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Picking the other Oscars

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Heath Ledger is going to win. So is Slumdog Millionaire, and so is Penelope Cruz, and so is Kate Winslet, and so is WALL-E. Rarely has there been less drama at the top of the Academy Awards ballot (or less quality, but that’s another story entirely).

But if you’re one of those who attend an Oscars party, or otherwise attempts to forecast the winners, you might be a bit less certain about obscure technical and shorts categories. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

Editing: Over the past 20 years, it’s been about a 50/50 shot that the winner in this category would synch up with the Best Picture winner. Otherwise, showy action (The Matrix, Black Hawk Down, The Bourne Ultimatum) tends to take the day. The Dark Knight could sneak in here, but Slumdog is a Best Picture favorite that also happens to be kinetically chopped together. Take Slumdog.

Costume Design: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of those odd multi-nominated films that nobody actually seems to love all that much. But multi-nominated films usually get thrown a bone, and with a story that spans decades’ worth of clothing styles, this seems as likely a place as any for Button’s token trophy.

Animated Short: Pixar’s gonna get its gold in the Animated Feature category; don’t expect Presto to make it a sweep. The haunting hand-drawn French entry La Maison en Petit Cubes not only looks lovely, but adds an emotional quality that will appeal to serious awards voters more than Presto’s gleeful anarchy.

Sound Editing/Sound Mixing: I follow these awards every year, and I still couldn’t tell you the difference between the two without a cheat sheet.

They’re also two of the least predictable categories, unless there’s a musical in Sound Mixing. The two awards also go to the same film less than half the time. Try Dark Knight for Editing, Slumdog for Mixing.

Hey, it beats flipping a coin.

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