The Unique Wins
What are the unique wins? In my mind these are somewhat anomalies, and while they may make sense during the year or in hind sight, there is something truly unique about their wins.
2002-Talk to Her (Hable Con Ella)-Foreign films rarely get a win in major categories outside of Best Foreign Language Film in the "major" categories. Pedro Almodovar had another nomination in Best Director, but the film was not nominated in the Foreign Language film category. On the other hand you had 10 time nominee Gangs of New York, the popular Nia Vardalos for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and a multiple nominee Far from Heaven.
2004-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-This could be seen as a consolation prize, but this was a two time nominee with only a nomination for this and Kate Winslet. Sunshine was up against more typical films like The Aviator, Hotel Rwanda, The Incredibles, and even Vera Drake. Sunshine's win was somewhat expected in the sense that the film was very respected, but the film does not fit the norm.
2008-Milk-This was not a consolation prize, Penn won Actor (although people may not have known this was going to happen), but rarely does a bio-pic on this level win within this category.
Best Picture Sweep
The Best Picture and Original Screenplay have only lined up 15 times in Oscars history, which does not bode well for the winners in this category, unless you are a massive Oscar favorite in the Best Picture category.
2005-Crash-At the time of the ceremony I saw this win as a consolation prize, but this ended up going along with the sweep. It was easy to predict this win, but this one of those rare times when it predicted Best Picture.
2009-The Hurt Locker-The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar in Best Picture, on awards night The Hurt Locker won more than was expected, and this was a surprise as well. My thought and many other people predicted Inglorious Basterds would win this as a consolation prize.
2010-The King's Speech-Like Hurt Locker this was one of those wins that was fierce battle, and it's competition was Inception. Speech was not qualified for the WGA, but won at the BFCA, and BAFTA. With few wins Speech needed this the way Argo needs adapted screenplay to help amass more wins.
The Consolation Prize (I Have to Win Somewhere)
Statistically this is where most of the winners fit. All of the films (except Almost Famous) were nominated for Best Picture, and a few other awards, but this was the only win, which made sense.
2000-Almost Famous was snubbed in the Best Picture category the Miramax machine's Chocolat. Almost Famous only received four nominations, but was a respected film from from Jerry Maguire nominee Cameron Crowe; he won to give the film some attention.
2001-Gosford Park-Park had lots of stiff competition from Memento, and The Royal Tenenbaums, but Park was the most "Oscar bait" film. Park made the most sense as a winner, and it was the only Best Picture nominee.
2003-Lost in Translation, 2006-Little Miss Sunshine, 2007-Juno-All three of these films fit within the quirky comedy category. Translation had the Copola name, and was solid. Sunshine and Juno had heart mixed with quirk, which could never be taken seriously anywhere else. While Arkin won for Sunshine that was not expected at all.
2011-Midnight in Paris-Midnight in Paris was another great Woody film, which never had a shot at Best Picture, but was one of the most respected films of the year.
So who wins this year....And the Nominees Are....
Django Unchained-Quentin Tarantino
Moonrise Kingdom-Wes Anderson, and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty-Mark Boal
Moonrise Kingdom and Flight, only have one, and two nominations respectively, they are out. This is one of the tougher races to predict. Django has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and BFCA, which gives it the best odds. Django has a lot of respect, but why the Academy would honor one of the weakest screenplays is beyond me. Zero Dark Thirty won the WGA, but Django was ineligible. The difference between 2009 and this year is that Django has the edge because in 2009 Hurt Locker won all the awards Django won. Yet can Amour pull off that unique foreign language film win, it has five other nominations. At the moment my winner prediction is Django, but this may change.
Will Win: Django Unchained
Spoilers: Amour then Zero Dark Thirty