Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Who should win: In her first feature film, Lupita Nyong’o captivated audiences with a tragic performance that led us all to believe the pain her character was feeling. In a film like “12 Years a Slave,” every actor and actress needs to be able to convince the audience like she does. Nyong’o nails it.
Who will win: Jennifer Lawrence opens the window to her soul as the neglected wife of a scam artist. She’s bruisingly funny, but also shows us her vulnerabilities. Plus, she already has her first Oscar under her belt.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Who should win: Fassbender is incredible as the wicked slave master in “12 Years a Slave,” but even in a minor role, Jared Leto gave audiences someone to cheer for as a transgender AIDS patient trying to help those suffering as he is. This is the role that puts Jared Leto on the map.
Who will win: Leto.
Who should win: David O. Russell. “American Hustle” has so many moving parts, but it works on so many levels. The cast is obviously incredible, but only amazing directing could have made this complicated waltz work the way it does.
Who will win: Alfonso Cuaron has nearly swept the category so far this awards season. For “Gravity,” he took an idea and made it artful and thrilling at the same time. It’s beautiful, and he deserves a lot of the credit. I find it hard to see it going to anyone else.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: “Before Midnight,” “Captain Phillips,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Who should win: “The Wolf of Wall Street,” for telling a true story that audiences could stay interested in for three hours – with humor, drama, and tons of blow.
Who will win: This one is tough. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is likely too controversial to win. “Captain Phillips” won the Writers Guild Award in this category, so it has a shot. “12 Years a Slave” is brilliant, but its screenplay skims over some details of Solomon Northrup’s slave narrative. Regardless, I think it’ll come away with a win.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: “American Hustle,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Her,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Nebraska”
Who should win: “American Hustle,” for taking small inspiration from an old crime story and making a masterpiece experience out of it. It’s such a complete story, told through a “Goodfellas”-esque narrative style. It’s brilliant.
Who will win: “Her” has been winning awards all season, but I refuse to acknowledge it has even the slimmest of chances. “Dallas Buyers Club” would be a deserving winner, but I think “American Hustle” is a safe bet.
Who should win: This may be the most difficult of all. I would love for so many people to get it. Bale was transformative in his role, and gave my favorite performance of the year. Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar, but his performance in “Wolf of Wall Street” combines hilarity and emotional tension to craft a well-rounded anti-hero. Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his life. Bruce Dern is a virtuoso, the saving grace for a film that would have been ignored without him. But I still believe Chiwetel Ejiofor gave the best performance of the year.
Who will win: Ejiofor.
Who should win: I don’t know if this field is as consistently strong as the acting nominees, but it’ll be another tight race. Sandra Bullock did a phenomenal job in an out-of-the-box role for her. Amy Adams has a career-topping performance, and she’d due. But Cate Blanchett deserves it.
Who will win: Cate Blanchett as the anti-hero Jasmine is hard to like, but Blanchett as the actress behind the character is easy to respect. She reminds audiences why Woody Allen’s female characters are so incredible.
Nominees: “Gravity,” “Her,” “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Philomena,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Nebraska,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “12 Years a Slave”
Who should win: I’m happy to say that, having seen 8 of the 9 Best Picture nominees (sorry, “Philomena”), my opinion is more informed than ever. My favorite of the batch, in terms of personal enjoyment, is the quirky, enjoyable-yet-respectable “American Hustle,” followed closely behind by “Dallas Buyers Club.” How can you not love the hilarious, coked-up “Wolf of Wall Street”? “Gravity” is 90 minutes of pure cinema, and audiences agreed (it’s by far the highest-earning of the nine). Maybe the Academy will regret not nominating Tom Hanks and award him Best Picture for “Captain Phillips” instead?
Who will win: None of the above. I’ve felt confident for a while that the Academy would love one movie enough to award it in a few big ways. “12 Years a Slave” combines social message, historical accuracy, incredible acting from the biggest lead to the smallest minor role, and an ending that left many in my hometown theater in tears. It’s Oscar material.