An October Oscar Prediction Update - 'American Hustle' Still on Top

October 4, 2013


The calendar has now turned to October, so it's a perfect time to give those Oscar predictions an update! Between now and those initial predictions back in August, a lot has changed folks. Before I show you my new predictions, I figured I'd give you a bit of a rundown about where the major wrinkles in the race have come from. After that, you'll see how I see the nominations going down, though trust me… a lot can and still will change between now and the end of the year. This is the time where any and all of the big contenders begin making their moves, while others will start to fall back in the pack or ship out of the race entirely.

Of note, I remain one of the few in the prognostication game not predicting Steve McQueen and 12 Years a Slave (even though it is indeed a tremendous film) to dominate the Oscar race. I'm not saying that won't eventually happen (it certainly can), but I still see it as a film critics and prognosticators are going to feel much stronger about than Academy members.

The major factors of late were the moving of Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher to 2014 and the very likely move of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street to next year as well. Both of those were major players in my mind (hell, I even wrote a whole piece on Foxcatcher recently), so their omissions change the race quite a bit. We're definitely not seeing Foxcatcher this year, barring some sort of miracle, but it's still up in the air about The Wolf of Wall Street (we're still crossing our fingers for sooner than later). I'm erring on the side of caution and dropping it everywhere until final confirmation comes through, one way or the other.

I've also dropped Jason Reitman's Labor Day from all categories after it didn't have the sort of festival showing that it was hoping for. Since that initial set of predictions, I've also given 12 Years a Slave a stronger vote of confidence (though as you probably know by now I still remain skeptical that it can win in any of the big categories) along with Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity to a slightly lesser degree, as well as taking a small leap of faith that a studio flick like Prisoners can make a solid showing.

You'll also notice that I've included the entire set of Academy Awards, more than just the big half dozen main categories, introducing the two screenplay slots (which make up what most consider to be the biggest eight categories), plus all the technical fields as well. This provides a fuller look at what the Academy could be up to this year. I still won't be venturing any guesses about the short form categories, since even someone who makes predictions for a living will admit that those are pretty much a crapshoot up until Oscar night.

What's been the biggest shift so far since my initial predictions? Well, without question it was the onset of the fall festivals (Telluride, Venice, Toronto, New York). Films like 12 Years a Slave and Gravity have gotten all but universal praise, while one level down a movie like Captain Phillips has gotten the critical boost necessary at this early-ish point in the final months of 2013. Other flicks have been affected for better or worse by the fests, but those first two have benefited the most by far.

Keep in mind that the start of the precursor awards later this year will change both the perception and the reality of the Oscar race, so while we're not quite in the calm before the storm anymore, we're still in the phase of things where quality and potential quality means a lot. When various groups and guilds start to chime in with their best of the year, the waters get muddied, but we're not quite there yet.

Here are my up-to-the-second predictions (though if you wait a few seconds I'll likely be tempted to tinker with them). I'll definitely be updating these again soon, but for now, this is how I see things going down:

1. American Hustle
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. Captain Phillips
4. The Monuments Men
5. Gravity
6. Saving Mr. Banks
7. Nebraska
8. Lee Daniels' The Butler
9. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
10. Inside Llewyn Davis

1. David O. Russell - American Hustle
2. Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
3. Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
4. Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
5. Ben Stiller - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
2. Robert Redford - All is Lost
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
4. Bruce Dern - Nebraska
5. Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis

1. Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
2. Amy Adams - American Hustle
3. Sandra Bullock - Gravity
4. Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
5. Adele Exarchopolous - Blue is the Warmest Color

1. Matthew McConaughey - Mud
2. Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
3. Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
4. Jake Gyllenhaal - Prisoners
5. Jeremy Renner - American Hustle

1. Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler
2. Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
3. Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
4. Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
5. Lea Sedeaux - Blue is the Warmest Color

1. American Hustle
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. Blue Jasmine
4. Her
5. Prisoners

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Captain Phillips
3. Before Midnight
4. The Monuments Men
5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. The Wind Rises
2. Monsters University
3. Frozen
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
5. Free Birds

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. The Monuments Men
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
4. Saving Mr. Banks
5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. Gravity
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. Captain Phillips
4. Prisoners
5. American Hustle

1. The Monuments Men
2. The Great Gatsby
3. Saving Mr. Banks
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. American Hustle

1. Captain Phillips
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. American Hustle
4. Gravity
5. Rush

1. American Hustle
2. The Great Gatsby
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

1. Gravity
2. Rush
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. Elysium

1. Gravity
2. Rush
3. Captain Phillips
4. Man of Steel
5. Pacific Rim

1. Gravity
2. Man of Steel
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
5. World War Z

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Gravity
3. Saving Mr. Banks
4. The Monuments Men
5. Monsters University

1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. The Great Gatsby
3. Disney's Frozen
4. Lee Daniels' The Butler
5. Short Term 12

1. Stories We Tell
2. Blackfish
3. Tim's Vermeer
4. The Act of Killing
5. 20 Feet from Stardom

1. Wadjda (Saudi Arabia)
2. Gloria (Chile)
3. The Past (Iran)
4. Renoir (France)
5. Omar (Palestine)

For those keeping count, these are the films that I have doing the best: 12 Years a Slave leads the way with 11 nominations (but currently only three wins). Right behind is American Hustle with ten nods (and four wins), then Gravity with nine noms (also with four wins), plus Captain Phillips with seven (and two wins). No other film gets more than five citations from me, so I'm predicting a pretty split field, at least right now.

This is just my humble opinion though, so I'm curious to know what you think. Are your predictions mostly in line with mine? Am I backing something too strongly for your tastes? Did I unjustly shut something out? I'm game for debate, so feel free to chime in - that's part of the fun of making Oscar predictions! Have at it!

Find more posts: Awards, Editorial



I'd be terribly disappointed if Captain Phillips lands a best picture nom. That was a rather bland take on the events. I'm really excited to see what McQueen has in store with 12 years a Slave. I love Sandra, and even more so loved Gravity in its entirety. But Best Actress? You really think so Joey?

hedd on Oct 4, 2013


Well, as someone who really enjoyed Captain Phillips, I wouldn't be disappointed. Regardless, I fully expect the Academy's embrace of Greengrass and Hanks (with nods at least) to feed into Best Picture. McQueen's done very well with 12 Years, though I'll confess to preferring Shame. I'm actually lower on her chances than most. At this current moment, almost everyone who votes Gravity for a Best Picture nom will check her off too (which could wind up getting Clooney a surprise Supporting Actor citation), but it's distinctly possible that someone like Emma Thompson or Kate Winslet winds up bumping her later this year...

Joey Magidson on Oct 4, 2013


I agree. Tom Hanks certainly has a way with the Academy. The film just felt a little too rushed and 'savior-like' to me. I loved Shame, which is certainly the reason for my anticipation of 12 years.

hedd on Oct 5, 2013


Fair enough, and 12 Years won't disappoint...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


David O. Russell is one of the most overrated directors ever

ff on Oct 4, 2013


You're certainly entitled to that opinion. I've been mixed on him for most of his career, but I've been a big fan of his work over the past few years and see a ton of growth from him...

Joey Magidson on Oct 4, 2013


Best Picture Category, I would replace Monuments Men with Prisoners . Monuments Men apparently is being hailed as an upgrade to Oceans 11 and 12. Best actor Category MUST include Hugh Jackman . So imo, I think he replaces Oscar Isaac. Best Director should include Alexander Payne for Nebraska and perhaps Dennis Villenueve for Prisoners. As usual a few late releases may bump some early favorites. I think it can end up being a clean sweep for Gravity though based on early reviews and fan support

Sherlon on Oct 4, 2013


A few things to note: You overestimate how much the Academy will go for Prisoners. The few nominations I predicted are even pushing it. The film is more likely to be shut out completely. Also, Gravity has no chance at a clean sweep. It will struggle for a Screenplay nomination and is an unlikely Best Picture winner, though I'll be addressing that in an upcoming article. Finally, fan support rarely means anything. Oscar voters are completely uninterested in that realm of moviegoers. They're much more interested in what they like than what audiences do, even if they talk a good game about trying to broaden their appeal...

Joey Magidson on Oct 4, 2013


I say Prisoners as a matter of opinion, as it is the only film snce No Country For Old men that had me as tense , uncomfortably so , and with an irregular heartbeat at its climatic moments,lol. If you notice the track record thus far with David O'Russell films, they are fast starters in the film festival circuit(The Fighter ,Silver Lining Playbook), great casts but collectively wont really dominate Best Picture odds as the Oscars approach. Individual accolades for his films in the Acting Categories are his Academy Winners. I think Nebraska may pip Gravity in major categories though. But I still expect Gravity to win based on its groundbreaking cinematic,blah blah blah

Sherlon on Oct 4, 2013


I agree about Prisoners in terms of its quality, I just think my love for it won't translate into full on Oscar love. As for Russell, that to me means he's due for a big embrace, which could happen this year...

Joey Magidson on Oct 4, 2013


I'm surprised you're not predicting "Philomena" in leading actress or screenplay. The film won best screenplay at the Venice Film Festival and was runner-up for the people's choice award at the Toronto Film Festival. Judi Dench herself received great reviews, she's a 6 time nominee and she's getting campaigned by the Weinstein company; recall that 5 of her 6 nominations came from Weinstein film collaborations.

Martin A. on Oct 4, 2013


I'm somewhat expecting it to get lost in the Weinstein shuffle, but Dench is my current #6 in Actress and the script is #6 in Adapted Screenplay...

Joey Magidson on Oct 4, 2013


I personally watched Nebraska tonight at the private screening in SF, and although I loved the film, I don't see it being a major player in the "Best Picture" race. Doubt it'll get nominated. I will say, though, that Dern deserves a Best Actor nomination and June Squibb WILL get a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Trust me, she was AMAZING.

whoa on Oct 4, 2013


You're not the first to mention Squibb...she's my #6 in Supporting Actress. Nebraska is getting a very targeted push towards older Academy voters, which makes me think it'll get just enough #1 votes to slide into Best Picture...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


Man, she was a real scene stealer. And yeah, it's definitely good enough to be a nominated film, but it just seems very small.. if that makes sense. So I don't know if it'll have enough clout to get in there. I hope it does though, it was great.

whoa on Oct 5, 2013


That's why the push is so targeted, as opposed to trying to win over a large group of the Academy...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


I really hope Her gets a bit more Oscar love, but your predictions seem very realistic and "like the academy would think". So no chance for 'The Great Beauty' for Best Foreign Language? 🙁 Would love to see Italy back in that category, it's been a while!

DavideCoppola on Oct 5, 2013


That's what I try to do. I see Her next week, so if it's outstanding and has Academy appeal, I'll certainly report in. As for Best Foreign Language Feature, it's always a hard call, so I never count anything out of the race...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


Oh nice! Very cool. Hope to hear good things about Her 🙂

DavideCoppola on Oct 5, 2013


A week from now, actually at the end of the New York Film Festival...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


It would be great if Bullock didn't win for The Blind Side, but takes home the Oscar for Gravity... Oh well.

Tey on Oct 5, 2013


Had she lost but gotten nominated back then, she'd probably be the favorite right now. Alas...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


Gravity for everything, ever.

Linkfx on Oct 5, 2013


On the technical side, sure...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013



Linkfx on Oct 5, 2013


It won't win them all, but it'll get a good haul of nominations there...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


I did not know American Hustle was out yet.

Brian Sleider on Oct 5, 2013


It's not, nor are some of the other films in my predictions...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


The only movie I noticed was American Hustle, however there are a few movies I know nothing about on your list/s.

Brian Sleider on Oct 5, 2013


If there are others you'd like to know more about, feel free to ask...

Joey Magidson on Oct 5, 2013


Amy Adams is one hot nearly 40 year old.

Chris Hawkes on Oct 6, 2013


Nothing for "The Counselor"? With a McCarthy script and Ridley I find it hard to believe it'll get shutout.

IlluminationTheory on Oct 6, 2013


Ridley Scott has a tendency to get shut out these days, and the material isn't exactly the Academy's cup of tea. Also, with screenings apparently not beginning until the week of release, the studio is exactly trying too hard to get the positive word of mouth going...

Joey Magidson on Oct 7, 2013


The material seems right up the Academies alley to me. Look at all the past movies McCarthy was involved with, I think even The Road got some nominations.

IlluminationTheory on Oct 7, 2013


The Road was completely shut out by the Academy...

Joey Magidson on Oct 7, 2013


True, looks like it got some nominations at other shows and Viggo won a few. I'm betting The Counselor will do well at the Academy Awards, will see though. The cast, script, trailer, screams Oscars to me.

IlluminationTheory on Oct 7, 2013


It's hardly impossible...

Joey Magidson on Oct 7, 2013


Was surprised to see that you have Renner nominated. Most other predictions I've seen go on and on about Cooper, Adams, Lawrence and Bale while poor Jeremy is left out in the cold. I'm curious what you're seeing that everyone else is overlooking.

Wendy Kump on Oct 8, 2013


Just a hunch, since he's been nominated twice before and the role seems like a plum supporting one...

Joey Magidson on Oct 8, 2013


Nice predictions!

Jess on Nov 7, 2013


Thank you.

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


Interesting to see how these are evolving.

Kim on Nov 8, 2013



Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013

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