Can anyone stop Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett?
Chiwetel Ejiofor for Best Actor
Expected winner: Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Our upset pick: Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"
Why: Not that long ago, I didn't expect to be discussing Ejiofor as an upset candidate -- right up until the Golden Globes, I thought the British actor was the one to beat. Then Matthew McConaughey pulled ahead with ferocious speed in mid-January and (bar the BAFTAs, where his surprise absence ensured Ejiofor's win) has ruled the roost ever since. Fair enough: it's a charismatic, moving turn from an actor whose remarkable career turnaround has been a joy to observe. But for my money, he's still not quite the actor Ejiofor is, and his Ron Woodroof can't quite match Ejiofor's Solomon Northup either for technical finesse or brute emotional force. If "12 Years a Slave" wins Best Picture on Sunday, as many suspect it will, his galvanizing performance can take a significant amount of credit for that triumph, but it'd be lovely to see him rewarded more directly.
- Guy Lodge