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Oscar Watching: Guilds and Upsets and Ties, Oh My!

Unsurprisingly, American Hustle won the Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG) prize for motion-picture cast on Saturday, all but paving the way for a win with the Producers Guild of America the next night. But a funny thing happened: that guild gave its top prize not only to 12 Years a Slave but also to Gravity. All the more interesting is that PGA voting is preferential, making a tie such an unlikely

The message here? Nothing’s over until it’s over. Members of the motion-picture academy can’t vote on the winners until Feb. 14, so there’s still room for any of those three movies – and even the others – to make waves with Oscar voters.

Best Picture

Anything can happen, but 12 Years might be the one to beat.

1. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

2. American Hustle (David O. Russell)

3. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

4. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

5. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)

6. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)

7. Her (Spike Jonze)

8. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

9. Philomena (Stephen Frears)

Best Director

A win for Alfonso Cuarón feels obvious – Gravity is the “most” directed film of the five, it’s such a technical achievement, and what could have been nothing more than a visual showcase turns out to be an engaging and moving drama. But Steve McQueen has the important movie of the year and David O. Russell is on a hot streak. The heat isn’t on for Alexander Payne, and voters might not feel like awarding Martin Scorsese again so soon. Then again, they went for Ang Lee last year (under different circumstances, admittedly).

1. Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

2. Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

3. David O. Russell for American Hustle

4. Alexander Payne for Nebraska

5. Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett. Her SAG win surprised no one, and we’re also expecting a win with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Her only competition? Maybe Amy Adams, who’s on her fifth nomination and who leads (or at least co-leads) one of the picture front-runners. If she can take BAFTA, this race gets interesting. If not, Blanchett wins her second Oscar as easily as she won the red carpet at SAG with her critique of the shoe cam (or whatever) and acceptance speech.

It’s unfortunate that Adams might soon join the biggest losers club (another losing nomination after this year would make it happen) that recently and quietly inducted Glenn Close (what happens when Harvey Weinstein isn’t in your corner) and includes Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter, though that’s hardly terrible company. But Blanchett’s performance is easily the best of her lineup and probably the best of any acting nominee of 2013, so no complaints here.

1. Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

2. Amy Adams for American Hustle

3. Sandra Bullock for Gravity

4. Judi Dench for Philomena

5. Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

Best Actor in a Leading Role

The stars (and planets, including Neptune) are aligning for SAG winner Matthew McConaughey to win the Oscar. But veteran Bruce Dern’s moving albeit perhaps too subtle to win, will-he-or-won’t-he-ever-win Leonardo DiCaprio in a flashy performance, and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s BAFTA-likely, subdued but terrific turn in a picture front-runner crowd the race. Christian Bale, despite his weight gain and turn in one of the big picture contenders, looks like the odd man out since he’s already won.

1. Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

2. Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave

3. Bruce Dern for Nebraska

4. Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Christian Bale for American Hustle

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

SAG was between superstar Jennifer Lawrence and awards-season Cinderella story Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o won, and while Lawrence won the Golden Globe, we can chalk that up to her popularity. I wish the other nominees – particularly June Squibb– had a leg in this race, but I’ve no problem with Nyong’o winning for her stunning performance.

1. Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle

3. June Squibb for Nebraska

4. Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine

5. Julia Roberts for August: Osage County

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Jared Leto winning SAG felt obvious, but expect a win for Michael Fassbender at BAFTA since that group shut out Dallas Buyers Club completely. A Bradley Cooper upset would hardly surprise me if Hustle can find the right angle again in the wake of the resurgences of 12 Years and Gravity.

1. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

2. Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave

3. Bradley Cooper for American Hustle

4. Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips

Best Original Screenplay

Spike Jonze should win this, but this looks like a Hustle win.

1. David O. Russell and Eric Singer for American Hustle

2. Spike Jonze for Her

3. Bob Nelson for Nebraska

4. Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for Dallas Buyers Club

5. Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine

Best Adapted Screenplay

John Ridley wins, though Terence Winter has an outside shot at an upset.

1. John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

2. Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street

3. Billy Ray for Captain Phillips

4. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena

5. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater for Before Midnight

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Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.