Which Oscar races will point way to Best Picture winner?

While the majority of our Experts are predicting that “12 Years a Slave” is going to win Best Picture, I am one of eight who expects “Gravity” to prevail. Though we will have to wait till the end of the three-hour plus kudocast to find out who is right, there will be several signs along the way of the relative strength and weakness of these two frontrunners as well as the potential for “American Hustle” to play spoiler. 

RELATED:Gravity’ will win seven Oscars ’12 Years a Slave’ three including Best Picture

We are predicting that “Gravity” will win seven races handily:
Director, Cinematography, Editing, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

Likewise, we expect “12 Years a Slave” to win two before the big one: Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyongo) and Adapted Screenplay. 

However, “American Hustle” is only expected to win Original Screenplay (and that one is said to be a squeaker with “Her”).

So, if “American Hustle” scene stealer Jennifer Lawrence pulls off a victory in Supporting Actress, that could mean trouble for “12 Years” in the top race. Remember, the actors branch (about 20% of the academy’s 6,000 voters) loved “American Hustle” so much that it was just the 15th film ever to reap bids in all four acting categories. Could that love be enough to carry it over the finish line first in other races, like Costume and/or Production Design, too? And will that translate into high enough placement on the preferential ballot to make it to the final two? If so, will it face “Gravity” or “12 Years a Slave” in a showdown for Best Picture? 

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Likewise, if “Gravity” also takes the one tech race it is forecast to lose — Production Design — over frontrunner “The Great Gatsby” — that could point the way to a sweep that includes being ranked very high on the most Best Picture ballots. 

Conversely, if “Gravity” loses Editing and/or one or both of the Sound awards to “Captain Phillps” that may signal its support is not as strong as we thought. 

And if “12 Years a Slave” adds other Oscars to its early haul, with surprise wins in Costume or Production Design or an upset in Actor — Chiwetel Ejiofor over frontrunner Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club“) — then Best Picture is looking even more certain. 

What do you think is going to win Best Picture? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Come back and change your predictions as often as you like till Oscar night, March 2.

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