It's about this time of year, as the critics start announcing their awards fast and furiously (or in the case of yesterday's New York Film Critics Circle Awards -- which took more than 4 hours to announce -- very, very slowly), that the Oscar race morphs from more questions to more answers.
Everything has now screened and reaction is generally clear (though Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is still something of a final question mark as it has only been a few days since it first screened and reaction has been rather muted thanks to an embargo). Next week's Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice nominations will surely offer a few pushes and pulls of buzz for various possible nominees, but there are definitely a handful of things that are very evident at this point -- enough that I'm willing to offer 10 hard statements about the Oscar nominations and/or winners. Even though I'm just as willing to bet only 8 of them will end up becoming true...
1. Anne Hathaway is winning best supporting actress. Hathaway is officially this year's Javier Bardem/Jennifer Hudson/Christian Bale/Mo'Nique/etc. The one that just can't lose (though tell that to 1996's version of this, Lauren Bacall). With a wide-open supporting actress race that features clear nominees that just didn't seem like possible winners (could they really give Hathaway's closest competition, Sally Field, a third Oscar after making Meryl Streep sit through a million nominations to get hers?), most people were calling Hathaway before "Les Miserables" even screened. And when it did, there was near-unanimous confirmation. Even those who didn't like the film couldn't help but be impressed by the tour-de-force long-take performance that is Hathaway belting out "I Dreamed a Dream." Like Jennifer Hudson before her, Hathaway is a lock to win because of one song.
2. "Argo," "Les Miserables," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty" are all getting nominated for best picture. If there were still only five nominees, it would be likely these would be the five. And now that there are 5-10, it seems all but certain. But what films join them is still a fun mystery ("Life of Pi" is definitely next in line, but after that it's much more unclear... "Amour"? "Beasts of the Southern Wild"?).
3. "Les Miserables" and "Lincoln" are heading for double-digit nomination counts. With multiple performances likely to get nominations in addition to strong candidates across the artistic and technical categories, it would be a big disappointment if 19th century-set "Les Mis" and "Lincoln" -- arguably the frontrunners for best picture, though "Zero Dark Thirty" is hot on their trails -- don't end up with 10 or more Oscar nominations each.
4. Five of these 15 films are getting nominated for best documentary. A cheat prediction since it's already official, this is the one thing you can count on 100% here. Yesterday, the Academy set the 15-film shortlist for the best documentary feature category. Though the ever-controversial list left off "The Queen of Versailles," "The Central Park Five," "Samsara" and "West of Memphis," the fifteen films that were included are pretty much all worthy titles (the list probably drew less collective outrage than any of its predecessors), and truly any of them could make the cut in what is one of the most challenging categories to predict.