Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") – Critics' Choice
Joaquin Phoenix ("Her")
Oscar Isaac's performance as the listless but talented folk artist in "Inside Llewyn Davis" was magical, and the guy sure has been working his butt off to get the film the awards-season attention it deserves. Leonardo DiCaprio, who crystallized his status as one of Hollywood's most exciting leading men in "The Wolf of Wall Street," poses a serious threat. But Bruce Dern's due is a long time coming, and his "Nebraska" turn is just the role to give it to him.
Best Director - Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity") – Critics' Choice, Conventional Wisdom, Fan Favorite
Paul Greengrass ("Captain Phillips")
Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave")
Alexander Payne ("Nebraska")
David O. Russell ("American Hustle")
While the industry crowd is split on "Gravity" as a best picture contender, nearly everyone agrees that best director has Alfonso Cuarón's name all over it. The nearly five years Cuarón spent on the film – many of them getting the technology to catch up with his vision – paid off, and the film's stunning execution thrilled critics and audiences alike.