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Oscars '14: Predictions, part five - The majors

Published February 28, 2014 10:40 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

OK, put-up-or-shut-up time. Here are The Cricket's predictions in the major categories for the 86th annual Academy Awards.The Cricket predicted the technical categories on Monday, the craft categories on Tuesday, the short-film competition on Wednesday, and the specialty features (animated, documentary and foreign-language) on Thursday.The Cricket will be live-tweeting the Oscar ceremony (which starts at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time, with the pre-show red carpet coverage starting on ABC at 5 p.m.) on Sunday, at @moviecricket.—ActorNominees • 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."Who will win • Matthew McConaughey, who has been showing his acting chops more than his abs recently, famously lost 45 pounds to play HIV-infected Texas good-ol'-boy Ron Woodroof. Even with strong contendors in Ejiofor and a much-hyped DiCaprio, McConaughey's got this one in the bag, alright.Who should win • Ejiofor's quiet resiliency as the enslaved Solomon Northup wasn't as flashy as McConaughey's Woodroof or DiCaprio's high-flying stock trader, but his performance was more moving. (If we're allowing write-in votes, I'd pick Robert Redford for his one-man performance in "All Is Lost.")—ActressNominees • Amy Adams, "American Hustle"; Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"; Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"; Judi Dench, "Philomena"; Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County."Who will win • There's been talk of a late surge by Amy Adams as the tough con artist with the bruised heart. Don't believe it. Cate Blanchett's take on a modern-day Blanche Dubois is a lock.Who should win • Sandra Bullock had to play much of "Gravity" as a soloist, while also dealing with the demands of an effects-heavy production.—Supporting ActorNominees • 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."Who will win • McConaughey's co-star, Jared Leto, also went through a physical transformation — not only as an HIV sufferer, but as a transsexual. Oscar voters love that sort of performance.Who should win • Barkhad Abdi made us feel the menace of Somali pirates and understand what forced him into this life. And he did it as a first-time actor going up against one of America's greatest stars, Tom Hanks.—Supporting ActressNominees • Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"; Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"; Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"; Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"; June Squibb, "Nebraska."Who will win • Oscar voters love to discover new actresses, especially in this category. This year, that's Lupita Nyong'o, who became a star for her role as a long-suffering house slave. There's been talk of Jennifer Lawrence snatching this one away from Nyong'o, the way she stole "American Hustle," but don't count on it.Who should win • June Squibb's salty performance as the frustrated wife of Bruce Dern's ornery alcoholic was a pure delight.—DirectorNominees • Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"; Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"; Alexander Payne, "Nebraska": David O. Russell, "American Hustle"; Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street."Who will win • Best Director usually matches Best Picture — but expect a split this year, with Alfonso Cuarón receiving the reward for pulling off the technically demanding "Gravity."Who should win • Cuarón continues to do things with a camera that other directors can only dream about.—Screenplay — OriginalNominees • Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, "American Hustle"; Woody Allen, "Blue Jasmine"; Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, "Dallas Buyers Club"; Spike Jonze, "Her"; Bob Nelson, "Nebraska."Who will win • The favorites here are the retro-cool of "American Hustle" and the charming future of "Her." This may be the one category the academy uses to honor David O. Russell's much-nominated con-game caper.Who should win • Spike Jonze's microchipped romance is, by definition, the most truly original screenplay in this bunch. Also the sweetest, most thought-provoking and spellbinding.—Screenplay — AdaptedNominees • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, "Before Midnight"; Billy Ray, "Captain Phillips"; Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, "Philomena"; John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave"; Terence Winter, "The Wolf of Wall Street."Who will win • John Ridley, for translating Solomon Northup's story to a modern audience while keeping some of the 19th-century flavor intact.Who should win • As raunchy and reprehensible as its characters' behavior could sometimes be, Terence Winter's dissection of greed and excess in "The Wolf of Wall Street" was never less than fascinating.—Best PictureNominees • "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Gravity," "Her," "Nebraska," "Philomena," "12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street."What will win • OK, that three-movie race is really a two-movie race, because "American Hustle" doesn't stand a chance. It's between the stately "12 Years a Slave" and the space-going "Gravity" — and, in this case, the gravity of the subject matter will send "12 Years a Slave's" producers (including Brad Pitt) to the podium to collect the last statuettes of the night.What should win • Three of these nine nominees were on my top 10 list: "Her," "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave." Of those, "Her" was the most touching and most challenging, and would get my vote.