Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a SlaveHeading toward January 16's announcement of this year's Academy Award nominees, I think it's safe to say that we know a few things.

We know, for instance, that it'll be a big day for 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, and most likely for American Hustle. We know the Best Supporting Actor category (which, last year, was populated entirely with previous Oscar winners) will be top-heavy with relatively new talent, and the Best Actress category (which, last year, was top-heavy with relatively new talent) will be mostly, perhaps entirely, populated with previous Oscar winners. We know members of the Academy's music branch will throw some loopy, out-of-left-field choice into the Best Original Song lineup, because they always do.

And we know, come January 16, that some incredibly worthy titles are going to get royally screwed.

I can't remember which Web site I read it on, but in prefacing his 10-best list, one movie-reviewing pundit expressed his wish that rankings of this sort be published 10 years after the fact, so he could have a full decade to digest, re-re-view, and potentially re-evaluate what he initially decreed were his favorite films for a particular calendar year. I love that idea, but would also be grateful for a just few extra weeks.

Roger EbertIn 2010, at the age of 67, Roger Ebert reviewed The Human Centipede (First Sequence) ? a horror flick that seems to exist primarily to make viewers vomit. As a professional movie critic for more than four decades, Ebert could have been forgiven for skipping it altogether. Curt dismissal was another perfectly reasonable option.

A charitable senior-citizen writer might have picked the movie apart on moral, narrative, or aesthetic grounds, or used it as a launching point for a screed against the depravity of contemporary culture or the torture-porn genre.

But Ebert turned in a no-star-rating review that begins with an earnest rumination on the path to mortality: "It's not death itself that's so bad. It's what you might have to go through to get there." And he says that within the writer/director, Tom Six, "there stirs the soul of a dark artist."

Best Actor Daniel Day-LewisSeth MacFarlane, I thought, did a fine job hosting the 85th Academy Awards ceremony. He turned out to be a fine choice for the frequently thankless Oscar-emcee position, tossing in some fine jokes in between the generally fine production numbers and mostly fine acceptance speeches ... .

I'm sorry, but I am alone in thinking that last night's telecast, in the end, was just a little too "fine"?

Ben Affleck in ArgoAs I only predicted 15 out of 24 categories correctly for the previous Academy Awards, obviously I have some making up to do for my prognostic abilities to again be taken seriously.

Of all freakin' times to attempt a comeback ... !

Don't tell anyone. But usually, when it comes to predicting the winners of the Academy Awards' major races, it doesn't take much to look like you know what you're talking about.

So what did we learn from this morning's announcement of contenders for the 85th Annual Academy Awards?

It's incomplete, with such 2012 releases as Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Rust & Bone, Arbitrage, The Intouchables, Not Fade Away, and Here Comes the Boom (ha ha!) still requiring my viewing. And it's certainly eclectic, as even I can't fathom a double feature of titles number one and two below. But in an all-around outstanding year for movies, the following ranking of 10 selections - with a bonus inclusion - is, as of January 6, my list of the absolute best times I had as a film fanatic this past year.

 

Sam Rockwell and Colin Farrell in Seven Psychopaths"So, Mike, what did you think of the other 2012 movies you saw?"

Gosh, how nice of you to ask!

In descending order of appreciation ... .

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark ThirtyWill it be Argo's year or Lincoln's? Affleck's or not-Affleck's? Day-Lewis' or ... ?

Well, it's gonna be Day-Lewis'.

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