A week ago, we'd have pegged this much higher, but then Sunday night came, and for the first time in thirty years, Meryl Streep won an Oscar. While that doesn't rule out the idea of an eighteenth nomination this year, there's no longer the same overdue factor to push that along, and a principally commercial film like David Frankel's comedy "Great Hope Springs" may play more like "It's Complicated" than "Doubt." That being said, only a fool would bet against Meryl entirely.
Kristin Wiig - "Imogene"
Having been nominated for her "Bridesmaids" screenplay this year, could Kristin Wiig follow it up with an acting nod in 2013? "Imogene" certainly provides her with the opportunity to stretch her wings, a dark comedy-drama about a woman who pretends to kill herself in order to win back her ex-boyfriend, and is forced to move in with her mother (Annette Bening). The independent film comes from "American Splendor" duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who've had a spotty track record, but it sounds like it could be a slightly more palatable "Young Adult," and Wiig is the toast of the town right now, so this could end up surprising.
Another highly-praised Sundance flick was James Marsh's "Shadow Dancer," in which rising star Andrea Riseborough is said to give a storming performance as a single mother involved in the IRA who's blackmailed into becoming a double-agent for the British government. In what seems like a quiet year, Riseborough could break out, but the film isn't really Oscar's home territory, and the picture was bought by small distributor ATO ("Casino Jack," "Terri"), who've never handled a serious Oscar campaign before. Riseborough has got a nomination coming one day, but we're not sure it'll be this one.
Also In The Mix: We're unclear if Jennifer Lawrence will be lead or supporting for "The Silver Linings Playbook," but either way, she could end up picking up a second nomination. Meanwile, Helen Mirren has another possibility with "The Door," although we suspect it's too European to really cross over, while in a line-up unusually free of big-name biopics, Amanda Seyfried is playing "Lovelace," which might be an attention-grabber to say the least. A nomination for Quvenzhane Wallis, the young star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," would be nearly unprecedented: she's the same age as the current youngest acting nominee, Justin Henry ("Kramer Vs. Kramer"), but the film's getting an awful lot of love. Finally, maybe it's just us, but Emily Blunt looks delightful in what we've seen of "Five-Year Engagement" -- could a Renee-Zellwegger-in-"Bridget-Jones'-Diary"-style nomination be on the way?
And our super-early predictions, for clarification:
Daniel Day-Lewis - "Lincoln"
Clint Eastwood - "Trouble With The Curve"
John Hawkes - "The Surrogate"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Master"
Bill Murray - "Hyde Park On Hudson"
Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
Viola Davis - "Won't Back Down"
Helen Hunt - "The Surrogate"
Keira Knightley - "Anna Karenina
Laura Linney - "Hyde Park On Hudson"