HOLLYWOOD—Normally, I would cover predictions for all the categories at the Academy Awards, but this year things are slightly different. There are some races that are so predictable going against the norm would be ludicrous. I mean we all know that the Best Actor and Best Actress races are virtual locks. Leonardo DiCaprio will indeed win his very first Oscar after being nominated more times than I can count for his performance in “The Revenant.” I also suspect that Brie Larson will be difficult to tackle for her riveting work in “Room,” so what categories are still up for grabs?

Well we have something known as Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Yes, I am entertaining the idea of Best Supporting Actress because the Academy is notorious for delivering curveballs each year, and that surprise always falls within these two categories. Let’s talk about Best Supporting Actress first. I’ve seen the performances by all the ladies in this race and there is plenty of competition. Be warned, my pick is not to diminish the acting from any of the ladies, but you know when you see Oscar caliber performances and those that scream OSCAR!

Rachel McAdams is damn good in “Spotlight,” but in my opinion her character never has those moments that are explosive or gut-wrenching. Kate Winslet delivers a tour-de force role in “Steve Jobs,” but for a movie that is so uneven, so how can I say, “boring” it leaves the spectator wanting more if you ask me. So this leaves us looking at our other three nominees: Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl,” Rooney Mara “Carol” and Jennifer Jason Leigh “The Hateful Eight.”

I was a huge fan of “The Hateful Eight” and loved every single moment of Leigh’s villainous turn in the dark western, the slight problem is the movie might be a bit too bloody for Oscar voters, not to mention those moments of misogyny and violence against women which are tough pills to swallow in the first 30-45 minutes of the movie.

The two contenders that deserve the most accolades are Vikander and Mara who were relegated to the Supporting category when they should have been contenders in the Best Actress race. Mara was absolutely a treat to watch in “Carol” and commands the screen on so many occasions you never want to see her leave the screen. Then you have Vikander portraying the role of a wife emotionally torn by her husband’s revelation that he is transgender. Both are gripping portrayals of women facing harsh truths.

While the momentum is indeed in favor for Vikander, (I think she will win by the way), do not underestimate Mara. She has a much stronger chance at an upset than people think, especially because it would be the Academy’s way of giving a bit of love to “Carol” which did earn quite a few nominations.

Now, looking at Best Supporting Actor has so many people thinking it’s a lock for Sylvester Stallone for his work in “Creed,” but he wasn’t nominated for a SAG award which is quite telling to say the least. That accolade went to Idris Elba who isn’t even nominated for an Oscar. That’s a topic for later discussion. So in my opinion this is a field wide open for an upset. While I think Christian Bale’s performance in “The Big Short” is fun, exciting and worthy of an Oscar, his competition is quite stiff if you ask me. The same can be said for Mark Rylance who was pegged as a contender months ago for his work in “Bridge of Spies.”

So yet again, we have a three-way race: Stallone, Mark Ruffalo “Spotlight” and Tom Hardy “The Revenant.” Take Stallone out of contention because he’s the sentimental favorite if you ask me, which the Academy is notorious for entertaining time and time again. Ruffalo is quite revelatory with his work in “Spotlight” and for an actor who has been nominated three times and yet to win, some could argue he is well overdue. I thought Hardy was fantastic in “The Revenant.” He exuded evil so effortlessly you couldn’t turn your way from the screen.

In most occasions I would go with the favorite here and place my money on Stallone (I still suspect he’ll win), but I’m hoping to see an upset where Ruffalo or Hardy takes to the stage. Why? Ruffalo absolutely is a scene stealer in “Spotlight,” and as for Hardy? “The Revenant” is a critical and fan favorite, and with DiCaprio and director Alejandro Inarritu winning accolades left and right, it is not a stretch to see voters cast their ballot for Hardy. We could indeed see a ceremony where “The Revenant” takes home far more Oscars than people suspect.

So with predictions for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress out of the way, next week we’ll look at the competitive races for Best Director and Best Picture. Oh, yes there are indeed some front-runners, but per usual you’re looking at a three-person race in both categories.