2014 Oscar Predictions: Who will win at the 86th Academy Awards?

The Oscar award is a symbol of achieving excellence in a cinematic film.

The Oscar award is a symbol of achieving excellence in a cinematic film.

As 2013 draws to a close, movie critics are abuzz discussing the potential 2014 Oscar nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. The nominees will not be announced until January 16, 2014, making December the perfect month for Oscar predictions. In order to be considered for the 2014 Oscars, “Films must show in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County by Dec. 31 for a minimum of seven consecutive days,” explained Pat Saperstein in her Variety post “289 films eligible for Oscar consideration.” If you are looking for a good research paper topic in film studies, consider looking at Oscar winners from previous years. Have they continued to be well-respected over time? What might that indicate for these 2014 Oscar predictions?

A crowded field

As Saperstein reported, there are 289 films that are contenders for Oscars this year. That’s a large number, and because of the quantity, some films originally planned for release during the Oscar season (many films are slated for the end of the year in order to be fresh in the minds of the Academy voters) are being pushed back to 2014. Tim Walker of the Sunshine Coast Daily of Melbourne, Australia, in “Movies on ice because of crowded Oscars field; top films are being held back until after awards,” noted that while often films delayed due to “perfecting” are actually held back to drum up better marketing and publicity, “This season films are being held back until 2014 because they’re too good.”

After listing a number of delayed films – including a George Clooney World War II movie The Monuments Men and Steve Carell’s dramatic Foxcatcher – Walker stated that the 2014 Oscars are one of the most competitive in memory. “The best picture category, which can accommodate nine films, is already packed,” he explained.

Best picture

So who are some of those contenders? Here are some standouts:

12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, is hitting most of the prediction lists as an “absolute lock” as Peter Knegt of IndieWire phrased it in his “2014 Oscar predictions: Best picture.” The film grabbed nine London Critics’ Circle Film Award nominations, so it’s certainly received high critical praise. The film is based on a true story of Solomon Northup, played by Ejiofor, who was a free black man in the years before the American Civil War. He was captured and sold into slavery, and spent twelve years struggling to maintain his sense of self before meeting a Canadian abolitionist.

American Hustle, another of Knegt’s “absolute locks,” is a given on many other prediction lists as well, with some positing that director David O. Russell may be up for best director and star Christian Bale may hit the best actor list. The film, about how two con artists are forced to work with the FBI, has already been nominated for 7 Golden Globes. Another notable feature? Stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence have all featured prominently in recent superhero movies (as Batman, Lois Lane, and Hawkeye in Avengers and Mystique in X-Men). Not to be left out, second-billed star Bradley Cooper is slated to play “Rocket Raccoon” in the upcoming superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy.

Nebraska is also among the top predictions. The father/son road trip, in which an alcoholic father and his son make a trip from Montana to the town in Nebraska where the father grew up, garnered actor Bruce Dern a Best Actor win at the Cannes Film Festival.

Science-fiction epic Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is also an agreed-upon contender. In a disastrous spacewalk, Clooney and Bullock’s characters are tethered to nothing but each other, floating in space. Bullock was named Best Actress at the Hollywood Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and director Alfonso Curarón received a number of awards for best director.

For Knegt, films that are “battling it out for whatever slots we end up having left” include:

  • Captain Phillips
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Her
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Philomena

Knegt also lists “long shots, but possible” – some of which other prediction lists rank higher:

  • Blue Jasmine
  • August: Osage County
  • Lee Daniels’ The Butler

How many of these films have you seen? Tell us which ones you think will win nominations in the comments. 

For more on film criticism, visit Questia.

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