MOVIES: Showdown at the Oscar corral


Howdy, movie pards ... it's less than 24 hours before Tuesday morning's big announcement of the nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards. And as usual, several areas of intense speculation surround the pre-nomination hours.

Who'll lead the pack with the most nominations? Probably one of the best picture front-runners, "The Social Network" or "The King's Speech." But "Black Swan" or "True Grit" could sneak in there too.

Another question: How many acting nominees will come from the ranks of actors playing real people? Can't-miss contenders include Colin Firth at "The King's Speech's" resident royal, "The Social Network's" Jesse Eisenberg (pictured) as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and "The Fighter's" Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Title "Fighter" Mark Wahlberg and "127 Hours' " James Franco lead the "maybe" contingent.

There'll also be some cagey category maneuvering, if I don't miss my guess. Anyone who's seen "True Grit" knows Hailee Steinfeld's heroine Mattie Ross is a lead role, but Steinfeld may wind up in the less-competitive supporting category. Same question surrounds "The Kids Are All Right's" Julianne Moore, who (if she makes the Oscar field at all) will probably be in the running for supporting actress, leaving the star billing to Annette Bening.

Foreign-language performances also could provide an intriguing twist, with "Biutiful's" Javier Bardem, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's" Noomi Rapace and "I Am Love's" Tilda Swinton as eminently worthy — but highly unlikely — nominees. (Cheer up, folks ... that's where the Review-Journal's annual Terry Awards come in, recognizing outstanding, but unnominated, achievement.)

Lots more to discuss, of course, so meet me back here Tuesday at the R-J's Oscar corral for some post-nomination analysis, dish and diss!