Predicting the 2014 Academy Awards this early is admittedly ridiculous, but this year's Oscar race has one of those sure-thing contenders: "12 Years a Slave."
Of course "12 Years" isn't a 100 percent certainty, but it's so scary to other contenders that a few are pushing their release dates into 2014 so as not to compete with it. Movies like "Foxcatcher" and "Grace of Monaco" have delayed their release. It's even questionable that the upcoming Martin Scorsese movie "Wolf of Wall Street" will come out in 2013, though this is more due to Scorsese wanting to cut down the film's 3-hour run-time.
Each week, I'll offer new (and increasingly educated) predictions of how I expect the 2014 Oscars to go down. As it gets closer to Oscar season, World-Herald movie critic Bob Fischbach will offer more-valid predictions.
Note: Movies I've actually seen have an asterisk.
Best Picture nominees
Winner: “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18, limited)
“Fruitvale Station” (In theaters)
* “Prisoners” (In theaters)
* “Rush” (In theaters)
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Nov. 15)
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (Dec. 20)
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20)
“American Hustle” (Christmas Day)
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Christmas Day)
After premiering to insanely great reviews at various film fests these past few weeks, “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” are the pictures to beat. I'm leaning toward “12 Years” because Oscar is traditionally kinder to period epics than sci-fi (or sci-fact, whatever). “Prisoners” and “Rush” also got some raves coming out of the Toronto Film Festival. Each of those could nab a nomination. I expect “Fruitvale” to be the little indie that could. “Wolf of Wall Street,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “American Hustle” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” are all wild speculation/wishful thinking.
Winner: “Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” (Friday)
* Ron Howard, “Rush” (In theaters)
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18, limited)
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Nov. 15)
Joel and Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Dec. 20)
Again, this will be a category that could come down to “Gravity” vs. “12 Years a Slave.” Cuaron's work in “Gravity” sounds considerably more flashy and director-y than McQueen's, qualities the Academy responds to. But if "12 Years" has enough momentum for a sweep, this could be McQueen's.
Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18, limited)
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station” (In theaters)
Robert Redford, “All is Lost” (Oct. 18, limited; Oct. 25 at Film Streams)
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” (Nov. 1, limited)
Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Dec. 20)
You'll know how to pronounce Chiwetel Ejiofor's name by the end of 2013. He's been kicking around Hollywood for years with big roles in small films and small roles in big films, and here's finally the role that will turn him into a star. Strong as this category is, I'm telling you, it's a lock. He's going to win.
Winner: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity” (Friday)
* Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” (In theaters)
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20)
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County” (Christmas Day)
Judi Dench, “Philomena” (Jan. 10)
This one's still very much open. Bullock has received a lot of accolades coming out of the Toronto Film Festival, but excitement over her performance in “Gravity” could easily cool off by next year.
Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18, limited)
* Jake Gyllenhaal, “Prisoners” (In theaters)
* Daniel Bruhl, “Rush” (In theaters)
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” (Nov. 1, limited)
Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20)
Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Lupita Nyong'o, “12 Years a Slave” (Oct. 18, limited)
Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station” (In theaters)
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels' The Butler” (In theaters)
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle” (Christmas Day)
Margo Martindale, “August: Osage County” (Christmas Day)
“12 Years a Slave's” contender status in the major categories goes deep. It could be the winnning-est movie of the big awards since “Million Dollar Baby” or even “Silence of the Lambs.”