Your Official Oscar Predictions

Our official, definitive, and decisive predictions for who will win at Sunday's Academy Awards. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .
You've waited long enough, right? Here's our picks for who will win the awards on Oscar night.

The Shorts

Best Documentary Short Subject  
acing Fear 
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall 
It's tough not to be a complete cynic when predicting the Academy Awards; when it comes to an uplifting movie about the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor, it's even tougher. Predicted winner: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Best Animated Short Film
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom 
Disney's Get a Horse! has the advantage of technical innovation as well as a kind of "history of animation in seven minutes" thing going for it. Predicted winner: Get a Horse!
Best Live-Action Short Film
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem
Lot of different ways this could go, with every nominee having a reasonable argument for the win. That Wasn't Me has the advantage of capital-I Important subject matter (child soldiers in Africa). Helium is a whimsical tale of pediatric cancer. The Voorman Problem boasts recognizable actors (Martin Freeman; Tom Hollander) and is the only English-language nominee. Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? screens last of the five when you see them all in the Academy-produced theatrical presentation, and at the end of some rather heavy movies, it's a crowd-pleasing breath of fresh air. Kind of a Finnish episode of Modern FamilyJust Before Losing Everything is simply the best film of the five, a tense and propulsive look at a woman seeking escape from an abusive home. Which wins out? I'm erring on the side of sentiment. Predicted winner: Helium

The Techs

Best Sound Editing
All Is Lost 
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug 
Lone Survivor
If "Best" Means "Most": Both Gravity and All Is Lost have sounds in place of dialogue, particularly the latter. But there are more splats and crunches and other foley work in Lone Survivor than all the other films combined.
If "Best" Means "Best": All Is Lost relies far more heavily on technical elements to achieve what it does, and the sound work is rather remarkable.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Gravity has all the advantages of an All Is Lost, plus the benefit of being a Best Picture nominee.
Best Sound Mixing  
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor 
If "Best" Means "Most": There's a whole ocean full of sounds for Captain Phillips to mix.
If "Best" Means "Best": The gorgeousness of the music in Inside Llewyn Davis sure was produced nicely.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Once again, Gravity is going to be seen as a tech achievement across the board.
Best Visual Effects 
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 2
The Lone Ranger 
Star Trek Into Darkness 
If "Best" Means "Most": That dragon in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was pretty big.
If "Best" Means "Best": I mean, you've seen Gravity, right?
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": I mean, you've seen Gravity, right?
Best Costume Design 
American Hustle 
The Grandmaster 
The Great Gatsby 
The Invisible Woman
12 Years Slave 
If "Best" Means "Most": Tough call between American Hustle and The Great Gatsby here, though there are one or two characters in Hustle who aren't decked out head to toe in statement garb, so I guess it's Gatsby.
If "Best" Means "Best": Much as I didn't care for American Hustle, the costumes are really something to see.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Catherine Martin won this award for Moulin Rouge! and is a good bet to win again for Gatsby.
Best Film Editing 
American Hustle 
Captain Phillips 
Dallas Buyers Club 
12 Years a Slave 
If "Best" Means "Most": American Hustle is certainly the busiest of these five nominees. Lots of cuts! Lots of edits!
If "Best" Means "Best": The level of tension in Captain Phillips is frankly insane.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": This is super up in the air, with Gravity12 Years a Slave, and Captain Phillips all strong possibilities. Say the former two cancel each other out and Phillips takes what will likely be its lone award of the night.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling 
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
If "Best" Means "Most": The Lone Ranger not only dolls up Johnny Depp's Tonto during the main stretch of the film, but it also slathers on old-age makeup for the frame story.
If "Best" Means "Best": Uhhhhhhh write-in vote for American Hustle? None of these nominees are particularly impressive.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Let's assume the Academy won't make an Oscar winner out of the Jackass franchise and instead award the overtness of The Lone Ranger's makeup.
Best Production Design 
American Hustle 
The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave 
If "Best" Means "Most": The Great Gatsby was once again just an excuse for giant party sets with a thin literary pedigree.
If "Best" Means "Best": The near-futuristic designs on Her were captivating and subtly plausible while also really selling the theme of a world that connects differently.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Don't count out a Gravity sweep, but it'll probably be Gatsby getting the Costume/Art Direction double.
Best Cinematography
The Grandmaster 
Inside Llewyn Davis 
If "Best" Means "Most": Black-and-white can often be a shorthand for great cinematography, which is why a film like Nebraska is here.
If "Best" Means "Best": Inside Llewyn Davis boasts some of the finest atmosphere-creation of any movie this year, but the camera swoops and turns and perspectives in Gravity will justifiably dazzle voters.
If "Best" Means "Gonna Win": Emmaniel Lubezki (Gravity), Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis), and Roger Deakins (Prisoners) have twenty-one Oscar nominations between them and zero wins. Expect one of them to win. Predicted winner: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

The Mid-Show Section

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
Omar (Palestine)
This seems to be boiling down to three contenders: the sentimental Broken Circle Breakdown, the grandiose The Great Beauty, and the dark-ish The Hunt. The Italian film took the Golden Globe, and it seems like the kind of big spectacle that could remind old Hollywood types of their glory days (real or imagined), but Broken Circle was a festival-award fave for a reason. Flip a coin. Predicted winner: The Great Beauty
Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet From Stardom
Everybody keeps saying The Act of Killing, and Oscar sure does love "importance" as a criteria for documentaries, but they are also pretty averse to formal innovation in this category, so I'm dubious. The Square seems to be just as important but also more recognizable as the kind of docs they're used to. There's also the INSANELY crowd-pleasing 20 Feet from Stardom. Oscar doesn't love music docs like the rest of us do, but this could be a special case. Predicted winner: The Square
Best Original Song
"Happy" from Despicable Me 2
"Let it Go" from Frozen
"The Moon Song" from Her 
"Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Believe it or not, the Oscars have become far less star-gazing when it comes to this category in the past decade-plus. Any number of artists, from Sting to Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen have been turned away in recent years in favor of songs like "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries (you know, that indelible ditty). So while U2 held the advantage when it came to the Golden Globes, don't expect the Oscars to be so wowed. They also know a sensation when it stands before them, so like Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and Once's "Falling Slowly" before, expect "Let It Go" to triumph. Predicted winner: "Let It Go"
Best Original Score 
John Williams for The Book Thief 
Steven Price for Gravity 
William Butler and Owen Pallett for Her 
Alexandre Desplat for Philomena 
Thomas Newman for Saving Mr. Banks 
Neither Desplat nor Newman have ever won this category before, despite multiple nominations apiece. They'll probably fall short yet again, though I'd consider Desplat a dark horse. Predicted winner: Steven Price for Gravity
Best Adapted Screenplay
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Before Midnight is a sentimental favorite for its fans, but those fans may not exist in large enough numbers to prevail. Expect this to come down to 12 Years a Slave versus Philomena, and if the latter triumphs, expect a lot of people on Twitter to start shouting about how that means 12 Years a Slave isn't winning Best Picture. Predicted winner: 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze triumphed at the Golden Globes for his Her script, and the reaction in that room was so effusive and loving towards the guy that I'd be shocked if he doesn't repeat that win at the Oscars. Unless the voters are really looking to give David O. Russell a consolation prize for his three Oscar-lauded films in the past four years coming up short in Best Picture. Predicted winner: Her
Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises is the critics' pick. But it's up against the juggernaut that is Frozen, a film that's made bucketloads of money so far. Predicted winner: Frozen

The Big Ones

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
I've gone through this category with a fine-toothed comb in this here post, if you're looking for depth. The short version is that Jared Leto has Supporting Actor sewn the heck up, and Supporting Actress will be an absolute nail-biter down to the end between Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence. Predicted winners: Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence.*
*You'll note I picked Nyong'o in the linked article. Last-minute change of heart or reverse-jinx? You make the call!
Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Best Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
In-depth coverage of these two races can be found right here. Quick and dirty: Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey have this pretty much sewn up.
Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
These are five directors that deserve a lot of consideration, but this race is rather academic at this point. Alfonso Cuarón's spectacular career up to this point, not to mention the dazzling Gravity, more than backs up his impending win on Sunday. Predicted winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Okay! It's all come to this. We can safely rule out Wolf (too divisive), Dallas Buyers ClubPhilomena, and Nebraska (too small), Her (too niche/too young-skewing), and Captain Phillips (too much of an action movie in the same year as Gravity). Which leaves us with:
American Hustle: Huge favorite with actors (SAG Best Ensemble winner); the most "fun" of the three favorites. Could be seen as insubstantial. Has its detractors (especially among Wolf of Wall Street fans).
12 Years a SlaveThe "important" choice. The most traditionally Oscar-y of the three, despite the fact that the Oscars have never really awarded a movie this overtly brutal on the subject of slavery. Moves the medium forward on a narrative level. Might have a reputation as too brutal, to the point where Academy voters wouldn't see it.
GravityInsane blockbuster with a pristine technical pedigree. Moves the medium forward on a technical level.
Cuarón winning Best Director means Gravity has a historical precedent on its side, since both categories line up more often than they don't. But we've seen too many awards shows this year where 12 Years almost comed up empty-handed before pulling out Best Picture at the end. Hustle could take advantage of a split vote and come out victorious, but I don't think so. It'll be close. Predicted winner: 12 Years a Slave.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.