This year, the Oscars will be a night of firsts.
Among other things, the 2013 slate features both the oldest and youngest females ever to be nominated for Best Actress.
And when Daniel-Day Lewis wins for his uncanny portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (believe me, this is a no-brainer), he'll become the first man ever to win Best Actor three times.
(Best Actress is a different story: Katharine Hepburn has a record four statues in that category.)
2013 also marks the first time a James Bond film has a shot at several major awards.
Though Mychael Danna will likely win for his score to "Life of Pi," I'm hoping the Oscar goes instead to "Skyfall's" Thomas Newman, who remains winless despite 11 nominations.
Likewise cameraman Roger Deakins, whose breathtaking "Skyfall" visuals cap a glorious 38-year career; he holds 10 nominations with no wins.
Speaking of 007: Oscar hopes to fete the spy who, as of last year, has enjoyed five decades of onscreen blockbusters; Adele will sing her "Skyfall" theme, and there's talk of bringing to the stage all six actors who've portrayed Bond since 1962 - though this effort may be hampered by the reclusive Sean Connery.
As for those actresses:
Eighty-five-year-old Emmanuelle Riva has been tapped for Michael Haneke's "Amour," and nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (that's pronounced kwa-VEN-juh-nay) is up for her spirited waif in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," a role she auditioned for at the age of five.
Riva took the British Academy Award (BAFTA) and Wallis has won universal raves - though my own vote would be Naomi Watts' shattering work in "The Impossible" (this amazing film still hasn't gotten the attention it deserves).
Yet despite all this, Best Actress will likely go to Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook."
Lawrence has already won 11 prizes for her excellent work in that equally excellent film - including the Golden Globe and the coveted Screen Actors Guild award.
"Playbook" is the first film since 1981's "Reds" to be nominated in all four acting categories; but I don't think the other three (Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, Robert De Niro) will take home an Oscar.
De Niro has a shot, but I say Best Supporting Actor will go to Tommy Lee Jones for "Lincoln."
Cooper, who is enjoying his first nomination, also will lose to "Lincoln," and Best Support Actress will go not to Weaver but to Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables."
Hathaway holds a slew of awards for "Les Mis" - plus, she managed two sensational performances last year; remember "Dark Knight Rises?"
Oh, you do? Well, Oscar apparently didn't.
Though it has a hefty 8.7 at Imdb.com and an 87 at rottentomatoes; though Entertainment Weekly readers named it their second-favorite 2012 movie (behind "Avengers"); and though it boasts a slew of fine performances and a dazzling climax - it got no attention from the Academy.
Not a single nomination.
This is fairly ironic, since the best-film slate was recently increased from five to ten specifically because 2008's "Dark Knight" didn't get nominated for Best Picture.
Worse yet, there was still an open slot this year, since only nine films got the nod.
Note to Oscar: Want to halt your ongoing slide in viewership? Try throwing in a crowd-pleaser like "DKR," "Flight" or "Skyfall" (which won the BAFTA for Best British film).
As for the other major awards:
I'm calling David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook") for both Best Director Best Adapted Screenplay - and Haneke's "Amour" for Best Original Screenplay.
And while Best Picture is always a tough call, "Argo" seems to be pulling away from the pack with its recent Golden Globe and BAFTA wins; it may pick up some extra votes protesting the absence of director Ben Affleck from this year's Oscar slate.
And as a final first, we have rookie host Seth McFarlane - perhaps a bit too brazen for this venue; if McFarlane isn't careful, this particular first could be a last.