Hey, psst ― we’re about to let you in on a little secret: it’s almost the Oscars.

Okay, so obviously you are probably already aware that the Academy Awards are this Sunday, because everybody’s buzzing about them. Maybe you’ve even entered in an Oscar pool, because why not? There are quite a few categories that are still up in the air. (No, Best Actor is not one of them.)

Should you need a little help with your predictions, Hollywire is here to help. We’ve got all the Oscar analysis you need to guess completely accurately in every category! (Legal notice: Hollywire is not financially responsible for any Oscar pool losses of money, goods, or services.) We’ve got the 411 on who will, could, and should win the prize in every category.

In the acting categories, we’ve even decided to hand out our own prizes to those less likely to win, because no one should go home empty-handed.

Without further ado, let’s begin!


If there’s one no-brainer at the Academy Awards this year, this is it. There is no dark horse in this category. Denzel Washington's Flight was so-so, as was Hugh Jackman's singing, and Joaquin Phoenix has already sounded off on why the Oscars don't matter. And while it’d be great to see Bradley Cooper rewarded for his dramatic breakthrough in Silver Linings Playbook, since this is his first nomination, perhaps he’s got even better things in store in the future. That means the man who should win and the only man who could win is the man who will win: the one who dropped all our jaws by utterly transforming into our nation’s most beloved historical figure.

Pitchiest Actor: Hugh Jackman

Drunkest Actor: Denzel Washington

Most Bipolar Actor: Bradley Cooper

Sandiest Actor: Joaquin Phoenix

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis



One of the toughest calls of the year, because each of these ladies brought something unique and special to the big screen this year. Quvenzhané Wallis is super cute, but at her young age, it’s hard to tell how great an actress she really is in her first role. In terms of endurance, perhaps Naomi Watts should win for the utter hell she’s put through when she gets slammed by a tsunami in The Impossible. Jessica Chastain could win for her fiery role as the woman who found Osama bin Laden ― she’s gorgeous, talented, relatively new on the Hollywood scene, and everyone loves her, but that’s also true of Jennifer Lawrence, who has a little more buzz behind her. Watch out for dark horse Emmanuelle Riva, though ― Amour received more nominations than expected, meaning the older voters are connecting to it, and they might want to honor the oldest Best Actress nominee ever. We’re still playing it safe as to who will win, but don’t count Jessica or Emmanuelle out…

Wettest Actress: Naomi Watts

Most Stationary Actress: Emmanuelle Riva

Hardest-to-Spell Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis

Best Motherf― Who Found The Place: Jessica Chastain

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence



The toughest to call of the major races ― anyone could theoretically take it. All of the nominees have won before, so there’s no sympathy Oscar. Argo love could help Alan Arkin, but it’s not a part many are talking about, and he’s removed from the main action of the movie. Despite three acting nominations, The Master didn’t really get embraced by the Academy, which probably means Philip Seymour Hoffman won’t win for his intense performance as a full-of-it cult leader, even if he should. Robert De Niro made a welcome return to decent acting in Silver Linings Playbook, but ultimately the role might be too slight compared to some of his greater early performances. That means Christoph Waltz could win as the charming and funny bounty hunter in Django Unchained… but is the role too similar to his winning turn in Inglourious Basterds? And wasn’t he basically a main character rather than supporting? That means the most stately and prestigious movie, Lincoln, likely will take home the prize…

Most Masterful Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Most OCD Supporting Actor: Robert DeNiro

Grumpiest Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin

Most Handshake-Hating Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones



Another pretty easy call. Amy Adams role as the fiercely loyal wife in The Master was a bit too slight to win an Oscar ― for a woman who has been nominated four times in this category, hopefully the fifth is a charm. Jacki Weaver’s happy housewife in Silver Linings Playbook is similarly without enough meat to score a win. Helen Hunt’s odds are a little better ― especially since she took her clothes off, let’s be honest ― but The Sessions just doesn’t have enough steam. That leaves some potential that the much-respected Sally Field could pull a victory as the harried wife of Lincoln if that movie sweeps, but truly there’s only one lady here who will (and should!) win, and that’s the dynamo singing hooker of Les Miserables.

Nudest Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt

Naggiest Supporting Actress: Sally Field

Best-With-Her-Hands Supporting Actress: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Crabbysnacks-Maker: Jacki Weaver

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway



Beasts of the Southern Wild is probably too bizarre to win this award, which tends to reward more straight-forward adaptations. Life of Pi is more of a visual marvel than a writing triumph ― there’s only so much dialogue in a story about a boy alone in a boat with a tiger. That leaves three serious contenders ― the respectable Lincoln from acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner, the fun and nimble Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell, and the slick but overrated Argo, which fudges a lot of facts from the real-life events. Lincoln could and probably should win, based on the difficulty of making 19th century politics so watchable for modern audiences, but since Argo has more Best Picture juice, it probably will win.

Will: Argo

Could: Lincoln

Should: Lincoln



Amour is in French and features lengthy scenes without dialogue, meaning voters probably won’t reward it here. Moonrise Kingdom is a bit too cute and quirky, and Wes Anderson didn’t really do anything new with that film. Flight is a respectable script about addiction, but when compared with all the undercover research Mark Boal had to do to dig up the facts of the CIA’s hunt for bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, there’s no contest. It’s possible the Academy could decide to counteract Quentin Tarantino’s Director snub here, but more likely that the violence and constant N-words were too much for them to take. Score one for Zero Dark Thirty, unless too many people are still confused about whether or not the film endorses torture. (It doesn’t.)

Will: Zero Dark Thirty

Could: Django Unchained

Should: Zero Dark Thirty



Count out The Pirates: Band of Misfits, which few people saw. The charming stop-motion ParaNorman, which likely should win, probably isn’t widely-seen enough to cut it either. ParaNorman could be too similar to Frankenweenie and split the vote there, though Tim Burton’s name gives it slightly more chance. The power of Pixar shouldn’t be underestimated, meaning Brave could take it, yet this was the rare disappointment from the computer animation studio. That means the clever video game homage Wreck-It Ralph likely will win!

Will: Wreck-It-Ralph

Could: Brave

Should: ParaNorman



This category is often unpredictable, because it’s one of few that voters actually have to see all the films in order to vote for. The hard-hitting Amour had enough support to get Best Picture, Actress, and Director nominations, so that’s where the smart money is. But the lighter Norweigian film Kon-Tiki about a sea expedition in the ‘40s is a dark horse, if the Academy wants to spread the wealth and isn’t in the mood to be so heavy-handed.

Will: Amour

Could: Kon-Tiki

Should: Amour



Les Miserables’ stab at an Oscar, “Suddenly,” is a boring number that didn’t need to be in the movie. “Pi’s Lullaby” is pretty but forgettable. Oh, and then there’s Adele. Yes, Grammy-grabbing Adele, whose “Skyfall” is completely awesome. And who doesn’t love a Bond theme? The Academy is tributing the music of Bond at this year’s ceremony, do you think there’s any chance they’ll pass on “Skyfall”?

Will: Adele

Could: Nobody but Adele

Should: Adele!



Skyfall is nominated, but is unlikely to win both music awards. John Williams Lincoln doesn’t stand up with his more iconic themes. And not enough people saw or liked Anna Karenina to care about its score. That leaves Argo to battle Life of Pi, but in this case, Life of Pi’s lusher and more whimsical score is bound to beat the more somber Middle Eastern sound of Argo.

Will: Life of Pi

Could: Argo

Should: Alexandre Desplat scored both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. It’s the latter he should be nominated (and win) for.



Django Unchained looked cool, but not “pretty” enough to win here. Life of Pi is gorgeous, but so much of it is computer-generated that it doesn’t really count (unless voters decide they don’t care). And again, Anna Karenina is not a real factor this year. Spielberg’s longtime director of photography Janusz Kaminski is well-liked and has done some great work in the past, but since so much of Lincoln takes place in musty old rooms, it’s probably not considered beautiful enough to take this prize. That leaves Skyfall, by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has never won despite ten nominations. Sometimes, it’s just time.  

Will: Skyfall

Could: Life of Pi or Lincoln

Should: Skyfall



An unpredictable category, because like Foreign Films, voters need to have seen all the films. The two with the most advance buzz are Inocente and Mondays at Racine, so we predict that the one about cancer trumps the one about homelessness.

Will: Mondays at Racine

Could: Inocente



There’s only one in English, which may give the comedic Curfew an edge. It’s about  a suicidal man tasked with babysitting his young niece.

Will: Curfew

Could: Buzkashi Boys or Death of a Shadow



For those who find the short categories boring, there may be a little something here for you. The Simpsons gets a surprising Oscar nod with Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, but since Disney is king in animation, the charming black-and-white Paperman is the film to beat here.

Will: Paperman

Could: Adam and Dog



The Gatekeepers has been praised for tackling those always-important Middle Eastern issues, while How To Survive A Plague has also moved audiences in its depiction of the early days of the AIDS crisis. Meanwhile, Searching For Sugar Man is a feel-good story about the search for a missing South African folk legend. Never underestimate docs about the Middle East, but…

Will: Searching For Sugar Man

Could: The Gatekeepers

Should: How To Survive A Plague



Two Snow White movies here ― Snow White and the Huntsman has more striking costumes than Mirror Mirror, while the grimy French looks of Les Miserables and presidential coats of Lincoln aren’t eye-catching enough to rate too well here. It’s actually Anna Karenina that has the most luxurious period looks, which tends to be what wins here.

Will: Anna Karenina

Could: Les Miserables

Should: Snow White and the Huntsman



Argo didn’t have enough action to score here, while Django Unchained just doesn’t have the prestige. The constant action in Skyfall could win here, as could Life of Pi with a host of animals creating a cacophony of noises. There’s also a case to be made for Zero Dark Thirty with its tense final act and bursts of action throughout, but ultimately a lot of that movie came down to dialogue too.

Will: Life of Pi

Could: Zero Dark Thirty

Should: Life of Pi



The nominees are the similar to Sound Effects here, with Lincoln and Les Miserables replacing Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained. Since this award takes the sound recorded on set into consideration, the live singing of Les Miserables sets it apart from everything else.

Will: Les Miserables

Could: Life of Pi

Should: Les Miserables



Here we have the mythical creatures of The Hobbit facing off against various upset French people in Les Miserables and the Master of Suspense himself, Hitchcock. A pretty weird mix, but only one of these movies has much Oscar buzz otherwise, and that’s the one that dared to make Hugh Jackman look like crap.

Will: Les Miserables

Could: The Hobbit

Should: Are you kidding us that Lincoln wasn’t nominated? The man looked like he was ripped right off the $5 bill!



Life of Pi continues to shake up the technical categories. So much of it was computer-generated, can it really be counted as production design? Voters might or might not think so. Lincoln’s stuffy rooms aren’t complex enough and The Hobbit doesn’t offer anything fresh from previous hobbit movies, and Les Miserables production design was mostly obscured by those constant close-ups. That mean the theatrical Anna Karenina might have the edge, despite how little overall buzz it’s received.

Will: Anna Karenina

Could: Life of Pi

Should: Lincoln



No one was too wild about Snow White and the Huntsman, despite some cool effects. The Avengers is a beloved blockbuster, but visually, it was more of the same as far as superhero movies go. Prometheus’ effects were gorgeous and stirring, but the film overall angered many who feel it didn’t live up to Alien. And The Hobbit felt like we’d seen it all before. There’s almost no question that this is Life of Pi’s to lose, because the cinematography and production design are really products of the CGI.

Will: Life of Pi

Could: Only Life of Pi

Should: Life of Pi



The slowness of Lincoln isn’t likely to get many thinking about the editing, while the briskly-paced Silver Linings Playbook is probably too lightweight compared to these other choices. Life of Pi could experience a sweep of technical prizes; if not, Argo balances multiple locations between D.C., Iran, and Hollywood while Zero Dark Thirty hurdles through a decade of complex field work at a seemingly breakneck pace, a nearly three-hour movie that zips by. Still, the film with the most Best Picture steam often collects this prize…

Will: Argo

Could: Zero Dark Thirty

Should: Zero Dark Thirty



This is often an easy call ― just pick the likely Best Picture winner! But this year that’s impossible. Without Ben Affleck in this race (not to mention Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino, or Tom Hooper), there are two strong contenders. Beasts of the Southern Wild's Benh Zeitlin is too green with a surprise nomination for his first film, while Amour's Michael Haneke may be too austere and controversial. David O. Russell's funny and moving Silver Linings Playbook rose above standard romantic comedy and family dramedy conventions ― but it may not be a weighty enough movie to pull off a win in this category. Ang Lee is beloved in the industry and Life of Pi is a technical achievement, but the movie may not be quite revered enough to earn him a second Oscar after Brokeback Mountain. Then again, giving another Oscar to Steven Spielberg just seems so… obvious. Since Lincoln has the best shot at Best Picture out of these, we give him the edge, but there’s a dark horse riding up right behind...

Will: Steven Spielberg

Could: Ang Lee

Should: David O. Russell


And now for the big prize…


Nothing’s set in stone. Argo has swept up so many prizes by now, it almost seems like a lock ― but maybe the Academy is on Argo overload? They didn’t nominate him as Best Director, and there are a lot of movies with a lot of support in this category. Django Unchained is too violent and controversial to score here, while Beasts of the Southern Wild is too esoteric and unpolished. Les Miserables will be rewarded where deserving ― Anne’s performance ― but has mostly piped down in terms of Best Picture. Life of Pi looks to score numerous technical awards, but is more impressive for these pieces than as a whole. Silver Linings Playbook has Harvey Weinstein behind it and it’d be nice to see an unassuming comedy take the big prize for once, but it isn’t unanimously loved. And Lincoln is the prestige pick, but some find it a bit too staid and stodgy ― it just screams “Oscar movie.”

Meanwhile, Zero Dark Thirty has been marred by a silly torture debate that misconstrues the film’s intent, while Argo is a crowd-pleaser that is too simple to offend anybody. It’s a thriller about movie producers who do little and become heroes, which should sit well with Academy members. You might think that the most timely and important film ― the one that’s about finding closure after 9/11 ― would be the Academy’s choice. Yet this year, it looks like they’re going for the fluff instead.

Will: Argo

Could: Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook

Should: Zero Dark Thirty


What award do you care most about, and who do you hope wins it?