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


American Hustle


Captain Phillips


Inside Llewyn Davis

The Wolf of Wall Street

If there are 9/10:

Saving Mr. Banks


Others that could surprise:

Dallas Buyers Club

Blue Jasmine

Fruitvale Station

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



The Great Beauty The Hunt The Broken Circle Breakdown


The Missing Picture

The Grandmaster

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.



The Act of Killing Blackfish Stories We Tell The Square 20 Feet from Stardom

Dirty Wars

Tim’s Vermeer

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.


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


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


American Hustle The Lone Ranger

The Great Gatsby

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa


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




Captain Phillips

Inside Llewyn Davis

All is Lost

12 Years A Slave

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug




All is Lost

Captain Phillips


Pacific Rim

Lone Survivor

Star Trek Into Darkness

Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22

Andy Buckle is a passionate Sydney-based film enthusiast and reviewer who has built a respected online voice at his personal blog, The Film Emporium. Andy will contribute reviews, features and be our resident film festival, and awards expert.