While on my announced hiatus (see post here), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about one of the most exciting annual cinematic events:
This upcoming Sunday, the 86th Academy Awards will be presented for the “best of the best” of last year’s films according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. That little golden man named “Oscar” will be presented again and again to the winners. Below, joined by my good friend and fellow movie-lover Max (writer for Movie Mezzanine, Filmoria and his own page Impassioned Cinema), is a fun list of Oscar-winner predictions (in some of the more “major” categories), along with our thoughts on some of the biggest surprises and snubs that took place prior to the awards being presented. Enjoy our thoughts and share your own with us in the comments section.
So, without further ado, let’s get this party started!
[Nominees: Frozen, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine, The Wind Rises]
T- While Disney has hit an unexpected major homerun with Frozen, I believe that the winner in this category should be none other than The Wind Rises from acclaimed and Oscar-winning (and now retired) director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle). The Wind Rises has risen to the attention of many and is a frontrunner in this category. That being said, it could upstage Frozen…but it won’t. After Brave‘s win last year, the Academy will follow suit and give the Oscar to the latest female-led animated feature: Frozen.
Max- As much as I would love to see director Hayao Miyazaki walk away with this for the amazing The Wind Rises, I would be shocked if Disney’s Frozen didn’t walk away with it. It is easily Disney’s best film since The Lion King and with the power of the box office and near universal praise, the best animated feature is Frozen’s to lose.
[Nominees: The Book Thief/John Williams, Gravity/Steven Price, Her/William Butler & Owen Pallett, Philomena/Alexandre Desplat, Saving Mr. Banks/Thomas Newman]
T- A tough category to be sure and it really is anyone’s guess here, but I am placing my bets on The Book Thief/John Williams. It’s been a while since Williams actually won an Oscar and the music really tied that film’s emotional punch together with its story very well. Although Steven Price’s work in Gravity may very well take it, I’d like to think the award will leave with Williams. Wishful thinking? We’ll see.
Max- While the best soundtrack of the year might not have been eligible (Inside Lleywn Davis), this category still has some heavy hitters. I’d have to say this award is between Steven Price’s terrific score for Gravity and the work of Arcade Fire on Her. These are the two that really stand out among the rest and John Williams just gets a default spot on the list every season anyways. Look for Gravity/Steven Price to take home the Oscar.
[Nominees: “Happy”/Despicable Me 2, “Let It Go”/Frozen, “The Moon Song”/Her, “Ordinary Love”/Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom]
T- Will we have to look at our love for Frozen and…let it go…in this category? Will a live performance of “Let it Go” be the closest to the Oscars that it gets for that song? With U2 already having won for “Ordinary Love” at the Golden Globes (especially after the recent passing of Nelson Mandela) it seems likely. Unless the Academy decides to go the way of the general public’s desires as well. Perhaps Pharrell will sing “Happy” to describe how we all feel when Frozen receives the Oscar for best original song as well! Let’s hope it doesn’t get a cold reception in this category. “Let It Go”/Frozen
Max- Usually this is an easy category to pick, but this might be the closest race in recent memory. U2 have already won a Golden Globe for their song ‘Ordinary Love’ and let’s be honest: it’s U2. That being said the other three songs competing for the award all have a chance. The two strongest are ‘Happy’ and ‘Let it Go’. ‘Let it Go’ is the show stopping number of Frozen and has universal appeal. ‘Happy’ has been riding high on the music charts since its release and just has an incredible drive behind it, nevermind that Pharrell might be the hottest producer of music on the planet right now. It’s a strong race, but I’m going to stick with ‘Let it Go’/Frozen.
[Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street]
T- The biggest contenders here are 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street. And my vote goes to 12 Years a Slave in this category as it captured the essence of Solomon Northup’s plight and perserverence. If it doesn’t win this category…then something is BAD wrong with the Oscars. haha. As Forrest Gump once said: “and that’s all I have to say about that!”
Max- The academy usually likes to award films that have a lower profile, but were still worthy of attention. The true battle here is between 12 Years a Slave and Before Midnight. Let it be known that 12 Years A Slave needs this category more if it is indeed going to try for Best Picture. There’s just something special about the Before trilogy and the Academy might want to award the accomplishment. I’m going to be safe here and go for 12 Years a Slave to take this home.
[Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska]
T- I’m reminded that this post is predictions of what the Academy will pick and not what I want to win. haha. This is a hard category as I really want to see both Dallas Buyers Club and Her win, but there is no denying the great job American Hustle did either. My vote goes to Her as it was more touching than the rest of the nominees here.
Max- If anything other than Her wins this category it would be shocking. Just look back to a similar film in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That film received nearly nothing at the Oscars, but it did win the Oscar for best writing. It’s probably going to be the only award Her claims, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t. Potential spoiler in American Hustle or Blue Jasmine. Although voters might stay away from Woody Allen.
[Nominees: American Hustle/David O. Russell, Gravity/Alfonso Cuarón, Nebraska/Alexander Payne, 12 Years a Slave/Steve McQueen, The Wolf of Wall Street/Martin Scorsese]
T- Alfonso Cuarón really is the one to win here. Amongst some really talented directors he is the one that will take it. Having won so many of the “pre-Oscar” awards, it’s a solid bet that it will go to him. McQueen will be the one to challenge him, but, in my opinion, the directing was more of a challenge for Cuarón and he successfully launched audiences into a most unforgettable experience.
Max- Only seven times in the 65-year history of the DGA has the winner not gone on to win the Oscar. Who was this year’s winner of the DGA? Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity. He is my pick to win it and if there is an anomaly this year maybe look for either Steve McQueen or David O.Russell to upset. Although this seems locked for Cuarón.
[Nominees: Sally Hawkins/Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence/American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o/12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts/August: Osage County, June Squibb/Nebraska]
T- I’m a little disappointed in a few of the noms in this category and find that it truly comes down to two choices: Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. And the performances are tough to choose between as Lawrence stole the show in American Hustle…but Lupita Nyong’o tore the hearts out of the chests of those who watched 12 Years a Slave. She lost the Golden Globe to Lawrence, but I think 12 Years a Slave will find a win in this category with Nyong’o.
Max- As good of a performance June Squibb gave in Nebraska, this is really between two women. Jennifer Lawrence could be one of the youngest two-time Oscar winners and has been receiving quite a bit of backlash because of it. For the brief time she appears in American Hustle she totally steals the picture from the spectacular supporting cast. Must believe Lupita Nyong’o had the more challenging performance and that certainly is debatable. With voters supposedly shying away from 12 Years A Slave due to its subject, will Nyong’o have enough votes to overcome Lawrence? My guess is no. [Pick: Jennifer Lawrence]
[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]
T- As much as Michael Fassbender draws out contempt for his character in 12 Years a Slave (much like Denzel Washington in Training Day) there is just no getting around the unexpected amazing performance of Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. A solid Oscar win here, folks. And Cooper and Jonah Hill, once again, will have to be happy with just another nomination.
Max- Jared Leto wins, let’s go home. Okay so my vote is obviously going towards Leto who had a mesmerizing performance in Dallas Buyers Club. I feel the only nominee that could’ve been in the running is Barkhad Abdi who in his first performance ever in Captain Phillips is…incredible.
[Nominees: Amy Adams/American Hustle, Sandra Bullock/Gravity, Judi Dench/Philomena, Meryl Streep/August: Osage County, Cate Blanchett/Blue Jasmine]
T- In case you haven’t noticed, Blanchett has pretty much swept all of the awards leading up to the Oscars. Expect nothing different when it comes to the golden statue. It’s hers. Bullock could win it, but her performance alone wasn’t the one captivating aspect of her film…in the case of Blanchett…it was. Blue Jasmine will make the other ladies in the highly competitive category green with envy. Pick: Cate Blanchett
Max- The Academy loves when a beautiful woman gets disgusting for a role. Cate Blanchett captures what Charlize Theron did in Young Adult, but amplifies it. It helps that Blue Jasmine is a much better film. As much as Sandra Bullock carries Gravity, neither she nor the other women really stand a chance here. Cate Blanchett.
[Nominees: Christian Bale/American Hustle, Bruce Dern/Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio/The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor/12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey/Dallas Buyers Club]
T- Oh, I hate having to choose here. Just like the ladies, this category is highly competitive this year and difficult to separate between who I want to win and who the Academy will likely choose. Unpopular opinion: DiCaprio will NOT win it for The Wolf of Wall Street…
…and nor will Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. I have to place my bets with one of my most favorite actors: Matthew McConaughey. Having won the Golden Globe and the SAG award and even upstaging DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street itself, this year it HAS to go to Matthew “alright, alright” McConaughey. Long overdue!
Max- While T believes Leonardo DiCaprio was in the mix, I just don’t see it. As far as I’m concerned Leo and Christian are just lucky to be there given how amazing the performances were in this category this year. While originally a Dark Horse, McConaughey has all the advantage leading up to the awards. Not only is he doing some of his best work right now, he’s on TV every week with True Detective. If anyone would get it over him it would be Chiwetel Ejiofor. Otherwise its McConaughey for the win.
[Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street]
T- Gravity. Need I say more? It deserves to win, should win and WILL win. The most captivating film of the year. Did you catch my review of it HERE? Just open the envelope already! We know what it says: “and the Academy Award goes to: Gravity!” You watched it, you loved it…and you agree!
Max- My pick is Gravity. That’s where my heart is and was my favorite film of 2013. The only two films that could provide the upset at this point are American Hustle or 12 Years a Slave. It almost wouldn’t surprise me if American Hustle takes home the award since it is Scorsese-lite. That being said, Gravity lived up to lofty expectations and is a monumental achievement in film.
T- Every year the Oscars have a few surprises and a few snubs. This year I was disappointed in the following 10 exclusions:
- No nomination for Tom Hanks for either Captain Phillips OR Saving Mr. Banks? Why in the world not??
- No nomination for Pacific Rim for Visual Effects? Definitely a gross oversight!
- No nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis in multiple categories including director (Coen bros), best actor in lead role and original music? For shame!
- No Best Supporting Actress nomination for Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler? An outrage. She really surprised me in that one.
- No nomination for Sam Rockwell in The Way Way Back?? Bad form here, Academy.
- No nomination for Joaquin Phoenix in Her? Which was amazing and touching!
- No nomination for Scarlett Johansson in Her? Under the guise of a “technicality” in ruling “voice acting” as a non-eligible performance.
- No nomination for director Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips? Academy, Look at me! Look at me! I’m the [nominating] captain now!
- No nomination for Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” track from The Great Gatsby
- No nomination for Michael B. Jordan in his role in Fruitvale Station. It’s an outright shame. A riot may happen!
Max- My turn. 10 surprises huh?
- I’ll join T with being utterly shocked that Tom Hanks didn’t get nominated for Captain Phillips. It is one of the best performances of his career.
- Staying in Best Actor, Robert Redford was originally considered a lock for Best Actor for All is Lost. Lack of campaigning must’ve been his downfall.
- Inside Llewyn Davis being shut out of the Oscars. While I had my problems with the film, it’s shocking that the Coen brothers were snubbed. It was just an incredible year for film.
- The Oscars have decided to make the show more like the Grammy’s this year with at least five scheduled musical performances. Until next year when they decide the category isn’t worth it anymore.
- With the great losses in film this year – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Walker, Harold Ramis, Shirley Temple, and Peter O’Toole among others…What’s the over/under on how much time is given to each?
- For the first time ever, a song was nominated and then disqualified. ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ was disqualified for illegally pushing voters to include it on their ballots. Another worthy song was left out of the running.
- The Academy continues to nominate 9 films for best picture although only three of those realistically have a chance at the award. Yay or Nay?
- At the end of Oscar night 12 Years A Slave and/or Captain Phillips could end up with 0 Oscars. How shocking would that be?
- In documentary film, Stories We Tell was passed over. While there was disappointment there, the bigger omission is Blackfish. While it might not be the strongest documentary, it is probably one of the most watched documentaries in years and should’ve atleast gotten a mention.
- Finally, due to incredibly antiquated rules, Blue is the Warmest Color is not eligible for Best Foreign film. The Great Beauty will probably win and possibly would’ve taken it anyways. That doesn’t fix the oversight though.
The Oscars are almost here! Do you have your nominations locked? How many guesses of yours will be correct? How many of ours? Get ready. The Golden day is almost nigh! The Oscars air live on Sunday, March 2nd at 7pm EST on ABC!
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
-T, The Focused Filmographer
(special thanks to Max as well for joining me on this special Oscar post)