Note first that the Gothams can be incredibly unpredictable. Last year, "Beginners" and "The Tree of Life" tied for best feature, beating out arguable favorite "The Descendants." In 2010, Ronald Bronstein won best breakthrough actor (for "Daddy Longlegs") over eventual Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (for "Winter's Bone"). The same thing happened the year before, when Catalina Saavedra's performance in "The Maid" won over Jeremy Renner for "The Hurt Locker" in the same category. So despite what's suggested below, it's likely we'll be in for a few or more surprises.
READ MORE: Gotham Awards Announce 2012 Nominations
With that in mind, here's our take on 5 of the 6 juried categories (excluding "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You" because I've only seen one of the five nominees... though check out this article by my colleague Eric Kohn for an extensive take on the films shortlisted there).
The nominees: "Bernie," "The Loneliest Planet," "The Master," "Middle of Nowhere" and "Moonrise Kingdom"
What will win: One would think it's a two way race between "The Master" and "Moonrise Kindgom," though given the Gothams' history, nothing's certain. And while its divisive reception might be a challenge, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest seems to have enough passionate fans to have the edge. This could give it a small but much-needed boost going into the rest of awards season, which has grown increasingly heated since "The Master" opened back in September. But who knows, maybe there'll be another tie.
What should win: "The Master." While each of the other nominees are great in their own ways, Anderson's film stands on a whole other level of greatness.
The nominees: "Bernie," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Safety Not Guaranteed," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Your Sister's Sister"
What will win: If it loses best feature, a deserved consolation prize for "Moonrise Kingdom" could come in this category. Its impressive cast (including Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis) certainly makes up one of the year's best ensembles. But it might not stand a chance against the folks from "Silver Linings Playbook," who definitely have the most buzz going into tonight. That would also finally give Jennifer Lawrence the Gotham Award she lost out on two years back.
What should win: Either "Moonrise" or "Silver Linings" winning would be fine by me, but there's too much of a soft spot in my heart for the incredible trio from "Your Sister's Sister." Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass are remarkable in the largely improvised film, and given that they are unlikely to get too many nominations elsewhere in awards season, it'd be nice for the Gothams to give it up for them.