(bump) Well, folks, it’s been a long year. Actually, I can’t tell if it’s been a long year or a short one. It seems like yesterday that I was hearing the Oscar nominations that excluded The Dark Knight from the Best Picture lineup to include The Reader instead. I didn’t think the inclusion of The Reader was what was wrong, but rather the established order of things. Films get put into an Oscars box and they kind of move alone all season in a mostly unpredictable fashion. They are usually the films that have the least amount of baggage, generally speaking, or that they have one unique thing about them that pushes them through. Put your predictions in the comments section. If you all agree to find the winner, I will award a prize. The counting part of it will be too challenging for me. More, with my Oscar nomination predictions after the cut. After the upset the Dark Knight’s exclusion caused, the knowledge that the Oscars were becoming, perhaps, too obscure for their own good (but making some great choices along the way) we found ourselves in the midst of a kind of Oscars renaissance not unlike the 1970s. Or at least, it has felt that way to me. So when the Academy decided to open up the Best Picture race to ten, everyone immediately thought that meant more mainstream genre films would get in to draw more viewers to the telecast and make the Oscars more relevant overall. There was this idea that they appealed to such a small group of people they would eventually be selected out and there would either be no more Oscars on TV, or the Oscars would move to cable. And so it goes. Now, with ten, there is the opportunity to include both the films that are great from an artistic and cinematic perspective, as well as those the public liked. If all goes according to plan, there will be quite a few films represented that made more than, or close to $100 million. Which films will they choose? With the preferential ballot, it is almost impossible to say with certainty. We can only guess. Let’s run them down, Oscar watchers. And by Tuesday morning we can all feel gutted or elated together. Remember, nobody really knows anything and there are no such things as “Oscar experts.” It is always a best guess. What we do know, though, is that Kris Tapley and Dave Karger are really good at guessing. I’d also add Anne Thompson, David Poland, Damien Bona, Erik Childress, Pete Hammond, Tom O’Neil, and on and on it goes. I’m going to allow three alternates for Best Picture and one alternate for each of the other categories — and we’ll not include either doc shorts or live action shorts, or shorts of any kind. These can serve as tiebreakers in the event of a tie. Starting with surest bets and working downward in that order: Best Picture Avatar The Hurt Locker Up in the Air Inglourious Basterds Precious An Education District 9 Star Trek Invictus Up Alternates: A Serious Man, The Hangover, 500 Days of Summer Long shot shocker: The Road, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Blind Side Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart George Clooney, Up in the Air Morgan Freeman, Invictus Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker Colin Firth, A Single Man Just Missing Alternates: Viggo Mortensen, The Road Long Shot Shocker: Ben Foster, The Messenger Best Actress Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side Carey Mulligan, An Education Gabby Sidibe, Precious Helen Mirren, The Last Station Just Missing Alternate: Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria Long Shot Shocker: Tilda Swinton, Julia (or I suppose Zoe Saldana for Avatar) Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds Woody Harrelson, The Messenger Matt Damon, Invictus Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones Christopher Plummer, The Last Station Just Missing Alternate: Alec Baldwin, It’s Complicated Long Shot Shocker: Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air Julianne Moore, A Single Man Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds Just Missing Alternate: Penelope Cruz, Nine Long Shot Shocker: Emma Thompson, An Education Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Jim Cameron, Avatar Jason Reitman, Up in the Air Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Lee Daniels, Precious Just Missing Alternate – Neill Blomkamp for District 9 Long Shot Shocker – Lone Scherfig, An Education Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Up Just Missing Alternate: Jim Cameron, Avatar Long Shot Shocker: Oren Moverman, The Messenger Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman/Sheldon Turner – Up in the Air Neill Blomkamp – District 9 Nick Hornby, An Education Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious Armando Iannucci, In the Loop Alternate: Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia Long Shot Shocker: Tom Ford, A Single Man Editing: Avatar The Hurt Locker Up in the Air District 9 Inglourious Basterds Alternate: Star Trek Long Shot Shocker: Nine Cinematography: Avatar The White Ribbon The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Nine Alternate: Invictus Long Shot Shocker: Bright Star Art Direction: Avatar District 9 Inglourious Basterds Julie & Julia A Serious Man Alternate: A Single Man Long Shot Shocker: Public Enemies Costumes: The Young Victoria Coco Avant Chanel Inglourious Basterds Julie & Julia Nine Alt: Cheri Long Shot: Bright Star Sound: Avatar The Hurt Locker Star Trek District 9 Transformers Alternate: 2012 Long Shot Shocker: Up Sound Editing: Avatar Up The Hurt Locker 2012 District 9 Alt: Transformers Long Shot: Inglourious Basterds Score: Up The Informant! Avatar A Single Man A Serious Man Alt: Up in the Air Long Shot: The Hurt Locker Foreign Language Film: A Prophet The White Ribbon Samson & Delilah The Milk of Sorrow Winter in Wartime Alt: El Secreto Long Shot: have no clue about any of these, I’m sorry to say. Doc Feature: The Cove Food, Inc. The Beaches of Agnes Every Little Step Facing Ali Alt: Valentino Long Shot: Again, no clue. Animated Feature: Up The Fantastic Mr. Fox The Princess and the Frog Coraline Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Alt: 9 Long Shot: Ponyo Visual Effects: Avatar District 9 2012 Alternate: Star Trek Long Shot: Transformers Makeup: The Road The Young Victoria District 9 Alt. Il Divo Long shot: Imaginarium Best Song: The Weary Kind (Crazy Heart) I See You (Avatar) Stu’s Song (The Hangover) Almost There (The Princess and the Frog I Want to Come Home (Everybody’s Fine) Alt. Cinema Italiano Long Shot: it’s just too wide open of a field with quirky rules so it’s impossible to predict this category. So there you have it. I might change a prediction here or there, but for the most part, this is how I think it will go. Let’s see how well I do, and how well you do! Remember, don’t predict any of the shorts categories.