Can anyone stop Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett?
Bradley Cooper for Best Supporting Actor
Expected winner: Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Our upset pick: Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"
Why: Best Supporting Actor is a strong field this year: in my opinion, four of the nominees would make eminently worthy winners, and I take no issue with Jared Leto's probable win for deeply felt, attentively detailed work. But while I started the season as a Michael Fassbender man, it's Cooper's comically volatile work in "American Hustle" that sticks most in my head -- it's a gutsy, riotous character turn from an increasingly adventurous actor who isn't afraid of a little absurdity. (And no, I'm not just talking about his poodle perm.) David O. Russell evidently loosened Cooper up a bit on "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2012; his nomination for playing a bipolar romantic there was a well deserved, but his Richie DiMaso is an even more impressively unhinged creation, finding notes of farce and tragedy in a deluded alpha male who comes this close to walking the talk. These are words I didn't expect I'd ever type a couple of years ago, but Bradley Cooper FTW.
- Guy Lodge