As I mentioned a few weeks back, it's difficult for me to place much stock in what the Oscars determine to be the best films of any year.
But as the ceremony approaches, it's equally difficult not to get caught up in the fervour.
In today's blog I'm gonna take a glance at the major categories and make my personal selections among the nominees.
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in A Better Life
George Clooney in The Descendants
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt in Moneyball
Who will probably win: Jean Dujardin, although a late surge by Clooney isn't out of the question.
Who should win: Dujardin. This is one area where all the love for The Artist feels completely appropriate. Dujardin did amazing things in this movie that alone transcended the perceived gimmickry of the project, and should be recognised for it.
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis in The Help
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn
Who will probably win: Viola Davis.
Who should win: Michelle Williams performance in My Week With Marilyn impressed me greatly, but it deserved a better delivery vehicle than the film that surrounded it.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Nick Nolte in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Who will probably win: Beyond his pretty secure front-runner status, Plummer has that whole, 'he-deserves-it-for-his-career' thing going on.
Who should win: A unexiting field. Write-in nominee: Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
Jessica Chastain in The Help
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer in The Help
Who will probably win: It's difficult not to root for likely victor Octavia Spencer, who toiled for years in tiny character roles and has seen her career take a Cinderella-like leap with this film...
Who should win: ...but I also really want to see Melissa McCarthy win an Oscar. Go Sookie!
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Descendants Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo Screenplay by John Logan
The Ides of March Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Who will probably win: The Descendants screenwriters.
Who should win: A very strong field this year in what is traditionally a conciliatory prize for not getting Best Picture. The Ides of March, Moneyball and Tinker Tailor all had very strong screenplays, but it'll be worth The Descendants winning just to see perenial TV guest stars Faxon and Rash up on the podium.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Artist Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call Written by JC Chandor
Midnight in Paris Written by Woody Allen
A Separation Written by Asghar Farhadi
Who will probably win: Woody Allen. Is it wrong that The Artist gets discounted because there's no dialogue?
Who should win: It will be an enormous thrill if Woody wins (and is there to receive it), but I would also be very happy if the Bridesmaids writers won.
The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants - Alexander Payne
Hugo - Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick
Who will probably win: It's all but a lock for Hazanavicius.
Who should win: Terrence Malick should be rewarded for the boldness of The Tree of Life.
The Artist - Thomas Langmann, Producer
The Descendants - Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Scott Rudin, Producer
The Help - Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
Hugo - Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
Midnight in Paris - Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
Moneyball - Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
The Tree of Life - Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill, Producers
War Horse - Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Who will probably win: The Artist.
Who should win: The Artist is an achievement for sure, but to me, The Tree of Life felt like it was really pushing cinema forward.
Also on my Oscar wishlist: The presence of a streaker during the ceremony. Forget Sacha Baron Cohen, a streaker is what the show needs to shake things up.
This is due to happen again. This needs to happen.
* What films and people do you want to win on Monday? Are you holding out hope for a streaker?