Well, the Oscars are being awarded this Sunday.

The top actress spot should be a battle between Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Michelle Williams, all winners this award season. The nominees are:

Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”- My Pick
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Rooney Mara was the surprise here, her take as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was superb, but i still preferred Noomi Rapace’s version in the Swedish original. I thought Michelle was a lock when I saw “My Week With Marilyn”, but the work Meryl did as the “Iron Lady”, especially in the scenes of her playing Margaret Thatcher as an 86 year old, struggling with dementia, was unbelievably good. I think Meryl will finally win again, in spite of the lukewarm reception of the film itself.

One of the most interesting acting category will be the Supporting Actress award, where upsets can happen. The nominees are:

Bérénice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help” – My Pick

Melissa McCarthy is having a monster year and this nomination is the icing on the cake. It’s very unusual for the Academy to honor a comedic role, especially in a very raunchy, and very funny, movie like “Bridesmaids” (and I was thrilled that Kristin Wiig was one of the nominees for Original Screenplay), but I think the award will go to Octavia Spenser.

It’s been a good year for Brad Pitt with nods for Best Actor and as Producer of “Moneyball” in the Best Picture category. The Best Actor nominees were:

Demián Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”-My Pick
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Brad was terrific in “Moneyball” and I was so glad to see Demián Bichir, nominated for his brilliant and touching work as an East LA, illegal immigrant, gardener. George Clooney gives one of his best performances in “The Descendants”, but I think the momentum is with “The Artist” and Jean Dujardin.

The Supporting Actor spot had one surprise, a nod for another silent performance, Max Von Sydow as the mute character in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”. The Nominees are:

Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”- My Pick
Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

I was glad to see Jonah Hill, a very funny comedic performer, recognized for his nuanced work in “Moneyball”.  Kenneth Branagh was terrific as Sir Lawrence Olivier, but I think the Oscar will go to Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”,  for a great performance, but also as a reward for a lifetime of acting achievement.

Best Foreign Language Film honors will go to “A Separation”, an Iranian film that was one of the very best movies I saw all year. Amazing direction and acting, a movie that you must go out of your way to see, make the effort to find it.

The Best Picture  slot could have included as few as five nominees but the Academy went with nine this year:

“The Artist,” Thomas Langmann, producer- My Pick
“The Descendants,” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” Scott Rudin, producer
“The Help,” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, producers
“Hugo,” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, producers
“Midnight in Paris,” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, producers
“Moneyball,” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, producers
“The Tree of Life,” Nominees to be determined
“War Horse,” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, producers

This should come down to “The Artist” and “The Descendents” and I think “The Artist”, will squeak out a win here with Michel Hazanavicius getting top directing honors.

The lion’s share of the technical honors will be split between “Hugo”, top nominee getter with 11, and “The Artist”, scoring 10 nominations in all.

The awards will be handed out this Sunday, February 26, and the show from the Kodak Theater will be aired on ABC. The reliable Billy Crystal is back and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

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