“Here are my picks. Hover over the stars to find out why.”

“Here are my picks. Hover over the stars to find out why.”

“Here are my picks. Hover over the stars to find out why.”

“Here are my picks. Hover over the stars to find out why.”

Click on a critic to see their opinions about who should and who will win!

BEST ACTOR

Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis (see above), and because even though he’s been nominated five times for Best Actor (and won twice), the Academy neglected to give him a Best Actor nod for The Last of the Mohicans so they owe him this.

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis. He brought life to a character that is larger than life, because he put flesh and blood into a character that could have been all marble, because he animated so perfectly the things that continue to make Lincoln so fascinating: his humour, his intelligence, and the intensely personal nature of his moral engagement with the grand forces of American history. Boom.

Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master. Because if we don't give him an Oscar, he might try one of those real-life performance art things like he did for I'm Not There, and I don't think we can take another Letterman interview.

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. Come on, this is an easy one. The only way it could be easier is if Day-Lewis were playing Lincoln as a drunk prostitute with a heart of gold.

Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis. His eloquent performance is uncharacteristically subtle and nuanced (unlike Spielberg’s direction). And he conveys a presidential weight worthy of the legend while remaining utterly real.

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. As the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars, he’ll make history with a historic role. The Academy will vote for the nobility of both the actor and the character he incarnates.

BEST ACTRESS

Should win: Emmanuelle Riva’s performance in Amour was mind-bogglingly moving and magnificent. It’s a no-brainer, really.

Will win: Even though Lawrence took home the Golden Globe and the SAG award (and she calls Harvey Weinstein by his first name), I’m putting my money on Emmanuelle Riva. I wager the Academy will take a sort of paternalistic, “She’s got time!” angle with 22-year-old Lawrence and award it to Riva, who turns 86 the night of the Oscars. (That is what you call a Hollywood ending.)

Should win: Jennifer Lawrence. After she was rudely denied her multiple Emmys for playing the daughter on The Bill Engvall Show, it's time for her to get her fair shake.

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. Most of the winners will be people and movies the kids don't really care about, so giving an award to The Hunger Games lady will be the Oscars' token nod to ratings.

Should win: Jennifer Lawrence. Acting circles around the movie’s putative star, Bradley Cooper, she pulled yet another persona from her quiver, and fooled me into thinking the movie is better than it is.

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. Between SLP and The Hunger Games, it’s her year. Plus Harvey Weinstein is in her corner. But don’t count out Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva—Feb. 24 is her 86th birthday.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should win:Philip Seymour Hoffman, because it’s hard to make a flawed character likeable, which Hoffman managed to do with such magnetism that he almost overshadowed Joaquin Phoenix. He made a cult leader as mesmerizing as he needed to be to make it believable that people could fall sway to this man's mania.

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones. This is the third time he’s been nominated in this category but has yet to take home gold for Best Supporting Actor. And there’s got to be someone in the Academy who feels bad for neglecting to nominate Jones for his 2007 turn in No Country for Old Men.

Should win: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained. Because it's always fun to see Hollywood people lose to foreigners who aren't British (British actors are practically honourary Americans at this point). Vienna should steal as many Oscars as it can.

Will win: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook. The Academy finds it hard to resist former lead actors who downgrade themselves to the supporting category. Besides, a supporting award is a traditional consolation prize for a film that loses in other categories.

Should win: Mr. Hoffman for The Master. He plays a very different politician than you will find in Lincoln, an intoxicating highball of hero and villain in a movie the Academy found just too damn weird. You can almost see his blood pressure rise and fall.

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln. Again, the Academy tends to vote for the character. And this character is a total actor—the kind of crusty, honest, showboating politician Americans crave.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Should win: Unlike the Best Supporting Actor category (really, anyone could win and I wouldn’t complain), this one left me feeling a bit uninspired. My heart just isn’t in any one of these five performances. But Hathaway did make me cry. And I can take a bathroom break when she accepts the Oscar.

Will win: Sadly, Anne Hathaway. It’s not that I don’t like her, but I’ve come to dread her acceptance speeches.

Should win: Sally Field, Lincoln. Mary Lincoln is usually a nothing part, so anyone who can make an impact in this role deserves respect. And we'd all like to see if Field could top her last acceptance speech.

Will win: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables. The only thing the Academy likes more than an aging lead actor in a supporting part is a young, beautiful lead actor in a supporting part. Real supporting actors can't catch a break.

Should win: Amy Adams for The Master. As the cult leader’s wife, hers is a truly supporting role, but she gives off such a sinister and mysterious chill you feel you’re seeing just the razor-edged tip of the iceberg.

Will win: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables. Because she’s so lovely, and loveable. Because she’s the new Audrey Hepburn. Because actors (the majority of the Academy) are impressed that an actor can sing “live” on camera.

BEST PICTURE

Should win: The Master because it achieved something radically and distinctly new in American cinema. Wait, it wasn’t nominated. I’ll go with Life of Pi then, because Ang Lee managed to make a movie based on a book I couldn’t finish—a tiger as a metaphor for life’s difficulties? Come on!—that left me with goose bumps.

Will win: Considering that BAFTA recently joined the Directors Guild, the Actors Guild, the Producers Guild, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association in naming Argo best picture of the year—and that Affleck has no chance of winning Best Director (he wasn’t nominated)—the Academy has no choice but to deliver the gold to this film.

Should win: Silver Linings Playbook. It's been, what, 901 years since a comedy won Best Picture? Fine, 15 years (The last was Shakespeare in Love, and if you don’t count that as a comedy, you have to go back to Annie Hall). Maybe it's time for another one.

Will win: Argo. It swept most of the recent awards, which should finally convince the Academy that it’s not about Toronto football.

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty. Because knee-jerk liberals have unfairly punished Kathryn for directing a riveting thriller with a kick-ass heroine that makes us queasy, reopens the torture debate—and is way more accurate than Argo.

Will win: Argo. Not too hard, not too soft, Affleck hits Oscar’s Goldilocks zone of gravitas-light. Even though the story’s a crock, the Academy can’t resist a real-life fable in which Hollywood saves the world.

BEST DIRECTOR

Should win: David O.
Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, because he pulled out incredibly beautiful performances from his entire cast—without a single fight reported in the media, to boot.

Will win: Steven Spielberg, because he’s Steven Spielberg and because he directed a movie about Abraham Lincoln and 2013 is the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's ‘I have a dream’ speech, and because America wants to feel good about itself. And it should. It was a great movie.

Should win: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook. Like Wes Anderson, Russell may never win an Oscar because he has a sense of humour, but when it comes to hypothetical Oscars, that's an advantage.

Will win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi. Lee has only won once before, and his standing in the film industry seems to make him due for another one. Plus voters are impressed by a lot of special-effects work when it's in the service of a serious story.

Should win: Ang Lee for Life of
Pi
. He pulled off the year’s most amazing directorial feat, in 3D, wrangling both a novice teenage star and a seamless hybrid of tiger flesh and CGI.

Will win: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. He wins by default, because Directors’ Guild winner Ben Affleck (Argo), the crowd favourite, is not nominated, and if you can’t vote for the usurper, you might as well re-crown the king.