For a majority of the season, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain had the inside track for Best Actress, but along the way 86 year old Riva upset both actresses at the BAFTAs. Her strong performance may connect with a majority of the voting body that thinks Lawrence hasn't paid her dues and Chastain has many nominations in front of her.
Wreck-It Ralph is the hip choice right now, it has swept its respective category for the last several awards, but these two animated features have their own passionate fanbases. Tim Burton has never won an Oscar over his long career and maybe that changes Sunday evening. Either way, Disney will win its first Animated Feature Oscar for the first time since the category's inception.
Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio (Argo) and Tony Kushner (Lincoln) are the front-runners for the Oscar, but Academy voters have a history of giving awards to films as compensation for losing bigger contests. David O. Russell has a lot of competition for Best Director, but conceivably he could come home with the adapted screenplay award.
Ben Affleck's snub opened the field up for a while and if Steven Spielberg doesn't capitalize on the moment, Lee seems most suited to take home the trophy. Life of Pi has no acting nominees, but nearly all voters acknowledge the technical prowess Lee exercised while making the film.
Mr. Phoenix may not personally be keeping his fingers crossed, but current guarantee Daniel Day-Lewis name-checked the actor for his work in The Master when accepting one of his awards. Is a groundswell starting for the recently retired Phoenix? Day-Lewis has won Lead Actor twice previously so his win is a lock, yet a surprise here would be almost unprecedented.