Handicapping The National Magazine Awards

Tomorrow night, the magazine industry will gather at Jazz at Lincoln Center for this year's National Magazine Awards. (Nobody bomb that precious braintrust!) Their theme this year: We are Magazines, Take Us Seriously! Which is why they are having celebrity presenters. Har! Anyway, who's likely to take home the trophies (called Ellies) in the major categories?

General Excellence. Divided into six circulation categories, this is the big one, known for catapulting little-known magazines (5280, Virginia Quarterly Review) into the limelight and then abandoning them like so many slush pile rejects.

In the under 100,000 circulation category: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, I.D., Metropolis, Print, and Virginia Quarterly Review. VQR took this one home last year, which makes it seem unlikely that the magazine would win again, except that ASME has given this award to Print eight times since 1993—so you know. But we're going to give the nod to Metropolis this time. Urban is in!

In the 100,000 to 250,000 circ category: Foreign Policy, Mother Jones, Philadelphia Magazine, Salt Water Sportsman, and Seed. Both Philadelphia and Mother Jones are kind of throwbacks here, in that they each won a slew of awards in the 1970s and '80s, though their luster has dulled a bit as of late. (Philadelphia hasn't won anything since 1994, though the magazine has been a finalist several times since then; Mother Jones won for General Excellence in 2001.) Although we're tempted to give this one to the darkest horse in the category, Salt Water Sportsman, we're going to go with Foreign Policy, because it's that kind of year. Magazines are serious and discuss serious things!

In the 250,000 to 500,000 circ category: Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, Cookie, New York Magazine, and Texas Monthly. Tough one! Four out of the five nominees are NMA favorites (can you guess which is the odd one out?), and NYM took the award in this category home last year. We're going to bet that it's too early for James Bennet's Atlantic to win, so we're going to give it to Audubon by virtue of its being marginally concerned with environmental issues.

In the 500,000 to 1,000,000 circ category: Condé Nast Traveler, The Economist, Esquire, Gourmet, GQ, and Wired. Six nominees! Crowded! But. Everyone knows that Esquire is absolutely beloved for representing that bygone era of magazine glory. Even though the magazine won this category last year, we're going to say it's going to take it home again—it's also nominated in big-deal categories like Reporting and Feature Writing (twice!), and the not-so-big-deal category of Leisure Interests (Best Bars in America!). Anyway, Esquire, for real.

In the 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circ category: We've got Entertainment Weekly, Field & Stream, More Magazine, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone. Last year this category went to ESPN: The Magazine. We're going to go out on a limb and say that the judges will continue their sports-loving ways and give this one to Field & Stream.

Over 2,000,000 circ category: Glamour, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic, O, and Time. The Ellies also love Glamour, though last year the magazine got snaked by Time. But it may be too early for Rick Stengel to bring home an award (see also: The Atlantic), so we're going to go back to the tried-and-true. Cindy Leive, come on down!

Some other magazines we think will win: Men's Health for Leisure Interests, for a three-part series called "Your Perfect Summer"; Time for Reporting, for a series of articles about Haditha (the magazine industry cares about Iraq, etc.); Vanity Fair, for William Langewische's "Rules of Engagement," because awards love William Langewische like they love themselves; The New Yorker, for Eric Konigsberg's piece about the genius-kid in Nebraska who killed himself (and now he's writing about society DJs and the Waverly Inn for the NYT); Calvin Trillin for Essays, for the tearjerker "Alice Off the Page," about his dead wife; The Believer for Single-Topic Issue, for the 2006 Music Issue.

National Magazine Award Finalists [ASME]