You know what I said about Oscar season really beginning in a few weeks? Well, we learned on Monday that The Weinstein Company will push Meryl Streep’s performance in August: Osage County for best supporting actress, thanks to Gold Derby.

Yep, it’s starting already, and Oscar lovers are already theorizing about what this means. Does Streep want her fourth Oscar that badly? Is Julia Roberts really gunning for her second trophy? Was there pressure from The Weinstein Company? Is Weinstein afraid that Cate Blanchett’s acclaimed turn in Blue Jasmine will overshadow Streep’s accomplishments?

Any or all scenarios mentioned might be true, but might Weinstein be focusing more on a push for Judi Dench’s Oscar-bait turn in Stephen FrearsPhilomena?

In the end, though, this campaign decision might mean nothing: Weinstein tried pushing Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader for best supporting actress when she wanted her work in Revolutionary Road to earn a leading nod. We all know what happened…

In other Oscar-related news, Tom Hanks will open and close the London Film Festival with Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, respectively. Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 follow-up, Elysium, debuted to a rather middling $29.8 million and only decent reviews. Don’t expect the film to make it past the crafts categories; it would be lucky to earn recognition even there, honestly. Lee Daniels’ The Butler hits theaters across the country this weekend, while IFC Films releases David Lowery’s Sundance hit Ain’t Them Bodies Saints at three locations.

colinfirth_railwayman_edit

Best Picture

As Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone says throughout Oscar season, “No guts, no glory,” and my gut’s sticking with The Railway Man for the time being. Still, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Foxcatcher, and Gravity also look like major contenders. August definitely looks strong on paper, but will it translate to Oscar success? As I expected, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men looks like a World War II film with the general tone of Ben Affleck’s Argo, so count on that best picture nod. The success of festival and audience favorite Fruitvale Station should keep it in the conversation, while Cannes hit Nebraska could end the lineup simply because it’s an Alexander Payne film.

1. The Railway Man (Jonathan Teplitzky)

2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

3. American Hustle (David O. Russell)

4. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)

5. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

6. August: Osage County (John Wells)

7. The Monuments Men (George Clooney)

8. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

9. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

10. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)

11. Philomena (Stephen Frears)

12. The Fifth Estate (Bill Condon)

13. The Book Thief (Brian Percival)

14. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan and Joel Coen)

15. The Counselor (Ridley Scott)

16. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)

17. Devil’s Knot (Atom Egoyan)

18. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

19. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)

20. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels)

21. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)

22. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper)

23. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)

24. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)

25. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)

Also worth mentioning: Labor Day (Jason Reitman), Rush (Ron Howard), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwicky),Tracks (John Curran), Elsa and Fred (Michael Radford), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), How I Live Now (Kevin Macdonald), All is Lost (J.C. Chandor), The Conjuring (James Wan), Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh)

alfonsocuaron_comiccon

Best Director

Last year’s virtually inevitable picture-director split paved the way for Ang Lee’s second Oscar. Of course, he commanded virtual space in a way that few can. I feel something similar might happen with Alfonso Cuarón this year – even if Jonathan Teplitzky impresses with Railway. Expect David O. Russell to pop up again for Hustle at this point, though that possibility could easily fall by the wayside. Steve McQueen’s Slave feels like a risky choice at this point, but it might also play well to voters. Bennett Miller might make waves with Foxcatcher, but remember, he missed out on a director bid for picture, actor, and adapted screenplay nominee Moneyball.

1. Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

2. Jonathan Teplitzky for The Railway Man

3. David O. Russell for American Hustle

4. Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

5. Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher

6. George Clooney for The Monuments Men

7. John Wells for August: Osage County

8. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station

9. Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips

10. Alexander Payne for Nebraska

Also worth mentioning: Brian Percival for The Book Thief, Bill Condon for The Fifth Estate, John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks, Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stephen Frears for Philomena, Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Atom Egoyan for Devil’s Knot, Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis, Scott Cooper for Out of the Furnace, Ridley Scott for The Counselor, Ron Howard for Rush, Asghar Farhadi for The Past,Jason Reitman for Labor Day, Jean-Marc Vallée for Dallas Buyers Club, Lee Daniels for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

amyadams_2012-2013oscars

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Like I said regarding Streep’s surprising campaign move, I’m willing to bet that it’s more to do nabbing Dench her first leading trophy than anything else. But will it work? There might be lots of sentiment for four-time nominee Amy Adams – especially if American Hustle becomes a top contender. And what about Sandra Bullock’s against-type turn in Gravity? Will Blanchett’s acclaim for Blue Jasmine  help her campaign survive a potentially rough season?

If you’ve noticed, all of the actress hype centers on previous nominees and winners. However, a newbie should emerge as a contender at some point, right? Sophie Nélisse, Elizabeth Olsen, and Zoë Saldana might be competitive for that title, but I’m thinking Mia Wasikowska, who’s been making a name for herself in Hollywood, gets that spot for her work in Tracks.

1. Amy Adams for American Hustle

2. Sandra Bullock for Gravity

3. Judi Dench for Philomena

4. Mia Wasikowska for Tracks

5. Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

6. Julia Roberts for August: Osage County

7. Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks

8. Bérénice Bejo for The Past

9. Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant

10. Elizabeth Olsen for Thérèse

Also worth mentioning: Sophie Nélisse for The Book Thief, Saoirse Ronan for How I Live Now, Nicole Kidman for Grace of Monaco, Naomi Watts for Diana, Zoë Saldana for Nina, Kate Winslet for Labor Day, Jennifer Lawrence for Serena, Shirley MacLaine for Elsa and Fred, Keira Knightley for Can a Song Save Your Life?, Hailee Steinfeld for Romeo and Juliet, Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Belle, Brie Larson for Short Term 12, Kristen Wiig for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

stevecarell_2013_edit

Best Actor in a Leading Role

I still see this being Steve Carell’s year for Foxcatcher, but it’s just a guess, honestly. With such a loaded list of contenders already, it’s simply too hard to tell. Matthew McConaughey might benefit from a recent string of critical hits and an unexpected performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Bruce Dern, Cannes’ best actor winner, should be able to make the final lineup. Perhaps I’m too confident in The Railway Man, but Colin Firth should get in assuming Teplitzky crafted an Oscar favorite. Chiwetel Ejiofor might break through for 12 Years a Slave if the festival circuit responds well to the film. Lurking just outside of my proposed lineup, though, are two-time best actor winner Tom Hanks, proven breakthrough Michael B. Jordan, and potential breakthrough Benedict Cumberbatch, among others.

1. Steve Carell for Foxcatcher

2. Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

3. Bruce Dern for Nebraska

4. Colin Firth for The Railway Man

5. Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave

6. Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips

7. Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station

8. Benedict Cumberbatch for The Fifth Estate

9. Idris Elba for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

10. Robert Redford for All is Lost

Also worth mentioning: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Christian Bale for American Hustle, Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, Forest Whitaker for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, George Clooney for The Monuments Men, Michael Fassbender for The Counselor, Joaquin Phoenix for Her, Christian Bale for Out of the Furnace, Josh Brolin for Labor Day, Ralph Fiennes for The Invisible Woman, Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Casey Affleck for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Christopher Plummer for Elsa and Fred, André Benjamin for All Is By My Side, Jesse Eisenberg for The Double

camerondiaz_counselor_2

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Streep’s move to supporting might benefit her, but is she an absolute certainty in this stuffed, jumbled race? I’m throwing her into the lineup right now, but nothing – not her fourth win or even another record-lengthening nomination – is set in stone just yet. After all, she’ll face Oprah Winfrey and Octavia Spencer, either or both of whom might get a bigger Oscar push from Weinstein. Nicole Kidman might earn another bid, but forget it if The Railway Man fail to make an impact. Of course, one should remember that Cameron Diaz might “prove herself” in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor.

1. Cameron Diaz for The Counselor

2. Oprah Winfrey for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

3. Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

4. Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station

5. Nicole Kidman for The Railway Man

6. Margo Martindale for August: Osage County

7. Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

8. Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine

9. June Squibb for Nebraska

10. Naomie Harris for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Also worth mentioning: Penélope Cruz for The Counselor, Viola Davis for Prisoners, Catherine Keener for Captain Phillips, Julianne Nicholson for August: Osage County, Juliette Lewis for August: Osage County, Reese Witherspoon for Devil’s Knot, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Kristin Scott Thomas for The Invisible Woman, Laura Linney for The Fifth Estate, Zoë Saldana for Out of the Furnace, Shirley MacLaine for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Alfre Woodard for 12 Years a Slave, Cate Blanchett for The Monuments Men, Emily Watson for The Book Thief, Jessica Lange for Thérèse

markruffalo_foxcatcher

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

I’m still guessing Mark Ruffalo gets this, but it’s a toss-up, honestly. Oscar lovers can hardly settle on who will contend, let alone earn nominations. A real shock would be Stellan Skarsgård – even if Railway catches on. Cumberbatch’s turn in August might snag a nomination as a collective way to recognize the actor’s work this year. Same goes for John Goodman, who starred in the last two best picture winners. Regardless of the uncertainty here, I doubt many would be surprised to see Michael Fassbender’s work in Slave earn a spot.

1. Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

2. Stellan Skarsgård for The Railway Man

3. Benedict Cumberbatch for August: Osage County

4. John Goodman for Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave

6. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

7. Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks

8. Daniel Brühl for Rush

9. Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher

10. Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street

Also worth mentioning: Sam Shepard for August: Osage County, Chris Cooper for August: Osage County, Matthew McConaughey for The Wolf of Wall Street, Ewan McGregor for August: Osage County, Benedict Cumberbatch for 12 Years a Slave, Brad Pitt for 12 Years a Slave, Javier Bardem for The Counselor, Geoffrey Rush for The Book Thief, Bill Murray for The Monuments Men, Jeremy Renner for American Hustle, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Woody Harrelson for Out of the Furnace, Brad Pitt for The Counselor, Jeremy Irvine for The Railway Man, Colin Firth for Devil’s Knot

gravity_pic

Best Original Screenplay

Russell’s last two films earned screenplay nods, and Hustle likely continues the pattern if the reaction is positive. Fruitvale might not make it to the director race, but Coogler should land a mention here. The name Cormac McCarthy alone might help The Counselor get a nomination. Finally, the Coen Brothers are the Coen Brothers, so expect them to pop up for Inside Llewyn Davis.

1. Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón for Gravity

2. David O. Russell and Eric Singer for American Hustle

3. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station

4. Cormac McCarthy for The Counselor

5. Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine

7. Asghar Farhadi for The Past

8. Peter Morgan for Rush

9. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith for Saving Mr. Banks

10. Bob Nelson for Nebraska

Also worth mentioning: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for Dallas Buyers Club, Scott Cooper and Brad Inglesby for Out of the Furnace, J.C. Chandor for All is Lost, Carey W. Hayes for The Conjuring, Jeff Nichols for Mud, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Way, Way Back, David Lowery for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Aaron Guzikowski for Prisoners, James Gray and Richard Menello for The Immigrant, Scott Z. Burns for Side Effects, Derek Cianfrance, Bob Coccio, and Darius Marder for The Place Beyond the Pines, Arash Amel for Grace of Monaco, Stephen Jeffreys for Diana, Aaron Guzikowski for Prisoners

colinfirth_railwayman_edit

Best Adapted Screenplay

My gut tells me Railway, Foxcatcher, or Slave will take this home, with August also being a possibility. Could a quieter contender like Michael Petroni’s The Book Thief surprise for a nomination?

1. Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson for The Railway Man

2. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher

3. John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

4. Tracy Letts for August: Osage County

5. Michael Petroni for The Book Thief

6. George Clooney and Grant Heslov for The Monuments Men

7. Billy Ray for Captain Phillips

8. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson for Devil’s Knot

9. Josh Singer for The Fifth Estate

10. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater for Before Midnight

Also worth mentioning: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena, William Nicholson for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Steve Conrad for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Jason Reitman for Labor Day, Terence Winter forThe Wolf of Wall Street, Lee Daniels and Danny Strong for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Abi Morgan for The Invisible Woman, Christopher Kyle for Serena, Andrew Bovell for A Most Wanted Man, Luc Besson and Michael Caleo forThe Family, Jullian Fellowes for Romeo and Juliet, Joss Whedon for Much Ado About Nothing, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for The Spectacular Now, Anna Pavignano and Michael Radford for Elsa and Fred, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon for Monsters University