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Who Should Win, Who Will Win: The Playlist's Final Oscar Predictions

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 27, 2014 1:08 PM
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2014 Oscar Predictions, Who Will/Should Win

On August 28th, "Gravity" premiered at the Venice Film Festival and pretty much marked the start, in full force, of the awards season. Between then and Oscar night on Sunday, six months will have passed. 27 weeks. 186 days. It's been a long, vicious, and sort of fascinating Oscar season, and one of the most unpredictable in years.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching. Three days from now, on Sunday, March 2nd, the 86th Academy Awards take place. Which means that, before we disappear to a beach somewhere to watch nothing but vulgar auteur movies, we have one more thing to do: our final Oscar predictions.

We've certainly felt more confident in the past, as there's a lot still up in the air, but you know, go big or go home. Take a look at our final, final picks, for the films and people we believe will win, and the ones we wish were going to, below. 

the lady in number 6

Best Documentary Short Subject

"Facing Fear"
"Karama Has No Walls"
"The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
"Prison Terminal: The Last Days Of Private Jack Hall"

Should Win: "Prison Terminal" was my favorite of the five. The story of a WW2 vet dying in a prison hospice, it's more complex, and more formally playful, than the other entries. It airs on HBO on March 31st, FYI.
Will Win:
This category can be a shot in the dark, but "The Lady In Number 6," about the oldest living Holocaust survivor (who only passed away last week), a proficient pianist, seems to tick all the right boxes for the win. "Karama Has No Walls," about a massacre during the recent uprising in Yemen, could be a dark horse, but "The Lady In Number 6" is the safest bet.

Mr Hublot

Best Animated Short Film

"Get A Horse!"
"Mr. Hublot"
"Room On The Broom"

Should Win: I was charmed by "Room On The Broom," from the makers of the also-nominated "The Gruffalo," and a significant tick up from that film. It's arguably a touch long, but beautifully animated and voiced.
Will Win:
Many prognosticators are backing Mickey Mouse-starring Disney short "Get A Horse," but even aside from it leaving me fairly cold, I think that's optimistic: generally speaking, this isn't a category that favors the better-known competitors (Disney's "Paperman" won last year, but twelve years separate that and the last Disney/Pixar victor, 2001's "For The Birds"). A slight loosening up of the rules might give it more of a chance, but my money's still on the more distinctive "Mr. Hublot" to take the Oscar over the Disney behemoth.


Best Live Action Short Film

"Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)"
"Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)"
"Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything?)"
"The Voorman Problem"

Should Win: I didn't really like any of the nominees this year (that's not usual for this category, in fairness), but "The Voorman Problem," which stars Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander, was the least egregious—reasonably clever, and very well-acted, though not the home-run that something like "God Of Love" was a few years ago.
Will Win
: American movies have dominated the category in recent years, but none are nominated this year. That might give "The Voorman Problem" an advantage, as it's the only English-language candidate, but the smart money is on "Helium," a sentimental would-be tear-jerker with some admittedly impressive visual effects. It's going to be close between them, but "Helium" feels more to voters' tastes in this category.

Gravity, Sandra Bullock

Achievement In Sound Editing

"All Is Lost" - Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
"Captain Phillips" - Oliver Tarney
"Gravity" - Glenn Freemantle
"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" - Brent Burge
"Lone Survivor" - Wylie Stateman

Should Win: "All Is Lost." "Gravity" might be showier (and there's no denying it would be a deserving winner), but "All Is Lost" does more with less, and with even less dialogue, the soundscape does so much to maintain the film's mood. Plus the film was one of the most overlooked by the Academy this year, so it'd be nice to see it win something.
Will Win
: "Gravity." This category veers between either a well-liked action movie (last year's tie-winner "Skyfall," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Dark Knight") or the noisiest of the Best Picture nominees ("The Hurt Locker," "Inception," "Zero Dark Thirty"), and Alfonso Cuaron's film ticks both boxes. Plus the film, like "All Is Lost," relies so heavily on sound that it'd be remarkable if it didn't win.


Achievement In Sound Mixing

"Captain Phillips" - Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
"Gravity" - Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christoher Benstead and Chris Munro
"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" - Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
"Inside Llewyn Davis" - Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
"Lone Survivor" - Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Should Win: Again, partly for the quality of the craft, and partly because it got so outrageously overlooked elsewhere, my vote would go to "Inside Llewyn Davis." The mixing of live performance is one of the trickiest things to do, and the songs in the Coen Brothers' movie all sound terrific. Sadly, it doesn't have much of a chance. As Adam Driver would say: Uh oh!
Will Win:
As Adam Driver would also say: "Outer. Space!" This one, again, goes to "Gravity." More often than not, these categories go hand-in-hand, and there's no reason to think that won't be the case with "Gravity," especially as many Academy members can't tell, don't know, or don't care about the difference between mixing and editing. That's not to say it's not deserving, but again, the big Best Picture film is the one to stick with here.


Achievement In Visual Effects

"Gravity" - Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
"Iron Man 3" - Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
"The Lone Ranger" - Tim Alexander, Gary Bozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
"Star Trek Into Darkness" - Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Should Win: Absolutely, 100% "Gravity." You can criticize other aspects of the film if you want to, but "Gravity," like last year's winner "Life of Pi," represents a new high watermark in visual effects, approaching absolute photo-realism while, crucially, imbuing the work with real weight and character.
Will Win
: In theory, this should be a competitive field, because the work is very good across the board here (though there were some uncharacteristically patchy moments in 'The Hobbit' this time around). But there's no question that this chalks up another victory for "Gravity," nothing else is even within a sniff of winning.

Dallas Buyers Club

Achievement In Makeup And Hairstyling

"Dallas Buyers Club" - Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" - Stephen Prouty
"The Lone Ranger" - Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Should Win: We almost can't believe we're saying this, but probably "Bad Grandpa." Old-age make-up can so often be a film's downfall, but for an unashamedly stupid movie, the work in the "Jackass" spin-off is world-class, turning Johnny Knoxville into a legitimately convincing pensioner.
Will Win
: The Vanity Fair interview in which team "Dallas Buyers Club" revealed that their total budget was $250 was one of the campaigning masterstrokes of the season, making the film's work seem all the more impressive. But it was likely the front-runner even before that: in the relatively rare case that a Best Picture nominee is up for this award, it almost always wins (1997 was the last time that wasn't the case, when "Men In Black" beat "Titanic"). Had "American Hustle" been nominated, the many wigs might have seen it through, but with the film missing out, this is 'Dallas' all the way.

The Great Gatsby Carey Mulligan Joel Edgerton

Achievement In Production Design

"American Hustle" - Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
"Gravity" - Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
"The Great Gatsby" - Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn
"Her" - Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
"12 Years A Slave" - Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Should Win: A strong line-up, but I'd lean towards "Her," which does a lot with a little in terms of creating a vivid and distinctive near-future world that's entirely plausible. Non-period work gets recognized so rarely that it's never going to have a chance of winning, but it would certainly be my pick.
Will Win:
This is actually one of the harder categories to call this year, and could well be a crucial one in terms of indicating how the night that goes. Aside from "Her," anything is a viable winner. "The Great Gatsby" is perhaps the showiest of the nominees and picked up precursors like the equivalent BAFTA. But last year, the Academy went with the more dour "Lincoln" over razamatazz, which suggests that maybe "12 Years A Slave" is the one to watch. But "Gravity" could also continue its technical sweep, and if there's enough love for "American Hustle," it might figure in as well. I'm leaning towards "The Great Gatsby" for the win, but this is definitely an award to keep an eye on; this could be a category where voters just pick their favorite movie, and if that's the case, the winner might end up going on to Best Picture.

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  • newyorker | March 2, 2014 3:56 PMReply

    my final predictions are
    Best Picture-12 Years A Slave, film i wish wins Wolf Of Wall Street
    Best Actor-Matthew McConaughey-Dallas Buyer's Club. who i wish win Leonardo Dicaprio-Wolf Of Wall Street.
    Best Actress-Cate Blanchett-Blue Jasmine, who i wish wins Amy Adams-American Hustle.
    Best Supporting Actor-Jared Leto-Dallas Buyer's Club, who i wish wins Jonah Hill-Wolf Of Wall Street
    Best Supporting Actress-Lupita Nyong'o-12 Years A Slave, who i wish wins Jennifer Lawrence-American Hustle.
    Best Animated Feature-Frozen,(defently routing for Frozen)
    Best Cinemtography-Nebraska, who i wish win Prisoners.
    Best Costume Design-American Hustle, do hope American Hustle win for that.
    Directing-Alfonso Cuaron-Gravity, who i wish wins Martin Scorsese-Wolf Of Wall Street.
    Best Documentary-20 Feet From Stardom,
    Best Foreign Language-The Great Beauty. not routing for the documentary or foreign language stuff. or the short categlory.
    Film Editing-12 Years A Slave, who i wish wins American Hustle.
    Makeup & Hairstylist-Dallas Buyer's Club, who i wish wins Bad Grandpa.
    Music-Her. who i wish win Saving Mr. Banks.
    Best Music-Let It Go by Idina Menzel-Frozen, defently hopin let it go wins.
    Production Design-12 Years A Slave, who i wish win Her.
    Sound Editing-All is Lost, who i wish wins Lone Survivor.
    Sound Mixing-Gravity, who i wish win Inside Llewyn Davis.
    Visual Effects-Gravity, who i wish win Iron Man 3(wish pacific rim and man of steel were nominated)
    adapted screenplay-12 Years A Slave, who i wish wins The Wolf Of Wall Street.
    Original Screenplay-Her, who i wish wins American Hustle.

  • Kal-El | March 2, 2014 2:04 PMReply

    Gravity is still the best movie i've seen last year. Extremely better than 12 years, it seems like its now cool to hate on Gravity and a lot people like to say its over hyped and over rated. Well I strongly believe 12 years a slave was over hyped and incredibly over rated. Gravity deserves best picture, I never had the same feeling emotionally watching that film as i did with the other nominations.

  • harlan | March 1, 2014 10:17 AMReply

    Why do the so-called "experts" slam Johnny Depp? I think Mr. Depp brings something to the rolls of his characters that most other actors could not, excitement!

    Do you even remember an Indian in the first long ranger? I think the horse may have gotten more billing the co-star of the television series.

    Unfortunately like most accomplished actors and actresses I think Mr. Depp’s brilliance may never be acknowledged or celebrated in his lifetime. But I appreciate his craft and seek his movies to relieve the symptoms of mundane life I must live each day.

    Thank you Mr. Depp

  • jay | March 3, 2014 9:53 AM

    That's LONE Ranger, mainly because he isn't that tall. You're right, it's a shame that Depp didn't get the price he deserved: The Golden Raspberry! He lost even that against Will Smith junior. :-((((

  • Robyn | March 1, 2014 2:46 AMReply

    Best Film: 12 Years A Slave
    Best Director: Steve McQueen
    Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor
    Best Actress: Cate Blanchett
    Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto
    Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o
    Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)
    Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze (Her)

    Misses: Gravity and American Hustle, just didn't change my life or create deep feelings in me.

  • kary | February 28, 2014 1:37 PMReply

    I can't believe someone can say "Sandra Bullock deserves the Oscar for Gravity and "I'd honestly be happy with anyone but Streep, who I thought was legitimately terrible" in the same sentence... Are you kidding right?

  • Frances | March 1, 2014 12:04 PM

    I agree. I watched Gravity last night and fell asleep in the middle. had to rewind to complete.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | February 27, 2014 10:24 PMReply

    It was a great year filled with great films. No one should hang their head for going home empty-handed. I only hope that 2014 is even more bountiful -- and diverse.

  • oogle monster | February 27, 2014 9:44 PMReply

    I agree with your Supporting Actress wish-win. Sally Hawkins deserves it over Lawrence and especially Nyongo. In fact, I don't understand how Nyongo is considered a front runner... it's a great performance but so was Sarah Paulson who was somehow snubbed.

  • gerard kennelly | February 27, 2014 9:29 PMReply

    "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2"
    "Let It Go" from "Frozen"
    "The Moon Song" from "Her"
    "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"
    there should be 5 nominees not 4
    if i was in charge
    and I'm not
    i would include ''one two'' from 'Paranoia'

  • jahbi | February 27, 2014 7:08 PMReply

    Willy, every geezer in the world wants to bugger Jennifer Lawrence, THATS A GIVEN ! ! !.

  • willy jerk-off | February 27, 2014 7:07 PMReply

    I want to bugger Jennifer Lawrence.

  • Annie | February 27, 2014 7:05 PMReply

    Fassbender should win. He should have at least a few nominations already, and it's shocking that he doesn't. But he should definitely win this one, because he gave the best performance in the most difficult role.

  • brad pitt 5 4 3 2 1 | February 27, 2014 9:30 PM

    his performance was the exact same as fiennes in SCHINDLERS LIST
    so far he deserved two noms
    2-fish tank

  • Jahbi | February 27, 2014 6:55 PMReply

    So many absurd comments on this board. Go Jennifer Lawrence! You gave the best performance in tgis category. I don't care if you won last year...I am for the best performance. ..nothing else! No sentiments 'cos someone went to a drama school and played a pitiable character (quite well I must say), no silly arguments that you're too young to get back to back oscar wins (I believe records are made to be broken and Jlaw is a worthy record holder with her immense talent).

    She didn't campaign. ..she is no fashion icon...she didn't even show up at some award shows, yet, she won the Golden globe and BAFTA and is a serious threat, a tough o
    Contender to the new 'most beloved' talented girl in Hollywood (Lupita). Her performance would always speak for her at the end. We will surely see who wins the almost 6000 voters won't get it wrong.

    In a nutshell, Lupita should get ready for an isn't an's a well deserved win!

  • Dan | February 27, 2014 2:11 PMReply

    Best Film: 12 Years A Slave
    Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron
    Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey
    Best Actress: Cate Blanchett
    Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto
    Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o
    Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)
    Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze (Her)


  • Sean | February 27, 2014 4:09 PM


    This writers opinions (some of them) are a lil outfield for my taste...

    All I know is.
    Best Actor & Best Supporting Actress are the shaky ground (for some dumbass reason). It better be.....
    Matthew McConaghey (not Leo or Bale WTF. It better be Matthew or Chiwetel, it is their time not the others)

    Supporting actress better be Lupita (no Jennifer no Sally, they are great and will get chances again there's no doubt about that but it is not their time)
    - Lupita her 1st film role, straight out of Yale Drama & her beautiful acceptance speeches already & flawless tragic performance, there wont be a role like this (& so beautifully done) in a very long long long time, if ever again.

  • jz | February 27, 2014 3:40 PM


  • Emile | February 27, 2014 1:52 PMReply

    Between Leo and Matthew McConaughey's performances, both of which were outstanding, it's tough. I have not seen Hustle, 12 Years, or Nebraska - planning to do so this weekend hopefully over here - but it could go either way. It's also a tough one between Abdi and Leto. I do suspect a few SHOCKING upsets Sunday. And, I kinda agree with many of these predictions. That's just me though...

  • alonxo harris | February 27, 2014 9:32 PM

    i bet you a million bucks poitier presents best director to.. steve mcqueen

  • John | February 27, 2014 1:50 PMReply

    "I'd honestly be happy with anyone but Streep, who I thought was legitimately terrible " what the hell

  • kary | February 28, 2014 1:31 PM

    IKR? I was like wtf? Meryl did an incredible job in AOC... for the record I don't think Jonah Hill deserves an Oscar... So, thumb up for the reply in this comment (Daniel Llanto)

  • Daniel Llanto | February 27, 2014 1:52 PM

    Take it from the person who thinks that Jonah Hill deserves an Oscar.

  • Nik G. | February 27, 2014 1:39 PMReply

    For such an unpredictable year I really hope there's more surprises than the ones you've listed there (basically, Abdi. Although The Square would legit surprise me)

    Im hoping for DiCaprio to pull off an upset as great as McConaughey is in everything, DiCaprio's is still the better performance of the two IMO. Not gonna cry if MM gets it tho.

    Hoping that Hawkins turns in a surprising win after Lawrence and Nyong'o cancel each other out.

    Best supporting actor could surprise, but not with Abdi I'd say. Hill or Cooper coz of how much campaigning they've been doing. Abdi winning would be too surreal.

    Screenplay SHOULD go to Wolf for adapted, but 12 Years will get it like you say. Original should and will go to Her.

    Still got a few days to iron out my predictions but these are solid choices overall. Except Bullock deserving actress is something I can't get behind. She was kinda awful. Streep on the other hand, doesn't know how to be terrible but she doesn't deserve the win either. Blanchett or Adams here are the most deserving.

  • V. | February 27, 2014 1:38 PMReply

    Lawrence isn't going to get her second Oscar this young so the Academy will pick Nyong'o. That means Abdi is out as very few voters will be willing to give both supporting actors to newcomers(newcomers in a much broader sense than, say, Sally Hawkins). So Leto is picking up that one.
    Secondly, Hustle is going to win screenplay as they've got no chance in Movie/Director/Actor/Actress/Supporting Actor and the voters will want to give them something (even though Hustle is incredibly overrated and appalling)

  • fassbender 7654321 | February 27, 2014 9:35 PM

    spike lee /sidney poitier will present best director to steve mcqueen
    polanski will present best screenplay to woody allen

  • Daniel Llanto | February 27, 2014 1:34 PMReply

    You lost me when I read " ... anyone but Streep, who I thought was legitimately terrible in 'August Osage County' " So I have to assume that you think that Jonah Hill gave a better performance than Daniel Bruhl in Rush or Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks ?

  • Jorge Clooneigh | March 1, 2014 2:24 AM

    Oh, Denny J - "cartoon Cate Blanchett"? You are clearly on something.. the only question is:


  • Jorge Clooneigh | March 1, 2014 1:32 AM

    Oh, Denny J - "cartoon Cate Blanchett"? You are clearly on something.. the only question is:


  • Daniel Llanto | February 27, 2014 3:13 PM

    All of us are giving personal opinions, mate. There will be always overlooked performances, or overrated ones.

  • Denny J | February 27, 2014 2:58 PM

    I began thinking that you might actually know what you're talking about when you said that Sally Hawkins was better than Cartoon Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine but then, "anyone but Streep, who was legitimately terrible in AOC. Have you seen via Google who real people think gave the best performances this year? You and Indiewire have lost all credibility to me. Since they are not going to win anything this year, why don't you expend some energy on some of the truly great and shamefully overlooked performances this year by Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larsen, Adele Ex., Margo Martindale, Sarah Paulsen, and Chris Cooper.

  • Daniel Llanto | February 27, 2014 2:48 PM

    Jonah Hill's performance was correct, I won't deny it. But there were better performances, who deserved a nomination as well like Bruhl or Will Forte or Gandolfini. Personally, I think Michael Fassbender should win.

  • Davey | February 27, 2014 2:13 PM

    I'm not the author, and I still haven't seen "Rush" (though I'm looking forward to it), but yeah, Hill would be my pick for the win among the nominees, and I think he's about a million times better than Hanks in "Saving Mr. Banks," who, like Streep in "August Osage County," I did not care for at all.

  • Ann | February 27, 2014 2:10 PM

    Not the author, but: yes, Hill easily deserved a nomination over both Bruhl and Hanks. (And Hill is far from one of my favorite male supporting performances of the year, but he's still better than the other two.)

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