December brings Oscar season, Harper-Davis makes her picks

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For many people, December means many things. It's the end of the semester, the six-month mark to graduation for seniors and the month when the lights are festive, the tree is up and online shopping carts are full.

For me, December is the month that I most look forward to for one particular reason — award season is near. During this month, bloggers and movie critics from all over give their opinions on who is worthy of a nomination for an Academy Award, or better yet, a win.

After watching a majority of the movies and viewing the nominees for other awards that often reflect the possible Oscar contenders, I have compiled a list of my personal picks for Academy Award nominees in each major category.

BEST PICTURE:

There is no doubt in my mind that 2011 brought with it some great movies. From the dramatic to the laugh-out-loud funny films, good acting and star power was important in gaining a good review and a nod in the nominations.

Out of the many movies that were released this year, there are some with the best percentage of getting a nomination: "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "Drive," "War Horse," "Hugo" and the highly anticipated "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

While some of these movies have been out for some time, others haven't even begun playing for the general public. But critics who have seen these films list them as frontrunners in the Oscar chase for best picture.

Something to note about this list is that the best picture nominees usually tend to be dramatic acting performances rather than comedic ones. Why? No one really knows.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

"Bridesmaids," "Midnight in Paris," "The Artist," "The Tree of Life" and "Shame."

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

"The Help," "Moneyball," "War Horse," "The Descendants" and "Hugo."

BEST ACTOR:

George Clooney, "The Descendants"

Ryan Gosling, "Drive"

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"

Michael Fassbender, "Shame"

BEST ACTRESS:

Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"

Viola Davis, "The Help"

Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"

Albert Brooks, "Drive"

Nick Nolte, "Warrior"

Christoph Waltz, "Carnage"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

Kate Winslet, "Carnage"

Jessica Chastain, "The Help," "The Tree of Life" and "Take Shelter"

Carey Mulligan, "Shame"

Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

The list of actors and actresses that could be potential nominees has nothing to do with the movie, but is based solely on the performance given in a particular movie. While this list has lots of A-list actors and actresses, some relatively unknown stars make this list as well. Who knows, maybe they can persevere to win the whole thing.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

"Rango"

"Puss in Boots"

"The Muppets"

"Rio"

"The Adventures of Tintin"

Only time will tell what movies and stars make the cut. On Jan. 24, 2012, I'll be glued to my television when the nominations are announced. I made my list, I've checked it twice and it is time to find out if I'm wrong or right. Oscar time is coming to town.

—Harper-Davis is a sophomore communications major from Washington, D.C.

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