By David Salazar ( | First Posted: Dec 26, 2012 12:12 PM EST

Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
(Photo : Paramount Pictures)

The Oscar Nominations are almost two weeks away and there are still a few categories that are up in the air. Usually awards precursors give prognosticators a good idea of which films or actors will receive nominations for their respective categories but some categories, such as the Best Supporting Actor race, are so full of contenders that limiting to just five is near impossible. Here is a breakdown of the supporting actor race up to this moment.

The Locks

There are only three actors that will undoubtedly be nominated for the award. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's turn in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" has made him a top contender to win the award. He has already received eight best supporting actor awards from different critics circles including the Washington Film Critics and San Francisco Film Critics. He has received nominations for virtually every critics circle, but his nomination is secure because he received a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics Choice awards nominations. These three award ceremonies, while not always accurate, provide a solid barometer for the top contenders in the race.

Tommy Lee Jones is the other big winners in awards season for his turn in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." Jones has won seven precursor awards including the New York Online Film Critics and the Las Vegas Film Critics. He has also received nominations for virtually every precursor award and nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, and the Critics Choice.

The final lock in this category is Alan Arkin. He has not won any precursor awards, but has been nominated for almost every single one and he is the only remaining actor in the pool that got the SAG, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice nominations.

Major Contenders for Final Two Spots

The final spots are being contended by five actors. Robert DeNiro is a major contender for a nomination for his turn in "Silver Linings Playbook." He has won two precursor awards and got nominations from the Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild. However, he was snubbed by the Golden Globes, giving rise to questions about whether or not his nomination is in danger. Of all the remaining candidates he has the best shot at a nomination as the legend has been nominated for the Oscars six time sand has won twice. However, he has not been nominated since 1992 and the Academy might pounce at the chance to recognize DeNiro for his best work in 20 years.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Chrisoph Waltz are both in contention for their respective roles in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." Both have received a number of major precursor victories including three for Waltz. DiCaprio's lone victory was a major one as he won the award for Best Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review. Both got Golden Globe nominations but both were ignored by SAG and the Critics choice. The big impediment with their potential nomination is that they essentially get in each others' ways. Most critics recognize the two as the strengths of "Django Unchained" and it is possible that when the academy goes to vote, the voters could be split on the two and ultimately minimize the number of votes each gets. Waltz won an Oscar for Tarantino's last film "Inglorious Basterds" back in 2010 and DiCaprio is still waiting for his illusive Oscar win despite being nominated three times. Many thought this could be the year the Academy finally gives him the win, but it is looking increasingly difficult this year.

Christoph Waltz and Jaime Foxx in
Christoph Waltz and Jaime Foxx in "Django Unchained." (The Weinstein Company)(

Matthew McConaughey had a major year with top end performances in "Magic Mike" and "Bernie" and many feel that the actor will finally get recognized for his big career turnaround. However, he has the same dilemma as DiCaprio and Waltz as he is in contention for two roles. He may be split voters who might favor one performance over another. He received a nomination for "Magic Mike" from the Critics choice, so this may be the performance that gets more attention.

Finally, Javier Bardem has the potential to steal a nomination for his performance in "Skyfall." James Bond films generally do not get awards buzz, but Bardem has scored nominations from SAG and the Critics Choice. He also won the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor, but has not otherwise received any recognition or nominations from precursors. The fact that SAG (which makes up a portion of the Academy voters) picked him automatically makes him a nomination contender despite having little other buzz.

Predictions: The final two spots will likely be filled by Robert DeNiro and Christoph Waltz. "Django Unchained" has picked up some steam of late and Waltz has won been more widely recognized than DiCaprio up to this point in awards season.

Read An Analysis on the Best Supporting Actress Race: Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson, Dame Judi Dench

Read on the Best Lead Actress Race, Jennifer Lawrence vs. Jessica Chastain, HERE. 

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