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2014 Oscar Predictions: Who do you think will win?

The countdown begins! Oscar® week is finally here, and everyone is weighing in. Who will be the best dressed? Who will have the best acceptance speech? How many jokes will it take before Ellen mentions Justin Bieber or George Clooney? But, no other question is more important than who will win? Who you want to win and who you think is going to win is not always the same, but that is the beauty of Oscar® week: everyone can be a critic. If you have been following this award season, you know the supposed shoe-in's (*cough* Matthew McConaughey) and who the media thinks has no chance. If history tells us anything, it’s that nothing is for sure until the envelope opens. My Oscar® predictions below are based on the films I’ve seen this year, the performances I can’t forget, and a peppering of disregard for what the popular media thinks. The biggest deviation comes in three categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture.

This year's Best Actor and Best Actress Nominees
This year's Best Actor and Best Actress Nominees
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For Best Actor, the battle is between Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street). With the exception of the Golden Globes® where McConaughey and DiCaprio both took home awards for Best Actor (in different categories), McConaughey has been sweeping the category at awards shows. My choice of DiCaprio over McConaughey is not rebellious or favoritism (I’m actually not the biggest fan of the actor), it is pure performance vs. performance. McConaughey was very impressive as the pill-slinging Robin Hood Ron Woodroof, but DiCarpio surprised me. He built Jordan Belfort in to more than a fictionalized version of a real person, but in to a larger-than-life believable jerk. DiCaprio’s motivational monologues to the greed hungry employees of Stratton Oakmont was enough alone to convince me. What is working against him? McConaughey has become the media’s unstoppable underdog, and DiCaprio has had a notorious love/hate relationship with the Academy (leaning more towards the hate). The odds are against him, but my vote still goes to Leo.

Best Supporting Actress to me is the most indifferent category. Each nominee definitely deserves an Oscar® look, but no one really stands out as the clear winner (contrary to the Best Actress category). Jennifer Lawrence was the initial front-runner after American Hustle hit theaters, but as the award season has been under-way, Lupita Nyong'o has been making her case and starting to turn heads. The argument could be made that Nyong'o did not have enough lines or screen-time to warrant an Academy Award-winning performance, but tell that to Judi Dench who won an Oscar® for her eight minute total performance in Shakespeare in Love. My vote is based purely on whose performance I enjoyed more. I’m going with Jennifer Lawrence. What is working against her? Nyong'o is becoming a fan and Academy® favorite. Also, the Academy has a hard-time giving Meryl Streep back-to-back Oscars®, do we really think they are prepared to give that honor to Katniss?

The general consensus for Best Picture is it will be between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. After American Hustle won a Golden Globe® for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and a SAG Award® for outstanding ensemble cast, it is worth mentioning as the third front-runner in this group. My hunch is Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are going to either win Best Director or Best Picture. I do not think either film will win both. Gravity was exciting and felt like a true cinematic experience. The script, however, was just so-so. 12 Years a Slave is great film from start to finish, but its rural setting, while beautifully shot, was no Sandra Bullock suspended in outer space in a seemingly endless spin. That was more than impressive film-making. My vote still is for 12 Years a Slave as Best Picture, and Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) for Best Director. While Gravity hit you in the mouth with outstanding cinematography and effects, 12 Years a Slave was just a better all-around film: performances, script, plot…you name it.

Who do you want to win? Or, who do you think will win? For those of you playing along at home, here is a printable Oscar ballot. Compare your predictions to mine, and see how we do. Don’t forget to watch the Oscars® live Sunday, March 2nd at 4p PST on ABC®. For more information about the Awards and this year’s nominees, visit Oscar.go.com.

Here is my full-list of this year's Oscar® predictions. And the winner is?…

*** *** = Predicted Winner

BEST PICTURE

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

*** 12 Years a Slave ***

The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Christian Bale (American Hustle)

Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

***Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)***

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Amy Adams (American Hustle)

***Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) ***

Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Judi Dench (Philomena)

Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

***Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) ***

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

***Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)***

Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

June Squibb (Nebraska)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson)

Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri)

Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner)

***Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho) ***

The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)

***Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) ***

Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)

Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)

Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

***American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson) ***

The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)

The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

The Invisible Woman (Michael O'Connor)

12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)

BEST DIRECTING

American Hustle (David O. Russell)

***Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón) ***

Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

***The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen)***

Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher)

Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill)

The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer)

20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

CaveDigger (Jeffrey Karoff)

Facing Fear (Jason Cohen)

Karama Has No Walls (Sara Ishaq)

***The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)***

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (Edgar Barens)

BEST FILM EDITING

American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)

Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)

Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)

***Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)***

12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

***The Great Beauty (Italy)***

The Hunt (Denmark)

The Missing Picture (Cambodia)

Omar (Palestine)

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

***Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)***

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)

The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Book Thief (John Williams)

Gravity (Steven Price)

Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)

Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)

***Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)***

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Happy” (Despicable Me 2)

***”Let It Go” (Frozen)***

“The Moon Song” (Her)

“Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler)

Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard)

The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena)

*** 12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)***

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Feral (Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden)

***Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim)***

Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)

Possessions (Shuhei Morita)

Room on the Broom (Max Lang, Jan Lachauer)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me) (Esteban Crespo)

***Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (Xavier Legrand, Alexandre Gavras)***

Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) (Selma Vilhunen, Kirsikka Saari)

The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill, Baldwin Li)

BEST SOUND EDITING

All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns)

Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)

Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

***The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward)***

Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)

BEST SOUND MIXING

Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)

***Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)***

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson)

Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)

Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

***Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)***

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)

Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)

The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)

Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)

Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)

***Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)***

12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)

Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)

***Her (Spike Jonze)***

Nebraska (Bob Nelson)