Jennifer Lawrence for the win? That was the story back in September, when "Silver Linings Playbook" soared out of the Toronto Film Festival with somewhat unexpected Oscar buzz, particularly for Lawrence -- who took charge in a category that had been a big mystery until then. And she held that position until Jessica Chastain popped up in mid-November even more out of nowhere for "Zero Dark Thirty." No one had any idea whether her role was lead in the film or if she/the film were any good. All cases turned out true. So the race was soon pegged as J.Law vs. J.Cha. They pretty much evenly split the precursor awards, though Lawrence started to hold a growing edge over Chastain, particularly after "Thirty" didn't do quite as well at the Oscar nominations (and "Linings" did better than expected). But something else happened at the Oscar nominations: L'amour for "Amour" across the board, and a nomination for Emmanuelle Riva. Riva -- who will turn 86 years old on Oscar night -- is the oldest best actress nominee ever, and represents a rare case where she's both a sentimental choice and the most deserving winner. If voters actually see "Amour" (which given voting hasn't even started yet, they have plenty of time to), Riva could very well take that Oscar from Lawrence and Chastain. Or not. Though this Oscar prognosticator's totally impossible fantasy? Riva ties the youngest nominee in this category -- Quvenzhané Wallis of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" -- and the two of them walk up to stage hand in hand, adorably play-arguing on stage ("I'm the man!"; "No, I'm the man").
Nominees and predictions below. Check out all predictions in all the categories here, and this list of all the Oscar-nominated films available ON DEMAND right now.
Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts in "The Impossible"
Will win: Emmanuelle Riva
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva
Check out all predictions in all the categories here.