Best Picture (and Best Director) Black-and-white silent charmer The Artist has emerged as the clear front-runner, with copious wins at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Director's Guild of America, and the Producer's Guild of America, plus a Golden Collar Award for the film's charismatic canine co-star. I honestly can't think of another movie that could step up at this point; dwindling threats The Help and The Descendants will have to find glory in other categories. Look for The Artist's Michel Hazanavicius to pick up Best Director, too, unless Martin Scorsese scores an upset for Hugo. (He won't.)
Best Actor Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Gary Oldman is my pick, but I also wanted L.A. Confidential to beat Titanic in 1998. Wasn't gonna happen then, won't happen now. It's a suave-off between The Artist's Jean Dujardin, who's been raking in kudos for his performance since Cannes 2011, and The Descendants' George Clooney, a previous winner in the Supporting Actor category (for 2006's Syriana). Clooney is also nominated for his adapted screenplay for The Ides of March, which he directed. Close call, but look for The Artist tsunami to carry Dujardin to the podium. Consolation for Clooney: he'll be nominated again. And again. And again.