AUTOPLAY 

Why It Could Win Zero Dark Thirty was the top rated nominee among the critics (95 percent Metacritic). It was also named Best Film by the National Board of Review, Writers Guild of America (Original Screenplay) and the critics associations of Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver and Washington D.C. Why It Wont Win Kathryn Bigelow was already given Best Picture three years ago for The Hurt Locker. Expect the Academy to look elsewhere, especially due to the films lengthy tradecraft and political controversy.

Why It Could Win: "Zero Dark Thirty" was the top rated nominee among the critics (95 percent Metacritic). It was also named Best Film by the National Board of Review, Writers Guild of America (Original Screenplay) and the critics associations of Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver and Washington D.C.

Why It Won't Win: Kathryn Bigelow was already given Best Picture three years ago for "The Hurt Locker." Expect the Academy to look elsewhere, especially due to the film's lengthy tradecraft and political controversy.
Why It Could Win Director Benh Zeitlins mix of child fantasy and gritty reality dominated the indie circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Golden Camera at Cannes and Best First Feature at the Toronto Film Festival. Why It Wont Win Sundance winners have never won the Oscar for Best Picture, from Blood Simple to Winters Bone, and first-time filmmakers rarely win Best Picture, with rare exceptions like Sam Mendes for American Beauty (1999).

Why It Could Win: Director Benh Zeitlin's mix of child fantasy and gritty reality dominated the indie circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Golden Camera at Cannes and Best First Feature at the Toronto Film Festival.

Why It Won't Win: Sundance winners have never won the Oscar for Best Picture, from "Blood Simple" to "Winter's Bone," and first-time filmmakers rarely win Best Picture, with rare exceptions like Sam Mendes for "American Beauty" (1999).
Why It Could Win Amour was the international art favorite, winning cinemas top art prize (Palme dOr) at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics, European Film Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Broadcast Film Critics Association, National Board of Review and the film critic associations of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington D.C. Why It Wont Win The Academy tends to relegate foreign films to the Best Foreign Language category and forget about them for Best Picture, except for last years The Artist (2011), which avoided subtitles with its silent gimmick.

Why It Could Win: "Amour" was the international art favorite, winning cinema's top art prize (Palme d'Or) at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics, European Film Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Broadcast Film Critics Association, National Board of Review and the film critic associations of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington D.C.

Why It Won't Win: The Academy tends to relegate foreign films to the Best Foreign Language category and forget about them for Best Picture, except for last year's "The Artist" (2011), which avoided subtitles with its silent gimmick.
Why It Could Win Quentin Tarantinos slave revenge tale was the online fan favorite with the highest IMDB rating (8.6) of this years nominees. It also was the second highest grossing among the Best Picture nominees, behind only Lincoln, and its script was acclaimed at the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Broadcast Film Critics Association. Why It Wont Win Like Zero Dark Thirty, the film is laced with controversy, in this case, excessive violence and language. Tarantino may be a darling among list makers (Pulp Fiction makes many a Top 10), but he has yet to land Best Picture with the Academy.

Why It Could Win: Quentin Tarantino's slave revenge tale was the online fan favorite with the highest IMDB rating (8.6) of this year's nominees. It also was the second highest grossing among the Best Picture nominees, behind only "Lincoln," and its script was acclaimed at the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Why It Won't Win: Like "Zero Dark Thirty," the film is laced with controversy, in this case, excessive violence and language. Tarantino may be a darling among list makers ("Pulp Fiction" makes many a Top 10), but he has yet to land Best Picture with the Academy.
Why It Could Win Ang Lees vision made Life of Pi a wonder to behold for all ages, so much that it was chosen as Best Picture by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. It was also the most visually stunning movie of the year, taking 3D graphics to new heights. Why It Wont Win Special effects titans are often nominated, but rarely win (i.e. Star Wars). No 3D film has ever won Best Picture, putting Life of Pi in the recent class with Avatar and Hugo as losing Best Picture nominees.

Why It Could Win: Ang Lee's vision made "Life of Pi" a wonder to behold for all ages, so much that it was chosen as Best Picture by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. It was also the most visually stunning movie of the year, taking 3D graphics to new heights.

Why It Won't Win: Special effects titans are often nominated, but rarely win (i.e. "Star Wars"). No 3D film has ever won Best Picture, putting "Life of Pi" in the recent class with "Avatar" and "Hugo" as losing Best Picture nominees.
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Why It Could Win Les Miserables was custom built for Oscar glory a legendary stage musical, packed with stars and directed by past Best Picture winner Tom Hooper (The Kings Speech). It also won Best Picture (ComedyMusical) at the Golden Globes. Why It Wont Win Only one musical (Chicago) has won Best Picture since 1968, and this years Golden Globe win came against weak ComedyMusical competition. The film will also suffer from its niche following, with fans adoring the soundtrack, and haters finding the three-hour slog akin to the torture scenes from Zero Dark Thirty.

Why It Could Win: "Les Miserables" was custom built for Oscar glory: a legendary stage musical, packed with stars and directed by past Best Picture winner Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech"). It also won Best Picture (Comedy/Musical) at the Golden Globes.

Why It Won't Win: Only one musical ("Chicago") has won Best Picture since 1968, and this year's Golden Globe win came against weak Comedy/Musical competition. The film will also suffer from its niche following, with fans adoring the soundtrack, and haters finding the three-hour slog akin to the torture scenes from "Zero Dark Thirty."
Why It Could Win David O. Russells dramedy was a crowd pleaser, winning Audience Awards at the Toronto and Austin Film Festivals. It also won Best Comedy by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Capri Movie of the Year and Best Picture at the Satellite Awards. Why It Wont Win The film was a bipolar movie about bipolar disorder, starting off as a gritty tale of pill-popping therapy, then shifting toward Dirty Dancing rom-com cliches. The shift appears intentional, as Bradley Coopers bashes Hemingway (Why cant there be more happy endings), but its too polarizing for Best Picture.

Why It Could Win: David O. Russell's dramedy was a crowd pleaser, winning Audience Awards at the Toronto and Austin Film Festivals. It also won Best Comedy by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Capri Movie of the Year and Best Picture at the Satellite Awards.

Why It Won't Win: The film was a bipolar movie about bipolar disorder, starting off as a gritty tale of pill-popping therapy, then shifting toward "Dirty Dancing" rom-com cliches. The shift appears intentional, as Bradley Cooper's bashes Hemingway ("Why can't there be more happy endings?"), but it's too polarizing for Best Picture.
Why It Could Win Lincoln was the war horse that jumped out early and faded down the stretch. The film boasts the most Oscar nominations (12), the best box office showing and the most teachable moments. Such is the appeal of Spielberg. Lincoln is the closest thing to his sole Best Picture, Schindlers List (1993), and if Euclid holds true (Things that are equal to the same thing are also equal to each other), it could be the year of Lincoln. Expect a photo finish, as Oscar voters made their picks throughout President Obamas re-election, Inauguration, Black History Month and Presidents Day. Why It Wont Win The film has faltered during award season, with its only Best Pictures coming from the Dallas-Forth Worth Critics Association and the Florida Film Critics Circle. Perhaps it would have done better without its sentimental opening and overwrought ending that should have ended with Lincolns walk to his Fords Theater carriage. Academy voters may check their Lincoln box by giving Daniel-Day Lewis Best Actor (a lock), and casting their Best Picture votes to the underdog.

Why It Could Win: "Lincoln" was the war horse that jumped out early and faded down the stretch. The film boasts the most Oscar nominations (12), the best box office showing and the most teachable moments. Such is the appeal of Spielberg. "Lincoln" is the closest thing to his sole Best Picture, "Schindler's List" (1993), and if Euclid holds true ("Things that are equal to the same thing are also equal to each other"), it could be the year of "Lincoln." Expect a photo finish, as Oscar voters made their picks throughout President Obama's re-election, Inauguration, Black History Month and Presidents Day.

Why It Won't Win: The film has faltered during award season, with its only Best Pictures coming from the Dallas-Forth Worth Critics Association and the Florida Film Critics Circle. Perhaps it would have done better without its sentimental opening and overwrought ending that should have ended with Lincoln's walk to his Ford's Theater carriage. Academy voters may check their "Lincoln" box by giving Daniel-Day Lewis Best Actor (a lock), and casting their Best Picture votes to the underdog.
Why It Will Win Argo is more than just a Benghazi zeitgeist film, its a classic celebration of how Hollywood imagination can shape world events. Thus, it captures our heads and our hearts. On the critic side, Argo has quietly held the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes (96) of any of the nominees. On the public side, its one of just three (Django, Life of Pi) to have an IMDB rating of at least 8.0. This crossover appeal is the same blend of artistic skill and popular entertainment that allowed Rocky to upset Network, Taxi Driver and All the Presidents Men (1976). Immediately after Ben Afflecks snubbing for Best Director, the hand of cinema fate has continually bent toward Argo, winning the top prize at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association and the WGA. Expect Argo to ride the Oscar tidal wave all the way to Best Picture, as the underdog Affleck has earned the right to take the stage and deliver his films trademark line Argo, fck yourself.

Why It Will Win: "Argo" is more than just a Benghazi zeitgeist film, it's a classic celebration of how Hollywood imagination can shape world events. Thus, it captures our heads and our hearts. On the critic side, "Argo" has quietly held the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes (96%) of any of the nominees. On the public side, it's one of just three ("Django," "Life of Pi") to have an IMDB rating of at least 8.0. This crossover appeal is the same blend of artistic skill and popular entertainment that allowed "Rocky" to upset "Network," "Taxi Driver" and "All the President's Men" (1976).

Immediately after Ben Affleck's snubbing for Best Director, the hand of cinema fate has continually bent toward "Argo," winning the top prize at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association and the WGA. Expect "Argo" to ride the Oscar tidal wave all the way to Best Picture, as the underdog Affleck has earned the right to take the stage and deliver his film's trademark line: "Argo, f*ck yourself."
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