Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Skyfall
by Kristy Puchko
Deakins is an institution in Hollywood. Not only has he served as the cinematographer for such gorgeously captured movies as The Shawshank Redemption, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and True Grit, he also has been at the forefront of cinema's transition to digital. Deakins has been nominated for the Oscar an astounding ten times, including two dueling nods in 2008 for No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He has deserved a win in this category for decades now, and I'm hoping the Academy will look past their James Bond bias and give him his due—at long last!—for Skyfall.
Best Picture and Director: Beasts of the Southern Wild
by Sean O'Connell
I desperately want to Beasts of the Southern Wild take home the Oscars for Best Picture and Director, or two reasons. First, it's a magical, lyrical movie-going experience with a distinctive voice and a courageous lack of traditional structure, and Zeitlin's command over his unruly narrative should be recognized. Secondly, the Academy Awards race has become a teetering Jenga tower made up of pre-Oscar indicators that all but determine which film will prevail on Oscar eve. A win by a reported underdog like Beast would serve as a swift kick to the lazy establishment, and have the industry scrambling to pick up the pieces and figure out what went so right. It won't happen, but one can dream.
Best Costume Design: Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
by Katey Rich
One of my favorite movies of the year, Anna Karenina, is poised to win the Best Costume Design Oscar, but I have to admit I'm secretly rooting for Mirror Mirror. This gorgeous and wild fairy tale directed by Tarsem featured some of the strangest, most beautiful and inventive costumes imaginable, all from the brain of the sadly departed Eiko Ishioka. How amazing would it be not to just see a posthumous win, but for the most colorful and out-there costumes of the year to triumph for once?