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As the new year emerges, the annual Academy Award nominations approach rapidly. Here are my predictions for some of the awards.


Best Picture:

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. Captain Phillips

4. American Hustle

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. The Wolf of Wall Street

8. Her

9. Nebraska

10. Dallas Buyers Club

            12 Years a Slave is the clear frontrunner for the year’s top prize, combining a raw sense of emotion and a shocking brutality that could be in the academy’s favor. The Wolf of Wall Street has the favor of an incredible critical reception, but the poor reception from the academy screening could knock it from the top spot. The box office and critical praise for films such as Gravity and American Hustle could offer some competition, but at this point no film is close to Steven McQueen’s masterpiece.


11. Lone Survivor

12. Rush

13. Philomena

14. Blue Jasmine

15. All is Lost

16. August: Osage Country

17. Lee Daniel’s The Butler

18. Before Midnight

19. Mud

20. Prisoners


Best Director:

1. Steven McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

3. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

4. David O. Russel, American Hustle

5. Spike Jonze, Her

            Steven McQueen’s remarkable efforts to recreate one of the darkest points in human history will most likely bring him home Oscar gold, while the visionary view of space brought by Alfonso Cuaron may offer serious competition. The admirable efforts by Paul Greengrass and David O. Russel are almost assured nominations, but have little chance of winning. The final spot could be contested by several directors, but the creatively executed romance of Her has the most likely chance of nomination.


6. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

9. John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks

10. Ron Howard, Rush


Best Actor:

1. Chiwetel Ejiofer, 12 Years a Slave

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

4. Robert Redford, All is Lost

5. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

            The leading actor category has perhaps never been more diverse, with Chiwetel Ejiofer being the most likely pick for his heartbreaking performance as the enslaved freeman Solomon Northup. The flipside is Bruce Dern’s quirky performance in Nebraska, with many strong performances rounding out the top five. There is no clear first place, but Ejiofer’s heart wrenching performance is more in the academy’s style.


6. Christian Bale, American Hustle

7. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

8. Forrest Whitaker, Lee Daniel’s The Butler

9. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

10. Joaquin Phoenix, Her 


Best Actress:

1. Cate Blanchette, Blue Jasmine

2. Judi Dench, Philomena

3. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

5. Amy Adams, American Hustle

            Cate Blanchette is the clear frontrunner, with a deep and moving performance as a truly broken woman. While Judi Dench and Emma Thompson have strong performances that could offer competition, none have a very likely chance at the win. Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams both give quite possibly the performance of their career, but neither have a shot at the win.


6. Merryl Streep, August: Osage County

7. Julie Deply, Before Midnight

8. Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said

9. Kate Winslet, Labor Day

10. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha


Best Supporting Actor:

1. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

3. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

4. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

5. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

            Michael Fassbender’s demonic slave owner that haunts Solomon Northup and Jared Leto’s transformative performance in Dallas Buyers Club are the most likely contestants for the Oscar prize. While Fassbender delivered the better performance, Leto’s transformation could attract the Academy’s attention. Barkhad Abdi’s villainous, but surprisingly relatable performance in Captain Phillips could sneak up, while the others have little chance of winning.


6. James Gandolfini, Enough Said

7. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

8. George Clooney, Gravity

9. Will Forte, Nebraska

10. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street


Best 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

            Truth be told, the Best Supporting Actress category could go anyway. Jennifer Lawrence seems to be the frontrunner due to her popularity with the Academy and her incredibly enjoyable performance in American Hustle, while Lupita Nyong’o has a strong performance that could give Lawrence a rival. The others are all good, but don’t seem strong enough to get a major win.


6. Scarlet Johanasson, Her

7. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniel’s The Butler

8. Octavia Spencer, Frutivale Station

9. Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street

10. Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis


Best Original Screenplay:

1. Spike Jonze, Her

2. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine

3. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

5. David O. Russel, American Hustle

            Spike Jonze’s creativity may win over again, as he is the current frontrunner for the Best Original Screenplay Category. The Coen Brothers and Woody Allen both have a good chance due to their past wins, while the increasing popularity of American Hustle and Nebraska with the Golden Globes might give them a chance at claiming the Oscar.


6. Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club

7. Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron, Gravity

8. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, Saving Mr. Banks

9. Ryan Coogler, Frutivale Station

10. Jeff Nichols, Mud


Best Adapted Screenplay:

1. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

2. Terrence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

3. Peter Berg, Lone Survivor

4. Billy Ray, Captain Phillips

5. Tracy Letts, August: Osage County

            Another category that could go anyway, but 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street lead the possibilities due to strong critical reception, while Peter Berg’s passionate ode to the military could sneak up. However, the overall impact of 12 Years a Slave is likely to take the top prize.


6. Steve Coogan and John Pope, Philomena

7. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

8. Ghalia Lacroix and Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color

9. Michael Petroni, The Book Thief

10. William Nicholson, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom  


            Do you agree with me? Disagree? Tell me in the comments below.