Associated Press film writers Jake Coyle and Jessica Herndon see 12 Years a Slave winning best picture at tonight’s Academy Awards. Here are their picks in other categories:
Nominees: 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
Will Win: McConaughey. He ditched vanity and became the favorite.
Should Win: DiCaprio was aggressive, hilarious and the hedonism made him repulsive.
Should Have Been a Con-tender: Joaquin Phoenix, Her. He was the heart and soul of Spike Jonze’s gentle romance.
Will Win: McConaughey. Hollywood loves a good comeback story.
Should Win: Ejiofor. 12 Years a Slave finds its strength in him.
Should Have Been a Contender: Mads Mikkel-sen’s performance as a teacher unjustly accused of molesting a child in The Hunt was a haunting portrait of a small-town pariah.
Nominees: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blan-chett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Will Win: Blanchett’s modern-day Blanche DuBois is a shoo-in, so long as voters haven’t turned against Woody Allen.
Should Win: Blanchett
Should Have Been a Contender: The most emotional performance was Adele Exarchopoulos in the French drama Blue Is the Warmest Color. But what about Melissa McCarthy in The Heat? Is anyone funnier right now?
Will Win: Blanchett, as an unraveling upper-class dame, was so pure and direct that her neurosis seemed instinctive.
Should Win: Blanchett
Should Have Been a Contender: Julie Delpy. In Before Midnight she was the French everywoman: nurturing, sensual, feisty and vulnerable.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nominees: 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
Will Win: Leto is exceptional and unforgettable.
Should Win: Leto
Should Have Been a Contender: Will Forte in Nebraska. He plays a sweet and caring son, but those impromptu comedic chops, punctuated by his dry delivery, are as solid as ever.
Will Win: Leto is the surest bet of the evening.
Should Win: Fassbender. He deserved nominations for Steve McQueen’s first two films (Hunger, Shame), so his larger body of work deserves honoring.
Should Have Been a Con-tender: James Franco, for his jaw-dropping, hysterical extremes in Spring Breakers, or the late James Gandolfini, so gentle in Enough Said.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska
Will Win: Lawrence, who would accomplish back-to-back Oscar wins.
Should Win: Squibb.
Should Have Been a Contender: Carey Mulligan, for her foul-mouthed fury in Inside Llewyn Davis.
Will Win: Nyong’o’s performance of tortured field slave Patsey was heartbreaking and haunting.
Should Win: Nyong’o
Should Have Been a Contender: Lea Seydoux for her passionate portrayal of a raw and tender lesbian in Blue is the Warmest Color.