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But the mood these days seems less about beginnings than about endings, apocalyptic and otherwise, which might account for the Academy's retrospective attitude. And also for their nominations of Terrence Malick's beginning-and-end-of-the-world epic TREE OF LIFE for Best Picture and MICHAEL SHANNON for Best Actor in Take Shelter. Shannon plays a prophet of doom, telling his neighbors that the past is no protection against what is to come, a warning that apparently Hollywood hasn't heeded.

Peter's Picks


BEST PICTURE

Because of the flexible number of nominees this year I am listing the five films that I am confident will be nominees first, followed by five more in order of their likelihood of being nominated.

Best bets:

The Artist

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

War Horse

In the running:

The Descendants

Moneyball

My Week with Marilyn

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Tree of Life


BEST DIRECTOR

Woody Allen [Midnight in Paris]

Michel Hazanavicius [The Artist]

Alexander Payne [The Descendants]

Martin Scorsese [Hugo]

Steven Spielberg [War Horse]


BEST ACTOR

George Clooney [The Descendants]

Leonardo DiCaprio [J. Edgar]

Jean Dujardin [The Artist]

Brad Pitt [Moneyball]

Michael Shannon [Take Shelter]


BEST ACTRESS

Glenn Close [Albert Nobbs]

Olivia Davis [The Help]

Meryl Streep [The Iron Lady]

Tilda Swinton [We Need To Talk About Kevin]

Michelle Williams [My Weekend with Marilyn]


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kenneth Branagh [My Week with Marilyn]

Albert Brooks [Drive]

Jonah Hill [Moneyball]

Nick Nolte [Warrior]

Christopher Plummer [Beginners]


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Bérénice Bejo [TheArtist]

Jessica Chastain [The Help]

Melissa McCarthy [Bridesmaids]

Octavia Spencer [The Help]

Shailene Woodley [The Descendants]

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