Oscar Watch: Predicting Academy Award Nominations!

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Movie Fanatic’s Oscar Watch could not be more excited for January 16 to arrive. Well, other than having to get up here in Los Angeles at 4:30 a.m. to be ready for the 5 a.m. announcement of the Academy Awards nominations for 2014. But, this is what we live for… the annual Super Bowl of movies! 

Academy Awards Logo

That race to the finish begins in earnest this coming Thursday, and after seeing all the movies that are in contention, we thought we’d kick off this Oscar season by issuing our predictions for who will receive nominations in the five major categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

Our next edition of Oscar Watch will predict the screenwriting nominees, Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song and Score, as well as the always hard to predict Best Director category.

So, without further ado… peek into our crystal ball!

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’O, 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler

Why: Lawrence, Nyong’O and Roberts are locks. Those three gave performances that easily could result in us hearing victory speeches come Oscar night. Squibb stole scenes from Will Forte and Bruce Dern and that is not easy to do, and the Academy adores the film’s director Alexander Payne (The Descendants). Then, there’s Oprah. Besides the fact that she gave a great performance in an incredible movie, the Oscars would love to have the most powerful woman in entertainment walk their red carpet. And when all is said and done, it may be the only way they can reward The Butler

Who could sneak in: Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station and Margot Robbie for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Why: Leto and Fassbender are the only locks here. Abdi has been getting some serious love from all the guild awards plus the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. There is no way that Oscar doesn’t follow suit. As for Cooper, the Academy adores rewarding actors in David O. Russell films, and that’s one of the reasons why he scored a nomination last year for Silver Linings Playbook. Now Bruhl, this pick is a gut choice. He was astonishing in Rush and had a fantastic year with his turn in The Fifth Estate, a movie too few saw. We are going to see a lot of this actor in the future, and having an Oscar nomination in his pocket will do nothing but enhance that. 

Who could sneak in: Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street and James Gandolfini for Enough Said.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Judi Dench, Philomena
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Sandra Bullock Stars in Gravity

Why: Blanchett is a lock, and frankly we think she will be the eventual winner for her role in the Woody Allen movie. Dench is an Oscar favorite, plus she deserves it for her harrowing performance in the true tale. Bullock too is a lock for Gravity, and in any other year… she wins. Thompson is about as much of a lock as one can be for her role as the author behind Mary Poppins. And Streep, well… never bet against the all-time nominations leader getting one more. 

Who could sneak in: Amy Adams for American Hustle.

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Why: Ejiofer and McConaughey are locks, I would wager on it. Hanks, well, Oscar just adores him and they have to find some way to reward him after his stellar year with Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. Oscar loves a comeback and no one came back more than Dern in Nebraska, so put him on the ballot. Same could be said for Redford, who has never won an acting award from the Academy, and his performance in All Is Lost is nothing short of miraculous. 

Who could sneak in: Christian Bale for American Hustle, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Forest Whitaker for The Butler and Joaquin Phoenix for Her.

Best Picture

Gravity
American Hustle
The Wolf of Wall Street
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Captain Phillips
Nebraska

American Hustle Cast

Why: When it comes to locks, toss in Gravity, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years a Slave. If there ever was a year that deserved to have 10 nominees -- the most allowed by the relatively newly established Academy rules -- it’s this year. Filling out the card Dallas Buyers Club, Fruitvale Station and Captain Phillips embody the true story aspect that Oscar voters adore.

Nebraska is from a filmmaker they cherish and it was absolutely one of the best movies of the year, and Her was beyond the most original of stories we saw. and for that, it too will receive a nod for Best Picture of the Year. Then… there’s Inside Llewyn Davis. That film has been shut out of all the guild awards, but it is from the Coen brothers and Oscar admires them with the highest of respect. Do not count them out for earning a nod. 

Who could sneak in: Philomena, The Butler, Fruitvale Station and Blue Jasmine.

As the weeks go by and we get closer to the Oscars themselves, Oscar Watch will take a weekly in-depth look at each of the major categories and break it down for you… all leading to our heralded Academy Awards predictions in the days before the Oscars. Want to rock your Oscar pool… stay with Movie Fanatic and stay tuned to Oscar Watch! 

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