I realize it’s a bit silly for 2012 Oscar predictions this far out, but I can’t help it. With the multiplex fare so bad this time of year, I need something to be excited about, so why not dig into the prestige films later this year? The odds say much of what looks Oscar friendly won’t be (I did this last year and only 5 of 10 predicted Best Picture nominees made the cut.), but a year out, this is what I think sounds good (presented in reverse order of likelihood of being nominated).

10.) Like Crazy
Not sure about this one, but it was one of the big hits out of Sundance, so unlike many films on this list, we already know it’s good.

9.) The Skin that I Inhabit
Definitely a bit of a stretch, considering foreign films rarely get Best Picture love, but Pedro Almodovar just seems due for a great film. And reuniting with Antonio Banderas might do it for him.

8.) Young Adult
Frankly, I’m dreading this one. My aversion to all things Diablo Cody has been made pretty clear around here. But Juno was a major Oscar player back in 2007, and Jason Reitman did sensational work in Up in the Air. So this one has to be considered a contender.

7.) We Need to Talk about Kevin
This year’s “little indie that could?” It sure sounds like it. Tilda Swinton is one of our great actresses, and her role in Lynne Ramsey’s latest—which looks at the family of a Columbine-type shooter—sounds like it could be just amazing.

6.) The Ides of March
George Clooney directing a political thriller starring Ryan Gosling sounds right up mine and the Academy’s alley.

5.) Moneyball
Bennett Miller did a phenomenal job with his first feature (Capote), and this one, while sounding a little strange on paper (it’s a true story starring Brad Pitt about a baseball general manager’s plan to build a winning team on a budget), could be a home run.

4.) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
I just can’t wait for this film. It was just given a prime release date during Oscar season, and is directed by Let the Right One In helmer Tomas Alfredson. It also stars Gary Oldman and is adapted from one of my favorite novels (by John Le Carre). Not sure if it’ll go the commercial route, but if it’s a little more cerebral, it could be pretty special.

3.) War Horse
This far out, we can’t rule out Steven Spielberg with a late December release. The Academy might wait until 2013 to give him some love for Lincoln, but if this film is good enough, I’m sure they’ll jump at the chance to give their golden boy some more gold.

2.) We Bought a Zoo
Cameron Crowe hasn’t been around since Elizabethtown, which I’ll defend until my dying breath. Though many (most?) disagree with me on that, I think we can all agree that Crowe is a great writer and director. What he does with this baity picture (starring Matt Damon) remains to be seen, but should he pull it off, I’d love to see him win an Oscar.

1.) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
This year’s Nine? Revolutionary Road? Dreamgirls? Could be. It sounds like the front runner this far out (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, 9/11 subject matter), which might set it up for failure. But there’s no denying the possibility that this film (directed by Academy favorite Stephen Daldry) could be this year’s The King’s Speech, also.

PLUS: Five performances to watch out for…

5.) Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
A great and overdue actress cross-dressing sounds like one recipe for an Oscar nomination.

4.) Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy
Same goes for a great and overdue actor taking on a beloved literary character.

3.) Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk about Kevin
She’s doing the best work of her career, mostly in smaller indies like this film. I think it’s subject matter will be difficult for some to watch, but her performance, perhaps like that of Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, might be too good to ignore.

2.) Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Not sure if we’ll be seeing this one in 2011, but if we do, we could be looking at our Best Actor winner. The role will certainly give him plenty to chew on…

1.) Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
…though perhaps not as much as Streep will have to chew on in this film, a biopic of Margaret Thatcher. If a Julia Child biopic sounded baity, I’m not sure what to say about this film. It’ll be a shocker if she isn’t a contender at year’s end.

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