Well, friends, the big night is right around the corner: on Sunday evening at eight, after hours of insufferable people screaming on a red carpet, Ellen DeGeneres will tell some jokes, montages will unspool, songs will be sung, and Hollywood will hand out some little gold statues. The winners aren’t always predictable — some of the voters might not be quite as tuned-in as you’d think (leading to some truly bizarre choices over the years), and this year’s crop of exceptional films have made the race a bit more competitive than usual. But here’s our best guesses for who will take home the major awards come Sunday, along with who we’d give them to if we were the only ones voting.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
“Let It Go” (Frozen)
“The Moon Song” (Her)
“Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
PREDICTION: “Let It Go”
PICK: “The Moon Song”
Look, I know everyone’s wild about “Let It Go,” with all the karaoke-ing and spoofing and meme-ing and whatnot, but to these ears, it sounds like a Celine Dion B-side. I’d give it to Karen O’s simple, lovely “Moon Song,” which beautifully encapsulates the gentle, longing spirit of Her.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater (Before Midnight)
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall St)
PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave
PICK: Before Midnight
The Best Picture winner almost always wins its screenplay category, and since (spoiler) 12 Years is likely to take the big prize, it will probably take this one too — which is fair, as Ridley’s script is efficient, powerful, and brilliant. But of this bunch, the screenplay that thrills this viewer the most is Before Midnight, the culmination of a beautifully written trilogy that challenges the way we think and feel about attraction, love, and long-term romance.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)
Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
Spike Jonze (Her)
Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
This may very well be the tightest race of the night, surprisingly enough. Most pundits agree that it comes down to Her or American Hustle — with the trophy serving as a consolation prize (as it so often does) for a more daring Best Picture nominee. Hustle’s ten nominations make it seem likely to take that prize, but Her won the Golden Globes and Writer’s Guild awards, making this a real toss-up, so I’m just going with my favorite of the two.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Miyazaki lobby is dedicated, but they’ve got nothing on Disney, who can own this category pretty much any year they put out something decent.