Film critics Charlie McCollum and Randy Myers of the Bay Area News Group pick who will win 2013 Oscars.
Charlie: Ever since Ben Affleck was snubbed for best director, "Argo" has steamrolled the competition, grabbing every award in sight and becoming the prohibitive favorite. Twenty years from now, though, film historians may wonder why the prize didn't go to "Lincoln" or, in particular, "Zero Dark Thirty."
Randy: "Argo" would appear to have a lock, but I speculate there will be a "Crash"-like upset with the stately "Lincoln" swooping in for the win. The trophy really should be handed to the topical, riveting "Zero Dark Thirty." But it's just way too controversial for Oscar.
Charlie: If the man who played Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, somehow loses, it will rank as one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. Not going to happen.
Randy: Can you say slam dunk? A deserving Daniel Day-Lewis will win. If not, expect the horsemen of the apocalypse to come galloping in, and James Franco and Anne Hathaway get invited back as hosts. Yet I'd vote for a tie, or reward -- by the slimmest of margins -- to "The Master's" Joaquin Phoenix. There was a real Method and acting genius to his madness.
Charlie: Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook") has surged ahead of Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") in what had been a two-woman race. I prefer Chastain's performance, but Lawrence is a very worthy winner. A spoiler alert: 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva from "Amour" has come on strong late and beat both Lawrence and Chastain at the BAFTIs.
Randy: Even though her Meryl Streep joke at the Golden Globes ridiculously rubbed some the wrong way, Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook") will receive her first Oscar. It's impossible not to adore her. That said, Naomi Watts as a fearless mom surviving a horrifying disaster in "The Impossible" had the tougher job, even more so than the passionate Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty"), the dying Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour) and the resilient Quvenzhane Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild").
Best supporting actor
Charlie: This is a killer category and any one of four nominees Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln"), Alan Arkin ("Argo"), Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained") and Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Playbook") -- could grab the gold with Jones something of a favorite. The one nominee who doesn't stand a chance -- Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master") is the one who should win.
Randy: Each performance -- "Lincoln's" Tommy Lee Jones, "Argo's" Alan Arkin, "Django Unchained's" Christoph Waltz, "Silver Linings Playbook's" Robert De Niro and "The Master's" Philip Seymour Hoffman -- have merits. But my will and should win is Jones, scene-stealing tremendous as the game-changing grouch Thaddeus Stevens.
Best supporting actress
Charlie: This is another category filled with top-flight performances. But Anne Hathaway's wrenching "I Dreamed A Dream" in "Les Miserables" is a scene for the ages and such worthy contenders as Sally Field ("Lincoln") and Helen Hunt ("The Sessions") don't stand a chance.
Randy: Anne Hathaway chopped off her hair, faked the loss of dentures and then belted out the goose-pimply show stopper in "Les Miserable." This is her J-Hud moment, plain and simple. Unfortunately, it eclipses the better and certainly more naked realness of Helen Hunt's sex surrogate in "The Sessions." And don't get me started about Sally Field, too over-the-top as the troubled Mary Todd Lincoln.
Charlie: With Ben Affleck ("Argo") and Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") inexplicably snubbed, this is Steven Spielberg's race to lose, and he is certainly deserving. If you're looking for a spoiler, there's Michael Haneke, whose "Amour" is considered a masterpiece of filmmaking by many in the movie industry.
Randy: The absence of "Argo's" Ben Affleck and "Zero Dark Thirty's" Kathryn Bigelow make this less of a legitimate race. No matter. This will be Steven Spielberg's time once more, even though he made some bad calls at the beginning and end of "Lincoln." Michael Haneke ("Amour") could upset, but his brilliant feat of directing was so claustrophobic, it'll turn off voters. I'd hand the trophy to "Beasts of the Southern Wild's" Benh Zeitlin. He created the unique vision and drew out stunning performances from a novice cast, all the while being constrained by a shoestring budget.
Best animated film
Charlie: I'm not sure exactly why but something tells me the engaging "Wreck-It Ralph" will edge out Pixar's "Brave" as the Academy choice. Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" is a truly unique bit of filmmaking -- probably too unique for Academy voters.
Randy: Pixar's gorgeously animated but colorlessly scripted "Brave" could hit the bull's-eye, but I'm expecting the clever "Wreck-It Ralph" to have its game face on come Sunday. The risk-taker "ParaNorman" should win.
Best original screenplay
Charlie: Mark Boal's "Zero Dark Thirty" appears to be the front-runner after winning the Writers Guild of America award. But its two toughest competitors -- Michael Haneke's powerful script for "Amour" and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" -- were ineligible. Either one could be a spoiler, and I'd cast my ballot (if I had one) for "Amour "to be the first foreign language film to win in this category since Pedro Almodóvar won for "Talk to Her" in 2002.
Randy: "Zero Dark Thirty's" Mark Boal triggered a debate about torture and riled Capitol Hill. Beyond all that, his screenplay was substantial, complex and intelligent -- it should but won't take home the statue. So expect the distinctive, erratic scribe Quentin Tarantino to ride off with the prize for "Django Unchained."
Best adapted screenplay
Charlie: Tony Kushner's script for "Lincoln" was smart, moving and surprisingly funny. It deserves the win. But Chris Terrio's script for "Argo" was a surprise WGA winner, and with all the momentum behind "Argo," it could sneak in.
Randy: No contest. Acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner is a master craftsman with words, and "Lincoln" achieved greatness because of his beautifully honed script and powerhouse performances.