With Oscar nominations coming Thursday morning, we gathered The Envelope's Buzzmeter panelists -- Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican, Fandango's Dave Karger, Anne Thompson from Thompson on Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey and Glenn Whipp, and Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil -- for some thoughts about what might transpire.
In this first of two installments (check back later today for the closer), the Buzzmeter gang debates the fate of this year's older leading actor contenders, gauges the depth of love for "12 Years a Slave" and considers what kind of Oscar bump "The Wolf of Wall Street" might have received from all the controversy surrounding it.
Will both 77-year-old lead actor contenders -- Bruce Dern and Robert Redford -- win nominations?
Thompson: Bruce Dern will definitely land a nomination but Robert Redford is probably in contention for the fifth slot with Leonardo DiCaprio of "The Wolf of Wall Street." The momentum may be with Leo, as Redford was shockingly left off the SAG docket. "All Is Lost" did not fair well with audiences at the box office and is perceived as a silent film and a tough sit, especially on a screener. Redford has done more public appearances than he has in years. But that's not a lot compared with his rivals.
Breznican: Dern -– yes — but Redford is less certain. If they both get in, it will be a nice showdown between the two stars of "The Great Gatsby."
Sharkey: I believe Bruce Dern will be in, Robert Redford will be out. The competition is too stiff this year, and I don't think academy members have an emotional connection to Redford.
O'Neil: Dern is in, Redford may be out because the Sundance Kid refuses to do media or mix with the showbiz crowd. Heck, he didn't even do a press junket for "All Is Lost," which hurt the film. SAG and BAFTA dropped him. I did too, making way for Leo.
Karger: Yes, though that category seems primed for a surprise of some sort.
Whipp: I have held on to Redford for the past four months, probably out of my childhood love for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting," movies I watched whenever I could find them. "All the President's Men" too. And "Jeremiah Johnson." He was all over the '70s. And now he has given us his greatest acting turn in "All Is Lost," and he's not going to get nominated because too many close-minded people won't watch a movie that doesn't have dialogue. (Yeah, I'm bitter. And ... oh ... Dern's in.)
"The Wolf of Wall Street": Do you think the controversy -- and the exhaustive coverage of the controversy -- has helped its Oscar prospects?
Breznican: It's a wash. On one hand, the conflict has hardened the resolve of those who admire this film, stoking their passion and making the film seem provocative and challenging. But it has also solidified the disdain some voters feel for it.
Sharkey: The controversy definitely helped. Suddenly "Wolf" becomes the outsider, the sort of protest vote that makes Oscar voters feel like renegades, even when they rarely are.
Whipp: I think Paramount should send Hope Holiday a fruit basket. After Holiday, an academy member, posted on Facebook that a screenwriter approached Martin Scorsese at a screening, saying, "Shame on you," the movie's defenders have dug in their heels. Passion means everything with the academy's preferential voting system, and "Wolf's" supporters are feeling it.
Karger: I don't think it's had any impact. The academy isn't usually swayed by public opinion.
O'Neil: Hubbub will help "Wolf" roar to life at the Oscars, where voters are equally obsessed with the same topic -- money -- and appreciate films that matter.
Thompson: The "Wolf of Wall Street" controversy has not made more academy voters see the film -- they would have done that already. It has made Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio into underdogs worth rooting for if you support the movie. It engenders strong feelings on both sides, but all you need for nominations is enough passionate advocates.
Over/under: Does "12 Years a Slave" receive more or fewer than 10 nominations?
Breznican: It could get as many as 13. In addition to picture, director, actor, supporting actress and supporting actor and adapted screenplay, which seem like locks for nominations, it also has a strong shot at original score, production design, cinematography, editing, sound editing, hair and makeup, and costume design.
Sharkey: More than 10 nominations, given its artistic and acting depth. There would be an incredible symmetry to it if there were 12 nominations.
Thompson: "12 Years a Slave" will get a minimum of eight and likely 10 nominations. Picture, director, screenplay, best actor, best supporting actor and actress, best cinematography, costume, editing and score.
O'Neil: Eleven bids: Picture, direction, writing, cinematography, score, editing, production design, costumes and three acting noms. It could also pop up in the sound races, but I'm not betting on it.
Karger: More. Even if it doesn't break into the sound categories, it still seems a good bet in 11 races: picture, director, script, three acting races, editing, cinematography, costumes, score, and art direction.
Whipp: It will lead the field when Oscar nominations are announced, taking at least 11. But how many will it win? That's another discussion.