To celebrate this Sunday’s 86th Annual Academy Awards, we compiled the personal ballots of six of our writers, each of whom decided who should win, who will win and who should have been nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. First up are the personal ballots of two of our regular writers, Louis Cheslaw and Jack Lusby!

12-years-a-slave

Predictions and commentary by Louis Cheslaw

Best Picture
Will Win American Hustle
The performances are fantastic, and I have a hunch that Academy voters are suckers for some good 70s nostalgia. They may also feel bad for giving all the other awards to rival pictures, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Should Win Her
Even more than its brilliant writing, acting and stylistic attributes, this is the only contender this year that has commented on and alerted us to the direction that our culture may be heading in. That’s surely something all films should strive to do in some way?
Should Have Been Nominated Inside Llewyn Davis
A beautifully understated piece, smart enough to be enjoyed over and over, and respectful enough not to shove that intelligence down your throat.

Best Director
Will Win Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave is a tour de force from an incredibly exciting filmmaker, and I imagine his ambition and tactful handling of such heavy content will be duly rewarded.
Should Win David O. Russell, American Hustle
Any director who ensures that his entire cast receives Academy Award nominations deserves recognition, and did you see some of those swooping shots? Cinematic bliss.
Should Have Been Nominated Spike Jonze, Her
You may have realised I have a soft spot for this film… it made me feel too much for its vision not to be recognised.

Best Actor
Will Win, Should Win Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
I haven’t seen this yet, but if it’s anything near the strength of his performances in The Wolf of Wall Street and The Paperboy, then he deserves the statue, especially having overcome such ridicule at the start of his career. Also, his commitment to the role is pretty evident from the weight loss…
Should Have Been Nominated Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
DiCaprio plays himself for three hours and gets a nomination, while Michael B. Jordan transforms into tragic figure Oscar Grant, showing us both sides of his character at the same time, and doesn’t receive so much as an invite to the ceremony.

Best Actress
Will Win, Should Win
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
This felt like a documentary at times, such was the authenticity of her acting. It’s been months since its release and it’s still tough to forgot a single one of her scenes. She’s won most of the awards for this category over the past few weeks, and there really don’t seem to be any true rival contenders.
Should Have Been Nominated Rooney Mara, Side Effects
How did Sandra Bullock make the cut instead? In Side Effects, Mara has the ability to be scary while seeming afraid, hurtful while hurt, and joyous while despairing, making her almost impossible to trust. One of the most intimidating performances of the year.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
He’s the favourite by far, as his awards at various other ceremonies have shown.
Should Win Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
For hilarity’s sake, don’t we all love Jonah Hill?
Should Have Been Nominated Matthew McConaughey and/or Jean Dujardin, The Wolf of Wall Street
These two performances steal a three-hour film, with only about ten minutes of screen time between them.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
The world is still very much in love with this girl, it honestly seems that she could just so much as blink in a film and get a nomination for it.
Should Win Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Making her feature film debut, Nyong’o holds her own against Fassbender, Ejiofor and others throughout, balancing seething anger and cautious restraint remarkably.
Should Have Been Nominated Scarlett Johansson, Her
When was the last time that you got such a clear, developed image and understanding of a faceless character? It’s especially impressive considering that her co-stars all could use physicality in their performances.

Predictions and commentary by Jack Lusby

Best Picture
Will Win
12 Years a Slave
The Academy loves a tearjerker.
Should Win Her
A heartbreakingly profound piece.
Should Have Been Nominated Inside Llewyn Davis
Flawlessly melancholic, and the Coens’ best since Burn After Reading. It’s a travesty it wasn’t nominated.

Best Director
Will Win, Should Win
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
For bottling the feeling of claustrophobia. Only Steve McQueen runs Cuarón close this year.
Should Have Been Nominated Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
As above; perfectly nuanced direction.

Best Actor
Will Win
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Ejiofor has undoubtedly established himself as a lead man here.
Should Win Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
The McConaissance continues!
Should Have Been Nominated Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
A genuine, surprise omission following an inspiring performance.

Best Actress
Will Win
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
The elder stateswoman will edge this one.
Should Win Amy Adams, American Hustle
A superbly versatile actress, as striking in American Hustle as in Her.
Should Have Been Nominated Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks
Like Hanks, another surprise omission.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
As commanding as McConaughey, which is praise enough.
Should Win Jared Leto/Jonah Hill/Michael Fassbender, Dallas Buyers Club/The Wolf of Wall Street/12 Years a Slave
For Leto’s transformation, Hill’s manic comedy, Fassbender’s deranged intensity; impossible to choose.
Should Have Been Nominated James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Deserved posthumous recognition.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Can do no wrong since that fall.
Should Win Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Perhaps too soon for the debutante, but Nyong’o perfectly captured the abject desperation of 19th Century slavery.
Should Have Been Nominated Jennifer Garner, Dallas Buyers Club
Expertly anchored the erratic McConaughey and Leto.