I am going to try like crazy to get the remaining four categories in the top eight posted in the next day or two as their tallies reflect how things were at the end of August, before The Ides of March screened in Venice, so I won't be mentioning the recent spike in George Clooney's Best Supporting Actor buzz in this article. Oh, dammit, I just did.
The supporting categories are much more difficult to narrow down than their leading counterparts because the fields are so much wider. While a film typically only has one, maybe two leading roles, it can have almost any number of possible nominees in the supporting categories. Of course, generally speaking, once the pictures are seen, it becomes obvious who the one or two (or three, look at The Fighter last year) standouts are in any given cast. At this stage, it's mostly guesswork.
With that in mind:
1. Beginners - Christopher Plummer (73) 0 wins out of 1 nomination
Highly praised work from an Oscar-less veteran who's done highly praised work for decades. Then again...Could his work in Tattoo split his votes?
2. A Dangerous Method - Viggo Mortensen (53) 0 wins out of 1 nomination
Many feel that he is overdue and was snubbed two years ago for The Road. Then again...Will he stand out enough in a cast full of potential standouts?
3. The Ides of March - Phillip Seymour Hoffman (50) 1 win out of 3 nominations
Arguably the king of modern character actors in a big baity film. Then again...with Giamatti and Clooney also supporting in Ides will the Academy be able to choose?
4. J. Edgar - Armee Hammer (47) (never nominated)
Oscar loves when straight men play gay and he has a lot of leftover Social Network love. Then again...Is he still too new to catch Oscar's eye?
5. The Iron Lady - Jim Broadbent (40) (1 win out of 1 nomination)
Consistently great actor who's still waiting for that second nod. Then again...Could his performance fade into the background next to Streep?
6. My Week With Marilyn - Kenneth Branagh (36) (0 wins out of 1 nomination in this category)
Early reviews have focused most of their praise of him, exceeding expectations with Thor didn't hurt, Weinstein is backing his film, and he has no Oscars after four nominations in four different categories. Then again....um....he's not currently in the top five?
7. The Tree of Life - Brad Pitt (26) (0 wins out of 2 nominations)
Praised by many as his best work to date. Then again...no actor in a Malick film has EVER been nominated.
8. Drive - Albert Brooks (22) (0 wins out of 1 nomination)
Highly praised work by a veteran actor in a critically acclaimed but rather un-Oscar-y film that the Academy is likely to want to reward with a nomination SOMEWHERE. Best Supporting Actor could be that category. Then again... so could Editing.
9. Moneyball - Phillip Seymour Hoffman (19) (1 win out of 3 nominations)
If the film gains overall traction, expect Hoffman to follow suit. Then again... he's competing against his own performance in Ides.
10. Martha, Marcy, Mae, Marlene - John Hawkes (18) (0 wins out of 1 nomination)
He's already made a splash on the festival circuit, and caught Oscar's attention in Winter's Bone. Then again...the field this year looks both wide and deep, and he JUST got his first nomination last year.
Also, with ten or more buzz points: Carnage (Christoph Waltz), Extremely Loud and Incredible Close (Thomas Horn), Hugo (Ben Kingsley), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Christopher Plummer), The Ides of March (George Clooney), The Ides of March (Paul Giamatti), The Tree of Life (Sean Penn), We Need To Talk About Kevin (Ezra Miller)
How accurate was the buzz this time last year?
1. The Fighter (Christian Bale)
2. The Way Back (Ed Harris)
' 3. The Kids Are All Right (Mark Ruffalo)
4. The King's Speech (Geoffrey Rush)
5. Get Low (Bill Murray)
Three out of five is pretty good, especially with the eventual winner in the top slot. Renner and Hawkes were both eleventh hour contenders. The Town far exceeded expectations and Winter's Bone grew in stature after the Gotham and Inderpendant Spirit Awards. Murray peaked too early and The Way Back just sort of fizzled.
Any of this year's unseen films could disappoint or pleasantly surprise, but I doubt Broadbent's chances. I fear that the Iron Lady will just be the Streep show. The Weinsteins are likely to throw supporting support to Branagh instead. Brooks and Hawkes are dangerous wild cards. And just lately, everyone is muttering about Nick Nolte's work in Warrior. Look for him on the next update.
Swamped for time,