We’ve been compiling our Contender Tracker pages slowly but we’ve narrowed down the list so far of what contenders might be showing up at this year’s Oscar race.  Thanks to Kevin for the help on this.  I have ordered them in terms of importance or prestige. Not all Oscar contenders are measured equally. Stars tend to have the advantage over unknowns and repeat nominees and winners also can sometimes have an advantage. More than that, the Oscar contenders are usually earmarked from the beginning of the year and have their place in line. Surprise hits or nominees always find their way into the race and can’t really be predicted but many of them can be.  So far, this is how we see it.  But it is going to be fluid, not static, and always changing month to month, week to week, day to day.

Best Picture Contenders

AwardsDaily’s Most Likely (by date)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
Boyhood (7/11)
Gone Girl (10/3)
Birdman (10/17)
Interstellar (Nov 7)
Foxcatcher (Nov 14)
A Most Violent Year (11/12)
Inherent Vice (12/12)
Mr. Turner (12/19)
Unbroken (12/25)
Big Eyes (12/25)
Selma (12/25)
The Homesman

Second tier of most likely:
Mood Indigo (7/18)
Very Good Girls (7/25)
The Judge (10/10)
Trash (October, 2014)
The Imitation Game (11/14)
Fury (11/14)
Wild (12/5)
Into the Woods (12/25)
Men, Women & Children (2014)

Question Marks:
MacBeth (?)
Lucy (7/25)
And So It Goes (7/11)
Calvary (8/1)
The One I Love (8/15)
The Drop (9/12)

Best Director

Top Tier

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Christopher Nolan, Interstellar
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
David Ayer, Fury
Ava DuVernay, Selma


Jean-Marc Vallee, Wild
Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ridley Scott, Exodus
Steven Daldry, Trash
Tim Burton, Big Eyes

Best Actor

Michael Keaton, Birdman
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Jack O’Connell, Unbroken
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Alfred Molina, Love Is Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Brad Pitt, Fury
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
James McAvoy, Eleanor Rigby
Chadwick Boseman, Get on Up
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything

John Lithgow, Love Is Strange
Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar

Best Actress

Top tier

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby
Jessica Chastain, Miss Julie
Mia Wasikowska, Tracks
Anna Kendrick, The Last Five Years
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Reese Witherspoon, Wild


Reese Witherspoon, The Good Lie
Emma Stone, Untitled Cameron Crowe Project
Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars
Angelina Jolie, Maleficent
Keira Knightley, Begin Again
Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Michelle Williams, Suite francaise
Nicole Kidman, Queen of the Desert

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Neil Patrick Harris, Gone Girl
Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year
Tom Wilkinson, Selma
David Oyelowo, Selma
Takamasa Ishihara, Unbroken
Benicio Del Toro, Inherent Vice
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Matthew Goode, The Imitation Game
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher
Edward Norton, Birdman
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo, Begin Again
Robert Duvall, The Judge

Best Supporting Actress

Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
Viola Davis, Get on Up
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Jessica Chastain, Interstellar
Reese Witherspoon, Inherent Vice
Marcia Gay Harden, Magic in the Moonlight
Emma Stone, Birdman
Naomi Watts, St. Vincent


Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosewater
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Helena Bonham Carter, Suffragette
Jena Malone, Inherent Vice
Laura Dern, Wild
Felicity Jones, Theory of Everything
Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods
Kristin Scott Thomas, Suite francaise
Marisa Tomei, Love Is Strange
Naomi Watts, Birdman
Jacki Weaver, Magic in the Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay

Bruce Wagner, Map to the Stars
Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Ned Benson, Eleanor Rigby
Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giabone and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar
Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, Love Is Strange
Abi Morgan, Suffragette
Cameron Crowe, Untitled Cameron Crowe Project
David Ayer, Fury
John Carney, Begin Again
Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski, Big Eyes
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Woody Allen, Magic in the Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay

Top Tier

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson, Unbroken
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Nick Hornby, Wild
Richard Curtis, Trash


Anthony McCarten, Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson, Men, Women & Children
Jon Stewart, Rosewater
Liv Ullmann, Miss Julie
Matt Charman and Saul Dibb, Suite francaise

Best Cinematography

Top Tier

Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Greg Fraser, Foxcatcher
Roger Deakins, Unbroken
Hoyt Van Hoytema, Interstellar
Robert Elswit, Inherent Vice
Jeff Croneweth, Gone Girl
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Rodrigo Prieto, The Homesman
Bradford Young, A Most Violent Year
Bruno Delbonnel, Big Eyes



Darius Khondji, The Immigrant
Darius Wolski, Exodus
Dion Beebe, Into the Woods
Oscar Faura, The Imitation Game
Seamus McGarvey, Godzilla
Yves Belanger, Wild

Best Score

Top Tier

Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, Gone Girl
A.R. Rahman, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, Unbroken
Danny Elfman, Big Eyes
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Jonny Greenwood, Inherent Vice
Steven Price, Fury
Thomas Newman, Get on Up
Thomas Newman, The Judge


Christopher Spielman, The Immigrant
James Newton Howard, Maleficent
John Powell, Birdman
Mychael Danna, Foxcatcher

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  • david

    Great list so far sasha. I hope you add when it gets distribution ‘the toy soldiers’ best picture contender and Constance Brenneman ‘the toy soldiers’ for best supporting actress contender her performance is absolutely riveting. I caught this film at Dances with films it was thee closing film

  • Mood Indigo? Very Good Girls? Lucy? And So It Goes? The One I Love?

    Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.

    Also david needs to be shut down for all this nonsense The Toy Soldiers spam. It’s irrelevant and irritating.

  • david


  • Al Robinson

    Paddy, are you just worried david will champion this one the way he did last year with Brie Larson / Short Term 12?

    BTW, no worries about me david. I don’t get annoyed very easily. I just hate the spam and pingbacks.

  • steve50

    um..Tom Hardy for Locke seems to be missing. Did he drive off somewhere? He’ll likely return come critics awards time.

  • Kane

    Lucy? A “question mark” for best picture? What’s funny is in this crazy world where Lucy is a question mark for best picture, Scarlett Johanson isn’t even considered or best actress. But…Lucy is not even in the top 50 of the year. Just a hunch.

    But you have to have the fine actresses from Clouds of Sils Maria, and the director too, on this list.

  • Let’s regard this list as a work in progress. Its most important function right now is to remind people that we’re building up the Contender Tracker pages — and to link to those pages as they’re being built.

    Feedback to remind us everything that was left out and everything that got wrongly included is part of the process of refining what we’re seeking to do on the Contender Tracker.

    Honestly, I had thought this list was something for us to use privately offline as a guideline for building the Contender Tracker pages — but since it’s online now for everybody to see, let’s just use the opportunity to improve it.

    It’s not yet meant to be definitive, alright? It’s a rough list of things that we’re thinking about but maybe shouldn’t be. And it’s a rough list to remind us of things we’re not thinking about but should be.

  • david, talk about Brie Larson all you want and anything else you feel passionate about.

    I’d rather see real passionate advocacy this time of year instead of already starting to throw things under the bus.

    When we disregard movies and performances this early on, that’s how we end up falling into the same cookie-cutter ruts year after year. And then we look around in January and wonder how the hell we ended up with so many stale easy-option predictable boring nominees every year.

  • Tom Hardy is such a glaring omission, I’m going to slip him into the post and just pretend he was always there to begin with. Thanks, steve50.

  • More than that, the Oscar contenders are usually earmarked from the beginning of the year and have their place in line.

    Only if we play along and do what the big-noise studio machinery wants and needs us to do. Especially in June.

    I’m not ready to begin obeying the twitter buzzometer and kowtowing to any dismissive general consensus 9 months before Oscar night.

  • Al Robinson

    “I’d rather see real passionate advocacy this time of year instead of already starting to throw things under the bus.”

    YES, very much yes! 🙂

    Here’s what I’m currently passionate about this year. This is the year of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller!! Start with The Lego Movie, and follow it soon-up with 22 Jump Street. DAMN!! Then, Last Man on Earth looks like it will be great.

    I wonder if it’s even possible to get nominated for Best Director for an animated movie?

  • Nick

    Under actors Bradley Cooper is listed for American Sniper. According to IMDB that doesnt come out till 2015

  • Al Robinson

    “Under actors Bradley Cooper is listed for American Sniper. According to IMDB that doesnt come out till 2015”

    Nick, Clint Eastwood is known for making films pretty quickly. It’s certainly possible that this one could be the not-yet-scheduled, last minute add on to the end of this year. I doubt it will, but I think it could.

  • Eric

    I just want to know why a Michael Mann movie has a January 15th release date. Surely, they open that up a few weeks early for Oscar contention?

    The Drop looks Prisoners-type of fascinating.

    White Bird in a Blizzard has Gregg Araki, a director with loads of potential, but has never really crossed past the “Indie-director.”

  • That’s all we need. Another Clint Eastwood movie that he squeezes out at breakfast and wraps before lunch.

    But seriously, American Sniper began shooting in March and should wrap principle photography any day now.

    Even more seriously, that really is just what this country needs. More glorification of guys with guns shipped off to other countries to kill a record number of people in a criminal war waged by liars, the very same liars Eastwood was paling around with at the Republican National Convention.

    So Yes, Please get this movie in theaters ASAP while there’s still time to get people excited about Call of Duty: IRAQ 3.0

    Just what we need.

  • Scott

    Really? Angelina Jolie in the top five directors? Over Paul Thomas Anderson? Richard Linklater? Wes Anderson? Maybe you’ve seen the film and it is brilliant but if this is sight unseen I don’t get it.

  • zazouzazou

    Aronofsky is not on this list and he should be included for best director, as Noah was great story telling,powerful and moving.Where is Russell Crowe for Noah,such superb acting and he isn’t mentioned,why is that the case?Too much religion for the film business?

  • ‘Really? Angelina Jolie in the top five directors? Over Paul Thomas Anderson? Richard Linklater? Wes Anderson? Maybe you’ve seen the film and it is brilliant but if this is sight unseen I don’t get it.’

    Well why not? Unbroken is receiving major buzz atm, and with its Christmas Day release and big-name director, its position so high in these lists seems reasonable and justifiable to me. Also, I see no indication that Sasha’s list for Best Director is ranked.

  • I got the impression that all the categories had been ranked “in order of importance and prestige.” Maybe I’m mistaken.

    This is all very fluid at this point, gang. Not carved in stone.

    I don’t know how anyone endeavors to rank movies that nobody has seen but this is only a meant to be taken as a first swing at possibilities — so Name Recognition Publicity Hype is all we have to go on at the moment.

    We can’t possibly all agree on rankings of filmmakers and films than nobody has laid eyes on. Sure, personally I would put Paul Thomas Anderson in the top ranks of the prestige list. Birdman looks like a blast to me but it also looks very much like something Michel Gondry would cook up, and we’ve seen how Michel Gondry flies with the Academy. Fly he does not.

  • If Noah is too much religion for the film business (and it probably is) then it will be interesting to see how Jolie handles the fact that Louis Zamperini became a Born Again Christian at the behest of evangelist Billy Graham. Since no clue of any of that is seen in the trailers maybe the movie ends before it needs to be addressed at all.
    Either way, I anticipate the subject will require some jumping through tricky hoops in order to reconcile in the minds of many people. Although this was certainly not a hurdle that Chariots of Fire had trouble jumping.

  • joe

    I would add the final installment to the hobbit: the battle of the five armies to the best picture list and I have a feeling interstellar will be getting a gravity vibe. Outside of Christopher Nolan fanboys interstellar is not known yet but other movie-goers. I also think birdman since the trailer has gotten a big response and will be a serious contender. Mr. Turner is another movie that’s generating Oscar buzz and if good I can see big eyes and wild doing well.

  • Jeff

    Do we know whether there’s a credible chance of ‘Carol’ and/or ‘Macbeth’ being released this year? If there is a credible chance they’ll be released in 2014, then Blanchett and Cotillard are serious contenders.

    And, now that Jennifer Lawrence has finished her filming commitments for the ‘Hunger Games’ movies she’ll finally be able to complete her ADR/ looping work for ‘Serena’ (from what I understand, it’s been her busy schedule that has delayed that movie’s completion). If ‘Serena’ is finished and released late in the year (hopefully debuting at Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York or AFI) then Jennifer Lawrence also has to be a top tier contender.

  • from the reviews of Foxcatcher, I got the impression that Channing Tatum would have a better shot for the nomination than Mark Ruffalo- especially since he’s become such a huge star in Hollywood. Maybe the category confusion, since his role is really lead, could possibly lead to a snub. But as long as the distributor campaigns him for supporting, megastars like him would not miss out on a nomination for a strong performance (i.e. Julia Roberts).

  • joe

    Chaning Tatum and Steve carrell are mortal locks for foxcatcher

  • Fivus Viener

    Inherent Vice trailer. We need to see one.

  • Roberto

    Suffragette will be released next year, no? And if there’s Carey Mulling in Best Actress, Meryl Streep should be in Best Supporting Actress for this film.

  • norgizfox

    Can you do one for the animated feature film? I’m very interested in knowing how that race is going to shake down.

  • Pete

    I would be inclined to include Alexandre Desplat’s score for The Grand Budapest Hotel because of the range of the musical genres he employs.

  • Jerm

    Is Exodus being written off? Or is it going to be bad? I mean it is directed by Ridley Scott starring Christain Bale in a biblical epic, which those types have always done well with the Academy. So I’m curious to what Awards Daily thinks of its prospects???

  • Jerm, Exodus is definitely not being written off, not by me. We just don’t have much to go on at this point. No basis to evaluate. And I forgot to push for its inclusion among the rest of these movies for which we have no basis to evaluate.

  • joe

    My predictions for best picture
    Gone girl
    The grand Budapest hotel
    The hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    The imitation game
    Inherent vice
    Mr. Turner

    Second tiers
    A most violent year
    Exodus gods and kings
    Love is strange
    The Homesman
    Untitled Cameron crowe project
    A most wanted man

  • Q Mark

    Grand Budapest Hotel can be written off already, it’s kind of a trifle amongst Anderson’s work and has already been mostly forgotten. If ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ wasn’t going to get it done for Wes, I’m thinking nothing will.

    “Birdman looks like a blast to me but it also looks very much like something Michel Gondry would cook up, and we’ve seen how Michel Gondry flies with the Academy. Fly he does not.”

    Gondry has an Oscar on his shelf already, and it wouldn’t at all be a shock to see him get nominated in the future (provided he stops making dreck like Green Hornet). I see no reason why quirkier projects like Birdman can’t make the cut, especially since Innaritu is also an Academy fave.

  • Kane

    Though I take things like these with a grain of salt, every one of Innaritu’s films have been nominated for an Oscar.

    Q Mark, never count out an original screenplay nomination for Anderson.

  • Kane

    Hey Ryan…dude in a bat suit had great depth and emotional impact 😉 I kid. Dark Knight and Eternal Sunshine are two very different movies, capes aside. I’m hoping for 2 terrific films.

  • Can I just say, I really, really want to see some kind of recognition for Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality? That film was absolutely brilliant.

  • Don’t go by me! One of these days I might watch an Innaritu film more than once and discover whatever it is that I’m missing.

  • Future_Filmmaker

    Hoping Interstellar is the first Sci-Fi film to win Best Picture, come on Oscars you have to pay Nolan back for what you’ve done to him already. I’m really hoping Noah can be remembered at the end of the year, especially Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly’s win worthy performances, they are the real deal in this film. Also loved Jersey Boys, it’s one of my favorite movies of the year along with Noah, Neighbors & How To Train Your Dragon 2, the first Dreamworks movie to match Pixar. And I enjoyed The Monuments Men also, it’s a throwback and people aren’t understanding the type of film he was going for with it. Gonna watch Enemy, The Immigrant, and Under the Skin this week

  • joe

    I’m looking forward to interstellar too but I think the final installment of the hobbit should be rewarded like the final installment of lotr. Nolan should’ve been rewarded for the dark knight trilogy and memento. The hobbit movies have potential more than the star wars prequels. I hope the Lego movie or boxtrolls wins animated feature. Although I must say httyd 2 was entertaining. Jersey boys is a flop. Get on up or into the woods will be the musical movies of the year.

  • joe

    I liked monuments men but it came out way too early in the year for it be a major Oscar contender.

  • joe

    Julianne Moore is the front runner for best actress map to the stars.

  • Leocdc

    And what about How To Train Your Dragon 2? I have read it could end up being one of the best movies of 2014.

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    great observation, Ryan, on the “let’s get the damn thing done” school of directing a movie that Clint Eastwood comes from. just saw his JERSEY BOYS tonight. i had thought that it would be a major awards contender this year considering the source material. the stage show is a HUMONGOUS hit worldwide in NYC, London, Vegas, world tours, etc., and rightly so. it’s a thrilling piece of popular entertainment. but you’d never know it from Eastwood’s film. he sucked all the life out of it–not to mention most of the color. he used that desaturated, colorless process that made LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA so pale and depressing. Warners deserves a flop in this as they handed a great property to the wrong director and gave it a pathetic marketing campaign.

  • Bradley

    Ummm Don’t forget Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong film…

    Ben Foster in Lead/Chris O’Dowd in supporting… Maybe Jesse Plemons.

  • Jermaine

    I think I might be setting my Interstellar expectations too high.

    But it looks phenomenal.

  • shiera

    it will be boring if meryl streep is not nominated for anything.

  • Drood

    Shaking my head in deep wonderment as to in what universe Ava DuVernay ranks above Mike Leigh, Ridley Scott or Stephen Daldry in terms of “importance or prestige.” Certainly not in terms of likelihood of AMPAS’ consideration…

  • Birdman is decidedly NOT a “dude-in-a-birdsuit movie”. Having seen it, I can say that definitively. That said, I have serious reservations about its awards potential, aside from the absolute LOCK for Chivo in Cinematography. They won’t go for Keaton unless they go for the film in a bigger way, and that’s a huge question mark. But none of that matters. It’s a marvel of craft by all involved, but especially the actors, Innaritu as director and Chivo. There will be a lot of digital ink spilled about the technical achievements in the near future. Too bad it’s all in service of a script with some serious issues.

  • Al Robinson

    Chris, the last time you raised doubt about a potential movie (The Monuments Men), I questioned you, and even said something I deem as mean. But it turned out you were right. The Monuments Men had it’s issues, and will not see any Oscar nominations.

    This time, I’m not gonna make that mistake with Birdman. You’ve seen it, and you have my respect. I’m still hoping I end up dissagreeing with you, and I like it, but, the movie DOES look a bit strange.

    Also, Chris, is there any similarities to The Wrestler. It suddenly seems to me, like Birdman might be similar to that one, and Michael Keaton is the next Mickey Rourke.

  • Sasha Stone

    Shaking my head in deep wonderment as to in what universe Ava DuVernay ranks above Mike Leigh, Ridley Scott or Stephen Daldry in terms of “importance or prestige.” Certainly not in terms of likelihood of AMPAS’ consideration…

    In this case, subject matter. Ridley Scott? Seriously? Obviously you don’t see the race, or Hollywood culture, as I do. It’s a much bigger deal to have a black female writer/director making a movie about Martin Luther King, Jr. than any of those you mention. You don’t just take the person’s name when looking at Oscar prospects – you look at what they’re doing at this moment in time. That matters more than who they are.

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