Movies

Rickey.org’s 86th Academy Award Nomination Predictions

So Oscar nominations are tomorrow, and as Rickey.org’s resident Oscar-obsessive, it’s time for me to make my predictions. This year, I’m going to simply go with my gut, since overthinking the problem tends to lead to disaster. Granted, in over fifteen years of diehard Oscar-watching, this might be one of the toughest awards seasons, since so many of the categories could be populated with any number of films that were once thought to be frontrunners. So let’s get to guessing then.

You can play along by clicking this Precursor Awards tag, which will show you the posts of what has won what, and what’s been nominated during the awards season. Think of it as a cheat sheet of sorts that will help you gauge which movies have momentum. If nothing else, you could end up being more successful in your office Oscar pool (assuming your office has one, and assuming there are any prizes worth winning; and even if not, what could be more valuable than bragging rights?).

Rickey.org's 86th Academy Award Nomination Predictions

Credit: ABC/AMPAS

BEST PICTURE

There are four locks right now: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, American Hustle, and Captain Phillips. But it’s hard to know just how many Best Picture nominees there will be this year. The Academy has favored the number 9 in recent years, but I just can’t imagine nine films getting enough votes to make the cut. Seven or eight feels more like the right number. But I said that last year and ended up being hilariously wrong, so nine it is.

So which five films join the locked four? I’m guessing Philomena makes it in based on its consistent awards season performance, as well as the influence of the British contingent within the Academy voting membership. I also feel like Nebraska will sneak in there, even though its buzz has been minimal, of late. Woody Allen is always a threat, so I think Blue Jasmine gets in too. For the last two slots, I feel it’s a five-way toss-up between Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Her. Ultimately, I think Inside Llewyn Davis is respected more than it’s actually loved, while I think Her might have peaked too late. So I’m going with The Wolf of Wall Street and Saving Mr. Banks (although if a Disney film must get in, why can’t it be Frozen? Seriously, I’ll mark out like a small child if that nomination happens). Come to think of it, I can’t think of a reason to bump Dallas Buyers Club, so I’m going to go with ten nominees.

Nick’s Picks:
12 Years A Slave
Gravity
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Philomena
Blue Jasmine
The Wolf of Wall Street
Nebraska
Saving Mr. Banks
Dallas Buyers Club

BEST DIRECTOR

The four Best Picture locks seem like sure-things in this category, which leaves a fifth spot open. Smart money would say the Academy goes with what they know, either Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, or the Coen Brothers. But I just have a hunch about Stephen Frears. It’s complete wishful thinking, but the heart wants what it wants.

Nick’s Picks:
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Stephen Frears, Philomena

BEST ACTOR

This is an insane category, in that it would be easy to imagine any one of the six frontrunners missing out on the nomination (well, except for Hanks and Ejiofor), yet it feels inconceivable that any of them would be snubbed. So first, the locks: I think Tom Hanks and Chiwetel Ejiofor are safe bets, and Matthew McConaughey is as close to a lock as he’s ever been. Bruce Dern seems likely based solely on the reviews he’s been getting, which are some of the best of his career. So that leaves one spot to be determined between Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford. While common sense says the Academy goes with the resurgent Hollywood legend in Redford, I feel All Is Lost was too much a non-factor as a film to carry Redford to the nomination. I suppose Joaquin Phoenix could also sneak in, but I’m just going to say No. 5 is Leo.

Nick’s Picks:
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ACTRESS

Much like Best Actor, this feels like a game of musical chairs, in which six people compete for five spots. Cate Blanchett is a lock, while Emma Thompson, Sandra Bullock, and Judi Dench feel like sure-things. And so that leaves one spot, and it’s likely to either go to Meryl Streep or Amy Adams. I know it’s complete madness to ever bet against Meryl, but I don’t think August: Osage County ever caught fire with the precursor awards. Granted, it’s not like that’s ever stopped Meryl before, but I think the Academy is going to go absolutely nuts for American Hustle, which means it’ll pick up a lot of nominations people aren’t really expecting it to. So I’m sticking with Adams.

Nick’s Picks:
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Amy Adams, American Hustle

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The supporting categories are where things get interesting, since nobody here feels like a sure thing. Sure, there are some safe bets, but no real locks. Jared Leto seems like the safest bet, as he turns in the kind of showy, deeply-layered performance the Academy loves. Michael Fassbender is another likely nominee, given the buzz for 12 Years A Slave. Barkhad Abdi has been getting tons of critical attention for Captain Phillips, and Oscar loves anointing an unknown, so I expect he’ll make the cut too. And Daniel Brühl has surprised a lot of people by coming out of nowhere and scoring multiple nominations this awards season for Rush. So I think he’ll slide in. Which leaves us with one spot. I’ve spent the entire season assuming this spot would be for Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street, and I continued to think so right up until I started writing this, as I’ve just had a hunch about him since the awards season started. However, I’m thinking one of the guys from American Hustle might actually make more sense here, as Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper have been getting a lot of attention for their roles. So I’m going to just flip a coin.

Nick’s Picks:
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

It’s kind of crazy to think that when this awards season started, the Oscar was all but gift-wrapped for Oprah, yet now a nomination isn’t even a guarantee anymore. Granted, I still expect Oprah to get in, but I don’t think she’ll have as clear-cut a case for the win as she had when the season started. She’ll likely be facing some really stiff competition from Lupita Nyong’o, June Squibb, and Jennifer Lawrence. The only real question, once again, is who scored the fifth slot? In much the same way it feels stupid to bet against Meryl Streep, it feels just as ridiculous to bet against Julia Roberts. So that’s who I’m picking, even though I really wish Sally Hawkins would score the nod for Blue Jasmine.

Nick’s Pick:
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
June Squibb, Nebraska

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

It’s a pretty strong field this year, but I think that, barring one pick, this category will mostly be populated with Best Picture nominees. I suspect the one non-Best Picture choice in this lineup will be the critically-acclaimed Before Midnight, a script that has scored as much buzz as the film for which it serves as template. But no matter which films get in, this has been an unquestionably strong year for film writing.

Nick’s Pick:
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

This category is a bit harder to predict, if only because it’s populated with some of the more buzzworthy scripts this year. In fact, the category has scripts that continue to gain traction while the awards prospects of the film itself fall by the wayside, as is the case with The Butler and Fruitvale Station. With that said, the Academy is prone to voting for a writer, irrespective of the quality of the script, when no immediately obvious choices present themselves. So I suspect the Coen Brothers will get in for Inside Llewyn Davis, despite missing out on a Writers Guild nod. I also think Woody Allen is a likely nominee for Blue Jasmine, as is David O. Russell (and Eric Singer) for American Hustle. Ryan Coogler had a breakout year, and I think the Academy should reward him by nominating Fruitvale Station, but I’m not sure they will, especially when the category is likely to be packed with previous winners like Alexander Payne (Nebraska). Smart money says Spike Jonze gets the fifth slot for Her, but I’m neither smart nor do I have money, so I’m picking Fruitvale Station anyway.

Nick’s Picks:
Fruitvale Station
Nebraska
Blue Jasmine
American Hustle
Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

This category is a bit of a crapshoot, but I imagine it’ll be populated with Best Picture nominees, which makes this a tiny bit less complicated a guessing game than it probably should be.

Nick’s Picks:
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners
12 Years a Slave

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

It’ll be tough to narrow this down, given the veritable wealth of Oscar-bait costume design this year. In lieu of any truly obvious choices, I’m going to go with a mixture of guild nominees, and costume designers the Academy likes (such as Michael O’Connor, whose work on The Invisible Woman has been the only attention that film has gotten).

Nick’s Picks:
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave

BEST FILM EDITING

A crucial award. It’s said you don’t really have a shot at Best Picture without an editing nomination, and while films have gone on to win the big prize without appearing in this category, it’s been so rare as to border on statistic impossibility. So I’m loading this one up with likely Best Picture nominees, save for one pick. It’s madness to go against Thelma Schoonmaker, who always makes Martin Scorsese films pop, but Rush is another one of my hunches.

Nick’s Picks:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Gravity
12 Years a Slave
Rush

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Lots of lovely work this year, which will make it hard on Academy voters. But I don’t think subtlety will be rewarded here, so let’s go with the loudest art design and set decoration we can pick.

Nick’s Picks:
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Her
12 Years a Slave

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Much like with Production Design, I feel like this is less an award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and more an award for MOST Makeup and Hairstyling.

Nick’s Picks:
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

I feel like this is going to be a repeat of the Golden Globes, save for one nominee, Alexandre Desplat (Philomena).

Nick’s Picks:
The Book Thief
All Is Lost
Gravity
Philomena
12 Years a Slave

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

My favorite category! It’s also the category that routinely causes the greatest amount of disappointment, as the Academy either fails to nominate any full category’s worth of songs, or they snub some truly outstanding choices for no discernible reason. But this year, the category is all but guaranteed to be filled with a full five nominees, so I’m keeping my optimism, for fear of despairing that these people will ever make the right choices. With that said, while this is my favorite category, it’s routinely my worst, in terms of predictions, largely due to my own wishful thinking, and also because it’s almost impossible to guess ahead of time what these people actually like in any given year. So here goes nothing.

Nick’s Picks:
“Let It Go,” Frozen
“Young and Beautiful,” The Great Gatsby
“I See Fire,” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“So You Know What Its Like,” Short Term 12

BEST SOUND MIXING

Not much to add here. Just a guess based on the Academy’s preference for atmospheric sound, although I could easily imagine Frozen slipping in here somewhere.

Nick’s Picks:
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Rush
12 Years a Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

All the big booms go here.

Nick’s Picks:
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Iron Man 3
Lone Survivor
Rush

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

A lot of very pretty movies this year, but only ten finalists made the last round of cuts: Gravity, Iron Man 3, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Pacific Rim, Elysium, The Lone Ranger, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness, Oblivion, and Thor: The Dark World. Ultimately, I think the Academy will mostly stick with the films that were largely driven by their effects.

Nick’s Picks:
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Elysium

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

This category is known to offer some surprises, but I think this will be a fairly straightforward year. Four of the nominees seem obvious, but I can’t decide what obscure longshot is going to get the fifth slot: the hand-drawn Ernest & Celine, The Croods, or something even more random and zany, like Turbo or Epic. I’m just going to make a wild guess.

Nick’s Picks:
Despicable Me 2
Frozen
Monsters University
The Wind Rises
Turbo

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

This was a great year for documentary film, and it should be reflected in the nominees for this category. Ultimately, I think the picks will be a mixture of mainstream critical fare and controversial subject matter.

Nick’s Picks:
The Act of Killing
Blackfish
The Square
Stories We Tell
Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

The Academy loves melodrama in its foreign films, but they also love boldness and auteur sensibility. I think this group of nominees will be a solid reflection of those preferences. That said, I can’t pretend I’m not just throwing predictions at the wall, at this point.

Nick’s Picks:
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
Two Lives (Germany)
The Notebook (Hungary)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
Omar (Palestine)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Biographies are apparently the hot thing in documentary shorts this year, so I’m picking films that focus on a real life subject.

Nick’s Picks:
The Lady In Number 6
Karama Has No Walls
Jujitsu-ing Reality
Cavedigger
Slomo

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT

Looking over the subject matter of the finalists, this is what I feel lines up with the Academy’s alternately quirky / self-serious tastes in this category.

Nick’s Picks:
The Voorman Problem
Kush
Tiger Boy
Throat Song
Two

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

I literally have no idea what they’ll pick here, as each one of these films have a realistic shot for one reason or another. For instance, Get a Horse! has the Disney machine behind it, while Mr. Hublot is the kind of quirky, eccentric fairy tale the Academy loves. Contenders like Hollow Land and Possessions have striking visual styles, while Feral just feels like the sort of thing voters would check on their ballot, given that it’s about a wild kid rediscovering civilization. This is tough to pick, so I’m going with my gut:

Nick’s Picks:
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Requiem for Romance
Room on the Broom
Subconscious Password

And that’s it! Check back tomorrow morning at 8:30 PM ET, as I’ll be doing a live post of the 86th Academy Award nominations, which will be announced live by Chris Hemsworth and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Sound off with your predictions in the comments, and see if you can maybe score a higher percentage than I can! Hell, I don’t think it’ll be all that hard to do. Best of luck on your predictions!

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Got Something to Add?

6 comments
tahlmorra20
tahlmorra20

I'm pretty sure Christian Bale is entered in Lead Actor and not Supporting for AH

rockers
rockers

great choices for the nominations! Although I have to say Oprah isn't getting that much buzz now is she? Was she even in the golden globes? I hope you do another section about which of the nominees you think will win/should win! (although I guess this will also be dependent upon how many of them you've actually watched haha) thanks for taking the time to put blurbs on ALL the categories, even the less popular ones. :)

mamashmoi
mamashmoi

Can't wait for it all! I had fun watching the Golden Globes this year, too. Used to be that Golden Globe winners were usually Oscar winners.....wonder when that started changing?

NickRoman1
NickRoman1 moderator

@tahlmorra20 After looking it over online, it appears you're right. So I've switched out Bale for Bradley Cooper. Thanks for the heads up!

NickRoman1
NickRoman1 moderator

@rockers I plan on doing another post when it's time to predict winners! Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it, since I figured people would just stop reading altogether when we hit the less popular categories. I don't know if other people are as Oscar obsessed as I am, haha.

NickRoman1
NickRoman1 moderator

@mamashmoi I think the Globes stopped being a reliable Oscar predictor in around the mid-2000s or so. A lot of stuff they would nominate would end up missing with Oscar completely (The Great Debaters, anyone?). Of course, some would argue it was never that reliable a predictor, but I'd have to do the research to see if that opinion bears out. All I know now is that the balloting process makes it so that Globe results often have no effect on Oscar voting, since ballots have already been turned in by the time the Globes air, which wasn't always the case. But alas. 


Anyway, as if you can't tell, I too am stoked for the Oscars!!!