Your Handy Guide For What Will Win The Oscar Categories No One Understands

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One of the more competitive Oscars campaigns in recent years culminates Sunday, when millions of people will gather around their televisions and think, "Ellen DeGeneres is a pretty dull host, but at least she's not Seth MacFarlane." Tomorrow, Will and I will do our predictions for the eight major prizes, but here I'm going to take a stab at the less-covered categories. Last year, I got 13 out of 16 right, which is pretty impressive for someone trying to sound like he knows what he's talking about.


Your nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises


The pick: Frozen. Most years, you would be tempted to go with The Wind Rises, which is supposedly the final movie from master animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (whose Spirited Away won in 2003). But Frozen is an absolute sensation:The movie is going to make a billion dollars worldwide, and your daughters have probably seen it three times already. That's too much momentum to overcome.


Your nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

The pick: The Great Beauty. The Broken Circle Breakdown and The Hunt have definite upset potential: The former is an emotional Once-like romantic/musical drama, while the latter tackles a serious subject (false accusations of child sexual assault) in a way that ultimately builds to a happy ending. (Plus, it has Mads Mikkelsen, the biggest star in this category.) Still, I'm going to stick with the conventional wisdom that The Great Beauty will win: It's the prestige pick of the bunch, drawing plenty of comparisons to Fellini, who made four films that won this category.


Your nominees: The Act of Killing, 20 Feet From Stardom, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square


The pick: 20 Feet From Stardom. Since seeing 20 Feet almost a year ago, I've been convinced it had a strong chance of winning Best Documentary. Like Searching for Sugar Man last year, it features engaging music and a story about some unheralded talents. Plus, 20 Feet is an undeniable crowd-pleaser that preaches the gospel of following your dreams and believing in yourself. (It's like the shiny, happy version of Inside Llewyn Davis.) The Act of Killing's audacious, upsetting look at Indonesian death squads won't be able to compete with that.


Your nominees: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners


The pick: Gravity. Roger Deakins, the cinematographer for Prisoners, has been nominated 11 times in this category and never won. He's going to lose again, this time to someone who's been nominated six times. In recent years, it's been a good idea when predicting Best Cinematography to go with the most impressive 3D film of the bunch: Hugo, Avatar, Life of Pi. Emmanuel Lubezki has done great work in everything from The Tree of Life to Children of Men, but his efforts on Gravity will finally net him an Oscar.


Your nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave


The pick: Gravity. Christopher Rouse, who edited Captain Phillips, has pulled off an upset in this category before: His work on The Bourne Ultimatum beat out Oscar frontrunners No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Several action sequences in Captain Phillips are brilliantly paced, and Best Editing could be a way for the Academy to honor this Best Picture nominee. But betting against Gravity in the technical categories seems foolish—and it will give voters another chance to reward director Alfonso Cuarón (who co-edited the film) for his achievement.


Your nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her, 12 Years a Slave


The pick: The Great Gatsby. Normally, you want to pick the film with the most ostentatious, "imaginative" look: Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, Hugo. But last year, Lincoln pulled off the upset against the flashier Anna Karenina. If there was any justice, Her's inventive but organic vision of a near-future Los Angeles would win, but I can imagine the Academy favoring the predictably eye-popping The Great Gatsby instead.


Your nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into Darkness


The pick: Gravity. Because does anybody in the Academy really like any of the other nominees?


Your nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger


The pick: Dallas Buyers Club.Ever since the nominations came out, it's been fun to imagine a world where a Jackass film could win an Oscar. That dream ends Sunday.


Your nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years a Slave


The pick: The Great Gatsby. I'm very tempted to pick American Hustle since part of its appeal is its big, showy outfits. (And if the film isn't going to win any of the major categories, this could be its consolation prize.) But the movie is going against the tide of some pretty powerful Oscar history: No remotely contemporary film has won the Costume award since The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 1995. Academy voters tend to favor the more distant past (or fantasy realms) in this category, so I lean toward The Great Gatsby. I do worry that it won't be as fresh in voters' minds, though.


Your nominees: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

The pick: Gravity. Alexandre Desplat earned his sixth nomination in seven years for his score for Philomena. Thomas Newman landed his 12th nomination in 19 years for his work on Saving Mr. Banks. And then there's John Williams, who earned his 49th nomination for The Book Thief. (He's at least won the prize—five of them, to be exact.)Meanwhile, Steven Price, who's just started his career—he also scored Attack the Block and The World's End—will win his first time out for Gravity.



Your nominees: "Happy" from Despicable Me 2, "Let It Go" from Frozen, "The Moon Song" from Her, "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


The pick: "Let It Go" from Frozen. Because it's the one song most Academy voters can hum right now.


Your nominees: All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lone Survivor


The pick: Gravity. This is the category that last year produced the first tie at the Oscars in almost 20 years, with Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty both winning. It would seem that Gravity and Captain Phillips are the most likely winners this year. But even those who dismissed Gravity as just a gigantic amusement park ride have to admit that the thing sounded great.


Your nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor


The pick: Gravity. Let's take a moment here to remember how great "Please Mr. Kennedy" was in Inside Llewyn Davis.


Your nominees: CaveDigger, Facing Fear, Karama Has No Walls, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall


The pick: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. The presumed frontrunner through most of Oscar season, The Lady in Number 6 focuses on Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest-living Holocaust survivor. She died on Sunday at the age of 110.


Your nominees: Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Room on the Broom

The pick: Get a Horse! This homage to classic Mickey Mouse cartoons will probably appeal to nostalgic Oscar voters. Plus, it played in front of Frozen, so you know everyone's seen it.



Your nominees: Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me), Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Helium, Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), The Voorman Problem


The pick: The Voorman Problem. All you Hobbit fans who are bummed Smaug is going home empty-handed will have to take comfort in the fact that another Martin Freeman movie will win this year. He's the star of The Voorman Problem, where he plays a psychiatrist assigned to a prisoner who believes he's God. Name recognition can help in this category—shorts with Ciarán Hinds and Vincent D'Onofrio have won in recent years—and Freeman's presence could sway enough voters to go Voorman.

Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.