The A&E team takes on four of the prominent categories at next week’s Academy Awards by offering probable predictions and wild card scenarios for each.
Bruce Dern — Nebraska
Leonardo Di Caprio — The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor — 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey — Dallas Buyers Club
Christian Bale — American Hustle
It seems like this year’s battle for Best Actor is coming down to who brandishes the most compelling story—in real life. Following three high-profile wins at previous awards shows, Matthew McConaughey is coming out with guns blazing. At this point, his pull isn’t necessarily a result of outperforming the other nominees; rather his success at the Oscar forerunners has helped him build momentum. McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club commands the screen with a kind of intimacy and nuance we’re not used to seeing from him. With his transformation from rom-com party boy to serious actor over the last couple of years, an Oscar win seems like the appropriate confirmation of his metamorphosis.
Wild Card: Christian Bale will win for American Hustle but no one will notice because Jennifer Lawrence will steal the show with a photo bomb.
— Kia Pouliot
Amy Adams — American Hustle
Cate Blanchett — Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock — Gravity
Judi Dench — Philomena
Meryl Streep — August: Osage County
Look for Cate Blanchett to give a repeat performance, and take home the hardware for her role in Blue Jasmine, just as she did a few weeks ago at the Golden Globes—only this time, hopefully, with less vodka under her belt. The five-time Oscar nominee won in 2005 for her supporting role in The Aviator, and has once again secured herself in the company of other Hollywood heavyweights like Meryl Streep and Judi Dench. Blanchett’s nuanced portrayal of fallen New York socialite Jasmine French evokes sympathy for a sadly troubled yet nonetheless grating character, adding a depth and vulnerability upon which the entire film hinges.
Wild Card: Judi Dench will win but Meryl Streep will catch the snitch.
— Jacqueline Galbraith
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar pundits have been predicting a Best Picture victory for 12 Years a Slave since international festivals first screened it, and the film still looks to be in good shape. The stark treatment of its disturbing subject matter has won it a steady stream of plaudits since its premiere, and all signs appear to point towards Oscar voters affirming the praise and awarding the film top prize. However, no film this year aims for as high a degree of difficulty or achieves as much as The Wolf of Wall Street. The scathing satire entertains to a remarkable degree while simultaneously shedding light on the absurdities of modern capitalism. The film won’t win Best Picture, but Martin Scorsese and the rest of the team behind it can go home knowing that they’ve created a masterpiece.
Wild Card: Her wins Best Picture. Technosexual activists around the world claim the victory as a turning point in the fight to broaden the definition of marriage to include “one man and one computer.”
— Max Bledstein
Alfonso Cuarón — Gravity
Steve McQueen —12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell — American Hustle
Alexander Payne — Nebraska
Martin Scorsese — The Wolf of Wall Street
In a category that features three seasoned nominees (Russell, Payne, and Scorsese have 14 Best Director nods between them), it’s the newcomers that have turned it into a two-man race. It’ll be a monumental upset if one of the first-time nominees, Steve McQueen or Alfonso Cuarón, don’t go home with a statue. Cuarón has taken on frontrunner status between the two; with Gravity’s ethereal visuals and seamlessly woven intricacies, Cuarón has leap-frogged his veteran peers to take us to a new cinematic frontier altogether. It’s a testament to McQueen’s agonizingly excellent film that we can even talk ourselves into picking an upset here, but choosing Cuarón should be an easy call for the Academy.
Wild Card: McQueen’s name is in the envelope, but after it’s announced, Steve is beaten to the stage by a speedy and confused attendee: the real-life CGI incarnation of Cars’ Lightning McQueen.
— Max Berger