The nominees for the 2015 Golden Globes were revealed this week, on the heels of similar nominations for the SAG Awards. And while these groups aren’t directly connected with the Academy, they certainly have a massive impact on the ongoing state of the Oscar race. We discuss how and why in this week’s Awards Blend podcast.

There’s a lot of movement on the charts this week. Following the Golden Globes and the SAG nominations, I feel comfortable letting films that hung on as Longshots fall by the way side. Some things can change between now and the morning that the Oscar nominations are revealed. But with multiple regional and national critics groups selecting their favorite films – and the HFPA and SAG bodies revealing their top picks – the races in MOST of the major Oscar categories are starting to clear.

As of Friday, December 12, here’s where I think our major contenders stand:

oscar winner prediction
BEST PICTURE

The Frontrunners

Boyhood
Birdman
Selma
The Contenders

American Sniper
Foxcatcher
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
A Most Violent Year
The Theory of Everything
The Dark Horses

Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Nightcrawler
Still Alice
Unbroken
Whiplash
Wild
The Longshots

Big Eyes
The Gambler
Interstellar
It’s 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 more I think about it, the more I think Clint Eastwood, who hasn’t been nominated in the Best Director category since 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima, returns to the category by returning to the battlefield for American Sniper. His NBR win helps, plus the Academy loves him. We’ll see how Sniper plays in the coming weeks.

oscar winner prediction
BEST DIRECTOR

The Frontrunner

Richard Linklater, Boyhood
The Contenders

Ava DuVernay, Selma
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
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 Grand Budapest Hotel
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
James Marsh, The Theory of Everything
Rob Marshall, Into the Woods
The Longshots

Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
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, as we discussed in this week’s podcast (on Page One). 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
BEST ACTOR

The Frontrunners

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

Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
David Oyelowo, Selma
The Dark Horses

Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up
Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Jack O’Connell, Unbroken
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher
Mark Wahlberg, The Gambler
The Longshots

Tom Hardy, Locke
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
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. This week, thanks to recognition from SAG and the Golden Globes, Jennifer Aniston announced her presence for her role in the drama Cake, and now looks like she could disrupt the two-horse race between Moore and Reese Witherspoon.

oscar winner prediction
BEST ACTRESS

The Frontrunners

Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
The Contenders

Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
The Dark Horses

Marion Cotillard, One Day, Two Nights
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars
The Longshots

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle
As predicted, J.K. Simmons is taking the trophies in the early, regional awards races. Hopefully his wins – as well as positive word-of-mouth – can continue to boost Whiplash at the indie box office on fire. Right now, I’m waiting for someone to step up and challenge Simmons for the lead in this category. It hasn’t happened yet.

oscar winner prediction
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Frontrunners

JK Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
The Contenders

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood Tom Wilkinson, Selma
The Dark Horses

Josh Brolin, Inherenet Vice
Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year
John Goodman, The Gambler
Tyler Perry, Gone Girl
The Longshots

James Corden, Into the Woods
Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman
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
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Frontrunners

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
The Contenders

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Naomi Watts, Birdman
The Dark Horses

Laura Dern, Wild
Melissa McCarthy, St. Vincent
Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice
The Longshots

Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods
Jessica Lange, The Gambler
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

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