Oscar Nominations

This image released by Warner Bros shows John Goodman, left, Alan Arkin, center, and actor-director Ben Affleck in a scene from "Argo." Arkin was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, for his role in “ Argo.“ The 85th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 on ABC. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Claire Folger)

Claire Folger

Where everyone else spent most of last January debating which team would be victorious at Super Bowl XLVII, I was busy trying to predict which movies would win big at the 85th annual Academy Awards. In many respects, the Oscars feel like a sporting event as nominees tirelessly campaign to win and award analyzers place bets on which horse will cross the finish line.

While numerous processor awards have virtually determined the outcomes of some categories, others can be next to impossible to predict. Even a loyal Oscar viewer such as myself is bound to make several incorrect predictions come Oscar Sunday. Regardless, I’m going to do my best to forecast who will be taking home the awards on February 24th.

Best Picture

It seemed like “Lincoln” was the certified Best Picture frontrunner when it achieved 12 Oscar nominations last month. Since then however, “Argo” has received overwhelming recognition from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Writers Guild, and various other awards. The one factor holding “Argo” back is that Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director. Only three films have won the Best Picture Oscar without a Best Director nomination, the last one being “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989. Given its unstoppable momentum, “Argo” will more than likely become the forth film in history to pull this off. I’ll be beyond content with “Argo” winning since it was my second favorite movie of 2012. What would make me even happier though, is if the award went to my absolute favorite movie of the year. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” took me on a spiritual and visual journey unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at the movies. Sometimes the film is frightening and tragic, other times it’s uplifting and life affirming. On the whole, it’s nothing short of an enchanting testament to why movies remain our culture’s premium entertainment medium.

What Will Win: Argo

Potential Spoiler: Lincoln

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Director

With Ben Affleck absent from this category, Steven Spielberg seems bound to win his third Best Director Oscar for “Lincoln.” It will be a worthy triumph for the immortal director, who fashioned the most authentic representation of Abraham Lincoln’s final months in office, the Civil War, and 1800s politics the silver screen has ever seen. Still, my preference to win this category remains Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.” Through his extraordinary film, Lee proves that he’s one of the few working directors that not only understands how to use 3D effects, but CGI as well. It’s easy to get fed up with the abundance of modern CGI creations, which typically look unconvincing, lack personality, and act as a substitute for storytelling. Lee on the other hand, recognizes the full potential of CGI as he seamlessly utilizes the technology to tell a miraculous story many deemed unfilmable. The director’s vision either makes or breaks a film such as this. Lee impeccably pulls it off, creating a world of fantasy the audience never doubts for a second.

Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Potential Spoiler: Ang Lee for Life of Pi

My Preference: Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Best Actor

When everyone first heard Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing Abraham Lincoln in a Steven Spielberg movie, it became crystal clear who would be walking home with the Best Actor statuette on Oscar night. Day-Lewis fully lived up to expectations through his hauntingly believable portrayal of our 16th president. As laudable as the four other nominees are, there’s no stopping Day-Lewis here. He deserves to become the first man ever to win three Best Actor Oscars.

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Potential Spoiler: No point in predicting an alternative. Day-Lewis has it in the bag.

My Preference: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Best Actress

For a while this looked like a two-horse race between Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty” and Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook.” But in the past couple weeks Emmanuelle Riva has been gaining more support for her tragic performance as a woman slowly losing her life in “Amour.” While it will be great to see Riva become history’s oldest Oscar-winning performer, my personal favorite of the bunch is Jennifer Lawrence. In “Silver Linings Playbook,” Lawrence embodies the most awkward, defective character imaginable and somehow manages to make her 100% lovable. She’s fearless without being tasteless, sexy without being trashy and idiosyncratic without being over-the-top in what just might be the pinnacle of her already remarkable career. Anyone that thinks Lawrence is an overpraised talent, shame on you.

Who Will Win: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

Potential Spoiler: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

My Preference: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor

This one’s among the most difficult categories to predict. Just about anybody’s name could be called on Oscar Sunday and it wouldn’t be at all surprising. If I had any say in the matter, the winner would undoubtedly be Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained.” In his second outing with Director Quentin Tarantino, the German character actor creates another richly entertaining, darkly hilarious supporting player who sells every line of dialog and always leaves you wanting more. Since Waltz already won this award only a few years ago though, the Academy probably isn’t in any rush to award him a second Oscar. As of now, Tommy Lee Jones appears to be the frontrunner for his scene stealing performance as the crabby Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln.” It’s also possible that the Academy will give Robert De Niro his first Oscar in over thirty years for his splendid work as the aggressive father in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Who Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Potential Spoiler: Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook

My Preference: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress

Aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway winning for “Les Misérables” is the closest thing there is to a lock in the acting categories. Even though she’s on screen for only about twenty minutes, Hathaway gives the single most gut-wrenching, tragic performance of the year as Fantine. Every expression, every note, every queue, every raw emotion Hathaway emits in this anguishing “I Dreamed a Dream” number will tear you up inside. If she doesn’t win the Oscar, it will be a great tragedy.

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Potential Spoiler: Sally Field for Lincoln

My Preference: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Best Original Screenplay

Screenwriter Michael Haneke seems like a safe bet here for “Amour” since he also managed to score a surprise Best Director nomination. Not too far behind Haneke is Quentin Tarantino, who penned his most financially successful and funniest film to date with “Django Unchained.” Personally, I’m routing for Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola to pull an upset for their endlessly unique “Moonrise Kingdom.”

What Will Win: Amour

Potential Spoiler: Django Unchained

My Preference: Moonrise Kingdom

Best Adapted Screenplay

Most people are predicting Tony Kushner to win here for “Lincoln.” While Kushner did an absolutely remarkable job at adapting Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” I’m going with Chris Terrio for “Argo.” Terrio crafted an intense, smart, and occasionally very funny script based on an unbelievable true story. It additionally reminds us of the unlikely impact film can have on the world, which should sway many Oscar voters.

What Will Win: Argo

Potential Spoiler: Lincoln

My Preference: Argo

Best Animated Feature

“Brave” might have been the highest-grossing animated feature of 2012, but “Wreck-It Ralph” was easily the more inventive and original film on every level. Here’s hoping that the Academy makes the right choice by awarding this inspired love letter to video games that can appeal to all ages.

What Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph

Potential Spoiler: Brave

My Preference: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Film

What Will Win: Amour

Potential Spoiler: A Royal Affair

My Preference: Amour

Best Documentary Feature

What Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man

Potential Spoiler: How to Survive a Plague

My Preference: How to Survive a Plague

Best Art Direction

What Will Win: Les Misérables

Potential Spoiler: Lincoln

My Preference: Les Misérables

Best Cinematography

What Will Win: Life of Pi

Potential Spoiler: Lincoln

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Costume Design

What Will Win: Anna Karenina

Potential Spoiler: Les Misérables

My Preference: Les Misérables

Best Editing

What Will Win: Argo

Potential Spoiler: Zero Dark Thirty

My Preference: Argo

Best Makeup

What Will Win: Les Misérables

Potential Spoiler: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My Preference: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…of course Cloud Atlas should be nominated and winning here

Best Original Score

What Will Win: Life of Pi

Potential Spoiler: Argo

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Original Song

What Will Win: Skyfall from Skyfall

Potential Spoiler: Suddenly from Les Misérables

My Preference: Skyfall from Skyfall

Best Sound

My Will Win: Les Misérables

Potential Spoiler: Life of Pi

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Sound Editing

What Will Win: Life of Pi

Potential Spoiler: Zero Dark Thirty

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Visual Effects

What Will Win: Life of Pi

Potential Spoiler: The Avengers

My Preference: Life of Pi

Best Animated Short

What Will Win: Adam and Dog

Potential Spoiler: Paperman

My Preference: Paperman

Best Live Action Short

What Will Win: Curfew

Potential Spoiler: Buzkashi Boys

My Preference: Curfew

Best Documentary Short

What Will Win: Open Heart

Potential Spoiler: Mondays at Racine

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