We'll cover the other categories more briefly, in part because they're less fiercely competitive. Despite the wealth of deserving options, Best Actress remains mostly likely to be the same five actresses that were in the running three months ago. It's the same ones that the SAG nominated earlier this week -- Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine," Sandra Bullock for "Gravity," Emma Thompson for "Saving Mr Banks," Judi Dench for "Philomena" and Meryl Streep for "August: Osage County." All five got Globes nominations too, and sadly, most of those who joined them -- Greta Gerwig, Julie Delpy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- are very dark horses to crack the Academy.
The best chance of a shake-up comes with Amy Adams for "American Hustle," and if the SAG had got behind her, we'd be more confident about her conclusion. If Streep falls out (perhaps the Academy will think she's been rewarded very recently), or less likely, Dench or Thompson ("Saving Mr Banks" hasn't had a great week, but in the unlikely event of it being shut out elsewhere, Thompson is the one nomination it will pick up), then Adams could step in. But anyone else cracking this field would be a bona-fide shocker. Oh, and Blanchett's likely winning, though Bullock remains a distant threat to upset her.
Best Actress Predictions - Thursday December 12th
Cate Blanchett - "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
Judi Dench - "Philomena"
Meryl Streep - "August Osage County"
Emma Thompson - "Saving Mr Banks"
Best Supporting Actor
This is closing up a little, though there's still a bit of question in some cases. Jared Leto is probably the sole mortal lock for "Dallas Buyers Club," and is looking like the front-runner to win here. We're also feeling pretty confident about Barkhad Abdi from "Captain Phillips" -- he's consistently won praise, and even if the film is deflating a little, SAG and Globe nominations should shore up his position, though he's very unlikely to win. Beyond that, things are less certain. Michael Fassbender should figure in for "12 Years A Slave," despite not campaigning, but it's not unthinkable that a more immediately likable performer sneaks in. Until recently, it felt like Tom Hanks for "Saving Mr. Banks" was a dead-cert, but he missed with both SAG and the Globes, and it seems like his main hopes rest with "Captain Phillips." He could still make the cut, but it depends on what happens to the competition.
Of that competition, Jonah Hill emerged recently with some serious buzz from "The Wolf Of Wall Street," though has been absent from nominations the last few days. One shouldn't read too much into that (Christoph Waltz, who won the Oscar, was absent from the SAGs last year), and he's likely still very much in the race, but it does again depend how Academy voters go with the film. Having been considered an outsider by some, James Gandolfini got a posthumous SAG nod for "Enough Said," and we maintain, as we have for months, that he'll probably double up with Oscar (he missed out with the Globes, but the HFPA were always more likely to nominate someone who was able to attend the ceremony). Daniel Bruhl 's got both SAG and Gloes nods "Rush," and it's injected new life into his campaign, which had been waning. And don't discount "American Hustle" star Bradley Cooper, who won a Globe nod, and "Nebraska" star Will Forte, who's been gathering some steam of late, though wasn't included this week (an SAG nod could have sealed the deal for him).
Best Supporting Actor Predictions - Thursday November 12th
Barkhad Abdi - "Captain Phillips"
Michael Fassbender - "12 Years A Slave"
James Gandolfini - "Enough Said"
Jared Leto - "Dallas Buyers Club"
Jonah Hill - "The Wolf Of Wall Street"
Best Supporting Actress
And finally, there's Best Supporting Actress, which is a little firmer than their male counterparts, though there's still room for surprises. At the front of the pack is Lupita N'yongo for "12 Years A Slave," with Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle" joining her as a lock (Lawrence could end up being the sole nominee for Russell's film, or could be one of three or even four). They should be joined by "Nebraska" star June Squibb and most likely Oprah Winfrey for "The Butler" -- while her Golden Globes absence has been the talk of the day, she's the most likely nominee from the film, and will almost certainly be there.
But the fifth slot is going to be trickier to call. An SAG nomination certainly seems to put Julia Roberts at the front of the pack -- support seems to have calcified behind her, rather than Margo Martindale, for the film. But if the Academy reject the movie as the HFPA did, there's a few potentials waiting. Octavia Spencer's "Fruitvale Station" campaign seems to have stalled a little of late, though it could rally, but Sally Hawkins is looking like less of a dark horse for "Blue Jasmine" than she did a few weeks ago -- a Globes nomination should help her get attention from voters that might have overlooked her otherwise, if Sony Pictures Classics can capitalize on it, anyway.
Best Supporting Actress Predictions - Thursday October 12th
Sally Hawkins - "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence - "American Hustle"
Lupita N'yongo - "12 Years A Slave"
June Squibb - "Nebraska"
Oprah Winfrey - "Lee Daniels' The Butler"