Here are the big ones: The Cricket’s predictions for the major categories in the 85th annual Academy Awards.
These are the ones that are hardest to claim authoritatively, because they’re the ones everyone has an opinion about. This year, they’re also where some of the fiercest competition is happening, especially with the Best Picture race (between “Argo” and “Lincoln”).
On Tuesday, The Cricket made is predictions in the technical categories. On Wednesday, it was the craft categories. And on Thursday, it was the specialty categories. Read them all, and you may have a leg up on the competition in your Oscar pool. (Last year, The Cricket scored 19 out of 24 correct.)
Remember to follow The Cricket on Twitter — @moviecricket — during the Oscar ceremony (which starts at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time on ABC, KTVX Ch. 4 in Salt Lake City, with pre-show red-carpet coverage starting on ABC at 5 p.m. and on E! at 3:30 p.m. for the hardcore fashionistas).
Nominees • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”; Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”; Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”; Denzel Washington, “Flight.”
Who will win • Daniel Day-Lewis has been sweeping all the preliminary awards and is a sure thing to win for his portrayal of Honest Abe.
Who should win • The other reason Day-Lewis is sure to win: He’s really, really, really good.
Nominees • Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”; Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; Naomi Watts, “The Impossible.”
Who will win • Jennifer Lawrence, playing the frustrated widow in the kooky “Silver Linings Playbook,” has been the front-runner most of the awards season. But she’s got some competition from Jessica Chastain as the no-retreat CIA operative in “Zero Dark Thirty” and Emmanuelle Riva as a slowly deteriorating musician in “Amour.” Lawrence probably will hang on to win.
Who should win • The rap against child performances is that they are manipulated by the director and editor. But Quvenzhané Wallis’ portrayal of an inquisitive Louisiana Delta girl in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is too beautiful, too pure, to be anyone’s accomplishment but hers.
Nominees • Alan Arkin, “Argo”; Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”; Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”; Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained.”
Who will win • All five of these actors have an Oscar at home, while De Niro has two. It’s been shaping up into a two-man race between De Niro as the neurotic dad in “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jones as the irascible anti-slavery congressman Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln.” Jones wins, in part because he has more to work with in this role.
Who should win • Waltz’s merrily devilish performance as a bounty hunter in “Django Unchained” is the main reason to sit through Quentin Tarantino’s bloody movie.
Nominees • Amy Adams, “The Master”; Sally Field, “Lincoln”; Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”; Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”; Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Who will win • Anne Hathaway could have started writing her acceptance speech the second she finished singing “I Dreamed a Dream” in one take.
Who should win • Amy Adams provided the depth of drama in “The Master” as the seemingly quiet but secretly steely force behind Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader.
Nominees • Michael Haneke, “Amour”; Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”; David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”; Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Who will win • The Academy’s snub of Ben Affleck (“Argo”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”) seemed to grease the skids for Steven Spielberg to take this one for “Lincoln.” (It would be his third win, after “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.”) Spielberg should still win, though don’t be surprised if Ang Lee takes it for the radiant “Life of Pi.”
Who should win • Michael Haneke’s restrained direction kept “Amour” from falling into sentimentality, making its emotional wallop all the more powerful.
Screenplay — Original
Nominees • Michael Haneke, “Amour”; Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”; John Gatin, “Flight”; Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, “Moonrise Kingdom”; Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Who will win • It’s a toss-up between Michael Haneke’s direct take on dying in “Amour” and Mark Boal’s information-packed portrayal of the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty.” The political fight over “Zero Dark Thirty” may cloud its chances, so “Amour” seems the likely winner.
Who should win • The gentle whimsy of “Moonrise Kingdom” is as original, and as wonderful, as a screenplay could be.
Screenplay — Adapted
Nominees • “Argo,” screenplay by Chris Terrio; “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin; “Life of Pi,” screenplay by David Magee; “Lincoln,” screenplay by Tony Kushner; “Silver Linings Playbook,” screenplay by David O. Russell.
Who will win • Here’s your upset special: Chris Terrio’s gritty script for “Argo” will take the Oscar over Tony Kushner’s lyrical 19th-century dialogue in “Lincoln.”
Who should win • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was the best movie of 2012, in The Cricket’s not-so-humble opinion — and the screenplay, a mix of folklore and fantasy, was where the magic was first conjured.
Nominees • “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Who will win • Two bits of conventional wisdom will collide on Oscar night. The first says the movie with the most nominations wins Best Picture, which means “Lincoln” will take it. The other says a movie that flatters Hollywood will also win, which would give it to “Argo,” a movie in which movie producers actually save lives. “Argo’s” sweep of the Golden Globes and the major guild awards (many of whose members also vote for the Oscar) point to a big win for Ben Affleck’s movie, even if he was snubbed as director and actor.
Who should win • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is the most original and moving movie in ages and would get The Cricket’s vote if he had one.