Golden doodles

Oscar predictions (and wishful thinking) for 2013

Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"

Yeah, the presidential election happened months ago. But the most intense campaign season is just beginning, as multiple ceremonies ramp up to Hollywood's ultimate night of self-congratulation (and occasionally questionable fashion): the Academy Awards. The nominations will be announced Jan. 10; the ceremony, hosted by first-timer Seth MacFarlane — of Family Guy and talking teddy bear fame — is Feb. 24. Predictions are based on Golden Globe nominations, Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, Independent Spirit Award nominations, random news and gossip reports, and my own loudmouthed opinion.

Best Actor This one's already in the bag, or more accurately, tucked under the stovepipe hat: Daniel Day-Lewis is the closest thing 2013 has to a lock, for Lincoln. The only strike against the two-time winner is that his last trophy came pretty recently, for 2007's There Will Be Blood. Though it's unlikely any of the other nominees have a chance, best guesses for also-rans are Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (he sings!); John Hawkes for The Sessions (he's paralyzed!); and Denzel Washington for Flight (he drinks!) The fifth slot could go to Silver Linings Playbook's Bradley Cooper, The Master's Joaquin Phoenix (my pick), or dark horse Jack Black, for Bernie.

Best Actress Two women enter, one woman leaves ... with a little gold man in tow. Best Actress looks to be a battle between Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain and Silver Linings Playbook's Jennifer Lawrence. Both have been nominated before, though Chastain might have an edge here: Zero is a serious action-drama that's been hyped more than Playbook, and Chastain — last year's "Where did she come from and why is she in every movie?" surprise — has settled down from overexposed newcomer to reliable talent. Lawrence, also the lead in the mega-popular Hunger Games series, is just 22 years old, and though her sophisticated work in Playbook belies her relative youth, she may be passed over with the understanding that she'll soon be nominated again.

Other names that will likely appear on the ballot: Marion Cotillard, a past winner, for playing a woman who loses her legs in Rust and Bone; and Naomi Watts, a past nominee who should probably have gotten a statuette by now, for playing the matriarch of a tsunami-ravaged family in The Impossible. The last slot could go to Academy fave Helen Mirren (for the so-so Hitchcock); another past winner, Rachel Weisz, for her raw turn in The Deep Blue Sea; Emmanuelle Riva, winner of the San Francisco Film Critic Circle's Best Actress award for her work as a dying woman in Amour; or grade-school discovery Quevenzhané Wallis, for her tough-sprite turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Best Supporting Actor After I saw Argo, I was certain that Alan Arkin (who won in this category for 2006's Little Miss Sunshine) would repeat. Then I saw Lincoln, and decided Tommy Lee Jones was the clear favorite. Then I saw Django Unchained, and Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz lurched forth. I suspect all of Django's supporting cast won't actually be nominated (my favorite of the trio: Jackson), and The Master's Philip Seymour Hoffman and Silver Linings Playbook's Robert De Niro are likely contenders. Matthew McConaughey could also slither in, for the crowd-pleasing Magic Mike. But right now, I'm leaning toward the hilariously world-weary Jones for the win. "It opens!"

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