Oscars 2013: Five UPSETS we'd like to see
These aren't going to win.
These should win, need to win, would make a lot more sense than the people who will probably win, but these are the ones with unfairly bad odds, the ones who will remain for us to cherish more than the Academy will.
And hey, they could win.
It's that madcap optimism that keeps us masochistically crossing fingers before the golden envelope is opened just on the off-chance that the Oscars get it right. And sometimes it does; sometimes Annie Hall wallops Star Wars.
Here are the five I can't help praying (moronically) for this year:
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
It's done and dusted, this fight.
No matter what one thinks of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, his leading man is beyond the slightest reproach. Daniel Day-Lewis is an astonishingly good actor who excels, yet again, in the role of honest Abe. And he will win.
But, honestly, he was bested this year by Phoenix, who was simply uncanny in The Master. It's a performance Day-Lewis himself has frequently acknowledged, even while picking up awards Phoenix hasn't even been nominated for.
Image: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Best Actress: Quvenzhane Wallis
The Best Actress race looks like a straight fight between Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook and Emmanuelle Riva, who broke our hearts so exquisitely in Amour.
While Lawrence is a gifted young actress and Riva is a veteran who more than deserves to be singled out, Wallis was pure magic in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Looking back at all the nominated actresses, hers is the role to celebrate -- even though the Academy will probably think nominating her is enough.
Image: Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Director: Benh Zeitlin
I've said this before and I'll say it again: the Best Director hasn't even been nominated.
With no Ben Affleck (Argo), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) or Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) in the mix, not to mention Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), this is a category for Kinda-Okay Directing this year.
That said, it'd be a massive -- and fantastic -- upset to see Zeitlin pick up the prize for his first feature, Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
Whatever it's worth, the film is staggeringly original and unlike anything we've seen before, and rewarding that will show genuine cojones.
Spielberg will get it for Lincoln, sure, but the bearded storyteller's done better before.
Image: A scene from Beasts Of The Southern Wild, inset Benh Zeitlin
Photographs: Francois Durand/Getty Images
Best Original Screenplay: Moonrise Kingdom
My personal favourite category at the Oscars, the screenplay nominees, are usually a far more fascinating bunch than those vying for Best Picture.
This year features a few of the top-category nominees like Amour, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Flight and a marvellously quirky outsider, who really ought to be picking up this award for making a romance for the ages. (Spoiler alert: He won't. It'll go to either Tarantino for Django or, in a surprise, to Michael Haneke for Amour.)
Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is an immaculate film, a lyrical and highly evocative love story with astounding attention to detail. And what beautiful detail it is.
The story of Sam and Suzy is one that deserves celebration, and while it should have been up for Best Picture and Best Director, this one it deserves to get.
Image: A scene from Moonrise Kingdom
Best Picture: Django Unchained
The smart money's on Lincoln or Argo, naturally, but then Quentin Jerome Tarantino has never really been about the smart money.
Django Unchained is everything we don't expect to see at the Oscars: bloody, thrilling, controversial, focussing on a historic American shame, and a whole lot of goddamned big screen fun.
It feels incredibly good, yes, but there is an aftertaste that might not be pleasurable for an old, traditional, largely-white (and largely stuffy) group of Academy voters.
But blow politics. This year, among the nine nominees, there is simply no better film. Just give it to Django Unchained, dear Academy.
Image: A scene from Django Unchained