Balloting has finally begun today to determine the winners of the 2014 Academy Awards. Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are invited to cast secret ballots until January 8th 2014 for their favorite film categories from the past year.

Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks Stars In The Tense Pirate Thriller 'Captain Phillips.'

For the second year, the academy is offering electronic voting in which a small percentage of the 289 feature films eligible for best-picture consideration will be identified by members and announced on the 16th January.

The 'Best Picture' field is particularly wide this year with countless quality films and spectacular filmmaking keeping us entertained. However, there are a couple of films we could name that are almost guaranteed to receive nominations in at least the category of best film. Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave seems to be the movie on everyone's lips at the moment as it prepares to enter movie theaters after it received rave reviews passing through this year's various film festivals.

12 Years A Slave Chiwetel Ejiofor
'12 Years A Slave' Is Constantly Touted As The Likely Oscars Front-Runner.

The year's most eagerly anticipated film, Gravity, did not disappoint both with critics and at the box office at Alfonso CuarĂ³n's lauded Autumnal release. Whilst heavy on special effects, CuarĂ³n's film also brought out the best performance of actress Sandra Bullock's career.

Check out the Oscars betting odds.

The Tom Hanks-starring pirate thriller Captain Phillips saw a similar level of success, surprising audience's with its relentless tension and terrifyingly believable performances from cargo ship captain Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, who led the gang of Somali pirates.

American Hustle
Will 'American Hustle' See Its Many Nominations Through?

The darkly comedic crime drama American Hustle also looks set to jostle its way into the Best Picture runnings with out-of-the-park performances from an all-star cast, including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. The film, which has been nominated for a Golden Globe, has garnered rave reviews so far, which could well be echoed in its harvest of accolades.

Find out which films have been nominated for Golden Globe awards.

Elsewhere, Alexander Payne's black and white comedy-drama Nebraska is consistently touted as the relatively low budget movie that could knock the socks of other films at the Oscars, having already been nominated for five Golden Globes.

Nebraska Movie
Bruce Dern & Will Forte In 'Nebraska.'

But what about Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom? Lee Daniels' The Butler? Osage: Orange County? Blue Jasmine? We've been spoiled with some spectacular cinema this year and to be honest, we're pretty glad it's not down to us to select just one film above all others.

Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards will be announced on the 16th January 2014 and Ellen DeGeneres will host the Oscars ceremony on the 2nd March.