With the Academy Awards set to take place Sunday, we are rolling out predictions all week long and naming the films, actors, directors and writers most likely to win in eight major categories. This post tackles best picture.

Video by Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post

Is it even premature at this point to say that “The Artist” is going to win the Academy Award for best picture? Given the massive amount of momentum behind the black-and-white ode to silent cinematic joy, it seems less like a preemptive statement and more like a foregone conclusion.

Still, let’s consider the nine films in this year’s best picture race and figure out if any one of the other eight even has a shot at this. Post film critic Ann Hornaday attempts to make that determination during this installment in our video series (see below); after the clip, I offer a look at the film that will win, the one that should win and the movies that could have been nominated in this category but somehow, weren’t.

More predictions:

Best director

Best actor and actress

Best adapted and original screenplay

Best picture

The nominees are:

“The Artist”

“The Descendants”

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

“The Help”


“Midnight in Paris”


“The Tree of Life”

“War Horse”

What will win: Despite “The Artist’s” seeming lock on victory, arguments have been made that other movies may prevail.If one uses searches on Yahoo as a deciding factor, “War Horse” — the most searched-for movie on that Web site — will be named best picture.

It’s also possible that with nine movies, votes could be split enough to allow something less expected to surge. “Hugo” is a possibility. As Tim Gordon, my colleague from WETA’s “Around Town,” implied during a recent conversation we had, “The Help” is a possibility, too. A win for a civil rights era movie that made well over $100 million at the box office — that strikes me as a viable surprise.

But with all that said, I am still choosing “The Artist” because, given how much it’s charmed Hollywood, it seems like the most bankable guess.

What should win: I liked “The Artist” very much, so I am totally fine with it winning. But I’d also like to see “Hugo” — the film I chose as the best of 2011 — win. Of the two key movies that celebrate the history of cinema, I felt like “Hugo” explored that territory on a somewhat deeper level, demonstrating how movies create connective tissue between generations.

What should have been nominated but wasn’t: Even with nine nominees, a few worthwhile films were omitted from the race. Some of the key oversights: “Drive,” “50/50” and, yes, “The Muppets.”