It’s time once again for my annual Academy Award predictions. For those keeping score, here are my results in recent years: 2010 (17 out of 24), 2011 (20 out of 24), 2012 (17 out of 24) and 2013 (16 out of 24).

American Hustle (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)
Captain Phillips (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers)
Dallas Buyers Club (Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers)
Gravity (Alfonso CuarÁ³n and David Heyman, Producers)
Her (Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers)
Nebraska (Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers)
Philomena (Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers)
12 Years a Slave (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers)

PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave. For the first time in many years, there’s no clear front-runner for Best Picture. The Producers Guild of America Award was no help, as it was a tie between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but it serves to indicate just how close this year’s Best Picture race will be. It could easily be awarded to Gravity since this year’s Directors Guild of America Award went to Alfonso CuarÁ³n — and a Picture/Director split is somewhat rare. But despite all that, as much I’m never comfortable predicting a Picture/Director split, I think 12 Years a Slave is the slight favorite. [youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”z02Ie8wKKRg”]

David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso CuarÁ³n for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTION: Alfonso CuarÁ³n. Since the Directors Guild of America has an excellent track record of predicting Best Director winners (it’s only been wrong seven times in over sixty years of DGA Awards), Alfonso CuarÁ³n is most likely to win the Oscar. [youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”ufsrgE0BYf0″]

Christian Bale for American Hustle
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTION: Matthew McConaughey. Months ago, I thought Robert Redford would be tough to beat in this category, but he wasn’t even nominated. Shows how much I know. That pretty much leaves Matthew McConaughey, especially after his win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. While I won’t be surprised though if Bruce Dern’s name is called, McConaughey is the favorite here.

Amy Adams for American Hustle
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Judi Dench for Philomena
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

PREDICTION: Cate Blanchett. After winning both the Golden Globe and the always important Screen Actors Guild Award, Cate Blanchett appears to be the favorite.

Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club


Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County
June Squibb for Nebraska

PREDICTION: Lupita Nyong’o.

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
Philomena (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope)
12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave. Eight times out of the past ten years, the Oscar has gone to the winner of the Writers Guild of America Award, the exceptions being The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King instead of American Splendor and Precious instead of Up In the Air. But this year John Ridley’s screenplay for 12 Years a Slave was deemed ineligible for a Writers Guild nomination under WGA rules. And while WGA winner Billy Ray wrote an excellent screenplay for Captain Phillips, I think the Oscar will go to John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave.

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

PREDICTION: Her. In two recent years, 2011 and 2013, this award has gone to recipients other than the Writers Guild of America winners — The King’s Speech instead of Inception and Django Unchained instead of Zero Dark Thirty. In both cases, neither David Seidler’s screenplay for The King’s Speech or Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained were nominated for the WGA Award because they were ruled ineligible. This year’s WGA winner, Her, was a bit of a surprise to me — I was expecting American Hustle to win. Thus my predicament. But ultimately, due to to the excellent WGA Award track record, I have to go with Spike Jonze’s Her for Original Screenplay.

The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson)
Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri)
Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner)
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho)
The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki)

PREDICTION: Frozen. [youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”TbQm5doF_Uc”]

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

PREDICTION: The Great Beauty.

American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler)
Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard)
The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)
Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena)
12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)

PREDICTION: The Great Gatsby.

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

PREDICTION: Gravity. Whether or not Gravity wins Best Picture, it’s a safe bet it will scoop up many of the technical awards. Since Emmanuel Lubezki also won the American Society of Cinematographers Award, this seems like a very safe bet.

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)

PREDICTION: The Great Gatsby.

American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten)
Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa)
Gravity (Alfonso CuarÁ³n and Mark Sanger)
12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

PREDICTION: Captain Phillips. My original prediction, Gravity, lost to Captain Phillips at the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards this year. American Hustle also won an Ace Eddie Award in the Comedy/Musical category, but it’s the Drama recipient who has a decent record of going on to win the Oscar (nine out of the past ten years).

Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)
The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny)

PREDICTION: Dallas Buyers Club.

The Book Thief (John Williams)
Gravity (Steven Price)
Her (William Butler and Owen Pallett)
Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

PREDICTION: Gravity. I don’t see how this one can lose. Steven Price’s score to Gravity works well in the film and has to carry the film through several key moments with little dialog or sound effects.

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone (Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel)
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2 (Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams)
“Let It Go” from Frozen (Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
“The Moon Song” from Her (Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze)
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson)

PREDICTION: “Let It Go.” I sure hate betting against U2. After all, they did win the Golden Globe Award for Best Song. But “Let It Go” is a strong contender in a popular Disney film that far more people have seen than Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. As an aside, yes I am well aware that the Academy rescinded the nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” but since I think that was a stupid decision, I am leaving it on the list here. That’ll show ’em!

Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro)
Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland)
Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow)

PREDICTION: Gravity. I really hate betting against my friend (who is nominated for The Hobbit), but Gravity is going to be very tough to beat in this category.

All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns)
Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)
Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge and Chris Ward)
Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)


Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds)
Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick)
The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier)
Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton)


The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge SÁ¸rensen)
Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher)
Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill)
The Square (Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer)
20 Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers)

PREDICTION: 20 Feet from Stardom.

CaveDigger (Jeffrey Karoff)
Facing Fear (Jason Cohen)
Karama Has No Walls (Sara Ishaq)
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed)
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (Edgar Barens)

PREDICTION: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Feral (Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden)
Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim)
Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares)
Possessions (Shuhei Morita)
Room on the Broom (Max Lang and Jan Lachauer)

PREDICTION: Get a Horse!

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) (Esteban Crespo)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras)
Helium (Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson)
PitÁ¤Á¤kÁ¶ Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) (Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari)
The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill and Baldwin Li)

PREDICTION: The Voorman Problem.

About the Author

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson is the head hamster at Intrada movie soundtracks and is the co-host of the Filmed, Not Stirred podcast. Follow @jeffyjohnson on Twitter.

View All Articles