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.
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"