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Prediction: 'The Artist' Will Win Big at the Oscars

Disclaimer: I'm no expert, but I love trying to keep up with the Academy.

[Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect that it was Meryl Streep who won the BAFTA, not Viola Davis.]

Here it is, the night I’ve been waiting for all year: The Academy Awards.

By now I’ve usually seen all Best Picture nominees; unfortunately this year, I’ve missed out on two: Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” and the Tom Hanks/Sandra Bullock film, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” But if the Golden Globes were any indication -- and they usually are -- neither of those films matter in any major category, anyway.

Here are my picks for the major Oscar categories (Best Picture/Animated feature, acting, screenplays, and director). My best year was 2004, when I guessed 22 out of the 24 award categories correctly. Since then I’ve averaged between 18 and 20 correct, but I almost always get the following nine categories right.

We’ll see tonight how well I predicted this year. Good luck to all who have entered Oscar pools or are just like me, trying to be an unofficial “associate” of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.” , has won just about every award this season for his role as an elderly father who comes out to his son shortly before being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s a shoe-in for this award. He was fantastic in the film, very moving, and he’s got the awards resume to prove it (Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award).

Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, “The Help.” Similar to Plummer, Spencer has been racking up the awards this season, including a BAFTA for the same category and a Golden Globe.  I think the streak will extend to the Oscars.

Actor in a Leading Role: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist.” This one is hard. I think it’s really a toss-up between Dujardin and George Clooney for his work in “The Descendants.” However, I’d like to think that the Academy will lean toward the artsy, silent film “The Artist” for most of tonight’s major awards, and that included Dujardin. Both Clooney and Dujardin won Best Actor at the Golden Globes (one for drama, one for musical/comedy, but Dujardin also won the BAFTA for best actor and the Screen Actors Guild award for the same category. Besides, I think Dujardin can certainly give Clooney a run for his money as the most handsome man in Hollywood. (And he’s French!)

Actress in a Leading Role: Viola Davis, “The Help.” This category is another tossup, because Davis is up against the formidable who has 17 Oscar nominations under her belt and two wins. Davis received the Screen Actors Guild Award, two more reasons to guess the away the Academy will vote. “The Help” also seems to have blown away the film awards world while Streep’s “The Iron Lady” has not, so I’m going with Davis, who is more than deserving of her first win. (She was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 2009 for her work in “Doubt.”)

Best Original Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist.” Again, this is assuming the night swings in favor with “The Artist.” But to pull off a silent film in 2011 is pretty impressive, so I think the award will go to Hazanavicius. Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris” and Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo for “Bridesmaids” are close runners-up.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, “The Descendants.” Hands-down, this is “The Descendants” category. Only “Moneyball” and “The Ides of March” really come close to Oscar caliber after “The Descendants,” but neither film has really gotten any attention since they first came out in theaters. “The Descendants” it is.

Animated Feature Film: “A Cat in Paris.” I have no idea what’s going to win in this category, but I can’t imagine that “Kung Fu Panda 2” or “Puss in Boots” really stand a chance. I think that, thanks to “The Artist,” tonight’s ceremony will show some French love, so “A Cat in Paris” it is.

Best Director: Michel Havanavicius, “The Artist.” This one is a tossup between Alexander Payne for “The Descendants” and Havanavicius. I really want “The Artist” to win it big, so I’m going with Havanavicius. The entire awards ceremony could certainly swing in the direction of “The Descendants,” which would mean I’m wrong for much of my ballot, but I have a gut feeling for “The Artist.” I’m going with my gut.

Best Picture: “The Artist.” I think I’ve made my case for “The Artist” several times now. No going back.

I could be wrong about all of these. I hope I’m not. Happy Oscars to you!

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