Who will take home the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor on Sunday?
Ok, so it's that time of year again: when we all predict the outcome of the Oscars and then hastily forget about our in-depth stories when the Academy throws up a couple of left-field winners and scuppers our clean sweep. Arguably, the contents of the envelopes being readied for Sunday night is the hardest to call for years, but there's a couple of nominees that should already been practising their "I'm pleased for you" faces.
Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street.
We're starting with the big one, because it's one of the easiest to call. For all the technological splendour of Alfonso Cuaron's 'Gravity' - and it will almost certainly clean up in the minor categories - the Oscar for Best Picture is heading to Brad Pitt, Steve McQueen, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Arnon Milchan and Anthony Katagas for the slavery-epic 12 Years a Slave.
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).
Though the best actor category has been known to throw up at least two major shocks in recent memory, there are three realistic contenders here. For the sake of nailing down a prediction, we're going to discount Bale and Dern - both exceptional performances, though American Hustle didn't come together as a movie and Alexander Payne's Nebraska just hasn't had the publicity. That leaves Ejiofor, McConuaghey and DiCaprio. The latter would arguably be the most popular winner in the room, though putting the novelty of having DiCaprio winning his first Oscar aside, the real battle here is between Ejiofor and McConaughey. If Academy voters are plumped squarely for 12 Years a Slave in the other major categories (best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best picture), then Ejiofor could take this but we're willing to stick our necks out and say McConaughey will be strong enough to win.