Usually going into Oscar weekend, there is already a clear front-runner that’s expected to win big (which usually ends up being the case).  This year though, it genuinely feels like almost anything could happen.  Nevertheless, I’m going to try my hand at predicting who will (and just as importantly should) win.  Here goes nothing.

2014 Academy Award Predictions

Best Picture

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska 
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win12 Years a Slave

Should Win12 Years a Slave

Dark Horse: Gravity

Analysis: Best Picture is actually one of the toughest categories to predict this year.  12 Years a Slave appears to be out in front but the film’s detractors have heavily criticized it for being hard to watch and equate it to torture porn.  Gravity is by far the most likely movie to pull an upset but has endured criticisms of it’s own.  While it is being rightfully hailed as a technical marvel, it has been lambasted for it’s less than stellar screenplay and that it may have actually put too much emphasis on the special effects.  American Hustle has a small chance of beating them both but I’m not exactly holding my breath.  I’m going to give the edge to 12 Years a Slave because I think the Academy have a preference to reward story and acting over technical achievements (ex. Hurt Locker vs. Avatar in 2009).

Best Director

  • Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity
  • Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave
  • Alexander Payne- Nebraska
  • David O. Russell- American Hustle
  • Martin Scorsese- The Wolf of Wall Street


Will Win– Alfonso Cuaron

Should Win– Alfonso Cuaron

Dark Horse– Steve McQueen

Analysis– Alfonso Cuaron is without a doubt the favorite to win going into tomorrow’s ceremony.  At this point the only director with any chance whatsoever of beating him is Steve McQueen but the odds of that are pretty slim.  Cuaron isn’t a lock to win but he’s awfully close.

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale- American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern- Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey- Dallas Buyers Club


Will Win– Matthew McConaughey

Should Win– Chiwetel Ejiofor

Dark Horse– Leonardo DiCaprio

Analysis– While there has been a decent marketing push in favor of DiCaprio, this award is McConaughey’s to lose.  He has had a great year performance-wise and his critically acclaimed performance in the HBO series True Detective has done a good job of reminding people that he’s a good actor.  DiCaprio may be well liked by the Academy but I think he’ll going home empty-handed again.

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams- American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock- Gravity
  • Judi Dench- Philomena
  • Meryl Streep- August: Osage County


Will Win– Cate Blanchett

Should Win– Cate Blanchett

Dark Horse– Amy Adams (though unlikely)

Analysis– This is probably the easiest category to predict.  I could go into some long-winded analysis here but the fact is Cate Blanchett had this award all sewn up since basically last summer when Blue Jasmine was released.  If I have to pick an upset candidate I’ll go  with Amy Adams but it’s highly unlikely.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Barkhad Abdi- Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper- American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender- 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill- The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club


Will Win– Jared Leto

Should Win– Jared Leto

Dark Horse– Michael Fassbender (also unlikely)

Analysis– This one is almost as easy to predict as Best Actress.  Jared Leto has been winning just about every major award in sight leading up to tomorrow and his biggest competition (Michael Fassbender) has understandably refused to campaign due to apparently being disillusioned with the whole process after being snubbed for his performance in Shame a couple of year ago.    Some may point out that Abdi recently pulled an unexpected BAFTA win but I don’t think that will be enough to sway voters.  I will be shocked if anybody besides Leto walks away with the statue.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Sally Hawkins- Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong’o- 12 Years a Slave
  • Julia Roberts- August: Osage County
  • June Squibb- Nebraska


Will Win– Lupita Nyong’o

Should Win– Lupita Nyong’o

Dark Horse– Jennifer Lawrence

Analysis– This one is basically a two horse race between Nyong’o and Lawrence.  Both actresses have had their fair share of support with Nyong’o getting wins at the Critic’s Choice, SAG and the Independent Spirit Awards.  Lawrence meanwhile has wins at the Golden Globes and last week’s BAFTAs.  I’m going to give the edge to Nyong’o because I believe she gave a better performance but I won’t be surprised if Lawrence gets her second Oscar.

Best Original Screenplay

  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her
  • Nebraska


Will WinAmerican Hustle

Should WinHer

Dark HorseHer

Analysis:  I debated flipping a coin on this one.  American Hustle and Her are undoubtedly the big contenders for this category and while it’s a close race I’m giving the edge to American Hustle.  American Hustle and writer/director David O. Russell have been well-liked by the Academy and I think this might be the category where they show them both some recognition (deserved or otherwise).

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street


Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: Before Midnight

Dark Horse: Philomena

Analysis: There’s no doubt in my mind 12 Years a Slave will get the win in this category.  Even if they don’t win Best Picture, the Academy will likely want to honor the film somehow.  Philomena did manage a shocking upset at the BAFTAs last week but I think 12 Years a Slave is liked by too many Oscar voters to lose out in this category.