Let me have a grammar Nazi moment here. I confess to being stumbled by whether to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’ in the title. It’s a tricky one, could have gone either way. As you know, you use ‘whom’ when the person referred to is the object of the sentence, ‘who’ when he’s the subject. My ruling on the matter is that the award is the object, which means the nominees are the subjects. Microsoft Word doesn’t agree with me, so I’ll just have to live with the little green bad-grammar warning squiggle under the ‘who’ for the duration of writing this article.

You’ve already read how competitive this awards race has been. It’s de rigueur to mention it because, indeed, it has been remarkable. But my feeling is this is the new normal. There is no way film folk are going to let TV people outshine them. The bar has been raised on big-screen entertainment and it is there to stay.

The reality is most of the categories are probably quite predictable. There might be a few upsets here and there, but in general there’s a consensus as to who will win. But that won’t make for a boring awards show because the one category that is completely up in the air, Best Picture, is the last to be handed out. The narrative of this Oscarcast is as dramatic as it can get — the bar has definitely been raised there, too.

So here’s the deal for me:

BEST PICTURE

As long as they’ve increased the amount of nominees in this category, they should also have first, second and third place, like the Olympics. These films have made it this far, obliterated everyone else, it is beyond an Olympian feat, let’s give them something a little more special than just also-ran nominee status. And no season has ever highlighted the need for a staggered award than this one, which has three films neck in neck for the finish.

Everyone has opinions about films, and there is no doubt that the Oscars are voted on based on subjective taste rather than reasonably objective assessment of a film’s technical virtuosity. In my opinion, filmmaking is like figure skating; filmmakers who know what they are looking at, which is to say not the vast majority of Academy members (apparently), see a movie differently while they’re watching it, breaking it down to its components and assessing it accordingly.

Again, there are three movies vying for Best Picture: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. If I were to be a figure-skating judge and award the Oscar as it should be — gold, silver and bronze — purely on technical merit (as it should be), then this is how it would look:

Bronze Oscar: 12 Years a Slave
Silver Oscar: American Hustle
Gold Oscar: Gravity

But that is an ideal world. Perhaps Hollywood will get there by the time Los Angeles looks like it does in Her. (I can’t break down the technical reasons for each film’s position on the podium in this article; I’d have to do it department by department and I’m not dedicating five thousand words to this, so if you don’t agree either bear with me or stop reading.)

Every pundit/critic who isn’t a complete delusional weirdo is “torn” as to whether 12 Years or Gravity will win. Here’s my thinking: Industry folk do not like films in which technology is the real star. I don’t want to call this either because it is almost un-callable, and I wasn’t going to, but I don’t want to seem like a pussy because I’m not.

The Winner: 12 Years a Slave

As I said, the other categories seem to be a lock:

BEST ACTOR
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

The Winner: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees:
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

The Winner: Cate Blanchett,  Blue Jasmine

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees:
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper American Hustle
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave;
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

The Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

I disagree with many of the pundits on this: I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is going to win two years in a row. The Academy seems to be a fuddy-duddy, sentimental lot.

Nominees:
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine
Julia Roberts August: Osage County
June Squibb Nebraska
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

The Winner: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST DIRECTOR

Another note about the ridiculousness of the Oscars: there should be no difference between the Best Director and Best Picture category. The director who wins best picture should be the one receiving the award, not the producers. Just delete the Best Director category. Overkill.

This is a definite lock, as it should be.

Nominees:

Steve McQueen 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne Nebraska
Alfonso Cuarón,  Gravity
David O. Russell American Hustle
Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street

The Winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Philomena should win this, but the anti-religion thing is probably going to kill its chances.

Nominees:
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope Philomena
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke Before Midnight
John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave
Billy Ray Captain Phillips
Terence Winter The Wolf of Wall Street

The Winner: John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees:
David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer, American Hustle
Woody Allen Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze Her
Bob Nelson Nebraska

The Winner:  David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer, American Hustle

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Nominees:
The Hunt
Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Missing Picture
Omar

The Winner:  The Great Beauty

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Nominees:
Frozen
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

The Winner: Frozen

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

I loved The Act of Killing, but it is super-weird. I’m going to go with a film I haven’t seen yet, but I hear it’s the documentary equivalent of Frozen, and nobody is going against that prediction.

Nominees:
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
20 Feet from Stardom
Dirty Wars
The Square

The Winner: 20 Feet From Stardom

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Nominees:
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
Gravity
Her
12 Years A Slave

The Winner: The Great Gatsby

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nominees:
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years A Slave

The Winner: The Great Gatsby

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Philippe Le Sourd The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael Nebraska
Roger A. Deakins Prisoners

The Winner: Gravity

BEST FILM EDITING

Nominees:
Captain Phillips
American Hustle
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
12 Years A Slave

The Winner: Captain Phillips

BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE

Nominees:
The Book Thief
Gravity
Philomena
Her
Saving Mr. Banks

The Winner: Gravity

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Nominees:
“Let It Go” from Frozen
”Happy” from Despicable Me 2
“The Moon Song” from Her
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

The Winner: Let It Go from Frozen

Okay, I’m getting as bored as you are with this. Let’s cue the orchestra and move this along:

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Winner: Gravity

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Winner: Gravity

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Winner: Gravity

I’m not an Academy member, so your guess is as good as mine in the other categories. Here’s what Deadline predicts for The Esoterics, as I call them:

BEST DOCUMENTARY  SHORT

The Winner: The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

The Winner: Get A Horse!

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Winner: Helium