Usually my annual binge of Oscar-predicting—which includes being wrong at least a third of the time—is preceded by a period of dull confidence, during which it seems like the winners in most categories have already more or less been decided. This year, though, the Academy seems to have embraced, or at least shaken hands with, a wider spectrum of movies than it usually does. In recent years, with the Best Picture nominees expanded beyond the usual five, several movies (even sometimes the best ones in competition) inevitably felt like seat-fillers while voters coalesced around easy and disappointing choices like The King's Speech
. This year, it's easier for me to picture fierce partisans of all nine major nominees—and even better, none of them represents an Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
embarrassment. This makes my predictions enjoyably difficult; it even sort of makes my usual bitching about who got left out and what does the Academy know anyway a little trickier. Nonetheless, I encourage you all to bet everything you own on my pick in every category and see every single movie I mention as being missing from the proceedings.