A Guide to Winning Your Oscar Pool

Hollywood's and, really, the nation's biggest night of the year, the Academy Awards ceremony, is almost here! There's a good chance some of you have been hoodwinked into throwing a few dollars into an office Oscar pool, so we'd like to help you. Here are our picks for who and what are going to win the precious trophies.

Mind you, many of these are mere guesses. So all legal liability on our part should be considered waived. Deal? I mean, most of you don't care about these predictions anyway, right? For those of you who do, though, here we go. (To consult all the nominees, the lists are here and here.)

Sound Editing

This mysterious category has befuddled many in the past. Unfortunately I will offer you no illumination here. Who knows what this wacky category is! But let's go ahead and guess that Inception wins the prize, because everyone (or mostly everyone) liked Inception and they feel bad that it's not going to win (or wasn't nominated, in Christopher Nolan's case) any of the big awards.

Sound Mixing

By the same logic, let's say Inception takes this one too.

Visual Effects

What do you say? Shall we say that Inception does a Lord of the Rings-style cleanup in the technical categories? I think we shall!

Art Direction

Here is where things get a bit tricky. Sure, Inception looked great, but the Art Direction award is usually for a prettier type of movie. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say The King's Speech will nab this.

Makeup

The choices in this category are strange — three movies that not a lot of people saw. My guess is that people liked Paul Giamatti in Barney's Version and are sad that they couldn't give him an acting nomination, so they will award his movie in this category.

Costume Design

Like Art Direction before it, I have a feeling that The King's Speech's stately periodness will power it through to a win, but I wouldn't be all that surprised if the lavish I Am Love sneaked in and stole the crown.

Cinematography

There was a lot of good cinematography this year! I mean, the photography in The King's Speech was really strange, with people pushed the edges of the frame and lots of big, imposing, blank walls, but man oh man did The Social Network and Black Swan look good. The brilliant Roger Deakins has become something of cinematography's Susan Lucci, nominated for nine Academy Awards but never winning. So let's say he breaks the curse this year and wins for True Grit. (Though he really should have won for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)

Editing

Usually this automatically goes to the Best Picture winner. That's just the common wisdom or whatever. I suspect that The Social Network will take the category this year. But that doesn't mean it will win the big kahuna! I don't think, at least.

Score

A strange part of me thinks that the Academy will have a hard time resisting the urge to give Trent Reznor an Oscar, so they will vote for The Social Network. Hans Zimmer's big booming Inception music could be the other favorite here.

Song

Will they be able to resist putting a teary little bow on the whole package by giving Randy Newman the trophy for his Toy Story 3 song, "We Belong Together"? No, I don't think they will.

Documentary Short

Who has seen these? Nobody, that's who. So it's hard to say who will win! Hm. The Warriors of Qiugang is about humble Chinese villagers fighting against big chemical companies that are polluting their land, so reading that description should rouse a rabble or two amongst Hollyweird's limousine liberals. If not that, maybe Strangers No More, about a school in Israel that welcomes refugee children from all over the world. Tear.

Animated Short

Academy voters often like to go with the whimsical and wacky in this category, so let's say that the Australian curio The Lost Thing takes the golden cake.

Live-Action Short

Political angst and tragedy are awards bait, and Na Wewe, set in Burundi during the 1994 genocide, has it in spades. My guess is this one earns top marks on Sunday.

Foreign Language Film

Everyone thought that Biutiful was the one to beat here, blessed as it is with the pedigree of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Javier Bardem. But then at the Golden Globes, Susanne Bier's In a Better World swooped in and took the prize. I think the latter Danish film now has the momentum and will win. Though, if cool kids were voting on this thing, it'd def go to Dogtooth.

Documentary

Because of its timeliness and urgency and gentle Matt Damon liberalism, Inside Job is assuredly the one to beat here. I'm not sure enough Academy voters would really "get" Exit Through the Gift Shop in the right way, but it's a contender. At least I'm Still Here isn't nominated!

Animated Film

Toy Story 3. C'mon.

Adapted Screenplay

There were many good adapted screenplays this year, with Winter's Bone and True Grit and all that, but yeah yeah blah blah, this is The Social Network's through and through.

Original Screenplay

A slightly trickier category! Will they award the prize to Inception's kicky (get it?) mind-bendiness? Will they be wise and indie and political and bestow it on The Kids Are All Right? Well, no, I think they will be a bit more fusty and boring and give it to The King's Speech. A great script for sure, but not that exciting.

Supporting Actor

Say what you will about his Method-y bullshit and weird tics and somewhat bellicose scariness, but Christian Bale deserves his trophy and he will get it.

Supporting Actress

Though her unpleasant personal campaigning has slowed her momentum some, making room for little Hailee Steinfeld, I still think Melissa Leo has enough gas left in her tank to carry her across the finish line in first place.

Actor

This will definitely without a doubt go to James Franco for 127 Hours. Haha, no, I am kidding, obvs. This is Colin Firth's to lose, by a wide margin.

Actress

Hmmmmm. The big burning question of the night! Or maybe it is. Maybe it was once. For a while it looked like Annette and Natalie would be doing a neck-and-neck duking it out kind of thing all awards season, but really they haven't. Really it seems that Natalie Portman will get a second little man to take home Sunday night. (The other one is currently in her stomach.)

Director

Had Christopher Nolan been actually nominated in this category, he might be a tough competitor. But as it stands, I don't think there's anyone who poses a credible threat to David Fincher's ascendancy. He's earned it.

Picture

Well! The title match. A month or so ago I'd have said that The Social Network was a lock. But these days it looks like The King's Speech has the edge. Yes, Harvey Weinstein will likely pull a Shakespeare in Love, propelling his little charming shabby-edged "indie" (I mean, that hardly means anything anymore when we're talking about Harvey Weinstein) past the slick, technically masterful commercial piece. Plus, Social Network came out ages ago and King's Speech is still fresh in everyone's minds, having just crossed the $100 million mark at the box office. Long live the King. But hopefully not his speech. It'll be late by then.

[Image via Shutterstock.com]