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Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Oscars
At this point, every conceivable opinion you could have about the Oscars has become gauche. Whether you're genuinely enthusiastic, profoundly bored, or searingly cynical, you've got a pretty lame outlook on the event. It's not your fault, it's just the hand we're all dealt. I've found that two things help make the show palatable: beer and mockery. And predictions!

This marks the tenth year I've covered the Oscars. A whole damn decade. I wish I could say that I'm going to do something special for this anniversary, but who am I kidding? I don't really wish that at all, and in fact, I'm recycling some stuff from last year (like the first paragraph of this post, which is as relevant now as it was last year). I used to "liveblog" the Oscars and continually update a post like this as the night wore on, but last year I decided to get with the program and took to twitter (along with the rest of the movie nerds). I expect my personal commentary to be less frequent than even last year, though you can expect a lot of retweets, because other people are more witty than I am. If, for some reason, you want to check out previous years' predictions and commentary, they are here: [2013 |2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004]

As per usual, my predictions for the major awards (and, um, some not so major awards that I always pick for some unbeknownst reason):
  • Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave. This is actually something of a race. The three strong contenders for the award have already gone through several cycles of buzz and backlash, peaking early, then rallying, etc... I like that Best Picture allows more nominees, but in reality, it's usually pretty easy to narrow the field down to the 5 that would have been nominated with the old rules. In this case, I think it's pretty safe to assume that Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer's Club, Her and Philomena have next to no chance to win. I haven't seen Nebraska, but it seems too low-key to attract a lot of votes, and if it's going to be rewarded, there's a better category for that sort of thing ("better" in the sense of academy voters distorted mindset, at least). The Wolf of Wall Street is next on the chopping block, because the Academy already righted their wrongs for Scorsese a few years ago. This leaves 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity, and I would not be surprised if any of them won. 12 Years because racism is bad and the academy likes to feel important, Hustle because it's an actor/actress showcase and the academy is mostly actors, and Gravity because spectacle and also a pretty big performance from Bullock. I think Gravity could certainly take the cake here, and would not be surprised if Hustle took it either. Now, I don't truly understand the weird run-off style voting for Best Picture, but I suspect that 12 Years will take the edge because even if someone doesn't vote for it in the number one slot, they'll almost certainly put it in the number 2 slot. Also, racism is bad. (On the other hand, apparently many voters have refused to watch 12 Years because it seems so harrowing - which isn't an uncommon reaction, though pretty cowardly if you're tasked with voting for the Oscars, if you ask me.)
  • Best Director: Alfonso Curaon for Gravity. Cuaron has all the momentum going into the Oscars, having taken the Golden Globe and DGA awards, which actually bodes well for Gravity in the Best Picture category. Best Picture and Director usually track together, but again, I think the weird voting process for Best Picture means that years with close races can see divergence in the two categories. It's a rarity, but it happened last year for purely political reasons (Affleck wasn't nominated and that was seen as a sleight, plus torture is like, really bad, and Zero Dark Thirty had the temerity to depict it). This year I think there's a fair chance that it will be a split because of the close race, though it's also a fair bet that Steve McQueen will take this too. I guess you could call my choice hedging my bet, but I think there's a good chance that the awards will split.
  • Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine. This is another tough one, as I really think that Amy Adams could take this award due to her being awesome and her (beloved by the Academy) movie not winning Best Picture/Director. Plus, you've got that Woody Allen taint, though Blanchett seems to have survived the controversy intact. Or something. It's a tough call. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Sandra Bullock take the award, but that won't happen because she just won recently and quite frankly, Amy Adams deserves it more.
  • Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. He's got the momentum, and we are living in the Golden Age of McConaughey. The dude went from reviled romcom stoner to critical darling making daring choices and putting in superb performances in the course of, like, 2 years. This is also a very actorly performance, with the unflattering physical transformation and all that stuff that the Academy loves to reward. The dark horse here is Bruce Dern, as a sorta lifetime achievement award and a way to reward Nebraska (if it's going to happen, it will happen here).
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave. She had the early buzz, but J-Law seems to be coming on of late, and again, the Academy may want to reward the actor/actress friendly American Hustle here. On the other hand, she just won for Best Actress last year, so the Academy may not see the need to reward her again and go with the unknown 12 Years actress (who was genuinely fantastic).
  • Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. Some minor controversy here from the LGBT community, but I don't think it's enough to stop Leto's momentum. Plus, the competition in this category isn't quite as fierce as the others this year. I wouldn't be surprised if Leto lost, but it's his award to lose at this point.
  • Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle. The other strong contender here is Her, but I'm betting that the Academy is too old and stodgy for that movie and will want to reward Hustle in some way.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave. Finally, a category that is somewhat close to a lock. I just don't see any of the other nominees pulling an upset here.
  • Editing: Captain Phillips. Gravity was an early frontrunner, but Captain Phillips has been coming on strong.
  • Cinematography: Gravity. Duh.
  • Visual Effects: Gravity. Duh.
  • Makeup: Dallas Buyers Club.
  • Costumes: American Hustle.
  • Musical Score: Gravity. Though I think this is a big toss up.
  • Best Song: from Frozen
  • Best Animated Film: Frozen. Minor possibility of an upset from Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, though some weird politics may keep that in check (I haven't seen the movie, but it apparently is about the guy who created Japanese airplanes in WWII). I have not seen either film, so I'm just going on buzz here.
  • Best Documentary: The Act of Killing. This could easily go to Twenty Feet from Stardom because it's more of a feel-good movie about unsung heroes and the Academy likes that sort of thing. The Act of Killing may have peaked early, but I'll still go with it for this.
  • Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty. Though I've also heard a lot about Broken Circle Breakdown...
So there you have it. Actually a lot of pretty tight races this year. Gravity will almost certainly pick up all the technical awards, but the real question is how well it'll do in the big awards. I wouldn't be surprised to see it do really well. It hits a lot of Academy sweet spots. I'm going to throw up my twitter feed here, though obviously it won't start updating much until we get towards the actual ceremony. Feel free to leave a comment here or hit me up on Twitter...

Posted by Mark at 11:42 AM
Categories: Movies

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