Folks. This isn’t a drill. The Oscars are tomorrow night, and I, for one, could not be more excited. There are a lot of should win/will win blogs out there, and most of them know a lot more about Oscar predictions than I do. But I still like to throw my hat in the ring. Only a few of the categories could be considered “major”. Here are my predictions for said awards.
I think this award will depend solely on the outcome of other categories. American Hustle racked up 10 nominations, but could get completely shut out. This is one of the more likely winning categories for the 70’s scandal comedy. But Spike Jonze’s dazzling Her is no pushover. It took home the Golden Globe and the WGA awards, which means the writers are behind it. But what about the actors? The actors are huge fans of Hustle and will be hard-pressed to shut it out, especially if it can’t pick up wins in any of the four major acting categories. Personally, I’m with Jonze and the writers. But American Hustle was a little more widespread, and that should push it over the top.
Will Win: American Hustle
Should Win: Her
Gravity was the film with the most hype last year, but any movie-goer knows not to put too much stock in pre-release word of mouth. However, the film delivered in convincing fashion. Concerns over the film’s story aside, Gravity was undoubtedly the most ambitious technical achievement of the past year. None of that would have been possible without the vision of its director. A first-time victory for Cuarón isn’t a complete lock; Steve McQueen has his supporters and Alexander Payne is never completely out of a race. However, Cuarón cleaned up with the preliminary awards, and that shouldn’t stop on Sunday night.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Actress In a Supporting Role
Last year, the Supporting Actress category was basically a one horse race. This year, it’s probably the tightest category. Both JLaw and Lupita are beloved by Academy voters. And they both were absolutely splendid in their respective films. But there was something about the way that Lawrence absolutely stole every scene that really captured my attention. Even more so than her award-winning turn in last year’s Silver Linings Playbook, she engaged and captivated me. Her personality was commanding, as was her presence. So she should win. But, I get the feeling that the Academy will be hesitant to award her two years in a row, especially when she hasn’t been campaigning as hard this time around. I’ll be thrilled if she does win. But my gut tells me it won’t happen. Still, Nyong’o is a fine choice.
Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Actor In a Supporting Role
There are a slew of huge names in this year’s nominated group of supporting actors. Bradley Cooper and Michael Fassbender are bona-fide leading men, and Jonah Hill has been nominated for this award in the past. It’s surprising, then, that the two favorites in this category are the two lesser names. Barkhad Abdi and his amazing story have won both the BAFTA and the London Film Critics’ Circle awards for Best Supporting Actor. And while he was outstanding in Captain Phillips, Jared Leto simply outdid him with his turn as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Not only did Leto provide an element of comedy to the film, but some of the more powerful moments came directly from Leto. It’s an actor’s most challenging moment when they’re called to play a different sex, but there’s another element of difficulty when they’re called to play a transgendered character. As Leto’s multiple awards will show, he knocked it out of the park. The question is, which 30 Seconds to Mars song will play when he’s making his way to the podium?
Will Win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Should Win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Actress In a Leading Role
This race doesn’t really seem all that close, as evidenced by the past few months of awards that Blanchett has been receiving. But it should be a whole lot closer. Blue Jasmine was a good, if not great film, and Blanchett was marvelous. But Amy Adams was a force to be reckoned with in American Hustle, and it’s about time she was rewarded for her underrated ability. Every character in Russell’s comedy worked off of Adams, and she enhanced every one of them because of it. Blanchett was a bigger part of her film, but Adams was more critical to hers. Still, unless Woody Allen’s most recent scandal hurts her (which it shouldn’t), Blanchett doesn’t seem likely to concede the award. Blanchett by a landslide.
Will Win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Should Win: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Actor In a Leading Role
I’m not sure we’ll ever encounter a year with more worthy contenders in this category. It’s a surprise, then, that most people have conceded this race to the charms of Mr. “Alright, Alright, Alright.” He’s clearly the favorite after his inspired performance in Dallas Buyers Club. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s generated a ton of buzz for True Detective. But Ejiofor played the most complex and embattled character that film has seen in years, and he did it with shocking humanity. If Ejiofor wasn’t as good as he was, I’m not sure 12 Years a Slave has the same impact as it did. And it certainly wouldn’t be a contender for Best Picture. Again, you can’t go wrong with either guy. And Leonardo Dicaprio has a whole mess of support for The Wolf of Wall Street. But McConaughey seems like the likely winner here.
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
This might be the tightest Best Picture race there’s been in a long time. And it fits the narrative: Big budget blockbuster (Gravity) vs. period drama with a gutting message (12 Years a Slave). And the two have never been to such extremes.
But 12 Years a Slave did something uncomfortable, something pointed to its viewers. We in America don’t like to talk about slavery and racism, because we’d all like to believe that those days are behind us. We’re civilized, tolerant people after all, aren’t we? But this adapted tale of Solomon Northup’s struggles forces us to confront that which we’d rather bury deep inside, down to places that we don’t talk about at parties. The one comparison that I’ve drawn multiple times is that of The Passion of the Christ. It’s a dangerous comparison to make given the implications. But it had, and is still having, a profound effect on the Christian community. It forced those who identified with its story to come to uncomfortable realizations about something that is integral to their lives. In the same way, 12 Years a Slave brings out the darkest in humanity to show us that we may have moved in a positive direction, but we aren’t there yet. Slavery still happens. We still use each other. And we still hate, even if that doesn’t show on the surface. McQueen forces us to look at the products of hate. In the same way, however, he shows us the triumphant, resilient nature of the human spirit. He shows us how futile hate is when constantly battered by a will that won’t ever quit. In my opinion, there’s no better way to use the medium of cinema.
In terms of actually winning, it’s anybody’s call. A lot of people think the structure of the new voting system could propel Gravity to a victory. But something tells me that the Oscar-friendly fare of Steve McQueen will be too much to overlook. 12 Years a Slave deservedly goes for gold.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave