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2014 Oscar Winners – PopCrush Predictions

Oscars
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Some stars are fond of reminding the public that art is not a competition — and, yet, it totally is! Especially during the grueling winter months awards season, with the Oscars being the big daddy of them all.

Trying to predict who will win Academy Awards means putting yourself in the minds of the group’s members — and, hey, there are only some 6,000 of them! Will the Academy honor beloved veterans, promising newcomers and/or the nominees that actually shone the brightest on the big screen during the past year? We don’t know, really, but we’re happy to take our best guesses in the five biggest categories. Check out our 2014 Oscar Winners Predictions — and don’t miss the 86th Academy Awards, with host Ellen DeGeneres, airing March 2 at 7PM (ET) on ABC.

BEST PICTURE

‘American Hustle’
‘Captain Phillips’
‘Dallas Buyers Club’
‘Gravity’
‘Her’
‘Nebraska’
‘Philomena’
’12 Years a Slave’
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Our pick: ’12 Years a Slave’

For the third year in a row, nine movies (out of a maximum 10) have been nominated for the night’s biggest prize. Still, only three films are considered true contenders, with each in a virtual heat with the others. ‘Gravity,’ ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘American Hustle’ are wildly different in themes and execution, but all are considered to have a similar shot at victory, having split many other major awards in the lead-up to the Oscars. ‘Gravity’ and ‘Slave’ even just tied for the top spot at the Producers Guild of America Awards, which is unprecedented and, frankly, crazy! Also crazy? Attempting to predict which flick will win come Oscar night … but here it goes!

Alfonso Cuaron is the closest thing to a sure bet to take the Best Director trophy for ‘Gravity,’ but the movie’s eye-popping, innovative special effects could overpower its uncomplicated plot. Simply put, the crowd-pleasing ‘Gravity’ probably won’t win Best Picture because it lacks the necessary, well, gravity (sorry). David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ might be the most entertaining of the remaining flicks (apologies to the even-more-entertaining ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ alas, an also-ran for its controversial subject matter). ‘Hustle’ won the Golden Globe for a motion picture comedy, but it’s that very same light tone that threatens its chances. Despite Russell’s deft touch with a delightfully dizzying, con-within-a-con story and an acting tour de force from his cast of nominees, voters will overlook ‘Hustle’ in favor of the very serious — and equally very important — ’12 Years a Slave,’ based on the true story of a free man sold into slavery.

The Academy loves a big film that grapples with big issues. The Golden Globes did, too, naming ‘Slave’ best dramatic picture. In only his third feature, British director Steve McQueen’s attempts the impossible: capturing the horror and senselessness of American slavery on the big screen. The brutality is difficult to watch, but the Academy has never shied away from violence in service of a historical epic (see the Oscar-winning ‘Schlinder’s List,’ ‘Gladiator,’ ‘Braveheart,’ etc.). Also, Brad Pitt is one of the film’s producers — and we think we can all agree that it would be nice to see the ever-handsome matinee idol take the stage.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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’

Our pick: Matthew McConaughey

In ‘American Hustle,’ an unrecognizable Christian Bale manages to be lovable even with the world’s most epic combover. At the age of 77, ‘Nebraska’ star Bruce Dern is a respected actor who has worked with absolutely everyone … but has never won an Academy Award. Leonardo DiCaprio is a three-time loser who’s considered long overdue to win an acting Oscar — and he totally brings it in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ Chiwetel Ejiofor destroys audiences with his heartbreaking performance that brings enslaved free man Solomon Northup to life in ’12 Years a Slave.’ But can you say, “Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award-winning actor”?

Matthew’s “McConaissance” as a serious actor has been a blast to witness, taking interesting chances in ‘Mud,’ ‘Killer Joe,’ ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and, yes, even ‘Magic Mike.’ Gone is the bland leading man in mostly forgettable romantic comedies. Instead, we get his astounding ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ turn as the real-life Ron Woodroof, a homophobic rodeo cowboy who becomes an AIDS activist. McConaughey famously lost a frightening amount of weight for the role — but he has gained more fans, critical acclaim and acting awards than he probably would have ever believed back in his early ‘Dazed and Confused’ days. And that is all right, all right, all right by us!

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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

Our pick: Cate Blanchett

All five of this year’s Best Actress hopefuls have been nominated for previous roles, but only four have actually won the prize. Apologies to Amy Adams, who we fear will be overlooked by Oscar for a heartbreaking fifth time this year (ouch). This, despite a truly remarkable performance in ‘American Hustle’ as con artist Sydney Prosser — or is that Lady Edith Greensly? Of the remaining four nominees, who is likeliest to spoil her chances? Cate Blanchett, for her take on a deeply troubled ex-socialite in ‘Blue Jasmine.’

Blanchett, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Katharine Hepburn in 2004′s ‘The Aviator,’ has already won Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards on her inevitable march to the stage of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Ironically, the only thing that threatens her victory on Oscar night is the same exact thing that inspired her to a great performance in ‘Blue Jasmine’: the film’s embattled director, Woody Allen. The brouhaha surrounding him and allegations of child sexual abuse could alienate Academy members from honoring anything connected to Allen. Final ballots are due Feb. 25, so only time will tell. Amy should have a speech ready, thanking Woody, just in case.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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’

Our pick: Jared Leto

Somali-born former limo driver Barkhad Abdi earns an Oscar nomination for his first-ever acting role — that’s how good he is in ‘Captain Phillips.’ Bradley Cooper not only made one heck of a tight perm with those little pink curlers of his in ‘American Hustle,’ he rendered a flawless portrait of an ambitious FBI agent. Michael Fassbender’s chilling turn as a deranged Southern plantation owner is the stuff nightmares are made of. Jonah Hill shined as bright as his big, white fake teeth in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ earning his second (!) Academy Award nod in the process.

But Jared Leto is as much of a sure thing on this Oscar night as you will find. More famous of late as the frontman for rockers 30 Seconds to Mars, Leto had set aside his acting aspirations in recent years. The former ‘My So-Called Life’ heartthrob is unrecognizable as the transgender, HIV-positive Rayon in ‘Dallas Buyers Club.’ But even though he lost almost as much weight as McConaughey, donned a wig and high heels, and shaved everything — including his eyebrows — it was his emotional transformation that wows viewers the most. OMG, you guys, Jordan Catalano is totally going to win an Oscar!

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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

Our pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Imagine this: You’re plucked right out of acting school to star in a major movie with the likes of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender. You earn several award nominations, including a nod for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. You actually win the Academy Award, besting indie darling Sally Hawkins, 84-year-old scene stealer June Squibb and the Pretty Woman herself, Julia Roberts. You even beat America’s Newest Sweetheart, the lovable Jennifer Lawrence.

Sounds like a complete fantasy, but it is a scenario that is likely to come true for 30-year-old Lupita Nyong’o. She had only just graduated from the Yale School of Drama when she was cast as the brutalized, utterly despondent slave Patsey in ’12 Years a Slave.’ She’s already won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards, among many, many others. Lupita is only just starting out — her second flick, the Liam Neeson action movie ‘Non-Stop,’ comes out in late February — but we hope she has room on her Brooklyn mantel for at least one more trophy: Oscar.

Next: See All the 2014 Oscar Nominees

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