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MSN ENTERTAINMENT'S GUIDE TO THE 2014

ACADEMY AWARDS

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Sunday, March 2, 2014, at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET on ABC
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86th Academy Awards: Who should win and who will win

A look at which star and film will take home the Oscar

Jake Coyle and Jessica Herndon
AP

A seemingly endless movie awards season finally concludes Sunday with the Academy Awards. By now, many of the front-runners have established themselves, but the night's big honor best picture remains a dramatic question mark.

Associated Press film writer Jake Coyle and Jessica Herndon have plenty to say about not only who will win, but who should win and who should have been a contender.

Bing: More about 2014 Academy Awards | More on the nominees

Best Picture

The Nominees: "American Hustle," ''Captain Phillips," ''Dallas Buyers Club," ''Gravity," ''Her," ''Nebraska," ''Philomena," ''12 Years a Slave," ''The Wolf of Wall Street."

Jake Coyle

Will Win: "American Hustle" feels too light actors in wigs having a ball. And "Gravity," for all its galactic splendor, lacks the force of a solid story. So it must be "12 Years a Slave," the candidate with the heft of history. But make no mistake -- there's no certainty in this close contest.

Should Win: "12 Years a Slave." It's an unforgettable odyssey, a reckoning of past movie portrayals of slavery and a uniquely unflinching tale of perseverance.

Should Have Been a Contender: Few movies capture boyhood like Jeff Nichols' soulful Mississippi River coming-of-age tale "Mud."

Jessica Herndon

Will Win: Since "Gravity" stood out as an innovative prodigy advancing visual and 3-D possibilities, it'll clean up in the tech categories and will be crowned the night's big victor.

Should Win: "12 Years a Slave." With its disturbing subject matter and factual significance, it's the year's most epic and vital narrative.

Should Have Been a Contender: "Before Midnight." A deliciously candid look at the dark and deeply romantic evolution of love.

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Best Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Christian Bale, "American Hustle"; Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"; Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"; Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"; Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club."

Herndon

Will Win: McConaughey. He ditched vanity and became the favorite. But DiCaprio may just pull through with the win here. The academy loves to crown excess, even if an actor's previous roles dug deeper. (We all remember Denzel's win for "Training Day" and his snubs for "Malcolm X" and "Philadelphia.")

Should Win: DiCaprio may not have abandoned his good looks for this role, but he was aggressive, hilarious and the hedonism made him repulsive.

Should Have Been a Contender: Joaquin Phoenix, "Her." Carrying most of his scenes solo, since Scarlett Johansson didn't clock any physical screen time, he was the heart and soul of Spike Jonze's gentle romance.

Coyle

Will Win: McConaughey. Hollywood loves a good comeback story.

Should Win: Ejiofor. "12 Years a Slave" finds its strength in his deep eyes and commanding dignity.

Should Have Been a Contender: Many were left out here, most incredibly Tom Hanks for "Captain Phillips." But Mads Mikkelsen's performance as a kindergarten teacher unjustly accused of molesting a friend's child in "The Hunt" was a haunting portrait of a small-town pariah.

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More: How we ended up with 9 Best Picture noms

Best Actress in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Amy Adams, "American Hustle"; Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"; Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"; Judi Dench, "Philomena"; Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County."

Coyle

Will Win: Blanchett's modern-day Blanche DuBois is likely a shoo-in, so long as voters haven't turned against Woody Allen.

Should Win: Blanchett's performance is the most complex here, playing a bitterly unlikable socialite both before and after her life falls apart.

Should Have Been a Contender: The most naked (emotionally, though physically, too) performance of the year was Adele Exarchopoulos in the French drama "Blue Is the Warmest Color." But what about Melissa McCarthy in "The Heat"? Is anyone funnier right now?

Herndon

Will Win: Blanchett, as an unraveling upper class dame, was so pure and direct that her neurosis seemed instinctive.

Should Win: Blanchett for her layered dethroned lady.

Should Have Been a Contender: Julie Delpy. In "Before Midnight" she was the French everywoman: Nurturing, sensual, feisty and vulnerable. Plus, she had a saucy way with words while arguing topless.

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More: Great Hollywood unknowns prior to their Oscar wins

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"; Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"; Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"; Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"; Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club."

Herndon

Will Win: Leto is exceptional and unforgettable as transgender Rayon.

Should Win: Returning to acting after a six-year hiatus, Leto left nothing behind when portraying a prostitute dying of AIDS. He's both bold and defenseless.

Should Have Been a Contender: Will Forte in "Nebraska." He plays a sweet and caring son, but those impromptu comedic chops (thanks, "Saturday Night Live"), which are punctuated by his dry delivery, are as solid as ever.

Coyle

Will Win: Leto is the surest bet of the evening.

Should Win: Fassbender. He deserved nominations for Steve McQueen's first two films ("Hunger," ''Shame"), so his larger body of work deserves honoring. Plus, how many rising-star heartthrobs would opt to play such an ugly plantation owner without letting on (like DiCaprio in "Django Unchained") that it's just an act?

Should Have Been a Contender: James Franco, for his jaw-dropping, hysterical extremes in "Spring Breakers." Alternatively, an opportunity was missed to honor the late James Gandolfini, so gentle (and more like himself) in "Enough Said."

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Best Actress in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"; Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"; Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"; Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"; June Squibb, "Nebraska."

Coyle

Will Win: Lawrence. This could very well go to the awards season breakout star Nyong'o, but few don't love JLaw, who would accomplish the rare feat of back-to-back years of Oscar wins.

Should Win: Squibb. "Nebraska" needs her bite.

Should Have Been a Contender: Carey Mulligan, for her foul-mouthed fury in "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Herndon

Will Win: Newcomer Nyong'o's performance of tortured field slave Patsey was heartbreaking and haunting.

Should Win: Nyong'o. She is dauntless. Though both Squibb and Lawrence were irresistibly charismatic.

Should Have Been a Contender: Lea Seydoux for her passionate portrayal of a raw and tender lesbian in "Blue is the Warmest Color." Also, few actresses could play a figure as loathsome, yet unequivocally cardinal as Sarah Paulson in "12 Years a Slave."

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246Comments
Feb 28, 2014 1:15AM
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Who cares?!!!  Actors, singers all of those Hollywood crowd are just so out-of-touch with what normal/average Americans face in order to put food on the table to feed their families, it makes them irrelevant. 
Feb 28, 2014 7:38AM
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Tell you what. Instead of spending all that money honoring yourselves for a profession that does nothing to further mankind, take that money and give it help the homeless and starving Americans. Then the citizens of America will send you all a thank you note.
Feb 28, 2014 1:30AM
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anything about slaves will be number 1. We will beat that horse to death....
Feb 28, 2014 3:16AM
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Sitting here wondering how Hollywood would react if they were totally ignored by everyone including their adoring buddies in the "news" media.
Feb 28, 2014 2:34AM
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I have not watched the stupid, boring, fixed awards since the 70's. Its all fake, just like the movies. More money & work for winners, less for the rest. No one even wants to host it! WHAT A JOKE HOLLY WEIRD HAS BECOME! Ha! Ha! Ha!
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Who will win? Who will lose? A look at who we think will take home the Oscar come Sunday
 

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