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"
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.
"Searching For Sugar Man"
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"