None of this is set in stone, of course, but picking against Oscar nominees in the Spirit acting categories, when they're there, is pretty foolhardy. Fun fact: Since 1985, when the Spirits began, an actor who was nominated for the Oscar has lost to an actor not nominated for the Oscar only five times.*
So who's going to win on the beach in Malibu on Saturday? And where can we look for winners who won't be at the Dolby Theater on Sunday?
* John Hawkes (The Sessions) over Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) in 2012. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) over Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) in 2011. Bill Murray (Rushmore) over James Coburn (Affliction) in 1998. Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) over Marcia Hay Harden (Pollock) in 2000. Anjelica Huston (The Dead) over Ann Sothern (The Whales of August) in 1987.
- 12 Years a Slave
- All Is Lost
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- Frances Ha
Oscar crossover: 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska are the only Academy-blessed entries here.
Best chance to upset: When the Oscar nominations were announced, there was a big ol' outcry from critical types about the omission of Inside Llewyn Davis. This would be the perfect place to express that disappointment and fight the power.
Get real, though: With its toughest Oscar competition—Gravity and American Hustle—out of the way, 12 Years a Slave wins this fairly easily.
- Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
- Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
- Alexander Payne, Nebraska
- Jeff Nichols, Mud
- JC Chandor, All Is Lost
Oscar crossover: Just like in Best Film, McQueen and Payne are repping the 12 Years and Nebraska love-fests.
Best chance to upset: The awards momentum for Chandor's All Is Lost ground to a halt over the last few months, which is a shame, because he's an incredibly exciting new director. Jeff Nichols is a huge Spirits fave, though.
Get real, though: Payne's won this category twice before (for Election and Sideways). He won't make it a third. Steve McQueen takes this in a walk.
BEST MALE LEAD
- Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
- Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
- Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
- Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
- Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)
- Robert Redford (All Is Lost)
Oscar crossover: This category splits evenly between Oscar nominees Ejiofor, Dern, and McConaughey and Oscar snubbees Redford, Jordan, and Isaac.
Best chance to upset: McConaughey's the favorite to win the Oscar, but he's the one most likely to get upended at the Spirits. A 12 Years sweep could clearly pull Ejiofor along. The fact that McConaughey won Best Supporting Male last year for Magic Mike could give voters enough of an excuse to look elsewhere.
Get real, though: Spirits voters love McConaughey, and the same impulse that led the Hollywood Foreign Press, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics, and (possibly) the Academy to vote for him doesn't disappear when it comes to this show. McConaughey wins.