2014 Oscars: Predicting the Academy Award nominations

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave

It’s that time of year again. We’re right in the midst of awards season and the nominations for the 2014 Oscars are set to be announced by Thor star Chris Hemsworth at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

And because it’s that time of year, I’m going to hop up on my soapbox and have a crack at predicting those nominations for the eight biggest awards.

Following some unexpected results at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, this is a far more open awards season than we have had for a few years, which makes this very difficult.

Note: All lists are in alphabetical order.


 

Best Picture

Inside Llewyn Davis is the latest effort from the Coen Brothers

Locks: 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska

Probable Fillers: Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Possible Spoilers: August: Osage County, The Butler, Rush, Saving Mr Banks

After the success of American Hustle at the Golden Globes and the disappointing performance of 12 Years A Slave, the Best Picture category is far more open than it seemed last week.

Whilst Steve McQueen’s drama looked a dead cert not long ago, it now faces stiff competition from the aforementioned American Hustle and the critically acclaimed and popular Gravity.

If I had to pick a winner… 12 Years A Slave
 

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón on the set of ambitious space movie Gravity

Locks: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)

Probable Fillers: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), David O Russell (American Hustle), Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

Possible Spoilers: Lee Daniels (The Butler), Spike Jonze (Her), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Before the Globes, I’d have given the edge to Steve McQueen here. However, given other awards and the immense technical achievements of Gravity, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see past Alfonso Cuarón.

If I had to pick a winner… Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
 

Best Actor

Tom Hanks appears in the lead role as Captain Richard Phillips

Locks: Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Probable Fillers: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Possible Spoilers: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Robert Redford (All Is Lost)

Arguably the two biggest shocks of the Golden Globes were the wins for Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey in the Best Actor categories at the expense of the more obvious Bruce Dern and Chiwetel Ejiofor respectively.

Despite the failure of 12 Years a Slave at the Globes, I think Academy voters will be more likely to back Ejiofor’s remarkable performance.

If I had to pick a winner… Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
 

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett stars in Woody Allen's dramedy Blue Jasmine

Locks: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena)

Probable Fillers: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Possible Spoilers: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks), Kate Winslet (Labor Day)

This is arguably the most packed category at the 2014 Oscars, packed with legends of acting who show that there are still amazing roles out there for older women.

In fact, the field is so full that the darling of the Academy, Meryl Streep, may even be edged out if voters choose to favour Emma Thompson for her grouchy performance in Saving Mr Banks.

In terms of a winner, it’s difficult to see past Cate Blanchett, who is hoovering up the gongs for her starring role in Woody Allen’s A Streetcar Named Desire homage Blue Jasmine.

If I had to pick a winner… Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
 

Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto plays a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club

Locks: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Probable Fillers: Daniel Brühl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

Possible Spoilers: James Gandolfini (Enough Said), Tom Hanks (Saving Mr Banks), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

This one is a two horse race between Jared Leto’s physical transformation in Dallas Buyers Club and the ferocious Michael Fassbender performance as slave trader Epps in 12 Years A Slave.

The other nominations are less easy to pick, with five or six performances capable of taking up the remaining three spots. A posthumous nod for James Gandolfini is far from impossible, but unlikely given the full category.

If I had to pick a winner… Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
 

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence steals American Hustle in her supporting role

Locks: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)

Probable Fillers: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Possible Spoilers: June Squibb (Nebraska)

Jennifer Lawrence is the darling of pretty much the entire world, and it’s very difficult to see past her picking up another statuette for her supporting role in David O Russell’s American Hustle.

Oprah Winfrey is around for her great performance in The Butler and Lupita Nyong’o is great in 12 Years A Slave, but this is another to chalk up to J-Law.

If I had to pick a winner… Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
 

Best Original Screenplay

Joaquin Phoenix stars in Spike Jonze's high concept romance Her

Locks: Joel & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), Spike Jonze (Her), Bob Nelson (Nebraska), David O Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)

Probable Fillers: Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)

Possible Spoilers: Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club), Alfonso and Jonas Cuarón (Gravity)

An interesting category, this one. Based on the Golden Globes and critical buzz, it will go to Spike Jonze for his techno-romance Her, but there are a few huge names in the mix that could easily steal it.

With no Quentin Tarantino around, the Original Screenplay field is always a lot more interesting and difficult to predict.

If I had to pick a winner… Spike Jonze (Her)
 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Leonardo DiCaprio in financial drama The Wolf of Wall Street

Locks: Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), John Ridley (12 Years A Slave), Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Probable Fillers: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena), Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater (Before Midnight)

Possible Spoilers: Tracy Letts (August: Osage County)

Not as strong as the Best Original Screenplay category, this one isn’t really a battle of genuinely exciting screenplays. In many cases, the films are far better than their original scripts.

It’ll probably be 12 Years A Slave though.

If I had to pick a winner… John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)

 

Do you agree with my predictions? Find out tomorrow when the nominations for the 2014 Oscars will be announced in full.

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