There are two predominant modes of thinking about tonight's awards: the Avatar sweep vs. the spread-out awards result. I am going with the latter--if all my other predictions (see below) were all correct, then Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up, Crazy Hearts, and Inglourious Basterds (sp) would each have two awards going into the final one (all but C.H. being nominated for it), which would then be decisive for the night's big victor. Under slightly different scenarios, Up in the Air or Young Victoria could also meet that level, or, more likely, but still in the spread-out mode, H.L. or "The Big Av. (3-D)" could have three or four going into the climax).
For me, the key indicators through the evening will be for Art Direction and Film Editing. In the first case, a win by Avatar would indicate a likely big evening for it, while film editing will be a head-to-head between Hurt Locker and Avatar in a category very central to the relative perceived merits of the two. Best Director could also be an indicator (Cameron winning would indicate major sweep tendencies), but I think Bigelow has become the probable winner.
I feel that Oscar prediction is a field in which it is possible for me to have success analyzing possible outcomes ahead of time, qualified by the uncertainty some areas have (in that sense, different from betting on the point spread of football). I've had some success in the past, but I'll readily admit this year's uncertainty level is relatively high.
Here are my final predictions (followed by preferred choice among nominees, if different), and a certainty level from 1 to 10 (1 being no real clue and 10 being absolute certainty):
Best Actor--Jeff Bridges (George Clooney) - 8
Best Actress--Sandra Bullock (Meryl Streep) - 6
Supporting Actor--Christoph Waltz - 9
Supporting Actress--Mo'Nique (Anna Kendrick) - 8
Best Director--Kathryn Bigelow - 7
Animated Film--Up (The Fantastic Mr. Fox) - 8
Art Direction--Sherlock Holmes - 6
Cinematography--Hurt Locker - 5
Costume Design--Young Victoria - 8
Best Documentary -- The Cove - 9
Documentary Short--China's Unnatural Disaster - 4
Foreign Language--A Prophet - 5
Visual Effects--Avatar - 10
Adapted Screenplay--Up in the Air - 7
Original Screenplay--Inglourious Basterds (The Messenger) - 6
Film Editing--Avatar - 6
Makeup --Star Trek - 5
Original Score -- Up - 8
Original Song --Crazy Hearts - 9
BEST PICTURE -- HURT LOCKER (UP IN THE AIR) - 7