Oscar nominations: Who's been hottest so far this awards season?
Oscar nominations will be unveiled today shortly after 5:30 a.m. PST. So what films, directors and actors have the most momentum going into the big dance at the Academy Awards? The Los Angeles Times' Heatmeter system, using statistical analysis of a bevy of awards and nominations to date, sizes up the race. Check out each race by category at heatmeter.latimes.com, using the drop-down menus at the top of the page.
"The Artist" took home top laurels from the Producers Guild of America on Saturday night, and now leads in the overall Heatmeter scoring in the best picture category. "The Descendants" is second.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year is adopting a new system for the best picture race –- there may be anywhere between five and 10 best picture contenders -– but, according to our tabulations, only "The Descendants" still has a shot to overtake "The Artist for the Heatmeter's overall best picture score.
HEATMETER: Who's too hot to stop this awards season?
In the best actor category, George Clooney looks like a lock for his role in "The Descendants." Hot on his trail are Brad Pitt ("Moneyball"), Jean Dujardin ("The Artist"), Michael Fassbender ("Shame") and Leonardo DiCaprio ("J. Edgar"). Ryan Gosling ("Drive") and Michael Shannon ("Take Shelter") look like long-shots.
As for best actress, the Heatmeter puts Meryl Streep on top for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." She's got more than twice the points of Michelle Williams ("My Week With Marilyn"). In a surprising third place is South Korean actress Yun Jung-Hee, whose performance in "Poetry" earned her numerous critics awards. Viola Davis ("The Help") is fourth, and tied for fifth place are Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Glenn Close for "Albert Nobbs." Though Yun has far more points than Davis, Swinton and Close, it will still be a surprise if the academy gives the South Korean a nomination, given that "Poetry" has probably been seen by far fewer voters.
In the best director category, Martin Scorsese is in the lead for his 3-D children's movie "Hugo," followed closely by "The Artist's" Michel Hazanavicius, Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life," Alexander Payne for "The Descendants" and Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris." Clooney ("The Ides of March") and David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") go into the noms as underdogs.
In some categories, such as documentaries and foreign film, the academy has already released shortlists of prospective nominees that exclude films with the most heat on the meter. For example, in the documentary race, the Heatmeter shows Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Senna" as contenders, yet the documentary branch has already ruled them out of the race. In the foreign film category, China's "City of Life and Death" and Angelina Jolie's Balkans war drama "In the Land of Blood and Honey" are among films that came into the Oscar nominations with heat but have been excluded from contention by the academy's foreign-film committee.
Have fun checking all the categories. We'll update the Heatmeter shortly after nominations, so you can see which movies, actors and filmmakers have the best shot at taking home a trophy on Feb. 26, when the Academy Awards are handed out at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
-- Julie Makinen