Well, folks, the time has finally come. I’ve been covering this year’s awards season since last fall when we launched our awards column Oscar Beat, and after running through the ups and downs of the season thus far, it’s now time to predict which films, performances, screenplays, and other cinematic achievements from 2013 the Academy will choose to single out. I feel very confident about some of my choices while others feel like more of a crapshoot. One thing’s for sure: this has been quite an interesting season thus far, and there’s still no consensus with regards to some of the big winners.
Hit the jump as I take a stab at predicting the 2014 Oscar nominees. The nominations will be announced at 5:30am PST on January 16th.
*Nomination predictions are listed in order of likelihood.
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Saving Mr. Banks
Dallas Buyers Club
Alternates: Philomena, Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn Davis
As I’ve been saying for months, this year’s Best Picture race is incredibly competitive. 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle are all virtual locks and Captain Phillipsand Nebraska remain very safe bets, but the remaining candidates are tough to suss out. The Wolf of Wall Street has plenty of detractors, but it also has a passionate base so I think it gets in. Despite mediocre reviews and iffy thematic suggestions with regards to artistic integrity, Saving Mr. Banks plays into the “Hollywood patting itself on the back” contingent, so I think it gets in as well. Dallas Buyers Club has been a surprisingly strong candidate in the recent guild groups, so it has a very solid shot at landing a nomination.
The Academy’s recent habit of singling out at least one “artsy” nominee (Amour, Tree of Life, Beasts of the Southern Wild) leads me to believe that Her will land a nomination, but there are some other strong candidates vying for a slot. Philomenahas been playing extremely well to the Academy’s older voters, and though Blue Jasminehasn’t garnered the same enthusiasm that Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, it does have fairly strong support. Once considered a shoo-in for a nomination, Inside Llewyn Davis now feels like a dark horse candidate at best when you consider it was passed over by every single guild awards group. There’s also the outside chance that Lee Daniels’ The Butler could enjoy a last minute surge, but The Weinstein Company seems much more focused on Philomena at this point, so I think that film has the best shot among TWC’s candidates.
Though the rules state that there can be anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees for Best Picture, statistically speaking the Academy’s voting system makes it nearly impossible for that number to reach 10. This year, I could see either 8 or 9 nominees making the cut, and I’m just going with my gut by predicting 9.
Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell – American Hustle
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze – Her
Alternates: Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club)
Here’s another incredibly tough race. One could say Cuaron, McQueen, and Russell are all but guaranteed to land Best Director nominations, but that’s what everyone said about Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year. However, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are such director-driven projects that I don’t see how Cuaron and McQueen don’t make the cut, and Russell found favor with the Academy for The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook so he feels like a safe bet as well. The final two slots are less certain, but Captain Phillips is a film that almost everyone admires and no one hates (the directing ain’t bad either), so I think Greengrass makes the cut.
Though Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese both have very strong shots at landing nominations, the Academy’s recent tendency to recognize more offbeat filmmakers (Michael Haneke for Amour, Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild) makes me think that Spike Jonze will land his second Best Director Oscar nomination for the brilliant Her. However, I could also see a scenario in which Her gets a Best Picture nod without Best Director or vice versa.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Alternates: Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Christian Bale (American Hustle), Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)
This is one of the hardest categories to predict this year, even though four of these five have been the frontrunners to land nominations for months. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Bruce Dern seem to be the safest bets, while any one of the others could be supplanted with a number of alternates. Leonardo DiCaprio gives quite possibly the best performance of his career in The Wolf of Wall Street, but the film has come under intense fire in recent weeks. Christian Bale runs into a different problem with American Hustle, in that everyone seems to enjoy the film but you could line up five random viewers and they’d leave the film with five different opinions on who gave the best performance. It’s a true ensemble piece, and it’s tough to draw a consensus around who’s giving a good performance and who’s a little off, which could work against Bale.
Oscar Isaac gives a stellar performance in Inside Llewyn Davis but that film has, for some inexplicable reason, fallen flat with guild voters; Joaquin Phoenix is incredible in Her but the film might be considered too “weird”, and it’s been a long time since Lee Daniels’ The Butler was at the forefront of the awards conversation despite Forest Whitaker’s fine performance.
Matthew McConaughey feels like he’s on a really strong streak, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s doing incredible work on television right now with True Detective—don’t be shocked if he takes this thing all the way to a win.Though Ejiofor, Dern, and Hanks all feel like relatively safe bets, Redford is quite vulnerable given that he failed to net a SAG or BAFTA nom. Following some bad press, DiCaprio seized the opportunity to speak to a number of outlets about Wolf and get people talking about something other than the film’s rating, nudity, or “endorsement” of its subject, and so I think DiCaprio slips in and takes Redford’s spot—by a hair.
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Alternates: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Brie Larson (Short Term 12), Adele Excarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color)
Best Actress is this year’s over and done category, as Cate Blanchett seems to have this one in the bag for her transcendent work in Blue Jasmine. The rest of the field also appears to be pretty set, as Sandra Bullock is poised to be recognized for carrying the majority of Gravity alone, Judi Dench will very likely land a nod for her charming work in Philomena, and despite the film’s negative response from critics, expect Emma Thompson to garner a nomination for her impressive work Saving Mr. Banks.
The final slot is a bit of a toss-up. It’s weird to think of Meryl Streep as an underdog, but the lukewarm response to August: Osage County—including many who weren’t fans of Streep’s performance—makes her vulnerable. It might be a different story if Osage County was a hit at the box office, but as of the voting closing deadline the film was only playing at five screens. As such, I think the American Hustle love will be spread to Amy Adams, though I’d be ecstatic to see Brie Larson or Adele Exarchopoulos pull a surprise nod for their fantastic work in Short Term 12 and Blue Is the Warmest Color, respectively.
Click over to Page 2 to continue reading, including Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and more.