"Les Miserables."
"Les Miserables."
Best Supporting Actress:
In a year full of extremely strong races, best supporting actress stands out as quite the opposite. Anne Hathaway -- who has 99.9% already won this award -- is in, as are Sally Field and Helen Hunt. Then it gets murky, with Amy Adams, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Ann Dowd and Nicole Kidman the major threats for the last two slots (although the fact that Kidman is even in this conversation right now is the biggest surprise of awards season so far). Maybe there will be an out-of-nowhere surprise (a category this weak is ripe for it), but I'm calling Adams and Dench, with the British voting bloc helping the latter become the first acting nominee ever for a James Bond film.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Amy Adams, The Master
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Django Unchained'
Best Supporting Actor:
Honestly, this might be the most crowded, remarkable acting race in any category in perhaps the past decade.  Roughly 10 men are still in this race, and in any other year they'd all be shoo-ins. But not this year.  This year has brought us Robert DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alan Arkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Javier Bardem, Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson all doing some of their best work ever (three of them in the same movie), alongside breakout performances from Eddie Redmayne and Dwight Henry. Redmayne and Henry are long shots, but the rest of them are all feasible. Many are assuming Arkin, DeNiro, Hoffman and Jones (all previous winners) are safe, with the rest battling for the last slot. But I'd wager it's not as simple as that -- and that this category could offer Thursday's mornings most unexpected acting lineup. My extremely shaky bet (the shakiest of them all, but why not go for it) is that DeNiro gets left out in favor of Waltz and McConaughey, but in truth I could offer up 10 other scenarios and nearly equal that confidence.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Alan Arkin, Argo
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables
Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild

The shoulda been a contender (but never gonna happen):
Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Check out the next page for the rest of categories, sans commentary.