Although BAFTA outcomes have a minimal influence on Oscar races, Sunday night marked another stepping stone on the long road to the Academy Awards. With less than two weeks until the final showdown on Sunday March 2nd (that also means you should hurry up and join our FREE OSCAR CONTEST), it's time to wrap our heads around each of the major races. Here's how the competitions are currently taking shape:
Outlook: Two and a half weeks ago, when I gave my most recent input on this year's Oscars, I stood firm in my belief that Amerian Hustle still has the support from many voting members. Today, I'm nowhere near as confident in that statement. On the back of a Best Picture win from BAFTA and with a reasonable amount of confidence, I am forced to agree with many other prognosticators that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave has become the official frontrunner. It will be difficult for either Gravity or American Hustle to knock it from its throne.
Outlook: The Best Director race has caused quite a shake-up in many people's predictions. While the presumed winner will be Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), due to his large amount of success throughout the precursor awards, you can't quit on Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) just yet. Some have used Cuaron's recent build-up of traction, and the fact that the Academy rarely splits the Best Director and Best Picture categories, to justify the likelihood of a Gravity upset on Oscar night. However, I feel that if a split doesn't happen, expect McQueen to be benefactor of Academy voters staying true to their history.
Outlook: The last time I examined this competition I acknowledged that it was truly Matthew McConaughey's (Dallas Buyers Club) race to lose, but I threw caution to the wind that many voters feel as though Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) is long overdue for an Oscar Wind. What better than a leading performance in a three hour Martin Scorsese epic that he carries almost solely on his shoulders? However, my tune has changed a little since then. While I still believe there's a small faction of voters in complete support of DiCaprio, the definitive swing in momentum for 12 Years a Slave has propelled Chiwetel Ejiofor into the prime role of spoiler. Still, though, this just feels like McConaughey's moment.
Outlook: When in comes to the Best Actress category, one fact remains ... Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) will not lose. After a huge bump from her Golden Globe victory, Amy Adams (American Hustle) and beloved foe, Judi Dench (Philomena), are in a tight battle for that second position. Yet, even with all the negative rumblings regarding director Woody Allen circulating the news outlets and social media, neither of them have a prayer in bringing down the far and above frontrunner, Cate Blanchett.
Best Supporting Actor
Outlook: While I just gave the rundown on why Matthew McConaughey should be a little concerned about the prospects of a BIG night from 12 Years a Slave, Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) doesn't need to be as worried as co-star. I was completely blown away by Michael Fassbender's devilish slave-driving performance, but the Academy tends to shy away from crowning villainous roles. Therefore, even a huge late surge from voters probably won't be enough for Fassbender to take down the highly expected winner, Jared Leto.
Best Supporting Actress
Outlook: In what's become the most exciting battle outside of Best Picture, the Best Supporting Actress competition features two heavyweight contenders who have traded wins back and forth. On one hand there's Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), the fast-rising megastar whose overnight success still continues to grow. On the other, Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) benefits from a remarkable story as a first-time actress who delivered in a powerful and heartbreaking role. Although a win from either candidate wouldn't be a surprise, I'll stick to the narrative that recent momentum for her film gives Lupita Nyong'o the slight edge. Yet, as they say in politics, this one may still be "too close to call".