Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader

Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Entertainment, Fox Searchlight, The Weinstein Company

Forget the guild awards. Forget the favorites. We're rounding up the theories—and starting some new ones—that say everything you think about Sunday's 81st Academy Awards is wrong.

Sorry about that in advance.

Why Slumdog Millionaire Won't Win Best Picture: It's 1999 again, Slumdog is Saving Private Ryan, The Reader is a Nazied-up Shakespeare in Love, and Harvey Weinstein is Harvey Weinsten.

Why Heath Ledger Won't Win Best Supporting Actor: Doubt is an actor's-actor movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman is an actor's actor, and actors cast the majority of votes.

Why Kate Winslet Won't Win Best Actress: Same as above, except insert Meryl Streep's name in place of Hoffman's. Or, alternately, it's 1994 again, Winslet is Ralph Fiennes, and Streep is Tommy Lee Jones, saving the Academy from presenting an award to a Holocaust heavy.

Why Sean Penn Won't Win Best Actor: Mickey Rourke is Robert De Niro; The Wrestler is his Raging Bull.

Why Mickey Rourke Won't Win Best Actor: Harvey Milk is Harvey Milk; Milk is his tribute; Sean Penn benefits by association.

Why Danny Boyle Won't Win Best Director: The DGA Award-Oscar connection has been less automatic this decade (diverging two out of nine times, to date) than any other decade outside of the DGA's beginnings in the 1940s. Plus, people think David Fincher is cool. 

Why Penélope Cruz Won't Win Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams has the bigger part and just might be gaining, while a noted election prognosticator's computer told him Taraji P. Henson has the best statistical chance.

Why WALL-E Won't Win Best Animated Feature: It's the Annie Awards again, and Kung-Fu Panda is the surprise victor again.

Why Slumdog Won't Win Adapted Screenplay: Hmmm…that's a stumper.

Why Milk Won't Win Original Screenplay: An even bigger stumper. The other nominees in this category (WALL-E, Happy-Go-Lucky, Frozen River, In Bruges) failed to muster enough support for Writers Guild nominations.

Why The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Won't Win Best Visual Effects: Ditto what was said about the last two categories. Sometimes, a lock is a lock, and a CGI Brad Pitt is unbeatable.

Why Slumdog Won't Win Best Sound Mixing: The sweep is out; The Dark Knight, at least one oddsmaker's favorite in this category, is in; a measure of revenge is exacted.

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