Our breakdown of the odds in six major categories including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress

Why wait for Oscar night to find out who’ll be taking home an award when inside dope and higher math (not to mention the willingness to hang out on a limb) can predict the Academy’s choices right now? Mason Wiley and Damien Bona, authors of the unofficial history Inside Oscar, have called their years of Academy analysis to devise a complex, super-secret formula — not unlike the accounting procedures favored by movie studios — and applied it to the nominees in the major races. Those following along with their calculators should note that point values for any given factor below (such as ”exciting newcomer”) can vary depending on the dynamics of the category. Meanwhile, ENETERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s Owen Gleiberman weighs in with his Critic’s Choice — the one nominee in each race who really deserves to win.

Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves
PLUSES Could be part of a Dances sweep +38; compensation for not even being nominated for Bull Durham or Field of Dreams +27
MINUSES So-so reviews for acting -25; will win the Picture award (probably Director, too), so voters might want to spread the wealth with another actor -8; too sexy (envy factor) -7
TOTAL: 25 Points

Robert De Niro in Awakenings
PLUSES Showy role in a Best Picture nominee +38; also helped by performance in GoodFellas +16; winner of New York Film Critics and National Board of Review awards +31
MINUSES Has won twice before -20; past two winners, Dustin Hoffman and Daniel Day-Lewis, also played handicapped characters — enough already -5
TOTAL: 60 Points

Gérard Depardieu in Cyrano de Bergerac
PLUSES Classical role +44; his international fame would bring prestige to Academy +17; also helped by performance in Green Card +14; Gallic charm and sex appeal (but in unconventional way, so no envy factor) +9
MINUSES Subtitles -50
TOTAL: 34 Points

Richard Harris in The Field
PLUSES Career comeback +49; showy role directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) +21
MINUSES Boring film -34; laughable box office -28
TOTAL: 8 Points

Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune
PLUSES Winner of Los Angeles Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, and Golden Globe (Drama) awards +71; compensation for not even being nominated for Dead Ringers +11; good breeding (British stage) +10; uses an accent (Eurotrash) for the role +30
MINUSES Unsympathetic part in a cold film -27; tepid box office -13; English compatriot Daniel Day-Lewis won last year (jingoism factor) -12
TOTAL: 70 Points

Critic’s Choice
Jeremy Irons’ portrait of Claus von Bülow as a waxworks enigma was the most original — and masterful — performance by an actor this year.

Kathy Bates in Misery
PLUSES Winner of Golden Globe (Drama) +48; ”overnight success” (despite two decades of film work) +37; good breeding (New York stage) +16
MINUSES Unsympathetic part in unpleasant film -31; middling box office -11; Stephen King movie -16
TOTAL: 43 Points

Anjelica Huston in The Grifters
PLUSES Winner of Los Angeles and National Society of Film Critics awards +49; character is different from any other she’s played +41; only nominee whose film is nominated in other major categories +22
MINUSES Unsympathetic part in nihilistic movie -31; won an Oscar five years ago -21; limited box office appeal -14
TOTAL: 46 Points

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
PLUSES Winner of Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy) +33; top box office draw +43; excellent personal reviews +32; exciting newcomer +54
MINUSES Silly movie -41; sex appeal (envy factor) -29; maybe too much box office (envy factor) -21; youth (can win in the future) -20
TOTAL: 51 Points

Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge
PLUSES Voters might be in the mood for a major upset (sometimes the Academy likes to defy expectations) +25; no accent this year +2
MINUSES Already won twice (spread the wealth, please) -13; unexceptional box office -3 TOTAL: 11 Points

Joanne Woodward in Mr. & Mrs. Bridge
PLUSES Winner of New York Film Critics award +53; impeccable credentials (nominations in four different decades) +23; second Oscar would catch her up with her two-timer husband, Paul Newman +8
MINUSES Previous winner -9; arty film has little widespread appeal -22
TOTAL: 53 Points

Critic’s Choice
As the shockingly pragmatic Lilly, Anjelica Huston gave The Grifters its desperate, hard-boiled soul.