On Twitter: @JamesEppler
The Oscar nominations will be announced January 10, and without fail, the voters always manage to get something wrong. It's bound to happen. And with the inclusion of electronic balloting this year, it could really throw things for a loop.
So in the days leading up to the announcements, I'm making my choices for who I think deserves to be nominated in the major categories.
I should point out there are a number of big movies that have not opened in Lubbock yet: "Zero Dark Thirty," "The Paperboy," "Anna Karenina," and "Hyde Park on Hudson" just to name a few.
With that disclaimer, here are my choices in the supporting acting categories:
Amy Adams in "The Master"
She gives a steely, mysterious performance so powerful that we wonder if she's the one really pulling the strings for Philip Seymour Hoffman's cult leader.
Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables"
I'd wager she'll win this Oscar and her performance is shattering, especially her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," which plays as a desperate cry to a God who isn't listening. Simply magnificent.
Helen Hunt in "The Sessions"
She's all at once compassionate, sexy and brave as she gently ushers John Hawkes' paralyzed character through his first sexual experience.
Juno Temple in "Killer Joe"
As the virginal daughter of a twisted trailer trash family, she conveys a sense of innocent wonder. When she's forced into a dark and dirty adult world, she grows up in a hurry and makes some surprising decisions. This is the most unpredictable performance of the bunch.
Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook"
As a wife and mother, she's the most sane member of the family at the heart of this film about mental anguish and disturbance. She's the stalwart glue that tries to hold everyone together and Weaver conveys love, understanding and exasperation.
Javier Bardem in "Skyfall"
One of the best James Bond villains ever. I realize Bardem won an Oscar in this same category for another villain in "No Country for Old Men," but this new character is such a mysterious and delicious creation. I think it's high time a Bond villain be recognized by the Academy.
Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages"
As a burned out rocker who finally comes out of his stupor, Cruise is hilariously campy and yet somehow gives his character a soul. Oh, and he's a good singer, too.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master"
Hoffman's cult leader Lancaster Dodd may be modeled on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but Hoffman shrouds his character in mystery. Does he really believe what he's shilling, or is this a mere power trip? Either way, I'm buying anything Hoffman is selling.
Samuel L. Jackson in "Django Unchained"
The true villain of Tarantino's Blaxploitation Southern, Jackson is sublime as an Uncle Tom head house slave who puts on an act for house guests, but is definitely running his master behind the scenes - even if the master doesn't realize it. This is Jackson's best performance yet.
Christopher Walken in "A Late Quartet"
Walken is wonderful as a seasoned professional cellist diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. There's no campy "Walken-ness" here. This is a deeply-felt performance of a man watching his world crumble around him.
Other nominations I'd be happy to see:
Judi Dench in "Skyfall"
Sally Field in "Lincoln"
Catherine Keener in "A Late Quartet"
Shirley MacLaine in "Bernie"
Alan Arkin in "Argo"
Leonardo DiCaprio in "Django Unchained"
Michael Fassbender in "Prometheus"
John Goodman in "Flight"
Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
Bill Murray in "Moonrise Kingdom"
Christoph Walkz in "Django Unchained"
Next up: Best Actor and Actress