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For Your Consideration: Final Oscar Predictions In Each and Every Category

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 20, 2013 at 12:33PM

It's time. After one of the most unique and unpredictable awards seasons in memory, the grand finale is just four days away. Which means it's probably the moment for us to offer up final guesswork for how it will all go down.
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Photo credit: Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

It's time. After one of the most unique and unpredictable awards seasons in memory, the grand finale is just four days away. Which means it's probably the moment for us to offer up final guesswork for how it will all go down.

Though, yes, there is little to no doubt about how Oscar night will end ("Argo" losing best picture would be a huge upset at this point), there are plenty of big fat question marks to keep us excited along the way.  Three of the biggest races -- best director, best actress and best supporting actor -- are far from sewn up, while a good half of the overall 24 Oscars are just as unpredictable.

In the end, while we are indeed predicting "Argo" will take the night's biggest prize, we're also betting the Oscars will overall get spread out among different films.  If we end up going 24 for 24 (which is very unlikely despite our best efforts), "Life of Pi" would win the most Oscars (with five), followed by "Argo" and "Les Miserables" (with three each).  "Lincoln" and "Amour" would each take two while "Django Unchained" and "Silver Linings Playbook" would both win one (as much as it goes against our personal wishes, we're predicting "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" go home empty-handed). We'll know for sure how right or wrong we were soon enough, but in the meantime, here's our attempt at helping you win your office Oscar pool:

"Argo"
Best Picture: Remember a month ago when it seemed like this category was for "Lincoln" to lose, with "Life of Pi" and "Silver Linings Playbook" it's closest challengers? It seemed only reasonable, since they had both best picture and best director nominations (which as you've probaby heard 1,000 times in the past month -- only three films have ever won best picture without best director, the last being "Driving Miss Daisy"). But then the Golden Globes, SAGs, DGAs, PGAs and BAFTA Awards all helped drive Mr. Affleck from underdog to head of the pack as the wild, wild ride to a frontrunner in this category has finally landed on "Argo," which will now have the underwhelming legacy of being used as an example alongside "Driving Miss Daisy" when Oscar nerds try and make prediction arguments...

Will win: "Argo"
Could win: "Lincoln" or "Life of Pi" (but not really)
Should win: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Director: After shocking snubs for Kathryn Bigelow and Ben "I would have won this if I'd been nominated" Affleck, we are left with Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell and -- most surprisingly -- Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin in a best director race with no frontrunner. Affleck has won almost every precursor, but he can't win here -- so where does that leave us? With one of the biggest question marks of the night. Spielberg, Lee and even Russell could take this. We're saying Spielberg, but we've been going back and forth between him and Lee pretty much nonstop. Totally convincing arguments could be made for either, and you've just caught us momentarily accepting one over other other.

Will win: Steven Spielberg
Could win: Ang Lee
Should win: Michael Haneke

"Lincoln"
Best Actor: Of the 12 nominations that went the way of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," only one win is a true certainty. But it's a big one. Daniel Day-Lewis has won essentially every single precursor out there, and it's hard to imagine anyone not voting for his remarkable work portraying the 16th President of the United States -- even if it doing so will help make him the first actor ever to win three Oscars in this category. But if someone is going to manage that feat, why not Day-Lewis, who is largely considered one of the greatest actors of all time? And, really, who could beat him? The performances of his assumed closest challengers Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper seem so very insignificant up against Day-Lewis.

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Could win: Hugh Jackman (theoretically)
Should win: Day-Lewis or Joaquin Phoenix

"Amour"
Best Actress: 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 the extra time they've had, they should have), Riva could very well take that Oscar from Lawrence. Or not.

Will win: Emmanuelle Riva
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva

Best Supporting Actor:  All five men here have already won (a first), and all could win again in the toughest acting race to call in some time. Tommy Lee Jones won the SAG, Phillip Seymour Hoffman won the Critics Choice, Christoph Waltz won the Globe and the BAFTA, but Robert DeNiro and Alan Arkin are from films the Academy clearly was quite taken by... So my guess is as good as yours. Though that guess is that DeNiro's heavy push for himself wins out in the end, and he gets his third Oscar (on the same night Daniel Day-Lewis gets his third, and a year after Meryl Streep got hers).

Will win: Robert DeNiro
Could win: Anyone! But Jones and Waltz seem to be in a three-way race with DeNiro.
Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman

"Les Miserables."
Best Supporting Actress: One award they will absolutely be giving to "Les Miserables" is best supporting actress. Basically since she was cast in the film people have been screaming Oscar for Anne Hathaway, and thankfully when the film finally came out it quickly became clear their premature assessment was a fair one. Hathaway is widely considered the best thing about the film (even by the many people that don't like it) and has won every award there is to win for it so far.  And while there's definitely been a backlash against the actress's seemingly unstoppable march to the Oscar, she's helped by one very important factor: There's really no competition. The only person that seems like a feasible alternative is Sally Field. But Sally Field has already won two Oscars on two nominations... and with Daniel Day-Lewis and possibly Robert DeNiro also set for their third wins this Oscar night, it seems unlikely the third time will be the charm for Field.

Will win: Anne Hathaway
Could win: Sally Field (but it would an upset of Juliette Binoche-proportions)
Should win: Amy Adams

Weinstein 'Django Unchained'
Best Original Screenplay: There was a time when Mark Boal seemed like a sure thing in this category (hell, there was a time when Paul Thomas Anderson seemed like a sure thing in this category). But with "Zero Dark Thirty" slipping in Oscar buzz (and Anderson not even nominated for "The Master"), Boal is running a distant third behind Michael Haneke ("Amour") and Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained"). It's going to be a showdown between those two. Though Tarantino won back in 1995 for "Pulp Fiction," it seems reasonable to give the man #2 this time around (they seemingly almost did in 2010, but instead gave it to Boal). But then there's Haneke, who has never won but has three different opportunities to this year (here, best director and best foreign language film -- though the latter techically goes to the country of Austria). We're saying Tarantino, but it's a very either-or category for us.

Will win: "Django Unchained"
Could win: "Amour"
Should win: Anything but "Flight" would make me happy.

Best Adapted Screenplay: This category has turned into a genuine a three-way showdown between Tony Kushner, Chris Terrio and David O. Russell. Or has it? "Lincoln" seemed like the big favorite for a while, but then "Silver Linings" won the BAFTA and "Argo" won both the USC Scripter and the WGA Award. The latter now seems pretty unstoppable, making it less of a race than a category with a frontrunner and two potential spoilers.  I held on to a "Lincoln" prediction as long as I could but now I'm going for "Argo" (with "Silver Linings" perhaps more likely to spoil than "Lincoln").

Will win: "Argo"
Could win: "Silver Linings Playbook" or "Lincoln"
Should win: "Lincoln"

"Frankenweenie"
Best Animated Feature: For once, this category is quite the race. After years and years of assumed winners, a trio of Disney titles -- "Frankenweenie," "Brave"and "Wreck-It-Ralph" -- are all feasible winners. "Brave" won the Globe and the BAFTA and "Ralph" won the PGA and the Annie, but perhaps the idea of finally giving Tim Burton an Oscar will give "Frankenweenie" an edge as the other two cancel each other out? That's our very risky bet (perhaps our riskiest given its won almost nothing so far). Expect us to be wrong!

Will win: "Frankenweenie"
Could win: "Wreck-It-Ralph" or "Brave"
Should win: "Frankenweenie," but this is a very strong lineup.

Best Foreign Language Film: It's perhaps a silly proposition to ever assume anything about the category where "Departures" beat "The Class" and "The Secret In Their Eyes" beat "The White Ribbon," but come on: How could they not give this to Michael Haneke's "Amour." He's a legend, he's never won (and was aforementionedly snubbed for "Ribbon"), and the film got five nominations including best picture, best director, best actress and best original screenplay. No foreign language film nominated for both in this category and for best picture has ever failed to win the former, so if there's no amour for "Amour" here, it will be a massive upset.

Will win: "Amour"
Could win: "No" (but seriously, no)
Should win: "Amour"

"Searching for Sugar Man"
Best Documentary Feature: Sure, Malik Bendjelloul's "Searching For Sugar Man" feels like the frontrunner here. It's the only real box office hit, and is coming off wins with the PGA, WGA and DGA. But this category is notoriously hard to predict, and this year for the first time all Academy members were sent screeners of all the docs and can all vote in the category, which entirely changes voting patterns and gives this category no precedent. So while "Sugar Man" has the momentum, it's easy to see Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's "5 Broken Cameras" or Dror Moreh's "The Gatekeepers" or David France's "How To Survive a Plague" or Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War" pushing through. For one, they all feel like much more "important" documentaries, which may or may not help them (last year's winner -- high school football doc "Undefeated" -- did not have that sense about it compared to its fellow nominees). Our guess, though -- and pretty much everyone else's -- is that "Sugar Man" wins in the end. But an upset is more possible than it looks.

Will win: "Searching For Sugar Man"
Could win: "The Gatekeepers" or "How To Survive a Plague"
Should win: They're all great.

Best Original Song: On the one hand, yes, the odds seem against Adele's Bond theme "Skyfall" winning the best original song statue. No Bond song ever has, and popular contemporary artists like Adele rarely ever win here. But this is no ordinary Bond song, or Bond film. Both are widely considered one of the best ever, and they come as Bond celebrates his 50th anniversary with a big tribute at the Oscars. That added with the fact that Adele is one of the most endearing, beloved and lauded musicians on the planet makes this a certainty.  Because really, how embarrassing would it be if they gave it to that mediocre song from "Les Miserables"?

Will win: "Skyfall"
Could win: "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" (but not really)
Should win: "Skyfall"

Fox "Life of Pi."
Best Original Score: The Academy played it safe in the nominations for this category, leaving out innovative scores from outside-the-establishment composers Jonny Greenwood ("The Master") and Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") -- the latter pair probably standing a good shot at winning had they actually been nominated. But in the wake of their snubs comes a very tight race, with one of the most nominated men in history (John Williams for "Lincoln," who at 48 nominations is the second most nominated person in Oscar history; he's won five already), going up against first timer Mychael Danna ("Life of Pi"). Williams' restrained score is definitely his best in a long while, and while he does have five Oscars, it's been 20 years since his last. Danna, meanwhile, is an Oscar newbie (though he should have been here for "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Moneyball"). Which is notable in that three of the past four winners in this category also won their first Oscar on their first nomination...

Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "Lincoln"
Should win: "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (except somehow it wasn't nominated)

Best Cinematography: Here represents yet another chance for Roger Deakins to win an Oscar, this time for "Skyfall." Nominated 10 times, Deakins has never won -- and will probably lose again this year to Claudio Miranda for "Life of Pi" (who has also never won, but this is only his second nomination). But you never know...

Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "Skyfall"
Should win: "Skyfall"

Best Film Editing: William Goldbenberg is a double nominee in the category for both "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty", and there's a very good chance he'll win -- almost certainly "Argo" even though his work in "Zero Dark Thirty" (along with Dylan Tichenor) is much more deserving. This could actually be one of only two prizes "Argo" wins -- this and best picture (though we have it pegged for adapted screenplay too).

Will win: "Argo"
Could win: "Zero Dark Thirty"
Should win: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Production Design: We get another three way race in this category -- this time between the theatrical sets of "Anna Karenina" and "Les Misersables," and the extensive CGI of "Life of Pi." Given the Academy has gone way of more computer-generated imagery as of late (and in general are clearly bigger fans of the film than the other two), we'll say "Pi."

Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "Les Miserables" or "Anna Karenina"
Should win: "Anna Karenina"

Focus "Anna Karenina."
Best Costume Design: While it has a decent shot in production design, this is the only award that is truly "Anna Karenina"'s to lose. But a posthumous win for Eiko Ishioka and her work on "Mirror Mirror" is quite possible, as is throwing another bone to "Les Miserables."

Will win: "Anna Karenina"
Could win: "Les Miserables" or "Mirror Mirror"
Should win: "Anna Karenina"

Best Sound Mixing: This looks like a showdown between James Bond and "Les Mis." We give the slight edge to the latter, though hope the former might win anyway and give Greg P. Russell his first Oscar after 16 nominations.

Will win: "Les Miserables"
Could win: "Skyfall"
Should win: "Skyfall"

Best Sound Editing: This seems like the most possible place for the Academy to reward "Zero Dark Thirty," but it faces tough competition rom both "Skyfall" and "Life of Pi," the latter of which we're betting on to take this as part of its near-sweep of the technical categories.

Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "Zero Dark Thirty" or "Skyfall"
Should win: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Visual Effects: One of the surest things of night, and the most definite of the five Oscars we're predicting for "Life of Pi."

Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "The Hobbit" (but that would be a very unexpected journey to the podium)
Should win: "Life of Pi"

"The Hobbit"
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: A race between "The Hobbit" and "Les Miserables," and is most definitely the best shot "The Hobbit" has at taking home an award... Though "Les Miserables" has the slight edge over it.

Will win: "Les Miserables"
Could win: "The Hobbit"
Should win: "The Hobbit"

Best Live Action Short: The short film races are always extremely tough to call -- especially now that, as with documentary feature, the entire Academy membership is eligible to vote for them. Though it definitely seems like the general consensus with regard to the live action category is that Shawn Christensen's "Curfew" is deservedly the film to beat here.

Will win: "Curfew"
Could win: "Death of a Shadow"
Should win: "Curfew"

"Paperman"
Best Animated Short: This race seems to be between two films: Disney character animator Minkyu Lee's "Adam and Dog" (which is made from money he saved while working at Disney, though Disney had no involvement) and actual Disney production, John Kahr's "Paperman." The latter won the Annie and will probably win here, but both are great and either could win.

Will win: "Paperman"
Could win: "Adam and Dog"
Should win: "Paperman" or "Adam and Dog" would be fine by me.

Best Documentary Short: Oddly the only one of the three short categories NOT open to voting by the entire Academy membership, the documentary short Oscar race is between five generally dire films -- topics include homelessness, aging and cancer. The standouts to me were Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's "Inocente" and Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan's "Mondays at Racine" (the former about a homeless immigrant, the latter about women with cancer who meet a beauty salon in Long Island). Whether that means either could win is tricky (this category is wildly unpredictable), but I'll wager its between the two, with the extraordinarily emotional "Mondays" having the edge.

Will win: "Mondays at Racine"
Could win: "Inocente"
Should win: Either.

This article is related to: Academy Awards