Inside this week | And the Oscar goes to …

It’s around this time of year that I like to find out when all the Oscar hopefuls will be hitting the screens – and a quick glance reveals that February is the month to make the cinema your second home. It’s good timing – I like to think that intelligent film-goers are targeted when it’s dark and cold, and the morons when it’s bright and sunny.

So in a very particular order, here’s this winter’s Oscar nominees and, just in case you like a bet, the latest odds (looks like the smart money’s on The Artist and Hugo).

December sees the premieres of David Fincher’s remake of the Stieg Larsson adaptation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (21 Dec, 16s), and Moneyball (15 Dec, 20s), which is directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) and stars Brad Pitt as a cash-strapped baseball coach making a splash with his clever stats.

January sees the release of Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse (26 Jan, 11/4, yes, the main character’s a horse) and Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar (19 Jan, 8s) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who is apparently brilliant, but not enough to save the film.

Four films debut in February: The Artist (9 Feb, 11/5), The Descendants (16 Feb, 10/3), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (9 Feb, 14s) and The Iron Lady (23 Feb, 28s). While the British films probably don’t have a chance – TTSS came out months ago elsewhere and has had brilliant reviews across the board, and Meryl Streep really nails Mrs T down to a T so expect her to win – the other two are strong candidates. 

The Descendants is directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), a filmmaker with a fondness for estranged characters and profound observation, and sees George Clooney play a divorcee trying to reconnect with his kids. While The Artist, a first US film for French director Michel Hazanavicius, sees two unknown leads, and a strong supporting cast, recreate the silent Hollywood era.

And finally in March, we await Clooney’s poorly-received, well timed Ides of March (15 March, 25s), Hugo (15 March, 6s) and Extremely Loud and Close (1 March, 8s).

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is a mystery set at a 1930s Parisian station, with an extremely British-heavy cast, while Stephen Daldry’s ELAC could finally be the 9/11 film that America has been crying out for. I cannot print the premise through fear of bursting into tears.