Here is a preview of what you are most likely to see on the morning of January 16th when Oscar nominations are announced:
Best Supporting Actress
Well, for a while, it seemed like Oprah had this one in the bag. But that Golden Globe nomination snub was pretty killer. She’s still in the running for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but ultimately count on the unstoppable force that is Jennifer Lawrence of American Hustle or the star-making performance of 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o for the win. The other nominees will likely be Oscar darling Julia Roberts for August: Osage County and Nebraska standout June Squibb. Blue Jasmine‘s Sally Hawkins unfortunately stands in Cate Blanchett’s awards shadow, and Fruitvale Station and Octavia Spencer don’t seem to have the indie love that Beasts of the Southern Wild had last year, so both actresses are long shots here.
Best Supporting Actor
His nomination will be well deserved, but 12 Years a Slave‘s Michael Fassbender has a lot of ground to make up to catch up with Jared Leto’s transformation in Dallas Buyers Club. Some awards circuit stealth from Barkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips, Daniel Brühl of Rush, and Bradley Cooper of American Hustle makes their nominations certain. Early favorite for Saving Mr. Banks Tom Hanks is disappearing from the conversation, but he does have an outside chance. The biggest question mark is James Gandolfini, who could receive some Oscar love for Enough Said following his untimely death.
Blue Jasmine‘s Cate Blanchett is the one to beat, although Sandra Bullock’s transcendent performance in Gravity has a chance to upset. Philomena‘s Judi Dench and Saving Mr. Banks‘ Emma Thompson stepped outside of their comfort zones and are now sure bets. So Meryl Streep’s biggest competition for that last slot is Amy Adams in American Hustle. The late release of August: Osage County makes it harder to predict, but she IS Meryl.
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s emotionally wrought performance in 12 Years a Slave puts him in the lead, but Dallas Buyers Club‘s Matthew McConaughey is close behind after his incredible two-year success streak. Leonardo DiCaprio’s buzz for The Wolf of Wall Street has dissipated and Christian Bale’s beautifully focused performance in American Hustle isn’t showy enough to win over the voters. Count on veterans Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, and Robert Redford for All Is Lost to round out the category.
There is a significant chance that we will either have the first Latin-American Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity) or the first African-American one (Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave). Prepare to see thriller-killer Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips and master of ensemble casts David O. Russell for American Hustle here too, and watch for a possible Martin Scorsese snub due to the recent caustic commentary on The Wolf of Wall Street. Her‘s Spike Jonze or Nebraska‘s Alexander Payne could sneak in and steal his slot in the midst of the controversy.
Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen drama Blue Jasmine is a strong contender, but the intricacy and humor instilled in American Hustle make it the frontrunner. Powerful dark comedies will dominate this category, with Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska filling in the rest. But watch for indie darling Enough Said slipping in or even the existential Gravity riding on the coattails of its other guaranteed nominations.
Best Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley’s heightened language is likely to lead to victory for 12 Years a Slave, although the realism and contemporary insight of Before Midnight is a close second. Early favorite August: Osage County has swiftly fallen in the ranks due to mixed early reviews, and the unabashed war commentary that is Lone Survivor might not appeal to the Academy. This leaves the last slots to UK import Philomena and complex blockbusters Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street.
For a while it seemed like “12 Years a Slave vs. Gravity“, but American Hustle has had such an impressive awards round that it appears to be the dark horse. With anywhere from five to ten nominees possible, it makes it tough to predict this one. However, most of this year’s Best Picture categories have been kind to Captain Phillips, Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Wolf of Wall Street, so expect them to appear here for a total of eight. Their biggest competition will come from Inside Llewyn Davis and Dallas Buyers Club to either total ten nominees or steal another contender’s slot. But watch out for long shots Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and Philomena as well.
Some other predictions
Best Foreign Language Film
The Great Beauty
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Missing Picture
Best Animated Feature
The Wind Rises
Despicable Me 2
Ernest and Celestine
Mark McCarver was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has been involved in theater and film since he was a kid. He spent the past few years acting and directing across Texas before moving to Washington, DC in the fall of 2012 to get a taste of the East Coast’s entertainment industry. Mark holds a BA in Drama from Trinity University and trained at the Syracuse University – London Drama Program and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is a company member with Half Mad Theatre in Washington.