This will be somewhat abbreviated because of unforeseen circumstances, but…here we go. BEST PICTURE will be won by “The Artist” and its Spirit Award win last night seems to lock that up for certain. Early frontrunner “The Descendants” has been left in the dust, and spoilers like “Hugo” and “The Help” will win in other categories. In my perfect world, the winner is “The Tree of Life”, or even “Midnight in Paris”—but that is not going to happen. I do not feel “The Artist” is worthy of the award, but it is far from being a horrible choice. The Spirit Awards also seem to have locked up BEST ACTOR for “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin. Early frontrunner George Clooney still has a chance, but his buzz has been in steady downfall. I’ve heard minor rumblings for all three of the other contenders, but this is a two-man race, folks. Clooney, by the way, is my personal favorite performance—but he’s going to lose. And BEST ACTRESS is a two-woman race that is just as tight(if not tighter)than the boys’ category. But the glorious Viola Davis seems to be poised to take it for “The Help”. She’s the best thing about the film, and despite me having much love for Michelle Williams perf in “My Week with Marilyn”, Ms. Davis’ ONLY competition is the formidable Meryl Streep. But Meryl gives a solid performance in a terrible movie, and her early frontrunner status has died down considerably. Ms. Streep could still eek it out…but I would bet against it. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR will be taken by 82-year-old Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”, in defiance of some late surge for 82-year-old Max von Sydow. Nolte’s gotten some ink, but forget it. And youngsters Branagh(50) and Hill(28) should just enjoy the post-Oscar parties—they are not real contenders this year. Her portrayal is a bit over-the-top for my taste, but all signs point towards Octavia Spencer garnering BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS tonight for “The Help”. Berenice Bejo’s buzz died weeks ago…whereas “Bridesmaids”-nominee Melissa McCarthy’s has ratcheted up. But I just don’t see it. My personal choice in this category would have been Jessica Chastain…but for “The Tree of Life” and not “The Help”. ALL of the director nominees have gotten their share of ecstatic praise(and if you don’t realize by now that I think Terence Malick deserves it, you really need to have your eyes checked). I don’t quite get the charm that Martin Scorsese reached many with in “Hugo”, but he is the only one with the chance of an upset. BEST DIRECTOR will go to Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist”, his DGA victory almost certainly locking that up weeks ago. Please don’t let the silent “The Artist” win the screenplay award. Although some will be rooting hard for Kristen Wiig for “Bridesmaids”, BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY should(and will)go to Woody Allen for his utterly charming “Midnight in Paris”. It’s his best work in decades…and it just HAS to win SOMETHING, right? And I’m pretty certain that the one award “The Descendants” is going to take is BEST ADAPTED SCREEPLAY for Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has gotten some nice word-of-mouth, but my feeling is most voters don’t even understand it. Heck, I love the film and there are times when I couldn’t freaking understand it—talk about dense. Also, I suppose a win for “Hugo” is not entirely out of the question. And finally, it appears to be a lock that “Rango” will be the champion for BEST ANIMATED FEATURE. “A Cat in Paris” and “Chico & Rita” have been seen by almost no one(me included), and “Puss in Boots” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” are lukewarm sequels. And those are my picks for the top 9 categories. Lots of buzz-tracking and research goes into this every year…and my track record is pretty darn good. Hoping that keeps up my first year on the blog! Also, expect “Hugo” to win a bunch of technical awards to make up for its losses in the major categories. And even though “A Separation” is widely expected to take Best Foreign Language Film, this is annually the toughest award to pick. The unspoken rule is to never discount a holocaust film…and Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness” is a holocaust film. We’ll see. The film season ends tonight…enjoy the show!