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We've all followed the Oscars long enough to be realistic about what can and cannot happen. No matter how much you love Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, you know he'll lose to Daniel Day-Lewis. No matter how much you might love Scarlett Johansson's Oscar-nominated song from Chasing Ice, everyone knows she'll be steamrolled by Adele's "Skyfall."
But just because you're realistic doesn't mean you can't have dreams, especially for the movies you love that you're worried might be totally ignored by the Academy. So with just a few hours left to go before the year's glitziest awards show, we're making our last-minute pleas for our favorite nominees, why they deserve to win and why we're rooting for them despite the odds (well, except for Mack's pitch for Best Actress frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence). Check out our picks and let us know your own favorites in the comments.
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
by Eric Eisenberg
As a Quentin Tarantino fan and a realist, I know that Django Unchained has no real shot at winning best picture and it’s a crime that he didn’t get the nomination for Best Director, but for a filmmaker like Tarantino the Best Original Screenplay award is just as good as either. He is one of the best storytellers we have, and that’s something that needs to be celebrated at every occasion.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence
by Mack Rawden
There are two reasons why I hope Jennifer Lawrence wins. First, it would be nice to officially end any remaining sliver of debate as to who the best young actress in Hollywood is, and second, it would be wonderful for the Academy to recognize a performance from a film that goes out of its way to generate laughs. Jessica Chastain’s time will come, but this weekend, the right choice is Lawrence.
Best Animated Feature: ParaNorman
by Kelly West
I would absolutely love to see ParaNorman take the Animated Feature Film Oscar. An underdog tale with a horror-adventure twist, the film incorporates family, friendship, mortality and the struggles of being an outsider with an exciting supernatural adventure that's paced beautifully and delivers on all of the momentum it builds as we get to know young Norman, a boy who sees dead people and is tasked with saving his small town from the angry spirit of a persecuted witch. The story is funny, exciting and moving all at once, and it plays out with Laika's unique visual style, somehow managing to be both dark and colorful all at once. ParaNorman was one of last year's best films. It deserves an Oscar.
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?