The process of Oscar predictions has changed completely over the last twenty years. Where there may have been favorites and hopes before that came with no sense of what could actually happen on Oscar night, blogging has turned the award ceremony into a stats game, where there are way fewer surprises than ever before. But, if you pay attention to the guilds, you have a great guide as to who is likely to win or lose. That doesn’t keep us from guessing, and our picks for Sunday’s Oscar ceremony are here. Hint: expect big wins for The Artist. Check it out…

Let’s start with the ones we’re most unsure of:

Shorts:

Best Animated Short Film:
“Dimanche/Sunday”
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
“La Luna”
“A Morning Stroll”
“Wild Life”

Best Live Action Short Film:
“Pentecost”
“Raju”
“The Shore”
“Time Freak”
“Tuba Atlantic”

Best Documentary (short subject):
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
“God is the Bigger Elvis”
“Incident in New Baghdad”
“Saving Face”
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”

Um… word is high on those I tagged, so that’s what I’m going to go with. La Luna is from Pixar, which is one of those things that can just as easily work for the film as work against it.

Tech:

Best Sound Mixing:

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“Moneyball”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Best Sound Editing:
“Drive”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Best Visual Effects

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″
“Hugo”
“Real Steel”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Best Art Direction:

“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“War Horse”

Best Costume:
“Anonymous”
“The Artist”
“Hugo”
“Jane Eyre”
“W.E”

Best Makeup:
“Albert Nobbs”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″
“The Iron Lady”

Hugo is likely to lose most of the major prizes it’s nominated for, so its consolation should be the tech awards that aren’t up against The Artist. When going head to head, its scale is bigger so it should win Art Direction but lose Costuming – though Hugo vs. The Artist is the main drama of both awards. The Iron Lady is the most respectable of the make-up choices, and there’s no home team favorite (that is to say, Rick Baker). Still, we could see Potter eke out a victory.

Truth and Music:

Best Documentary Feature:

“Hell and Back Again”
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
“Pina”
“Undefeated”

There’s little consensus about what could win this one, but I’m going to go with Pina, as it can be viewed as a lifetime achievement award for Wim Wenders. Paradise Lost 3 could win for having real world success, but that could also be that film’s only reward.

Best Original Score:

“The Adventures of Tintin,” John Williams
“The Artist,” Ludovic Bource
“Hugo,” Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse,” John Williams

Best Original Song:
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets,” Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from “Rio,” Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett.

John Williams splits his vote, and Howard Shore has a number of Oscars, so the movie that borrowed heavily from Vertigo gets it. I’m going Muppets because it’s such a great song.

The More Important Tech Awards:

Best Cinematography:

“The Artist”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

Best Film Editing:

“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“Moneyball”

If Thelma Schoonmaker didn’t have three Oscars, then maybe she might be the odds-on favorite for editing, but because it’s The Artist‘s night it should win, which would be a good sign for its best picture chances. It could also win for cinematography, but as Deep Throat said “follow the guilds.” And if Tree of Life won the ASC award for best cinematography, and Emmanuel Lubezki has been nominated five times and never won, then it’s a good way to award him and the film.

Best Pictures that aren’t Best Pictures:

Best Animated Feature Film
“A Cat in Paris”
“Chico & Rita”
“Kung Fu Panda 2″
“Puss in Boots”
“Rango”

Though the foreign films could be the usurpers, Rango looks like the odds on favorite and a good way to get Gore Verbinski an Oscar.

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Bullhead” (Belgium)
“Footnote” (Israel)
“In Darkness” (Poland)
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)
“A Separation” (Iran)

In Darkness deals with WWII, which would normally make it the front runner, but A Separation also netted a Screenplay award, which means people have been paying attention. Though this category could lead to an upset, expect Separation to take it home. If not, expect Oscar bloggers to bitch a lot.

Writing:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, “The Descendants”
John Logan, “Hugo”
George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, “The Ides of March”
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, “Moneyball”
Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Best Original Screenplay:
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, “Bridesmaids”
J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call”
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation”

The guild winners have the clearest shot, though The Artist would be the spoiler for Original screenplay. It feels like a bit of a spread the love year, so Woody Allen should get his fourth Oscar. Go Jim Rash aka Dean Pelton!

Acting!:

Best Actor:
Demian Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujarin, “The Artist”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Best Actress:
Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”

Best Supporting Actor:
Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Best Supporting Actress:
Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

The most likely surprise here would be if George Clooney wins Best Actor, but SAG went with Jean Durjadin, and so should go the Oscar. The academy often acts like an over-compensating liberal, and so Durjadin will follow in Roberto Begnini’s footsteps because he’s new and foreign. The only other possible upset would be Meryl Streep for best actress, but Viola Davis has been doing well in every other award ceremony, and she is a well respected stage and screen actress, so that seems more likely (also as Streep has two Oscars, and this isn’t her best work). Christopher Plummer has been on lock for months, as has Octavia Spencer.

The Artist(s):

Best Directing:
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

Best Picture:
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Moneyball”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

In ten years, the idea that Michel Hazanavicius has a best directing Oscar is the sort of thing that will make people scratch their heads. Same with The Artist‘s win. Doesn’t matter. Right now it’s the hot flavor. Expect an expanded run the week after, and expect years of bewilderment from people who will mention it in the same breath as Shakespeare in Love.

Which films/artists are hoping to see score an upset?