p class="TEXT_w_Indent">Who will win • Matthew McConaughey, who has been showing his acting chops more than his abs recently, famously lost 45 pounds to play HIV-infected Texas good-ol'-boy Ron Woodroof. Even with strong contendors in Ejiofor and a much-hyped DiCaprio, McConaughey's got this one in the bag, alright.
Who should win • Ejiofor's quiet resiliency as the enslaved Solomon Northup wasn't as flashy as McConaughey's Woodroof or DiCaprio's high-flying stock trader, but his performance was more moving. (If we're allowing write-in votes, I'd pick Robert Redford for his one-man performance in "All Is Lost.")
Nominees • Amy Adams, "American Hustle"; Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"; Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"; Judi Dench, "Philomena"; Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County."
Who will win • There's been talk of a late surge by Amy Adams as the tough con artist with the bruised heart. Don't believe it. Cate Blanchett's take on a modern-day Blanche Dubois is a lock.
Who should win • Sandra Bullock had to play much of "Gravity" as a soloist, while also dealing with the demands of an effects-heavy production.
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."
Who will win • McConaughey's co-star, Jared Leto, also went through a physical transformation — not only as an HIV sufferer, but as a transsexual. Oscar voters love that sort of performance.
Who should win • Barkhad Abdi made us feel the menace of Somali pirates and understand what forced him into this life. And he did it as a first-time actor going up against one of America's greatest stars, Tom Hanks.