And so it ends … Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

by Michael Hunley. 0 Comments

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett is better than you, and she knows it. Will she score a Best Actress nod tomorrow when the Academy Award nominations are announced? (Yes. Yes, she will.) (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Well, the Golden Globes were handed out on Sunday, the British Academy Award nominations have been announced, and every important and influential precursor award has had their say (including the most important of all, the Razzies!). So now I can safely make my final guesses at the Academy Award nominations, even though the Oscars, like most things made of gold, are a cold, fickle, mysterious mistress, often throwing bizarre and unexpected curve balls your way (that’s a whole lot of weird imagery right there).

But here, after months of my blind stabs in the dark and celebrities’ shameless campaigning, at last, are my final Oscar nomination predictions:

PICTURE*
1. “12 Years a Slave”
2. “American Hustle”
3. “Gravity”
4. “Captain Phillips”
5. “Nebraska”
6. “Her”
7. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
8. “Philomena”
9. “Dallas Buyers Club”
10. “Inside Llewyn Davis”

alternates:
11. “Saving Mr. Banks”
12. “Blue Jasmine”
13. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
14. “Rush”
15. “August: Osage County”
16. “Fruitvale Station”
17. “Blue is the Warmest Color”
18. “Before Midnight”
19. “All is Lost”
20. “Enough Said”

The Globes went with “12 Years” (for Drama) and “American Hustle” (for Comedy/Musical), cementing their places as the front runners. The two other absolute locks: “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips.” After that, it can go a number of ways …

“Wolf” was embraced by the Producers, Directors and Writers Guilds of America with nominations (though it was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild, most likely due to not being screened in time), but its growing controversy and timid reception from audiences makes me think it may get shut out in most categories, but because of the 10 slots in the Best Picture race, it’ll probably make it in.

Critical favorites “Nebraska” and “Her” should be able to get in, while crowd-pleasers “Philomena” and “Dallas Buyers Club” got big bumps thanks to notices from the British Academy Awards and Producers Guild of America, respectively. Those last two bumped off “The Butler” and “Mr. Banks,” who’ve been on my list all season long, though they’ve seen their buzz greatly diminish in the past few weeks.

The big question is whether the Coen brothers’ “Llewyn Davis” can sneak in — it was shut out from all the major Guild awards (not even a Writers Guild nomination!), but the Coens are Oscar favorites (they’ve both been nominated 13 times and won four statues), so it’s slightly inconceivable that they’d get snubbed for one of their most acclaimed films ever. But even if “Llewyn” doesn’t get in for Picture, they should show up in the Original Screenplay category.

TEN MORE BEST PICTURE CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: “The Book Thief,” “Frances Ha,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Labor Day,” “Mud,” “Out of the Furnace,” “Prisoners,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Short Term 12,” “The Spectacular Now”

*The number of nominees for Best Picture can range from five to 10, depending on the number of votes a film receives.

ACTOR
1. Chiwetel Ejiofer, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
3. Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
4. Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
5. Robert Redford, “All is Lost”

alternates:
6. Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
7. Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
8. Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
9. Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
10. Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”

McConaughey and DiCaprio won the Golden Globes in the Drama and Comedy/Musical categories, respectively, though that may be more due to their big movie star status than anything else (the Globes do love them some movie stars). I’m still going for Ejiofer as the eventual winner, but McConaughey is close behind him (his much-publicized weight loss and physical transformation is catnip to Oscar voters).

Hanks and Dern should also be sitting pretty for nominations, though Redford is the most vulnerable after a Screen Actors Guild snub — if not him, expect DiCaprio or Whitaker to get the fifth slot.

FIVE MORE BEST ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Christian Bale, “Out of the Furnace;” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Fifth Estate;” Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom;”  Hugh Jackman, “Prisoners;” Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
2. Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
3. Judi Dench, “Philomena”
4. Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”
5. Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

alternates:
6. Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
7. Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
8. Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue is the Warmest Color”
9. Brie Larson, “Short Term 12”
10. Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”

At the Globes, Blanchett was the not-so-surprise winner for Best Actress in a Drama, while Adams beat Streep for the Actress in a Comedy/Musical category. Blanchett, Bullock and Dench are locks, and Thompson will most likely be the only major nomination that “Mr. Banks” receives. And after her Globe victory, I’m predicting Adams for the fifth slot, though one should always be weary of going against Dame Meryl (she’s been nominated a record-breaking 17 times for a reason).

FIVE MORE BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Berenice Bejo, “The Past;” Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha;” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said;” Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County;” Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
2. Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
3. Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
4. James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
5. Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”

alternates:
6. Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
7. Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”
8. Will Forte, “Nebraska”
9. Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
10. Matthew McConaughey, “Mud”

As expected, Leto won the Golden Globe for his performance as an inspirational drag queen with AIDS, and he’ll probably coast along easily to picking up the trophy come Oscar night. Fassbender and Abdi are also locks for their first nominations, while the late Gandolfini will probably score a posthumous nomination for indie comedy “Enough Said.” Many are predicting a nomination for the more popular Cooper, but I’m going to go with German character actor Bruhl, if only because the supporting races are a bit kinder to non-big-name performers.

FIVE MORE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Casey Affleck, “Out of the Furnace;” Steve Coogan, “Philomena;” Harrison Ford, “42;” Matthew McConaughey, “The Wolf of Wall Street;” Jeremy Renner, “American Hustle”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
2. Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
3. June Squibb, “Nebraska”
4. Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
5. Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

alternates:
6. Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
7. Scarlett Johansson, “Her”
8. Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
9. Margo Martindale, “August: Osage County”
10. Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station”

Lawrence picked up the Golden Globe on Sunday, continuing her inevitable dominance of Hollywood. She’s definitely in the lead now for winning her second Oscar in two years, but I could see newcomer Nyong’o overtaking her in the coming weeks. Both are locks for nods, as is veteran character actress Squibb. The last two slots are a bit trickier — it’ll either go the way of the Golden Globes (which nominated Roberts and Hawkins) or the Screen Actors Guild (which had Roberts and Winfrey). I’m going with the former, if only because I think there will probably be an all-around snub of “The Butler” by the Academy. Then again, don’t completely rule out history being made by Johansson getting noticed for her voice-only performance.

FIVE MORE BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Amy Adams, “Her;” Carey Mulligan, “Inside Llewyn Davis;” Julianne Nicholson, “August: Osage County;” Sarah Paulson, “12 Years a Slave;” Lea Seydoux, “Blue is the Warmest Color”

DIRECTOR
1. Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
3. David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
4. Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
5. Spike Jonze, “Her”

alternates:
6. Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
7. Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
8. Ethan and Joel Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
9. Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
10. Jean-Marc Vallee, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Cuaron won the Best Director Golden Globe, the only award “Gravity” won that night, and he has a chance of repeating that on Oscar night, but I’m still thinking McQueen is the one to beat — I’m predicting the Oscars will be much more giving toward “12 Years” than the Globes (who just awarded that film one prize). Aside from those two, former nominees Russell and Greengrass are probably back in, while the fifth slot can go several different ways: It can follow the Golden Globes (nominating Payne) or the Directors Guild and BAFTA awards (nominating Scorsese). Or it could just go its own way (which it usually does, and which I’m predicting) and pick Jonze for his quirky romance “Her.”

FIVE MORE BEST DIRECTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Lee Daniels, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler;” Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station;” Stephen Frears, “Philomena;” John Lee Hancock, “Saving Mr. Banks;” John Wells, “August: Osage County”

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