It is finally here: the day before the Oscar nominations. The air is crisp, sky is bright, and the Hollywood facelifts are lifted! All of Hollywood is on the edge of their seats to see whose work will be recognized by the highest honor that can be bestowed upon films.
Below are my nomination predictions for the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
12 Years a Slave
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street
Dallas Buyers Club
The Academy rules state that there can be between five and ten nominees in the Best Picture category. (5% of the voters must rank a film as number 1 in order for the film to garner a nomination.) As such, I am going on the assumption that there will be 10 nominees. 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle are all but guaranteed nominations. Each of these films has been lauded by critics and they continue to receive nominations and awards from various critics’ circles and guilds. Nebraska has surprised many by garnering numerous nominations for its cast (Bruce Dern and June Squibb) and Alexander Payne’s quirky screenplay. In the past, this formula has worked for Payne (see Sideways), so this is a pretty safe bet. The phenomenal performances and incredible subject matter from Philomena, Captain Phillips, and Saving Mr. Banks will likely help catapult these into the Best Picture category. An original premise, quiet but amazing characters, and beautiful direction may help Her get a slot in this category. However, it is such a quiet film that the Academy may feel that a Best Original Screenplay nomination is enough. The Wolf of Wall Street could really go either way: on one hand, everyone loves Martin Scorsese films that push the envelope. On the other hand, Hollywood likes nothing more than saying Marty was robbed. While the transformative performances in Dallas Buyers Club will definitely be recognized, the film’s unfocused script may hold it back from a Best Picture nod.
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Chitewel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Christian Bale, American Hustle
There is no doubt in my mind that the first four actors on this list will be nominated. They have all continually been nominated or won every major award this season. The fifth slot is the hardest to predict. The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards nominated Forrest Whitaker’s work in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but the film’s early release and mediocre reviews make Whitaker’s chances slim. Robert Redford, Joaquin Phoenix, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale all received Golden Globe nominations for their performances, with DiCaprio winning the award. While all of them have a decent chance, I am going to give the edge to Christian Bale and his ridiculously intricate comb-over.
Possible Surprise: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Similar to the Best Actor race, the first four contenders in this category will most likely hear their names called in the wee hours of Thursday morning. In any other year, I would have automatically said Meryl Streep’s performance as the acid-tongued matriarch of the dysfunctional Weston clan in August: Osage County would receive the nomination. However, Amy Adams’s cleavage baring con-artist in American Hustle could benefit from the love that Hustle has been garnering in Hollywood. I am going to give the edge to Streep because, let’s face it, with a record 17 nominations and three wins, it is obvious that the Academy loves her.
Possible Surprise: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Even though the nominations have not yet been announced, it is pretty obvious that Jared Leto will win the Oscar. His performance as Rayon, the cross-dressing AIDS patient, has stunned audiences. Academy, just engrave the statuette now. Fassbender and Abdi’s performances as the villains in their respective films will also be nominated. Brühl and Cooper are the dark horses. Brühl has been a surprise nominee at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards. This may be enough to give the German actor his first Oscar nomination. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: everyone loves American Hustle. Cooper’s horrifically permed federal agent may benefit from the love. The only exception here may be James Gandolfini for Enough Said. After his untimely death, Gandolfini’s sweet performance of a man trying to find love after 50 seemed like the perfect way for this gentle giant to say good-bye. The Academy may decide to honor that good-bye.
Possible Surprise: James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
This was, by far, the most difficult category for me to predict. Obviously, there are the front runners (Lawrence, Nyong’o, and Squibb), however, I keep changing the last two slots. It is going to be some combination of Roberts, Hawkins, and Oprah Winfrey for Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Roberts does have an advantage over the other two actresses because she has benefited from multiple nominations for this performance. Hawkins work in Blue Jasmine was incredible. It is also a performance in a Woody Allen movie, and the Academy loves to nominate the actors in Allen’s films (i.e. Diane Wiest–twice!, Michael Caine, Chazz Palminteri). However, the leading performance by Cate Blanchett may make the Academy forget Hawkins like SAG did. Winfrey has a double disadvantage: The Butler came out in August and it may have faded from voters memories at this point. She also did not receive a Golden Globe nomination. Honestly, this may tarnish her chances. Winfrey did receive a nomination from SAG, and SAG members are Academy members, as well. Bottom line: Hawkins will prevail.
Possible Surprise: Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
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