Natalie Portman in Black SwanMovies are made of moments, and after some consideration, I can't think of a single Best Picture lineup that has provided more memorable moments than the one competing at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, airing on ABC affiliate WQAD on February 27.

Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, and Geoffrey Rush in The King's SpeechAll right, kids, we're on a roll. Two years ago, I correctly predicted 16 out of 24 winners at the annual Oscars ceremony. Last year, I scored 18 right. So this year, let's go out on a limb and suggest that I'm gonna guess accurately in ... I dunno ... 11, 12 categories ... ?

The King's SpeechIf you were wondering what that anguished roar was at approximately 7:40 a.m., it was probably the sound of thousands upon thousands of Christopher Nolan fans simultaneously wailing, "Not again!!!"

[Author's note: In the 11 days since this article was first published, a number of generally reliable pre-Oscar-nomination indicators have seen the light, including the nominees for several guild awards and the British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA), and the overall mood of the rooms during the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes ceremonies. Consequently, with less than 40 hours to go before the Academy Awards nominations are announced, I've changed my official predictions in a number of categories. Let's see if I turn out to be smarter or stupider in the wake of my last-minute changes! My new picks, along with some commentary, will follow the originally published predictions.]


No novelty with a newly expanded field of 10 nominees for the big prize. No ex-spouses dueling for the Best Director trophy. No nutty, left-field Best Picture contenders along the lines of Star Trek and Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Hangover. Where's the fun in reading predictions about this year's field of Oscar nominees?

Why, in the possibility of Mike falling flat on his precognostic face, that's where!

Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social NetworkBefore commencing with the annual fawning, I thought I'd begin by exercising one of my God-given rights as a reviewer: the right to bitch about the sorry state of movies. I think it's supposed to go something like this:

Boy, are the movies in a sorry state!

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in The Other GuysRunners-Up to the 10 Favorites: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Fair Game, Get Him to the Greek, The Ghost Writer, I Am Love, Inception, The Other Guys, Restrepo, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Waiting for "Superman."

Runners-Up to Those Runners-Up: Babies, Brooklyn's Finest, Despicable Me, Going the Distance, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Karate Kid, The King's Speech, Megamind, Please Give, The Town.

And Since it Was Such a Good Year ... : Cyrus, Easy A, For Colored Girls, Iron Man 2, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ramona & Beezus, Salt, Tangled, Unstoppable, Youth in Revolt.

Best Actress winner Sandra BullockAll told, I thought this year's Academy Awards telecast was awfully satisfying, and I'm not saying that because I predicted 18 out of 24 categories correctly.

Yup. 18 out of 24.

Tying my personal best.

And three of my incorrect guesses were in the short-film categories, where no one knows what the hell is going on.

But I digress.

Jeremy Renner in The Hurt LockerOkay, yes, we've been trying this for years. But this time, I think I've finally figured out how you can score 24 out of 24 in your office's annual Academy Awards pool.

Granted, I was in Illinois when I watched this morning's announcement of the 82nd Annual Academy Award nominees. But I'm still reasonably sure that, as Anne Hathaway finished reading the list of 10 Best Picture nominees, I could hear Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science President Sid Ganis sigh with relief - along with the Academy's Board of Governors, Oscar-telecast producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic, and everyone at ABC.

Jeremy Renner in The Hurt LockerA Best Picture slate for the Oscars with twice as many titles as usual? A female front-runner for the Best Director trophy? Not one, not two, but three science-fiction films potentially up for the big prize? What the hell is going on this year?!?

We'll know more when the nominees for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards are revealed on Tuesday, February 2. In the meantime, there's no harm -- although there is the possibility of an eventual loss of dignity -- in my making a few predictions... .