It's that time of year when Hollywood's prima donnas — male and female — prepare to throw their best tantrums when they find out they haven't been nominated for performances which the Oscar judges decided were too wooden, hammy or clichéd.
This year do not expect any one picture to dominate — not like in February 1998 when Titanic was nominated for 14 Oscars and walked off with 11 statuettes.
So who's in with a shout of the famous golden statuette and who is more likely to win a Golden Raspberry?
The early runners for Best Picture were Black Panther — the superhero movie with an all African or African-American cast which was seen as being iconoclastic — and BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee's controversial film about an African American who goes undercover in the Ku Klux Klan, which was nominated for the Bafta for Best Film this week.
But in recent weeks there has been a strong push behind Roma, an epic set in 1970s Mexico, directed by Alfonso Cuaron and shot entirely in black and white.
It would not be the first black and white winner of the modern era — The Artist won in 2012 — but it would be the first Oscar winner ever to be made by Netflix, who released it in selected cinemas before streaming it to ensure it would qualify.
The Golden Globe was won by Bohemian Rhapsody — a biopic of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury — while other contenders are A Star Is Born, a romantic musical starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and The Favourite, a period drama starring British actress Olivia Colman.
Last year's winner was The Shape of Water, a bizarre love story between a mute woman and a boiled egg-loving water monster.
Sputnik prediction — Black Panther
Best Actor in a Leading Role
This year the Best Actor award is anybody's guess, to be honest.
In the running are method actor Christian Bale, who plays George W. Bush's right-hand man Dick Cheney in Vice, and Bradley Cooper, as Jackson Maine, a fictional country singer opposite Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. Cooper also directed it and could pick up the Best Director bauble too.
— Variety (@Variety) 7 January 2019
Other contenders are Willem Dafoe, giving a superb rendition of Van Gogh in At Eternity's Gate, John David Washington — Denzel's son — in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, and 82-year-old Robert Redford, who plays real-life criminal and prison escape artist Forrest Tucker in The Old Man & The Gun.
But Rami Malek, who won the Golden Globe, is thought to have caught the eye of a lot of judges. Malek, an American whose parents are Egyptian, plays Freddie Mercury — born Farrokh Bulsara — the gay British lead singer with Queen, whose parents were Gujarati Zoroastrians from Zanzibar.
Sputnik prediction — Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Best Actress in a Leading Role
The heart will rule the head for the members of the Academy with this award.
Glenn Close, who will turn 72 a few weeks after the ceremony, has been nominated more times than any other actress — six — without winning the coveted top prize.
This time she is nominated for role as Joan Castleman, the long-suffering spouse of a Nobel-winning author, in The Wife, which actually came out in 2017.
Close will have to go all out to beat her phenomenal speech at the Golden Globes, which was praised by feminists in particular.
— Gold Derby (@GoldDerby) 10 January 2019
"We have our children, we have our husbands if we're lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, 'I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that," she said.
Other contenders will be Olivia Colman, who produces a bravura performance as Queen Anne in The Favourite, pop star Lady Gaga, who acts her chops off in A Star Is Born, and Viola Davis, who plays the steely spouse of big-time thief Liam Neeson, in Widows.
Sputnik prediction — Glenn Close
Best Supporting Actor
Sputnik prediction — Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Best Supporting Actress
Sputnik prediction — Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Best Foreign Language Film
It is a great shame that the Oscar for Best Picture is always won by an English-language film, because the rest of the world makes some fantastic films in their native tongues.
So they have to make do with the ghetto which is the Best Foreign Language Film award, which last year was won by A Fantastic Woman, from Chile.
Among the 87 contenders for a nomination this year could be Sobibor, a Russian film which tells the in turns fascinating and terrifying story of an uprising at the eponymous extermination camp in 1943.
The uprising was led by Soviet officer Aleksander Pechersky but Konstantin Khabensky's film has been criticised by some because of its horrific gas chamber scenes, which he has doggedly defended.
From South Africa comes Sew The Winter To My Skin, a beautifully shot film set in the desolate Great Karoo region in the 1950s, when rebel John Kepe — a Robin Hood figure — terrorises local white farmers.
Poland's entry, Cold War, did good business on the European and North American arthouse scene. It is a love story between two people set in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris during a time of heightened tension between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries. Pawel Pawlikowski won the Best Director prize for it at the Cannes Film Festival.
Argentina is the powerhouse of South American cinema and last won this category in 2010 with The Secrets In Their Eyes, which was later remade — badly — by Hollywood. The Angel is a "based on a true story" tale about 1970s serial killer Carlos Robledo Puch, who was nicknamed The Angel of Death.
Japan last won this category in 2008 with Departures and it has a very strong entry this year in Shoplifters.
The family, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, tells the story of a dysfunctional family of kleptomaniacs in modern-day Tokyo.
"I wanted to continue with the theme I explored in Like Father, Like Son — what is it that ties families together? Is it blood or the time you spend together?" director Hirokazu Kore-eda told Screen Daily, when asked about what he was trying to explore with the film's themes.
Sputnik prediction — Cold War (Poland)
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