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2014 Oscar Predictions: Resetting the Board

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Click on over to my 2014 Oscar Predictions page to see everything I’m forecasting in the major categories. And check out my 2014 Oscar Predictions: Technical Categories page for projections in Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and more.

I’d planned to dive a little deeper into Best Documentary Feature today, but I’ve got quite a few movies to catch up with before I feel anywhere close to comfortable speaking about that subject informedly. So that’s next week, and today, I’m resetting the board. It’s been a number of weeks since my last general post about the state of the race, so here are a few quick, unorganized thoughts at 20 weeks out:

Best Picture
I’m with Feinberg: We haven’t seen the winner just yet. Gravity, Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave—they all could pull it out. But I don’t feel any of them is a strong enough candidate to survive the inevitable onslaught of bullshit. Gravity might be closest, but American Hustle remains my pick.

In other news, Lee Daniels’ The Butler slides into my predicted eight as the lone Weinstein representative, and Nebraska remains strong. I’m very high on Alexander Payne’s latest as an Oscar contender this year (more on that below).

Best Director
Not much to report here. Three (Cuaron, Greengrass, McQueen) are great bets. Assuming American Hustle is the movie we’re expecting, I’d be surprised to see David O. Russell miss out. Finally, I’m feeling bullish about George Clooney and The Monuments Men, but John Lee Hancock, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, or any number of other directors could slide in. Still a lot to figure out here.

Best Actor
Oh boy. I think this is the race everyone is most excited to see shake out—at least that’s how I feel. Six (SIX!) actors feel like decent shots to win—Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks, McConaughey, Redford, Whitaker. We still haven’t seen Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Christian Bale x2 (American Hustle and Out of the Furnace) will bring to the table. And that’s not even getting into guys like Idris Elba and Oscar Isaac.

Assuming the big six comprise the realistic field, I’m actually going with Redford to miss the nomination. I’m on an island with that choice, I think, but All Is Lost feels like the most difficult nut to crack of those six movies. And to make me seem like even more of a crazy person, I’m going with Bruce Dern for the win at this point. Why? Easily digestible movie, overlooked veteran factor—basically the fewest knocks against him of those five guys.

Best Actress
Both Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett seem like stronger contenders than I originally thought. And I’ve got no complaints about that because they’re two outstanding performances. I’m still reluctantly sticking with Judi Dench to win, but Philomena is a wild card of a movie—could show really well or really poorly at the 2014 Oscars. Like Best Actor, this is a deep category in flux right now, and I like it.

Best Supporting Actor
Not the deepest category, and the pool might have gotten even shallower yesterday. Michael Fassbender announced he won’t be campaigning this season. I don’t think stuff like this qualifies as news, but I have been coming around to the idea that 12 Years a Slave might have trouble winning over voters. If it does, Fassbender could miss out in favor of newcomer Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Mud), or Geoffrey Rush (The Book Thief).

Best Supporting Actress
Julia vs. Oprah? Not if June Squibb or Lupita Nyong’o has anything to say about it. Fun category.

Best Original and Adapted Screenplay
The former is strong, and Her seemed to join the fray after closing NYFF. The latter is shockingly weak, but that’s fine if it means Before Midnight hangs on and earns a nomination.

For more, check out my complete 2014 Oscar Predictions.

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