The Oscar race hits a fever pitch on Thursday with the announcement of the 2014 nominees.
It is a list that is sure to include a few surprises, especially in a year when most races seem to be wide open.
Here is how I see the six major categories shaking out:
12 Years a Slave
Saving Mr. Banks
Dallas Buyers Club
It could be up to 10 nominees and as few as five, but I think eight seems to be the likely number. The Wolf of Wall Street and Her are the two films I could see breaking through, while Saving Mr. Banks and Nebraska may be the ones on the list most in danger.
Christian Bale, American Hustler
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Someone is going to be left out in arguably the deepest category this year. Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks, and McConaughey are all likely locked in, leaving Bale, Robert Redford for All is Lost (my personal favorite) and Leonardo DiCaprio for the Wolf of Wall Street to fight for that final spot. I’ll take Bale because Hustle seems to have the momentum. Wolf may be too divisive, while Redford’s momentum has faded away.
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Like actor, this has four sure things with Blanchett, Bullock, Dench, and Thompson. The fifth spot comes down to Adams versus Meryl Streep for August:Osage County. Streep is an Academy darling, but Adams and Hustle has momentum. If Adams sneaks in she is a major contender to win. If Streep gets in Blanchett could have the most to benefit because her path to a victory gets a lot easier.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
This is one category where I could see a big shake-up. Daniel Bruhl and James Gandolfini could both be on the outside looking in, with everyone from Bradley Cooper in American Hustle, Jonah Hill in the Wolf of Wall Street, Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks, and yes even James Franco in Spring Breakers capable of breaking into the final five.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
This could be the easiest category to call, with perhaps Sally Hawkins from Blue Jasmine replacing Julia Roberts.
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Depending on what happens with best picture, you could see Martin Scorsese and Spike Jonze break through. Cuaron, McQueen, and Russell seemed to be the most sure things of the bunch.