Tis the season for all things Oscar, as the prestigious era of adult dramas, period biopics and Disney musicals gets under way at neighborhood theaters. True, Dumb and Dumber might be the biggest release offered to audiences this weekend. But if you scour the listings for your closest multiplex, you’ll also see that awards hopefuls like Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash are opening in more markets – meaning the push for Oscar glory has begun.

We have been tracking the annual awards race up to this point, commenting on Birdman, Gone Girl and Boyhood -- to name just a few gender-driven titles. But with titles like Wild and The Imitation Game readying for release (and the slew of December titles sure to beef up the standings), this is the first time we’re going on record with official Oscar predictions, breaking films down into Frontrunners, Contenders, Dark Horses and Longshots. We still have a number of films left to screen between now and the end of the year. To date, here’s where I think all of the top films stand:

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunner

The Contenders

Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Dark Horses

American Sniper
A Most Violent Year
Exodus: Gods and Kings
The Gambler
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Still Alice
The Longshots

Big Eyes
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Mr. Turner
Under the Skin
The initial pass of Best Director candidates lacks massive names like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or the Coen brothers. But it is possible that this category could break major ground if two female directors (in Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay) are able to land nominations for their pictures Unbroken and Selma. The latter just started to screen. The former hasn’t been shown yet. So yes, a lot of things might change on this list, but here’s where I think we are right now.

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunner

Richard Linklater, Boyhood
The Contenders

Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
The Dark Horses

Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Wes Anderson, The Grad Budapest Hotel
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
James Marsh, The Theory of Everything
Rob Marshall, Into the Woods
Christopher Nolan, Interstellar
The Longshots

Darren Aronofsky, Noah
Joon-ho Bong, Snowpiercer
Tim Burton, Big Eyes
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner
Ridley Scott, Exodus: Gods and Kings
Jean-Marc Vallee, Wild
Easily the toughest category in this year’s Oscar race. There will be at least five worthy Best Actor candidates who’ll be on the outside looking in on the morning of the Oscar announcements. When picking Frontrunners, I have four who I believe are mortal locks. That means there’s one possible slot open for nearly 20 possible contenders. Who’ll survive the lengthy Opening Stage of the awards campaign?

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton, Birdman
The Contenders

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
David Oyelowo, Selma
The Dark Horses

Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up
Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Jack O’Connell, Unbroken
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher
Mark Wahlberg, The Gambler
The Longshots

Christian Bale, Exodus: Gods and Kings
Tom Hardy, Locke
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Miles Teller, Whiplash
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes
If the Best Actor is stacked, the Best Actress race is rail thin. A few candidates are emerging late, particularly Julianne Moore in the buzzworthy Still Alice. But I’m hoping Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods delivers a few noteworthy female performances, because right now, it’s looking like Reese Witherspoon’s show.

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

The Contenders

Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
The Dark Horses

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars
The Longshots

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Juliette Binoche, Clouds of Sils Maria
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Marion Cotillard, One Day, Two Nights
Anne Hathaway, Interstellar
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle
If I had to place my money on one Best Supporting Actor candidate, it would have to be… too soon to tell. As much as I love JK Simmons in the breathtaking Whiplash, that movie hasn’t been setting the indie box office on fire. A few early critics’ groups could boost the profile of these candidates, but for now, it’s a level playing field.

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

JK Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
The Contenders

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Tyler Perry, Gone Girl
The Dark Horses

Josh Brolin, Inherenet Vice
Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year
John Goodman, The Gambler
Tom Wilkinson, Selma
The Longshots

James Corden, Into the Woods
Johnny Depp, Into the Woods
Joel Edgerton, Exodus: Gods and Kings
Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman
Logan Lerman, Fury
Chris Pine, Into the Woods
Much like the Best Picture race, I have one lock (in my mind) for the Supporting Actress race, and it’s tied to Boyhood. Patricia Arquette is the emotional anchor of Richard Linklater’s sprawling, 12-year journey, and her sentimental work should be enough to earn the actress her first Oscar nomination. Who will join her?

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunner

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
The Contenders

Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Naomi Watts, Birdman
The Dark Horses

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Melissa McCarthy, St. Vincent
Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
The Longshots

Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods
Jessica Lange, The Gambler
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice
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