Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

We took a week off around Christmas to refocus and leave all this madness behind for a moment, but we're back on the case today ready to chew on the few morsels left in the year to discuss. The clock is ticking on 2011, so let's see what's on the docket today...

The film critics have been dishing out year-end kudos and top 10 lists, making for an interesting up and down and jockeying for position as the most lauded film of the year. Contenders like "The Tree of Life," "The Descendants," "The Artist" and "Drive" are bubbling up to the top.

The PGA and WGA will be the next guilds to speak up next week. We briefly discuss what we might expect there and what it means at this point in the race.

One film that has won the late-breaking award this year is Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," which came on strong at the box office around the holiday and could keep it rolling this weekend. (UPDATE: Looking at the Friday numbers, it actually appears to have leveled out. Interesting.)

Some films seem to have missed the beat, namely "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." Though the book is by no means closed on either hopeful, we talk about how they're faring amid the competition as they open at the end of the year.

We do a little bit of category focusing by examining the Best Actress race, which, as far as we're concerned, appears to be locked in.

And finally, reader questions! We address queries ranging from how Jessica Chastain might be perceived if she didn't have a big body of work this year and what contenders could be surprising "out of the blue" nominees next month.

Have a listen to the new podcast below with The Chromatics leading the way. If the file cuts off for you at any time, try the back-up download link at the bottom of this post. And as always, remember to subscribe to Oscar Talk via iTunes here.

Subscribe to Oscar Talk

"Tick of the Clock" courtesy of The Chromatics and Italians Do It Better.
"Auld Lang Syne" courtesy of Prince.

OSCAR TALK: Ep. 75