5. Kathryn Bigelow will become the first woman to receive two best director nominations. Reviews have been absolutely glowing for Kathryn Bigelow's dense, tense follow-up to her Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" (personally, it's a very likely bet for my #1 film of the year), and its one-two punch of best picture and best director wins from the New York Film Critics Circle pretty much confirmed it as a formidable opponent in this year's race. Bigelow will definitely be going up for Oscar #2, and it's not out of the question that she wins again.
6. Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence will battle it out for best actress. For a bit there, it seemed like Jennifer Lawrence was as sure a bet for the best actress trophy as Anne Hathaway is for best supporting actress now. But along came Jessica Chastain. Up until mid-November, people weren't even sure if she had a lead or supporting role in "Zero Dark Thirty." As soon as the film started screening, the former was confirmed and Chastain wasn't just touted as a possible nominee, but also a possible winner. Lawrence retains the same status, but it's difficult to see anyone else winning. Unless they split the vote to the advantage of... Emmanuelle Riva (how great would that be?).
7. A Disney film is winning best animated feature. Unlike many years in the past, a Disney/Pixar film has not locked this year's animated feature Oscar. There's a definite race, but it's essentially between one Disney/Pixar movie ("Brave") and two other Disney films ("Frankenweenie" and "Wreck-It-Ralph"). Perhaps one of those G-KIDS movies can come from behind and shock, but it's a very good certainty that Disney is taking home Oscar again this year... we just don't know for which film.
8. The winner of best director will have already won before. I suppose Ben Affleck winning best director for "Argo" is a tiny possibilty, but it's extremely likely the race will boil down to Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow. Spielberg has two Oscars already (for "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan"), but hasn't won since 1999. Hooper and Bigelow, meanwhile, represent two of the last three winners in the category. Too soon for a repeat? Or is Spielberg headed for a threepeat?
9. Robert DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones will be nominated for best supporting actor Oscars. But can any of them win? The best supporting actor race is probably the most crowded and impressive of all the Oscar races, with a good 10 or 12 actors still in genuine contention (whereas all the other acting races have basically been narrowed to 6 or 7). DeNiro, Hoffman and Jones are the certainties, but they don't quite feel like winners. Can Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson swoop in with "Django?" Is Matthew McConaughey gonna ride that NYFCC win to unexpected frontrunner status? Who knows. Which is what makes this category the most fun to keep your eye on.
10. Daniel Day-Lewis will win a third Oscar for "Lincoln." By comparison, the best actor race seems pretty much set in stone. Five of these six men will fill the slots: Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix, John Hawkes, Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman. And while this is the least confident "statement" of these ten, I'm betting that Day-Lewis will take home his third best actor Oscar, making him the first person ever to do so (Jack Nicholson has three Oscars, but one was for a supporting role).
So... what do you think?