After butchering Idina Menzel‘s name during the Oscars (fact: her name is not “Adele Dazeem”), John Travolta has seen a noted bump in his celebrity. As hordes of people have taken to the inter webs to have their names John Travoltaized, the nation and the world has joined forces to take pot shots at a washed-up (can’t we call him that now?) superstar and bask in the glory of our own colloquial superiority. Whether he suffers an actual learning disability and we’re collectively mocking a dyslexic person or if Travolta merely forgot his spectacles, it’s still “gorgeously empowering” to mock this “wickedly talented” star. Here he is, pronouncing the names of Menzel’s fellow Oscar winners. So strap on your best John Travolta impersonation and give these a go in all in your most affected and staccato drawl.
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto = “The momentously inspiring, Joey Larta“
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey = “The unparalleled and inimitable, MacArthur Gattahew“
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o = “The stirringly animated O’yanga Tapiola“
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett = “The refreshingly candid Blanche Catitt“
Best Director Alfonso Cuaron = “The touchingly sincere Usef Calarosa“
Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze = “The bona-fidely vivacious Jonsey Pike“
Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley = “The awesomely artistic “Red Johnny” Li“
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki = “The brilliantly uplifting Zamuel K. Manuel“
BONUS: Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave = “12 Salves a Year“
Boy oh boy, the 86th Academy Awards are bearing down now and it’s time to start pulling my hair out deciding what awards going to go and why. Hours spend bargaining and equivocating all probably for nothing. The problem with predicting the Oscars is that the damn thing is anything but a science so as much as we try and prescribe logic and historicity to turn our prognostication into an a+b=c type formula, there’s literally no saying what will actually be written in those ballots until they’re open and read. For however much we like to talk about the Academy like they’re a hive mind collective all zipping and swarming as one, they’re really just a bunch of guys and gals who probably don’t pay nearly as much attention to their roles as we do.
Having said that, it’s still a blast to be a part of the ceremony and it’s, for all intents and purposes, the culmination of a year of cinema, a reminder of how great movies can be and how old-fashion the taste of the Academy is. Though there will likely be many moments this Sunday where we all throw our arms up and shout and curse at the screen, we’ve gotta remember that you often have just as much luck betting on horses than you do at the Oscars. That doesn’t discount the fact that there are certain trends within a year and those trends often equate to an Oscar.
But before I can even launch into my list of suspected winners, I would like to note how caution I am about my picks this year. Moreso than most, I have this feeling in the back of my mind that this year is gonna throw a wrench in things and totally skew a whole different direction than many of us expect. As it is now, I have zero wins for American Hustle and that literally terrifies me. Although I didn’t fall in love with the Hustle, a lot of people did and I’m worried that it sneaks in from its cozy third-place position and pulls a couple of fast punches. As for Gravity, I currently have it basically winning anything technical but feel that’s a fairly safe bet and wouldn’t be that shocked if some of those got picked off by the likes of Captain Phillipsor even Lone Survivor. Sad though it may be, I also wouldn’t be shocked if 12 Years a Slave got completely shut out. I’m crossing my fingers here but hoping that the odds are not ever in J La’s favor.
Without further adieu, let’s get to the actual predictions…
Picture: ’12 Years a Slave’
Since early on in the year, it’s 12 Years a Slave that everyone’s been talking about, waiting for the inevitable upset to roll around and tip it off its high horse. And yet, seven months after its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, 12 Years a Slave is still considered top dog. What it really comes down to though is: are Academy members even watching this movie? The biggest hurtle 12 faces is, ironically enough, word of mouth. With all the talk of how difficult a film it is to watch, reports have surfaced that a sizable percentage of Academy members hadn’t even seen the film. Major cop out that this certainly is, it poses a situation in which Gravity, as an easy crowd favorite, could sneak in and get the unexpected populist win. Is it a better film? No. Is it more important? Certainly not. But there’s no whipping and it doesn’t remind us of how shitty America’s past is so it could just be that easily digestible win. That and space. So while I’m putting down 12 Years a Slave, I can’t help but feel like Gravity might float into the spotlight and nab the big win.
Actor: Matthew McConaughey ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Chiwetel Ejiofor, my how you have fallen. Although Ejiofor easily gives the most soulful and likely difficult performance in this entire category, the love for Matt McConaughey knows no bounds. Piping hot right now from the hit HBO series True Detectiveand coming off a streak of sleeper hits, the transformation we’ve seen from shirtless romcom beau to dramatic yellow king has ripely coined the term ‘McConaissance’. And for this McConaissance, he shall be awarded, and all will be good. Although his performance in Dallas Buyers Clubmight not strictly speaking be the best of the year (or even his best of the year), this victory feels more like a compilation award for his last few years, a sum total of his recent work. It’s for Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club and Mark Hannah in Wolf of Wall Street and Mud in Mud and Dallas in Magic Mikeand Rust Cohle in True Detective (and a pat on the head for no longer working with Kate Hudson.) And while I admit that I’d love to see Leonardo DiCaprio walk away with Oscar gold, I have little doubt that this is McConaughey’s night to shine. Alright, alright, alright.
Actress: Cate Blanchett ‘Blue Jasmine’
Even with the looming threat of Woody backlash, I’m still partial to thinking that Cate Blanchett has no chance of losing this category. On the road to the Oscars, she failed to miss out on even one precursor award, including the SAG, which is often the biggest predictor for the Academy Awards down the road. Her contenders are undeniably tough, and in another year each could have taken home the win, but Blanchett’s steamrolling is unlikely to run out of zest in the homestretch. If the tides do turn, it’s likely Amy Adams or Judi Dench who will benefit, though I’m sure such a situation comes with the knowledge that they profited off of a sticky situation.
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Another lock of a category, Jared Leto‘s turn as a transvestite with HIV will almost certainly be enough to encourage him to clear a space on the cabinet for his inevitable trophy. Top marks are deserved as Leto nearly stole the show from co-star and likely winner Matt McConaughey. Although there’s slim chance that Leto walks away empty-handed, if he did, it’s likely Michael Fassbender who will take up the mantle of Best Supporting Actor for his poisonous performance as a callused slave owner. Personally, I would love to hear Jonah Hill‘s name called and see the looks of shock spread like a wave across the crowd. If so, I would fully expect a wacky, Qualudde-induced acceptance speech.
Supporting Actress: Luipta Nyong’o ’12 Years a Slave’
What a toss up this one is. On the other hand, Lupita Nyong’o benefits from throwing down an absolutely haunting performance of the most dramatic varietal. But again, the thing working against 12 Years is how difficult it is and Nyong’o is arguably the hardest person to watch in the whole film. So will the Academy then find it appropriate to award Jennifer Lawrence who’s eagerly waiting in the wings? Hopefully not. Lawrence is certainly fun in American Hustle but nowhere near the caliber of Nyong’o, or many of the other performers in this category. Add that to the fact that she won last year and a Lawrence win seems out of the question. Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that her earnest charm might have been enough to swoon voters into writing her name on the ballot. Strange though it may seem, this is definitely one of the most hotspot categories and could easily go against me Sunday night.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón ‘Gravity’
This award is hardly worth a breakdown as Cuarón is a tsunami right now, plowing through every ceremony without signs of slowing. Though many would argue that Steve McQueen deserves this award, there’s no denying that what Cuarón achieved in Gravity was monumental. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t able to achieve as much emotionally as he was visually and that’s what keeps me from feeling that this win shouldn’t be as cut and dry as it’s turning out to be. For my money, Children of Men is the far superior film and features much better directing from Cuarón but I guess that is the nature of the Academy: no one wins for their best work.
Documentary: The Act of Killing
A toss up the caliber of Gravity vs. 12 Years, The Act of Killing is the far superior film to contender 20 Feet From Stardom but the subject matter (which is essentially genocide) could be too off-putting for the notoriously thin-skinned academy. Stardom looks inside the industry, a tactic the Academy loves to reward, and though it has some potency to it, lacks the focus and effect that Act of Killing packs. Added to the fact that a musical documentary (Searching for Sugarman) won last year, I’m hoping that The Act of Killing has a slight edge. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I hope not. Having seen all five of this years nominees before the ceremony (*pats self on back*) I would be surely disappointed in a 20 Feet win as I find it the lesser of the five by a good arm’s length.
Film Editing: Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger ‘Gravity’
Traditionally, film editing has gone hand-in-hand with the best picture winner but that hasn’t quite been the case over the past five years. With my compass constantly in flux over whether 12 Years a Slave or Gravity will take BP, I wonder if this might go to one of the other contenders as a bit of tip of the hat to them and so they don’t go home completely empty-handed. A Captain Phillips win would likely be the only one of the night (unless it pulls off a sound award) but Phillips seems to have all but fallen off the radar entirely so I doubt it’ll do anything here. American Hustle could always swing in and grab this but that would be nothing short of moronic as the editing here is as messy as the over-celebrated screenplay and one of the big reasons the film fell on its face at times. In the end, I’m offering it to Gravity because of how tight and suspenseful the film feels throughout and it’s easy to point to strong editing for such.
Foreign Language Film: ‘The Great Beauty’
Of the five nominees, I’ve seen three (The Hunt, The Great Beauty, The Broken Circle Breakdown) so I feel that I have a pretty good handle on what the Academy’s looking for this year and have little doubt that The Great Beauty will be their prized gem of a non-English film. The Academy is overwhelming made up of old, white, powerful men and The Great Beauty is a movie about an old, white, powerful man…and yet it’s so much more. While I loved The Hunt, I would be happy to see The Great Beauty win big here and fully expect it to do so.
Makeup and Hairstyling: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
This category I don’t quite understand (Why are makeup and hairstyling grouped together? Who’s voting? Why are the films that are nominated nominated in the first place?) but feel that the Academy doesn’t really understand it either. The winner always feels out of left field, which makes me a little nervous putting Dallas Buyers Club in first. But when you factor in the fact that Dallas‘ makeup budget was a pithily $250 dollars and then see what they did with that, it’s hard to doubt that this film deserves a win here. Even with that knowledge though, I still have a feeling that turning Johnny Knoxville into an old man might be enough to coax the Academy into giving a movie with the word “Jackass” in the title an Academy Award.
Original Score: Steven Price ‘Gravity’
Somewhat of a boring selection, Steven Price is joined by composer regulars John Williams, Alexandre Desplat and Thomas Newman who all seemed to nab a slot in this category by name recognition alone. The only interesting choice that I see is William Butler and Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire for their work in Her but they unfortuantely don’t stand much of a chance for the win. Since Gravity depended so much on score, Price was the go-to man responsible for holding the viewers exactly where Cuaron wanted them and he did his job aptly. For it, he’ll likely win his first Academy Award. I can’t help but note that missing entirely from this category is Hans Zimmer who apparently composed too many great scores this year to be selected for just one.
Production Design: Catherine Martin ‘The Great Gatsby’
If there’s one thing that Baz Luhrman got right with his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, it was the production design. Rich, colorful and lavish in ways that blew our imagination wide open (in 3D, no less), the glory of doing a 2013 adaptation is that it allowed us a glimpse into the unhinged festivities that F. Scott Fitzgerald so prosaically wove. From Martin’s sets, we felt like we were there, living out the glory days of the roaring 20s in all its wild majesty. When it comes down to it though, this award could end up leaning towards American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Her or even Gravity and I don’t think anyone would be the least bit surprised. Regardless of any issues that I had with any of those films, the one thing that was never lacking was production design. That being the case, I can’t think of an outcome here that I would lament.
Animated Feature: Frozen
Although cult love for Miyazaki (and this being his farewell film) may translate into a surprise win for The Wind Rises, the writing is on the wall for Disney Animation Studios to walk away with their first Best Animated Feature since ever (the category only launched in 2001) for Frozen. Since this year didn’t feature a lot of impressive animated films, the list of contenders feels slight and, outside of the aforementioned two, none of the others much stand of a chance at all. It is worthy of note that Pixar did not make the cut this year and hopefully that’ll be the kind of blow they need to spur them back into the realm of what once made them so beloved.
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki ‘Gravity’
You can pretty much close the books on this one as Emmanuel Lubezki is looking pretty, pretty good for an assured victory here. His work on Gravity was epic when it needed to be and up close and personal when required. If anyone is gonna sneak in around Lubezki here though, I’d like to be to Roger Deakins, whose camerawork is always the star of whatever project he works on. However, I feel that if we are in store for an upset, the name Philippe Le Sourd of The Grandmasterwill be the one getting pulled from the envelope.
Original Song: “Let it Go” Frozen
If you heard me on the In Session Film Podcast last week, you’ll know that I heartily disapprove of this category in general. Aside from the embarrassing travesty that was giving the fifth slot to unheard of “Alone But Not Alone” and then later yanking it for ethical reasons, the songs chosen for the title “Best Song” really baffle me. Left out were all the actual “best” of the year with Lana Del Ray‘s “Young and Beautiful” joining the sidelines where all of Inside Llewn Davis‘ tunes slumped. I don’t dislike “Let it Go” and know it’s exactly the kind of poppy brand of sing-a-long that’s made Disney the icon that it is, but it’s still not even my favorite song from Frozen. As for the U2 song, spare me. And Pharrell William‘s ‘Happy’ is just more poppy top 40 junk that should never be confused with the label “best.” Karen O‘s ‘The Moon Song’ is my favorite on this shameless list but doesn’t actually stand a chance of winning. I’m willing to wager that Idina Menzel wins for ‘Let it Go’ but U2 did take the prize last month at the Globes. Depending on how star-fucking the Academy is feeling, they might just slink in for the win.
Costume Design: Catherine Martin ‘The Great Gatsby’
Although Patricia Norris could score for her period costumery of 12 Years or Michael Wilkinson could see his gaudy 70s suits and pin-up dresses take the cake for American Hustle, I’m thinking that Catherine Martin wins for combining the best of both worlds in The Great Gatsby. Although riddled with narrative issues, there’s no denying the grandiose of Gatsby and that’s in large part thanks to the costumes. The party scenes alone see many different lavish styles, it’s almost as if we’re on some chic runway, and when added to the scene where Leonardo as Gatsby literally makes it rain clothes, I’m thinking the academy will look to The Great Gatsby, if for nothing more than the fact that it goes out of its way to recognize the beauty of its clothing.
Writing Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze ‘Her’
This should be a no-brainer but a win for Spike Jonze is surely an uphill battle no matter he’s category in. Contending against Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell’s script for American Hustle, Jonze has visibility working against him but raw talent working for him. If you put their scripts side-by-side, there’s no way that anyone would deny that Jonze’s is superior to Singer and Russell’s work but, unfortunately, that’s not common practice for Academy voters. More often than not, their final call is a gut reaction based on feelings for a particular film rather than the individual components that make them up. So overwhelming love for Hustle might turn the tide against Her. In my mind, Jonze most certainly deserves a victory for his ambitious and perfectly executed script and I’m willing to stand beside him, even if his ship does sink.
Writing Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley ’12 Years a Slave’
Battling chief contenders Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street, John Ridley‘s penmanship on 12 Years a Slave seems to have a good amount of steam going into the awards. After losing the WGAs to Captain Phillips though, I’m still not quite sure what to do with this category. Philomena could always sneak in for its fanciful blend of drama and comedy but I feel that it’s a little too slight for a win and also has the fact that it’s recently been called “anti-catholic” working against it. As far as I see it, I would love Terrence Winter to nab the win for his work on Wolf, as I think what he had to achieve my turning Jordan Belfort’s autobiographical memoirs into a scathing inditement of the man is a feat in and of itself.
Visual Effects: Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould ‘Gravity’
I’m so confident in this one that if I’m wrong, I will shave my head. Seriously, I’m that sure. I would say hold me to it but you’re not going to have to because Gravity already won. Bank it.
Sound Editing: Glenn Freemantle ‘Gravity’
It seems a safe bet to put Gravity in the lead in any of these technical categories at this point and although the distinction between sound editing and sound mixing may be slight (editing involves the creation of sounds while mixing is how they’re placed together), it’s a distinction that I think the Academy themselves often fail to understand and kind of just wing it when naming their top slots. So with that in mind, with the masterful soundscape that Gravity was, I think sound wizard Glemm Freemantle win see a trophy in his near future. Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor both stand a decent chance but Gravity is on such a roll that I think voters will have been so used to writing its name by now that they’ll do it out of habit.
Sound Mixing: Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro ‘Gravity’
That silent explosion scene alone is likely enough to win Gravity this techie award. Utilizing the vacuum of space as a voice in the film really elevated the terror and isolation of Gravity‘s experience so I’m wagering it has a great shot at winning this sound category as well. Other contenders include Inside Llewyn Davis, which did a great job incorporating folk music into the texture of the film’s sonic sphere, and Lone Survivor which turned sound into pain in a way we thought unimaginable.
Documentary Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
I’ve yet to see any of these so I’m taking a shot in the dark and going with what I’ve heard the most buzz for. Plus, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life focuses on the last living Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, which is always an extra check mark for awards attention. Don’t hold me to it though.
Short Film (Animated): Get A Horse!
The only short of them all that I’ve seen is Get a Horse! and I will rightfully admit that I loved watching this fun little rumpus take full advantage of 3D. As for the voters, I’m thinking that the nostalgic factor alone will help it gallop to a win.
Short Film (Live Action):
It’s at this point that I start questioning the need for the shorts segment of the Academy Awards. First of all, hardly anyone actually sees these things and, this year especially, those that have had had nothing particularly positive to say about the batch. I can more see the need for an animated section here but I feel like live action segment in particular is the most useless of all the Academy Awards. Helium‘s apparently pretty dec so sure, that’ll win.
At the end of the day, that leaves a tally of one win for everything excluding the following:
Gravity – 7 12 Years a Slave – 3 Dallas Buyers Club – 2 The Great Gatsby – 2 Frozen – 2
Remember to enter our Oscar Prediction Contest if you haven’t already and be sure to tune in to the Academy Awards 7 PM this Sunday on ABC. I’ll be live tweeting the Oscars so make sure to follow @SSRdotcom and check it occasionally to hear some live updates.
Before I go ahead and spoil the fun for everybody by posting my own predictions, I’m giving you guys a shot to predict the Academy Award winners. While I feel like I have a solid handle on my predictions, there’s definitely a few categories that I’m still not 100% confident in so don’t be alarmed if you’re feeling a little wary staring sideways at your ballot.
While calling this the second annual may be a bit of a misnomer considering I’ve changed platforms since last time, I do it so that we can take a moment to recognize the winners of last year: Nate Thibeault and Stefanie Schneider – both of whom went 20 for 24. Anyone think that can one up it this time? This time around though, we’ll only be taking the major 21 non-short categories into account with shorts only functioning as tie-breakers. So even if you get 20/24 it still might end up being a 17/21 depending on where you fell short.
The glorious winner will get a DVD/Blu-Ray of the film that wins Best Picture. Second place will receive a DVD/Blu-ray of one of last year’s Best Picture nominees (select options).
You must submit your predictionsSaturday, March 1st at Midnight anytime before the Oscar ceremony starts.
Only one submission per person.
Only submissions placed via page comment (at the bottom of this page) will count. Do not post on the Silver Screen Riot Facebook wall or send me an email or message. Your predictions are only valid if they’re in the right spot.
Vote for every category in order to win. While it’s all well and good to only care about the primary battlefields, if you only submit predictions for Best Performers and Pic/Director, you’ll miss out on all the other categories and will have a small shot at winning.
The shorts DO NOT count towards your final tally and will only be accounted for in the case of a tie-breaker. So while it might not matter in the end, if it comes down to a tie, the person with the most wins in shorts will take home gold.
In case of a super-way tie (after shorts), the person who predicted first will win, so get your submissions in early.
Please be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook (at least one of the two) in order to be eligible to win.
First place will win a DVD/Blu-Ray of the film that wins Best Picture
Second place will receive a DVD/Blu-ray of their choice from last year’s Best Picture nominees (select options)
The nominees are as follows.
Best Picture American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club Gravity Her Nebraska Philomena 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actor in a Leading Role 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)
Best Actress in a Leading Role Amy Adams (American Hustle) Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) Sandra Bullock (Gravity) Judi Dench (Philomena) Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role 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)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) June Squibb (Nebraska)
Best Animated Feature The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson) Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri) Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner) Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho) The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)
Best Cinematography The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd) Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel) Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael) Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)
Best Costume Design American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson) The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping) The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin) The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor) 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)
Best Directing American Hustle (David O. Russell) Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón) Nebraska (Alexander Payne) 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen) The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
Best Documentary Feature The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen) Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher) Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill) The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer) 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)
Best Film Editing American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten) Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse) Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa) Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger) 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)
Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium) The Great Beauty (Italy) The Hunt (Denmark) The Missing Picture (Cambodia) Omar (Palestine)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews) Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty) The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)
Best Original Score The Book Thief (John Williams) Gravity (Steven Price) Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett) Philomena (Alexandre Desplat) Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)
Best Original Song Happy (Despicable Me 2) Let It Go (Frozen) The Moon Song (Her) Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
Best Production Design American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler) Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard) The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn) Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena) 12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)
Best Sound Editing All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns) Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney) Gravity (Glenn Freemantle) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward) Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)
Best Sound Mixing Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro) Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson) Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland) Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow)
Best Visual Effects Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds) Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick) The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier) Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)
Best Adapted Screenplay Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke) Captain Phillips (Billy Ray) Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope) 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley) The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)
Best Original Screenplay American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell) Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen) Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack) Her (Spike Jonze) Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
Best Animated Short Film Feral (Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden) Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim) Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares) Possessions (Shuhei Morita) Room on the Broom (Max Lang, Jan Lachauer)
Best Live Action Short Film Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) (Esteban Crespo) Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (Xavier Legrand, Alexandre Gavras) Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson) Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) (Selma Vilhunen, Kirsikka Saari) The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill, Baldwin Li)
Best Documentary Short CaveDigger (Jeffrey Karoff) Facing Fear (Jason Cohen) Karama Has No Walls (Sara Ishaq) The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed) Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (Edgar Barens)
In two days time,Chris Hemsworth and the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs will announce the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. With the dust from the Golden Globes still setting, this year’s nominations will indelibly include some surprises and snubs because with 2013 being such a crowded year for talent, there really is no other option.
Two categories overflowing with potential nominees include Best Actress which is really a six-horse nom race between Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, with Cate Blanchett all but assured the win. At this point, even though Adams scored big over at the Globes, I’m willing to bet that old blood rings true and she misses out on her fifth nomination.
In the best actor category, Chiwetel Ejifor, Robert Redford, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hanks, and Leonardo DiCaprio will duke it out for a spot and Leo’s spotted history with the Academy (they have a tendency to overlook his work) suggests to me that it’ll be him who misses the mark by a margin.
As far as Best Picture goes, I would be shocked if all ten of these films receive nominations but I figure it’s best to nominate more rather than less. I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Butler, Captain Phillipsor even Saving Mr. Banks missing out. Although the new policy has dictated nine Best Picture nominees in the past two years, I have a feeling that with 2013 being so divided, it might be closer to eight or even seven.
And finally, no, I have not bothered predicting any shorts.
BEST PICTURE: American Hustle 12 Years a Slave Gravity Her Nebraska Inside Llewyn Davis Saving Mr Banks Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST DIRECTOR Steve McQueen “12 Years a Slave” Alfonso Cuaron “Gravity” David O. Russell “American Hustle” Paul Greengrass “Captain Phillips” Martin Scorsese “The Wolf of Wall Street”
BEST ACTOR Chiwetel Ejifor “12 Years a Slave” Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club” Robert Redford “All is Lost” Bruce Dern “Nebraska” Tom Hanks “Captain Phillips”
BEST ACTRESS Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine” Emma Thompson “Saving Mr. Banks” Sandra Bullock “Gravity” Judi Dench “Philomena” Meryl Streep “August: Osage County”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club” Michael Fassbender “12 Years a Slave” Daniel Bruhl “Rush” Barkhad Abdi “Captain Phillips” Bradley Cooper “American Hustle”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave” Jennifer Lawrence “American Hustle” June Squibb “Nebraska” Julia Roberts “August: Osage County” Oprah Winfrey “The Butler”
BEST EDITING Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger “Gravity” Joe Walker “12 Years a Slave” Thelma Shoonmaker “The Wolf of Wall Street” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers “American Hustle” Christopher Rouse “Captain Phillips”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Spike Jonze “Her” Bob Nelson “Nebraska” Joel and Ethan Coen “Inside Llewyn Davis” Woody Allen “Blue Jasmine” David O. Russell and Eric Singer “American Hustle”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY John Ridley “12 Years a Slave” Terrence Winter “The Wolf of Wall Street” Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater “Before Midnight” Billy Ray “Captain Phillips” Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope “Philomena”
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM The Hunt The Grandmaster The Broken Circle Breakdown The Great Beauty The Notebook
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Emmanuel Lubezki “Gravity” Sean Bobbitt “12 Years a Slave” Bruno Delbonnel “Inside Llewyn Davis” Roger Deakins “Prisoners” Phedon Papamichael “Nebraska”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN Adam Stochausen & Alice Baker “12 Years a Slave” Catherine Martin & Beverly Dunn “The Great Gatsby” Michael Corenblith & Susan Benjamin “Saving Mr Banks” Jess Gonchor & Susan Bode, “Inside Llewyn Davis” Dan Hennah & Ra Vincent “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
BEST SOUND MIXING Gravity Rush All is Lost Lone Survivor Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST SOUND EDITING Gravity All is Lost Captain Phillips Rush Lone Survivor
BEST COSTUME DESIGN Michael Wilkinson “American Hustle” Daniel Orlandi “Saving Mr Banks” Michael O’Connor “The Invisible Woman” Catherine Martin “The Great Gatsby” Patricia Norris “12 Years a Slave”
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE Hans Zimmer “12 Years a Slave” Steven Price “Gravity” Thomas Newman “Saving Mr Banks” Alex Ebert “All is Lost” John Williams “The Book Thief”
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE The Act of Killing Blackfish Stories We Tell The Square 20 Feet From Stardom
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Frozen Monsters University Ernest and Celestine The Croods The Wind Rises
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Gravity Iron Man 3 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Star Trek into Darkness Oblivion
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING American Hustle Dallas Buyers Club The Great Gatsby
BEST ORIGINAL SONG “Let it Go” – Frozen “Young and Beautiful” – The Great Gatsby “The Moon Son” – Her “Amen” – All is Lost “Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
A lot has changed in the weeks since my first Oscar prediction post. A big contender is now out of the running with Monuments Men unexpected move to a 2014 release, while Saving Mr. Banks debuted to soaring reviews, and The Wolf of Wall Street secured its chance in this year’s Oscar after solidifying a Christmas release date.
Although buzz has Gravity and 12 Years a Slave going head-to-head for the title, that conversation is nothing more than preemptive positioning, as there’s just so much more to see before the we start setting things in stone. One thing is for sure though, Gravity’s continued praise and high box office numbers make it a stronger contender than expected and it’s pretty much locked in nominations across the board. Nonetheless, expect it to pull an Inception/Life of Pi manuever and mostly walk away with technical accolades. Although unlikely, a director-picture split could potentially see Alfonso Cuaron taking home his first Oscar but after last year’s Affleck, Argo drama, don’t cross your fingers.
After seeing 12 Years a Slave, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Nebraska, I had to shake up a few categories, first and foremost, the Best Actor category, as I can’t imagine Bruce Dern not seeing some recognition. As for Chiwetel Ejifor‘s lead role in 12 Years, it’s beyond powerful, and he’s very likely to take home the gold. Nipping at his heels, Robert Redford continues to climb the charts for his near silent role in All is Lost and could just end up playing a legacy trump card when it comes voting time.
Another black man playing a role tailor man for the Oscars, Forest Whitaker got pushed out of the top five for now but it wouldn’t be unlikely for him to step back in sooner or later. Perhaps the biggest unknown quality in this category though is Leonardo DiCaprio, who leads Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Criminally undernominated, DiCaprio was pegged for an Oscar for this role early on but now his odds are shakier with the knowledge that Wolf is a nearly three hour long dark comedy. Now that the film will definitely see the light of day in 2013, there’s still a chance he can pull some last minute punches. For once, it’s a rather interesting race for Best Actor with some massive talent pining for those top five spots.
The Best Director category seems pretty firmed up as none of the top five spots managed to budge. Expect further momentum in that category in December when Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, and Inside Llewyn Davis play for a wider audience. For now, it’s a race between McQueen and Cuaron but if American Hustle is the success story that so many people expect, a win for David O. Russell would be more than understandable.
Glancing through the list for now, you’ll notice a bit of a 12 Years a Slave domination. Does that mean I expect 12 Years a Slave to clean up at the Oscars? Not necessarily, but all current momentum does have it as an early frontrunner, making it the one to beat at the moment. Gravity is currently perceived as its biggest competition but that’s little more than hogwash, as Gravity, no matter how well received, just doesn’t stand a chance at the top.
The closet thing we have as a lock for now is Cate Blanchett‘s stronghold on Best Actress. Although Judi Dench will give her a run for her money with her titular role in Philomena, Bullock is assured a nomination, and Streep is never someone to be scoffed at, this category is all but signed, sealed, and delivered for Blanchett.
1. “12 Years a Slave” (No change)
2. “Gravity” +1 3. “Saving Mr. Banks” +1 4. “American Hustle” -2 5. “The Wolf of Wall Street” +4 6. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change) 7. “Captain Phillips” -2 8. “Nebraska” +4 9. “Dallas Buyers Club” -2 10. “All is Lost” +1
2. Alfonso Cuaron “Gravity” (No change) 3. David O. Russell “American Hustle” (No change) 4. John Lee Hancock “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change) 5. The Coen Bros “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)
Fringe: 6. Martin Scorsese “The Wolf of Wall Street” +2 7. Paul Greengrass “Captain Phillips” -1 8. JC Chandor “All is Lost” +1 9. Alexander Payne “Nebraska” +1 10. Jean-Marc Vallee “Dallas Buyers Club” (New)
1. Chiwetel Ejifor “12 Years a Slave” +1
2. Robert Redford “All is Lost” +2 3. Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club” -2 4. Tom Hanks “Captain Phillips” -1 5. Bruce Dern “Nebraska” +3
Fringe: 6. Leonardo DiCaprio “The Wolf of Wall Street” (No change) 7. Forest Whitaker “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” -2 8. Christain Bale “American Hustle” -1 9. Joaquin Phoenix “Her” (No change) 10. Oscar Isaac “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)
1. Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine” (No change)
2. Judi Dench “Philomena” (No change) 3. Sandra Bullock “Gravity” +1 4. Meryl Streep “August: Osage County” -1 5. Emma Thompson “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change)
Fringe: 6.Amy Adams “American Hustle” (No change) 7. Adèle Exarchopoulos “Blue is the Warmest Color” +2 8. Julie Delpy “Before Midnight” -1 9. Brie Larson “Short Term 12” -1 10. Berenice Bejo “The Past” (No change)
Best Supporting Actor:
1. Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club” (No change)
2. Michael Fassbender “12 Years a Slave” +1 2. Daniel Bruhl “Rush” -1 4. Tom Hanks “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change) 5. Barkhad Abdi “Captain Phillips” +3
Fringe: 6. Bradley Cooper “American Hustle” (No change) 7. Jake Gllyenhaal “Prisoners” (No change) 8. Jonah Hill “The Wolf of Wall Street” (New) 9. John Goodman “Inside Llewyn Davis” -4 10. James Gandolfini “Enough Said” (New)
Best Supporting Actress:
1. Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave” (No change)
2. Oprah Winfrey “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” (No change) 3. June Squibb “Nebraska” +4 4. Julia Roberts “August: Osage County” -1 5. Octavia Spencer “Fruitvale Station” -1
Fringe: 6. Lea Seydoux “Blue is the Warmest Color” (New) 7. Margo Martindale “August: Osage County” -1 8. Melissa Leo “Prisoners” (No change) 9. Jennifer Lawrence “American Hustle” (No change) 10. Carey Mulligan “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)
“12 Years a Slave” Directed by Steve McQueen Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Quvenzhane Wallis, Sarah Paulson Biography, Drama, History 132 Mins R
12 Years a Slave opens somewhere around a decade into Solomon Northup’s enslavement. He’s mushing blackberries to a paste, attempting to write a letter home using a whittled mulberry stick. Scribbling like a fugitive to the crackle of candlelight, this is the first time he’s put pen to paper in years, and must do so under the cover of night. For all the horrors he’s suffered and witnessed, the most impossible task is keeping his true identity, and intelligence, under wraps. For a learned slave is a troubling slave and a troubling slave is a marked man – a truth he’s seen manifested many times before.
More than a decade gone for something as simple as not being allowed to produce his “free papers,” Solomon’s journey draws empathy from the audience like water from a well. More than just a story of the horrors of slavery, this is the story of a man who knew a better life – he abided the law, owned a house, had a family, and was a respected part of his Saratoga, New York community – and yet, down in the bowels of the hellish South, was stripped of his humanity like tattered clothes from his back.
Director Steve McQueen is a particular type of dark visionary. Employing patience and human degradation as a litmus test of how much we can emotionally bear, McQueen peels back all the curtains of our collective American history, revealing the inky black turmoil stirring in the human soul. But torture is no new game for McQueen.
In his first film, Hunger, McQueen explored a prison-bound hunger strike but his craft was not yet refined, too raw, cold, and indulgent to raise the welt he was hoping for. In Shame, he arm wrestled sex addiction out of romanticized glamor and into a pit of emptiness and human despair. Although fantastic acting and gruesome body horror prevailed, it continued the same dour tendencies that make his films so hard to sit through. In his third go around, he’s perfected his art, making a film that’s both impossible to watch and impossible to look away from.
However difficult 12 Years a Slave may be to watch, it’s absolutely necessary watching. It’s long been positioned that it’s our American duty to process, or at least understand, slavery. As a means to sift the political hand of slavery from those participating in it, McQueen demands you to think long and hard about what you would do in a similar situation. Even the good men in this film, such as Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Ford are stained by the cultural pollution manifest in slavery. It may just be impossible to be a moral man in a land drained of morality, McQueen’s film says.
As Solomon adopts his new name and role as Platt, he holds onto hope – however tucked away in a dark corner it must remain; hope that someday he’ll be reunited with his family, hope that one day he’ll meet a white man who wants more for his than a closed mouth and fast working hands, hope for freedom. In a Kafkaesque metamorphosis, Solomon becomes Platt, his days transformed from living to surviving.
Despite the barbarity of Solomon’s unlawful enslavement, the mentality intact in the age is a scourge most difficult to stomach. Packaged in caravans like sardines, sold stripped nude, and man handled at every turn, there is little to distinguish slaves from live stock.
Chiwetel Ejiofor leads a sensational cast that brings Solomon’s true story to the screen with deadly seriousness. As our guardian through this hellish descent, Ejiofor is stunning from start to finish. His decision to play Solomon as a stone gradually pared by the tide of slavery rather than a thistle bending at the first breeze will cement an Oscar nomination. His final heart-rending scene will secure the win. Michael Fassbender is similarly committed to his role as devilish plantation fiend Edwin Epps. Despite his character’s despicable traits, he’s an equally complex man, torn by his own sinful passion forLupita Nyong’o‘s Patsey. Expect Oscar nominations, if not wins, all around.
Wowing cinematography from Sean Bobbitt (Shame, The Place Beyond the Pines) is haunting yet beautiful. Gorgeous waterfront properties impose their menacing statue – demonic in their association with America’s great shame. Captured under Bobbitt’s lens, the land itself takes on a stifling quality. No matter how scenic the willows peppering the plantation are, they always seem to weep – graves of the crushed souls haunting the confederate flag-totting South.
12 Years a Slave will make you want to run the retributive justice of Django Unchained but the sad truth is, this is more fact than fiction. Even when freed, American blacks were paid the respect of subhumans. You want Solomon to strap dynamite to his prison, to rip it down to the studs and burn it but you know that it’s not that type of movie. No, it’s too gravely serious for that, for this is an epitaph to American slaves, penned centuries late.
Another one bites the dust as George Clooney‘s much anticipated WWII drama The Monuments Men will no longer make its December 18 release date, effectively slicing it out of next year’s Oscar consideration. Following today’s official announcement that The Wolf of Wall Street will now see a Christmas day release, it seems that big 2014 Oscar contenders are crumbling like dominoes. As for the reason for the move, Clooney has cited unsatisfactory progress within the special effects department.
“We just didn’t have enough time,” Clooney told the Los Angeles Times, “If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy. We simply don’t have enough people to work enough hours to finish it.” While the reasoning is fair, it does seem like they have quite a bit of time in the nearly two months before that release. It makes me wonder if there isn’t more to the story than is being shared at this point. On the push to 2014 affecting the film’s Oscar odds, Clooney made it clear that Oscar attention was never his goal for the film. He added, “All we’ve ever said, from the very beginning, is that we wanted to make a commercial, non-cynical piece of entertainment.”
Although Clooney seems insistent that Oscars were never the hope, the move to an early 2014 date will most certainly lower any chances for an Oscar. Whether it will remain a player next year is impossible to say now but I would put my money on a steadfast “no”. The Monuments Men is written, starring and directed by George Clooney. It also stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and John Goodman. It hits theaters in the thick of Oscar season on December 18.
As 2013 races to a close, it’s time for the first round of Oscar predictions. 2013 started with a whimper with a truly slumping spring season that moved into a relatively disappointing summer slate of blockbusters (at least from a critical perspective). But the fall season hopes to make up for any inadequacies of the rest of the year with a lump sum of certifiably great films. Although some of my predicted contenders have yet to see the light of day, there are now enough pieces in play to make a fair judgement as to what may and may not make the cut come the year’s end. Come join us to discuss our first round of 2014’s Oscar predictions.
I’ve personally only seen a few of the big contenders for Best Picture (Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips), some have played their way through the festival circuit (Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis) and the remainder have yet to be seen at all (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Monuments Men). But even for these unknown qualities, all you have to do is look at the talent and directors and a shoe-in is the rule rather than the exception.
Coming off a fiery debut at TIFF, 12 Years a Slave seems the clear front runner and is sure to nab nomination across the board (including Steve McQueen‘s first directing Oscar nomination as well as first time nominations for Chiwetel Ejifor and Lupita Nyong’o). Others such as Inside Llewyn Davisand Saving Mr. Banks won high praise out of Cannes and the AFI fest respectively and will similar play across many categories.
As far as those that have yet to play for any audience, David O. Russell’s sterling track record speaks for itself and, depending on how well-received American Hustle is, he may prove to be 12 Years a Slave and Steve McQueen‘s biggest challenge. While The Wolf of Wall Streetis involved in a bit of a juggling act, it’s darkly comic tone may keep it from being amongst the top tier, a similar situation to George Clooney‘s The Monument’s Men. Although Clooney’s name, an all-star cast, and a historic context have proved successful in the past, the first trailer looked a little too light to make it a serious player in a very heavy year.
Gravity still sits pretty as a critical darling that will have the backing of the mainstream, who rushed out to see it this weekend to a tune of more than $50 million and for it, is likely to take home a bulk of the technical categories.
Probably one of this year’s biggest talking points will orbit the discussion of an unprecedented amount of African-American nominees. Steve McQueen may not be the first black director to be nominated (he would actually be the third after John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) and Lee Daniels (Precious)) he is the first who actually stands a fair chance at winning. Likewise, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o lead their respective category. Even more impressive is the fact that the Best Supporting Actress category is likely to see nominations for three black actresses (Nyong’o, Oprah Winfrey, and Octavia Spencer)