This is one of those years where I saw practically nothing up for an Academy Award -- which judging from my past performance as a predictor can either be good or bad for my chances. So attend my belly-flop below.
I will add here, as I have been meaning to since I saw it, that Django Unchained is terrific -- by far Tarantino's best movie. (Mild spoilers.) In Inglourious Basterds I detected a great advance in his filmmaking, but also a lot of his usual annoying tics, such as the use of photogenic violence to resolve situations he couldn't think his characters out of. And that was strange, because if anything offers a good foundation for germane but over-the-top violent scenes, it's Nah-zis. But Tarantino doesn't make the same mistake with slavery: the eruptions of bloodshed make perfect sense, as illustrations of either the oppressive situation or of the hero's wrath. And Django Unchained is much more efficient than Tarantino's other scripts -- the hero's goal is always before us, and each ratchet of the building tension keenly felt; the digressions, such as the lovely snowy romp to "I Got a Name," are pleasurable interludes instead of oh-God-what-now-do-I-have-to-listen-to-David-Carradine. It's a cartoon, sure, but sometimes cartoons are pretty great; when the horrible Stephen bawls over his horrible, fallen master it's lurid, pathetic, and amazing. The only Tarantino thing still around to bug me is characters allowed to live for no discernible reason except to keep the movie going. But who knows; maybe he'll get to that next.
Okay, let's wrap this turkey before I puke:
BEST PICTURE: Lincoln. Nate Silver's method says Argo, but that method (largely based on other awards' histories) doesn't take Academy history sufficiently into account. What other movies have won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination? Driving Miss Daisy, Grand Hotel, and Wings. Even Michael Anderson was nominated for Around the World in 80 Days. The best chance for Argo is suggested by the weak field in which Daisy won; the enlarged Best Picture field would amplify the effect of a lack of consensus. But there's a big, popular, about-our-beloved-President movie in the running that voters can feel good about electing.
BEST DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln. Him again? Well, the voters seem to let him have it when he does something big and noble and (unlike Munich) uncomplicated.
BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. Is there anyone in there they love as much as him? Denzel Washington by all accounts tore it up in Flight; his is the best outside chance.
BEST ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. If the movie is popular enough, this goes to the new girl everyone loves. Plus, bonus, mental illness! And Away from Her taught me that old people in dire straits just make everyone sad.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook. Here's my sucker bet! (Carpetbagger's too.) They're all previous winners, so the give-him-one-already impulse is moot. Doing this by ESP, I surmise that there is a deep enough well of affection for the movie that voters would like to honor it beyond the Best Actress category. And I am told that in this one, De Niro finally figured out how to do comedy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables. I'm not a total idiot.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Zero Dark Thirty. Shrouded in controversy, is it? Tough titty. This is the movies and movies are magic.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Argo. There was something they loved about it and it apparently wasn't the acting or directing.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi. I went down swinging with Roger Deakins and True Grit a few years back. No more! (Also, look at the Bond films' record at the Oscars.) Life of Pi got a lot of nominations; there must be something they liked about it, and my uneducated guess is they liked the way it looks...
BEST SCORE: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi. ...and the way it sounds. I was going to pick Thomas Newman for Skyfall, on account of his long unrewarded nomination streak, but as the cinematography category shows, outside the top categories these people aren't sentimental.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lincoln. As Bluto told Flounder, I've given this a lot of thought, and I just don't think the members will vote for Life of Pi three times.
BEST SONG: "Skyfall," Skyfall.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Anna Karenina. Brutally Honest Oscar Voter is right: They love them puffy dresses.
BEST FILM EDITING. Zero Dark Thirty. It's got action, it's got suspense, Argo already got an award.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Brave. A lot of these voters have little girls. Also, daughters. (Steve Martin did this joke better.)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Searching for Sugar Man.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Mondays at Racine.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Paperman.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: Curfew.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Amour.
BEST MAKEUP: Les Miserables.
BEST SOUND MIXING: Les Miserables.
BEST SOUND EDITING: Zero Dark Thirty.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Prometheus.
Good luck to us all.
UPDATE. The links are a bit wonky, but here's a fun Oscar quiz.