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2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Les Misérables
5. Life of Pi
6. Silver Linings Playbook
8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
9. Moonrise Kingdom
There will be at least six nominees this year (the list can go as high as 10, depending on how many films get #1 votes from Academy members). The top six listed here are definite, and the bottom four a little more questionable. Although I thought Django Unchained was a blast, I haven't heard enough commitment and passion from voters to make me believe it cracks the list — but that's one I could be wrong about. Skyfall, on the other hand, could be the first James Bond film to get a best picture nomination. A lot of voters love this movie, and it may be the popcorn vote of the season.
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1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
2. Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
3. John Hawkes, The Sessions
4. Denzel Washington, Flight
5. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
I think you can take this list to the bank, although a surprise might be Joaquin Phoenix for The Master. He was a bit of a lock early in the season, and many feel that he lost momentum after slagging the Oscar campaigning process. I don't think that's what cost him the nomination, though. He faded because he simply wasn't out there doing the thing he said he hated, which — for better or worse — is how you stay fresh enough in voters' minds to end up on their ballots.
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1. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
3. Naomi Watts, The Impossible
4. Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
5. Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
The wild card here is Quvenzhané Wallis, the 9-year-old star of Beasts of the Southern Wild. She gave an impressive performance, but there is an equal amount of love for the work of an actress on the other end of the age spectrum, 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, playing a woman facing the slow end of her life in Amour. If each one gets nominated, they would set the record for youngest and oldest lead actress nominees in history. But given the other four powerhouse women in contention, I'm not sure there is room for both.
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Best Supporting Actor
1. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
2. Alan Arkin, Argo
3. Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
5. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
This is perhaps the least definite of all the categories. Javier Bardem's villain from Skyfall could break in here, or perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson from Django Unchained. The only one I would bet money on is Tommy Lee Jones, whose feisty, cranky, and provocative performance as an abolitionist so radical he thinks even Lincoln is soft on slavery.
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Best Supporting Actress
1. Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
2. Sally Field, Lincoln
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4. Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
5. Ann Dowd, Compliance
The surprise nominee here might be Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy, which previously scored unexpected nominations from the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes. The safe choice would be Amy Adams for The Master, but the Oscars tend to throw out at least one or two curveballs and this year that may come in this category. Ann Dowd, who in the thriller Compliance plays a fast-food manager who is manipulated into making some terrible moral choices by a man pretending to be a cop, has gotten a lot of underdog cheering in the press (including from me). Whether any voters heard her name being shouted into the echo chamber is a question we'll have answered tomorrow morning.
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Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Oscar History: He now has 15 Oscar nominations, seven for Best Director and eight for Best Picture. He's won three, for directing and producing 1993's Schindler's List and for directing 1998's Saving Private Ryan. He also won the honorary Irving G. Thalberg award in 1987.
What's in a Name? On the set of Lincoln, Spielberg had everyone refer to the actors by their characters' titles. Daniel Day-Lewis, who famously stayed in character through most of the shoot, was Mr. President. ''That was something I felt was important to establish a little authenticity, maybe even more for me than for them,'' Spielberg says. Day-Lewis gave the director a nickname of his own: Skipper.
Honestly, Abe: What is Spielberg's final impression of Lincoln? ''He was a man of profound patience and obviously profound thought,'' says the filmmaker. ''He could see the outcome clearly, but then he had to go back in time and figure out, 'What parts of this vast [governmental] instrument need to be put into motion to the exact degree, and in the exact angle, to effect the outcome the way I envision the outcome?' No other president in our history has ever had a mind like that.''
Up Next: He aims to start shooting the sci-fi war epic Robopocalypse sometime in 2014. —Anthony Breznican
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Best Original Screenplay
1. Mark Boal (pictured), Zero Dark Thirty
2. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
3. Michael Haneke, Amour
4. Rian Johnson, Looper
5. Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Screenplay gets to be difficult to predict, since the writers have shown a willingness over the years to make some offbeat choices not reflected in the best picture race. Flight by John Gatins seems very possible here, but I've also picked up a lot of admiration for Johnson's time-travel saga Looper, which will have to shake off an Academy prejudice against sci-fi to get a nod. A longshot might be Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, although the open-ended quality of that story seemed to irk a lot of Academy members.
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Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Tony Kushner (pictured), Lincoln
2. Chris Terrio, Argo
3. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
David Magee's work on Life of Pi is another possibility, but writers love a good story and there's nothing like an author getting the chance to both adapt his own screenplay AND direct the movie. That's why I give Chbosky the edge for Perks, a movie that has gotten a very warm reaction over the past two months as more and more voters discover it.
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Best Animated Feature
1. Wreck-It Ralph
5. Rise of the Guardians
Sometimes the voters choose films from far outside the mainstream for this category, but that seems unlikely in such a strong year for Hollywood animation. If there is one outsider longshot to consider, it would be The Rabbi's Cat — a comical hand-drawn French film about (you guessed it) a rabbi and his mischievous talking cat, who get caught up a quest for treasure.