After running down predictions for the Oscars in a number of categories over the past two days, we’ve now come to the big ones. As I’ve said many times before over the course of this awards season, this is quite possibly the closest Best Picture race in history; a coin flip would not be unwarranted. And while some of the acting categories are pretty sewn up, Supporting Actress remains a bit tricky and there’s some intense competition in the race for Best Original Screenplay. I’ve had a lot of fun covering this year’s awards race over the last five months with Oscar Beat and I look forward to doing it all over again this fall, but for now here’s the culmination of this season’s coverage.
After the jump you’ll find my predictions for the final categories ahead of this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremony as well as my full predictions list for the ceremony, and if you missed Part 1 or Part 2 be sure to check them out. The 86th Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 2nd on ABC, during which time our own Matt Goldberg will be live-blogging the ceremony right here on Collider.
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
It’s not every year that Best Picture is one of the most unpredictable categories at the Oscars, but here we are. This is a three-way race between Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, and American Hustle with Gravity and 12 Years our clear frontrunners. There are a number of different possible scenarios here. Some argue that Gravity and 12 Years will split the “important” votes and the preferential ballot system will crown American Hustle—an inoffensive, charming, and relatively empty choice—the winner. Though it is a possibility, I personally don’t think Hustle will have enough number one votes to pull it off. That leaves us with Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave. In simple terms, the “Important” choice is 12 Years a Slave and the “achievement” choice is Gravity. Both films have immense, passionate supporters and both films have their detractors, with Gravity being hailed as a technical masterpiece and 12 Years a Slave serving as the most striking and unflinching portrait of slavery ever put to film. It’s hard to argue with either statement.
Many are predicting that the Academy will go with 12 Years a Slave for the win, but that almost feels too “right” for a voting body that has given Best Picture to The King’s Speech and The Artist in recent years over tougher films. Moreover, those that don’t like 12 Years a Slave simply do not like it, while those who aren’t head over heels for Gravity still recognize it as a technical marvel. There’s also the fact that many Academy members simply refused to see 12 Years a Slave, with it having been deemed “too hard to watch”. This makes me think Gravity will fare better on the preferential ballot system than 12 Years a Slave, giving it the slightest edge to squeak out the win. The best case scenario, though, would be a first-ever for the category: a tie.
Will Win: Gravity
Dark Horse: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Have Been Nominated: Inside Llewyn Davis
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Alexander Payne – Nebraska
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
While pundits are split on Best Picture, most agree that it’s Alfonso Cuarón who has the edge in the Best Director race. Steve McQueen’s work in 12 Years a Slave is incredibly precise and emotionally affecting, but the fact remains that Alfonso Cuarón had to actually invent the technology to make Gravity possible. His unrelenting vision made the pic a reality, and if someone else had directed it, Gravity would be an entirely different film. It’s Cuarón’s passion and talent that brought this visual marvel to the screen, so he’s a very safe bet to land his first-ever Oscar trophy for Best Director.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Dark Horse: Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Should Have Been Nominated: Spike Jonze – Her
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
This has been one of the most entertaining categories of the year. Matthew McConaughey certainly emerged a frontrunner when Dallas Buyers Club first debuted last fall, but he has fielded serious competition from a number of other fantastic performances in the ensuing months—some of which just missed the cut for Oscar. His biggest threat is Chiwetel Ejiofor for turning in an immensely powerful performance in 12 Years a Slave, but there’s also the possibility that Bruce Dern or Leonardo DiCaprio could pull off a (very big) upset. In the end, though, a Best Actor trophy for McConaughey just makes sense. He’s had an incredible run as of late, not only with Dallas Buyers Club but also with impressive turns in Magic Mike, Mud, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Moreover, he’s been enjoying free campaigning by way of HBO’s True Detective. His phenomenal performance on the HBO show has been broadcast directly into voters’ homes for the past month, serving as a weekly reminder of the actor’s talent. I won’t be surprised if he wins, but I will be surprised if the first three words out of his mouth aren’t “alright, alright, alright.”
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Dark Horse: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Should Have Been Nominated: Joaquin Phoenix – Her
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Here’s one of two acting categories where we almost certainly won’t be seeing surprises on Oscar night. Cate Blanchett won this trophy all the way back in July when Blue Jasmine was released. This isn’t just the best lead actress performance of 2013; this is the performance of the year period. Blanchett is positively transcendent in the definition of “tour-de-force”, and while the recent controversy surrounding Woody Allen might impact her win slightly, I doubt it will be enough to prevent her from taking home the trophy entirely. In the highly unlikely event that it does, though, keep an eye out for Amy Adams or Judi Dench.
Will Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Dark Horse: Amy Adams – American Hustle
Should Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Should Have Been Nominated: Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color
Best Supporting Actor
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Whatever your feelings on the nominees, this one’s already over. Jared Leto has won virtually every single Best Supporting Actor prize since December, making him a near-lock to take home the Oscar on Sunday for his refreshingly subdued performance as a transgendered AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. He’s been campaigning hard for the trophy as well unlike fellow nominee Michael Fassbender. After being snubbed for a Best Actor nomination for Shame, Fassbender opted to sit this awards season out despite his tremendous work in 12 Years a Slave. One has to wonder whether the race would have turned out differently had Fassbender campaigned, but alas this one is Leto’s to lose.
Will Win: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Dark Horse: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Should Have Been Nominated: Will Forte – Nebraska
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska
Ah, and we’re back to another tricky one. Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o is the frontrunner here for her absolutely heartbreaking work in 12 Years a Slave, but then there’s Jennifer Lawrence. Nyong’o won the SAG award just as it was beginning to look like Lawrence had the momentum, but then the American Hustle actress recently enjoyed a surge as she took home the BAFTA. Nyong’o is really the emotional center of 12 Years a Slave and Lawrence isn’t in American Hustle all that much, but she steals every scene she’s in. Then there are the statistics to consider: of the 14 films that have received nominations in every acting category (like Hustle), only two of them failed to win a single acting award. Lawrence won Best Actress last year for Silver Linings Playbook—a film that also received nominations in every acting category—so can she pull off back-to-back wins for David O. Russell films? She’s incredibly likable and Hustle has much love within the Academy, but my guys says a film as emotionally devastating as 12 Years a Slave just won’t go home without an acting win, and Nyong’o is its best shot; she also happens to be quite deserving of the trophy. This one’s closer than you think, but I’m going with Nyong’o.
Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Should Have Been Nominated: Scarlett Johansson – Her
Best Original Screenplay
Dallas Buyers Club
This one’s a close race as well. Woody Allen won a few years ago for Midnight in Paris, but Blue Jasmine is more of a performance piece and the recent controversy doesn’t exactly help his chances, so Blue Jasmine is probably out. Same goes for Dallas Buyers Club, which was a bit of a surprise nominee here and lacks the flash or flourish of the other nominees. Nebraska could be a sleeper in this category, but it really looks to be a race between American Hustle and Her. The former has been the frontrunner for months with most assuming David O. Russell would take home his first Oscar win, but Her proved to be a somewhat surprising hit with voters by earning a Best Picture nomination, and it also took home the Writers Guild of America prize over Hustle. Given that American Hustle has 10 nominations and is very obviously an Academy favorite this year, it seems like the obvious choice, but a win for Her is a way to honor a film that doesn’t have a shot in the bigger categories. It also happens to be a wonderfully original story told with a delicate touch—the whole movie is a bit of a high-wire act, really, and it’s miraculous how Jonze pulls it off. In a bit of an upset, I think Her takes it.
Will Win: Her
Dark Horse: American Hustle
Should Win: Her
Should Have Been Nominated: The World’s End
Best Adapted Screenplay
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Here’s the category in which 12 Years a Slave has the biggest lead. Due to guild rules, John Ridley’s screenplay was ineligible for the WGA prize, but his screenplay is the definitive frontrunner in this category. Its primary competition, somewhat surprisingly, comes from Philomena. Producer Harvey Weinstein has no doubt been working behind the scenes to secure some kind of win for his only horse in this year’s race. Nevertheless, this category is an easy way to honor 12 Years a Slave for those not deeming it the Best Picture, and enthusiasm for another one of the other Best Adapted Screenplay nominees has failed to coalesce.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse: Philomena
Should Win: Before Midnight
Should Have Been Nominated: The Spectacular Now
And with that, Oscar Beat’s 2014 race coverage comes to a close. It’s been a pleasure covering this awards season over the past few months, and I’m eager to see how things turn out this Oscar Sunday.
Head over to Page 2 for my full list of Oscar predictions (which includes a last-minute switch in Costume Design—indecisive!) or read the full articles below.
- Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 1: Best Score, Original Song, Editing, Visual Effects, Animated Film, Foreign Language Film, and More
- Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 2: Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup, and Short Categories