02/19/2013 09:47 am ET

Best Director Winner: Will Steven Spielberg Grab His Third Academy Award?

Oscar season kicked off in January of 2012 when "Beasts of the Southern Wild" wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival. Thirteen months later, "Beasts" will compete for a host of Oscars at the 85th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 24. With awards season mercifully coming to a close, HuffPost Entertainment is here with a preview of the major categories at the Oscars 2013 ceremony. Next up: picking the Best Director winner.

Best Director Nominees: Michael Haneke ("Amour"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln"), Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild")

The Race Thus Far: Confusing. With awards from The Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America and BAFTA, Ben Affleck would be the obvious front-runner here ... if only he had been nominated. (The "Argo" director, as you may have heard, was famously snubbed by the Oscars.) That leaves Spielberg as the consensus choice for "Lincoln." According to the Huffington Post Oscar Predictions Dashboard, Spielberg has better than an 84 percent chance of winning Best Director. The only problem? Spielberg hasn't won a single precursor award over the last two months.

The Potential Spoiler(s): Anyone, really. There's a case to be made for all four nominees, though most prognosticators have Zeitlin and Haneke lagging behind. Lee, a past winner, certainly did the most directing this year (adapting "Life of Pi" took Lee years to accomplished), but actors branch support for "Silver Linings Playbook" puts Russell right in the thick of things as well. (The actors branch makes up the largest wing of the Academy; all Academy members vote for the Oscars.) Because of the uncertainty, fans picking at home might be tempted to choose someone outlandish in this category -- see: Haneke -- but the safe money is on Spielberg.

Best Director Winner Prediction : Haneke. (Who cares about being safe?)

In the mood for actual data and evidence instead of speculation and conjecture? The Huffington Post Oscar Predictions Dashboard can be found here.

Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor

Oscar Nominees 2013