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For Your Consideration: Final Oscar Predictions In Every Single Category (aka How To Win Your Oscar Pool!)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 25, 2014 at 1:08PM

It's time. After months and months of critics awards, Golden Globes, smear campaigns, Guild Awards, luncheons, cocktails and talk show appearances, the grand finale of awards season is just five days away. Which means it's probably the moment for us to offer up final guesswork for how it will all go down.
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Updated List of Oscar Presenters
Photo credit: Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

It's time. After months and months of critics awards, Golden Globes, smear campaigns, Guild Awards, luncheons, cocktails and talk show appearances, the grand finale of awards season is just five days away. Which means it's probably time for us to offer up some final guesswork for how it will all go down.

For once, there is a big question mark looming over how Oscar night will end (three films all have genuine chances at winning Best Picture), but there really aren't too many question marks to keep us excited along the way.  The other major races -- Best Drector and the acting categories -- all have strong frontrunners, while the vast majority of the overall 24 Oscars seem just as predictable (save foreign language film and documentary feature, arguably the night's biggest nail-biters). But hey, you never know. Maybe Oscar voters will take a rare opportunity to surprise us. Just don't look for too much risk-taking in our predictions, which largely play it safe in a game where playing it safe usually pays off. We'll know for sure soon enough, but in the meantime, here's our attempt at helping you win your Oscar Pool:

"12 Years a Slave."
Fox Searchlight "12 Years a Slave."
Best Picture: "Gravity" vs. "12 Years a Slave." That's been the narrative we've heading into for quite some time, which shares commonalities with the "Avatar" vs. "The Hurt Locker," "Hugo" vs. "The Artist" and "Life of Pi" vs. "Argo" showdowns that met the last three years (an expensive, 3D critical and commercial hit versus a smaller film tackling history in one way or another)... History won all three times, but this year is clearly closer than ever. The two films historically tied for the PGA top honors, which just goes to show how tight this is. Add in "American Hustle," which has received a ton of love from the precursors too (it won the SAG ensemble and New York Critics prize), and we got ourselves a bonafide three-way race. Unless something truly shocking happens, one of these three films is winning Best Picture, and I've been going back and forth between "12 Years" and "Gravity" as my pick... I've finally (and with minimal confidence) landed on the former, but frankly, am just excited to be this uncertain so late in the race.

Will win: 12 Years a Slave
Could win: Gravity
Should win: Her

Best Director: This is much little less of a question mark than best picture. While "American Hustle," "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" are as noted battling it out for that prize, "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuaron has won pretty much every prize around in this category, and if he loses it will be a pretty major upset. If anyone can pull that off, though, it's Steve McQueen. I just wouldn't recommend betting on it.

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón
Could win: Steve McQueen
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón

Best Actor: In one of truly the most crowded Best Actor races in recent memory, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Matthew McConaughey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Dern and Christian Bale ending up making the cut, while Robert Redford, Tom Hanks Oscar Isaac, Forest Whitaker and Joaquin Phoenix -- who could have made an awesome lineup themselves -- did not. And the race for the win has been a lot less interesting than the race to get nominated: Matthew McConaughey dominated the precursors, and seems poised to win his first Oscar. Though Leonardo DiCaprio and Chiwetel Ejiofor both stand outside chances at upsetting, with the former getting some considerable last minute heat and the latter benefiting from a BAFTA win (where McConaughey notably was not nominated). So while that means McConaughey is probably a little more vulnerable to an upset than some of the other frontrunners, I'm still pretty sure he's walking away with this.

Will win: Matthew McConaughey
Could win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Should win: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine."
Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine."
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett has been poised to take home this award since the day "Blue Jasmine" was released, and she's still holding on nicely after wins from SAG, the Critics Choice and the Golden Globes. Had Amy Adams not been nominated, it would basically be a 99.99% done deal. But Adams -- the only nominee here who hasn't won -- gives this race a very (very) slight chance at an upset, especially given a vote for Blanchett might seem like a vote for Woody Allen in light of the recent controversy facing the director. But I still cannot imagine that pulling too many votes away from Blanchett, who gave a performance almost nobody has anything bad to say about. It's as far as I'm concerned, one of the night's surest things.

Will win: Cate Blanchett
Could win: Amy Adams
Should win: Cate Blanchett

This article is related to: Academy Awards, Awards Season Roundup