Updated 2014 Oscar Predictions: Top Categories

2014 Oscar Predictions
Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Last week, I went through and updated all my Oscar predictions and even started working on the below-the-line categories that I haven't yet posted my first official predictions on. I'll hopefully have those additional categories -- Sound Editing and Mixing, Editing, Production Design, Makeup & Hair, Song and Documentary -- open at the beginning of next week. I just started watching several documentaries and wanted to have as many under my belt as possible before opening that category and I still have about four here I want to watch in advance.

However, when it comes to the top-line categories, those are all alive and well and I've posted my current batch of predictions below. Let's take a look at the races...

Best Picture

  • American Hustle
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Gravity
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Captain Phillips
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Lee Daniels' The Butler
  • Nebraska

We'll begin with Best Picture, which is still led by American Hustle. To my knowledge no critics have yet seen the film, though screenings are expected to begin in Los Angeles this weekend (no telling when we'll get the Seattle screening) and buzz is quietly beginning to build. I've had it on the top-line for as long as I can remember and while 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are the current leaders in the clubhouse I still haven't seen reason enough to waver on my #1.

Best Director

  • David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  • Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  • Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
  • John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks)

My Best Director category features the same top five films as Best Picture, though only a reversed order for slots four and five. This race and Picture clearly have a long way to go and a split very well may be likely, but, again, I'm sticking with David O. Russell and American Hustle if for no other reason than to say the film hasn't had a misstep yet to suggest I need to make a change.

Best Actor

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Robert Redford (All is Lost)
  • Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler)

Best Actor is an interesting race as I can't quite tell what's going to happen with Robert Redford (All is Lost) and couple that with Bruce Dern (Nebraska) and I continue to wonder... Can they both get in? Will either of them get in? Of the two I think Redford has the only legitimate shot at getting in, but are enough people seeing the film?

chiwetel-ejioforChiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) I feel are in and I have a very strong feeling Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) is safe with a nomination as well, but after that... Who?

Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) is my current pick, but if I was doing the voting it would be Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) getting in there. In fact, I'd personally bump Hanks to ensure those two had a spot a this point.

I still haven't seen Out of the Furnace, but Christian Bale has received solid early chatter and no one has seen Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, which will likely begin screening in just over a week or so in NY and LA.

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

cate-blanchettThe Best Actress field seems pretty much locked in place when it comes to the top three. I also think Sandra Bullock (Gravity) is a strong contender for a lock, though I still rank her just below Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) even though I can't tell what will be the final consensus on that film. I personally enjoyed it.

With American Hustle unseen there's no telling how strong a contender Amy Adams may be, Berenice Bejo (The Past) won in Cannes, but will the film make a dent stateside? Speaking of Cannes, what of Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color) and I also wonder if Julie Delpy and Before Midnight will make much of an impact anywhere on the board.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • James Gandolfini (Enough Said)

jared-letoBest Supporting Actor again brings unseen films such as American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street to mind, but I feel safe in assuming Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks) and Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) will be nominated and I feel a groundswell of love for James Gandolfini (Enough Said) that just might pay off in a nomination come January 16th.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)

lupitaThe Best Supporting Actress might prove to be an interesting category up until the envelope is opened. My top five remains the same from my previous update and, in fact, my top seven hasn't even changed. But as much as my current placement hasn't changed, I still don't feel overly confident in any of my predictions outside of my top two.

You can find the complete field for each one of these categories and stay up to date with all of my predictions as they are updated right here as I did also update both Screenplay categories (Original and Adapted), Costume Design, Visual Effects, Cinematography, Score and Animated Film. Speaking of which, I'm heading out to go see Frozen right now. Fingers crossed it's as good as everyone has been saying.

  • Shane O’Neal

    I like how Frozen's moved up the charts on Best Picture. I wish Disney was campaigning for it in this category along with Saving Mr. Banks....I honestly think it would have a chance of getting a nomination.

  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

    Wooo, updated predictions!

    I agree with most of this, I think 12 Year's A Slave has to be front runner though but I'd have American Hustle above Gravity. A 2 horse race? I think so. Hustle good odds at 5-1.

    You are getting me too excited with Barkhad Abdi at 4th on your Best Supporting Actor predictions, he was fantastic, I think I'm going to actively campaign for him on Twitter etc!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinb/ kevinb

    In response to your question about Redford getting a nomination for All is Lost, despite the fact that NO ONE is going to see it, I believe there is enough respect for him in the Actors branch to guarantee him a nomination. A win, I am not so certain. I think Bruce Dern will be the one who misses the cut. I think it's razor close between Ejiofor and McConaughey.

  • Sethcohen26

    I still say Amy Adams and Leonardo dicaprio and jake gyenhaal. Underwhelmed by 12 years.

  • Gautam Anand

    So, it took only 3 weeks for you to put Gravity in Top 3, Brad. Let's see, I bet you soon will be placing it in Top 2. Even if I want the race to get interesting, I don't see people willing to come out of 12 Years A Slave and Gravity hangover. Last year, we didn't have a very strong contender for Best Picture till ZD30 arrived. If it hadn't been for the controversy surrounding ZD30, it would have swept everything. In fact it was starting to, until the torture thing was blown out of proportion to film's detrimental effect, which ultimately benefited Argo. This year we have two very strong contenders in the form of 12 Years and Gravity, and unless something similar happens to them, I don't see anyone looking elsewhere. American Hustle, however good it might be, still doesn't look like a path-breaking film. It would certainly entertain, as every Russell movie does, but will it feel important, that's the BIG question.

    Keeping all this in mind, my prediction looks like ..

    1. 12 Years a Slave
    2. Gravity
    3. American Hustle
    4. Captain Philips
    5. The Wolf of Wall Street
    6. Saving Mr. Banks
    7. Nebraska
    8. Lee Daniels' The Butler
    9. Her
    10. Inside Llewyn Davis

    The rest of the categories are here .. http://www.cinemaconfessions.com/2013/10/we-are-closing-on-month-of-october-and.html

  • GobleGableOneOfUs

    Brad, do you think American Hustle will be submitted as a comedy or drama at the Golden Globes?

    • http://www.cinemaconfessions.com/ Gautam Anand

      Obviously comedy. It will want to have that win under its belt going into the last phase of the race.

      • PJ Edwards

        LOL It's drama. Wolf is winning the comedy globe....

        • GobleGableOneOfUs

          Well whether Wolf is better than AH is yet to be seen. Because either way it will have to compete with 12 Years if it is submitted as a drama.

  • Jake Gittes

    I don't see any way American Hustle wins top two categories without getting a single acting nomination. Well, to be honest, I don't see any way it wins top two categories, period. It's not even a lock to be nominated in either, although quite likely in BP.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

      I agree with you re American Hustle, especially since no one has seen it. And while winning without acting nominations isn't unheard of, it's very rare (only twice since 1990 as best as I can recall). That being said, assuming it's good, I expect at least one person from that ensemble will end up nominated.

  • PJ Edwards

    So if I am reading your charts correctly...Adams would push out the 5th place Bullock if she is legit?

    Also, while I agree that Banks is a top 5 film, I really don't think the branch that snubbed Affleck and Bigelow will give Hancock the time of day.

    • Jake Gittes

      Agreed, I have a much easier time seeing the Coens in that spot. And I wouldn't be shocked if Russell's place was taken by Frears, Scorsese or maybe even Spike Jonze if HER really takes off.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

        Philomena and Her feel way too niche to me to be contenders for Best Director, or Best Picture for that matter. I have Hancock in but am not 100% sold on Greengrass, so I think that last slot (or hopefully two if the Academy comes to their senses) is wide open.

        • Jake Gittes

          Actually the directors' branch has a pretty strong history of voting for more daring and high-brow directors (if that's what you mean by "niche") - these are the people that managed to get Haneke, Lynch, Malick, Almodovar, Kieslowski, Egoyan, Meirelles and Mike Leigh nominated in the past 20 years alone, and they also nominated Jonze for Being John Malkovich (which also received a BP nomination). I can't see these same people giving a nod to Hancock in such a strong year. Meanwhile, I think if HER is as great as its early acclaim indicates, it might have a strong chance of getting in.

          Also, how is Philomena niche? From everything I've read about it, it's a crowdpleaser, and will probably be something of a sleeper hit thanks to Weinstein and largely the same audiences who went to see The Queen, The King's Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

            I think the story of Philomena is too slight (as compared to, say, The King's Speech, which seemed more "important") to make waves in Best Picture or Director. Plus I expect the Weinsteins will throw more weight behind The Butler and August Osage County. Best Exotic wasn't nominated for anything and The Queen faced very little competition in a weak year, plus it was their top film that year. And I'm sorry but I don't see Her breaking into any major categories. It looks good but I just don't see it breaking out in any sort of big way. Plus as you say Jonze has already been nominated so it's not like they need to throw him a career achievement bone. It's also not comparable to Amour (something I've seen alluded to elsewhere), which won the Palme d'Or and was a probably self-congratulatory on the part of the Academy..."see, we respect foreign films too."

  • Michael Nelson

    Everything I have read recently has Sandra Bullock in the 2nd position and many have her locked. Why am I not surprised you have her in the 5th position. A lot goes into winning an Oscar beyond just the actual performance. I hear Meyrl is not
    doing any press or campaigning for "August..." Likewise, Judi Dench does not promote or campaign much. With your anticipation for "American Hustle," I assume you will be all too ready to replace Sandra with the always nominated (though I do not know why) Amy Adams.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

      Dench and Streep don't need to campaign. The Academy adores them.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    Here are my thoughts:

    Best Picture:
    Saving Mr. Banks
    12 Years a Slave
    The Butler
    American Hustle
    Captain Phillips
    Inside Llewyn Davis

    The Wolf of Wall Street
    August Osage County

    The top seven all seem like reasonably safe choices at this point. 12 Years a Slave has all the buzz right now and by all rights should be the frontrunner, but I'm continuing to be stubborn and say that until the Academy shows that they're going a different direction from the last few years, I have to put the type of movie they've been in love with up top, and Mr. Banks is that movie. The last three are the only other realistic contenders I see at this point. But until Wolf is seen I won't call it a sure thing and it's still unclear how Nebraska and August will be handled. I could see both, one, or neither of them getting in, none of which would be surprising.

    Best Director:
    John Lee Hancock
    Steve McQueen
    Alfonso Cuaron
    David O. Russell

    Hancock doesn't seen like he should be in, but splits are extremely rare, so I'm applying the same reasoning as above. The other three all feel safe, but after that it gets hairy. Greengrass and Scorsese are solid possibilities, but I could also see Lee Daniels getting in, or maybe even Payne if the Academy really loves Nebraska. The Coens also have a way of sneaking in unexpectedly, though I'm mainly thinking of the Best Picture nomination for A Serious Man and the directing nomination for True Grit, though that was only so the Academy could say fuck you to Christopher Nolan.

    Best Actor and Actress:
    I agree with your top five in both cases, though Dench is my frontrunner. Having now seen 12 Years a Slave (twice), I consider Ejiofor the lock of the year to win. Best Actor is the more interesting of the two categories given the names and films just below the line, but the only other contender I really see for Best Actress is Amy Adams. All the others feel too fringy, or in Winslet's case (who has the star power and Academy love to combat that), the movie has been poorly received.

    Best Supporting Actor:
    This is the most wide open category, one with no clear frontrunner as far as I can see. Honestly the only surefire lock seems to be Jared Leto as I could even see Hanks slipping out since he's pretty much guaranteed for Captain Phillips. Bizarrely however I'd probably consider Hanks my favorite to win since Leto's performance feels too small and in a movie not many people will see, though I guess I could see them viewing it as some sort of statement award given the character he plays. I desperately want Fassbender to get in and he probably will, but there's always the chance they find the character too loathsome. Beyond that I could honestly see any of your top ten getting nominated.

    Best Supporting Actress:
    Oprah, Lupita Nyong'o, and Julia Roberts all feel like very safe bets. After that it's wide open, though I'd probably put Lawrence in just because the Academy loves her and it seems like someone from that American Hustle ensemble has to get in. None of it matters all that much though since I think Oprah wins easily. As good as Nyong'o is I think her role is a bit too small, especially to take down one of the people most adored by those in showbusiness.

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      "though I'm mainly thinking of the Best Picture nomination for A Serious Man and the directing nomination for True Grit, though that was only so the Academy could say fuck you to Christopher Nolan."

      The Coens' nomination for True Grit was most certainly not a "f*** you" to Christopher Nolan. While Nolan was certainly deserving of a nomination, the field was stacked, and the Coens' deserved the recognition they received. Frankly, Tom Hooper (the winner that year) is the one person nominated that I feel shouldn't have been.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

        Hooper was guaranteed a nomination even though at that point no one thought The King's Speech was the frontrunner. But it was clearly in second. Everyone expected Nolan to get nominated, no one expected the Coens. I agree that the Coens were more deserving than Hooper (True Grit was my #3 film of 2010), but there is no question that they were used to replace Nolan.

        • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

          The Coens may have gotten in just ahead of Nolan, but I don't believe that nomination was made to spite him.

  • The Dog-Biting Man

    I'd be as excited if Seth MacFarlane returns as the guest host. He is as hilarious especially when he reveals the "Flight" parody.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    Also, while there's been evidence of this for a while, I feel like it's finally worth saying that Gravity has officially become a fanboy movie.

  • Lupita Nyong’o

    Thank you for keeping me on top. Much appreciated. :)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MovieFan/ Israel Valencia

    I still don't get much of the love for Captain Phillips and why is Walter Mitty still on #10 in the charts though I do agree with the majority of your selections brad

  • Lupita Nyong’o

    Thank you keeping me on top. :)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Asif/ Asif Nawaz

    I find it interesting that Sarah Paulson is nowhere to be found in the contenders for Best Supporting Actress, despite the fact that a) it was a terrifyingly good performance in a great film, and b) there is some buzz surrounding it (her performance).

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    The problem about in the UK is that while a good few of these films haven't opened in the US they also haven't in the UK and it could be a while before they do so while it all seems reasonable on paper just now it's hard to agree or disagree too much.

    My only problem with Captain Phillips is that it's really just the final twenty or so minutes where it raises the game and hits what I consider to be Awars worthy execution. If Hanks and Greengrass are to be nominated it'll be for that finale section but I don't think anything priot to that merits nominations. Will the Academy go for that? Possibly.

    I had hoped Daniel Bruhl may get traction for Rush in Best Supporting but it's vanished without trace as well so he's unlikely to crop up.

    Apart from that while Gravity appears poised to become the lastest in a long line of films to face backlash for the egregious sin of being well made, well recieved and commercially successful I think it's main areas of success lie in the technial categories. I think it's well positioned to score nominations in the big categories as well but I don't feel it will convert them into wins at this point.

  • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

    Predictions for the categories discussed above (projected winner in bold):

    Best Picture
    American Hustle; 12 Years A Slave; Gravity; Captain Phillips; Saving Mr. Banks; Inside Llewyn Davis; The Butler; The Wolf of Wall Street; Her; Nebraska

    Best Director
    David O. Russell; Alfonso Cuaron; Steve McQueen; Paul Greengrass; Joel & Ethan Coen

    Best Actor
    Chiwetel Ejiofor; Robert Redford; Matthew McConaughey; Tom Hanks; Forest Whitaker

    Best Actress
    Cate Blanchett; Judi Dench; Sandra Bullock; Emma Thompson; Amy Adams

    Best Supporting Actor
    Jared Leto; Michael Fassbender; Tom Hanks; Barkhad Abdi; James Gandolfini

    Best Supporting Actress
    Lupita Nyongo; Oprah Winfrey; Jennifer Lawrence; Octavia Spencer; June Squibb

  • http://theoscarsproject.blogspot.com Heather Martin

    I personally really don't see American Hustle winning over 12 Years A Slave. I feel like 12 Years really has it locked up, but Awards season definitely gets unpredictable so anything could happen.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/seren/ seren

    Meryl Streep has been skipping all the promotions for "August..." but because she is Meryl, the director, producers and the other cast all talk about her at any event. So, she doesn't have to do any press for herself. Or maybe not doing any press is the way how she campaigns. I think it's kind of weird that the lead star doesn't do anything for the film aside from the awards campaign. Anyway, I feel Meryl is weak this year. Maybe because the film itself has divisive reactions, or maybe because of the category problem. If any of those five ladies is replaced, I think it could be Meryl. But anyway, Cate Blanchett will win whoever comes.

  • adu

    I'm still not getting a mjor Oscar vibe for American Hustle outside acting...it's too bouncy/glib for its own good it seems from the trailers. I'd be happy to be proven wrong given the talent behind it though.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Art/ Art

    Good list. We will almost find out how good Amercan Hustle really is, looking forward to that film. The lead actor race is a good one this year. I see the great Redford taking it with Chiwetel as the runner up. I do see Dern in there over Whittaker, though that fifth slot is also competitive:
    1) Redford
    2) Chiwetel
    3) McConaughey
    4) Hanks
    5) Dern

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Zevastian/ Zevastian

    David O Russel's a real pro when it comes to directing actors. He has directed in the last 3 years 3 oscar winning performances... I really doubt that American Hustle will not be nominated for at least one acting award.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    Wasnt Meryl going for Supporting?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kathrynlynn/ kathrynlynn

    at the start of the year things seemed pretty bleak to me, but as i follow your oscar updates, and reflect on the past couple of months and what's coming soon I am really appreciative of the performances that have been given this year. In the midst of a time where enormous budget sci fi/fantasy films dominate- we are still getting really interesting dramas with incredible talent.

  • Keith Harrison Allison

    I really feel like people have been underestimating Dern throughout the season. The guy has been campaigning hard for this and he's the exact kind of guy who has worked long enough as a hard-working, no-nonsense sort of actor to earn respect from his peers. I can't imagine Nebraska getting in for BP without Dern earning a nomination with it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinb/ kevinb

    Just read one of the reviews from last night's screening of American Hustle, and it was a lukewarm notice at best. The only two performances this reviewer noted that were possible Oscar bait: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Amy Adams role was supposedly poorly written and "under" performed.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Risa/ Risa

    Hank is a lock, I have absolutey no doubt about it - what he did in the last 5 minutes could've looked really silly if it was some other actor, barring probably Norton.

    I don't understand why you would put Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle in your predictions when you haven't watched them whilst leaving out Dallas Buyers Club and Rush, films you seem to have had a lot to say about. Is it cause Scorsese has made something different after a long while (I thank the ghost of Bill Hicks for that) and it automatically warrants a nomination? And anything the new Scorsese wannabe David O' Rusell does from now on will definitely be nominated for the rest of his life since Hollywood had the audacity to nominate Silver blah blah, is that also safe to predict? I loved Jennifer Lawrence in that film but to nominate the film itself and then wasting 3 other acting nominations was only a testament to shameless forced down the throat campaigning, nothing else.

    And Gravity would've merely been a cult classic, had it been released about 20 years ago, is definitely not of a Best Picture award winning standard but my bet is that it will "beat" all the superhero films to win the special affects awards since there was no superhero in it - hated the casting, loved the concept, hated the illogical aspects, loved the visuals.

    Saving Mr Banks and Butler were duds with great performances, so, Whitaker and Thompson will definitely receive nominations alongside Oprah and a 2nd nomination for Hanks.

    Of all the films I watched this year my personal favourites that I would love to see nominated:

    12 Years a Slave (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Screenplay)
    Dallas Buyers Club (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay)
    All Is Lost (Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay)
    Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Actress, Screenplay)
    Captain Phillips(Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor)
    Inside Llewyn Davis(Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay)
    Rush(Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Screenplay)
    Mud(Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay)
    Philomena (Actress, Screenplay)
    Blue Jasmine(Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay)
    The Past(Picture, Director, Actress)

  • Zach

    I think Jennifer Lawrence should be nominated for Catching Fire, she was absolutely fantastic in that movie. Jennifer showed so much emotion and made you believe every single issue her character was going through. Fantastic.