Projection: Oscar - Oscar Projections, 12/21/2013



As the critics organizations continue to chime in, 12 Years a Slave is fast emerging as this year’s – fairly overwhelming – critical champion.  It’s also out in front in terms of industry nominations, now that we have heard from the Screen Actors Guild. Nevertheless, Alfonso Cuaron is now well-established as the Best Director frontrunner, and so the battle between Gravity and 12 Years rages on.

Updated projections follow in all categories. Based on the SAG nominations, we may be getting a feel for how the acting categories will shake out (like, Tom Hanks may not get that double-nomination after all), but then again, with categories this crowded, not even SAG can be trusted to be 100% predictive.

The Golden Globes announced last week as well…but, ya know…HFPA is an amusing wild card. Don’t expect much to shift on their account.

And then there is the very large matter of the Academy’s shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film, which excluded a handful of films that many – including me – thought to be major contenders. As a matter of fact, three of my top five predictions from last week – The Past, Gloria, and my #1 selection, Wadjda – failed to make the cut. While it’s unfortunate that these wonderful films will not be included among the Oscar finalists, I can’t say my pride has taken any hits, since one simply cannot predict how the Oscar shortlist will be formulated. There was a record 76 entries for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, and in the process of narrowing that field down to nine shortlisted contenders, casualties were to be expected…but the omission of these three high-profile titles was quite surprising. As a result, the full shortlist is featured on this week’s predictions, ranked from 1 to 9.

We are continuing to add categories as we move closer and closer to the full Oscar slate. This week’s new categories are Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Visual Effects.

The latest projections:

Best Picture

1. Gravity – If you project how many significant Oscars each film could win, it just feels like this is The One.

2. 12 Years a Slave – Easily the frontrunner based on the critics awards…but Oscars aren’t decided by the critics.

3. American Hustle – The only significant threat to sneak in between the two top contenders.

4. Nebraska – Consistently loved.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street – Wasn’t a big winner with Globes or SAG, but it’s still being seen. There will be haters…but there will be lovers, too.

6. Saving Mr. Banks – The lack of SAG and Globes strength is curious enough to queston it’s standing. But it’s a Hollywood movie about old Hollywood, and should garner Academy support.

7. Her – Would be higher on the list if we were basing it on critical support, but we aren’t. The Academy might still be too analog for this one…

8. Captain Phillips – Support for Hanks and Abdi shows the film hasn’t been forgotten.

9. Dallas Buyers Club – The SAG ensemble nod signals broad strength among the Academy’s acting branch. This one is back on the rise, but if it sneaks into Best Picture, what film would it supplant?


Other Contenders:

10. Inside Llewyn Davis – I guess this is the film that gets supplanted. I am surprised by the lack of passion from critics and industry insiders alike for this incredible film. Still wonder if respect for Coens helps it sneak in.

11. Blue Jasmine

12. August: Osage County

13. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

14. Fruitvale Station

15. Before Midnight


Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity – Feels like an obvious winner.

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave – The only logical upset choice. In the case of a mini-sweep by 12 Years, McQueen probably wins.

3. David O. Russell, American Hustle – As the film settles as a top contender, Russell becomes even more likely in this category.

4. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street – Was denied a Globes nomination, but I still feel like this nomination can happen once more people see the film.

5. Spike Jonze, Her  – Could land a nomination here even if the film doesn’t earn a BP nod.


Other Contenders:

6. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips – The conventional choice for the five slot. If the film holds, he could still make it in…likely over Scorsese or Jonze.

7. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

8. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

9. J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost

10. John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks


Best Actress

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine – Seems destined.

2. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks – She is the best part of a mediocre film.

3. Sandra Bullock, Gravity – Should be on stronger ground…and should be threatening for the win. But Cate has usurped attention in this category and Cuaron has usurped attention in terms of Gravity.

4. Judi Dench, Philomena – Weinstein has campaigned masterfully for Dame Judi.

5. Amy Adams, American HustleAs the film gains steam, she feels like a great choice to sneak past one of the frontrunners.


Other Contenders:

6. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County – Can she get in just by virtue of being Meryl? Yeah, probably, but the film needs to show up soon.

7. Brie Larson, Short Term 12 – A real sneaky, very deserving underdog.

8. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

9. Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

10. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said


Best Actor

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave – In a category that once seemed uncertain, Ejiofor now seems a clear frontrunner. Plus, if the film doesn’t win Best Picture, he will be its most visible Oscar representative.

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska – The clearest upset threat.

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers ClubThe SAG support gave McConaughey a needed boost to stay in the thick of this race. He once again feels like a nominee.

4. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips – I worried last week that the film would be forgotten. It hasn’t been.

5. Robert Redford, All is Lost – No SAG nom is a problem, especially when he wasn’t campaigning much to begin with. Vulnerable.


Other Contenders:

6. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler – Seemingly out of nowhere, the film regained traction with big SAG support. He is once again threatening.

7. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

8. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

9. Christian Bale, American Hustle

10. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

11. Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

12. Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station


Best Supporting Actress

1. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle – The film is surging and she steals the show.

2. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave – Based on the massive critical support, she should really be in  the top spot. I’m projecting out into the future, but if her momentum holds, she could very easily win.

3. June Squibb, Nebraska – As well loved as the film itself.

4. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The ButlerSAG nomination solidifies her spot here.

5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County – Another much-needed SAG boost.


Other Contenders:

6. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale StationEasily the film’s best (and probably only) shot at a nomination.

7. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County

8. Naomie Harris, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

9. Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street

10. Scarlett Johansson, Her


Best Supporting Actor

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club – Next to Blanchett, Leto feels like the surest Oscar juggernaut at this point.

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave – The lack of campaigning hurts, but he should still make the cut.

3. Barkhad Abdi, Captain PhillipsNominations from SAG and HFPA have vaulted him back into position.

4. James Gandolfini, Enough Said – A well-deserved posthumous honor.

5. Daniel Bruhl, RushPower of SAG yet again. Maybe it was a boost, maybe it was confirmation that he was always a strong contender for a nomination.


Other Contenders:

6. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

8. Will Forte, Nebraska

9. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

10. James Franco, Spring Breakers


Best Original Screenplay

1. American Hustle – Eric Singer, David O. Russell

2. Nebraska – Bob Nelson

3. Inside Llewyn Davis – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

4. Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

5. Her – Spike Jonze


Other Contenders:

6. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron

7. Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

8. Saving Mr. Banks – Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith

9. Short Term 12 – Destin Cretton

10. Enough Said – Nicole Holofcener

11. Mud – Jeff Nichols


Best Adapted Screenplay

1. 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

2. Before Midnight – Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater

3. Philomena – Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

4. Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

5. The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter


Other Contenders:

6. August: Osage County – Tracy Letts

7. Blue is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix

8. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – William Nicholson


Best Film Editing

1. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger

2. 12 Years a Slave – Joe Walker

3. American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers

4. Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse

5. The Wolf of Wall Street – Thelma Schoonmaker


Other Contenders:

6. Rush – Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill

7. Nebraska – Kevin Tent

8. Her – Jeff Buchanan, Eric Zumbrunnen

9. Inside Llewyn Davis – Roderick Jaynes


Best Cinematography

1. Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

2. 12 Years a Slave – Sean Bobbitt

3. Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel

4. Rush – Anthony Dod Mantle

5. Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael


Other Contenders:

6. Prisoners – Roger Deakins

7. Her – Hoyte Van Hoytema

8. American Hustle – Linus Sandgren

9. Captain Phillips – Barry Ackroyd

10. All Is Lost – Frank G. DeMarco


Best Foreign Language Film

1. The Hunt (Denmark)

2. The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

3. The Great Beauty (Italy)

4. Omar (Palestine)

5. The Grandmaster (Hong Kong)


Other Contenders:

6. The Notebook (Hungary)

7. Two Lives (Germany)

8. An Episode In the Life of an Iron Picker (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

9. The Missing Picture (Cambodia)


Best Animated Feature

1. The Wind Rises – More than the film, people respect Hayao Miyazaki

2. Frozen – In a weak year, this is the deserving winner.

3. Monsters University

4. The Croods

5. Ernest and Celestine


Other Contenders:

6. Despicable Me 2 – Probably dumb of me to omit this film, which was such a box-office juggernaut. I suppose it could supplant the little-known GKIDS entry, Ernest and Celestine, or The Croods

7. Epic

8. A Letter to Momo


Best Documentary Feature

1. The Act of Killing­ – Feels like the leader now, but the doc branch is unpredictable.

2. Blackfish – It’s an activist film, which is very popular with this group.

3. Stories We Tell – Is it too personal to make the cut?

4. The SquareMay be higher on this list than I’m currently giving it credit for.

5. 20 Feet From Stardom


Other Contenders:

6. Tim’s Vermeer – A film that could easily supplant one of the top contenders. But which one?

7. After Tiller

8. Cutie and the Boxer

9. Dirty Wars

10. The Armstrong Lie


Best Visual Effects

1. Gravity – Winner. Over.

2. Pacific Rim

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Iron Man 3

5. Oblivion


Other Contenders:

6. World War Z

7. Elysium

8. Star Trek Into Darkness


About Author

I married into the cult of cinema at a very young age - I wasn't of legal marriage age, but I didn't care. It has taken advantage of me and abused me many times. Yet I stay in this marriage because I'm obsessed and consumed. Don't try to save me -- I'm too far gone.