Who’s going to be showered in Oscar glory in 2013? Will Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln scrabble together enough votes to make history? Will romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook defy Academy Award tradition? Or will Ben Affleck’s Argo pull off victory?

With the clock ticking down to Sunday night’s ceremony, we’re going to predict the major winners, sorting out the dead certs and the close calls … and revealing the films and stars who would win if we had our way.

Best Film
Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

This year’s Best Film race has seen one candidate after another surge ahead and then fall back. First Steven Spielberg’s historical epic Lincoln was the front-runner, with Ben Affleck’s failure to win a Best Director nomination appearing to have scuppered Argo’s chances in the Best Film category too. Then Affleck and Argo gained momentum with big wins at the Golden Globes, Baftas and Hollywood guild awards. And now Silver Linings Playbook, with the might of producer Harvey Weinstein, behind it, is making a strong challenge. On the night, though, I expect Argo will just pip its rivals at the post.

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Will win: Argo
Should win: Amour
Who’s missing: The Master

Best Director
Michael Haneke – Amour
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Li – Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
David O Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

The absence of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow from the list of nominees means that Steven Spielberg is almost certain to take home his third Best Director Oscar, but spare a thought for Ang Li, whose immense achievement in bringing Yann Martel’s ‘unfilmable’ novel Life of Pi to the screen is likely to be overlooked.

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Will win: Steven Spielberg
Should win: Ang Li
Who’s missing: Kathryn Bigelow

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
Denzel Washington – Flight

As everyone knows, one nominee is so far ahead of the rest of the field that his rivals won’t even have been drafting acceptance speeches in their dreams. On Sunday night Daniel Day-Lewis will make Academy Award history by taking home his third Oscar for Best Actor.

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Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Who’s missing: Jean-Louis Trintignant

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts – The Impossible

This is a far harder category to call than its male equivalent. Emmanuelle Riva could also make Oscar history by winning the Best Actress award at the age of 86 (her birthday is on Sunday), but her film, Amour, deals unflinchingly with old age and death, subjects that Hollywood is traditionally reluctant to embrace. Jessica Chastain is a strong contender, but the controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty’s depiction of torture may hold her back. Which leaves Jennifer Lawrence, backed by cheerleader Harvey Weinstein, to claim the prize.

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Will win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva
Who’s missing: Marion Cotillard

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin – Argo
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

It’s only two years since Christoph Waltz waltzed home to Vienna with an Oscar for his performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Too soon, surely, for a second Oscar in a Tarantino film? Besides which, shouldn’t he have had a Best Actor nomination? He’ll have strong competition from Lincoln’s Tommy Lee Jones and Silver Linings Playbook’s Robert De Niro – and De Niro’s return to form after too many years of prime ham makes him a very strong contender – but my hunch is that Waltz will just squeak it.

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Will win: Christoph Waltz
Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Who’s missing: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – The Master
Sally Field – Lincoln
Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Those few minutes of screen time during which a bedraggled, shorn-haired Anne Hathaway belted out the SuBo ballad ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ in Les Misérables look certain to have bagged her an Oscar. Many people reckon Helen Hunt’s 1998 Oscar win for As Good As It Gets was a travesty. A win for her brave role in The Sessions would be far more deserving, but it’s a shame that Juno Temple’s even bolder performance in Killer Joe is out of the reckoning.

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Will win: Anne Hathaway
Should win: Helen Hunt
Who’s missing: Juno Temple