The Academy Awards are a little more than a week away. That means there are only a few days left to suss out the various categories and attempt to complete an Oscar ballot that accurately projects the winners in every category ... or at least enough winners to win your Oscar office pool.
Academy voters must submit their selections by 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday, which means they also have the Presidents’ Day weekend ahead to decide whether — like pretty much every awards show this season — they’d like to pronounce “The Artist” as the best picture of 2011.
In these final crucial days of Oscar campaigning, it’s worth taking stock of where the races in the six major categories stand at the moment. Here’s what some key prognosticating sources are saying.
Also, don’t forget to check back in with Celebritology next week, where I’ll be sharing my Oscar-winner best guesses, along with a video series in which Post film critic Ann Hornaday and I share our preferences and predictions in eight of the major categories.
The nominees are: Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”), Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”), Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”) and Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life”).
The tea leaves say: Michel Hazanavicius already won the Directors Guild’s top honor, often a predictor of what will happen in the Oscar race. (During the past decade, the DGA and Academy Award winners in this category have synched 9 out of 10 times.) Gold Derby also has Hazanavicius as the odds-on favorite, while an Entertainment Weekly article in the upcoming Feb. 24 issue suggests Hazanavicius has a 30 percent chance of winning, with Scorsese right behind him at 25 percent.
Bottom line: Looks like we’ll all need to make sure we can pronounce Hazanavicius.
Best supporting actress
The nominees are: Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”), Jessica Chastain (“The Help”), Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”), Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”).
Bottom line: Barring a backlash, Spencer seems to have this locked.
Best supporting actor
The nominees are: Kenneth Branagh (“My Week With Marilyn”), Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior”), Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”).
The tea leaves say: This race appears to be just as predictable as the other supporting category. Like Spencer, Plummer has already collected the Critics Choice, the Globe, the SAG and the BAFTA. And every prognosticator on the planet has already said the veteran actor — who has never won an Oscar — will finally get one Feb. 26.
Bottom line: Again, unless there’s an 11th hour change in voter sentiment, Plummer should coast into the winners’ circle.
The nominees are: Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”), Viola Davis (“The Help”), Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”).
The tea leaves say: The lead acting categories are the toughest to call in this year’s Academy Awards race; best actress appears to be a neck-and-neck sprint between Davis and Streep. The former won the Critics Choice Award and the SAG, while the latter took the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. Gold Derby puts Davis ahead of her “Doubt” co-star; that upcoming EW issue also projects that Davis stands in the lead with 35 percent of the vote, but that Streep’s right behind her with 30 percent.
Bottom line: This could easily go either way.
The nominees are: Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”), George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), Gary Oldman (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”).
The tea leaves say: At first glance, this appears to be another two-person race between Clooney and Dujardin. Once again, they have split the major acting awards so far; “The Descendants” star won the Critics Choice and the Golden Globe, while Dujardin snagged a SAG and a BAFTA. Gold Derby has Dujardin in the lead. EW projects Clooney will win. And behind Door No. 3, Indiewire says Pitt is actually going to beat both of them.
Bottom line: Your guess is as good as anyone’s? At the very least, don’t completely rule out Pitt.
The nominees are: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life” and “Warhorse”
The Internet tea leaves say: “The Artist,” “The Artist” “The Artist.” In addition to many critics awards, it was already named best picture at the Golden Globes (musical/comedy category), the Critics Choice Awards, the BAFTAs and the Producers Guild Awards. Virtually anyone trying to use his or her Oscar psychic powers to determine this year’s best picture winner has already called it for “The Artist.” One thing worth nothing: EW’s breakdown positions the silent film as the front-runner, but with only 20 percent of the vote; “The Help” and “Hugo” are tied for second, according to the magazine’s odds, with 15 percent each. The fact that there are nine nominees could divvy up votes more than “Artist” buzz might have us think.
Bottom line: “The Artist” still seems like the safest best picture to mark on your ballot.