84th Academy Award Nominees to be announced tomorrow: What surprises lie ahead?

With the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards to be announced tomorrow morning at 8:35am ET/5:35am PT, we are now just one night away from knowing which movies and performances, in all 23 categories, will compete for Oscar glory next month. While some nominees have been easy to predict, others have been anything but.

That said, what surprises will the Academy have in store for us come tomorrow morning? Which surprise performance or movie will receive a mind-boggling nomination? Which categories will be decided by tomorrow night, and which categories will have their respective nominees in a month-long footrace?

Below is a list of some potential surprises that may come our way during the announcement ceremony tomorrow, and we’ve analyzed each below in terms of overall likelihood.

 

Bridesmaids will make a splash in the Best Picture pool.
Likelihood: 
POSSIBLE
Conventional thinking here says no (the Academy isn’t much for vulgar comedies, or really comedies in general), but recent awards buzz may suggest otherwise. With nominations from the Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, there is a chance that we could see this year’s surprise comedy become the Cinderella of this year’s Oscar ball.

There will be only 5 Best Picture nominees.
Likelihood: 
UNLIKELY
This year has seen a change in the number of potential Best Picture nominees for the second time in 3 years. This year, the Best Picture field can contain between 5 and 10 nominees: 5 at minimum, and up to 10 provided that each film receives 5% of the first-place votes during the nomination process. The ArtistThe DescendantsThe HelpHugo, and Midnight in Paris all seem to be locks, but could the nominees end there? I doubt it. I think we’ll see at least 6, but probably more.

There will be a full field with 10 Best Picture nominees.
Likelihood:
 DOUBTFUL
Again, with the change in the nomination process, we can’t be quite sure just how many nominees there will be. In a seemingly uncertain year where unanimity among critics and viewers is almost nowhere to be found, will the Academy feel the same way? While I think we’ll see a field-size on the higher end of the 5-10 range, I don’t see there being a full field, but you never know.

Hugo will lead the pack with the most overall nominations.
Likelihood: 
CERTAIN
Last year, Best Picture winner The King’s Speech led all films with 12 Academy Award nominations across the board, followed by True Grit with 10 and The Social Network with 8. With The Artist looking poised to take home Best Picture, does that mean it will lead the field in total nominations? In short, no. I’m betting that Hugo earns that distinction, as it will earn nods in the major categories as well as the technical and artistic categories. While The Artist could possibly reach double figures, I’m positive that Hugo will lead the field with 12 (or even 13) nominations.

Pixar won’t have a film nominated for the Best Animated Feature.
Likelihood: 
POSSIBLE
Cars 2 was almost universally derided by critics, and while audiences seem to have enjoyed it, it hasn’t been receiving much awards buzz over the past few months. While I think it could slide into the 5th nomination slot in the Best Animated Feature field, if it doesn’t, this would be the first year since the inception of the award that Pixar has not had a horse lined up at the gate. Don’t be surprised if Pixar’s first critical flop isn’t nominated in any category.

Two of the most critically-acclaimed films of 2011 won’t be nominated in any major categories.
Likelihood: VERY LIKELY
The Tree of Life and Drive are two of the most well-liked films by critics this year. Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life has taken home numerous Best Film awards from critics circles, and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive has found itself at the top of many a critic’s best-of-the-year lists. So it should go without saying that these films would be nominated in at least a couple major award categories, right? Wrong. The Tree of Life is not a film that the Academy is likely to fall for, especially with Malick’s name attached to it, and Drive is likely to be seen as too violent. While each film could receive a nomination somewhere, it likely won’t be for Best Picture, Best Actor/Actress, Best Director, or Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted).

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
Likelihood: 
NO CHANCE
Critics loved the latest Potter installment. Audiences did too. Heck, even I found it to be pretty enjoyable. When the Best Picture field was first expanded following the 2009 Academy Awards, it was believed to have been done to allow typically non-Academy-esque movies (i.e. 2008’s The Dark Knight) the opportunity to be recognized among the year’s best filmsSo why won’t Potter be recognized? While it would seem a fitting send off to the franchise, it just doesn’t seem to have built up enough hype past its opening weekend. It hasn’t been talked about much in critics circles, and for that reason, I don’t see the Academy giving it a nod, either.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that there will be at least a surprise or two during the nomination ceremony tomorrow morning. The Academy loves a good surprise. An undeserved nomination here, a snub there. So what will tomorrow’s surprises be? We’ll know bright and early, with the nomination announcement at 8:35am ET/5:35am PT, and Hype the Movies will keep you up to date as the nominees are revealed. Stay tuned!

 

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