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Oscar nominations will not be announced until Feb. 11. Certainly on that day there will be a few surprises, but even now, a month before the nominations are revealed, a few seem almost “sure things.”

This time of year is for the film community, and for film fans, the “awards season.” Now starts the process of narrowing down the list of films that opened in 2002 to a few notable selections. If a film does well with the year-end “critics awards,” then it has a much stronger chance of being nominated and possibly even winning the most coveted prize of the film industry: the Oscar.

Oscar nominations will not be announced until Feb. 11. Certainly on that day there will be a few surprises, but even now, a month before the nominations are revealed, a few seem almost “sure things.”

Julianne Moore won the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for best actress for her work in “Far From Heaven” (the LAFCA recognized her for both “Heaven” and “The Hours”).

The only major critics award she did not win was the New York Film Critics Award. She has also picked up the Toronto Film Critics Award, the Seattle Film Critics Award and the San Diego Film Critics Award and is the current frontrunner for the Golden Globe. There is little doubt that her name will be called out on Feb. 11.

Two actors are sharing the attention this year for the best actor category. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in “Gangs of New York” and Jack Nicholson’s performance in “About Schmidt” were both recognized by the LAFCA in a tie decision.

The NYFC chose Day-Lewis, as did the San Diego Film Critics (listing Nicholson as first runner-up) and the Seattle Film Critics. The Toronto Film Critics awarded Nicholas Cage with best actor for his dual role in “Adaptation,” but both Nicholson and Day-Lewis were listed as runners-up.

The Golden Globes have Cage in the “Actor in a Motion Picture–Comedy or Musical” category, so it is a safe bet that either Nicholson or Day-Lewis will take home the Globe for “Actor in a Motion Picture–Drama.” That will be one more step toward their Oscar nomination.

If Nicholson were to win on Oscar night, it would be his fourth, tying him with Katharine Hepburn for the most acting Oscars won by one person. (Nicholson would have three leading awards and one supporting; all four of Hepburn’s were for leading performances.)

The supporting categories are often the hardest to predict. Chris Cooper won the LAFCA, the NBR, SFFC, SFC and TFC for his work in “Adaptation,” while Dennis Quaid took the NYFC for his portrayal of a confused husband in “Far From Heaven.” Both are up for Globes, and a win for either would make them all but a lock for Oscar’s attention.

As for supporting actress, Kathy Bates (“About Schmidt”) has already won the NBR and was first runner-up for the LAFCA. Edie Falco took the LAFCA for her role in “Sunshine State,” and Patricia Clarkson got much deserved recognition from the NYFC for playing the confused friend in “Far From Heaven.” Neither Clarkson nor Falco are nominated for Globes, so Bates could easily walk away with the Globe en route to her second Oscar win. Of all the acting categories, at this point, supporting actress is the most open.

As for the big prize, there are many options. NBR chose “The Hours” as the best film of the year. The LAFCA went with “About Schmidt,” while the NYFC and the SFC chose “Far From Heaven.” The Boston Society of Film Critics along with SFFC voted “The Pianist” the best film of 2002.  The TFC went with “Adaptation.” All of these films are up for Globes in either the “Best Drama or the Comedy/Musical” categories with the notable omission of “Far From Heaven.”

Other films in competition for the Golden Globe are “Gangs of New York,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (both up for drama), “About a Boy,” “Chicago,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Nicholas Nickleby” (all four up for comedy/ musical).

What does any of this mean? People who watch and study this stuff in anticipation of, and with hopes to predict, the Oscars, know it can mean a great deal, or it may mean nothing at all. The Academy members have not even received their ballots yet (they will be mailed on Jan. 11), so anything can happen.

But if history is a prognosticator of the future, then some of those mentioned above will have a very good morning come Feb. 11.

Roger Thomas is pastor of Northeast Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Check out our movie reviews!
“About a Boy”
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
“Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
“Far From Heaven”
“Nicholas Nickleby”
“Gangs of New York” 

And stay tuned for our review of “About Schmidt.”

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