Nominees: “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty”
Will win: “Argo.” Conventional wisdom said it couldn’t win, considering that only one movie (“Driving Miss Daisy”) in the past 80 years took the top prize without a nomination for its director. Then “Argo” beat presumed frontrunner “Lincoln” at every turn in the build-up to tonight’s bash.
Should win: “Argo.” In retrospect, Ben Affleck’s snub was the best thing that could have happened for its best picture chances in what had been considered a wide-open year.
Left out: “Moonrise Kingdom”
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”
Will win: Spielberg. Consider this “Lincoln’s” consolation prize.
Should win: Zeitlin. Rarely has anyone made so much with so little.
Left out: Affleck
Nominees: Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”; Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”; Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”; Denzel Washington, “Flight”
Will win: Day-Lewis. This award was his the second he finished growing that beard.
Should win: Day-Lewis. Although if he didn’t take two to three years off between roles, would his performances still feel so special?
Left out: John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
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”
Will win: Lawrence. Chastain had a meatier role, and Riva seems to be closing fast. But Lawrence has been winning the popularity contest. Having also starred in “The Hunger Games” last year certainly doesn’t hurt.
Should win: Wallis. She carried a best picture nominee. As a 6-year-old.
Left out: Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
Nominees: Alan Arkin, “Argo”; Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”; Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”; Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Will win: Jones. There’s no obvious favorite in the first category made up entirely of previous winners. And a win might finally give Jones something to smile about.
Should win: Arkin. Unlike the other four nominees, he was the best part of his movie.
Left out: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
Nominees: Amy Adams, “The Master”; Sally Field, “Lincoln”; Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”; Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”; Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Will win: Hathaway. Even though all she really did was get a haircut and sing a song.
Should win: Hathaway? Of the five, it was still the most memorable performance.
Left out: Judi Dench, “Skyfall”