Best PictureThe Artist
My guess is The Descendants, but not really on the strength of the movie. I see it as the most supportable of the seemingly weak field.
Some of the nominations seem to have zero chance at winning – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (don't believe the claims that this film wasn't trying to exploit the sympathies felt for families directly touched by the September 11th attacks), Hugo (the kind of film that may garner Best Director consideration, but not able to convince people that it was worth seeing), Midnight in Paris (maybe I'm wrong, but unless Woody Allen can survive the Holocaust and make a movie about it, I don't see him losing his stigma anytime soon), The Tree of Life (when the actors disavow the movie, no matter how good it may be, it becomes hard to give it the awards), and War Horse (isn't it a tragedy when an innocent horse gets drafted into war, even more so than the English strategy of infantry charges against dug-in machine gun positions). The Artist seems a little too uncommercial, but it might just win. So might The Help, simply because it was so commercial (daring film, coming out against racism). And Moneyball, though it has some fantastic baseball sequences, is not a complete film. While I wasn't enamored with The Descendants, I have to pick it.
DirectingMichel Hazanavicius, The Artist
I should pick Scorsese, but he won not too long ago for The Departed. My second guess should be Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist (because I think it is much more likely to win this than Best Picture). Instead, I am going to be consistent and pick Alexander Payne for The Descendants.
Actor in a Lead RoleJean Dujardin, The Artist
I am two minds about this. I honestly believe that it is hard to give the award to an actor who doesn't have any spoken lines (but The Artist has to win for something) and that people have to be willing to honor Gary Oldman for his non-cheesy roles, such as in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Against my better judgment, I am going to guess that Jean Dujardin walks away with the statue.
Actress in a Lead RoleMeryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Viola Davis for The Help. The others already have awards and/or their films underperformed. The Academy does care about box office, and I'm sure it is desperate to show a commitment to diversity by having a second African American winner (ever) in this category.
Actor in a Supporting RoleChristopher Plummer, Beginners
I am not going to make a smart pick here. Max von Sydow (aka Brewmeister Smith) has been a terrific actor (in at least four languages that I have seen, though Wikipedia lists him as having performed in eight different European languages). The smart pick would be Kenneth Brannagh, and I wouldn't rule out Jonah Hill (who wasn't horrible in Moneyball), but I have to go with Max for this category.
Actress in a Supporting RoleOctavia Spencer, The Help
Well, I don't see The Help taking two awards for acting. If it does, it will be Octavia Spencer (who is probably going to win, but I am not giving another Oscar to Streep and thus picked Davis for Lead Role) and not Jessica Chastain (who had a very busy 2011). That leaves me free to pick Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids, who (I've been told) meant as much to that film as Kevin Kline did to A Fish Called Wanda.
Music (Original Score)
Ludovic Bource for The Artist, but largely because John Williams can't win every year. Oh, and a movie with almost no spoken words needs music that works.
MakeupThe Iron Lady
That's right, I'm picking against the last Harry Potter film. The Academy seems to feel that lots of work is somehow less remarkable. My pick goes to the team for Albert Nobbs.
Costume DesignThe Artist
Sandy Powell for Hugo. My better judgment would be betting on either The Artist or Jane Eyre winning, but I have to go with my gut.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Woody AllenWoody Allen for Midnight in Paris. Yes, I know I said they wouldn't give him a statue, but this is his best chance. The only one I would not expect to win is J.C. Chandour for Margin Call; this is a wide open category near as I can tell.
Again, I am going to do something stupid. The Harry Potter films were a gold mine and at some point the Academy usually gives awards for that. But I am picking the team from Hugo.
Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life. I didn't see it, but if the rest of the movie looks anywhere near as good as the clip of the children chasing the truck spraying DDT, then this should be a no-brainer.
The team responsible for The Girl With the Dragon TattooWhile I think the duo responsible for The Artist will win, my pick is Christopher Tellefsen for Moneyball, because the baseball sequences looked awesome and seamless.
Foreign Language Film
A SeparationA Separation
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash for The Descendants.
Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash for The Descendants. Really hoping that it isn't The Ides of March, because that story has an insane amount of problems and should not have been nominated.
War Horse. Chances are it will win something.
War Horse, again.
Finally, an award for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2.
Music (Original Song)
Bret MacKenzie's "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.Bret MacKenzie's "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.
I am just going to assume that most everyone else made better choices than I did. But I'll check back in on Monday and update this to note just how wrong I was.