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Oscars 2013: Let's Predict the Nominations (and Call the Upsets)

By Matt Patches, Hollywood.com Staff

In the early hours of Thursday, Jan. 10, Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone will take a stage to announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards. Most years, the process is the cap to a long season with the same three titles dominating every category, the final choices rarely surprises.

This year is a bit different.

Sure, there are frontrunners, but more so than in the last decade, most categories are anyone's to win — or even pop into at the last minute with a surprise nomination. With the amount of Best Picture nominees in flux, no clear leader to any acting pack, and a bevy of technical awards that could go to any of the prestigious films to roll out over the year, the 2012 Oscar nomination line-up is one big question mark.

To test our powers of prediction, we weighed the odds and ran down every category with our picks for who may walk away with a nomination at the end of tomorrow. If they do, we'll still be up for one of the toughest Oscar pool years in a long, long time….

Best Picture

Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Lincoln

Life of Pi

Moonrise Kingdom

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Who Could Break In? In 2009, the Academy opened up the Best Picture race from five to 10 nominees. In 2011, they changed the rules again to allow the potential number of nominees to change based on the vote (with a minimum of five and a maximum of 10). So we're going with nine movies from 2012 for Best Picture. What could sneak in? Thanks to the BAFTAs, it seems more possible that Skyfall could be James Bond's first time in the Best Picture ring. There's also the French drama Amour, which could transcend the Foreign Film confines to nab the 10th slot.

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook

Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty

Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone

Helen Mirren - Hitchcock

Emmanuelle Riva - Amour

Who Could Break In? Naomi Watts was a longtime favorite for her physically demanding work in The Impossible, but quiet buzz has us swapping her out for Hitchcock's Mirren. Foreign language favorites Cotillard and Riva also look like solid picks, but raves for Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild could bump the young actress into the top five.

Best Actor

Denzel Washington - Flight

John Hawkes - The Sessions

Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln

Hugh Jackman- Les Misérables

Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook

Who Could Break In? This is one of the only categories that looks locked, but voters may have erased Joaquin Phoenix's anti-Oscar rant from memory long enough to move him into Hawkes or Washington's slots. The dark horse is Jack Black, who has been garnering more and more love in the awards season push for his performance in Bernie.

Best Supporting Actress

Helen Hunt - The Sessions

Sally Field - Lincoln

Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables

Maggie Smith - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Nicole Kidman - The Paperboy

Who Could Break In? Best Exotic Marigold Hotel could take a second slot in this race, with Dame Judi Dench bouncing Kidman from the ring (or even replacing her costar Smith). Amy Adams also looks like a major contender, but the favorite from The Master has lost traction since the movie debuted in September.

Best Supporting Actor

Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master

Leonardo Dicaprio - Django Unchained

Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

Alan Arkin - Argo

Javier Bardem - Skyfall

Who Could Break In? Robert De Niro is still a major player for the Supporting Actor category, but he's more of a legend worth nodding to than a stand out in Silver Linings Playbook. With unexpected love from both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs going to Javier Bardem for his villainy in Skyfall, he stands a good chance of taking the fifth spot. Or maybe the voters will realize the greatness of Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike….

Best Director

Ben Affleck - Argo

Kathryn Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty

Steven Spielberg - Lincoln

Ang Lee - Life of Pi

Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained

Who Could Break In? Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) earned the fifth slot in the Director's Guild award nominations earlier in the race, but the stylish magic of Tarantino may outnumber him when it comes to the Oscars. Close-ups and canted angles versus zooms and whip pans to bloodshed — which does the Academy favor?

Best Original Screenplay

Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained

Rian Johnson - Looper

Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master

Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom

Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty

Who Could Break In? The Writer's Guild honored Flight writer John Gatins for his work on the alcoholism drama, but with Tarantino (who is not a WGA member and was ineligible for their nom) in the mix, his weaker work looks to be ousted. Writer/Director Michael Haneke's elegant work on Amour could also be honored if the Academy feels bad for not stepping up and giving it a Best Picture nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Chris Terrio - Argo

Stephen Chbosky - Perks of Being a Wallflower

Tony Kushner - Lincoln

David Magee - Life of Pi

David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

Who Could Break In? If too few members of the Academy caught Chbosky's touching translation of his own novel, love for Beasts of the Southern Wild may be strong enough to bump it into this category (it was based on a short play called ""Juicy and Delicious""). Enough Les Misérables support could also bump the musical into the category, replacing either Perks or The Master.

Best Animated Feature

Brave

Frankenweenie

ParaNorman

The Rabbi's Cat

Wreck-It Ralph

Who Could Break In? Sorry, Rise of the Guardians. Although you're a technical marvel, your holiday magic just didn't impact enough people this holiday season to make you an Oscar contender. We'll go with the relatively unknown (but highly-praised by those who have seen it) Rabbi's Cat.

Best Documentary Feature

The Gatekeepers

How to Survive a Plague

The Invisible War

Mea Maxima Culpa

Searching for Sugarman

Who Could Break In? Jafar Panahi's astounding self-portrait This Is Not a Film is a whirlwind of emotion — that's also shot mostly on an iPhone. The low-tech feel puts it under the flashy documentaries above, but one hopes the Academy could see beyond the cinematography.

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour

No

The Intouchables

A Royal Affair

Beyond the Hills

Who Could Break In? Amour is the one to beat, but watch out for Norawy's Kon-Tiki, which could rise all the way to the top if voters feel split over giving Amour Best Picture and Best Foreign Language love.

NEXT: Mesmerizing Music, Stunning Photography, and the Summer Blockbusters That Will Win

Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches

[Photo Credit: Walt Disney Picture;, Millennium; The Weinstein Company]

More:

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'Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' Leads 2013 Razzie Noms, But It Doesn't Deserve To

The 20 Best Movies of 2012 (and the 5 Worst)

[PAGEBREAK]

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina

Skyfall

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Costume Design

Anna Karenina

Mirror Mirror

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Lincoln

Best Film Editing

Argo

Life of Pi

Les Misérables

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Misérables

Lincoln

Best Original Score

Benh Zeitlin & Dan Romer - Beasts of the Southern Wild

John Williams - Lincoln

Mychael Danna - Life of Pi

Dario Marianelli - Anna Karenina

Alexandre Desplat - Zero Dark Thirty

Best Original Song

""Skyfall"" - Skyfall

""Suddenly"" - Les Misérables

""Learn Me Right"" - Brave

""Still Alive"" - Paul Williams Still Alive

""Ancora Qui"" - Django Unchained

Best Production Design

Anna Karenina

Django Unchained

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Misérables

Lincoln

Best Sound Editing

The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

Skyfall

Life of Pi

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Sound Mixing

The Avengers

Skyfall

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Visual Effects

The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Life of Pi

Prometheus

[Photo Credit: Walt Disney Picture;, Millennium; The Weinstein Company]

More:

'Lincoln' Tops BAFTA Nominations — Say Hello to the Oscar Frontrunner

'Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' Leads 2013 Razzie Noms, But It Doesn't Deserve To

The 20 Best Movies of 2012 (and the 5 Worst)

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