Welcome to For Your Consideration, HuffPost Entertainment's weekly breakdown of all things Oscar. Between now and Feb. 25, 2013, executive arts and entertainment editor Michael Hogan and entertainment editor Christopher Rosen will chat about awards season and which films will make the most noise at the 85th annual Academy Awards.
Rosen: After five months of speculation both outlandish ("The Master" for Best Picture!) and not so outlandish ("Argo" for Best Picture!), the Oscars are one day away. All that's left is the tired cliche about the shouting. We've made our Oscar predictions already, so now it's time to help those loyal readers who find themselves participating in Oscar pools on Sunday night. (Print your ballot here.) Ahead, five left-field picks that could help you secure glory in the living room and the office.
Ang Lee, Best Director
Nobody knows what to do with this category, since the person who "should" win (Ben Affleck) got shut out in the year's most baffling snub. Conventional wisdom holds that Steven Spielberg will win, if only because (a) "Lincoln" has the most nominations and (b) Spielberg is the most famous director in the world. That explains his seemingly safe 83.4 percent chance of winning, according to HuffPost's Oscar Predictions Dashboard. But what I'm hearing is that Academy members have been turned off by the "Lincoln" camp's self-seriousness -- everything from the White House screening and the free DVD's for students to the stories about Daniel Day-Lewis staying in character for the duration of the shoot -- and would rather reward "Life of Pi" director Ang Lee for his groundbreaking technical accomplishment. No one else, the theory goes, could have conjured such gorgeous -- and profitable -- magic from a CGI tiger, a tank of water and an unknown, untested teenager. If you were going to make real money on Oscar night, this would be the place to do it. -- Michael Hogan
Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actor
This category is supposed to be a two-man race between Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz, which is why De Niro only has an 8.7 percent chance of winning, according to our dashboard. And let's be honest: he probably won't win. But I'd say his chances are closer to 30 percent. If the lack of "Lincoln" love is as serious as it looks from where I'm sitting, Tommy Lee Jones is vulnerable. And although our friend Tom O'Neil tells us that the Academy has no trouble rewarding a supporting actor twice in a short time frame (it's just "supporting," after all!), I honestly think a lot of people are going to hesitate about giving Christoph Waltz another Oscar, especially when it's just three years after he played a similar role in "Inglourious Basterds." (To say nothing of the fact that this is basically only the second film anyone has ever seen him in; down, "Water for Elephants" fans! Down!) That leaves De Niro -- overdue living legend. Or does it? Election-data guru Nate Silver's model has Philip Seymour Hoffman and even Alan Arkin ahead of Bobby D. Basically, this thing is anyone's guess. -- M.H.
Roger Deakins, Best Cinematography
You win Oscar pools with below-the-line picks. (After all, everyone is going to have Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor.) Which means it's time to meet Roger Deakins. The "Skyfall" cinematographer is one of the biggest rock stars in his field. He's shot some of the Coen brothers' best work ("No Country for Old Men," "True Grit," "O Brother Where Art Thou?" "The Man Who Wasn't There," "The Big Lebowski" and "Fargo" among others), some of Sam Mendes' best work ("Jarhead," "Revolutionary Road" and the aforementioned "Skyfall"), "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "The Shawshank Redemption." This is Deakins' 10th nomination in the category and with the exception of Janusz Kaminski and Robert Richardson, he might be the most well-known DP working in Hollywood. Of course, there's the problem: Deakins is up against both of those guys (Kaminski for "Lincoln"; Richardson for "Django Unchained") in the Best Cinematography category, plus Claudio Miranda, who is favored to win for "Life of Pi." Deakins has only a 5.2 percent chance of winning per our dashboard, yet I'm going all-in on Roger: "Skyfall" was pretty beloved by Hollywood (it has five total nominations), and rewarding someone who so deserves an Oscar in a year without a slam-dunk winner (despite the percentages) just feels right. -- Christopher Rosen
Greg P. Russell, Best Sound Mixing
As stated above, you win Oscar pools in the trenches. Greg P. Russell has 16 Oscar nominations to his name ... and zero wins. He's like Deakins on snub steroids! This year, Russell is nominated for "Skyfall," so the same theory about Deakins possibly winning seems to hold true here as well: The AMPAS loved "Skyfall" and Russell is due. Overdue. Over-overdue. "Les Miserables" is way out in front according to our dashboard, but if anyone can upset those plucky live singers, it's James Bond. -- C.R.
"Lincoln," Best Picture
Now, now, now. Conventional wisdom and statistical analysis has "Argo" flying away (one last time for that reference) with Best Picture. According to our Oscar Predictions Dashboard, "Argo" has a 94 percent chance of winning on Sunday night, owing to the fact that it won precursor awards from nearly every guild, while "Lincoln" was shut out. "Argo" is winning Best Picture on Sunday night, says everyone -- except what if it doesn't? What if "Argo" really is "Apollo 13," and "Lincoln" is "Braveheart." Or "Lincoln" is "Crash." Or "Lincoln" is "Shakespeare in Love." Some Oscar pundits have unfavorably compared "Argo" to those films -- it could be the weakest Best Picture winner since "Crash," which only won two other Oscars -- but what if it's "Lincoln" that plays spoiler? It could happen, if only because the AMPAS is a crusty institution and its members were clearly more infatuated with "Lincoln" than with "Argo," at least judging by nomination totals. ("Lincoln" leads all films with 12.) Maybe we've all be wrong. Maybe "Lincoln" is the consensus. Maybe it surprises on Oscar night. Las Vegas has "Lincoln" with 9:5 odds at winning Best Picture. Let's just say that number is enticing. -- C.R.
Don't rely on bloviating pundits to tell you who'll prevail on Hollywood's big night. The Huffington Post crunched the stats on every Oscar nominee of the past 30 years to produce a scientific metric for predicting the winners at the 2013 Academy Awards. Results here.
Sept. 17, 2012: Has Harvey Weinstein Already Taken Over Oscar Season?
Sept. 24, 2012: Will 'Les Miserables' Dream A Dream Of Oscar Gold?
Oct. 1, 2012: Will 'Life Of Pi' Roar At The Oscars?
Oct. 8, 2012: Will 'Lincoln' Reach Higher Office?
Oct. 15, 2012: Is 'Argo' The Clear Front-Runner?
Oct. 22, 2012: Should 'The Hunger Games' Get Nominated For Best Picture?
Nov. 5, 2012: Can Denzel Washington Win Best Actor?
Nov. 13, 2012: Can 'Skyfall' Crash The Academy Awards?
Nov. 20, 2012: Has 'Lincoln' Become The Front-Runner?
Nov. 27, 2012: Is 'Zero Dark Thirty A Serious Contender?
Dec. 4, 2012: Reading The Critics Groups' Tea Leaves
Dec. 11, 2012: Predicting The Golden Globes
Dec. 18, 2012: Which Smear Campaigns Could Actually Work?
Dec. 24, 2012: Will Torture Debate Hurt 'Zero Dark Thirty'?
Jan. 1, 2013: Oscar E-Voting Causing Problems
Jan. 8, 2013: Oscar Predictions!
Jan. 15, 2013: Will The Golden Globes Affect The Oscars?
Jan. 22, 2013: Which Sundance Film Festival Debuts Could Impact The 2014 Oscar Race?
Jan. 29, 2013: Is 'Argo' The Front-Runner? (Yes)
Jan. 31, 2013: Who Will Win At The Academy Awards?
Feb. 4, 2013: Is 'Lincoln' Finished'?
Feb. 12, 2013: A Look At Best Documentary
Feb. 18, 2013: Can 'Silver Linings Playbook' Play Spoiler?