Although I disagree with Cutter on Skyfall (Bond has come a long way but its still just an action movie), he's right about the politics.
The Academy is made up of thousands of people who produce and work on all the movies that are voted on. Add to that the massive amounts of money people like Weinstein throw around to support their favorite picture during the awards show run up and you have a fully functional government and lobbyists.
So this year they played it safe, everyone got a nod in their "place". Haneke made a great film and he's foreign so that's a slam dunk. Quentin is obviously writing. Lincoln was the Day Lewis show, here you go best actor. Argo was on a winning streak so they let it take best picture. Same with Hathaway, she gets to represent Miserables.
Okay, what do we have left? Well Ang already has a best picture so we'll just give him director this year. SLP needs something...um how about best actress why not? Of course its not as deliberate as that but that's the mass action effect.
Really the only pictures that didn't get much love were Beasts of the Southern Wild, a first try from everyone involved, and Zero Dark Thirty which was good but IMO not as remarkable as the others.
Actually all the movies in the spotlight this year were pretty great. Last year was awful. If ever there was a year to spread the love around, this was it. (I missed SLP and Beasts).