Oscar Predictions, 2014

Every year the Oscar nominations come out, and every year I offer up my first-blush thoughts and predictions on the nominees. It’s a nod to my days as a film critic, when I would be making the predictions as part of my job. These days I do it for fun! And am about as accurate as I was back then (typically I get five out of six of the main categories right, usually blowing one of the supporting acting categories).

So, what looks good this year?

BEST PICTURE

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

Last year was very unusual in that the film that won best picture didn’t have its director nominated; to give you an idea of how unusual this is, in the last 30 years it’s only happened twice: Last year with Argo and in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy. Last year there was a strong feeling Ben Affleck got cheated out of a director nomination, which played a part in Argo’s eventual win. I really don’t think that’s going to happen again this year. In which case, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her and Philomena get shown the door early.

Next out for me is Nebraska, because it’s the least flashy of the remaining nominees, and I think if it’s going to be rewarded, there’s another category where it’s more likely, and the Academy voters will think that’s sufficient. After that The Wolf of Wall Street is out; Martin Scorsese films are reliable nominees in this category, but I think there’s another film this year focused on the venality of humans that is resonating better. Gravity I suspect peaked too soon in terms of attention, and although I’m hesitant to write it off completely, I’m guessing its moment has passed.

This means that the contest is down to American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, and at the moment you could flip a coin to decide the winner. I think at the moment Hustle has momentum, but on the other hand Slave is an unflinching look at the US at its worst, and that’s a draw for the Academy voters who like their Oscar winners to be about Important Things.

At the moment I’m going to nod toward Slave, but it’s a pick with no confidence; this is one of those years when the time between the nomination and the vote really is going to matter. I’ll check in again on this just before the ceremony and see what I think then.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

BEST DIRECTOR

Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Scorsese out first, I think; he’s the Meryl Streep of the Directors category, and also he’s won it before. This year there are directors who haven’t won before worth paying attention to. Next out is Alexander Payne, because I don’t think Nebraska is in the running for the big one, and because I think the voters will feel the film will be compensated for in other categories. Cuarón out next, although again it’s possible Gravity will make a comeback and him with it.

Again, the battle will come down between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. In this category, however, I think Russell has the edge; he’s been nominated in the category before with his last two films, he’s guided actors to Oscar wins in those films, which doesn’t hurt with that branch of voters, and finally, people love a redemption story (Russell was famously mercurial and appears to have reined in that side of his personality to make excellent films). Academy voters have a rare chance to vote for a black director (although, not trivially, not an African-American director, as Steve McQueen is British and of Grenadian descent), who has also directed memorable recent films. But I think at the end of the day Russell will have the “he’s due” sentiment on his side.

This means that there could be a best director/best film split, which (not withstanding last year’s very unusual situation) is fairly rare. That said, among other things a split might be the way to honor both Russell and McQueen, as McQueen is a producer on his film, which means he’d take home an Oscar if the film won Best Picture. Just like Ben Affleck!

Will Win: Russell
Should Win: Russell

BEST ACTRESS

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

I could go on and on, but I think this category’s a lock: Amy Adams. One practical reason: Everyone else in the category has won a Oscar in the reasonably recent past, including Streep two years ago and Bullock two years before that. Meanwhile Adams has been Oscar nominated four times in the last eight years, not including this nomination. Plus her performance in Hustle has gotten uniformly terrific reviews. If ever there was a “now is the time” award, it’s this. There’s a small chance Blanchett or Dench might upgrade their Supporting Actress Oscars, but very small, I think.

Will Win: Adams
Should Win: Adams

BEST ACTOR

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

This is an interesting category that could go all sorts of ways. McConaughey’s Golden Globe win puts him in better stead than I would have expected otherwise, Christian Bale has become the new Robert DeNiro, and DiCaprio’s gotta win one of these things one of these days, and this wouldn’t be a completely terrible year for him to do it.

For all that I think it’s going to come down to Ejiofor and Dern, and I think in the end this is Dern’s Oscar to lose. He’s got the “I’m an old guy who’s done his time” thing going for him, and also, I strongly suspect that this is the category the Academy voters who want to give Nebraska something will decide to do it in. Which is fine; Dern is a good, solid and safe choice. I’d personally vote for Ejiofor.

Will Win: Dern
Should Win: Ejiofor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

I think Squibb and Hawkins are destined for the “happy to be nominated” bin; Hawkins is in the “supporting actress in a Woody Allen film” slot, which is an unusually lucky place, statistically — but she has the misfortune of Blanchett being nominated in Best Actress for the same film, which I think draws attention from her. I really don’t imagine that one year after giving Lawrence Best Actress, that they will give her the undercard Oscar, and I suspect Lawrence knows that too. Julia Roberts? Maaaaaaaybe? But she’s been kind of out in the wilderness for a bit, it seems. I don’t feel a lot of momentum here.

This leaves Nyong’o, who I think has the best chance: acclaimed performance, a film with a lot of nomination momentum behind it, and this is one category where being relatively unknown is not a hindrance. I think it all lines up for a win for her.

Will Win: Nyong’o
Should Win: Nyong’o

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

The most competitive field of the main categories, and with the exception of Leto, who I think would have had a better chance in any field other than this, it’s wide open. Abdi is a literal unknown, which has its appeal, and if voters want to honor Philips, this is the place to do it. Cooper may ride the Hustle train, and he’s still fresh in voters’ minds from Silver Linings Playbook. Fassbender one of the hottest actors working today, and his performance in Slave was despicably delicious. And everyone seems to agree that Jonah Hill was the best thing about Wolf — and he’s was nominated in the category before! He’s not a fluke!

I have no idea who will win this category. My gut tells me: Hill? Maybe? But honestly, I have so little confidence in my gut. This is another category where I’m gonna have to see how the period between nomination and ceremony plays out.

Will Win: Hill? Maybe?
Should Win: Abdi

OTHER STUFF

I wouldn’t vote against 12 Years a Slave in Adapted Screenplay, and in Original Screenplay, I’m gonna go with a dark horse and say Her, on account of the film making the Best Picture category and Spike Jonze I suspect being popular enough to have this as a consolation prize (we should all have such consolation prizes). I’m ready to be wrong about that. Frozen I think is close to a lock for Animated Picture, but The Wind Rises may surprise everyone. I can’t imagine American Hustle not winning Costume Design. I would be very surprised if The Act of Killing doesn’t win Documentary Feature.

Finally, the surprise of the season for me is how little Inside Llewyn Davis is to be found on the awards slate: Only two nods, in Cinematography and Sound Mixing. The Butler, which was clearly built to be a nomination dragnet, got none at all. It suggests this is a really, really, really competitive year.

Your thoughts?

Update 2/21: I usually wait until later than this to do my follow-up, but I’m off the Internet for a bit and won’t be back onto it until after the ceremony, I think. So, updates:

Best Picture: 12 Years has faded a bit, but I think it’s still the top contender. Gravity looks better than it did to me earlier, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets by.

Best Director: Alfonso Curaon won the DGA and the Golden Globe, which puts him in pretty good stead here (and which ups the value of the film for Best Picture). I’d say he’s the new front runner.

Best Actress: Everyone said I was crazy not to think Cate Blanchett wasn’t going to walk with this one. Maybe she will, but I think the recent mess with Woody Allen might drag her down a bit. I’m gonna stick with Amy Adams, but if Blanchett wins, I’ll accept the “told you so”s.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey kind of swept the table in the run-up awards, which I did not expect, so I suspect he’s the front runner now, although Dern should still not be discounted.

Best Supporting Actor: Also, everyone tells me I was wrong about Jared Leto, and I suspect now they’re right. I agree he’s the front runner.

We’ll see what happens from here.

62 thoughts on “Oscar Predictions, 2014

  1. I am decidedly against consolation prizes. If “Her” doesn’t win it doesn’t win, and Jonze can realize that his competition for best picture was pretty tough this year. Which will force him to make greater and better films to deal with an expected increasing quality of films he would face in the future. But, that assumes that filmmakers make films to win Oscars which I’m not totally convinced of.

  2. I think Leto is going to get the supporting award. The guy went above and beyond in prepping for the role and this acting craft at its finest. The academy voters love that sort of thing. Beyond that, I think your write up is pretty solid.

  3. I believe that the Oscars are basically a popularity contest. I’ll give the ceremonies and awards the same consideration I did the Golden Globes, the Emmys, and the MTV Music Awards……

  4. Scorpius:

    Well, the way the consolation prizes work is that the subject matter under consideration is good enough on its own merits, and then other considerations come into play from there. I think a manifestly inferior work is unlikely to win as a consolation prize (or to be nominated, for that matter). Bear in mind some “consolation prizes” in the screenwriting category include Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction, both of which were worthy of the screenwriting award for the scripts themselves.

    Her is indeed up against some stiff competition this year, including Nebraska which I suspect is probably a likely winner.

  5. I feel like Cuarón has a better chance than you give him for Best Director. The narrative I hear on Gravity is that its amazing technical and visual accomplishments are worthy of recognition, and the Golden Globes win seems aligned with that. McQueen and Russel are definitely in the mix, but I’d rank Cuarón either even or slightly ahead of them.

  6. A bit surprised by some of your picks. I think Cuaron is much closer to a lock for director, because Gravity was a technically challenging picture with an amazing performance at its center. I could see Russell or McQueen getting it, but I think the Academy may be ready to reward Cuaron.For actor, I feel like the momentum’s really swung toward McConaughey, and he’s also got the “finally fulfilling his early promise” narrative going over the past couple years. Plus people may also remember how amazing he _also_ was in Mud and his bit part in Wolf. Really tight category, though, especially considering Hanks, Redford, and Gandolfini could have replaced any three of them (except maybe Ejiofor) and it wouldn’t have been weird.I’m torn between Adams and Blanchett for Supporting Actress, but my gut tells me Blanchett because of the Woody Allen effect, and also because Jasmine was such a tour-de-force of a character.Supporting Actor feels like it’s swung Leto’s way, though Abdi wouldn’t surprise me; I think Hill probably won’t win, but I think the next time he’s nominated (and there will be a next time), he’ll take it home.And everybody loves Jennifer Lawrence. I suppose Nyong’o has a shot, but come on … it’s Jennifer Lawrence. “Thank God for me” alone probably cinched it for her.12 Years a Slave is definitely a lock for best picture, I think, and Her would definitely fit the mold of “here’s an edgy, weird film we’re too conservative to award best picture” mold that screenplay Oscars often go to. Frozen and Act of Killing seem foregone conclusions (but damn, where’s Stories We Tell in the doc category?), Gravity will clean up in effects and maybe cinematography and editing, and if Let It Go doesn’t win best song, my five-year-old daughter will BURN HOLLYWOOD TO THE GROUND.Foreign-language has me stymied. I want to say The Hunt, but frankly, the fact that Blue is the Warmest Color didn’t even get nominated makes that category super weird and even harder to predict than usual. Oh, and i

  7. Wait what gives you the right to make predictions …. oh yeah, used to professionally write movie columns.

    This post makes me miss those columns. Why, why did you quit!

  8. I sincerely wish my five year old daughter would let “Let It Go” go. Also, my bed is a breeding ground for glitter thanks to the Disney Barbies.

  9. @cisko – the amazing technical and visual accomplishments of Gravity probably make it a lock for the Cinematography award. Not sure how much of that will play into the Best Director decision, given that directing is so much more than the visual spectacle.

  10. @nllawler87: I think though that the tech/visual goes well beyond the scope of cinematography. We’re talking about a whole moviemaking process, not just the quality of the visual presentation. What I don’t know is whether the directors (or cinematographers) voting on the awards would consider things like the planning and execution of long takes, seamlessly melding the CGI and photography, as in their own ambit or the other field.

  11. John, a correction: There were also Best Picture/Best Director splits in 1998 and 2005. For 1998, Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture, while Best Director went to Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan.

    For 2005, Best Picture went to Crash, while Best Director went to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain.

    It’s still rare for Best Picture and Best Director to split, but it’s happening more frequently lately.

  12. John, your analysis places a lot of emphasis on factors other than the quality of the acting, directing, etc. and yet most of your should wins match the will wins. So if you prove right, will this mean that you are good at predicting the political intricacies of Hollywood or picking out talent on the screen? I am completely prepared to believe that your analysis models how Hollywood works, and yet I wonder.

    Does this sort of analysis work for the Nebulas?

  13. Matthew S. Rotundo:

    “John, a correction: There were also Best Picture/Best Director splits in 1998 and 2005.”

    That’s not a correction. You’re adding detail to comment I made (“This means that there could be a best director/best film split, which (not withstanding last year’s very unusual situation) is fairly rare.”). I specifically noted when the Best Picture did not have its director nominated, which is only twice in the last 30 years. In ’98 and ’05, the director of the Best Picture was also nominated (but lost).

    Mike:

    Nearly all awards for “best” anything have a subjective component to them, because humans choose the awards and humans are subjective.

  14. I’m afraid I have a way more cynical “old white guys voting” view of the Oscars. I believe 12 Years a Slave will get mostly shut out. It’s a brutal film about American slavery (after another brutal if more comic film Django Unchained) and this time with a black director and black actors being more major in the film. I believe the shut out at the Globes is a good predictor of what’s going to happen. Though the Globes went to 12 Years for best film after nothing else, I don’t think that’s going to happen at the Oscars.

    So Best Film:

    12 Years a Slave out — too controversial in ways that make them uncomfortable, too black in ways that make them uncomfortable. Captain Phillips — Tom Hanks didn’t get an Oscar nom, so no. The story isn’t big enough in scope and the conflicts about the film sunk it. Dallas Buyers Club — the kind of AIDS story they like, but no. Gravity — a SF movie by a Latino horror director that is almost entirely about an aging actress who already won an Oscar a few years ago — no. It will win all the tech awards. Her — too slight. Nebraska, Philomena — too small. The Wolf of Wall Street — a contender but few finance movies have made it.

    So that leaves American Hustle — two gorgeous young actresses in sexy clothes chewing scenery, Batman doing his Method thing and Cooper making out with Adams, the 1970’s era where they grew up in or had their big career successes, a con story involving politics, what’s not to love? Only probs is that Russell is a loud-mouth who’s alienated folk and it’s fairly comic, but I think they’ll give it to them as the safest period piece.

    Director: Nope to Cuaron, McQueen has a slim chance if they are feeling guilty. I’d say Payne actually has a decent chance because people have loved his films and this one is considered one of his best. They give to Scorsese when they feel he’s earned it, but I’m not sure that Wolf has gotten enough buzz to earn it. Russell again pisses people off. It’s entirely possible that they’ll let him have film but not the director nod. However, he has a good shot at it.

    Amy Adams has Best Actress locked up almost fully. She’s been nominated regularly but hasn’t been given the prize. This was a gift role for her. Streep gets love, but only for some films. This one she played a screetchy farmer, so no. Judi Dench loved, but the subject of the film won’t appeal to them, and Blanchett’s character reminded them too much of their (second, third) wives. Sandra Bullock won recently and again, is aging. It will go to Adams, the younger, whip sharp actress who did great seduction scenes.

    Best Actor: They’ll give it to Dern, probably, the main award the film will win, unless they decide to honor Payne’s body of work as director. Dern is aging and gave an amazing performance. However, there’s a chance that Matthew McConaughey, who’s been having a nice couple of years, or Leo, who hasn’t grabbed it yet, may steal it, as a way to honor those so important subject period piece films without having to go whole hog about them. It would be lovely if Ejiofor won, but I think that very unlikely. I don’t think minority actors are going to get much love this year, given the climate.

    Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, very possibly. Yes, she won last year the Best Actress award, but she’s young, the It girl, gave a great performance in a film with little controversy to it. They won’t give it to Sally Hawkins or June Squibb, I agree. Julia is an aging movie star — she can have nominations but they won’t give her another Oscar until she’s a good bit older (see the time gap in Streep’s wins — you can win if you’re young/approaching middle age and if you’re older if you’re a female movie star, but not in between a lot of the time.) It’s possible that they’ll give it to Nyong’o as a sop to 12 Years. That would be nice, but again, I don’t have a good feeling about it so far.

    Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years. It’s a way to throw an honor at the movie while still giving the award to the white guy, another Method actor who is a guy’s guy, and also Magneto! Abdi gets the honor to be nominated outsider slot, Jonah Hill is still stigmatized as a comic actor from the upstart generation, though he’s getting more respect, and Cooper is going to have to find a strong vehicle that is not an ensemble if he really wants one. There’s a possibility that Leto can steal it, despite being a rock star, as a nod to his film and its serious during our lifetimes subject, but giving it to Fassbender solves a lot of their problems and he did a nice villain performance by all accounts, so odds are in his favor.

    I could end up completely wrong, but I think 12 Years is going to have small wins, Wolf is going to be largely shut out, and American Hustle will have a bit of a sweep.

  15. Didn’t see Nebraska or 12 years a slave, but DiCaprio’s performance was ridiculously good, and while I don’t think Scorsese or wolf of wall street will win, I think it was decidedly better than american hustle (apples to apples) and marginally better than gravity (apples to oranges).
    Also, if Lawrence hadn’t won last year, we could hand it to her now.

  16. I’m really rooting for Gravity to take home Best Picture – if anything, to see an SF film win, but also because it really was fantastic. I suspect that it’ll do well with the technical awards, especially Visual Effects.

  17. The only thought that occurs to me is this:

    As someone who goes to the movies between 30 and 40 weeks out of the year, I can’t recall a Best Picture nominee list that was filled completely, top to bottom, with films I felt no pressing urge to see. Until now.

  18. I think Blanchett has a REALLY good chance of winning Best Actress. Pundits seem to have her down as “the lock of the Oscars”. Leto’s Supporting Actor feels similar. Once the DGA and SAG awards come out there should be a clearer picture though.

  19. I think it’s interesting to see so many people referring to Gravity as a science fiction film. Some minor artistic license aside, there is nothing fictional about the science or the setting. He’ll, the shuttles portrayed are now decommissioned. Obsolete tech, not future tech. From that point of view It’s as “Sci-fi” as a movie set on a cruise ship.

    I doubt that we would define any movie set in the Apollo era as sci-fi, regardless of how much of it was set in space. It’s interesting that we still consider the shuttle/modern era to be fantastical in some way.

  20. I just want to live in a world where “The Lone Ranger” can promote itself as an Oscar™-winning film. (Okay, it’s nominated for hair & makeup, but a win is a win.)

  21. I have no excitement for the awards this year. Why? The trailer for Gravity was a total “well,now you’ve seen the movie” feel to it so no need to see the whole film. Oblivion, Elyssium, Catching Fire, and the Desolation of Smaug are all pretty much left out of the running for major awards and they are the only films I made it to the theatre to see. None of the other trailers for the selectees looked particulary inviting. So awards this year? Meh.

    Been a lot of years like this one the past decade. When younger, I always wondered why older folk nearing their senior years seemed to see fewer films on the big screens. Now into my early seventh decade, I understand. After you have seen hundreds upon hundreds of films over half a century, you see fewer and fewer film trailers that strike you as anything but a variation on a film you’ve seen already. So why bother. Next film I plan to see comes out in March: Divergent based on the YA novel of the same title. Read the novel after I saw the trailer. Good enought to see the film adaptation.

    Your predictions, John, do look sound to me based on what I do know of a bunch of films I’ve not bothered to go see (for the above explained rationale).

  22. My money’s on Blanchett for Best Actress because her incredible performance was the main reason to watch the film. Allen’s portrait of San Francisco and environs felt badly off otherwise.

    “The Act Of Killing” may be too freaky for Oscar voters even though I felt it was incredible. “Dirty Wars” might be considered too controversial. The Egyptian revolution doc “The Square” provided a roller-coaster immersion for viewers and might tug at the feel-good impulses of Oscar voters.

    As a regular Scalzi pet menagerie fan, I’m hoping the Academy will award a special Oscar to the cat in “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

  23. “Happy” should win Best Song. Freakin’ therapy in a bottle:

    Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.
    Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.
    Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.
    Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.

  24. I haven’t seen the two big nominees (“Hustle” and “Slave”) yet, but the chatter has left me with an overall opinion similar to yours one the folks most likely to win.

  25. Well, do you know anything about the oscars!?? Come on, the best supporting actor is already a lock – Jared Leto. Best Director: Quaron. Actor: Probably Matthew M (he won the globes) and Cate Blanchett will win best actress no doubt.

  26. Having seen both Blue Jasmine and American Hustle, I really wouldn’t write off Blanchett. Amy Adams turns in a perfectly fine performance, but Blanchett’s is on a whole different level. Also, being a little more cynical, portrayals of mental illness tend to impress the Academy. I’m not saying Blanchett is a lock but she’s definitely a strong contender.

  27. Amy Adams nominated for American Hustle? How did they neglect her tour-de-force portrayal of Lois Lane? So good! So good, my man!

  28. I’m surprised so many think Dern will win. I say this is this year’s Peter Fonda/Uli’s Gold nomination. It’s actually fairly rare for the “sentimental/old person/paid their dues” nominee to win. More and more they go with the younger actors in the category. (I’ve learned this lesson from many, many years of losing the Oscar pool on this kind of choice.)

    Bale doesn’t seem to be very well liked in Hollywood (yes, that matters, even if it shouldn’t) and I don’t think this is the role that’s going to do it for DiCaprio. Older voters don’t like that movie. It’s down to McConaughey (he did win the Golden Globe, after all) and Ejiofor, in my opinion.

    For the same reason as Dern, I don’t think Squibb will win. It’s between Jennifer and Lupita. I hope Jennifer DOESN’T win. I adore her but she will have many, many opportunities to win again in the future. Back-to-back wins would just cause a huge backlash, so I’m going with Lupita.

    I’m going with Fassbender in supporting actor, but that category looks like the hardest to predict. Leto got the Golden Globe, which could be in his favor.

    Blanchett is probably a lock–whatever you think of Woody Allen, he sure knows how to write parts for women the Academy loves to honor. Though Adams may benefit from being younger and having never won.

    People are underestimating Cuaron. That was an amazing directorial achievement. It could very well be a split Best Picture/Director year again.

    I personally do not connect with David O. Russell’s movies and would be MAJORLY disappointed if American Hustle won, but, whatever, I’m already kind of resigned to it winning. Would much rather see 12 Years A Slave or Gravity take it.

    I was stunned when Inside Llewyn Davis was shut out of major categories. If Oscar Isaac’s performance isn’t award-worthy, then I don’t know what is. It’s a difficult film and I can understand people not liking, but wow, he was incredible in that role.

    Still trying to get over a Jackass movie and The Lone Ranger getting tech noms over some far superior blockbuster movies. Un-freakin’-believable.

  29. @Gary – I never choose movies by their trailers. I read reviews from reviewer’s whose points of view I have a good sense of (sometimes meaning I’ll see something because so-and-so didn’t like it) and word of mouth. I don’t get to movie theaters very often, so haven’t seen all the films, but Philomena was excellent and American Hustle was the most fun I’ve had in ages plus it was a movie that my early-20s son, myself and my mother could go to together and all enjoy equally much.

  30. If The Wind Rises is as well crafted as other recent Studio Ghibli releases, such as The Secret World of Arrietty, have been, I think it should definitely have a chance at the Oscar. Frozen had its moments, but I don’t know if I would really call it award worthy.

  31. Emma Thompson and Oprah Winfrey were robbed I tell ya. I think “12 Years” will get the big one, but I’m betting on Cuarón to get it for director. For Best Actor/Actress I’m going for Bruce Dern and Cate Blanchett (even though I thought she was all wrong for the role–everyone else seems to disagree with me). Leto for supporting actor. I don’t know about supporting actress although I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave another statue to Jennifer. She is the darling right now.

  32. Cate Blanchett is a great actress, but she’s in a Woody Allen movie that a lot of people disliked. It did decently on box office, but it wasn’t Midnight in Paris, and there’s a backlash against Allen at the moment. The movie was about a whiny rich woman who then plays Blanche Dubois with her sister. If they weren’t going to nominate Llewelyn Davis at all, I don’t think they’ll give it to Blanchett for this one, especially as she already won a Best Actress Oscar. She’s getting Streep respect in odds, but I think they’ll give it to Adams.

    Cuaron is a respected director who did something special with Gravity. But a lot of that specialness was considered to be from the amazing special effects and gripping action. Typically, the Academy does not reward SFF movies with big special effects unless they consider the story with it suitably epic and Gravity is epic in effects but small and female-oriented in story. He did win the Golden Globe, but he’s got more international appeal than he does to Academy voters.

    And I don’t think Leto is a lock. But he could steal it from Fassbender. Neither has won before and Fassbender still has good will from his role in Shame.

  33. When I saw “Dallas Buyers” I kept thinking “Holy shit, Jared Leto.” He stole the show. Blanchett also blew me away, but then I saw “August – Osage” and thought, “Streep, you greedy bitch. You have enough awards.” Her performance in that movie was my favorite acting performance – male or female – all year.

    John, I admire your analysis of how the Academy works, but it also makes me cringe at the politics. “12 Years” probably wins, but “American Hustle” was better, and the “Wolf of Wall Street” was my favorite — in no small part because It really conjured “Goodfellas” for me.

    (I know movie titles get Italics. Just don’t know how to do it here.)

  34. @mgwa I follow the critics as well. If a film perks my interest I will run over to Spoiler.com and read the full synopsis. Yes, I scan the final chapter of a novel before making a purchase decision in bookstores as well. I really care not to spend time with a book or film whose plotting and ending will dissappoint. Here at 62 years I have seen so many films, that most new films are retreads of some storyline that I have already seen multiple times. I am finding fewer and fewer films that perk up any interest on my part. Of the films up for Best Picture I may well view on some cable network down the line Her and Dallas Buyers Club as they appear to bring some new twists to the table of stories I’ve already seen or read. Then there are the film adaptions I hope will someday be made, such as Blindsight, Anathem, Snow Crash, Neuromancer, and many others in the Science Fiction genre. I think Scalzi’s Redshirts would be a true joy on screen so long as they include all three codas.

  35. **SPOILER ALERT- AMERICAN HUSTLE** I’m REALLY surprised at everyone predicting wins for David O Russell as best Director and for Best Picture. WTF? Was anyone else WATCHING the movie? It was a VERY fun watch. However, there were parts of the movie that took away from the overall cohesiveness of the script and film. Ex: All of a sudden Bradley Cooper is doing cocaine? WHY? Why wasn’t he shown doing this in the beginning? American Hustle was an entertaining film but not done to the exceptional level of an Academy Winner. Wolf of Wall Street was 3 hours long, entertaining ride throughout the whole thing. Leo and Hill were AMAZING and I know they won’t pick up acting wins. I still have a couple films to watch before posting my blog.

    I was upset for a few oscar snubs: Gatsby wasn’t nominated for Best Hair and Makeup nor was it in the running for Best Original Song (Lana Del Ray “young and Beautiful”. But, I’m not surprised- Aerosmith lost for “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” to a Disney song no one really knew.

    However, I can take that personal hit because one of my fav films of the year so far DID make it into Best Original Screenplay (“Her”- Spike Jonze). That film took an abstract idea, mastered the script in under two hours, and the story was amazing. High hopes for that win!

  36. I think skipping Gravity because the trailer looks like it gives away the movie is a huge misunderstanding of what Gravity is. It is a visual tour-de-force that demands to be seen and experienced in an immersive environment as possible. The “story” isn’t the point and there has been NOTHING that even approaches it on a visual level. It is truly a game changer in that regard.

    Someone mentioned waaaay upthread they were surpised Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t nominated — it wasn’t eligible for this year’s awards because it was released after the deadline in France. Technically it can still be nominated next year, though by then I suppose it will be old news (though City of God managed to be nominated in two separate years).

  37. Correcting myself — City of God was submitted for consideration for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2003 but not nominated. It earned some nods in the non-Foreign Language categories the next year.

  38. Cate was at her best in Blue Jasmine. But I still think Amy deserves the award this year. Imagine expressing different emotions such love, determination, desperation, jealousy, intimidation, seduction, deceit, confidence, devastation, concession, anger and hope, all in one character. Amy did it, and did it great.

  39. To be frank, you’re going 1/6.
    Blanchett is an absolute lock, any closer and she would be Helen Mirren for ‘The Queen’ Cuaron is odds on favourite for Director unless someone else takes DGA, and there is no way Leto isn’t winning after all these percusors and the Globes/SAG/. Actor is more open, with it now a two horse race between the very strong McConaughey and dark horse DiCaprio. You are most likely right about N’yongo, but if AH comes on strong during voting period,and taking picture, don’t be surprised if Lawrence goes along for the ride.

  40. What are you smoking?? Cate will take lead actress, she’s won everything up till now. And same with Leto. If you think anyone else has even a small chance you’re crazy.

  41. My first thought was “Hmmm. I’ve reached a new level of achievement. I haven’t seen ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ or ‘Gravity’. And I haven’t even heard of any of the others.” I do find your predictions fun to read, though.

  42. The SAG awards have matched the Oscars 3/4, 3/4, and 4/4 in the past three years. Cate Blanchett won SAG, and she hasn’t actually won an Oscar since 2004, for the Aviator–and she’s never won Best Actress. She’s likely.

    Debbie’s totally right with her warning about misleading ‘It’s Their Turn’ nominee–In addition to Fonda in Ulee’s Gold, Lauren Bacall didn’t win for The Mirror Has Two Faces, Frank Langella got shut out for Frost/Nixon, and Peter O’Toole was denied for Venus. So Bruce Dern might have to be content with the nomination.

    Chiwitel Ejiofor gave one of the best performances not just of the year but of the decade. DiCaprio’s a hugely underrated actor who did great work, but I think it’ll come down to Ejiofor vs. McConnaghey.

    The Documentary Feature is a bizarre category where being artistically interesting can actually *hurt* you (c.f. Errol Morris’ long string of non-nominations), and where being commercially successful tends to be *punished* (Buena Vista Social Club lost for this reason). So I can pretty much guarantee that it will be any film *but* The Act of Killing. Act of Killing DESERVES it, but deserve got nothin’ to do with it.

  43. It would be a travesty if Gravity does not win for Cinematography. The extended tracking shot in the beginning, and the shot of Bullock at the end, should be enough to win it in any normal year.

    In talking to a relative who is in the industry, we came to the conclusion that while the film would have been better with a tragic ending, the unlikely end was in some large way redeemed by the sheer emotional resonance of the cinematography in the final scene.

  44. In my expert opinion:
    I’ve heard of two of those movies. Does that mean I’m behind, or that I’m ahead?

  45. A few observations:
    1.: Could people please stop considering Golden Globe wins as predictions for *anything*? The Golden Globes are not an actual award. They are very silly, and no one should take them seriously. (Or at least, even less seriously than *actual* awards.)
    Thank you.

    2.: As in most years, I again have no clear favorite film I’m rooting for winning best picture – I couldn’t decide between 12 Years, Wolf or Gravity, as they were all great experiences in their own way. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Dallas, Philomena and Nebraska yet.)
    Again as in most years, I *do* however have a film I’m rooting *against* – American Hustle. It’s not a *bad* film, but it’s an ultimately empty, not terribly well-written, vacuous piece, that coasts along entirely on unearned sentiments and false nostalgia. It’s especially glaring when compared to the thematically similar film that’s also nominated – The Wolf Of Wall Street, which is vastly superior in just about every conceivable way.
    But I’m afraid with the momentum it managed to build up, Hustle will indeed win – making 2014 another one of the many, many years were the Academy clearly got it wrong.

    3.: I’m surprised that “Her” doesn’t have more of a resonance in this blog (of all places!) The trailers may make it look like a twee, formulaic indie comedy – but it’s actually a proper science fiction movie, and damn good one at that. Seriously, aside from glossing over some basic ethical questions (which the film isn’t interested in, so I can forgive that), it’s a *really* interesting, well-grounded take on AI.
    Plus it’s just about the most realistic, mature romance I’ve seen in Cinema for a loooong time.

  46. Wolf was awful. Not sure how anyone could consider that a movie worth rewarding. Leo is a great actor, but all he did in Wolf was shout and fondle women’s breasts for 3 hours.The Boiler Room was essentially the same movie, but done much better, and with a point to it.

  47. Bad Grandpa should will all the awards, it is the greatest movie in the history of mankind.

    :-D

  48. Best Picture – Gravity
    Best Director – Gravity
    Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey
    Best Actress – Cate Blanchett

  49. Have you even been paying attention? All of your predictions are wrong!

    Picture: 12 Years a Slave
    Director: Cuarón
    Actor: McConaughey. No question.
    Actress: Blanchett. SHE WILL WIN NO MATTER WHAT, the Oscar his hers!
    Supporting Actor: Leto. No doubt.
    Supporting Actress: Nyong’o

  50. PICTURE… 12 YEARS A SLAVE
    There’s been a lot of slavery films over the last two years and this’ll be the one to win. Pitt is behind it. They would like to honor him I think. American Hustle is close though. But I personally think Wolf of Wall Street.is the best.

    ACTOR… MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY – Dallas Buyers Club
    He’s won everything except the BAFTA, plus he’s done Mud, Bernie, Magic Mike and Wolf of Wall Street. Very competitive year but Dern will end up like O’Toole in Venus. Leo is the new Al Pacino or Paul Newman. He will win on nod 6 or 7. Ejiofor has his due, the nod. Bale while great has no chance, plus he just won in 2009.

    ACTRESS… AMY ADAMS – American Hustle

    I agree Amy Adams is due. Cate Blanchett while always brilliant isn’t brilliant enough. Sandra Bullock just won as did Streep. Dench, no chance.

    SUP ACTOR… JARED LETO – Dallas Buyers Club

    JARED LETO has won already. Jonah Hill is so great though, if he can get that third nod, he’s got it in the bag. Fassbender they had to nominate for Shames snub. Great performance but not this year. Cooper plays Cooper, no chance. Abdi getting noticed was enough.

    SUP ACTRESS… LUPITA LYONG’O – 12 YEARS A SLAVE

    She seems to have it in the bag and deserves it. Lawrence could win two in a row but not going backwards. Roberts, Squibb and Hawkins… no way.

    DIRECTOR… ALFONSO CUARON – Gravity

    He’s pickin up lots of buzz. I can see him winning. Steve McQueen was great but Russell deserves it. Tough category. Scorsese won’t win.unless Wolf does and it won’t. Payne like Scorsese won’t win unless Nebraska does.

  51. I was incredulous at your write-up – you wrote Leto out early when I think he’s probably the surest bet of this season. You really have to look at the SAG Awards to predict the Oscars.

    Picture: It’ll be Slave, no doubt it deserves it. Gravity and Hustle were two of the best movies I saw last year but neither of them feels right taking home the big prize. Slave is a way to finally give Brad Pitt an Oscar, a way to honour Steve McQueen whilst giving Director to Cuaron, and a nod to a traumatic true story and American background. Slave should and will win.

    Director: Should be McQueen but it’ll be Cuaron. Should’ve been nominated – Denis Villeneuve for Prisoners!

    Actor and SupActor: I saw Slave and Dallas within a few days, and I left thinking Ejiofor over McConaughey and Leto over Fassbender. Now that I’ve had time to think, plus watch McConaughey and Leto take out the SAG and the Critics Choice (Golden Globes don’t count), I still think that Ejiofor could pull off an upset but Leto is almost guaranteed. I can’t believe that Tom Hanks is not here, Christian Bale was good but he’s riding the Jackie Weaver coattails of Russell’s last movie.

    Actress and SupActress: It’ll be Nyong’o and rightfully so. Lawrence is the Hollywood sweetheart but Meryl Streep gets the token nomination each year but doesn’t win to avoid stacking prizes. Why should it be different for Lawrence, who has a tenth of Streep’s filmography? As for actress, I’m backing Blanchett, with Adams posed to make an upset on that “but everyone else has won before” factor.

    Screenplay: Hustle v Her for Original, Slave v Wolf for Adapted. I’m pegging Her and Slave to win – Her is just too darn original whilst Hustle isn’t glamorous about the story. Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture go together like Vegemite and cheese, so if its Slave, it’ll be here as well. Rightfully so.

    Gravity will sweep the visual awards, probably taking home the most Oscars of the night. For that reason, it’ll fizzle on the rest of the categories save Director. Its only competitor is the Desolation of Smaug for Visual Effects – they brought Smaug the Terrible, a Tolkein icon, to life in such a magnificent way that it saved an otherwise mediocre movie. But in the end, I think Desolation’s saturation of CGI made it feel surreal, whilst Gravity felt very, very believable.

    Slave: Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress.
    Gravity: Director, Visual Effects, Cinematography, etc.
    Dallas Buyers: Actor, Supporting Actor
    Blue Jasmine: Actress
    Her: Original Screenplay

    That leaves American Hustle, Nebraska, Philomena, Captain Phillips and Wolf of Wall Street without any wins. Philomena will get its love at the BAFTAs, whilst Nebraska and Captain Phillips are going to be the “Winter’s Bone” of 2013, lots of nods but no cigars. The only regret is seeing Wolf and Hustle miss out on everything, despite being such fantastic movies.

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