I'm beginning to pick up a pattern to these regional critics' award lists, many of which seemingly feel obliged to lead with nominations: three-quarters of their choices fall within the expected bracket of Oscar favorites, while the remaining slots afford room for a few enterprising critics to flex their personality.

So it is with the San Diego crowd, who lead with the expected big hauls for "The Artist" and "Hugo," the former scoring a field-leading eight bids. Yet they continue the smaller organizations' heartening display of support for "Drive" -- is that the third citation for Nicolas Winding Refn in the last two days? I've lost count -- and venture a few suggestions even further outside the awards conversation.

I have to give them props for being the first US group to pay respect to Brendan Gleeson's wonderful comic work in "The Guard," which I've been championing all year, and this is the first vote of any stripe I've seen for "Another Earth" star Brit Marling in Best Actress. I have yet to see the latter, so you'll have to tell me how pleasant a surprise this is.

Other than that, pick your own surprises. "Beginners" clearly has fans in San Diego, since it picked up not just a Supporting Actress nod for Melanie Laurent to go with the inevitable Christopher Plummer citation, but also mentions for writing and editing. Andy Serkis picks up another unorthodox nod for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," though it's still in the wrong category; Potter-heads can rejoice in a screenplay nod for the franchises final instalment. Nice to see the snappy Italian genre piece "The Double Hour" earn some love in the foreign category... etc, etc.

You get the idea: the same, but different. Full list below. 

Best Film
"The Artist"
"Drive"
"Hugo"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Nicolas Winding Refn, "Drive"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

Best Actor
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"

Best Actress
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Brit Marling, "Another Earth"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Andy Serkis, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Max von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Mélanie Laurent, "Beginners"
Carey Mulligan, "Shame"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Best Adapted Screenplay
"The Descendants"
"Drive"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo"
"Moneyball"

Best Original Screenplay
"The Artist"
"Beginners"
"50/50"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Win Win"

Best Cinematography
"The Artist"
"Drive"
"Hugo"
"Take Shelter"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Editing
"The Artist"
"Beginners"
"Drive"
"Hugo"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Production Design
"The Artist"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Score
"The Artist"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Ensemble Performance
"Carnage"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"The Help"
"Margin Call"
"Midnight in Paris"

Best Animated Film
"Arthur Christmas"
"Happy Feet Two"
"Kung Fu Panda 2"
"Rango"
"Winnie the Pooh"

Best Foreign Language Film
"The Double Hour"
"Happy Happy"
"Of Gods and Men"
"Le Quattro Volte"
"A Somewhat Gentle Man"

Best Documentary
"Buck"
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
"Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life"
"Page One: Inside the New York Times"
"Project Nim"

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

Sign up for Instant Alerts from In Contention!