BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke "Before Midnight"
Billy Ray "Captain Phillips"
Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan "Philomena"
John Ridley "12 Years a Slave"
Terence Winter "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Other Contenders - Tracy Letts "August: Osage County", Peter Berg "Lone Survivor", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "The Spectacular Now"
Commentary - This is a tough race for me. It is not as deep as Original Screenplay this year, but there are a clear six contenders for five slots. We know 12 Years and Captain Phillips are in, as they are two of the big Best Picture front runners. I also think that Philomena is probably in with the combination of the British contingency and the older members who love the film. It is the last two slots that are tricky. Wolf of Wall Street has its fans and its haters, but the WGA went for it, so I think that the Writers Branch will follow.In the final slot it is my heart versus my head. August: Osage County has Tracy Letts, the actors, and Weinstein behind it, but I think the buzz for the film has started to die. So I will go with my heart, I think that Before Midnight is the best screenplay of the year, and I would hope that the writers, who like to think outside of the box, would agree with me.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Eric Singer and David O. Russell "American Hustle"
Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine"
Spike Jonze "Her"
Joel & Ethan Coen "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Bob Nelson "Nebraska"
Other Contenders - Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack "Dallas Buyers Club", Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron "Gravity", Danny Strong "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith "Saving Mr. Banks", Jeff Nichols "Mud", Ryan Coogler "Fruitvale Station"
Commentary - After Gravity pulled off the BAFTA nod, it could sneak in here, as could Dallas Buyers Club which got the DGA. But I think that the fifth slot will go to the Coens. They are beloved in the Academy, particularly in this branch, and I think they will finally get some recognition (BAFTA went for them so there is some precedence). The other four slots you ask? Well they seemed to be locked up at the moment. Her, Nebraska, and American Hustle are all huge Best Picture contenders, and Blue Jasmine is flirting with the top ten. Even if Jasmine doesn't make it, I'm sure that Woody Allen's name alone will be enough for it to score a nod.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
John Williams "The Book Thief"
Henry Jackman "Captain Phillips"
Steve Price "Gravity"
Thomas Newman "Saving Mr. Banks"
Hans Zimmer "12 Years a Slave"
Other Contenders - Randy Newman "Monsters University", Alexandre Desplat "Philomena", Hans Zimmer "Rush", Arcade Fire "Her", Alexander Ebert "All is Lost", Alex Heffes "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", Danny Elfman "Oz The Great and Powerful"
Commentary - The music categories are always difficult to predict, because there are so few precursors that really overlap with Academy membership. So without realizing it until now, I have picked the five that BAFTA also picked. They just seem like the right choices. And if BAFTA didn't go for Philomena here, then I don't see the Americans following. John Williams is John Williams, so there's that. 12 Years and Gravity, along with Captain Phillips have great scores in top Best Picture contenders. And Saving Mr. Banks is well-liked by the Academy, as is Thomas Newman. These seem like safe bets, and I keep thinking that we will be thrown for a loop come Oscar nomination morning.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Frozen - Let It Go
The Great Gatsby - Young and Beautiful
Her - The Moon Song
Lee Daniel's The Butler - In the Middle of the Night
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Ordinary Love
Other Contenders - Short Term 12 - So You Know What It's Like, Lee Daniel's The Butler - You and I Ain't Nuthin No More, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Atlas, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - I See Fire, All is Lost - Amen, The Sapphires - Get Used to It, The Croods - Shine Your Way, Monsters University - Monsters University, One Chance - Sweeter Than Fiction
Other Contenders - Even more difficult to predict is Original Song, as they music branch always throws in a wild card here. I am picking four songs because of their context in the movie solely, Let it Go, Young and Beautiful, The Moon Song, and In the Middle of the Night. The rules in this new era of Best Original Song require it to have an impact on the movie, the storyline. Finally, I am going with U2. I think they will win the Globe Sunday, and I find it hard for voters to pass them up.