I wouldn't be doing these if there wasn't something big, like a change in the race. Yet, there is.
1. Jessica Chastain for 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Oscars have a tough relationship with relevancy. 'The Hurt Locker' was relevant to the time, and it won. 'The Social Network' was REALLY relevant, yet it lost. I think the Academy will side with relevancy this time, and give the prize to Chassy, because it is so challenging. Also, some Oscars voters assumedly watch 'Homeland', with Carrie Mathison having striking parallels to Jessica's character.
2. Jennifer Lawrence for 'Silver Linings Playbook'
As this film's chances are failing, so is the film's heavyweight. Jennifer Lawrence is too young of a best actress contender to win, judging from the fact that the Academy is 70% white old male. Emphasis on the OLD.
3. Quevenzhane Wallis for 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'
A select few love this independent film, and they will easily vote for the 6-year old Wallis. I don't intend to sound like a internet dweeb, but younger hipsters eat this film up, and Wallis with it. Also, Wallis has been doing some nice publicity for the film, but no SAG really hurts.
4. Emanuelle Riva for 'Amour'
Since this foreign film is predicted to win, and even be a Best Picture nominee, Emanuelle Riva is going to ride along with it. Since the Academy is 70% old white males, they will easily vote for Riva's performance that will hit close to home. Also, since there will most likely be room for one french performance, it will be Riva's, not Cotillard's difficult portrayal of an amputee.
5. Naomi Watts for 'The Impossible'
'The Impossible' is a film with growing momentum, with big sponsorship by Angelina Jolie. With this added boost, Watts will probably be nominated, kicking out Cotillard in the nominee spot.