Each spring, the film industry coalesces on its most prestigious award ceremony and celebration: the Academy Awards, better known simply as the Oscars. This ceremony, hosted and organized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, honors the greatest achievements of the previous calendar year in filmmaking. Because the Academy is founded with the intention of promoting excellence in the field from every angle, the award categories span every aspect of filmmaking from acting to composing. 2013 saw many great film releases, so 2014 is an interesting year for the Oscars. Although no one can say for certain who the awards go to until the announcer pulls each winner out of an envelope, it is not hard to make a good guess depending on the depth of competition for each award.
Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Nominees for this award include box-office titans like “Gravity” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well as lesser-known films like “Nebraska” and “Philomena.” With a deep pool of great films in 2013, it’s hard to narrow things down to a clear favorite. As an indication of how close this one is, the Producer’s Guild of America decided a tie for Best Picture between “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” for the first time in its history. “American Hustle” is another possible, though less likely, winner. However, “12 Years a Slave,” with its combination of historical accuracy and modern themes, appears to be the most likely winner.
Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron
The award for Best Director is almost always given to the director of the movie that wins Best Picture, but with a relatively split vote this year, it’s not unlikely to see the Academy buck that trend. If “12 Years a Slave” wins Best Picture, it is likely that Alfonso Cuaron wins Best Director for his work on “Gravity.”
Best Lead Actor – Matthew McConaughey
The competition is stiff at this award, too. Great actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale are in the running. However, most experts agree that Matthew McConaughey is the favorite for this award. This might come as a surprise for casual viewers who know him only for his work in more commercial romantic comedies, but McConaughey has been paving the way to win this one for several years by taking on many difficult roles, with his role as Ron Woodruff in “Dallas Buyers Club” being his most difficult yet.
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett
After many conflicted awards, the winner for Best Actress is fairly clear: Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”). She has won nearly all of the awards that experts consider to be Oscar bellwethers, so any other winner would be a great surprise.
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto
Again, this award is a simple prediction based on the likely winner’s success at awards that happen before the Oscars. Jared Leto gave a fantastic performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” that all but guarantees him the award.
Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence
This one is a little less clear than Best Supporting actor. Still, Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”) is almost sure to win this one on the merits of her performance. However, because she won Best Lead Actress in 2013, the Academy might be reluctant to give her another award so soon.
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
“Frozen” has to win this one. It was released to acclaim from critics and fans alike, and many consider it to be Disney’s best animated feature yet because of its creative plot and fantastic overall quality. “The Wind Rises,” directed by Japanese giant Hayao Miyazaki, deserves an honorable mention.
Best Song – Let it Go – Frozen
“Let It Go” from “Frozen” is the clear favorite among critics and fans alike.
Best Musical Score – Frozen
“Frozen” is likely to win this one because of the buzz surrounding it. However, “Her” is a close second.
Best Visual Effects – Gravity
“Gravity” is the clear favorite, and anyone who’s seen its spectacular effects knows why.
Best Adapted Screenplay – 12 Years a Slave
Part of the reason “12 Years a Slave” is in contention for Best Picture is owed to the work of its screenplay, and it’s the favorite for this award.
Best Original Screenplay – Her
“Her” is almost certain to win this award.
Because 2013 was an unusually good year for movies, the competition is deep at several awards, and likewise, many of these predictions are uncertain at times. It is worth keeping these predictions in mind to help appreciate the significance of any upsets. For example, while competition is split for Best Picture, a winner outside its three biggest contenders would be a shock. No matter who wins what, this year’s Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, should be a treat to watch.