Thursday morning, the Oscar nominations come out. To mentally prepare you, here are our predictions for the eight major categories.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
An oddly weak category, hurt by the fact that everyone hates Tracy Letts's August: Osage County. The nod to Before Midnight is indicative of respect for that movie and a lack of quality options.
Dark horse: The Spectacular Now. Everyone who has seen it loves it, but few have.
Probable winner: 12 Years A Slave
Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron, Gravity
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle
The major snub here—and the film that I suspect is going to be nearly ignored at the Oscars this year despite near-universal critical praise—is Inside Llewyn Davis. The elderly Academy members, if voter screenings are to be believed, just don't get it. I think Gravity or Nebraska steals its spot.
Dark horse: Dallas Buyers Club. It very well might win two acting Oscars, so it could sneak in here as well.
Probable winner: American Hustle.
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyongo, 12 Years A Slave
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
Another unusually weak category. In any normal year, Oprah wouldn't have much of a chance here, but the field is thin.
Dark horse: It's odd to consider Julia Roberts a dark horse in anything, but she's the most likely person outside these five to slip in.
Probable winner: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle.
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, however, is stacked, even though the eventual winner is considered an obvious lock at this point. Also: Jonah Hill is about to be a two-time Oscar nominee.
Dark horse: Daniel Bruhl of Rush was extremely well-received in an underrated film, and there's still some hope that James Gandolfini could earn a posthumous nod for Enough Said.
Probable winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Four definite locks here (Cuaron, Greengrass, McQueen, and Russell) with a mad scramble for that last slot. Though until the end of time, we'll all be doing the "But Ben Affleck was left out for Argo, so you never know!" caveat.
Dark horse: Fighting for that last spot: Woody Allen, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, and, who knows, maybe a "well, some of us liked your movie" nod to the Coen brothers.
Probable winner: David O. Russell, American Hustle
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
If you get only one category in your entire pool right come Oscar night, it should be this one: Catch Blanchett is as big of a lock as this category has ever had. She is about to become the sixth person to win an Oscar in a Woody Allen movie. (Michael Caine, Diane Keaton, Mira Sorvino, Penelope Cruz, and Dianne Wiest, twice.)
Dark horse: Not that it matters, but if Oscar voters are tired of Streep, Emma Thompson has a chance, though no one likes her movie either.
Probable winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
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
Five heavy hitters here: You can legitimately see any one of these five winning. (Though if Gene Hackman had taken the Dern role as Alexander Payne had initially wanted, no one would have stopped him.)
Dark horse: This field is so stacked that Robert Redford of All Is Lost—who seemed like a likely winner just a couple of months—might not be able to crack it. Christian Bale is the lead of the movie that's going to receive the most nominations (well, that or Gravity), and he might not make it in either.
Probable winner: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
This category, of course, can have anything between five and 10 films listed, and even though this was widely considered one of the best movie years of the last decade, I'm not sure all 10 spots will be filled. The two closest to this list are the most polarizing among academy members, The Wolf of Wall Street and Inside Llewyn Davis, and as much as I'd like to believe one of them will get a respectful nod, I'm far from sold. It's possible, if you can believe it, that the great Inside Llewyn Davis may be shut out entirely.
Dark horse: Lee Daniels' The Butler feels like the sort of movie that inexplicably pops up here.
Probable winner: American Hustle. (Though 12 Years A Slave and Gravity still have a chance.)
Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.