Well, the list is out and that means many of us, me included, will be scrambling to catch up with the movies that industry pros have selected as the best of the best for 2011.
I haven't seen several of these films, thanks to living in a city that doesn't exactly bring in art films by the boatload, so I've still yet to catch The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredbily Close ... etc. But I have seen a ton of films during the past year, so here's my two cents on the initial list.
I have a feeling that The Descendants and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be the big two based on Hollywood's love of Alexander Payne and George Clooney, as well as the 9/11 healing that continues to go on (not to mention Tom Hanks).
Personally, I'd love to see Midnight in Paris or Hugo get the nod, but neither has a chance. I'm a huge Woody Allen fan and I love his whimsical romantic tales, while Hugo is a love letter to the power of cinema and one of the most enjoyable Martin Scorsese films I've seen in years.
Moneyball was a good film, but it just doesn't belong in this group.
Believe that Clooney will win based on his Globes victory and from the trailer, it looks like he plays an interesting character. I still think he deserved more credit for Up in the Air, which was a brilliant performance, so if he gets it here, I'll be fine with that.
Pitt was solid in Moneyball and really did carry the movie, but it wasn't exactly a powerhouse performance.
I am really peeved that Andy Serkis didn't get a nod for his role as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was a brilliant performance and the best all-around bit of acting I saw this past year. But the politics of Hollywood, which pays many mo-cap performers as stuntmen as opposed to actors, is behind this, me thinks.
I didn't see a single performance in this group, but I always pull for Meryl Streep, who is the most versatile actress I've ever seen. And I have had a crush on her since she played the lead in Carrie Fisher's Postcards From the Edge, so go Meryl.
Branagh and Plummer would seem to be the dynamic duo here and I think Plummer - a fellow Canadian - gets the win as a kind of 'career recognition' nod.
For my money, Alan Rickman deserved a nomination for his performance in the final Harry Potter movie, as well as the franchise as a whole.
Got a feeling Melissa McCarthy gets the nod here and I'd be fine with that.
My money is on Payne, although I'd love to see Scorsese or Allen. Would love to have seen Spielberg get a nod here at the very least for Tintin.
Would love to see Moneyball get this one because Zaillian and Sorkin took a stats-heavy non-fiction book and turned into into an entertaining baseball movie that even women could enjoy because it had some heart to go along with all those stats.
Hoping for Woody to get the win here, which is often how the Academy honours him.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
I'm extremely partial to Puss in Boots, which was surprisingly entertaining and fun. And Rango was quite smart and funny, as well.
Would put my money on either Hugo or War Horse. The Academy loves history and these films definitely tap into that.
Have a feeling The Artist gets the nod here, but personally I'd go with Hugo because of the mix of styles and looks.
Bet on War Horse or Transformers because of the complexity of the mixes.
See Sound Mixing. Same argument.
Tintin was my personal fave. It wasn't typical John Williams, with the 'in-your-face' main theme. Instead, it was whimsical, fun, adventurous and complex.
I'm all about the Muppets here.
I thought Moneyball was a really finely edited film, as was Hugo, with the mix of visuals and styles. I'd be pleased with either of those.
I have a feeling that Apes will get the nod here as some form of recognition for the compelling way in which the apes 'performed' and really gave that film its heart. Potter looked good, as did Hugo and Transformers. And I guess my dark horse would be Real Steel, which looked quite cool and the robot boxers were truly amazing. I had a chance to see them up close at Fan Expo in Toronto and they were stunning. But at the end of the day, I think Apes will carry the day and deservedly so.
And so, that's my two cents. How about you? What are your picks?