The Tree of Life - Emmanuel Lubezki
You don't have to like the movie to appreciate the beauty of its photography -- a true achievement. The Artist and Hugo are contenders here as well.
The Artist - Anne-Sophia Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
I'd go for Hugo or Dragon Tattoo, but Artist won the A.C.E. award. Can't imagine the Academy would disagree, especially as they've matched up for at least the last 5 years.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Hugo - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
Seems to be the most likely film to make voters aware that art direction is a thing. It had some truly gorgeous sets (ditto Midnight in Paris). Beware the ever-present Artist love.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Hugo - Sandy Powell
If Colleen Atwood isn't nominated, go with Sandy Powell. #OscarNerdProTip
The Iron Lady - Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland
*Edit* Changing it to The Iron Lady, based on consensus. Whatever, don't really care, both it and Nobbs were pretty blah. Zzzzzzzzzs.
The Artist - Ludovic Bource
Lock it in. Easiest call of the night.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
The Muppets - Bret McKenzie, "Man or Muppet"
Um, did anyone see Rio? I played the shit out of Angry Birds Rio, that's all I know.
BEST SOUND MIXING
War Horse - Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Stuart Wilson
Because war films always do well here. And who doesn't love horses?
BEST SOUND EDITING
Drive - Lon Bender, Victor Ray Ennis
Because of pure obstinance. And because the foley was noticeably good.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Hugo - Robert Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman, Alex Henning
Hugo had some of the best 3D yet. (Although I thought Transformers was actually really good as well.) Planet of the Apes: James Franco Edition could be a triumph for the mo-cap crowd though.
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Rango - Gore Verbinski
Haven't seen it yet (I *might* be able to get to it before the ceremony -- thanks, Netflix!), hear it's great. I actually quite enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 2. Fuck anything Shrek-related. WTF are the other two.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Separation - Asghar Farhadi (Iran)
Saw it, thought it was excellent. It certainly seems to be the critical favorite (but critics don't vote). One of the others is apparently a Holocaust movie though, so watch out.
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory - Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Celebrities seem to love those West Memphis Three kids. Let's go with that one.
BEST DOCUMENTARY, SHORT SUBJECTS
Saving Face - Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Because I literally just looked up a few predictions and a lot of them said this one. Maybe another crazy lady will try to hijack the acceptance speech again.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
A Morning Stroll - Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe
Seen all these and I'm going against my gut here. The flying books one (The Fantastic Flying Books...) seemed to be the most Oscar-y of the bunch, but I picked against my favorite under similar circumstances last year and was wrong, so I'm hoping for a repeat. Plus, this one has a zombie.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Raju - Max Zähle, Stefan Gieren
The rest are more light-hearted, so it'll stand out more in the minds of the voters. Probably.