Tough to predict the winners in this year's Oscar race

Sandy Kenyon reports
February 27, 2014 5:51:00 AM PST
As the Academy Awards approach, a three-horse race is now that much tighter, after two movies were named best picture at the Producers Guild Awards for the first time ever.

The two films with the most Oscar nominations are "Gravity" and "American Hustle" with 10 apiece. But "12 Years a Slave" is right behind with nine, and those films were all front and center over the weekend at the awards show staged by the Producers and Actors Guilds.

Trying to predict the Oscar race hasn't been this tough in years. "American Hustle" won the top award from the Screen Actors Guild and from broadcast film critics.

But producers bypassed the film, then couldn't decide if "12 Years a Slave" or "Gravity" was best, so they declared their competition a tie, and said both movies were number one.

"Shooting a film without gravity while you're bonded to gravity and then you have to have a bunch of people that's gonna make it easy, like Sandra," said "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuaron, referring to one of the film's stars, Sandra Bullock.

"You're by yourself so being by myself everyday was the hardest part because you depend on your fellow actors when you're making a movie, so I was just afraid I wasn't going to give this man what he needed," said Bullock.

She delivered. The broadcast critics voted her the best female action star on the same day Oscar nominations were announced.

"Gravity" earned ten. "12 Years a Slave" has nine.

The film has already earned several trophies for Lupita Nyongo. Cate Blanchett is a heavy favorite to win Best Acress for "Blue Jasmine".

Among her male colleagues, two frontrunners have emerged for their work in one film. Jared Leto lost a lot of weight to play an AIDS patient in "Dallas Buyers Club", and Matthew McConaughey lost even more.

"What did you learn about yourself making such a commitment to "Dallas Buyers Club", I asked McConaughey. " How much of a privilege it is to make that kind of commitment," he replied.

McConaughey told me he lost almost 40 pounds in a safe, controlled manner, calling that a wonderful adventure and all part of the challenge.

Usually by now the mists are clearing and it's possible to predict who will win.

But with the exception of a few races, that's more difficult this year. A lot of good films were released towards the end of last year.