Gravity, Bullock, Clooney

As it does every December, the 2014 Oscar race has essentially gone from a wide open question mark to a largely settled snooze fest in just two weeks. Sometimes it ends up that these two weeks -- when the Golden Globes, SAGs, Critics Choice and about 2,000 or so critics groups all announce their year-end kudos -- are the most exciting part of awards season. Because this is when the 5, 6 or if we're lucky 7 contenders in each of the acting races are more-or-less confirmed and the Academy usually ends up sticking to them.

If an actor doesn't end up with at least one nomination from the Globes, SAG or the Critics Choice, there's a very slim chance they'll end up with an Oscar nomination. Though ask Jacki Weaver how she feels about that slim chance. She's the only one that beat it last year when she ended up with an Oscar nomination for "Silver Linings Playbook." Or, Marion Cotillard and John Hawkes, for that matter, who were both nominated for all three and then didn't end up making it to Oscar's shortlist. The year before, there were two actors (Max von Sydow and Gary Oldman) made the cut without a SAG, Globe or Critics Choice nod, while two (Tilda Swinton and Leonardo DiCaprio) did not despite getting all three. If that trend continues this year, I'd bet -- for what it's worth -- that Jonah Hill ("The Wolf of Wall Street") is the one who makes it in without any of the precursors.

So then who falls out? The following folks managed nods from all 3 organizations: Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks (for "Captain Phillips," not "Mr. Banks" which he was snubbed in all 3 for), Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Barkhad Abdi, Daniel Bruhl, Michael Fassbender, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o and June Squibb. The predictions below suggest Daniel Bruhl as the sole Oscar exclusion from that group -- but if I had to pick one or two more it would honestly be "August: Osage County" duo Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, in that order.

American Hustle

As for the race overall, it seems like the Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" vs. Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" narrative that was set in early September remains, though David O. Russell's "American Hustle" seems like their biggest challenger. Best picture (and best director, for that matter) will almost certainly come from one of those three films. "12 Years" and "Hustle" were by and large the films to get the most nominations from the Globes and Critics Choice (tying in both regards with 7 and 13 nods apiece, respectively). But notably "Gravity" -- essentially a one-woman show -- pretty much got every nomination it was really in contention for, losing out on higher nomination counts due to its minimal cast. This could give us something of a nail-biter when it comes to best picture, and perhaps another picture/director split (suggestively at this point with "12 Years" getting best picture and Cuarón getting best director, but it could be the other way around or involve "American Hustle" somehow).

Beyond those three, Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" and Paul Greengrass's "Captain Phillips" are looking pretty locked in for best picture nominations, and then it gets a little more unstable. We don't know how many nominations there will be, after all, though the remaining 0-5 slots seem to be a battle between 6 films (in order of likelihood, at least as far as I'm concerned): Joel & Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis," Spike Jonze's "Her," Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks," Jean-Marc Vallee's "Dallas Buyers Club" and Stephen Frears' "Philomena." 

Those predictions and ones for every category save the short films are listed below, and they suggest that overall that "12 Years a Slave" would easily lead the nomination count with 11, while "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips" and "Gravity" would each have 8. For more commentary on each individual category, click here.

12 Years A Slave

Best Picture:
Predicted Nominees (in alphabetical order):
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

If There's a 9th Nominee: Saving Mr. Banks
If There's a 10th Nominee: Dallas Buyers Club
The Spoiler Nominee: Philomena
Pretty Please: Before Midnight
Winner Prediction: 12 Years a Slave

Best Director:
Predicted Nominees (in alphabetical order):
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle

The Spoiler Nominee: Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Pretty Please: Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Winner Prediction: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Blue Jasmine

Best Actress:

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
Pretty Please: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
Winner Prediction: Cate Blanchett,

Blue Jasmine

Best Actor:
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
Pretty Please: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Winner Prediction: Bruce Dern, Nebraska