Awards Watch #7

Best Picture

1) 12 Years A Slave

2) Gravity

3) American Hustle

4) Her

5) Inside Llewyn Davis

6) Captain Phillips

7) The Wolf Of Wall Street

8) Nebraska

9) The Butler

10) Saving Mr Banks

11) Philomena

12) Rush

13) Dallas Buyers Club

14) August Osage County

15) Fruitvale Station

12 Years A Slave and Gravity have been recognized by literally every critics award list I’ve seen. They are locked in for Best Picture at the Oscars, no doubt. I would consider (based on the requirements for the category) that American Hustle and Her are near-locks right now. Inside Llewyn Davis is a “safe bet”.  The other 10 nominees are fighting in that expanded 5-10 realm, where a film could sneak in and surprise. Even though they are ranked low, August Osage County and Dallas Buyers Club both have SAG nominations for Best Ensemble, and Philomena and Rush both managed Best Picture nominations at the Golden Globes. Some films like Wolf Of Wall Street, Saving Mr Banks, American Hustle, and Her are just now starting to hit theatres. There could be increased fervor around them in the coming weeks that could help them advance their place in this race.

Best Actor:

1) Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years A Slave

2) Matthew McConaughey- Dallas Buyers Club

3) Bruce Dern- Nebraska

4) Tom Hanks- Captain Phillips

5) Robert Redford- All Is Lost

6) Forest Whitaker- The Butler

7) Joaquin Phoenix- Her

8) Oscar Issac- Inside Llewyn Davis

9) Christian Bale- American Hustle

10) Leonardo DiCaprio- Wolf Of Wall Street

Ejiofor is the only lock here. He’s made every nominations list, whereas his other 4 strongest competitors have found themselves left off of one or two. Ejiofor is the one performance that everyone can’t ignore, so he’s certain for his first nomination. Robert Redford’s hype has died down a bit, missing out on several critics circle lists. Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern have both been omitted more than they needed to be. It looks like Matthew McConaughey is the second strongest contender, but when you have also-rans like Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Issac, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Forest Whitaker, no one is safe. Forest benefitted from his SAG nomination, but failed to get a Globe nomination. In fact, he’s the only one out of the 10 guys listed that didn’t get a Globe nomination. However, actors vote for actors. Then again, last year, John Hawkes got a SAG nomination, only to be left off the Oscar list. Anything can happen.

Best Actress

1) Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine

2) Sandra Bullock- Gravity

3) Emma Thompson- Saving Mr Banks

4) Meryl Streep- August Osage County

5) Judi Dench- Philomena

6) Amy Adams- American Hustle

7) Adele Exarchopoulos- Blue Is The Warmest Color

8) Julie Delpy- Before Midnight

9) Brie Larson- Short Term 12

10) Julia Louis-Dreyfus- Enough Said

Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock are the locks here. Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, and Judi Dench, all acclaimed actresses in their own rite, are all “safe bets”, but it is likely that someone will sneak in and steal one of their spots at the Oscars. Last year, Quevenzhane Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva snuck in without SAG nominations. This year, Amy Adams could pick up enough steam to upset. Adele Exarchopoulos has a lot standing in her way, namely the NC-17 rating that comes with her film, a rating that stopped Michael Fassbender from being nominated for Shame a few years back.  Julie Delpy might surprise, after grabbing a Golden Globe Nomination, or indie fave Brie Larson.

Best Supporting Actor

1) Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club

2) Michael Fassbender- 12 Years A Slave

3) Barkhad Abdi- Captain Phillips

4) James Gandolfini- Enough Said

5) Daniel Bruhl- Rush

6) Tom Hanks- Saving Mr Banks

7) Bradley Cooper- American Hustle

8) Will Forte- Nebraska

9) Matthew McConaughey- Mud

10) Sam Rockwell- The Way Way Back

Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender are the locks here, being on virtually every list I’ve seen. They both gave performances that can’t be ignored, and should both get their first nominations this year. Barkhad Abdi is a near-lock for Captain Phillips, having picked up a ton of accolades. His Captain Phillips co-star Tom Hanks has been losing steam recently for Saving Mr Banks, having missed out on both the SAG and Golden Globe nominations. James Gandolfini is still in this race, and Daniel Bruhl has made a last-minute surge out of the gate, after having gotten zero attention for over a month. Bruhl managed to grab both a SAG and a Globe nomination. Bradley Cooper might pass Hanks soon, after managing a Globe nomination. Will Forte, Matthew McConaughey, and Sam Rockwell are long-shots. Even longer shots, but worth mentioning are Harrison Ford for 42 and James Franco for Spring Breakers. Both have gotten love from critics circles, but neither will hear their name called in January. Not much has come of Jonah Hill’s performance in The Wolf Of Wall Street, so I dropped him off the list.

Best Supporting Actress

1) Lupita N’Yongo- 12 Years A Slave

2) Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle

3) June Squibb- Nebraska

4) Julia Roberts- August Osage County

5) Oprah Winfrey- The Butler

6) Sally Hawkins- Blue Jasmine

7) Scarlett Johannson- Her

8) Octavia Spencer- Fruitvale Station

9) Lea Seydoux- Blue Is The Warmest Color

10) Margo Martindale- August: Osage County

Here we also have two locks. Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence will both get nominated, for sure. Oprah Winfrey has basically only gotten the SAG nomination recently, and her chances seem to be dimming. Julia Roberts’s are on the rise again, and June Squibb is a “safe bet”.  Sally Hawkins has her eyes on the Top 5, especially after her Globe nomination. Scarlett Johansson has picked up a ton of nominations for Her, but she would be the first actress nominated for a voice over role, which is quite a mountain to climb. Octavia Spencer has been quiet for a while, and Seydoux has just started into the race. This race is so barren that one group actually nominated Elizabeth Banks for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Best Director:

1) Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity

2) Steve McQueen- 12 Years A Slave

3) David O’Russell- American Hustle

4) Spike Jonze- Her

5) Paul Greengrass- Captain Phillips

6) Alexander Payne- Nebraska

7) The Coen Brothers- Inside Llewyn Davis

8) Martin Scorsese- The Wolf Of Wall Street

9) Woody Allen- Blue Jasmine

10) Ryan Coogler- Fruitvale Station

Cuaron and McQueen will both hear their names called. David O’Russell and Spike Jonze are strong favorites. For the fifth slot, Paul Greengrass, Alexander Payne, and The Coen Brothers are all likely, but Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen can’t be counted out. Also, Ryan Coogler could pull a Ben Zeitlen and get a nomination.

Best Animated Feature:

1) The Wind Rises

2) Frozen

3) Despicable Me 2

4) Monsters University

5) The Croods

6) Ernest and Celestine

7) A Letter To Momo

8) Epic

There’s the race to be nominated, which looks pretty set, and there’s a separate race to win, which is being battled between The Wind Rises and Frozen.

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

1) The Act Of Killing

2) Stories We Tell

3) Blackfish

4) 20 Feet From Stardom

5) The Square

This race is really between The Act Of Killing and Stories We Tell. Either could take the whole category at this point.

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