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There are a handful of pre-cursor events that happen prior to the announcement of the annual Oscar nominations that give contenders real hope. To see ones name, or even their film, recognized by the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, and yes, even the Golden Globes or the Critics' Choice Awards, means that you are still in the running, and you have a legitimate shot at hearing your name on Oscar noms morning (which will be one week from today -- Tuesday, January 24, so circle the date on your calendar).
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts -- or, the BAFTAs -- are another outstanding indicator of the films, directors, actors and actresses that are leading contenders in the Oscar race. Since 2007, the BAFTAs have lined up with the Oscars in the Best Picture category six our of nines times, accurately predicting wins for Argo and The Hurt Locker (when they looked like runners up during the nomination process). Even when the BAFTAs differed from the Academy, as they did the last two years with The Revenant and Boyhood, they had eventual Oscar winners Spotlight and Birdman in the running in their Best Picture category.
Looking at the full list of BAFTA nominees for 2016, here are the ones I think have a very good shot at making the cut for Oscars on Tuesday, January 24:
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Four of the five films nominated by the BAFTAs have a shot at earning Best Picture nominations from the Academy, with Arrival being the only one that could conceivably be left on the outside looking in. La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea strike me as mortal locks for Best Picture noms, while the BAFTAs love for Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake likely won't continue on this side of the pond.
Denis Villenueve, Arrival
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
Of the five men named by the BAFTAs, I only see three making the cut at the Academy, with Ken Loach and Ton Ford (Nocturnal Animals) traded out for different names at the Oscars. Right now, if I had to gamble, I'd put good money on Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) taking at least one slot, with the other going to Garth Davis for the sentimental Lion.
Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Here's where the Academy and the BAFTAs start to separate (though I wish they were in lock step). The BAFTAs honored Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals) and Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) for outstanding performances in spectacular movies. But I don't like their Oscar odds, and can see them getting replaced by Denzel Washington (Fences) and Tom Hanks (Sully). That fifth slot, which the BAFTAs gave to Andrew Garfield, could stay his, though it might be for Silence instead of Hacksaw Ridge, if enough Academy members see Martin Scorsese's latest.
Amy Adams, Arrival
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie
These three seem to be the names that are repeated most often in the Best Actress category ,and I expect all three of them to receive Oscar nominations on Tuesday, January 24. However, where the BAFTAs went with Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt for Florence Foster Jenkins and The Girl on the Train, respectively, I tend to think the Academy will recognize either Annette Bening (20th Century Women) or Isabelle Huppert (Elle). I'm also holding out hope for Taraji P. Henson, as well as for Hidden Figures to have an impact in multiple categories. We shall see.