See the full prediction post here.
I still feel good about almost all of my picks, but a few things have changed since mid-January. Here's a last-minute update:
1. 12 Years a Slave will win Best Picture. Check.
An American Hustle upset might be brewing, but I don't want to think about it. I'm sticking with 12 Years, which should win.
8. Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) will win for Best Director. Check.
I picked Cuarón to win in mid-January because I thought the film solved more difficult directorial challenges than any other nominee (ex: physical storytelling, capturing both fear and intimacy so elegantly in outer space). Since then, film pundits have found many better reasons, the best of which is this: the Academy often uses the Best Director award as an "almost-but-not-quite" nod for potential Best Picture winners. They'll give Directing to Gravity as a consolation prize.
11. Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine) will win for Best Original Screenplay. Nope.
The controversies might come up year after year, but Allen's latest round of bad press probably came at the worst time—just as Academy members were sharpening pencils for this year's vote. I now expect Spike Jonze to win for Her.
14. John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) will win for Best Adapted Screenplay. Check.
17. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) will win for Best Lead Actress. Check.
While I'd love to see Judi Dench win this one, I don't see anyone beating Blanchett.
23. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) will win Best Supporting Actress. Nope.
It seemed so obvious a month and a half ago, but now even Lawrence doesn't want to win this award. I'm changing my prediction for two reasons. First, I think "voter fatigue" is real, and enough Academy members will pass over Hollywood's 23-year-old darling just to "mix things up." Second, I now think the Academy will pick Lupita Nyong'o—partly because she deserves it, but partly because they'll want to give something to the 12 Years cast, and I fear they'll pass over everyone else now (see below).
27. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) will win Best Lead Actor. Nope.
I hope I was right the first time, but the Matthew McConaughey momentum feels too strong at this point. Ejiofor's performance was by turns restrained, desperate, calculating, and fierce, but the Academy has a soft spot for actors who undergo real-life physical transformation before taking on a role, and McConaughey's emaciated figure in Dallas Buyers Club will probably be enough to edge out the 12 Years star.
32. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) will win Best Supporting Actor. Check.
Originally, I predicted that the male acting awards would be split between 12 Years and Dallas Buyers Club, but now I see both going to the latter film. The Academy will feel better about this after recognizing Nyong'o for Best Supporting Actress.
36. Frozen will win Best Animated Feature. Check.
No change here. I just hope Pixar will get the message this time and start making good films again.
41. The Act of Killing will win Best Documentary Feature. Check.
45. William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her) will win for Best Original Score. Check.
51. “Let it Go” (Frozen) will win for Best Original Song. Regrettably, check.
Inside Llewyn Davis wasn't eligible for any musical awards because of antiquated rules more particular than the NFL's tie-breaking system. I have many qualms with Llewyn Davis, but this is laughable. It should have swept the musical categories.
56. Emmanuel Lebezki (Gravity) will win for Best Cinematography. Check.
58. Gravity will win for Visual Effects. Check.
59. Gravity will win for Film Editing. Check.
60. Gravity will win for Sound Editing. Check.
61. Gravity will win for Sound Mixing. Check.
When I picked Gravity for all these awards in January, I was being half-serious, half-snarky. I don't really know what makes for award-winning "sound mixing," so I just picked Gravity for anything that sounded remotely technical. Since then, almost everyone agrees, "Gravity will sweep the technical awards." What luck!...er...premonition!
63. American Hustle will win for Costume Design. Check.
American Hustle has been nominated for far too many awards this year, but it still deserves two or three. Sure, give it Costume Design.
66. The Lone Ranger will win for Makeup and Hairstyling. Nope.
Okay: I originally picked Lone Ranger here to set up a Pixar/Disney joke. If I'm being serious, I guess I'd go with Dallas Buyers Club now.
69. The Great Gatsby will win for Production Design. Check.
Had The Great Gatsby come out in December, I'd feel even more confident about this one. Yes, Gravity might deserve it, but if there's one chink in the spacesuit, it has to be Production Design. Think back to last summer's Gatsby: if you can get past Tobey Maguire's boyish narration and the uneven, drunken pacing, you might just remember a film with gorgeous set design and a hazy, confetti-filled nirvana only director Baz Luhrmann could achieve. The film doesn't deserve much else, but a single Oscar for Production Design seems just about right.