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Oscar Nominations Announced Tomorrow Morning: Final Predictions
The nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards are going to be announced tomorrow morning. These are my final predictions and analysis for every category. I’d like to think that these are going to be 100% correct, but after last year’s nominations (including snubs for Affleck & Bigelow in Directing) the Oscar voters have proven that nobody is safe. Let’s take a look at each category…

*Also, take a look at my Critics Awards 2013 chart. All critic’s groups winners and nominees have been updated.*

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Best Picture:
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

*I’m going with 9 nominees…because that’s what has happened the last 2 years since the system was introduced. American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are sure things. Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street are also very likely to make the cut, especially if their respected directors are also nominated. Dallas Buyers Club has received a last minute wave of support (from SAG & PGA), so it would surprise me if it didn’t make the list. Despite their support waning, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska should still get enough votes to make the Top 9 list. But they are anything from a sure thing. And for the 9th spot, I think we are going to see a slight surprise with Blue Jasmine sneaking in. Cate Blanchett is pretty much unstoppable in Best Actress and I could see the film getting just enough to squeak into this lineup. Her is still a huge contender, but I just have this instinctual feeling that Academy voters are not going to appreciate the film and fail to nominate it anywhere outside of Screenplay. Philomena and Saving Mr. Banks are still very much in the mix, especially after the BAFTA nom for Philomena and the PGA nom Saving Mr. Banks. On the way outside of this race are the films: August: Osage County, Before Midnight, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Rush. They could possibly make it into this category, but they are longshots at best.*

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Best Director:
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

*This race has basically been narrowed down to seven people: Cuaron, Greengrass, Spike Jonze, McQueen, Alexander Payne, Russell & Scorsese. Anybody else would be a complete surprise or from a film that gets more support than anybody had anticipated (Woody Allen, The Coens). But I’m going to go with the same 5 directors that DGA nominated. They are a pretty good indicator of what the directors branch is going to go for on nomination morning. Spike Jonze is the likeliest person to take a spot from one of these guys, but I strongly suspect that Her is going to underperform. Alexander Payne could make it in here if Nebraska has a lot of support from Academy voters. But that’s another one where I suspect it’s going to get less nominations than everybody else is predicting.*

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Best Actor:
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

*This is a really interesting category. About a month ago it seemed like it was a done deal that this category would consist of Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks, McConaughey & Robert Redford. But Redford missed out on two important nominations: SAG and BAFTA. He was pretty much considered a lock and a threat to win, but his lack of appearances at those awards hurt him significantly. He’s not completely out of the race, but it shows that he doesn’t have as much support as everyone initially thought. That’s why I think DiCaprio is going to sneak in and take that fifth spot from him. The Wolf of Wall Street peaked at the perfect time and everyone is saying this is his best performance to date. Watch out for Christian Bale too. He did better than expected with the precursors (only missing at SAG), so he’s one to watch out for. Oscar Isaac should be more of a contender, but the lack of love for Inside Llewyn Davis with other voting groups doesn’t bode well for him at all.*

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Best Actress:
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

*This is an insanely competitive year. Cate Blanchett & Sandra Bullock are virtual locks. It would be a huge shock not to see them included on Thursday morning. Judi Dench & Emma Thompson are pretty secure also. Philomena got a lot of nominations from the BAFTAs and got a lot of love from the Golden Globes as well. People seem to like that movie. The same goes with Saving Mr. Banks. It’s PGA nomination in Best Picture shows that the film has a lot of support from other guilds. The last spot should go to Meryl Streep, but I think BAFTA snubbing her is a huge indicator that she might also be snubbed by the Academy also. American Hustle peaked at the right time and Adams seems to be getting the bulk of the praise in the acting department. I think she’s going to take that fifth spot from Streep.*

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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

*This category is completely open. Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender are the two frontrunners, with Barkhad Abdi in a comfortable third spot. The other two nominations could go a couple of different ways. Bradley Cooper has appeared everywhere except SAG, but American Hustle has had a late surge that is going to help with their nomination total. James Franco is a dark horse. He’s gotten a lot of attention for Spring Breakers, but he missed out on some major nominations. James Gandolfini could get a posthumous nomination for Enough Said, but the lack of a BAFTA nomination was an indication that he’s not a strong contender. Daniel Bruhl has gotten in everywhere for Rush, but that film has fallen under the radar and I don’t think he’s strong enough to overcome that obstacle. I have a surprise nomination for Jonah Hill happening. The Wolf of Wall Street has followed American Hustle at peaking at the right time. I think he’s going to slide into that fifth spot and get his second Oscar nomination.*

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Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

*After Jacki Weaver’s nomination last year…anything can happen. Jennifer Lawrence & Lupita Nyong’o are the frontrunners in this category. It would be one of the most shocking snubs ever if they weren’t included here. Julia Roberts & Oprah Winfrey’s films have underperformed. But Roberts has picked up nominations everywhere, so it would be surprising for her not to make the cut. Winfrey only missed the cut from the Golden Globes, which matter the least so she’s still very much in the mix. June Squibb has done well in the critic’s groups, but I feel that Nebraska is going to underperform and Sally Hawkins will sneak in and finally become an Oscar nominee.*

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Best Original Screenplay:
American Hustle – David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer
Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen
Her – Spike Jonze
Inside Llewyn Davis – Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Nebraska – Bob Nelson

*This category is much stronger than the adapted screenplay one. This is a solid lineup but there are plenty of other strong contenders ready to pounce. Gravity could ride its wave of support to a nomination here, Dallas Buyers Club had a last minute surge in the voting and could appear here, and even Enough Said could pull out a surprise nomination. It’s a close race and anything can still happen.*

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Best Adapted Screenplay:
Before Midnight – Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater
Captain Phillips – Billy Ray
Philomena – Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave – John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter

*This is pretty much the expected five nominees for this category. The weakest contender seems to be Before Midnight, which hasn’t done exceptionally well in the precurors outside of this category. But Before Sunset got a nomination here in 2005 in a much stronger race. This category is very weak so it should be solid for another one for Delpy, Hawke & Linklater. The other contenders? Outside shots for August: Osage County, Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now. But they are completely on the outside of these five.*

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Best Animated Feature:
Despicable Me 2 – Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Ernest & Celestine – Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar & Benjamin Renner
Frozen – Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Monsters University – Dan Scanlon
The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki

*Frozen is pretty much guaranteed a win here unless there’s a last minute wave of support for Hayao Miyazaki and The Wind Rises, which is in second. Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University are also looking good for nominations. Both are well-liked and did very well at the box office this year. The last spot is going to be a toss-up between The Croods and Ernest & Celestine. This group of voters likes to play with expectations…so I expect the lesser seen film to take that spot but it wouldn’t surprise me if The Croods ended up there instead.*

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Best Documentary Feature:
The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer
Blackfish – Gabriela Cowperthwaite
The Crash Reel – Lucy Walker
Stories We Tell – Sarah Polley
Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington – Sebastian Junger

*The critics groups have completely rallied around four films this year: The Act of Killing, Blackfish, Stories We Tell and 20 Feet From Stardom. I think three of those are going to make it to the finish line on Thursday morning. I’m predicting 20 Feet From Stardom just because it’s the “lesser” subject of the lineup. The Crash Reel got a last minute boost from the DGA. It’s a pretty great documentary and I think it will make the lineup. Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? has only shown up at the PGA awards, but the subject matter is right up the Academy’s alley. It should grab a nomination here.*

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Best Foreign-Language Film:
The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium
The Great Beauty – Italy
The Hunt – Denmark
The Missing Picture – Cambodia
The Notebook – Hungary

*This is always a completely random category. You never know what the Oscar voters are going to do. Plus the precursors don’t help since most of the films that critics watch don’t get submitted for Oscar consideration. I’m going with these 5 for now but I would surprised if this happens to be the lineup.*

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Best Film Editing:
American Hustle – Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers
Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse
Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger
12 Years a Slave – Thelma Schoonmaker
The Wolf of Wall Street – Joe Walker

*It’s always good to bet on the Best Picture frontrunners in this category. American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are guaranteed nominations here. If any of them miss, it’s going to be a huge detriment to their frontrunner statuses. Captain Phillips has made a strong outing in the technical categories and it should score another nomination here. The last spot I feel is going to go to another strong contender. It could be Inside LLewyn Davis or Her or Nebraska. But I think The Wolf of Wall Street is going to do better than anybody expects, which will result in a nomination in the Editing category.*

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Best Cinematography:
Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners – Roger Deakins
12 Years a Slave – Sean Bobbitt

*The ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) is a good predictor of these nominations…but even they couldn’t narrow the field down to 5. They nominated 7 films this year. We’ll mostly likely get the nominations from that group. These five have been the leaders from most of the critic’s groups, which makes me want to rethink this because the Oscars never follow what everyone wants them to do. But I don’t see any other film coming in and taking one of these down. Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska have been faltering in the past few weeks…but the cinematography work has been strongly recognized so I don’t think that would affect their chances in this particular category. Prisoners hasn’t shown up anywhere besides for Roger Deakin’s camera work…maybe voters didn’t take a chance to watch this and it will be left out.*

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Best Original Score:
All Is Lost – Alex Ebert
Captain Phillips – Henry Jackman
Gravity – Steven Price
Saving Mr. Banks – Thomas Newman
12 Years a Slave – Hans Zimmer

*This is yet another category where the two frontrunners are Gravity & 12 Years a Slave. Saving Mr. Banks has been another strong horse in this race as well. All Is Lost was majorly helped by the Golden Globe win. Her has done very well with the critic’s awards, but I don’t think it’s traditional enough for the Oscars voters. Captain Phillips is going to perform very well on Thursday so I think it should be able to sneak into this category, especially after the BAFTA nomination.*

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Best Original Song:
All Is Lost – “Amen” – Alex Ebert
Frozen – “Let It Go” – Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
The Great Gatsby – “Over the Love” – Aaron Foulds, Stuart Hammond, Kid Harpoon & Florence Welch
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – “Atlas” – Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion & Chris Martin
One Chance – “Sweeter Than Fiction” – Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift

*This category is almost impossible to predict. Sometimes the most obvious choices get snubbed and the weirdest ones get nominated. “Let It Go” is the closest thing to a lock here. But even then it wouldn’t surprise me to see it snubbed. The Great Gatsby has been getting nominated everywhere for “Young and Beautiful”, but the Academy likes to pull switcheroos and it could be the case with this film being nominated for “Over the Love” instead. All Is Lost has a notable song that should get voters’ attention. And I’m going to go with a little star power with that last two spots going to Coldplay and Taylor Swift.*

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Best Production Design:
Gravity – Rosie Goodwin & Andy Nicholson
The Great Gatsby – Beverley Dunn & Catherine Martin
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Dan Hennah & Ra Vincent
Saving Mr. Banks – Susan Benjamin & Michael Corenblith
12 Years a Slave – Alice Baker & Adam Stockhausen

*Gravity and The Great Gatsby are going to be duking it out for the win here. I would be surprised if either of them were snubbed. Peter Jackson films do well in this category so I think The Hobbit is safe, along with Best Picture frontrunner 12 Years a Slave. Saving Mr. Banks is a safe choice too since it’s a period piece with extensive production design. But there are a lot of films on the outskirts in this category. Her has done well with the precursors but it doesn’t fit the bill of a typical nominee here. Inside Llewyn Davis is a strong contender but it could have a smaller showing than expected. American Hustle wouldn’t surprise me if ends up with more support than anybody initially thought.*

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Best Costume Design:
American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Trish Summerville
Saving Mr. Banks – Daniel Orlandi
12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris

*The Great Gatsby, Saving Mr. Banks and 12 Years a Slave are the frontrunners. I would be absolutely shocked to see them snubbed. American Hustle is also looking very likely, but I could see it missing out in favor of a period costume drama like The Invisible Woman. I’m also predicting The Hunger Games to get a nomination here. There’s been lots of press about its costume design and it would fit in the same mold as previous nominee Snow White and the Huntsman.*

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Dallas Buyers Club
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

*This is one of the categories where they have announced a shortlist before nominations are announced. The makeup branch has narrowed down the choices to 7 films…and 3 of those will be nominated. The category really favors special effects makeups and old-age prosthetics. Even though it’s not a typical Oscar movie, the old-age factor puts Bad Grandpa ahead of the pack. Dallas Buyers Club had some impressive work and The Hunger Games fits the blockbuster potential nominee. Watch out for American Hustle, which could pick up more nominations than we expect.*

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Best Sound Mixing:
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Iron Man 3
12 Years a Slave

*Based on the precursors, this should be a three-way race between Captain Phillips, Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis. Although based on how the Best Picture race shapes up, I could see ILD being dropped. Best Picture frontrunners usually show up here too. 12 Years a Slave gets that spot for now. But if American Hustle ends up here instead, that could be telling of what the true frontrunner actually is.*

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Best Sound Editing:
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

*This one is harder to predict because not many critic’s groups award this particular film craft. But usually it lines up with the Sound Mixing and Visual Effects nominees. Captain Phillips, Gravity and Rush seem like sure things. I think the voters could be lazy and nominate The Hobbit here too. All Is Lost seems to be fading with voters and buzz, but the sound work has been praised by everybody so it should still make the cut.*

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Best Visual Effects:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Star Trek Into Darkness
World War Z

*Gravity is the biggest lock in this category and I would be shocked if it didn’t win on March 2nd. The Hobbit, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek are also pretty safe bets for nominations. The last spot is up for grabs. Based on precursors it should be Pacific Rim, but sometimes the Oscar voters like to break away from the usual so I’m going to go with World War Z getting that final spot.*

Best Animated Short Film:
Get a Horse!
The Missing Scarf
Mr. Hublot

Best Documentary Short Subject:
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Best Live-Action Short Film:
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
Tiger Boy