1. Best Supporting Actress
Even with the constant, patience-trying earnestness of the frontrunner this season, there is arguably no category that is more of an iron-clad lock than this one.
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Should win: Even those who didn’t care for director Tom Hooper’s cramped approach to Les Miz could agree that Hathaway’s performance — especially her devastating delivery of “I Dreamed a Dream” in a single take — is the best thing in the film. But if we’re taking the category literally, Sally Field’s sharp and sorrowful Mary Todd Lincoln supports Lincoln by keeping the film and the man from wandering too far into the swamp of Washington politicking.
Will win: This is easy: Anne Hathaway.
2. Best Supporting Actor
By contrast, there may be no tighter race at the Oscars this year than the one among this quintet of past winners.
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Should win: Two-time winner De Niro hasn’t been this good in ages — which may be why he hasn’t been nominated since 1991’s Cape Fear. But it’s Tommy Lee Jones’ deftly fulminating performance as radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens that has stayed with us the most.
Will win: It would be an air-tight two-man race between beloved curmudgeons De Niro and Jones, but the most recent winner, Waltz, has actually walked away with the most hardware so far this year. Still, since Lincoln appears to have the most broad Academy support among these actors’ films, we’re going to peg Tommy Lee Jones the winner, in a squeaker. (But do not be surprised if De Niro, or even Waltz takes the stage instead.)