Predictably, awards season begins with almost every major category either being characterized as too competitive or more wide open then you could possibly imagine.  The 2012 best supporting actor field is somehow an intriguing mix of both (at the moment).

On the one hand, there seem to be surefire bets such as Alan Arkin's entertaining turn in "Argo," Philip Seymour Hoffman's monstrous work in "The Master" and Tommy Lee Jones' acclaimed turn in "Lincoln."  If you are to take those three as expected locks -- for argument's sake, of course -- that leaves two slots open and here's where the fun begins.  The competition for these final honorees may actually be more competitive than the battle for swing states on Nov. 6.  With that in mind, HitFix's awards experts have run down these year's diverse field providing the pros and cons for each possible contender.

To find out who stand where and why, click on the embedded gallery story below. 

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