Thursday, March 29, 2012

The 6 Strangest NBA Records of All Time

     There have been a number of oddball occurrences in the history of professional basketball.  Bill Walton, for example, has attended more than 650 Grateful Dead concerts.  Damon Stoudamire, former Trailblazer and current dumbass, once walked through an airport metal detector with a brick of marijuana stuffed down his pants.  Wrapped in aluminum foil.  Below are the six most (least?) significant records, non-records, and outright bizarre things that've happened in the history of the NBA.

Honorable Mention:  Most Times Vomited Pre-Game, Career - Bill Russell (1,128)

     Before Dwight Howard started pre-game pooping, the great Bill Russell had a less scatalogical but equally gross ritual:  vomiting.  Despite winning 11 championships with the Boston Celtics, he succumbed to nerves and vomited before every game.  On one occasion, before a heated Game 7 in a playoff series against the 76ers, Red Auerbach pulled the entire team off the court before they had finished warming up.  When asked why he'd done this, Auerbach replied, "Because Bill hasn't tossed his cookies yet."  And the Celtics went on to win.

6th Place:  A Baffling Decision - Dikembe Mutombo

     In 1995, Dikembe Mutombo was named Defensive Player of the Year.  Keep that in mind.  Over the course of the season, he averaged 11.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game; a great season for any player.  Despite being the best defensive player in the league, Mutombo did not make the All-Defensive First Team.  He was instead voted a member of the All-Defensive Second Team.  Take a moment to think about that:  the best defender in the NBA was not a member of a group of the best defenders in the NBA.  Yeah.

5th Place:  The Mirage - Joel Anthony (Miami Heat)

     Joel Anthony actually holds two NBA non-records.  The least ridiculous of these occurred on January 18, 2011 in a game against the Atlanta Hawks.  Anthony somehow played an astounding 43 minutes without a single field goal attempt.  How a player manages to stay in a game and not produce is beyond me.  That he managed to stay nearly the full duration of the game without even trying is insane.
     The other completely stupid non-record he holds happened nine days earlier on January 9, 2011.  Against the Portland Trailblazers, Joel Anthony played 29 minutes without a single point, rebound, assist, steal, block, or field goal attempt.  What the fuck was he doing?  He spent two and a half quarters running back and forth.  That's exactly what his "effort" counted as.  Subtract the running and being paid $18 million over the course of five years, and I contributed exactly as much to that game as he did.  That's unbelievable.

4th Place:  The Most Well-Traveled Player in NBA History - Tony Massenburg
     In 1990, during his final year at Maryland, Massenburg was one of only two players in the ACC to average double figures in points and rebounds for the season (18 points, 10.1 rebounds).  He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 1990 NBA Draft (43rd overall).  What follows is the most (un)impressive display of team hopping I've heard of.  From 1990 to 2009, he was a part of 12 NBA teams, 4 European teams, and was injured for 2 years.  The following tracks his stellar career (years he won an NBA Championship are in bold):
  1. San Antonio Spurs (35 games, 1990-1991)
  2. Pallacanestro Reggiana (Italy, 1991)
  3. San Antonio Spurs (1 game, 1991-1992)
  4. Charlotte Hornets (3 games, 1991-1992)
  5. Boston Celtics (7 games, 1991-1992)
  6. Golden State Warriors (7 games, 1991-1992)
  7. Unicaja-Mayoral (Spain, 1992-1993)
  8. FC Barcelona (Spain, 1993-1994)
  9. Los Angeles Clippers (80 games, 1994-1995)
  10. Toronto Raptors (24 games, 1995 [Expansion Draftee])
  11. Philadelphia 76ers (24 games, 1995-1996)
  12. New Jersey Nets (79 games, 1996-1997)
  13. Vancouver Grizzlies (1997-1999)
  14. Houston Rockets (10 games, 1999-2000)
  15. Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies (73 games, 1999-2001)
  16. Utah Jazz (2002-2004)
  17. San Antonio Spurs (2004-2005)
  18. Injured (Late-night car crash, 2005-2007)
  19. Washington Wizards (0 games [waived before season], 2007-2008)
  20. Arecibo Captains (Puerto Rico, 2007-2008)
     Readers may be interested to know Tony Massenburg now owns  a sports bar in Gaithersburg, Maryland called the "44 Sports Bar", where they offer 44-cent hot wings during Happy Hour, football Sundays, and throughout Monday Night Football.

3rd Place:  Most Times Traded for Advice, Career - Don Buse (1)

     For 11 years, Jon Spoelstra, father of current Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Portland Trailblazers.  During his stint in the City of Roses, he earned a reputation as a marketing genius, and throughout his tenure in Portland there very few games that weren't sold out.  The man was damn good.  He was so good that he was able to make the strangest trade in NBA history. 
     On January 7, 1983, Spoelstra saw that the Blazers were in need of a Point Guard.  Enter Don Buse.  Buse would end his career with one NBA All-Star selection (1977) and a solid six selections to All-NBA Defensive Teams.  Spoelstra, in need of Buse's talents, traded to acquire him from the Indiana Pacers.  Without losing a single player.  Or dollar.  Or draft pick.  In exchange for their Point Guard, the Indiana Pacers received...  One week of management and marketing consultation from Jon Spoelstra.  Yeah, that happened.

2nd Place:  Most Games Missed Due to Game Boy Injury, Season - Lionel Simmons (2)

      Before venturing into the strange shit he did in the NBA, take a moment to understand the caliber of player he was in college.  During his time at La Salle University, Lionel Simmons amassed some pretty goddamned impressive stats.  He made it to third place in all-time NCAA career points (3,217, right behind "Pistol" Pete Maravich), was the only player in NCAA history to score 3,000 points and grab 1,100 rebounds, and still holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games scoring in double figures (115).  That's some powerful shit.  He was taken 7th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft (ahead of All-Stars Tyrone Hill, Jayson Williams, Antonio Davis, and Cedric Ceballos, mind you).
     His non-record occurred during his rookie year with the Sacramento Kings.  Midway through the season, Simmons sat out two games with tendonitis in his wrist.  The injury didn't come from his time on the court, but was a result of strain from excessive use of his Nintendo Game Boy.  I know, right?

1st Place:  Most Times Attacked by a Bat, Game - Martyn "Moochie" Norris (1)

     On March 8, 2002, Martyn "Moochie" Norris was attacked by a bat.  Yes, that kind of bat.  For five minutes, said bat flew uncontrolled around the Toyota Center during a Rockets-Warriors game, repeatedly swooping into and clawing Norris.  During this time, "Moochie" sought shelter, but was continually pummeled by the creature in a series of diving passes.  Play halted for the duration the animal instituted its reign of terror, egged on by the crowd, until it was finally captured by one Greg Mueller, a ballboy.  Not wishing to harm the animal, Mueller used a butterfly net to nab it and release it outside to once again stalk the skies of Houston, Texas.
     Norris played in the NBA until 2006.  During his career, he overcame insomnia and had his own bobblehead made, complete with synthetic afro:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Power Rankings: Unforgettable Movie Serial Killers

It may seem a bit morbid to rank serial killers. Many films even make them out to be heroes or are sympathetic toward them. Since there are so many great performances by the actors portraying serial killers, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of the most memorable ones. I decided to exclude television characters (or Dexter, Trinity, etc. would dominate the list), characters who kill for money or any other logical reason (contract killers, bank robbers, etc.), and people on a killing spree (Natural Born Killers, Badlands, etc.). So, we are basically talking about compulsive murderers and psychopaths. Sorry if there are any spoilers, but basically all of these films are widely-known. So, in honor of the 5th anniversary of arguably the best March release of the last 10 years (David Fincher’s magnificent Zodiac), here is my list:

Others receiving votes: Jeffrey Dahmer (Jeremy Renner; Dahmer), Early Grace (Brad Pitt; Kalifornia), Jigsaw (Tobin Bell; Saw series), Yukio Murata (Denden; Cold Fish), Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)

10. Zodiac Killer (?John Carroll Lynch?; Zodiac)

This is the perfect example of a character creating a frightening reputation before you even see him, perhaps taking its place with Bill in Kill Bill as the best in that regard. Lynch is chilling in the film, and he really doesn’t do anything to be that way. You see his crime scenes and hear all about him and the games he plays with the law, but you never see him in action. Obviously, we don’t know who the killer is for sure, but the book and film definitely make it clear who they believe is guilty. The final scene is one of the most intense stare-downs ever I have ever seen on screen.

9. Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine; The Silence of the Lambs)

What Ted Levine does as Buffalo Bill has never ceased to amaze me. Buffalo Bill gets under our skin and just creeps us out. “It rubs the lotion on its skin!” The guy is a freak, and he has one of the most disturbing rituals of any serial killer on this list. This supporting character will haunt you long after the movie is over, but obviously not as much as one of the other characters. I wonder who that could be…

8. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell; Death Proof)

The only somewhat offbeat inclusion on this list is one of Tarantino’s most ridiculous characters. Now, serial killer is not exactly the first term that I would use to describe Stuntman Mike, but he definitely is one, seeing how each one of his kills are separate and ritualized and that he is a social outcast with absolutely no remorse for his actions. What Russell is able to do with this character might be his most impressive acting, and it is this character and the way he meets his match that is the audience’s lasting impression from this glorious send-up to the drive-in exploitation films of the ‘70s.

7. Henry (Michael Rooker; Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer)

This movie is one of the most controversial and unsettling of all serial killer films. We see Henry and his buddy Otis murder at random, sometimes just for a lack of anything better to do. They tape the murders and watch the videos as entertainment. It portrays Henry as a normal guy, and then shows in stark brutality his raging murderous side. The movie does not exalt or condemn Henry, it just observes him. The whole thing seems frighteningly real, which makes the entire film and characterization of Henry even more disturbing. You may not like this movie, but you certainly will not be able to shake it.

6. Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron; Monster)

The reason why this character is so memorable is because of the complete transformation that Theron made. For me, it is perhaps the best performance of the 2000s, and it is one of my favorite films of the decade as well. She may have been on somewhat of a crime spree after killing her first victim in self defense, but she really became delusional and suckered guys into thinking that she was just any ordinary prostitute, when in reality she planned on killing them for their cash so she could run away with her sheltered lover Selby. The character is simply impossible to forget, especially with how the film ends and how much the audience really begins to care about Wuornos and Selby.

5. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale; American Psycho)

This is one of the most frightening characters I have ever seen on screen. On the surface, Bateman is just another Wall Street yuppie. He is completely self-absorbed and a total dick to everyone. He takes amazing care of himself, and other than his occasional inner monologue, you really have no idea what he is thinking. The way he kills his victims is disturbing, mainly because he is so smart and careful about it. Bateman could be anyone, and I do not think I am alone when I say that the scene where he chases a runaway down the hallway naked with a chainsaw is one of the most haunting images of any movie in the last 15 years.

4. Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre; M)

This film was so far ahead of its time. There are several images of this film that are permanently engrained in my mind. The movie does not want sympathy, but it wants the audience to understand what goes on in the mind of someone that any normal person would call a monster: a child murderer. Beckert seems completely innocent and pure evil at the same time. The audience can decide exactly what to think of Beckert, but either way you turn, you will not be able to forget him. This is one of the best movies ever made, and for anyone who has not come across it, watch this movie and get immersed in the atmosphere of the best film-noir has to offer.

3. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins; Psycho)

There is nothing like this movie anywhere. Norman Bates is one of the most recognizable and creepy characters to ever grace the screen. It is how he acts that makes the character among the best of all time. He is completely dominated by his mother, and to avoid spoiling anything, I will not go into any further detail. The looks he has on his face and the total nonchalant image he puts on makes you think that you could run into this character anywhere in life. That is what makes him so disturbing.

2. John Doe (Kevin Spacey; Se7en)

This is another case of a character developing a frightening reputation before ever being on screen. He murders people to represent the seven deadly sins, but he is so brilliant that he is able to make the murders increasingly personal for the two detectives who think that they are hot on his tail. When Spacey appears on screen as John Doe, it is one of the five most memorable entrances by any character in film history (another power ranking idea?). The ensuing scenes are crafted with so much precision, and the ending is one of the most effective that I have ever seen. John Doe is a horrifying character, and in the end, the audience understands the point that he is making, and we are all left breathless.

1. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins; The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon)

Now, I considered deeming him ineligible because it is so predictable that he would be the top, but I just couldn’t do it. Hannibal is one of the all time best characters. He is a cannibal, but he seems like a normal person. As is the case with several others on this list, he is a borderline genius. He is one of the most quotable characters ever. He can simply sit in his cell staring at Agent Starling and send shivers down the spine of the audience. It is popular to think that only The Silence of the Lambs is worth seeing, but I am not in that camp. The other two films are equally chilling, even if they aren’t as well-crafted. Hannibal has become the most iconic villain in American film history, and he is the obvious choice for the most memorable movie serial killer.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Power Rankings: American Idol Live Performances (Male) – Seasons 3-11

Following two weeks in a row that the judges have proclaimed that a contestant gave “the best performance ever on American Idol”, I decided to make a list of my own and not just shamelessly bandwagon-hop and become a prisoner of the moment. I started watching in season 3, and nothing in season 11 so far compares to the performances on this list. I realize that the real best performances ever were probably the Casey Abrams and Matt Giraud renditions of “Georgia on My Mind” in Hollywood week, but this list is strictly for live shows. Check it out:

Others receiving votes:

“Imagine” – David Archuleta

“Eleanor Rigby” – David Cook

“Walk the Line” – Chris Daughtry

“Jealous Guy” – Casey James

“A Song for You” – Elliott Yamin

10. “Incomplete” – Nikko Smith (Season 4)

Nikko may have been the most underrated contestant ever on Idol. He was able to do absolutely whatever he wanted with his voice, and when he hit those high notes, it was magic. He didn’t even need to falsetto. “Incomplete” was a hugely popular song, and Nikko sang it even better than the original. Maybe I was just a big fan, but man, he killed this song.


9. “Nature Boy” – Casey Abrams (Season 10)

Casey was one of my favorite contestants. He was so different and so interesting. He lived for his music, and this performance was perfect. He was maybe the most complete artist from the moment he first showed up at his first audition, and this performance with his standing bass showed off every bit of that talent and every little nuance in his voice. Seriously, this is a master class in how to make an old-fashioned song sound undeniably current.


8. “Heartless” – Kris Allen (Season 8)

This performance, perhaps more than any other, changed the landscape of the season. Kris was a solid contender, but when he dropped this acoustic version of Kanye West, he instantly rose to the top and never looked back. It was inventive, and even though his voice isn’t the strongest, the guy put everything he had into it. It was brilliant.


7. “Hallelujah” – Jason Castro (Season 7)

I am convinced that had Jason not delivered the performance of his life on this song that he never would have come close to the top 4. He performed this widely popular song almost flawlessly. I say “almost” because he completely botches the last note, which prevents it from being a perfect performance and being even higher on this list.


6. “Hemorrhage” – Chris Daughtry (Season 5)

You could pick any one of Chris’s performance and have a case to put it on a top 10 list, and many may have an issue with me anointing this one. However, I don’t think he ever had a song that suited him the way this one did. He wasn’t trying to sing out of his comfort zone, and it showed with his very simple, electric performance. Daughtry won me over after his first live performance and never disappointed in the subsequent weeks. He was, of course, the best contestant ever on the show.


5. “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Blake Lewis (Season 6)

This is another one of those performances that took a contestant a lot further than he probably should have gone. He took a popular Bon Jovi song and added in his token scatting and beat boxing, and made it into an instant classic in a different genre. You hear it once, and you want to hear it again and again. Brilliant.


4. “In a Dream” – Bo Bice (Season 4)

To come out on the Idol stage and sing without any music takes some serious stones. I don’t recall Bo ever singing a single bad note, and that is not exaggerating. This was maybe the most perfect vocal ever given on the show. You have to think that if contestants could play instruments that year, he would have been up there with his acoustic, but it wouldn’t have been quite the same. This performance set the bar so much higher for him and basically gave him a chance to take down the giant Carrie Underwood.


3. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – Jason Castro (Season 7)

It may seem blasphemous making him the only one with two performances in the top 10, but this performance stuck with me. I was addicted to this version when I first heard it. It may not seem like much, but this song is really difficult to pull off, and this is the best rendition of the Jeff Buckley song I have come across. This is as good as it gets in terms of a contestant completely coming into their own. It is amazing how good Castro could be and how bad he could be (particularly his performances of the Bob Dylan and Bob Marley songs in the top 4 week).


2. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Constantine Maroulis (Season 4)

Constantine is another one of those contestants where ever song seemed like it could be considered for this list, but nothing could ever compare to his insane rendition of the Queen megahit. This is Constantine getting back to his roots, and this performance has stood the test of time as one of the best ever on the show. When Simon drops the word “astonishing” on your version of the song, you know you killed it.


1. “Mad World” – Adam Lambert (Season 8)

I was never really a fan of Adam, but this performance put my jaw on the ground. He stripped down his voice, got rid of his distracting sideshows, and he delivered a performance that will go down in Idol lore as one of the defining performances where a contestant did something out of the ordinary and had a “moment”. This was perhaps the purest vocal that I have ever heard on the show, and while I know that almost no one will agree that this is the all time greatest guy performance on the show, it is solidly my number one. Jennifer Lopez, you are telling me that Joshua Ledet taking off his jacket singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” is better than this? Please…


So, what do you think of the list? Any performances that you love that I didn’t mention? Any contestants that you think got the snub here? I tried to spread the wealth. Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for an article on the best female performances.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2013 Oscar Predictions: March

So, clearly it is way too early to make any serious predictions for the 2013 Oscars, but I did it anyway. After hours of exploring upcoming films and projecting whether they will be released in time for competition, I came up with my eight major category predictions. There are tons of big time directors coming out with films, and it appears that once again Ryan Gosling will rule the year. Take a look at my predictions, look up the films you don’t know, and let me know if there are some that I overlooked or didn’t come across. I did some serious editing to get down to this group of films, so I may have eliminated some major films that some think may contend such as Pixar’s Brave, Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi, and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie. I also went strictly with films that have say 2012 on IMDB, so that eliminates the Coen Brothers movie and others. Check it out:


The Predicted Five

1. Lincoln – John Logan, Paul Webb, Tony Kushner – John Logan had a huge year in 2011, so this may be their chance to give him his due for what is likely to be an extraordinary screenplay.

2. On the Road – Jose Rivera – He last was nominated for the surprise hit The Motorcycle Diaries, and this movie has to be one of the ones to beat in the major categories.

3. The Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell – Comedy is sort of hard sell for adapted screenplays, but this seems like something that Oscar will love. After The Fighter, people may still want to award Russell.

4. The Gangster Squad – Will Beall – This looks like the coolest movie ever with the best cast in years, but I just get a sort of Public Enemies vibe from it. Screenplay is well within play, though.

5. Gambit – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – The Coens haven’t written a movie they didn’t direct since 1985, and with Michael Hoffman directing this remake, it will likely be a very interesting take on the story. The Coens are always nominated.

Others in contention

6. Cosmopolis – David Cronenberg – The story seems a bit lighter and more acceptable than previous Cronenberg films, which could make the Oscars really warm up to it.

7. Wettest County – Nick Cave – The writer and composer of some great work in the last 10 years has what could be his best shot at a nomination. If the movie is as popular as I suspect it will be, he could easily get swept in.

8. Argo – Chris Terrio – Terrio’s script is getting directed by one of our best young directors Ben Affleck. The film is likely going to be amazing and snubbed in major categories. That’s just how it works.

9. Les Miserables – William Nicholson – This could be in for nominations in several categories, but screenplays based off classic literature are not always nominated. See: Pride & Prejudice.


The Predicted Five

1. Hyde Park on Hudson – Richard Nelson – His film is one of the frontrunners in Best Picture, and with the cast he has, his words will likely be singled out as being among the best of the year.

2. Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal – He won for his tight screenplay The Hurt Locker just three years ago, and this sounds like another potential hit directed by Kathryn Bigelow. I can’t wait for this.

3. The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson – He has been nominated for screenplay 3 times, and this is easily his most Oscar-friendly script. He can win it if it lives up to the hype.

4. He Loves Me – Zoe Kazan – She is granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan, and with the Little Miss Sunshine duo directing, her script is going to be given the best treatment possible.

5. Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino – He is always in contention for screenplay, and even though this is not Oscar stuff, I cannot see him being denied at least a nomination. Everyone loved him every moment of awards season in 2009.

Others in contention

6. The Surrogate – Ben Lewin – This sounds like the kind of story that would be a slam dunk in the screenplay category, but it is a really full group. I would not be surprised if this turns out to be one of the ones to beat, though.

7. Jayne Mansfield’s Car – Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson – Billy Bob is a former winner for screenplay, and the movie is a period piece about families and culture clash. Sounds like a hit to me.

8. Seven Psychopaths – Martin McDonagh – He got a surprise nomination for the brilliant In Bruges, and this seems even more like the Academy’s thing. He is one to watch.

9. Celeste and Jesse Forever – Rashida Jones, Will McCormack – This would be a surprising and amazing nomination if it somehow gets nominated here. It has a terrific cast and the director of The Vicious Kind, so we know it can be great. I hope it is.

10. While We’re Young – Noah Baumbach – He only has one nomination, but his films are so calculated and real, that it really is a mystery why he isn’t treated more like Alexander Payne. Maybe that starts this year.

11. Nero Fiddled – Woody Allen – He needs to be mentioned every year, but since he won last year, he may have to wait another 5 films before he gets another nomination.

12. Imogene – Michelle Morgan – Having the directing tandem of American Splendor handling your script is great for Morgan, plus with that cast, this could turn out to be a sleeper hit.

13. Little Boy – Alejandro Monteverde, Pepe Portillo – This could be one of the big contenders in the major categories, which makes a mention here seem somewhat obvious.

14. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron, Rodrigo Garcia – This likely sci-fi hit will get some looks for its screenplay, where Cuaron has been nominated twice.

15. Looper – Rian Johnson – The story sounds really interesting, and a lot of the time this category goes to ideas over the actual writing.

16. Hemingway & Fuentes – Andy Garcia, Hilary Hemingway – If the Academy wants to recognize the film outside of acting categories, this will likely be where they can show their love. They always accept actors as screenwriters before directors.

17. Stoker - Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson – If the movie gets the kind of release that it likely deserves, then this film could sneak up on people and make a run at some categories.


The Predicted Five

1. Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables – It is the best female part in the story, and with a great director like Hooper at the helm, it will bring out the best in her. When she is on, there are few actresses in her generation who can touch her.

2. Gemma Arterton – Song for Marion – The Weinstein backing is key here. She has been in some popular films and was extraordinary in Tamara Drewe, so if she nails the part she will likely get some mentions.

3. Irma P. Hall – Jayne Mansfield’s Car – She will likely steal the show in Billy Bob Thornton’s film. Audiences will recognize her from The Ladykillers, which she garnered some awards attention for. This would be a cool surprise nomination for a long-ignored veteran, sort of like Ruby Dee.

4. Vanessa Redgrave – Song for Marion – She plays an old woman dying of cancer, which will likely bring all the tears in the world from the wide audience that Weinstein will force to watch the movie. She has been on the edge of getting nominated in the last 5 years, and this will likely be the film that did it.

5. Kristen Stewart – On the Road – The initial photographs of the film imply that her role is a decent size. If it gets a December release, then the Twilight craze will be over, and the voters may be able to look objectively at the talented young superstar.

Others in contention

6. Olivia Williams – Hyde Park on Hudson – Playing Eleanor Roosevelt will be a dream role for the talented and underrated British actress.

7. Olivia Colman – Hyde Park on Hudson – Playing Queen Elizabeth is always something that Oscar loves. After Tyrannosaur, people will recognize her at least.

8. Melissa Leo – Predisposed – She is playing a rehab-committed mother, which sounds like something that the Academy will jump all over.

9. Kristen Wiig – Imogene – She may be lead, but after Bridesmaids, everyone seems to have fallen in love with her. She could be the next Joan Cusack.

10. Maggie Gyllenhaal – Won’t Back Down – She already has one nomination, and in this movie that could be this year’s The Blind Side / The Help, she could steal the show in her supporting role.

11. Amanda Seyfried – Les Miserables – She will be nominated at some point, and Hooper will likely direct her to her best work.

12. Rachel Weisz – Untitled Terrence Malick Film – I don’t know what the role is, and while Malick actors are not normally recognized, this movie seems different.

13. Kerry Washington – Django Unchained – Tarantino has crazy roles for his females. She is ready for a nomination.

14. Sally Field – Lincoln – She has only two nominations, but they are both wins. If they want to further award her, then the role of Mary Todd Lincoln is about as good as it gets at her age.

15. Jessica Chastain – Wettest County – She is suddenly in a ton of buzz-worthy projects, but this will most likely be her best role. We will see how the film and her post-nomination reception are taken.

16. Annette Bening – Hemingway & Fuentes – The movie is going to probably be popular with the Academy. They may want to award her after her fourth loss in 2010.

17. Sigourney Weaver – Red Lights – The movie sounds terrific, and if they want to bring a veteran in, Weaver has not been nominated in 24 years.


The Predicted Five

1. Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained – If the Academy wants different and unpredictable from Leo, then how is a racist slave-runner directed by Tarantino? He is getting in, whether it is lead or supporting. He should win.

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master – It is weird to think that he has 3 noms, and none were for PTA films. This should be his first.

3. Bryan Cranston – Argo – Ben Affleck does wonders for his supporting players. Everyone loves him in Breaking Bad, so maybe some of that love will transfer over to the AMPAS.

4. Joel Edgerton – The Great Gatsby­ – After getting a few great roles in the last few years, he may be ready for the big time. I could see him blowing the rest of the cast out of the water.

5. Samuel West – Hype Park on Hudson – Playing royalty is always an easy sell with Oscar. He will certainly have the British vote.

Others in contention

6. Robert De Niro – The Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell could finally bring Bobby back to the ceremony after a 21 year absence. Wishful thinking…I hope not. If he is just pretty good, then those actors who idolize him will want to nominate him.

7. Tobey Maguire – The Great Gatsby – He always seems to be hyped up early in the year (The Good German, Brothers, etc), but this is a crucial part in the story. He needs to nail it.

8. Michael Caine – The Dark Knight Rises – The first thing I said after seeing the trailer was that it looks like a Michael Caine Oscar nom. It may be a hard sell considering it is his third time with the role, but he looks to have a great old man part and will probably die during the movie. You know… Oscar stuff.

9. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Lincoln – He has been on the verge of being nominated for some time now. Spielberg may be the director that finally got him invited.

10. Andy Garcia – Hemingway & Fuentes – He is directing himself and playing opposite Anthony Hopkins. The Academy may want to validate his nomination back in 1990.

11. Billy Bob Thornton – Jayne Mansfield’s Car – It looks like an ensemble film, and if one male actor is singled out, it might as well be the Oscar-winning writer-director.

12. Paul Giamatti – Cosmopolis – I think he being directing by Cronenberg may be the coolest pairing of the year. I cannot wait to see that he does in the movie.

13. Sam Rockwell – Seven Psychopaths – He needs to get nominated soon. Being directed by McDonagh, I am sure that his role will be brilliant and fit his manic yet vulnerable energy that is his calling card.

14. Russell Crowe – Les Miserables – He is playing the role that Geoffrey Rush owned in the 1998 version. With Hooper directing, I am sure he will have enough emotional scenes to get a number of votes.

15. Jesse Eisenberg – Nero Fiddled – It seems like a no-brainer that Eisenberg would be playing opposite Woody Allen. It’s crazy that it hasn’t happened already.

16. Guy Pearce – Wettest County – He is not exactly a showman, which is evident when you see how many great movies he has been in and not been cited for. Maybe I just want him to get nominated.

17. Tom Wilkinson – Little Boy – He seems to always be contending for awards, and with this material, he will probably shine brightest in that cast.


The Predicted Five

1. Keira Knightley – Anna Karenina – Joe Wright directed her to her only nomination and then to her best performance, so a role like this one will likely be Knightley at her finest. She is still very young, but she has to be the frontrunner this year.

2. Laura Linney – Hyde Park on Hudson – She is playing a huge role in one of the front running films, and it has been 5 years since she last got invited. That’s too long for one of our best actresses.

3. Meryl Streep – Great Hope Springs – She is a nominee by default. People may think that now that she finally won again that she might be done. I suspect it will continue until she inevitably eclipses Hepburn’s 4 wins.

4. Zizi Zhang – The Grandmasters – Zhang’s best work is always in Wong Kar Wai films. Playing opposite Tony Leung again will be a career role for her. They could both get nominated.

5. Angela Lansbury – Adaline – She has not been nominated since 1963. This movie may not even be released this year, but it sounds like the kind of random nomination that would be thrown at a beloved winless veteran.

Others in contention

6. Abbie Cornish – The Girl – Cornish is one of the best actors who have never been nominated. Her role looks to be Oscar bait, but it may be a bit too small of a film.

7. Carey Mulligan – The Great Gatsby – She may be supporting, but she has been in and around Oscar movies since her nomination. Luhrmann works wonders for his ladies.

8. Marion Cotillard – Rust & Bone – Audiard’s first film since the universally-acclaimed A Prophet could bring Cotillard her second nomination. We aren’t exactly sure what the film is yet, but with her at the center, it will likely be a master class in acting.

9. Sandra Bullock – Gravity – She has the best chance of the Gravity actors to get nominated. I am surprised she didn’t get more mentions last year. Cuaron could pull out the best in her.

10. Mia Wasikowska – Stoker – She has been on the verge of breaking out in the last couple years. Chan-wook Park is a brilliant director, and the Academy may want to recognize his first American film.

11. Amy Adams – The Master – I am not sure who is lead and supporting in the movie, but the Academy and industry love her.

12. Amanda Seyfried – Lovelace – She got the hotly pursued and much talked about role. She will be nominated at some point, and this could be her ticket.

13. Naomi Watts – While We’re Young – Baumbach movies always have great roles for the female characters. I can’t believe she only has one nomination.

14. Rashida Jones – Celeste and Jesse Forever – She is writing as well, which the Academy loves. If this is as deep as it seems, the Academy could be ready to officially start what could be an amazing career in front of her.

15. Nicole Kidman – Stoker – Directed by an acclaimed international filmmaker is intriguing. Oscar loves her.

16. Helen Hunt – The Surrogate – Her film is one of the frontrunners, and Oscar might want to finally validate her win 15 years ago.

17. Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed – I really want this movie to be as good as I think it can be. She and Aaron Paul will make a great starring couple.

18. Elizabeth Olsen – Red Lights – She burst onto the scene last year, and with Rodrigo Cortes directing, she will have a lot of room to develop her character.

19. Viola Davis – Won’t Back Down – They may want to keep nominating her after her close loss to Streep. This sounds like pure Oscar bait.


The Predicted Five

1. Bill Murray – Hype Park on Hudson – Playing FDR is a dream role for Murray. If he nails it, then the awards will come flooding his way.

2. Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond the Pines – Derek Cianfrance did wonders for Gosling in 2010, yet he was snubbed. How does he have just one nom?

3. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln – He will be nominated for sure, but he can’t win a third with so few films, can he? Oh who am I kidding? He can, and probably will, but for now I am putting him third.

4. Tom Hardy – Wettest County – It is time that he fully breaks out and becomes a big movie star. This role might be the one.

5. John Hawkes – The Surrogate – The Sundance hit may give Hawkes the room and role to get his second nomination for a career filled with under-the-radar character work.

Others in contention

6. Brad Pitt – Cogan’s Trade – Andrew Dominik pulled arguably Pitt’s best performance ever in Jesse James. With his loss for Moneyball, people may want to finally award one of our best actors.

7. Anthony Hopkins – Hemingway & Fuentes – Playing Hemingway and getting directed by another actor and playing opposite him will be interesting and Oscar baity.

8. Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained – Given the much talked about and sought after role, it will likely give Foxx a lot of amazing scenes. He already has an Oscar, but many people think that may be enough.

9. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master – Being directed by PTA may be the best thing that could have happened to Phoenix after that mock film debacle that turned everyone off to him.

10. Terence Stamp – Song for Marion – With the Weinstein backing and bitter old man role, Stamp could pull his first nomination in 50 years.

11. Tony Leung – The Grandmasters – Wong Kar Wai films are always acting showcases, and Leung, one of the best actors in the world, will likely garner some serious attention for this role.

12. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Great Gatsby – His role will likely be played brilliantly, but the Academy seems to really dislike him recently. Plus, his real chances lie with Django in supporting.

13. Colin Farrell – Seven Psychopaths – He won the Globe for the last McDonagh film, so he has to be considered a conternder for the new film where he is obviously in his element.

14. Richard Gere – Arbitrage – He has never gotten nominated, but I think he will get one at some point. This role promises to be very good and against the normal Gere type, so maybe this will capture an audience.

15. Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables – Valjean is a baity role, and while I have never been fully impressed by Jackman, Hooper could pull out a brilliant performance.

16. Bradley Cooper – The Words / The Place Beyond the Pines / The Silver Linings PlaybookThe Words sounds amazing. Playing opposite Gosling in Pines will bring out his best. Being directed by David O. Russell will be insane. He is going to have a huge year, and may well get nominated for one of those roles.

17. Paul Dano – He Loves Me – The directing tandem brought out the best in Dano last time out, so maybe this leading role will take him all the way.

18. Jeremy Renner – Untitled James Gray Film – The material here implies that his role will be full of passion. Renner is ready for that second nomination, and with all of his movie franchises coming out, he will be in the spotlight all year long.

19. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Looper – He will get his due someday, and this film by one of the directors that began his modern career may well be his ticket. It will need great distribution, though.

20. Aaron Paul – Smashed – This will be very low budget, but Paul has the charisma to make it to the big time in films. I am interested at least.

21. Dennis Quaid – Untitled Ramin Bahrani Film – He has never been nominated, which may make people want to vote for him. He has enough goodwill to get a sympathy nomination one day.

22. Zac Efron – Untitled Ramin Bahrani Film – Efron has shown that he can act. I am really just curious to see what he does with a director like Bahrani.

23. Ben Stiller – While We’re Young – Baumbach pulled one of Stiller’s best performances ever with his last film. The material here promises much of the same.

24. Colin Firth – Devil’s Knot – Being directed by Atom Egoyan will likely give Firth a lot to chew on. With the recent love for Firth, we are likely to see nominations keep coming his way for the rest of time.


The Predicted Five

1. Terrence Malick – Untitled – Malick will win at some point (at least I hope so). This film seems to be very Oscar friendly for him. This could finally be his time.

2. Steve Spielberg – Lincoln – He has already won twice, so even if his film is in for a sweep, they could be reluctant to place him at the top spot.

3. Roger Michell – Hyde Park on Hudson – I am not ready to say that the film will take everything, but it certainly feels like it has the potential to. Michell’s somewhat anonymous status in the industry could prevent him from winning over the two directing legends.

4. Walter Salles – On the Road – The road trip movie format is something that the Oscars love, and we already know they are fond of Salles’s work. This film could pull a sweep if it gets the kind of release it deserves.

5. John Hillcoat – Wettest County – If this movie is as good as it promises, Hillcoat could be a no-brainer nomination. He has the talent to be a big time filmmaker.

Others in contention

6. Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master – PTA finally got his director mention in 2007. He has been working on The Master for years now. When he takes his time, he makes masterpieces.

7. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity – Cuaron is well-respected in the industry, and his only nominations are for screenplay and editing. This could be his breakthrough as a serious Hollywood director.

8. Alejandro Monteverde – Little Boy – There seems to always be at least one previously unknown director in the mix. If it isn’t Michell, it may be Monteverde.

9. Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises – I can still hear fanboys crying about his snubs in ’08 and’10. If the film is as unanimous as The Dark Knight, how can they deny him again?

10. Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained – If the film connects with audiences, Oscar would love to invite Tarantino back.

11. Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty – The film does not seem to be Best Picture stuff, but her direction is likely going to be furious and brilliant.

12. Tom Hooper – Les Miserables – His controversial recent win ensures that he will contend for every one of his films, and what better source material than this to get his second nomination?

13. Ridley Scott – Prometheus – He was even nominated for Black Hawk Down, so it is clear that the Academy wants to award him at some point. He may have to wait a bit longer.

14. Baz Luhrmann – The Great Gatsby – The film is probably going to be fairly typical, but Luhrmann’s lavish style will get him a fair amount of mentions here.

15. Peter Jackson – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – The film may not end up being as popular as the trilogy, but Jackson will still be mentioned, being one of the most respected big budget directors in the industry.

16. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris – He Loves Me – Their lack of directorial style is always going to make getting nominated here a challenge, but their film is one of the frontrunners, so it is worth mentioning.


The Predicted Ten (I predict 8 will get nominated)

1. Hyde Park on Hudson (Roger Michell) – Since the Oscars are always going to movies coming out of nowhere, I figured I would take a stab at one of the ones that sounds like something that is most their speed. It is a semi-biopic, a couple Oscar nominees involved, and the director is under-the-radar. It will not be considered in the race until it starts to take down some critic awards, so the hype will not be rampant when people see it. That is about as good of a guess as I can take in March.

2. On the Road (Walter Salles) – This road trip movie seems to be typical Oscar stuff. It has been delayed several times, which is not normally a good thing, but with a director like Salles at the helm, this should be terrific.

3. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg) – This is going to be one of the most talked about movies all year, and it will likely be the favorite entering awards season. It promises to be one of the year’s best with everyone involved.

4. Wettest County (John Hillcoat) – The monster cast will propel this to mainstream success. Plus, there are a lot of people who thought The Road should have been nominated. That could help Hillcoat’s follow-up film.

5. Untitled (Terrence Malick) – We will see if this is actually released this year, but if it is, there is no doubt that Oscar will fall in love. It seems much more conventional than Tree of Life, but of course you can only use that term relatively when talking about Malick films.

6. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson) – Many people thought There Will Be Blood should have won Best Picture, so that could help this period piece by PTA. It sounds like Oscar material, and if they are nominating films by quality this year, I am sure that this will be near the top of everyone’s lists.

7. Little Boy (Alejandro Monteverde) – This movie sounds like pure Oscar bait, like War Horse in a way. It is billed as a comedy-drama-war, so maybe not quite that serious, but I am sure it will be in the running if it is big enough.

8. He Loves Me (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) – The directing tandem’s first film since nearly winning it all in 2006 sounds like a beautiful movie. There is probably leftover Little Miss Sunshine love.

9. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron) – Bullock and Clooney in the lead roles is about as much as any director wanting an Oscar can ask for. The Academy has warmed up to sci-fi in recent years, so this could be the beneficiary if it is as good as it promises.

10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson) – Each of the original three Lord of the Rings films were nominated in this category, but the Academy may have had enough of it when they gave Return of the King 11 Oscars. It will clean up the technical nominations, but I cannot see it being quite as popular as the trilogy.

Others in contention

11. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino) – Everyone loves Tarantino, but this is probably more one of his indulgent pieces than one that the Academy will fully get behind.

12. Les Miserables (Tom Hooper) – This source material begs for Oscars by definition. With Hooper at the helm, this one will be no different. Jackman as Valjean doesn’t exactly do it for me, though.

13. The Surrogate (Ben Lewin) – The Sundance darling will probably be in the running until the end, assuming its audience is found and its box office is respectable.

14. Prometheus (Ridley Scott) – The cast is amazing, and the Academy does love Mr. Scott. It is not Oscar material, but for a director whose films are always on the outside looking in, that could be a good thing. The June release date could hurt, though.

15. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan) – I am not completely sold on the final chapter in the series being treated like Return of the King, but they changed the rules because of its predecessor. I would be a fool to completely ignore it.

So, what do you think of those predictions? Is anyone else as crazy as me to predict this early? What films, screenplays, and/or performances are you most looking forward to in 2012? Let me know.