Julie & Julia instead of The Lovely Bones. Playing it safe never really pays off that well, so why not go with my gut this time.
oscar winner prediction
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Peter Sarsgaard, An Education
Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
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Matt Damon, Invictus
Alfred Molina, An Education
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Richard Kind, A Serious Man
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Paul Schneider, Bright Star
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
oscar winner prediction
Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated

oscar winner prediction
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

God only knows who will show up in here next to Mo'nique, because the category has been dominated so much by her this season. Cotillard is still there, because at this point I feel invested in it, and Moore sticks around because she's just such a frequent Oscar bridesmaid they probably feel obligated to include her.
oscar winner prediction
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Mo'Nique, Precious
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
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Penelope Cruz, Nine
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
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Mariah Carey, Precious
Samantha Morton, The Messenger
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Paula Patton, Precious
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