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It’s that time of year again to celebrate the very best of the past year in film, with the prestigious 86th Academy Awards soon to be upon us. As we all prepare to settle in for the night, and ridicule the red carpet coverage and then open up the dolly mixture and marvel in the ceremony itself, beforehand let’s run through some of our 2014 Oscar predictions.

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Sometimes it shouldn’t just be the best film of the year to take home the grand prize, but the most significant film. With Steve McQueen’s picture about as definitive as you could be about slavery, there’s a general feeling that 12 Years a Slave needs to win this award, and similarly to what Spielberg achieved with Schindler’s List exactly 20 years ago, you’d be hard pushed to look past that from happening again.

Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Dallas Buyers Club may not be triumphant in many other areas, but the one place where success is likely, and certainly deserved, is within the fine acting performances. With McConaughey enjoying an incredible recent run of form, it seems that it could all culminate in him taking home the award for Best Actor, and it would be one which was throughly deserved.

Best Actress – Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
This one feels like something of a foregone conclusion, as Blanchett’s superb, nuanced performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is head-and-shoulders above any other performance from a leading actress this past year. It’s layered and emotional, and about as safe a bet as you could place this year.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
It would seem somewhat wrong for McConaughey to win Best Actor and for his co-star Jared Leto to leave empty handed, so there’s a good chance that the pair will both be triumphant at the forthcoming event. For an actor that makes so few films – focusing heavily on his musical career the past few years – he doesn’t seem rusty in any way shape or form, bringing such humility to his role of Rayon, a transvestite AIDs sufferer.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Hollywood’s sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence was of course the winner of the Best Actress award last year, and it’s likely she’ll leave triumphant for a second consecutive time. Bringing a wonderful degree of humour and volatility to her role in American Hustle, there’s a strong chance she’ll be the only winner from a film blessed with a series of fine acting performances.

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Best Animated Feature – Frozen
This Disney musical is about as classic as an animation can be: it’s a nod to some of the studio’s brilliant pictures of old, while feeling unique in its own right. With a handful of wonderful songs and characters to truly invest in – Frozen was the strongest animation to come out this year. However a mention must also be reserved for the French cartoon Ernest & Celestine, which shows off the Academy’s eye for impressive productions from across the globe.

Best Directing – Alfonso Cuaron
Gravity may be a flawed piece in some regards, but if there is one area you simply couldn’t criticise the film, it’s within its directing, which is a truly astounding feat of filmmaking. To make the viewer genuinely feel as though they’re witnessing a film that is set up in space is an incredible achievement, and Cuaron must be recognised accordingly.

Best Documentary – The Act of Killing
Not only is The Act of Killing one of the finest documentaries of the past year, but it’s about as good as the genre has offered in the past decade at least. Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible picture explores the world of legalised killings in Indonesia, as he visits some of the former gangsters and asks them to reenact their murders in any way they see fit. It’s as absurd and memorable as it sounds – and for that reason it would be a huge surprise if it didn’t win the Oscar.

Best Foreign Language Film – The Hunt
Though for British audiences The Hunt seems like something of a distant memory, having hit our screens close to 18 months ago, given it’s release date in the US, it’s only now qualifying for the Academy Award. Given the ingenuity and complete devastation on show in this Danish production by Thomas Vinterberg, Mads Mikkelsen’s incredible performance as a wrongly accused paedophile makes for a film that is difficult to forget, and certainly the frontrunner for the award.

So there we have it: our predictions for the Oscars. Be sure to check back on Flickreel after the event, where we can provide our coverage of the ceremony and either boast about the ones we got right, or hold up hands up to the ones we got wrong… Here’s hoping for more of the former!

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