Thanks to the Olympics, we have had an extra month to hear about the Oscar race, all the mudslinging and heavy campaigning.

But later this evening it will all be over, and the burning question we have asked all year long will be answered: Will “Gravity” or “12 Years a Slave” win Best Picture?

It’s worth repeating that the 2013 film season was extraordinary and this year’s Academy Awards race one of the closest in history, certainly my history of predicting.

We have watched all season long as the four acting categories became somewhat solidified fairly early back with the Golden Globe and SAG awards.

Now is the big one. Three of the potential winners — Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o — are first time nominees. Cate Blanchett will get her much-deserved second Academy Award this evening.

There are only six categories I am not very confident about: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score and Best Foreign Film.

Those six, could be filled with surprises and make it a very interesting night.

I have already told you who will prevail in the acting categories: Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) has an outside chance at beating McConaughey in the Best Actor race because of his relentless campaigning.

Everywhere I go, people are not only talking about McConaughey’s magnificent performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” but his performance in “True Detective,” each week reminding everyone of his talent.

Last year’s lead actress winner Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”) also has an outside shot of beating Nyong’o, whose performance in “12 Years A Slave” is unforgettable. However, there is no real threat to take the final award of the year away from Leto’s performance as Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club,” or Blanchett’s tour-de-force in “Blue Jasmine.”

Original screenplay will go to the brilliant creation of “Her” by Spike Jonze as it also won the WGA award, Golden Globe and Broadcast Film Critics Awards.

Editing, which usually determines and corresponds with the film that wins best picture, without a doubt will go to “Gravity.”

However, if anything but “Gravity” wins editing, “Gravity” will not win best picture — that I can promise you.

“Gravity” will easily take best visual effects, sound editing and sound mixing. Cinematography looks to be in the bag for “Gravity” as well.

The argument some are having is that the space thriller camera work is more visual effects and not traditional cinematography.

If you buy that, there is an outside chance Roger Deakins, nominated this year for “Prisoners,” could finally win after losing 10 times.

Best makeup should go to “Dallas Buyers Club” — because do the voters really want to give an Oscar to “Lone Ranger” or “Bad Grandpa”? — bringing its total Oscar count to three.

The song from the animated film “Frozen,” “Let it Go” will win best song.

It’s ironic that Best Director is such an easy category to predict, with Best Picture up in the air.

However, Alfonso Cuaron has retained his lead throughout the season and will take the award for his masterpiece “Gravity.”

“12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture at the Globes on the drama side, won at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards, and recently won at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards in London.

However, I think, since I have to choose, “Gravity” is going to get the edge at the Oscars.

When I do the math, and I look at the voters and see how many awards “Gravity” is guaranteed to win in the technical spots, I can’t help but think those same voters are going to be putting the Sandra Bullock thriller in their No. 1 spot.

Combined with all the others that certainly loved it as much as I did, I think it slightly has the edge.

“12 Years A Slave” will win best adapted screenplay, unless it’s really suffering and the feel-good film “Philomena” surprises for the win, as it did at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards last week.

This is another “early night predictor” to watch; if “12 Years A Slave” loses adapted screenplay, there is no chance of it winning Best Picture — same with Supporting Actress.

As if I hadn’t already predicted “Gravity” to win enough, it’s likely to also win original score and production design. However, with the music, I think this is where we might see a big surprise. “Philomena” or “Her” could prevail here.

Production design might be only the second category of the night where “Gravity” actually loses — because Bullock will lose to Blanchett. I think the elaborate sets of “The Great Gatsby” win in this category.

It will be between “Gatsby” and “American Hustle” for costumes, and I think “Gatsby” certainly has the more Oscar worthy flavor.

Nearly everyone is predicting Italy’s “The Great Beauty” to win Best Foreign Film. However, I think the power and raw emotion of “The Hunt” — one of my favorite films of 2013 — will win because it was a more accessible and entertaining film.

At a glance

WHAT: 86th Academy Awards

HOST: Ellen DeGeneres

WHEN: 7 p.m. today


Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit

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