Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine"
"Blue Jasmine"

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") and Sandra Bullock ("Gravity") are looking very good here, both nailing extremely challenging (in extremely different ways) roles of a mentally unstable alcoholic lost without money and an emotionally damaged astronaut lost in space.  At this point, it looks likely that the three women that will join them -- though probably won't challenge either for the win -- are Emma Thompson ("Saving Mr. Banks"), Judi Dench ("Philomena") and Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County").

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actresses Who Deserve Oscar's Attention This Year

There are a few interesting things about this potentially mighty quintet. For one, all five of them have already won (and have been nominated a collective 33 times). Last year, the best supporting actor race offered a first-time situation where every single nominee had already won, and it seems like we could be heading there again.  Even more notable is that all four likely-to-be-nominated woman collectively represent great roles for woman over 40, with Dench (age 78), Streep (64), Bullock (49), Thompson (54) and Blanchett (44) offering an average age of 57.8 years old. Never has the best actress race featured all five nominees over 40 (it's even quite rare where all five were over 30), and even last year the average age was a lower 49, despite the nomination of 86 year-old Emmanuelle Riva.  

But then there's the one contender I haven't mentioned, Ms. Amy Adams -- really the only possibility to take one of these actresses out of contention that wouldn't be a huge upset -- who has never won an Academy Award, despite four nominations in under a decade. She also -- as of two months ago -- is 39 years old. Granted, no one has seen David O. Russell's "American Hustle," but the buzz for Adams performance is strong (which seems fair enough based on the trailer). If there's anyone that can steal this race (and ruin the all-winner, all-40-and-over dream), it's her. Given the competition, though, she'd have to really hit it out of the park. 

Predicted Nominees (in alphabetical order):
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench
, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

The Spoiler Nominee: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Totally Unwarranted Winner Prediction: Cate Blanchett,

Blue Jasmine

Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks

Best Actor:
Like its female counterpart, there's an assumed five nominees here already that would take a lot of effort to break into: Chiwetel Ejiofer ("12 Years a Slave"), Robert Redford ("All Is Lost"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club"), Tom Hanks ("Captain Phillips") and Bruce Dern ("Nebraska"). 

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actors That Deserve Oscar's Attention This Year

Unlike the best actress race, though, Hanks is the only previous winner, while Ejiofer and McConaughey would both be first time nominees and Redford and Dern have not been nominated since 1973 and 1978, respectively (though Redford did win a directing Oscar for "Ordinary People"). And also notable is that while Amy Adams is seemingly the only contender waiting to break in to the presumed five, there's like a dozen men in waiting here (typical!): Oscar Issac (so great in "Inside Llewyn Davis"), Joaquin Phoenix playing way against his role in last year's nominated "The Master" in Spike Jonze's "Her," Forest Whitaker (the lead in the hugely successful, Oscar-aiming "Lee Daniels' The Butler"), Michael B. Jordan (one of the year's biggest breakouts is heartbreaking in "Fruitvale Station") and Idris Elba (commanding as Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"). Any other year you'd think any of those were pretty safe bets. And then there's still Christian Bale (who has what looks like a very showy role in David O. Russell's "American Hustle") and the long overdue Leonardo DiCaprio (who sure looks like he's on fire in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street"). It's only mid-November, so there's time for any of these men to rally into the top five (at the expense of probably Dern or Hanks, but it's so hard to see either of them missing out). But I'm not willing to bet on any of them doing so just yet.

Predicted Nominees (in alphabetical order):
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

The Spoiler Nominee: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Totally Unwarranted Winner Prediction: Robert Redford, All Is Lost