FINAL PREDICTIONS for the 85th Academy Awards (and some words, arguments, among other things…)

So hours before the 85th Academy Awards ceremony, here I am, predicting the winners… Below, the nominees are going to be classified based on their status on the race. Those five categories are: Just Happy to Be Nominated, Long Shot, In the Mix, Spoiler, and Frontrunner. Let’s start these, shall we?

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Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Amour (Austria), Kon-Tiki (Norway), No (Chile), A Royal Affair (Denmark), War Witch (Canada)

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: No (Chile), War Witch (Canada)

Both films simply don’t have the buzz to actually crack in the discussion. You could make a case of No getting small buzz because it is a Gael Garcia Bernal starrer, but other than that, I don’t think so.

Long Shot: Kon-Tiki (Norway)

Well, it is an epic film so it could manage a surprise. Sometimes, the scope of a film becomes a factor. However, its presence in the US is still not that felt compared to the remaining two nominees, so I doubt it.

In the Mix: A Royal Affair (Denmark)

It has been released in US, so it tops the nominees above in presence. It is a period film, and like epic films, it works for the Academy at times. However, it’s still not a strong case of a possible spoiler because of the mammoth the frontrunner’s chances is. The frontrunner would be really hard to topple, but if there is one film that can really pull off an upset win, it’s this.

Spoiler: none

Frontrunner: Amour (Austria)

And here is the one to beat. It scored four other nominations from major categories (Picture, Director, Actress, Original Screeplay), so the film must have been seen by the Academy. It’s the critical darling, there is passionate support, it achieved a rare feat (foreign films in Best Picture is a real rarity), so the odds are all in favor of this one.

Will Win: Amour (Austria) / Alternate: A Royal Affair (Denmark)

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Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It-Ralph

Just Happy to Be Nominated: The  Pirates! Band of Misfits

The surprise nominee of the category. There isn’t much strong critical support for the film, it came out of nowhere, and it will never be close to winning the award.

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: ParaNorman, Frankenweenie

Both films are consistently getting attention during the awards season. Both have strong critical reception. Frankenweenie has been hailed as Tim Burton’s finest hour since forever, and Frankenweenie is no without its supporters. I still doubt their chances, though, for the remaining contenders are the (almost) unshakable contender of this category – Disney/Pixar.

Spoiler: Brave

Now, as a Pixar entry, it did disappoint some viewers, not receiving the enthusiastic response it should have received. The Golden Globe win might help. Still, because it’s a weak year for this category and unlike last year’s Pixar entry Cars 2, the film still has its fans, so this is the confirmed spoiler.

Frontrunner: Wreck-It-Ralph

But Brave’s journey for the win will be hard because of this nominee’s ardent group of supporters. If Brave disappointed, Wreck-It-Ralph earned a surprisingly enthusiastic response. Now, this is the one to bead.

Will Win: Wreck-It-Ralph / Alternate: Brave

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Best Original Song

Nominees: “Before My Time” – Chasing Ice, “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” – Ted, “Pi’s Lullaby” – Life of Pi, “Suddenly” – Les Miserables, “Skyfall” – Skyfall

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” – Ted

It’s a happy song that sits fine as a nominee. That’s all.

Long Shot: “Before My Time” – Chasing Ice

Never underestimate the power of “message” songs. Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” did that in 2006. It’s a very slim possibility, but it is indeed a possibility.

In the Mix: “Pi’s Lullaby” – Life of Pi

It’s in a Best Picture nominee, and like 2008’s “Jai Ho”, an Indian song might win again if Life of Pi creates a sweep. The only thing that holds me back from actually saying that this is a legit spoiler is that it sounds too much like a score than a song.

Spoiler: “Suddenly” – Les Miserables

The film has its fans, and if there is any visible threat to the frontrunner’s victory, it’s this. If a sweep for Les Miserables happens, then this might happen. If they want to recognize the film’s music, then this might happen. It’s a  lot of ifs…

Frontrunner: “Skyfall” – Skyfall

And for the last if, if Adele doesn’t earn her Oscar for this one, some sneaky campaign happened. It’s everyone’s bet for the award, everyone loves Adele, and it’s their safest way to reward Adele as an artist, Skyfall as a movie, and James Bond as a movie franchise.

Will Win: “Skyfall” – Skyfall / Alternate: “Suddenly” – Les Miserables

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Best Production Design

Nominees: Anna Karenina, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Life of Pi

I still don’t understand this nomination, honestly. It’s just the guy in the boat for almost 70% of the film’s running time, and if the visual elements are to be rewarded, it’s most likely the Cinematography and Visual Effects. Still, if Life of Pi does a sweep, then don’t be surprised that this gets the award.

Spoilers: Lincoln, The Hobbit

Both are showy projects, and both have solid chances of getting the award from the two frontrunners. I give Lincoln the slight edge over The Hobbit because it is a Beast Picure contender. However, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, a non-BP nominee film filled with visual effects like The Hobbit gets the award (I’m looking at you, Alice in Wonderland).

Frontrunners: Les Miserables, Anna Karenina

And the battle begins here. Les Miserables has better chance to win here because it is a BP nominee, the sets are showy enough to get attention, and Anna Karenina has Costume Design already in her bag. If the Academy feels generous, they will distribute the awards. BUT STILL, Anna Karenina is the “royalty porn” the designer’s branch loves to hug. So there you go – a close fight.

Will Win: Les Miserables / Alternate: Anna Karenina

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Best Costume Design

Nominees: Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: Lincoln

I know Lincoln might sweep if the Academy does love Lincoln, but it’s unlikely here. The work here is evident, but there are showier elements around. And there are showier contenders around.

In the Mix: Les Miserables

Like Lincoln, costume design is not the showiest thing in Les Miserables, but it does serve the film more obviously than Lincoln’s costumes do. Might happen, but very much in the mix.

Spoilers: Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman

The two Snow White movies turned out to be the potential spoilers in this category. Both are showy efforts and both are helmed by known designers. Mirror Mirror has slightly more chance of winning because this is a posthumous nomination, and if they feel like recognizing the designer’s body of work. Huntsman, however, has the Oscar favorite Atwood in its front.

Frontrunner: Anna Karenina

And the category’s weakness rules here. They love the royalties, and royalty porn is a proven formula for the win. The costume does look exotic and exciting, so there goes the category’s frontrunner.

Will Win: Anna Karenina / Alternate: Mirror Mirror

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Hitchcock, The Hobbit, Les Miserables

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Hitchcock

It is traditional prosthetic work, and it is done quite well. Last year’s winner was all about recreating an icon (Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady) and even if this film has the least supporters among the three, it’s pretty fine work that could still get in.

Spoiler: The Hobbit

It IS showy work, recreating beloved characters from the LOTR series, so this seems to be the real spoiler here. Fantasy films fare well here, so there’s a plus for its chances of winning.

Frontrunner: Les Miserables

Many predictors don’t believe in this as the frontrunner, but it being a BP nominee, has some really evident work for both makeup (Jean Valjean, Fantine) and hairstyling (Thenardiers, Enjolras), I believe it is Les Miserables’ to lose.

Will Win: Les Miserables / Alternate: The Hobbit

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Best Visual Effects

Nominees: The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Marvel’s The Avengers, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman

Two films without much support to back up in their way to victory is not a good sign, after all. Still, both has visible, if really slim, chances of getting the award.

In the Mix: Marvel’s The Avengers

If they feel like giving the award to the summer blockbuster The Avengers is, then it might, though it might also hurt its chances of winning, considering that the remainig contenders are “ more serious” films than this one.

Spoiler: The Hobbit

If something goes wrong with Life of Pi’s trail to victory, then this is the spoiler to look at. Otherwise…

Frontrunner: Life of Pi

… this nominee has the award already in its bag. Just think of Richard Parker and you’d know the voters must have been really astonished, astonished enough to secure the win.

Will Win: Life of Pi / Alternate: The Hobbit

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Best Sound Mixing

Nominees: Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Lincoln

It’s not actually a “sound” movie per se, and its presence here is surprising. Even if Lincoln rules the technical awards, it’s really impossible for Lincoln to get this.

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Argo

Of course, it helps that Argo is a BP frontrunner (look at The King’s Speech and The Social Network), and it’s not actually hard to see a sweep for Argo. Still, the remaining contenders are hard to defeat.

Spoiler: Life of Pi, Skyfall

Two films on very different sides of the coin. One is a “noisy” action movie that could definitely get this one. One is a fantasy movie that requires lots of attention to sound, too. Both are very strong contenders actually, had it not been for…

Frontrunner: Les Miserables

… this movie. It’s the technical category with the noisiest FYC for years – the live recording of the musical scenes. It’s an achievement unlike any other film before, and it’s hard to deny the film that win if this category specifically has its own strong campaign. Come on, they surely bought that!

Will Win: Les Miserables / Alternate: Life of Pi

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Best Sound Editing

Nominees: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino movies are normally aurally flawless, but this is not Tarantino’s year yet. It can still win, though.

In the Mix: Zero Dark Thirty

The sound work in this film is quite evident, and I’m sure they really liked it, but I’m not really sure. They’d be too afraid to touch this film. I don’t know. What’s clear is that it has a better chance of winning than Django Unchained.

Spoilers: Life of Pi, Argo

Two frontrunners fighting for this award, and both makes up strong cases of real spoilers to the award, but then…

Frontrunner: Skyfall

… I’m sure they must have noticed the sound work here. It’s a really strong piece of work that this category really loves to. It’s still a bit shaky, given that the spoilers are BP nominees, but the film basically leads the race.

Will Win: Skyfall / Alternate: Life of Pi

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Best Original Score

Nominees: Anna Karenina, Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: Lincoln

It’s fine work from the most nominated music scorer in this category, but the other nominees have stronger presence in their films compared to this one.

In the Mix: Anna Karenina

The composer is no stranger in this category, and this nominee had earned its  share of nominations before the Oscars, but the remaining three contenders do have better chances of winning, due to different reasons. Has a visible chance, though.

Spoilers: Argo, Skyfall

Skyfall’s music is really acclaimed and it can also get it a win here. After all, the work here is one classy and epic score for an action film. And then we have Argo – talk about an overdue win. The composer’s filmography is extremely impressive, and yet, he hasn’t won yet. If they feel rewarding Desplat (though Argo is not actually his finest hour), then this makes a strong case of a spoiler (overdue composer + frontrunning BP nominee).

Frontrunner: Life of Pi

Yeah, I’m going with this one. It will be a very strong choice, providing variety in this category with its music that’s hinged on Indian culture. Furthermore, it’s not the first time it is going to happen (Slumdog Millionaire, please).

Will Win: Life of Pi / Alternate: Argo

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Best Film Editing

Nominees: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln

I guess any of these three films will get the award IF and ONLY IF their films will eventually become the Best Picture winner. Even if they are strong contenders, it’s hard to see them win here if they won’t get the top prize.

Spoiler: Zero Dark Thirty

Now, contrary with the nominees above, I believe this nominee is the potential spoiler even if the film will not actually win BP. The work here is really strong, particularly in the last thirty minutes of the film, and they couldn’t have ignored that. If they are going to give the film one award, it’s most likely here.

Frontrunner: Argo

Little did I realize that the previously touted race for Best Picture (Argo vs. ZDT) will be realized here. Aside from the missing director nomination, this category most obviously will bring Argo its win because it’s the action film of the category – meaning, the most obvious editing. Some clichéd editing techniques won’t spoil the win’s chances here.

Will Win: Argo / Alternate: Zero Dark Thirty

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Best Cinematography

Nominees: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Anna Karenina / Lincoln / Django Unchained

Anna Karenina’s work is strong, though definitely, it’s not for everyone. Lincoln’s cinematography is not the finest that you can get, though there are really some strong artistic choices around. And Django Unchained – never underestimate Robert Richardson. All three make good case of possible winners.

Spoiler: Skyfall

And Roger Deakins is still in this position – the spoiler. He hasn’t won this award since forever, and sentimentality/career honor may push voters to give him the award. It’s really some glorious work here. However…

Frontrunner: Life of Pi

… this film undoubtedly leads the race. Some race the issue that most of the images are manipulated by visual effects/visual effects heavy, but winners of recent years nullifies this claim (Hugo, Inception, Avatar). And comparing this to Skyfall, this is a BP nominee – a guaranteed edge over the other.

Will Win: Life of Pi / Alternate: Skyfall

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Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Yes, it feels like an “outsider” film, but there must have been many voters that rallied behind this film, given that it also earned a very surprising Best Director nomination. Its possibility is solid.

Spoilers: Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook

If Pi really becomes the night’s big winner, expect it to also earn this award. Regarding Silver Linings, I only put it here due to the lack of precursor support. But it really a “screenplay” movie, it is really a spoiler for the award.

Frontrunners: Argo, Lincoln

Lincoln has the support from the critics. Argo has the support of the awards. Both lead it. Argo only gets to go ahead Lincoln because it is a stronger BP contender.

Will Win: Argo / Alternate: Lincoln

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Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Flight

It’s almost like Moonrise Kingdom – not a BP nominee, but that one has its supporters. This one doesn’t.

Long Shot: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson has his following inside the Academy, I’m pretty sure. But it’s competing against three formidable contenders, so this one winning the award is highly unlikely, though still possible.

In the Mix: none

Spoilers: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty

Django is lucky to secure a slot in this fight for the award by winning the important awards outside the Oscars (Globes, BAFTA, BFCA) but I don’t think they’d reward a filmmaker like him for a film people refuse to say as his “finest hour”, and for a filmmaker like Tarantino, it’s not a good thing.

Regarding ZDT, it is a real strong contender, too. Its only hold-backs are: Boal won three years ago, and the controversy regarding the torture scenes really damages the respect for the film.

Frontrunner: Amour

And the fearless prediction has arrived. They will not give Haneke Best Director, but they won’t let him go home empty-handed, and Foreign Language Film is not enough for a filmmaker of his stature. They’d give him this.

Will Win: Amour / Alternate: Django Unchained

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Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams – The Master, Sally Field – Lincoln, Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables, Helen Hunt – The Sessions, Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook, Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Jacki’s nomination here, even though deserved, is only just a result of the strong support for Silver Linings. It’s not a winning performance though. About Hunt, she really sits fine as a nominee, but the buzz around her disappeared since she was nominated. That’s sad.

Long Shot: Amy Adams – The Master

Again, like Weaver, Adams has a non-winning performance. But IF the Academy realizes that she has already been nominated four times, and had not won yet, they might think of giving her the gold. Not to mention if Phoenix and possibly Hoffman are strong contenders in their categories, she might get carried away.

In the Mix: none

Spoiler: Sally Field – Lincoln

She’s in a BP frontrunner and this is her critical comeback. It’s a showy role of a REAL PERSON, so points for that. She’s a real threat despite Hathaway really winning this award. And also, 3 Oscars for 3 nominations for Sally Field? Many might object.

Frontrunner: Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables

She’ll win this. Case closed.

Will Win: Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables / Alternate: Sally Field – Lincoln

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Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Alan Arkin – Argo, Robert DeNiro – Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master, Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln, Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: none

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Alan Arkin – Argo

It doesn’t look like a winning performance, and yet, he’s one of the better things in Argo. The strong support for Argo will definitely benefit him. He’s in the race.

Spoilers: Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained, Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master, Robert DeNiro – Silver Linings Playbook

Waltz has the BAFTA and the Globe, so he’s the closest to the frontrunner. He’s in a BP nominee and many argue he’s leading (just like his turn in Inglourious Basterds), and that’s a plus for him. And HARVEY WEINSTEIN.

Hoffman brings one of the year’s most acclaimed male performances, and he is the The Philip Seymour Hoffman – the versatile actor. The support for his performance is very much present despite his movie not becoming a BP nominee.

DeNiro is in a strong BP contender and he’s actually campaigning for it. People also regard this as his comeback from the paycheck roles that he had for many years. And again, HARVEY WEINSTEIN.

Frontrunner: Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

It’s a strong supporting turn (a real one) and he’s got the SAG. It’s a very open field.

Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln / Alternate: Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

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Best Actress

Nominees: Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty, Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook, Emmanuelle Riva – Amour, Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild, Naomi Watts – The Impossible

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Come on. You know this. She won’t win. YOU DON’T SAY.

Long Shot: Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Actors support this performance (Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie, for example). She hasn’t won yet. She’s respected. She might win.

In the Mix: Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Let’s be honest. That “torture” issue regarding the film did hurt her chances of winning. Not saying she’s not in the race. It’s just one big holdback.

Spoiler: Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

She’s the underdog of the race, but after winning the BAFTA, and Amour earninga BP nomination, you know she’ll be the spoiler. And her performance’s a stunner.

Frontrunner: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

And the comedic star turn earns this status. She has Harvey Weinstein in her back (that mattered with Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998). It’s a fantastic turn. Her film must win something, and this is the most possible.

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook / Alternate: Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

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Best Actor

Nominees: Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook, Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln, Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables, Joaquin Phoenix – The Master, Denzel Washington – Flight

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Denzel Washington – Flight

Like Robert DeNiro, it’s a comeback role, but it won’t win.

Long Shot: Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

It’s the role that made Bradley Cooper a serious actor. Still, he’s too much a fresh face “Oscars” none

In the Mix: none

Spoilers: Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables, Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Two strong performances that both have their passionate supporters. Both show off their commitment in acting, and the Academy likes that. The frontrunner’s too strong to be beaten, but these two are legit spoilers.

Frontrunner: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

He’ll win his third Oscar. Done.

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln / Alternate: Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables

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Best Director

Nominees: Michael Haneke – Amour, Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ang Lee – Life of Pi, Steven Spielberg – Lincoln, David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

He’s a fresh face, and that doesn’t really translate to win. IF EVER the Academy will go with Beasts for Best Picture, I still don’t see them going with Zeitlin for this category.

Long Shot: none

In the Mix: Michael Haneke – Amour

He’s the auteur everyone respects. If they want to spice things up and finally give the award to this highly regarded filmmaker, then they may finally end up here.

Spoiler: David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

The real definition of SPOILER. His chance is not that visible at all, but the support is there (Weinstein, “finest hour” reviews).

Frontrunner: Ang Lee – Life of Pi, Steven Spielberg – Lincoln

It’s a coin toss between the two. Because Affleck (Argo), Bigelow (ZDT), and to some extent, Hooper (Les Miz), are not here, here are two household names, battling for this award. I give the edge to Lee because just like one voter said, Lincoln is more of a “screenplay movie” than a “director’s movie”, if you know what I mean.

Will Win: Ang Lee – Life of Pi / Alternate: Steven Spielberg – Lincoln

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Best Picture

Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

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Just Happy to Be Nominated: Django Unchained

The controversies regarding its racial insensitivity and violence just added to the damage. Still, it’s not Tarantino’s finest, and I don’t think someone would actually rally for this film. If they will reward Tarantino, it should be the right film.

Long Shot: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Like I said, it’s very much an “outsider”film, and I really doubt people will actually vocal about their support for this film. However, it edges Django by the fact that it earned three nominations (Director, Actress, Adapted Screenplay) that are solid indicators that there is support for this film.

In the Mix: Amour, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty

Amour would be too high brow for a Best Picture choice. Les Miserables would be too questionable for a Best Picture choice given the bashing it earned. Zero Dark Thirty would be too risky, politically speaking, for a Best Picture choice. And yet, they are all still in the race for they have active supporters.

Spoiler: Silver Linings Playbook

Never underestimate Harvey Weinstein. What he did in 1998, he can do here – to champion a comedy film. And he might be poised to continue the winning streak of TWC since 2010. Now there’s a real spoiler.

Frontrunners: Life of Pi, Argo, Lincoln

Life of Pi has the over-all support of the Academy, reflected in the number of nominations. Same is the case with Lincoln. But Argo gets all the praises and the pity and the attention and the pat on Ben Affleck’s back. There goes the three frontrunners.

Will Win: Life of Pi / Alternate: Argo

By the time I started typing this post, it was 2 PM. By the time I ended, it’s already 6 Pm. I’m soo hungry that I’m not gonna post any final words except WATCH THE OSCARS LATER!

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