The producers of Barney's Version, for example, will be awfully happy to tout Paul Giamatti's recent Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, despite the fact that the film belonged in that category about as much as The Tourist.
Anyhow. Tuesday's announcements will likely follow the same path as every other awards roundup we've seen this movie year - major recognition for the three films above, acting nods (at the very least) for 127 Hours, Blue Valentine and True Grit and a slew of technical recognition for Inception. Beyond that, I hesitate to make predictions; I'm crap at guessing which way the Academy will lean in any given year, and anyway, isn't it just more fun to talk about things we love?
In my best Siskel-and-Ebert helpful-reminder mode, here are some things I'd like to see turn up in the Oscar nominations.
It'd be really nice if, in the inevitable flood of nominations for The Social Network, a Best Supporting Actor nod goes to Armie Hammer, whose dual role as the indignant Winklevoss twins is one of the film's great stealth achievements. Yes, some of it was accomplished digitally, but most of Hammer's remarkable turn comes down to old-fashioned body doubles and a pair of finely delineated performances.
Speaking of unsung acting performances, all three leads in Never Let Me Go do terrific work. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley capture the delicate physicality and hesitant emotions of Kazuo Ishiguro's sheltered characters, and director Mark Romanek captures them and their chilly, forbidding world with sorrowful dignity. The movie vanished almost as soon as it was released last fall, so the Academy almost certainly won't take notice, but this is a film that deserves to be rediscovered. (It's due on disc Feb. 1.)
Wait, more acting: I'd be right appreciative if Robert Duvall's terrific performance in Get Low scores him another Oscar nomination; while we're at it, let's get Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole and Ryan Reynolds in Buried up there, too. All three actors did epic work in their respective films, and it'd be nice to see them recognized. (With James Franco almost a lock for 127 Hours, surely it's only fair to acknowledge the year's other great performance from a handsome actor trapped in an uncomfortable space.)
You probably haven't seen Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as lovers in I Love You, Philip Morris, since its Canadian distributor hasn't set a release date yet. An Oscar nomination for either actor could change that - and the U.S. distributor has been waging a modest but steady campaign that could actually pay off. Carrey's more likely than McGregor to land a nod, since he has the showier role ... but it'd sure be nice to see them both get some love.
It looks like everyone's pretty much forgotten The Ghost Writer, but Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams might be able to squeeze out nominations in the supporting categories. As a British power couple who are in no way meant to resemble Tony and Cherie Blair, they capture the balance of satire and sorrow that drives Robert Harris's fantasy of the political subversion of the United Kingdom ... and they're just so damned magnetic, the both of them.
This wasn't a great year for actresses, and two of the year's finest female performances were in films that hardly anyone saw. Kim Hye-ja's astonishing work as a woman who will do literally anything to get her adult son out from under a murder charge in Bong Joon-ho's Mother was the female performance of the year, to my mind, and Kristin Scott Thomas's crisp turn as John Lennon's inflexible Aunt Mimi in Nowhere Boy a similarly fine showcase for her brittle self-possession. The odds that the Academy will remember either of them - or their fine directors, Bong Joon-ho and Sam Taylor-Wood - are slender at best.
I'm delighted that Denis Villeneuve's Incendies remains on the Foreign-Language shortlist; that'll give the Canadian press something to root for should Barney's Version fail to land a major nomination. (Dustin Hoffman seems like he might have a chance at a Supporting Actor nod, but Giamatti's odds don't look great.) I'm also very happy to see the terrific Greek psychodrama Dogtooth - which opens in Toronto next week - still in contention for the prize.
And while there's virtually no chance anyone from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World will make it to the podium on Oscar night, you never know when it comes to technical nominations. The movie's still on the Visual Effects short list, and the original songs commissioned by director Edgar Wright from the likes of Beck and Broken Social Scene might strike a chord with the Academy's hipper, cooler members - like Anna Kendrick, who's actually in the film.
No, really: "Ramona" is a lovely little ballad, even if it does have just the one lyric, and Garbage Truck is a straight-up rocker. And wouldn't it be great to see Crash And The Boys turn up to perform their three-second song I'm So Sad, So Very Very Sad on Oscar night? Yeah, you know it would.