Four score and seven years ago (OK, it wasn't that long ... it just feels that way), we began trudging down the path that on Thursday will yield a fresh slate of Oscar nominees. Who will be among the names called at the crack of dawn? Our final predictions, along with a thought or two:
6. "Life of Pi"
A thought: How many nominees? We're guessing, like last year, the academy will be generous and recognize nine movies. Why be stingy when the selection is so good? And, yes, "Skyfall." We were the first to raise that banner here and here and (for good measure) here, and we're going to see this noble cause through to the nominations.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
3. Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"
5. Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
A thought: Etch these five names in stone. Early front-runner Phoenix will be spared having to eat that "worst-tasting" Oscar carrot.
1. Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
2. Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
3. Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"
The spoiler: Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
A thought: Lawrence and Chastain are the only lock-solid bets here. It's possible that Wallis could join Riva in making some age-related history in this category. "Hitchcock's" Helen Mirren stands as another potential nominee, even though she's much more respected than her film.
1. Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"
3. Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"
4. Alan Arkin, "Argo"
5. Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"
A thought: Bardem scored a SAG nod, and, since Waltz and DiCaprio could split the "Django" vote, logic would dictate that he might land the fifth slot here as well. We're not convinced, though. Talking to academy members, it's Waltz's name that comes up most frequently. Score another one for the Austrian actor who inimitably brings Quentin Tarantino's words to life.
1. Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"
2. Sally Field, "Lincoln"
3. Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
4. Amy Adams, "The Master"
The spoiler: Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Thought: SAG voters pulled a fast one and chose Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy") over Adams. We'd imagine the academy will reverse that head-scratcher while keeping Dame Margaret as well. Critics favorite Ann Dowd is in the mix too for her riveting work in "Compliance."
1. Ben Affleck, "Argo"
2. Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"
3. Kathryn Bigelow, "Zero Dark Thirty"
4. Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
5. Tom Hooper, "Les Miserables"
The spoiler: David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Thought: We covered this category pretty thoroughly Tuesday with the Directors Guild nominations. There's reason to hope but little evidence to expect Oscar voters to choose differently.
So, there's six. If you're a glutton for this kind of thing, we'll be updating our picks in remaining categories over at Tom O'Neil's Gold Derby website by the end of the day. Until Thursday morning ...