FEINBERG FORECAST: 'War Horse,' 'Extremely Loud,' 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Iron Lady' and 'Blood and Honey' Remain Question Marks

“Margin Call” (Director: JC Chandor)
JoJo Whilden

WHY IT MIGHT SELL: A big, serious movie about the 2008 financial crisis, with a, big serious cast (Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto). REPS: UTA/Elwes/Untitled

What follows is my latest assessment of all of the high-profile Oscar categories, along with commentary about what/who has positive and negative momentum at the moment in each of them. (You can also click here to see what other pundits are projecting at the moment.) I welcome your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

The Artist (The Weinstein Company, 11/23, TBA, trailer)
The Descendants (Fox Searchlight, 11/23, R,
The Help (Disney, 8/12, PG-13,
Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics, 5/20, PG-13,
War Horse (Disney, 12/25, PG-13,
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Bros., 12/25, PG-13,
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sony, 12/21, TBA,
Moneyball (Columbia, 9/23, PG-13,
J. Edgar (Warner Bros., 11/11, R,
The Ides of March (Sony, 10/14, R,
Major Threats
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Focus Features, 12/9, R, trailer)
The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight, 5/27, PG-13,
Shame (Fox Searchlight, 12/2, NC-17,
Margin Call (Roadside Attractions, 10/21, R,
trailer) NEW
Hugo (Paramount, 11/23, PG, trailer) ?
The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company, 12/30, PG-13, teaser) ?
50/50 (Summit, 9/30, R, trailer)
Young Adult (Paramount, 12/9, R,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 (Warner Bros., 7/15, PG-13, trailer)
Super 8 (Paramount, 6/10, PG-13, trailer)
In the Land of Blood and Honey (FilmDistrict, 12/23, R,
Drive (FilmDistrict, 9/16, R,
Beginners (Focus Features, 6/3, R,
trailer) NEW
Carnage (Sony Pictures Classics, 12/16, R, trailer)
The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount, 12/21, PG, trailer)
We Bought a Zoo (20th Century Fox, 12/23, PG,

? After a mixed-response to its first screening at the New York Film Festival as a not-yet-finished film, Martin Scorsese's now-completed 3-D adaptation has been going over much more strongly of late.
? One never wants to bet against a project that stars Meryl Streep, but it has taken an unsettlingly long time for Phyllida Lloyd's biopic of Margaret Thatcher to get finished, trailered, and screened.

Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Tate Taylor (The Help)
Major Threats
Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Bennett Miller (Moneyball)
Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Steve McQueen (Shame)
Phyllida Lloyd (The Iron Lady)
Jason Reitman (Young Adult)
Roman Polanski (Carnage)
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin)
Cameron Crowe (We Bought a Zoo)

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of THR's Actress Roundtable 2011

? He is not well known among his peers -- indeed, this was his feature directorial debut -- but strong best picture contenders like The Help almost always carry along their director on their coattails, and his film certainly fits that description.
? Tintin's North American premiere at AFI Fest confirmed that it is a film with huge box-office potential -- and that its helmer's chances for a seventh best director nod rest solely with War Horse.

Jean Dujardin (The Artist) ?
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar)
Michael Fassbender (Shame)

Major Threats
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50)
Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus)

Paul Giamatti (Win Win)
Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris)
Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
Thomas Horn (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Jeremy Irvine (War Horse)
Zachary Quinto (Margin Call) NEW
Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo)

? True, he still can't speak much English, but that hasn't kept him from attending virtually every possible gladhanding opportunity, just like Roberto Benigni and Marion Cotillard in years past, and things worked out quite nicely for them.
?  I'm hearing that the star of War Horse -- which will begin screening for press at the end of this month -- is not its leading man (who apparently does a perfectly fine job with limited screen time), but rather its title character.

Viola Davis (The Help)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)   
Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Major Threats
Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Charlize Theron (Young Adult)
Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)

Felicity Jones (Like Crazy)
Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre)
Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia)
Adepero Oduye (Pariah)
Ellen Barkin (Another Happy Day)
Rachel Weisz (The Whistleblower)
Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground)

? Nobody has been more a trouper on the awards trail this year than the five-time nominee, who has hobknobbed around the world on behalf of her film (she's picked up no fewer than three career achievement awards at this point), and who was a hit at Saturday's Governors Awards.
? Unfortunately, Cannes' best actress winner has been unable to get out from under the shadow of her director Lars von Trier's Nazi-sympathizing comments, which come up in conversation every time her film or performance does.

Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Stanley Tucci (Margin Call) NEW
Jeremy Irons (Margin Call) NEW
Kevin Spacey (Margin Call) NEW
Major Threats
Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
mie Hammer (J. Edgar)
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Tom Hanks (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)

Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
Christoph Waltz (Carnage)
John C. Reilly (Carnage)
Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life)
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)

? The last few years have proven that actors are rewarded in the supporting actor category for being bad -- or at least playing bad boys, like Brooks's homocidal psychopath. See: Javier Bardem, Heath Ledger, Christoph Waltz, and Christian Bale.
? There are few better actors than Mortensen, but this intellectually-demanding film and his brief but nuanced performance in it both seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)

Major Threats
Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus)
Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Carey Mulligan (Shame)
Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
Judy Greer (The Descendants)
Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life)

Jodie Foster (Carnage)
Kate Winslet (Carnage)
Marion Cotillard (Midnight in Paris)
Emily Watson (War Horse)
Kim Wayans (Pariah)
Judi Dench (J. Edgar)
Scarlett Johansson (We Bought a Zoo)

? True, the Emmy winner's performance is not of the sort that usually registers with the Academy -- but the same was true of Robert Downey Jr.'s in Tropic Thunder, and he made the cut. Likability matters, too, and McCarthy, like Downey, oozes it.
? The Dame has appeared this year in three noteworthy films -- Jane Eyre, My Week with Marilyn, and J. Edgar -- which is pretty amazing for a 76-year-old. Unfortunately, none of her parts have had quite enough meat on the bones to merit a nomination.

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (The Descendants) ?
Tate Taylor (The Help)
Richard Curtis, Lee Hall (War Horse)
Eric Roth (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Steven Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Major Threats
Stan Chervin, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian (Moneyball)
George Clooney, Grant Heslov (The Ides of March)
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)

John Logan (Hugo)
Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In)
Hossein Amini (Drive)
Roman Polanski (Carnage) ?
Christopher Hampton (A Dangerous Method)
Cameron Crowe, Aline Brosh McKenna (We Bought a Zoo)
John Logan (Coriolanus)

? There probably isn't any category in which The Descendants is more likely to be recognized than this one -- Payne, who is about as revered a screenwriter as there is, was nominated in it twice before, winning for Sideways (2004).
? I saw this film on the opening night of the New York Film Festival and liked it quite a lot, but the general consensus seems to be that it pales in comparison to God of Carnage, the Tony winning stage play that inspired it.

Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Dustin Lance Black (J. Edgar)
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) NEW
Mike Mills (Beginners)
Major Threats
Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy Mae Marlene)
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen (Shame)
Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Diablo Cody (Young Adult)
Tom McCarthy, Joe Tiboni (Win Win)
James Ward Byrkit, John Logan, Gore Verbinski (Rango)
Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones (Like Crazy)
Will Reiser (50/50)
James Ellroy, Oren Moverman (Rampart)
Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) ?
Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)
Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady)
J.J. Abrams (Super 8)
Dee Rees (Pariah)

? His poignant script is based largely on his own experiences -- for instance, his own elderly father, like the character played by Plummer in the film, came out of the closet to him shortly before dying of cancer -- a talking point that plays very well in Q&As and interviews.
? Very few foreign language films have managed to score an Oscar nod outside of the foreign language category, and this worthy winner of the Berlin Film Festival seems unlikely to buck that trend.

Rango (Paramount, 3/4, PG, trailer)
The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount, 12/21, PG, trailer)
Cars 2 (Disney, 6/24, G, trailer)
Happy Feet 2 (Warner Bros., 11/18, PG, trailer)
Puss in Boots (DreamWorks, 11/4, PG, trailer)
Major Threats
Arthur Christmas (Sony, 11/23, PG, trailer)
Kung Fu Panda 2 (DreamWorks, 5/26, PG, trailer)
Rio (20th Century Fox, 4/15, G, trailer)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (20th Century Fox, 12/11, TBA, trailer)
Winnie the Pooh (Disney, 7/15, G, trailer)
The Smurfs (Sony, 7/29, PG, trailer)
The Lion of Judah (Animated Family Films, 6/3, TBA,

The Interrupters (The Cinema Guild, 7/29, TBA, trailer)
Project Nim (Roadside Attractions, 7/8, PG-13,
Senna (Producers Distribution Agency, 8/12, PG-13,
Buck (IFC Films, 6/17, PG,
Into the Abyss (Sundance Selects, 11/11, TBA, TBA)

Major Threats
If a Tree Falls (Oscilloscope, 6/22, TBA, trailer)
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (Submarine Deluxe, TBA,
Bill Cunningham New York (Zeitgeist Films, 3/16, TBA,
The Island President (Samuel Goldwyn Films, 11/8, TBA, TBA)
Better This World (Bullfrog Films, 8/26, TBA,
Koran by Heart (HBO Documentary Films, TBA, TBA,
Tabloid (Sundance Selects, 7/15, R,
Page One: Inside the New York Times (Magnolia, 6/24, TBA,
We Were Here (Red Flag Releasing, 9/?, TBA,
Hell and Back Again (Docurama Films, 10/5, TBA,
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (HBO Documentary Films, TBA, TBA, trailer)
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (HBO Documentary Films, TBA, TBA, trailer)
The Rescuers (Menemsha Films, TBA, TBA, trailer)
The Bully Project (The Weinstein Company, TBA, TBA,
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (Anchor Bay Films, 10/16, TBA,
Magic Trip (Magnolia, 8/5, TBA,
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Sundance Selects, 9/9, TBA,
Hot Coffee (HBO Documentaries, 6/27, TBA,
Pearl Jam Twenty (Abramorama, 9/20, R,
Bobby Fischer Against the World (HBO Documentary Films, TBA, TBA, TBA)
The Whale (Paladin, TBA, TBA, TBA)
Revenge of the Electric Car (Westmidwest Productions, TBA, TBA,
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Sony Pictures Classics, 4/22, PG-13,
Still Seeking Domestic Distribution
Bombay Beach
The Carrier
Semper Fi: Always Faithful

A Separation (Iran)
Where Do We Go Now? (Lebanon)
Le Havre (Finland)
A Simple Life (Hong Kong)
In Darkness (Poland)

Major Threats
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
Declaration of War (France)
Footnote (Israel)
Pina (Germany)
The Flowers of War (China)
Happy, Happy (Norway)
Terra Firma (Italy)
Sonny Boy (Netherlands)
Superclasico (Denmark)

Bullhead (Belgium) NEW
Black Bread (Spain)
Postcard (Japan)
Omar Killed Me (Morocco)
The Turin Horse (Hungary)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkey)
Montevideo: Taste of a Dream (Serbia)
Morgen (Romania)