By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 14, 2014 at 2:22PM
Best Documentary Feature
"20 Feet From Stardom"
"The Act of Killing"
"Stories We Tell"
Though their shortlist was less controversial than the foreign language branch, there were still some surprises in store with the documentary narrowing-down process: "At Berkeley" and "After Tiller" being among the notable absences. Still, many of the big dogs were included, and there's a certain amount of consensus on the nominees: popular hits "20 Feet From Stardom" and "Blackfish" look good for a nod, along with the acclaimed "The Square." I've already talked about my worries that one or both of "The Act of Killing" and "Stories We Tell" will be snubbed, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for the moment that they'll make it in.
Dark Horse: Should our worries about Joshua Oppenheimer or Sarah Polley's films turn out to be true, "Tim's Vermeer" is the one to watch.
Best Animated Feature
"Ernest & Celestine"
"The Wind Rises"
Not much has changed here since we ran these down, although Globes and BAFTA nods for "Despicable Me 2" have some wondering if that might make it in, but given the lack of love from the Academy for the first film, we'd be surprised. Otherwise, expect a Pixar, a DreamWorks, a GKIDS foreign indie, and a Studio Ghibli, the latter of which is the only thing that might potentially beat the frontrunner, Disney megahit "Frozen" for the win.
Dark Horse: Gothic stop-motion Spanish film "O Apostolo," if enough voters saw it. But "Despicable Me 2" is more likely to cause the upset, probably over "Ernest & Celestine."
Best Film Editing
"12 Years a Slave"
"The Wolf of Wall Street"
It's famously hard for a Best Picture winner to miss out on an editing nomination, and as such, this category is likely to be dominated by Best Picture frontrunners "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle," with "Captain Phillips," which is arguably in fourth position behind them for the big prize, being a certain nominee too. Beyond that, it gets trickier. Most had figured that the very strong craft of "Rush" would make it in, but it's worth noting that Thelma Schoonmaker's picked up four nominations (and two Oscars) for her work on the last five Scorsese movies (and might well have gotten one for "Shutter Island" too had it come out in awards season). Unless those who complain about the film's length intervene, she's probably a nominee again.
Dark Horse: Don't discount "Lone Survivor," which has some strong craft to it. The similar "Black Hawk Down" won back in 2001, and that was without a Best Picture nomination too. "Her" could pull a surprise too.
Sean Bobbitt - "12 Years a Slave"
Emmanuel Lubezki - "Gravity"
Bruno Delbonnel - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Phedon Papamichael - "Nebraska"
Roger Deakins - "Prisoners"
Likely to be one of the more competitive categories in terms of grabbing a nomination, though we can all be pretty certain that Emmanuel Lubezki will be taking the prize home in March for "Gravity." Alongside him, Sean Bobbitt is looking good to pick up his first nomination for "12 Years A Slave" and I'm confident that, even if the film itself is mostly snubbed elsewhere, "Inside Llewyn Davis" will be a nominee here. There's probably been no better-shot film in the last year than "Prisoners," and so Roger Deakins will almost certainly join those three. All four were ASC nominees, and the fifth slot will be taken by one of the three remaining films that got nods from the cinematography guild—"Captain Phillips," "Nebraska" and "The Grandmaster." I'd be surprised if the Wong film made the cut, but it could be either of the others. I'm leaning towards Phedon Papamichael's drab work on "Nebraska" over Barry Ackroyd's in "Captain Phillips," but it could go either way.
Dark Horse: Hoyte Von Hoytema will probably have to wait until Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" next year for a nod, but there's a small chance he could sneak in this time for "Her."
Best Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell - "American Hustle"
Woody Allen - "Blue Jasmine"
Spike Jonze - "Her"
Joel & Ethan Coen - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Bob Nelson - "Nebraska"
A rare year in which this category's been more competitive than the Adapted one, but this has pretty much crystalized in the last few weeks. "American Hustle," "Nebraska" and category regular Woody Allen for "Blue Jasmine" are all certainties, and Golden Globe winner Spike Jonze could join them (and might even win). Despite the WGA going for "Dallas Buyers Club," our confidence remains in "Inside Llewyn Davis"—this category often serves as a consolation prize for things that miss out elsewhere, and that should be the case here. "Saving Mr. Banks" is also just about viable, but having missed out with the precursors, probably won't figure in this time.
Dark Horse: "Gravity." The script might have come in for criticism from some, but writers are more likely to see its value, and they're the ones doing the nominating here. It did get a BAFTA nomination, which could be more telling.
Best Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley - "12 Years a Slave"
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater - "Before Midnight"
Billy Ray - "Captain Phillips"
Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope - "Philomena"
Terence Winter - "The Wolf of Wall Street"
With both "Philomena" and "12 Years a Slave" ineligible for the WGA Awards, we're likely to see more of a departure from the guilds here, as both of those films feel like safe-ish bets in this category. Beyond that, Billy Ray will be a nominee for "Captain Phillips," and a WGA nod likely sealed the chances for Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy to repeat their "Before Sunset" nod with "Before Midnight." I'd tipped "August: Osage County" at one point, but with the film getting such middling reviews, I'd be surprised if Tracy Letts got an Oscar nod. Instead, look for Terence Winter and "The Wolf of Wall Street" to take that fifth slot.
Dark Horse: Well, "Lone Survivor" got a WGA nod, so we suppose it's probably that. But if it gets that, then it's probably getting a Best Picture nomination too, and that feels very unlikely.