1. Clint Eastwood, Invictus – The Academy loves Clint, and with this story about Nelson Mandella, you can almost guarantee they will go for this one.
2. Rob Marshall, Nine – The Academy probably still feels bad that they gave Chicago all those Oscars, then gave the best director prize to a confessed rapist instead of Marshall. If Nine is anywhere near the Oscar player it hopes to be, then I think he gets in.
3. Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones – The Academy loves Peter Jackson, and now they can nominate him for doing something serious instead of something with hobbits or giant monkeys. You can bet they probably will.
4. Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker – One of the best directed films of recent years, this intense, gritty war movie is getting a lot of buzz (I told you all that a year ago when I saw it in Toronto!), so she could easily become the fourth female nominee in this category’s history.
5. Jason Reitman, Up in the Air – If they will nominate him for Juno, then I think they will probably do the same thing this time around, for a film that is already getting great reviews.
6. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life – A true legend, and now matter what, I can guarantee that The Tree of Life will be one of the more stunning visual movies of the year. Having said, they have only nominated him once before.
7. John Hillcoat, The Road – His last film, The Proposition, got great reviews, but no one saw it. Delivering an acclaimed version of the Cormac McCarthy bestselling novel could get him noticed this year. But if it’s so good, why do they keep moving the damn thing?
8. Lee Daniels, Precious – Undoubtedly going to be one of the more popular films with the Academy, but I wonder if it’s the type of thing the directors will go for. I’m not accusing them of being racist or anything, but only one African American director has ever been nominated.
9. Lone Scherfig, An Education – Like Precious, sure to be a multiple nominee, but also like Precious, I wonder if the director will want something more visual for a nominee. If it’s really going to make a push for the win, then he has to be nominated.
10. Joel & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man – It was just two years ago that the brothers won this prize and their films are always visually interesting. But it seems to me that either the Academy goes big for the Coens, or completely ignores them. We’ll see which one this is.
1. An Education (Nick Hornby) – Already getting great reviews for its stars, I find it hard to believe that the writers will not give Hornby a nomination for his adaptation of the book.
2. Precious (Damien Paul) – They certainly are playing up the adaptation aspect in the previews, and the official title, and I have little doubt that this will get in.
3. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman) – The reviews are concentrating more on the screenplay than the direction of Reitman, and he is popular with the Academy, so he’s in.
4. The Lovely Bones (Philipa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson) – These three got nominated three times for The Lord of the Rings, and won once, so you’d be silly to bet against them here.
5. Invictus (Anthony Peckham) – Often, Eastwood’s collaborators get overlooked, but if this turns into a HUGE Oscar player, this could be pulled along.
6. Nine (Michael Tolkin, Anthony Minghella) – Even a lot of big musicals do not have their screenplays nominated, but sympathy for Minghella may pull this one along in a nomination.
7. The Informant (Scott Z. Burns) – A great book, and the screenplay looks to be very clever, so this could get a nomination before all is said and done.
8. The Road (John Penhall) – Adapting McCarthy worked for the Coens, but John Penhall is not the Coens. We’ll have to wait and see.
9. Amelia (Ronald Bass) – Some think this will be a huge player, and if they are right – which means I’m wrong – the screenplay could get in.
10. The Men Who Stare at Goats (Peter Straughn) – Surely going to be one of the year’s strangest movies, the writers sometimes embrace strange more than the rest of the Academy.
1. Up (Bob Peterson) – Wall-E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story all got nominations. It would be silly to think that this one won’t.
2. A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen) – The Coens can sometimes get in with the writers when the rest of the Academy ignores them, so I would bet on this one, even if the movie does not take off.
3. The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal) – Shaping up to be a major player, and even if it is more of a technical achievement, the screenplay is quite good.
4. The Tree of Life (Terance Malick) – They have nominated Malick in the past, so as long as this one has more of a story, I could see this getting a nomination.
5. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino) – Tarantino has got the best reviews since Pulp Fiction, so I think the writers will have to nominate him again.
6. Bright Star (Jane Campion) – Writers love writers, so perhaps this movie about Keats will find some love.
7. 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb) – Clever and witty, and a surprise hit, I could see the writers going for this one.
8. In the Loop – Hilarious and well written, this could be the only place the best political satire of the year gets a nomination.
9. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar) – They love Almodovar – sometimes. This is not getting as good of reviews as some of his others, but he still has a chance.
10. It's Complicated (Nancy Meyers) – Not really the type of thing they normally go for, but if it becomes a big hit, I could see it happening.