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What most folks refer to as the “holiday season” is technically over, but we’re only now entering my favorite celebratory time of year.  Much like the holidays that just ended, this new season finds us bestowing the ones we love with silver and gold (and crystal) trinkets.

That’s right, awards show season is upon us!

It all kicks off next week with the People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday, January 9, at 9/8c on CBS.  The following morning the Oscar nominees will be announced, that night the Critics’ Choice Awards air on the CW and then the Golden Globes appear on NBC on Sunday, January 13.  Talk about a winter wonderland!

I love ALL awards shows.  The fact that I get to work for one is a dream come true.

Admittedly, I tend to get overly invested in these kudo fests and often experience emotional swings depending on their outcome, the way most people respond when their favorite team wins or loses a crucial game.

Over 400 million votes have been cast for next week’s PCAs.  The real fans – not the jaded industry insiders – determine the winners, so I’m totally cool with how the people choose.  The Golden Globe winners, on the other hand, are determined by around 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press.  Their choices are so wacky that I don’t get too worked up over who wins or loses.  Same for the Critics’ Choice.

But the Oscars are another story.

There are 6,000+ voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I am absolutely obsessed over how they cast their ballots.  IMHO, they mostly get it right, with some rare exceptions that totally get my goat.

When the Oscar nominations are announced the day after the PCAs, I’ll be up bright and early to see if my favorites made the cut.  I’d like to hear the following names mentioned among the nominees: Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman,  Ben Affleck, Denzel Washington and Kathryn Bigelow.  I’m already stressing out over the potential snubs.

Over a dinner several years ago – almost out of the blue – my friend Tricia said, “When Whoopi Goldberg beat Lorraine Bracco for Best Supporting Actress in 1991, it freaked me out for a year.”

While that particular upset didn’t make me that particularly upset, I have suffered my own bouts with POSD (Post Oscar Stress Disorder.)

Last year, for instance, I was torn between three Best Actress nominees:  Viola Davis in The Help, Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.  Streep ultimately triumphed and I was more than fine with that.  She never disappoints.  (Although I was bummed that she didn’t acknowledge the other nominees in her acceptance speech.  She was wonderfully self-effacing and gave a great shout out to her hairstylist/make up artist of 37 years, but Meryl is typically one of those class acts who always points out how much she respects her fellow nominees.)  See?  I take this stuff very seriously.

I’m still upset that, at the 83rd annual Oscars, Annette Bening didn’t win for The Kids Are All Right.  Natalie Portman took home the coveted award for Black Swan that evening.   Portman was the best thing about that movie, but her over the top performance couldn’t hold a candle to Bening’s work in TKAAR.

All my hopes for the 81st awards came true: Slumdog Millionaire, Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Heath Ledger and Penelope Cruz all won their categories.  Yea!

The 79th Oscars had a Best Actress line up that ensured I couldn’t possibly be disappointed:  Penelope Cruz for Volver, Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal,  Helen Mirren for The Queen, Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada and Kate Winslet for Little Children.  Mirren deservedly won, and all the other nominees had won or would win an Oscar for other performances, so I am completely at peace.  Whew.

The Best Actor category for the 78th Oscars was an embarrassment of riches:  Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain, Joaquin Phoenix for Walk the Line and David Straithairn for Good Night, and Good Luck all lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote.  PSH was amazing and totally earned the statue, but I would have been just as happy to have seen one of those other guys make his way to the podium.  That was the year that Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture.  THAT freaked me out for a year.

At the 76th awards, Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River), Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April) and Holly Hunter (Thirteen) lost to Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain.)  I’ve always liked Miss Z, but I remember reading a review that likened her performance in that film to a bad impression of Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies, and I couldn’t agree more.

But enough of these ghosts of Oscars past.  It’s time to celebrate the here and now, so voice your choice in today’s poll and tell us who you think is a lock for an Oscar nomination.  And may your awards show season be merry and bright.

The 2013 Oscar nominations will be announced next week.  Which of these potential nominees do you think is a sure thing?

Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Best Actress:  Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Best Supporting Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained

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