I realize the actual Academy Awards aren't set to be broadcast until Sunday night, when millions of people will watch -- for the first hour, at least -- as co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway lob Nerfball zingers at their fellow actors, make passively tasteless jokes about speech impediments and possibly engage in a pointless skit involving Banksy, Dicky Ecklund and a Mark Zuckerberg.
At various points throughout the ceremony's 3+ hour running time, they'll also announce the winners. And while you might think this year will be easier to predict than most, I'm here to tell you that ain't the case. There's a great deal of behind-the-scenes drama and intrigue that makes even apparent sure things not so certain as the last few hours before awards time tick away. Luckily, I'm here for you with a 100% guaranteed listing of what will win the big awards on Oscar night.*
And if these predictions are wrong, it's thanks to a combined effort to sabotage me conducted by the Freemasons, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Bruce Vilanch.
What follows are the picks conventional wisdom says are a lock for the six big awards, followed by my cogent and not-at-all hastily thrown together while drunk counterpoint. Place your bets accordingly.
Best Supporting Actor
The Favorite: So-called "smart" money says this is Christian Bale's in a walk: He plays a junkie, he lost a ton of weight (though not quite to Machinist levels of emaciation) and we're always impressed when a foreign person manages to sound convincingly American, much less Bostonian.
The Winner: The Town's Jeremy Renner, which the Academy will consider just rewards for putting up with Ben Affleck as both director and co-star.
Best Supporting Actress
The Favorite: At first it looked like Melissa Leo had this wrapped up (and how crappy does Mark Wahlberg feel as the only principal in The Fighter -- the movie he struggled for years to get made -- not to be nominated?), but True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld is coming up on the outside. Or so you'd think. Leo sandbagged her chances with that horribly self-conscious ad campaign, and Steinfeld is too young: for voters remember the horrible fate of ten-year old winner Tatum O'Neal (marrying John McEnroe).
The Winner: That'll be Jacki Weaver. Believe me, if you saw Animal Kingdom, you wouldn't dare vote against her.
The Favorite: What was so great about Colin Firth's performance? He's already English and he's played noblilty before (in Shakespeare in Love and Dorian Gray). So really, how hard was this? The other name that gets mentioned the most is Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), but after seeing interviews with both him and Mark Zuckerberg, I'm not convinced they aren't the same dude.
The Winner: The guy's been in rehearsals for weeks, therefore I'm confident Oscar co-host James Franco will find a way to switch the ballots before the award is announced. He was the New Green Goblin, after all.
The Favorite: Wroooooong. What? We're just supposed to give the Oscar to Natalie Portman? Just because she practiced for six months, five hours a day, to convincingly portray a prima ballerina? How about we give it to somebody who really had to suffer for her art?
The Winner: Somebody like Michelle Williams, who faked being in love with the creepy Ryan Gosling. Now that's acting.
Favorite: The way things are shaking out, The Social Network is going to get shut out of everything except Adapted Screenplay, maybe Best Score, and this, which is expected to go to David Fincher. Think again.
The Winner: In an unprecedented write-in campaign, I believe this will go to the most deserving directorial candidate of the year: Jeff Tremaine, director of Jackass 3-D. The scene with Steve-O in the bungee port-a-john rivals the "Odessa Steps" sequence of The Battleship Potemkin.
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The Favorite: Well, two favorites really, The Social Network seemed unstoppable early on, but The King's Speech has come on like gangbusters in recent weeks, securing Director's Guild honors and -- shockingly -- seven BAFTAs. Unfortunately, neither will be triumphant this Sunday
The Winner: Hands down, it has to be Inception. Look, if I wanted multifaceted characters and compelling storylines, I'd watch HBO. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, I like my movies like I like my women: loud, frequently immersed in water and able to bend at impossible angles.
*Margin of error +/-50%