Has it come to this? Has the race for best picture become - gasp - anticlimactic? Will "Argo" really defy history and become on the fourth film ever to win best picture without a director nomination?  According to all my peers and, um, myself that appears to be the case.

Overall, it's been a more chaotic season than I anticipated.  "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" were the frontrunners out of Toronto until "Lincoln" created a firestorm of buzz at the end of October and early November. Fast forward a few weeks and "Les Miserables" was mistakenly seen as a real frontrunner for about 48 hours before "Thirty" screened.  Unfortunately, politics crashed the party and "Thirty" has been sadly behind the eight-ball ever since.  "Life of Pi," on the other hand, has been the season's slow burner.  A true player that the media is guilty of not taking seriously enough as a best picture contender.  Of course, who knows what would have happened if Tarantino finished "Django Unchained" three or four weeks early.  Or, perhaps we've all been fooled and "Lincoln," "Playbook" or "Pi" will surprise on Sunday night.  

Nah.

Instead, the category fireworks have been left for the best director (Ang Lee vs. Steven Spielberg vs. David O. Russell), best actress (Jennifer Lawrence vs. Emmanuelle Riva) and, most intriguingly, best supporting actor races.  The last time an acting category was this up in the air was probably back in 2003 when Chris Cooper won the same category over Paul Newman, Ed Harris and Christopher Walken.  This time around we have cranky ol' Tommy Lee Jones (who did no favors for himself at the Golden Globes and by missing the SAG Awards), Robert De Niro (easily deserving of the three-winner club) and Christoph Waltz (a movie, er, scene stealer in any language).  Former Oscar winners Alan Arkin and Philip Seymour Hoffman are arguably more deserving than the frontrunners. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Jones wins only to drop the Oscar on stage and walk off without an acceptance speech.  Dare to dream.

With ballots due today, this is the final Contender Countdown for this awards season.  As a bonus, I've included my current picks for all the categories although my final picks won't be until Thursday night.  In the meantime, some picks to get you excited for your Oscar office pool...

Feb. 19, 2013

Best Picture
1. "Argo"
2. "Lincoln"
3. "Life of Pi"
4. "Silver Linings Playbook"
5. "Zero Dark Thirty"
6. "Les Miserables"
7. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
8. "Django Unchained"
9. "Amour"

Best Director
Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"

Best Supporting Actor
Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Chris Terrio, "Argo"

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"

Best Cinematography
Claudio Miranda, "Life of Pi"

Best Costume Design
Jacqueline Durran, "Anna Karenina"

Best Film Editing
William Goldberg, "Argo"

Best Makeup

Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Best Music (Original Score)
Mychael Danna, "Life o Pi"

Best Music (Original Song)
Adele, Paul Epworth, "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"

Best Production Design
David Gropman, Anna Pinnock"Life of Pi"

Best Sound Mixing
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, and Simon Hayes, "Les Miserables"

Best Sound Editing
Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers, "Skyfall"

Best Visual Effects
"Life of Pi"

Best Foreign Language Film
Michael Haneke, "Amour"

Best Animated Feature Film
"Wreck-It-Ralph"

Best Documentary Feature
"Searching for Sugar Man"

Best Documentary Short
"Mondays at Racine"

Best Short Film (Animated)
"Paperman"

Best Short Film (Live Action)
"Buzkashi Boys"

Who do you think is gonna win it all this year? Share your thoughts below.