Say what you want about the Oscars, but many of us have a good time rooting for our favorite films and stars to win.
Below you'll find forecasts, personal picks and random opinions around tonight's 86th annual Academy Awards.
Live coverage begins at 7p.m. on ABC. Ellen DeGeneres hosts. Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, Jess Cagle and Tyson Beckford greet the stars on “Oscars Red Carpet Live!” and the show starts at 8:30 p.m.
For a full list of nominations, visit oscar.go.com/nominees.
Here are our picks:
JULIE GARISTO, CL Arts & Entertainment Editor
There aren't a lot of standouts this year — which is good. All of the films are quality pictures and have their own special appeal; no egregious omissions or inclusions. Gravity, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave are top contenders for Best Picture, but I think it is a lock for the sweeping historical Slave, a film with zero controversy and winner of previous awards — so it's blessed both politically and critically to win. An upset in this category would generate more buzz than any anticipation thus far.
My Pick for Best Picture and Original Screenplay: American Hustle
My personal favorite is American Hustle because David O'Russell's film hits so many sweet spots for a satisfying movie experience. It's got drama, immediacy, laughs, exhilaration and an eye-candy-filled, great tunes and an accurate flashback to the 1970s. I love O'Russell as a writer, and he brings to life flawed but endearing characters who are entangled in situations that offer both believability and watchability. If the film doesn't sneak up on 12 Years a Slave to win— which it might — it's a sure bet for Best Original Screenplay.
What to look forward to in tonight's show: Performances of the original song nominees, including Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who's nominated for Her's original song, ""The Moon Song," plus U2, Pharrell Williams, Idina Menzeland Bette Midler. There should be moving tributes to the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis, and DeGeneres should be a personable host who can be off cuff but still keep it together.
Mitch Perry, CL News Editor
Our cinephile newsman needed his own blog post to offer his picks. Click here to read.
NATALIE CAMPISI TARPLEY, CL ArtBreaker contributor
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave. It has all the makings of a best pic winner — sort of like a vintage Oscar de la Renta gown: it's sweeping, emotional, classic storytelling, rooted in history, underpinned by solid performances and with a semi-happy ending.
My Pick: Her. One of the most original ideas in modern film history executed to perfection. In some ways like David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees," Spike Jonze's grapples with an eternal question (in Her's case, what is romantic love?) in a quirky, almost surreal way. Her does it by substituting one half of the romantic pairing with a machine. A man-made machine, but a machine nonetheless. Begging the question, is love really just a mirror — a way to love ourselves more? Is love less chemistry and more cerebral (like those sad souls who pine for the unrequited years after they have even seen them)? It dodges the formulaic modes of storytelling and creates a world populated by nice people, who are anything but boring. It doesn't rely on a villain, an antagonist or manufactured twists and turns to create a compelling story, instead it lets us look through the microscopic as it unravels what seems like a tiny prophecy waiting just a few years down the road.
Prediction: Chiwetel Ejiofor,12 Years a Slave
My Pick: Christian Bale, American Hustle
Prediction: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
My Pick: Meryl Streep, August Osage County
Prediction: Barkhad Abdi
My Pick: Jared Leto
Prediction and Pick: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
DAVID JENKINS, Jobsite Theater Vice-Chair and Producing Artistic Director
Per usual, I've not seen a single film up for an Oscar this year. Contests, shmontests. :)
However, if I were a betting man I would think:
* The Internet will break at least once over something someone is (not) wearing.
* The Internet will break again because some move got some award just because the movie was arty and not because it was good or that anyone saw it.
* The Internet will break once more because someone got an award only because the movie was popular, but at least one other candidate will have been way more worthy of it.
* Did anyone play a real/historical figure? They'll win. Totes.
LEILANI POLK, CL Music Editor
Best Original Song
"Happy" by Pharrell Williams, Despicable Me 2. The only other category I feel like I can authoritatively speak on is best Best Original Song; my pick would be "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. It's an effing great track, despite its over-saturation on the airwaves. Although Karen O. deserves a shout-out for "The Moon Song" from Her. I have no comment on the U2 track and the Frozen track — BARF.
STEPHANIE POWERS, ArtBreaker Contributor
Best Actor/Supporting Actor
Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club. Dallas Buyers Club was the first movie I saw this Oscar season. From the second Leto was on screen as the transgender Rayon, I knew he was going to win. Throughout the movie you are not watching Leto, you are watching Rayon and that is what good acting is all about. McConaughey will also win, but had more of the Julia Roberts Erin Brockovich performance. He was amazing and physically transformed himself to play Ron Woodroof, but we was still a version of himself.
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine. With Blanchett's performance in Blue Jasmine she has to win. I will throw something at the television if she does not. Yeah, Amy Adams was great. But it her performance does not match up with Blanchett's multi-layered emotional role. Yeah, pervert Woody Allen wrote and directed it but that's not Blanchett's fault! She deserves that gold statue.
MINA ABGOON, ArtBreaker Contributor
Best Picture: The Wolf of Wall Street. With the nearly impeccable performances given by the cast, paired with an equally strong message about the hardships that arise with greed and fortune, The Wolf of Wall Street was truly memorable —- and arguably the best picture this year by far.
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street. Think Leo has finally earned his Academy Award? I do. Though the actor who's pushing 40 has proven to give mind-blowing performances for 20 plus years — all the way from the early What's Eating Gilbert Grape to, more recently, Django Unchained‚ his performance as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street may be one of the most impressive to date. An unbelievably convincing and passionate performance will make his first Oscar well-deserved, if he happens to win.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club. The Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman who doubles as both a musician and a talented actor could potentially make film work his sole job — Leto's performance as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club was emotional and completely on-point. Leto has am amazing ability to make his audience not only sympathize with his character, but to truly feel emotionally connected.
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
Makeup and Hairstyling
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Music, Original Score
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her