Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/Paramount Pictures

This morning’s Critics’ Choice nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association provide the most definitive sharpening of the Oscar race so far. Last year, nine of the BFCA’s 10 Best Pictures were nominated by the Academy, while 18 of the 20 eventual Oscar nominees in the acting categories were recognized by the BFCA first. The Artist and Hugo have dominated the early critics prizes so far — the question in my mind at this point is, Can Hugo actually win? It certainly has a lot going for it: a prestige director, a lovely screenplay, gorgeous technical attributes. But will it have enough support from the actors’ branch, the largest unit in the Academy? No film in the last 15 years has won Best Picture without at least scoring a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Cast, so I’ll be looking closely at tomorrow’s SAG Award announcement. If Hugo makes the cut, then it’s within striking distance for the win.


1. The Artist (last week: 1)

2. The Descendants (last week: 2)

3. War Horse (last week: 3)

4. Hugo (last week: 7)

5. The Help (last week: 6)

6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (last week: 4)

7. Midnight in Paris (last week: 5)

8. The Tree of Life (last week: 10)

9. Moneyball (last week: 8 )

10. Drive (last week: 14)

11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (last week: 12)

12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (last week: 13)

13. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (last week: 11)

14. The Ides of March (last week: 9)

15. J. Edgar (last week: 15)

As each week goes by in this awards season, I’m growing more and more convinced that we could have closer to 10 Best Picture nominees this year than five. At this point, I could easily see the top eight films on my list scoring enough first-place votes to earn a nod. As I alluded to above, if Hugo lands a SAG nod for Best Cast, it will move up to No. 2 in my rankings next week. Meanwhile, Extremely Loud‘s inclusion on the BFCA list means it’s still firmly in the running. One of the biggest winners of the past few days has certainly been Drive, which received eight BFCA nominations. For me, the jury is still out as to whether the Academy will respond to its shocking violence.


1. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist (last week: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, Hugo (last week: 5)

3. Alexander Payne, The Descendants (last week: 2)

4. Steven Spielberg, War Horse (last week: 3)

5. Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (last week: 4)

6. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life (last week: 7)

7. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris (last week: 6)

8. David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (last week: 8 )

9. Tate Taylor, The Help (last week: 10)

10. Bennett Miller, Moneyball (last week: 9)

11. Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive (last week: 12)

12. George Clooney, The Ides of March (last week: 11)

Scorsese has emerged as a top contender in a race with several big guns all in contention. It seems to me that we have seven men fighting for the five slots at the DGA and the Oscars.


1. George Clooney, The Descendants (last week: 1)

2. Brad Pitt, Moneyball (last week: 3)

3. Jean Dujardin, The Artist (last week: 2)

4. Michael Fassbender, Shame (last week: 4)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar (last week: 5)

6. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (last week: 6)

7. Ryan Gosling, Drive (last week: 9)

8. Michael Shannon, Take Shelter (last week: 10)

9. Woody Harrelson, Rampart (last week: 7)

10. Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March (last week: 8 )

11. Demián Bichir, A Better Life (last week: 11)

12. Matt Damon, We Bought A Zoo (last week: 12)

Strangely, The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin has yet to win a critics’ prize, though that’s apt to change in the coming weeks. Gosling’s BFCA nod for Drive, combined with the continued overall downslide of The Ides of March, means he’s a likelier nominee for the former at this point. And despite his exclusion from the BFCA list, Gary Oldman still earned the big-money reviews to keep him in the race… for now.


1. Viola Davis, The Help (last week: 1)

2. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady (last week: 2)

3. Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn (last week: 3)

4. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs (last week: 4)

5. Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin (last week: 5)

6. Charlize Theron, Young Adult (last week: 6)

7. Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene (last week: 8 )

8. Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (last week: 7)

9. Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method (last week: 9)

10. Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia (last week: 10)

11. Felicity Jones, Like Crazy (last week: 11)

12. Ellen Barkin, Another Happy Day (last week: 12)

The surprise of the day, of course, is Glenn Close’s omission from the BFCA nominees. She desperately needs a SAG nomination to stay in the hunt for her sixth career Oscar nod.


1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners (last week: 1)

2. Albert Brooks, Drive (last week: 4)

3. Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn (last week: 3)

4. Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (last week: 2)

5. Nick Nolte, Warrior (last week: 10)

6. Jonah Hill, Moneyball (last week: 5)

7. Patton Oswalt, Young Adult (last week: — )

8. Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (last week: 12)

9. Ben Kingsley, Hugo (last week: — )

10. George Clooney, The Ides of March (last week: 6)

11. Robert Forster, The Descendants (last week: 9)

12. Armie Hammer, J. Edgar (last week: 8 )

(Falling off: Christoph Waltz, Carnage; John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Three surprise BFCA nominees — Nolte, Oswalt, and Serkis — have upended this category. I was particularly glad to see Nolte in there for Warrior, for my money the most underrated film of the year. Will the Academy really recognize Serkis’ motion-capture performance? I’ve been a skeptic to put it mildly, but the actors branch will have to consider him at least. Meanwhile, Hugo‘s strong showing so far means that Kingsley could benefit as well. And I still think that as more Academy members see Extremely Loud, the impressive veteran Von Sydow could be a factor.


1. Octavia Spencer, The Help (last week: 1)

2. Shailene Woodley, The Descendants (last week: 2)

3. Bérénice Bejo, The Artist (last week: 4)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids (last week: 6)

5. Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus (last week: 3)

6. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs (last week: 5)

7. Jessica Chastain, The Help (last week: 8 )

8. Carey Mulligan, Shame (last week: 10)

9. Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (last week: 7)

10. Judy Greer, The Descendants (last week: 9)

11. Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life (last week: 11)

12. Kate Winslet, Carnage (last week: 12)

The greatest gainer in this race is McCarthy, who’s been racking up the critics’ prizes and scored an all-important BFCA nod. If Chastain is able to leapfrog over Redgrave and McTeer, we’ll have five first-time Oscar nominees in this category.

Dave on Twitter: @davekarger