Predicting the Oscars

Updated with winners (in green)!

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The Academy is in for a long night. The ballots have already been cast but the story has yet to be told. The different directions the night could take, and Monday morning water cooler conversations that follow, are as exciting as they are unpredictable.

Will members deliver a pleasantly surprising Lincoln domination and award the film a heavyweight sweep in many of the major categories (best picture, lead actor, director, supporting actor & actress)? Or perhaps Silver Linings Playbook will emerge victorious and win literally all the acting categories with a best picture or director thrown in to boot. Better yet, what if Amour make history and wins both foreign language film AND best picture? Oh the possibilities!!!

Sadly, even with all the opportunities and potential story-lines that abound, the truth is that the golden statues will likely follow the expected. Snubbed director Ben Affleck will probably have the last laugh as Argo wins the top prize and the rest of the awards will be divided out while no film truly “wins” the evening. Excitement might have crescendoed when the nominees, i.e. snubs, were first announced.

If viewers are lucky, at least one major surprise will be thrown in, not including Disney losing an animated category. Either way, if the evening is boring, just play Oscar bingo and get tanked playing Oscar drinking games. Entertainment is on the way regardless.

As for the following Oscar predictions, use the “What will win” section when filling out your (printable) ballot. And cross check it with the Huffington Post’s statistics-based doozy if you want to really ensure your victory. Note, a few of the categories are true toss-ups, so on those, just cross your fingers, drink your wine and you’ll be just fine!

Chris Orr

BEST PICTURE: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
What will win: Argo. Clear frontrunner after sweeping previous award ceremonies.
What ought to win: Lincoln. Darkhorse with a fighting chance.
What could win: Lincoln. No other movie has a real chance to unseat the favorite or the contender though Silver Linings Playbook has real momentum. 

BEST DIRECTOR: David O. Russell, (Silver Linings Playbook), Behn Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Michael Haneke (Amour), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Who will win: Steven Spielberg. No Ben Affleck makes the long-time Academy favorite the frontrunner.
Who ought to win: *Ang Lee. Lee made what was believed to be unfilmable book into a sweeping, beautiful tale. And after his Brokeback Mountain best picture snub, the Academy owes him one.
Who could win: Ang Lee. No other director has a real chance to unseat Spielberg but if it is anyone, it will be Lee.

BEST ACTOR: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Denzel Washington (Flight), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis. Biggest lock of the night.
Who ought to win: Daniel Day ay-Lewis. Unmatchable, quietly powerful performance.
Who could win: No one. Hugh Jackman is a very, very distant second.

BEST ACTRESS: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Who will win: Jennifer Lawrence. Overwhelming favorite.
Who ought to win: Jessica Chastain. She’s the vehicle that drove Zero Dark Thirty.
Who could win: Jessica Chastain or Emmanuelle Riva. Both have their supporters but this is Lawrence’s category to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Alan Arkin (Argo), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Who will win: Robert Di Niro. Leader in a three horse race.
Who ought to win: Christoph Waltz. A pure joy to watch. Simply superb in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Who could win: Christoph Waltz or Tommy Lee Jones. All three of their supporters but Di Niro is an Academy favorite who hasn’t won, or been nominated, for some time. That said, it would be no surprise if any of the big three won.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Adams (The Master), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Who will win: Anne Hathaway. Massive, massive favorite and with good reason. Her brief appearance in Les Miserable alone was worth the price of admission.
Who ought to win: Anne Hathaway. She dreamed a dream and sang about it.
Who could win: Sally Field. Critical favorite who really delivered in Lincoln.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty
What will win: Django Unchained. In a real dogfight with Zero Dark Thirty.
What ought to win: Zero Dark Thirty. Close call but the truth based drama outshone previous Mark Boal winner The Hurt Locker.
What could win: Zero Dark Thirty or Amour. Tough category to call. All three are deserving.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook
What will win: Argo. Close race but here is your likely victor.
What ought to win: Lincoln. Drawn from and downsized from rich, layered text.
What could win: Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook. Each could benefit, or be hurt by, the best picture nominations i.e. this is the consolation prize.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Amour, A Royal Affair, No, Kon-Tiki, War Witch
What will win: Amour. Beautiful film. No best foreign language film that has also been nominated for best picture has ever lost this category.
What ought to win: Amour.
What could win: None of the others. This category belongs to Amour though in the distance you can see No, if you use binoculars of course.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph
What will win: Brave. Never good to bet against Disney in animation.
What ought to win: Wreck-It Ralph. A darkhorse with an emotional punch.
What could win: Wreck-It Ralph. The female heroine will likely carry Brave to victory but ‘Ralph has a real shot. In a better world, so could Frankenweenie.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
What will win: Life of Pi. Frontrunner with sweeping, truly impressive landscapes.
What ought to win: Life of Pi.
What could win: Skyfall. Cinematographer has 16 previous nominations and 0 victories, could be the emotional choice and is a viable alternative.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman
What will win: Anna Karenina. Without question, the clear frontrunner.
What ought to win: Anna Karenina.
What could win: Les Miserables. Some support but not likely enough to topple the favorite…

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Searching for Sugar Man
What will win: Searching for Sugar Man. The Academy is typically a sucker for music based features.
What ought to win: The Gatekeepers. Astounding. Revealing and informative interviews of Israeli gatekeepers that NEVER talk openly.
What could win: The Gatekeepers and How to Survive a Plague certainly have the capacity to surprise in this category.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Inocente, Kings Point, Mondays at Racine, Open Heart, Redemption
What will win: Mondays at Racine. This short is a slight favorite at best.
What ought to win: Inocente. Captivating, gritty and powerful.
What could win: Open Heart, Inocente or Kings Point are in a four-way battle in an extremely unpredictable category.

BEST FILM EDITING: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
What will win: Argo. Clear frontrunner, a loss here would be shocking.
What ought to win: Zero Dark Thirty. The entire film is editing intensive. A truly impressive job.
What could win: Zero Dark Thirty. The definite darkhorse here but negative media attention hurts chance for victory.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Hitchcock, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables
What will win: Les Miserables. Definitive favorite
What ought to win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Lord of the Rings dominated this category and with good reason. Unparalleled.
What could win: The Hobbit. LOTR fatigue likely hurts chances against musical Academy darling Les Miserable.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Anna Karenina, Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
What will win: Life of Pi. Beautiful score carried a film that often had little more on the screen then a small boat, a tiger, a boy and the big blue ocean.
What ought to win: Life of Pi.
What could win: Anna Karenina. The film isn’t likely to win but the score of the film was critical to the literal staging of all the action.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Before My Time” (Chasing Ice), “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (Ted), “Pi’s Lullaby” (Life of Pi), “Skyfall” (Skyfall), “Suddenly” (Les Miserables)
What will win: Skyfall. NEVER bet against Adele. Never ever ever!
What ought to win: Skyfall. Not just a good but actually great title track for a film series that usually has underwhelming songs, sorry Madonna; Adele gets her statue.
What could win: None of the others.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Karenina, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln
What will win: Les Miserables. Definitive favorite
What ought to win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Lord of the Rings dominated this category and with good reason. Unparalleled.
What could win: The Hobbit. No LOTR fatigue likely hurts their chances against musical Academy darling Les Miserables.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Paperman, Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’
What will win: Paperman. Never bet against Disney. Not when they do this!
What ought to win: Paperman.
What could win: Adam and Dog. Helmed by an EX-Disney man, A&D a legitimate shot in this two-dog race but don’t be surprised if the innovative Fresh Guacamole takes the cake.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: Asad, Buzkashi Boys, Curfew, Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), Henry
What will win: Curfew. The definite frontrunner.
What ought to win: Curfew.
What could win: Death of a Shadow. This short is gaining momentum and could surprise here.

BEST SOUND EDITING: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty
What will win: Skyfall. In a race that is too close to call.
What ought to win: Life of Pi. The visual and sounds achievements were fantastic.
What could win: Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty have equal chances to win in this true toss-up of a category.

BEST SOUND MIXING: Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
What will win: Les Miserables. Definitive favorite
What ought to win: Les Miserables. Mix live singing into the film’s architecture and you win. Period.
What could win: No one else stands a chance. 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Marvel’s The Avengers Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman
What will win: Life of Pi. Massive favorite for all things visual. See tiger.
What ought to win: Life of Pi.
What could win: No else has a real shot. Though it would be cool to see Snow White or Thor accept an Oscar.

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