1. American Hustle
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Captain Phillips
4. The Monuments Men
5. Labor Day
8. Inside Llewyn Davis
9. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I have some oddball choices in here. But I don't think that they're too far off. All three of my genre choices (Her, Gravity, Walter Mitty), are premiering at various festivals and I think that the academy is making some smarter choices in terms of genre films (just look at the past three years: Inception, District 9, Life of Pi). But honestly, I don't think that any of them will win. The clear front-runner for best picture has to be American Hustle. It had a spectacular trailer, a great cast, and a director who's due for an Oscar. Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street are also candidates, so keep an eye on them.
1. David O. Russell, American Hustle
2. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
3. George Clooney, The Monuments Men
4. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
5. Spike Jonze, Her
Last year, Ang Lee won best director for Life of Pi and Argo won best picture. Two different films. That won't happen this year. If American Hustle is as good as I anticipate, he will win for best director as well. I think that Spike Jonze will be nominated as well; the Academy likes to throw an oddball in the mix.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
3. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
5. Christian Bale, American Hustle
All five of these guys are legitimate contenders. But Tom Hanks has won twice before, Bale got a supporting win for another David O. Russell movie three years ago, and if the other two actors were nominated, it would be their first time. Now, let's look at Leonardo DiCaprio. He's been nominated before (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Aviator, Blood Diamond) and he has gotten snubbed for other performances before. This is DiCaprio's year, and I think that the Academy will finally give him his Oscar, especially if he really goes through with his five year acting hiatus.
1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2. Kate Winslet, Labor Day
3. Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco
4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
5. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Right now, all the buzz is with Cate Blanchett, so I have to go with her. We haven't seen anything from Labor Day or Grace of Monaco, but I anticipate both Winslet and Kidman will turn in good performances. Emma Thompson is going to be a powerhouse contender and Sandra Bullock could get nominated for Gravity. But right now, this Blanchett's to lose.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Javier Bardem, The Counselor
2. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
3. Josh Brolin, Labor Day
4. Jeremy Renner, American Hustle
5. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Despite the fact that Bardem won before for No Country for Old Men, I think that Bardem has turned in enough great performances over the last few years to get another Oscar. He looks like one of the highlights of the film, and his ability to steal scenes in films are spectacular. The Counselor isn't something I see getting a lot of wins but I think that Bardem will take the prize in this category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
2. Cameron Diaz, The Counselor
3. Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips
5. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
Let's talk about the other nominees before I talk about the chances of J-Law winning for the second year in a row. Carey Mulligan is probably the least likely of the contenders, but Llewyn Davis is going to get recognized somewhere. In addition, Oprah's getting nominated no matter what, and Keener sounds like she'll give a good performance in the film. Now, Cameron Diaz has a really good chance at a nomination. But judging by the trailer, Lawrence is going to deliver a powerhouse performance in American Hustle. It looks like a role that will fit her perfectly, and I think that she could steal the movie. Plus, David O. Russell movies typically get one actor win.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Cormac McCarthy, The Counselor
3. David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle
4. JC Chandor, All is Lost
5. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight
This race comes down to McCarthy and the Coens. Inside Llewyn Davis has already won heaps of praise out of the Cannes film festival and is sure to build once audiences see it. And McCarthy is a Pulitzer prize winning author, who's most famous novel was the basis for No Country For Old Men. I see the Coens taking this. If all of these films are good, the awards will be spread out.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
3. Jason Reitman, Labor Day
4. George Clooney and Grant Heslov, The Monuments Men
5. Steve Conrad, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Any of these five screenplays could win at this point. It all depends on which films end up the most popular. Right now, I'll go with The Wolf of Wall Street. I think that Captain Phillips and Labor Day are definitely strong contenders, but from the looks of the first trailer, it seems that The Wolf of Wall Street will mix comedy and drama seamlessly while Captain Phillips is a straight drama and Labor Day is a quirky dramedy. So I have The Wolf of Wall Street winning.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
1. Monsters University
3. Despicable Me 2
5. The Croods
I really can't think of a ton of animated films beyond these, but I think that MU is the clear contender. Unless Frozen is a major powerhouse, I doubt that Monsters will lose.
So, that's all I've got for now. Telluride is in a couple weeks and Toronto follows shortly, so look to get a clearer, less speculative look soon.