Theaters were filled with very good movies in 2011. Greatness, however, was hard to find.
Sure, there were great moments and great individual performances, but as for feature-length perfection, well, let's just say there's some filler amongst the nine Best Picture nominees.
Still, 2011 offers some very competitive Oscar races. That means real drama for movie lovers, right down to the final six minutes of tonight's four-hour broadcast — when seven of the major awards are announced in one breathless monologue by Billy Crystal.
Here's one man's view of how things will turn out:
What will win: The momentum behind the retro French silent film "The Artist" is unstoppable by the likes of "Hugo," "The Help," "The Descendants" and "Moneyball." The biggest slam dunk of the night.
What should win: "The Descendants" is very good, but it's a small movie. "Moneyball" is very good, but it's about baseball statistics. "The Artist" is inventive, unique and has the fewest flaws — unless of course you consider the lack of sound and dialogue a flaw.
Who will win: Could there be an Adele-like sweep by "The Artist?" It's entirely possible. This is a a two-man race between "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin and George Clooney. The academy loves George Clooney.
Who should win: George Clooney really is outstanding as the bewildered, betrayed husband in "The Descendants."
Who will win: The category is loaded this year, with five really strong performances. Viola Davis, however, figures to bring home the trophy for her determined maid in "The Help." Meryl Streep will show a stiff upper lip as the close runner-up in "The Iron Lady," but this will mark her 16th Oscar loss and a 30-year drought since "Sophie's Choice."