The Academy Award nominations are set for January 16 (a week later than last year). They are usually revealed online at about midnight here. Between now, though, we have the Guilds (the DGA, PGA, WGA), whose nominees will likely all-but complete the picture for this year’s representatives.
But, I am going to jump the gun and offer my predictions already. I am prepared to be wrong, and surprised. Remember the Best Director field last year? No one predicted that.
The Top 8. Listed in order of likelihood. The Wolf of Wall Street is certainly the shaky one.
12 Years A Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
If there are 9/10:
Saving Mr. Banks
Others that could surprise:
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Saving Mr Banks will be riding Emma Thompson’s likely nomination for Best Actress, and potentially others for Hanks (Supporting Actor) and Newman (Score). Conservative Academy voters will love this film, and its charm alone could earn it a place. I enjoyed it a lot, but how many ballots is it realistically going to land #1 on?
Philomena will likely receive nods for Judi Dench (Lead Actress), and Adapted Screenplay, which could be enough to propel it into the Best Pic field. Similarly, Woody Allen (Original Screenplay) and Cate Blanchett (Lead Actress) could be the sole representatives for Blue Jasmine. Dallas Buyers Club has been well received critically and McConaughey and Leto are amongst the favourites in their Acting categories. It could certainly claim a low spot.
Last year the similarly debut-directed Beasts of the Southern Wild came from Sundance acclaim and a Cannes victory to make it into the Best Picture field. For me Fruitvale Station is a much better film, with a breakthrough performance from Michael B. Jordan, and impeccable direction from Ryan Coogler. This year’s field simply looks too strong. It is out of consideration in almost every category. Despite the SAG nominations for Ensemble, Oprah Winfrey and (surprisingly) Forest Whitaker Lee Daniels’ The Butler has lost serious traction. A here nomination would surprise.
I’m sticking with the 8, but with The Wolf of Wall Street receiving polarizing reviews. Those who love it…LOVE it, but I understand that some voters have been disgusted by the film’s content, and celebration of Belfort’s debauchery. I wonder how many are going to place it at #1.
Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips David O. Russell – American Hustle Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave Alexander Payne – Nebraska
Spike Jonze – Her
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
Joel and Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
John Lee Hancock – Saving Mr Banks
An absolute lottery. Look through that top eight and you see eight fantastic directors vying for just five slots. The DGA nominees will reveal the favourites, but I would expect Cuaron and McQueen to be the only real locks here. At this point I have Russell, Payne and Greengrass, but Jonze’s work is for many, his greatest to date, and Marty, at age 71, may impress voters for helming what must have been a physically demanding shoot. I’d personally drop out Russell (I had him to win last year for Silver Linings Playbook, and I still think he should have) because American Hustle isn’t up to some of the others (namely Her). I think he’ll be there, though.
Bruce Dern – Nebraska Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Joaquin Phoenix – Her
Robert Redford – All is Lost
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Christian Bale – American Hustle
This category is also really competitive. Having just watched Her I can’t leave Phoenix out of this line-up, and I am placing him in there in favor of Redford, whose performance wasn’t honoured by the SAG, and I haven’t yet seen. Hanks hasn’t been awarded by any of the critical bodies (Dern/Ejiofor seem to be locks judging by these), so his position certainly isn’t guaranteed, and with DiCaprio again causing a stir for what many are claiming to be amongst his best performances, it’s pretty open. Even Bale could find his way in (hey, he deserves it!) if American Hustle receives a lot of love.
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine Sandra Bullock – Gravity Judi Dench – Philomena Meryl Streep – August: Osage County Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color
Julie Delpy – Before Midnight
I am almost certain these will be the final five. Meryl is perhaps the most likely to drop out, but Adams, if anyone, will snatch that spot up. I’d personally nominate Larson, Exarchopoulos and Delpy (along with Blanchett and Bullock), but the veterans will have the support of aging Academy voters. It’s hard to argue with them, really. Blanchett is the clear favourite, so it may not even matter who is nominated.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips Bradley Cooper – American Hustle Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks
James Franco – Spring Breakers
Fassbender (the likely winner!) and Leto are the only locks here, but how could you pass on Cooper. He is outstanding in American Hustle. Abdi deserves a nomination too for his terrific work alongside Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips. Hill is a bit of a wildcard. Who would have thought this would exist: Two-time Academy Award Nominee, Jonah Hill. But his work alongside Di Caprio in Scorsese’s debauch fest is drawing praise. Daniel Bruhl (a co-lead role?) and James Gandolfini (a posthumous nomination?) are the other contenders, but I am still scratching my head why Franco (Spring Breakers) isn’t in the discussion.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave Julia Roberts – August: Osage County June Squibb – Nebraska Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Scarlett Johansson – Her
Amy Adams – Her
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station
A pretty easy category to predict, but I’d consider Adams (in a supporting role) for Her over her lead role (kinda) in American Hustle. The one I’d drop, Roberts or Oprah. The latter is terrific amongst the whos-who ensemble in The Butler, but not a performance that lingers for very long. Roberts holds her own against Streep in August Osage County but is guilty of overacting too. Scarlett has already been disqualified for her pitch perfect voice performance in Her and unless Blue Jasmine makes it into the Best Pic field and gets widespread love, Hawkins seem set to miss out too.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Eric Singer and David O. Russell – American Hustle Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine Spike Jonze – Her Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis Bob Nelson – Nebraska
Nicole Holofcener – Enough Said
Spike Jonze would have to be the favourite here, but with the Coens and a script as amazing as Bob Nelson’s in the same category you can never be sure. The Academy may favor Holofcener’s screenplay to Allen’s, but the other four will be here.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight Billy Ray – Captain Phillips Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope – Philomena John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street
Tracy Letts – August: Osage County
Destin Cretton – Short Term 12
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber - The Spectacular Now
You know who should win this category? Linklater, Delpy and Hawke. Superb writing. Their finale (?) to the amazing ‘Before’ trilogy is as perfect a culmination as one would expect. Winter’s adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s mammoth novel, and Ridley’s effort to bring the story of Solomon Northup to the screen also look likely to figure in the finish. The latter was actually the film’s weak link for me. It wouldn’t have my final vote. I can’t see any others making it in, but it would be great to see Short Term 12 or The Spectacular Now sneak in there.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Croods Despicable Me 2 Frozen Monsters University The Wind Rises
Ernest and Celestine
I forgot all about Ernest and Celestine. I thought it was going to be a five film race. Frozen or The Wind Rises to take it out, though.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Great Beauty The Hunt The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Missing Picture
Shrugs. When the shortlist was announced the other day there were some controversial exclusions. No Wadjda, The Past, The Rocket or Gloria. I’m not certain about this line-up at all, but if anything other than The Great Beauty wins I’d be surprised. I hope it is The Hunt if one does. The Missing Picture has zoomed up my anticipated list having heard some great things about it. I have it in there as a bit of a wildcard.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The Act of Killing Blackfish Stories We Tell The Square 20 Feet from Stardom
God Loves Uganda
The Crash Reel
Also very tough to predict. The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell have split two precursor awards. Clear favourites. Blackfish and 20 Feet From Stardom are two of the year’s best-reviewed documentaries so I think that will translate into nominations. I’d vote in Dirty Wars (for the win, too) but it will likely miss out. The Square, I understand, is also a very important film.
Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis Phedon Papamichael – Nebraska Hoyte Van Hoytema - Her Sean Bobbitt – 12 Years a Slave
Roger Deakins – Prisoners
Anthony Dod Mantle – Rush
Barry Ackroyd – Captain Phillips
Frank G. DeMarco – All Is Lost
Lubezki will win this. He deserves it too. How didn’t he win for Tree of Life?
But there is some hot competition. In any other year these other nominees would be worthy of a win.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Andy Nicholson (Production Designer), Rosie Goodwin (Set Decorator) – Gravity Catherine Martin (Production Designer), Beverley Dunn (Set Decorator) – The Great Gatsby K.K. Barrett (Production Designer), Gene Serdena (Set Decorator) – Her Dan Hennah (Production Designer), Ra Vincent (Set Decorator) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer), Alice Baker (Set Decorator) – 12 Years a Slave
Jess Gonchor (Production Designer), Susan Bode (Set Decorator) – Inside Llewyn Davis
Richard Stromberg (Production Designer), Nancy Haigh (Set Decorator) - Oz: The Great and Powerful
Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger – Gravity Christopher Rouse – Captain Phillips
Joe Walker – 12 Years a Slave
Thelma Schoonmaker – The Wolf of Wall Street
Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers – American Hustle
Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill – Rush
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Daniel Orlandi – Saving Mr. Banks Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave
Mary Zophres – Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
American Hustle The Lone Ranger
The Great Gatsby
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Gravity The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Pacific Rim
Iron Man 3 Star Trek into Darkness
World War Z
Atlas – Coldplay – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Let It Go – Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Frozen
Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey – The Great Gatsby Ordinary Love – U2 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom So You Know What It’s Like – Keith Stanfield – Short Term 12
Steven Price – Gravity Arcade Fire – Her
Mark Orton - Nebraska Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks Hans Zimmer – 12 Years a Slave (and/or Rush)
Alex Ebert – All is Lost
John Williams – The Book Thief
BEST SOUND MIXING
Inside Llewyn Davis
All is Lost
12 Years A Slave
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
BEST SOUND EDITING
All is Lost
Star Trek Into Darkness
Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22