So you watched the Golden Globes in January, and you think you know who is going to take home Oscar gold — and who isn’t. Forget it. The Globes are an unpredictable bellwether. The “foreign press” voters, quite frankly, hand out the prizes to everyone. They don’t like to upset anyone who has hosted a party for them, so the trophies are shared. The Globes are not the Oscars, although surely this year there will be a few duplicates. Nothing is certain, but it’s a fairly sure bet that best actor will go to Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln — a winner straight out of the starting gate. There may be a few surprises this year, based on the whispers and the median age of the nearly 5,000 mostly silver-haired voters, and awards shows often deliver shocks.  Didn’t Ben Affleck walk off with the best director award — beating out Steven Spielberg — to get the Director’s Guild nod? So surely he’ll repeat that feat at the Oscars, right? Wrong. Argo got a best film Oscar nomination but Affleck was left out in the cold when best directors were named. And yet, the buzz is that Argo may run off with the best picture, upsetting Spielberg’s spectacular history lesson of a movie. So here are my picks (and reasons why some will win and others will go home empty-handed) based on more than three decades of covering Hollywood. I expect a 10 percent commission if you win the office pool by following this tip sheet.


Best Picture

It’s a mesmerizing marathon, and the hot favorite.

~ The Contenders ~
Amour. Could be the shocker because it might appeal to older Oscar voters.  
Argo. Ignored for director, but definitely a dark horse.
Zero Dark Thirty. Controversy is a handicap, yet it might surprise. The film’s director was ignored and that’s not a good sign.
Silver Linings Playbook. Nice chick flick.
Les Miserables. Spectacular, but no dialogue will handicap it.
Life of Pi. Too many special effects.
Django Unchained. Too many bags of fake blood.
Beasts of the Southern Wild. The big outsider.

Best Director

The Academy loves Spielberg. This will be his third director Oscar.

~ The Contenders ~
Michael Haneke for Amour. He’s collected lots of global prizes and might dislodge Spielberg.
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. A definite outsider
Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Not mainstream enough for victory.
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Strong ensemble cast doesn’t guarantee the Oscar.  

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis in
No contest —a slam dunk.

~ The Contenders ~
Denzel Washington in Flight. Not this year, Denzel.
Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables.  Most popular fella, but crooning won’t carry it.
Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Most likable guy, but not for gold.
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Most quirky guy, but nothing to take to the bank.

Best Actress

Emmanuelle Riva for
Despite being a foreign movie, in French no less.

~ The Contenders ~
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. She might surprise.
Naomi Watts in The Impossible. Popular, but many critics thought the film too manipulative.
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Not much hunger for Jennifer from voters.
Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild. No youngest winner ever. And sorry, she’s no Shirley Temple.

Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones in
A real scene-chewer. He may get it for his body of work, although he deserves it for this role.

~ The Contenders ~
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. He was the linchpin of this movie.
Alan Arkin in Argo. Popular among his peers, he could win for his impressive body of work.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. This is not his year.
Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook. A great actor but no gold for this role.

Best Supporting Actress

Helen Hunt in
The Sessions
Voters love her daring role, which made middle age look sexy. My only concern is, the movie didn’t get a wide release.

~ The Contenders ~
Sally Field  in Lincoln. Oscar voters love her, but no cigar.
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables. One song is not enough.
Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook. Ensemble cast works against her.
Amy Adams in The Master. Nice try but this isn’t her year. 

The Oscars will be televised on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m. PT. on ABC.