It's almost hard to believe, but with the conclusion of Sunday's Academy Awards, this year's awards race is now officially over -- and the race to the 2013 Oscars has officially begin.
While it's obviously premature to guess who will be walking up to the podium next year to accept their golden man, we figured you'd like an idea of the likely contenders. If these films we've assembled as our early (way early) 2013 Oscar predictions are anything to go by, next year's race promises to be a solid one. Bring them on!
Argo (aka the movie responsible for Ben Affleck getting the Bieber cut)
While his acting career has yet to peak (lol ouch), Ben Affleck's directorial career is flourishing. His last two films, "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," were critical darlings that each garnered Academy Award nominations, so expectations are riding high on his next one, "Argo," to deliver. The true story chronicles the covert operation to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Bryan Cranston)
Academy members are suckers for a good period romp with stellar source material, so they'll no doubt lap up this epic adaptation of the historically acclaimed novel. It also helps that the film's helmed by Oscar-nominated director Joe Wright ("Atonement"), and that he cast his muse, Keira Knightley (an Oscar nominee herself) as the doomed heroine.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Knightley), Best Supporting Actor (Jude Law)
After misfiring with the critically panned "Cars 2," Pixar looks to be back on track with "Brave," a sure-to-be stirring tale about a Scottish princess who sets out to undo a curse that could ruin her kingdom. If the trailer is anything to go by, this will be the animated film to beat come Oscars time.
Possible Nominations: Best Animated Feature
While Andrew Dominik's last film, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," didn't draw a crowd, it was a hit with the Academy, garnering two Academy Award nominations. His latest reunites the director with "Jesse James" star Brad Pitt for a crime story about a professional enforcer (Pitt) hired to investigate a mysterious heist. It sounds grim, but the talent behind the project is stellar.
Possible Nominations: Best Actor (Pitt) (still pressed that Casey Affleck had to drop out of this)
The Dark Knight Rises
Fans cried foul when "The Dark Knight" wasn't nominated for Best Pictures despite critical approval, so chances are the Academy won't turn a blind eye this time around. With Christopher Nolan at the helm and all the regular players back, this final installment of the new Batman trilogy is destined to thrill. How can the Academy ignore Nolan & Co. this time around?
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Hardy)
Quentin Tarantino has never been one to play it safe, and his latest, "Django Unchained," has the promise to be his most controversial work yet. Despite the Academy's aversion to controversy, it's been welcoming to Tarantino's films in the past, so chances are they'll embrace his new thriller. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx plays the titular hero who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Foxx), Best Supporting Actor (DiCaprio)
'The Gangster Squad'
An Oscar contender from the director of "Zombieland"? By the looks of "The Gangster Squad," it seems likely. The proof lies in the casting. Director Ruben Fleischer has assembled one of the best ensembles in recent memory for his period crime picture. Among the cast members along for the ride: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Josh Brolin and Giovanni Ribisi. The star power alone will no doubt impress.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone)
'Gravity' (couldn't find an image for this movie so here's creeper George Clooney instead)
Sci-fi is a genre the Academy usually ignores, but with Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") at the helm and a cast fronted by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, chances are the Academy will go against the grain this time around. "Gravity" stars Bullock as the lone survivor of a space mission gone wrong, who tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter.
Possible Nominations: Best Director, Best Actress (Bullock)
'The Great Gatsby'
Although Baz Luhrmann's last epic endeavor, "Australia," flopped, don't count the Australian auteur out of next year's race. If anyone's poised to do great things with a 3-D rethinking of "The Great Gatsby," Luhrmann's the guy. The director's grandiose style is perfectly suited to the classic tale, and so is the cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Actress (Mulligan), Best Supporting Actor (Maguire)
'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
The Academy has rewarded each of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films with Best Picture nominations, and by the looks of this prequel, history will likely repeat itself. With Jackson back at the helm and Ian McKellen returning as Gandalf, "The Hobbit" is poised to do killer business and reap a slew of nominations.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (McKellen)
'Kill Bin Laden'
Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow follows up "The Hurt Locker" with another war film, this one about the hunt for Osama bin Laden -- talk about a match made in war-movie heaven. Couple that with the cast Bigelow has assembled (Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton and Kyle Chandler), and "Kill Bin Laden" has the makings of a real contender.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay
Let's face it, folks. If "Les Miserables" is any good, it's the film to beat next year. For starters, it's a film adaptation of one of the most beloved musicals of all time. Did we mention it's directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech"), stars two Oscar hosts (Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman), and features Oscar winner Russell Crowe belting his heart out?
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Crowe), Best Actor (Jackman), Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway)
'Life of Pi'
Director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain") has long been a favorite among Academy voters, so look for his latest, an adaptation of the beloved best seller "Life of Pi," to earn a lot of recognition. The film's an ambitious one for Lee; it concerns an Indian zookeeper's son who finds himself stranded at sea with a group of zoo animals. If Lee pulls this off, "The Life of Pi" will be something truly special.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director
It's a well-known fact that when Steven Spielberg goes period on the Academy, he's rewarded with a nomination. His "Lincoln," which chronicles the life of our sixteenth president, will no doubt hit a soft spot with voters. And in Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Spielberg couldn't have chosen a better actor to bring the icon to life.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field)
Anything from the mind of Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood") is bound to be great, so expect to hear a lot more about "The Master" as its release date nears. Anderson has assembled another great ensemble (Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Laura Dern) for a 1950s-set drama about an enigmatic cult leader. One thing's for sure -- Anderson knows how to stir the pot.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Adams)
'The Silver Linings Playbook'
Bad-boy director David O. Russell follows up his Oscar-winning crowd-pleaser "The Fighter" with something altogether different – a drama about a teacher (Bradley Cooper) with a troubled past who moves back in with his mother. Russell knows his way around actors ("The Fighter" netted Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor Oscars), so we can't wait to see what he wrings out of his new ensemble. Along for the ride with Cooper are Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Tucker.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Cooper)
If Sundance buzz is anything to go by, then expect to see "The Surrogate" on the nominees list come next year. The moving drama stars Oscar nominee John Hawkes as a disabled man who hires a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity. The film premiered in Park City to rave reviews, with many critics saying it could be the indie to beat.
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Hawkes), Best Actress (Hunt)
'Trouble With the Curve'
The last time Clint Eastwood acted in a film he didn't direct was way back in 1989's "Pink Cadillac." The legend's got nothing left to prove, so he must have good reason for signing up to act opposite Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake in "Trouble with the Curve," a drama by first-time feature director Robert Lorenz. Eastwood stars an as an ailing baseball scout who takes his daughter (Adams) along for one last recruiting trip. How can the Academy resist?
Possible Nominations: Best Actor (Eastwood), Best Supporting Actress (Adams)