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Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis star in "Lincoln"

THE NERD WORD: Oscar predictions

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It's Oscar season again. Time to get your picks in. You have your obvious candidates in "Lincoln" and "Argo," but "Silver Linings Playbook" was a surprise to many. Will the Academy fall in line with the trends of all the other award shows or veer off the beaten path? Here are some predictions.

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Best Picture

• "Argo"

• "Amour"

• "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

• "Django Unchained"

• "Les Miserables"

• "Life of Pi"

• "Lincoln"

• "Silver Linings Playbook"

• "Zero Dark Thirty"

Will Win: "Argo" -- The acting and directing of this film is phenomenal, and those strengths usually spell good things in the best picture category. Not being nominated for best directing may helps Ben Affleck's case for this category.

Should Win: "Lincoln" -- Steven Spielberg returned to form here and should be commended. The condensed nature of the subject matter involved may have hurt its chances. For some, the run time was a little long for such a focused plot.

Best Director

• Michael Haneke, "Amour"

• Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

• Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"

• Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"

• David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Will Win: "Silver Linings Playbook" -- Mental illness is a tough area to touch on in film, but Russell took the challenge and soared. Russell walks a perfect tight rope of comedy and drama creating a look at a real-world portrayal of a sensitive topic.

Should Win: "Lincoln" -- Spielberg proved he still has it after a few misses. The weight he was able to give the subject matter in this film was legendary. He was dealing with probably one of the most prolific presidents in history and Spielberg treated the task with great care.

Best Actor

• Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"

• Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"

• Denzel Washington, "Flight"

• Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"

• Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis -- This has always been Lewis' category to win. He was a shoe-in since the release of "Lincoln." No other candidate performed anywhere near his level.

Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis -- First of all, Lewis' resemblance to Lincoln was almost uncanny. He captured the sound and mannerisms. His performance reached a level that's untouchable.

Best Actress

• Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"

• Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"

• Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"

• Naomi Watts, "The Impossible"

• Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence -- Lawrence is the obvious choice as she has been cleaning up at the other awards shows. Her performance in "Playbook" catapulted her to a new level. All signs point to a win for her second best actress nom.

Should Win: Jessica Chastain -- The ferocity of Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty" should make her a winner, but much of that emotion fell flat. Her portrayal in a tough, male-dominated world should be considered when handing out awards.

Best Supporting Actor

• Alan Arkin, "Argo"

• Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"

• Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"

• Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"

• Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"

Will Win: Alan Arkin -- The Academy pays attention to its history and seems smitten with "Argo." Considering this is probably the closest race of any category the Oscar will go to the teacher's pet.

Should Win: Robert De Niro -- De Niro's return was completely unexpected. He has been phoning it in for years, so it was a pleasant surprise to see he's "Raging Bull" form.

Best Supporting Actress

• Amy Adams, "The Master"

• Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"

• Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"

• Sally Field, "Lincoln"

• Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Will Win: Sally Field -- Most of the other award shows have been snubbing Field in favor of Hathaway. The Academy likes to be different and will award a strong, understated performance from Mrs. Lincoln.

Should Win: Anne Hathaway -- Hathaway took her role to a new level. Her dedication evoked the emotion of her character. Not to mention her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" was enough to shed a tear from anyone.

Best Visual Effects

• "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

• "Life of Pi"

• "Marvel's The Avengers"

• "Prometheus"

• "Snow White and the Huntsman"

Will Win: "Life of Pi" -- Pi is a no-brainer for best cinematography. In the past, the film

that wins that category also wins visual effects. A movie that couldn't be filmed will most likely repeat history.

Should Win: "Marvel's The Avengers" -- The level of scale in this film is amazing. Featuring one of the longest battle scenes in film history. Anyone I talked to was blown away. Any other year it would be a winner.

Best Animated Feature

• "Brave"

• "Frankenweenie"

• "ParaNorman"

• "The Pirates: The Band of Misfits"

• "Wreck-it-Ralph"

Will Win: "Frankenweenie" -- This has typically been Pixar's category, but Brave didn't really hit the mark. Burton took a classic tale and added his typical flair. The emotion produced with stop-motion was a sight to see.

Should Win: "ParaNorman" -- It's not often an animated film outside the Pixar stable touches on real-world issues. The current societal problem of bullying takes the forefront here. If an animated short can teach our youngsters and still entertain, it's a win.

Albrecht can be reached at talbrecht@gfherald.com or by phone at (701) 780-1269.

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