Oscar predictions for 2014

Time Out looks at the contenders for the 2014 Academy Awards

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Best Picture

Will win
Gravity

Should win
12 Years a Slave

Should have been nominated
Inside Llewyn Davis

The frontrunner
It truly is a three-horse race for Best Picture. Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years a Slave’ is a drama both brutal and uplifting – right in the Academy’s wheelhouse. No one could deny that it’s an important film, and a beautifully made one. But sneaking up on the inside is ‘American Hustle’, precisely the kind of gorgeously mounted fluff that the Oscars just love to give surprise awards to (remember ‘Chicago’?). David O Russell’s crime caper sports stunning costume design, whip-smart dialogue and terrific performances, which, given the huge number of actors who vote in this category, could well swing the vote in its favour.

But let us not overlook ‘Gravity’, which has had critics and audiences swooning, and has plenty of momentum following a pair of Bafta wins (for Best Director and Best British Film). If the Academy decides to court the multiplex vote, this is the one they’ll pick.

Possible spoilers
‘12 Years a Slave’ may simply prove too heavy going for the Academy’s old-timer voters. It’s hard to imagine them relishing the idea of being lectured on their nation’s historical crimes by a foreigner – especially a Brit. ‘American Hustle’ is fizzy and fun, but will its lack of substance leave it wanting? And ‘Gravity’ may be the popular choice, but the big prize has never gone to a sci-fi flick before.

Who else is nominated?
Aids drama ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ may sport strong performances and powerful subject matter, but the film just isn’t impressive enough. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is probably too brash for Oscar tastes – too many drugs and hookers, not enough lesson-learning. And the lack of a Best Actor nod for Tom Hanks in ‘Captain Phillips’ means that film is clearly not uppermost in the Academy’s hearts and minds.

Nebraska’, ‘Her’ and great British hope ‘Philomena’ are the kind of spry, indie-ish character pieces that always pick up nominations but rarely grab the big prize (bearing in mind, we said the same thing about ‘The King’s Speech’ a couple of years back).

Oscars 2013: the winners

Thanks to a strong and diverse slate of films, the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony was an unpredictable affair: in the big six categories (Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting categories) not a single film took more than one award. Everyone assumed before the night that 'Argo' would take Best Picture, but it was far from a sure thing. In fact, the only truly safe bet was Daniel Day-Lewis and the Academy agreed, granting the British actor a record-breaking third Best Actor Oscar.

See the winners from the 2013 Academy Awards

The Oscars

From the worst ever Oscar winners to this year’s big contenders, we’ve got everything you need to see you through to the Academy Awards.

See more about the Oscars

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