It's that time of year again. In a matter of hours, we'll have the official list of Academy Award nominees, but before that happens, here's my list.
As always, this is a list built on optimism, not speculation. I'm not trying to second-guess the Academy, but instead picking out films and people I personally feel should be singled out for applause.
The names below are ranked in descending order of preference: my top pick for each category is on top, marked with a star for good measure, and below are the contenders, from closest to (relative) farthest.
And as anyone who has read my thoughts on The Social Network is well aware, I consider it a major masterpiece, one of the finest English-language films I've seen in a long time, and hope it wins everything in sight.
*Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, Howl
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
James Franco, 127 Hours
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
*Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Hailee Stanfield, True Grit
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Lesley Banville, Another Year
*Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch, The Social Network
Hans Zimmer, Inception
AR Rahman, 127 Hours
*David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Christopher Nolan, Inception
*The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Never Let Me Go
The King's Speech