It’s a new year and a good time for wishful thinking. Ballots have been mailed to Academy Award voters and must be returned by January 14, so to all my Oscar-voting readers — let’s for the moment assume I have any — here are some eligible contenders you haven’t been hearing about but deserve your attention.

BEST PICTURE

Likely Nominees: The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Inception

… But don’t forget:
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN

You’ve never nominated a documentary for Best Picture, but quite possibly the year’s most emotional and important film was this stirring account of the failures of the American education system, demonstrated through disheartening statistics and brought to life in the stories of families and neighborhoods whose futures are at stake.

BEST DIRECTOR

Likely Nominees: David Fincher (“Social Network”), Tom Hooper (“King’s Speech”), Christopher Nolan (“Inception”)

… But don’t forget:
MARTIN SCORSESE

He’s been foremost in the minds of voters with nearly every film he’s made in the last ten years, on his way to finally winning an overdue Oscar for The Departed, but I think Shutter Island, released last February to minor praise and major box office, is a better film. In it, he not only demonstrates a confident command of technique but marries it to a provocative theme about the nature of madness amidst 20th Century upheaval.

BEST ACTOR

Likely Nominees: Colin Firth (“King’s Speech”), James Franco (“127 Hours”), Jesse Eisenberg (“Social Network”)

… But don’t forget:
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO

He had the best year of his career, not only commercially but creatively, bringing emotional gravity to two films that without him might have been simply exercises in style: Shutter Island and Inception. Take your pick.

… Also, don’t forget:
BEN STILLER

As the resentful title character in Greenberg, Stiller never invites us to like him — he’s mean and withdrawn — but does something altogether more impressive: He finds the vulnerability and insecurity of a miserable man and invites us to sympathize with him.

BEST ACTRESS

Likely Nominees: Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”), Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”)

… But don’t forget:
CATHERINE KEENER

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her give a bad performance, and in Please Give she is a pitch-perfect study in liberal guilt. As unscrupulous furniture dealer Kate, she makes potentially obnoxious self-interest — she’s charitable to make herself feel like a better person — into a funny and truly moving portrait of capitalist ambivalence.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Likely Nominees: Geoffrey Rush (“King’s Speech”), Christian Bale (“The Fighter”)

… But don’t forget:
JOHN HAWKES

He recently received a SAG nomination, usually a good predictor of the Oscars, so there’s a chance you haven’t forgotten his performance, and since you’ll be watching Winter’s Bone to see Jennifer Lawrence, there’s no chance you won’t have seen it. Hawkes, an actor I’ve admired for years on film and TV, with his wiry build and intense glare makes heroine Ree Dolly’s Uncle Teardrop a sinister, menacing, unforgettable character.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Likely Nominees: Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), Amy Adams (“The Fighter”), Helena Bonham Carter (“King’s Speech”)

… But don’t forget:
OLIVIA WILLIAMS

What on paper might have been a thankless role — the long-suffering wife of an embattled politician — turns out to be the backbone of The Ghost Writer. Williams, fresh off a similarly ambiguous performance on the TV series Dollhouse, is the cunning, enigmatic driving force of Roman Polanski’s thriller.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Likely Nominees: King’s Speech, Inception, Kids Are All Rright

… But don’t forget:
PLEASE GIVE

It’s the fourth feature written and directed by Nicole Holofcener (pictured, right), and they’re all just about perfect in the way they observe human relationships, especially between women. Her writing is subtle, precise, and observant.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Likely Nominees: Social Network, Toy Story 3

… But don’t forget:
WINTER’S BONE

Anne Rosellini and director Debra Granik (pictured) adapted Daniel Woodrell’s Ozarks-set novel with the same fine, poetic attention to the cadences of dialect as the Coens’ No Country for Old Men.

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