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This year's PGA nominees (announced tomorrow) will do little to clear up the Best Picture scenario at the Oscars. Why? Because the guild will be chalking up a full slate of 10 nominees once again, despite the fact that the Academy's final line-up could be anywhere from five to 10.
The PGA made the shift to 10 the same year the Academy did, playing follow the leader. Those two years were incredibly close to the ultimate Oscar slate, though. In 2009, the guild's nominees "Invictus" and "Star Trek" were replaced by "The Blind Side" and "A Serious Man" at the Oscars, while in 2010, "The Town" was replaced by "Winter's Bone."
I don't think there's much of a pattern there worth considering, though films like "A Serious Man" and "Winter's Bone" certainly represent the kind of concentrated passion plays that are needed to register with the Academy. But it's entirely probable that neither would have made the cut under the new rules. The point being: we're likely to see all the Oscar nominees in tomorrow's PGA announcement. The trick will be sussing out which ones they are.
The other guild announcements this month will help -- a little -- but the Academy race is a fickle thing that can change with the wind. And the wind is blowing right now.
PGA polls opened on December 5 and close today. (That's right, they go all the way up to the day before the announcement.) So these will be largely reflective of where the race stood throughout last month. Late-breaking efforts screened for the group, of course, but never had a chance to build the kind of buzz needed to register. Then again, this year's late-breaking titles ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") never hit a considerable buzz stride, anyway.
The last two years have also seen the eventual Pixar entry slotted by the PGA, both in the Best Picture field and in the Best Animated Feature field. But there is no Pixar entry this time around, and the closest potential match, "Rango," doesn't have the laurels "Up" and "Toy Story 3" did.
So what will be nominated?
Well, first of all, in case you missed it, the documentary nominees were announced last month. And assuming three animated feature nominees again, I'll go with "The Adventures of Tintin," "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Rango." Additionally, Steven Spielberg has already been tapped for this year's David O. Selznick Award, while Angelina Jolie's "In the Land of Blood and Honey" will receive the group's Stanley Kramer Award.
In the big category, I think if this year's Oscar race were reduced to the usual five contenders, "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo" and "War Horse" would be those five. If any of them misses tomorrow: uh-oh.
After that, we have the usual handful of films that look like Best Picture possibilities this year, but there are three blockbusters/entertainments in the mix that could easily pop up here: "Bridesmaids," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." This group tends to be more welcoming of that kind of thing, so I expect at least one of them, quite possibly two to make it in.
Alright, enough talk. Here is my bet:
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"The Tree of Life"
And on the outside, "J. Edgar," which could prove the allegiance to Clint Eastwood once and for all this year. "The Tree of Life" might be the weak spot, but we'll see. And "Drive" is a film I'd love to see pop up here, and maybe it'll happen, but it seems like too cool a move for the group to make.
Maybe a surprise like "Super 8" could happen. Maybe "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and/or "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" spoke to the group after all. Maybe "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" can finally register. But those are my predictions.
What are yours?
For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.
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