By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 14, 2014 at 2:22PM
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"
Another category that was in flux for some time, but has settled down a bit of late: Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence are the frontrunners, with June Squibb and Oprah Winfrey also likely nominees. Julia Roberts was the fifth SAG nominee, but we've felt a bit of a groundswell towards Sally Hawkins in recent weeks. That said, I figure if that happens, it suggests a wider group of support for "Blue Jasmine" which would also result in a Best Picture nomination, and I'm not prepared to go that far, so Roberts it is for me.
Dark Horse: Jennifer Garner in "Dallas Buyers Club." Mostly ignored by precursor awards, but well liked, and certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Fassbender - "12 Years a Slave"
Bradley Cooper - "American Hustle"
Barkhad Abdi - "Captain Phillips"
Jared Leto - "Dallas Buyers Club"
James Gandolfini - "Enough Said"
Much more difficult to call than the Supporting Actress race, this has three locks—Fassbender, Leto and Abdi, and then a revolving door of potentials for the other two. Daniel Bruhl got a second wind with an SAG nomination, but I'm still not sure he's making the cut, with the potential of a posthumous James Gandolfini nomination for "Enough Said," and Bradley Cooper for "American Hustle" building momentum. Similarly, there was a moment where it seemed like Jonah Hill could get a second nod for "The Wolf of Wall Street," but he's an outside bet at best now.
Dark Horse: It wouldn't be entirely shocking if Will Forte for "Nebraska" got in.He's another when who's had a bit of a boost as more and more people saw the film. It'd be over Gandolfini, most likely, though, and the latter's still the better bet for now.
Amy Adams - "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett - "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
Judi Dench - "Philomena"
Emma Thompson - "Saving Mr. Banks"
This category seems to have been set in stone for months: Cate Blanchett is the obvious winner, with Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep in "August: Osage County" seemingly pre-destined to join them. But the tides have been shifting recently, with the momentum behind Amy Adams for "American Hustle" building as the film grew in power, and I think that she'll beat out Streep for the fifth slot, though other prognosticators are divided as to whether that'll be the case.
Dark Horse: Almost the biggest shock would be if Dench, Bullock or Thompson fell out, but it seems very unlikely. Beyond Streep, we'd love for Brie Larson or Greta Gerwig to pull a shock, but the chances are virtually none.
Chiwetel Ejiofor - "12 Years a Slave"
Christian Bale - "American Hustle"
Tom Hanks - "Captain Phillips"
Matthew McConaughey - "Dallas Buyers Club"
Bruce Dern - "Nebraska"
What was once a wide-open race has tightened up a fair bit: Chiewetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey and Bruce Dern are all pretty much dead certs (Hanks perhaps a little less so, but it'd still be the biggest shock of the day if he missed out). The fifth slot is one of the toughest calls to make, with at least five actors in competition for it. Forest Whitaker has the SAG nod, but very little other buzz; Robert Redford had the early heat, but has mostly fallen away; and Leonardo DiCaprio has a late boost from the Globes and from the heat around the film. But I have a funny feeling that Christian Bale will surprise, making a second clean sweep of the acting nods for David O. Russell.
Dark Horse: In a way, Bale is the dark horse, but I'd love for Oscar Isaac to shock and make the final five (though it's not happening).
Steve McQueen - "12 Years a Slave"
David O. Russell - "American Hustle"
Alfonso Cuaron - "Gravity"
Spike Jonze - "Her"
Alexander Payne - "Nebraska"
Again, a tricky one to call, given the unpredictability of the director's branch last year (virtually no one called the nominations for Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin). Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen are locked, along with David O. Russell, and beyond that, it's generally seen to be Spike Jonze, Paul Greengrass and Alexander Payne fighting for the remaining two slots. Some have speculated that Jonze, who's well liked among other directors, could be the first filmmaker since the Best Picture field expanded to get a director nomination without the film getting one too. I think it's unlikely that that would be the case, but I also think the film's getting a Best Picture nod, so it doesn't matter much. For some reason, I'd just take Payne over Greengrass, even though the latter's a more obvious showcase for a filmmaker.
Dark Horse: It's not often that you call Martin Scorsese a dark horse in a directorial competition, but that's probably a fair term, given the strong feelings against "The Wolf of Wall Street" from some quarters. Then again, you could have accused "Amour" or "The Tree Of Life" of the same thing.
"12 Years a Slave"
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"Saving Mr. Banks" (if it goes to 8 nominations)
"Philomena" (if it goes to 9 nominations)
"The Wolf of Wall Street" (if it goes to 10 nominations)
The theoretically fluctuating nature of Best Picture these days makes this tougher than ever to call, but it's safe to say that "12 Years a Slave" is locked, along with "Gravity" and "American Hustle." Despite a brief lull in buzz at one point, "Captain Phillips" should be fine, as is "Nebraska." Beyond that, it's less certain, but the late surge for "Dallas Buyers Club" should see it in there, while "Her" has had a lot of love, though is on shakier ground. "Saving Mr. Banks" was seen as a potential winner briefly, but has faded over time: nevertheless, it feels like a nominee. Past that, there's "Philomena" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," but those depend on whether it goes to nine and ten nominations. But don't rule out an "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"-style shock for "Lee Daniels' The Butler," or a nod for "Blue Jasmine."
Dark Horse: "Inside Llewyn Davis." Most have dismissed it, and it clearly hasn't connected with audiences at large, but it doesn't have to, necessarily. It needs to connect with 5% of Oscar voters. Given that "A Serious Man" was a nominee, that's not impossible to imagine at all.
So there we have it. Feel free to make your own predictions, or quibble with ours, in the comments section, and check back early Thursday morning for the Academy's announcements.