Photo: Warner Bros/Weinstein/DreamWorks
Coming off the Golden Globes, the Oscars race has shifted. Who's on top -- and who could shake things up -- when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its awards on Feb. 24? Check out our state-of-the-race lineup below:
Best Picture: "Lincoln" leads with 11 nominations, but things got wobbly after going one for seven at the Golden Globes. Who could take up the slack? "Argo" is a contender, but don't count "Silver Linings Playbook" out just yet.
Directing: This category is SO tough! With Golden Globe winner Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Tom Hooper not even asked to the dance, can anybody beat Steven Spielberg? Long shot: David O. Russell. If first-timer Benh Zeitlin wins for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," his exploding ego may create a medical emergency.
Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, lock. Or at least that's the current wisdom. But since the race has become as polarized as the Civil War -- "Lincoln" versus everything else -- it's possible (don't bet the house) that Hugh Jackman could get the award. Long-shot favorite Bradley Cooper follows. Keep in mind: DDL already has two Oscars; Jackman and Cooper, zip.
Actress in a Leading Role: Globe winners in separate categories Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence (aka J. Law) go head-to-head. Conventional wisdom would be that Chastain has to win because she's that good, and she's the stand-in for the snubbed Bigelow and the "Zero Dark Thirty" crew. In Lawrence's favor is the beauty of her comic performance packed on top of her monster franchise, "Hunger Games." J. Law also may be the only winner for the multinominated "Silver Linings Playbook." Tough call! The two could knock each other out, opening the door for "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva, the oldest best actress nominee in history.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Tommy Lee Jones comes in on the coattails of "Lincoln" with a blustery period performance. Riding up behind is Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook" -- I spent most of a second look at the comedy watching his movements in every sequence he's in. He doesn't steal the scenes; he galvanizes them. It's too soon for Christoph Waltz to get a second Oscar for a Tarantino movie, and Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a monumental performance in academy stepchild "The Master."
Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway is the front-runner for "Les Misérables." Sally Field catches the "Lincoln" wave in second, followed by Amy Adams of "The Master," who must be tired of the phrase "It's an honor just to be nominated." (This is her fourth.)
Writing (Original Screenplay): Mark Boal's "Zero Dark Thirty" is the one to beat, and by the time the academy members vote, they may be embarrassed by the controversy that sank Bigelow's Oscar chances and those of the film as a front-runner. But if there's no shame, Haneke's "Amour" could win here. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola's "Moonrise Kingdom" are long shots.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Until the Golden Globes, Tony Kushner's "Lincoln" script seemed unbeatable. Then Tarantino took the honor for "Django Unchained." While Tarantino won't win here (he's nominated in the original screenplay category), Chris Terrio's "Argo" could upset "Lincoln," followed by David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook."
Foreign Language Film: "Amour," which also received nominations in the Best Picture, Directing, Actress in a Leading Role, and Writing (Original Screenplay) categories, will win. That's true Academy amour. "A Royal Affair" and "No" are a distant second and third, respectively.
Animated Feature Film: It's a three-way race between "Brave," "Frankenweenie," and "Wreck-It Ralph." "Brave" is the current front-runner, but "Frankenweenie" holds out the possibility of a first Oscar for director Tim Burton. Surreal!