Sunday, March 2, 2014

86th Academy Awards Predictions

I make it a habit of watching every Best Picture nominee before making my predictions.  It just strikes me as fair.  In a few hours, we will know the winners, and I personally hope for a few surprises (Amy, you are long overdue), and a good show. 

Last year, I had the good fortune to watch the Animated and Live-Action Short Film nominees, so not only did I see some great films (expect to see four of them: two animated, two live-action, make my Greatest Films List as part of my 5th Anniversary Series), but I also correctly predicted the winners in the Animated and Live-Action Short Film categories: Paperman and Curfew respectively.  This year, for whatever reason, that option was not given, so I am in no position to accurately predict the winners in those categories. 

Therefore, for some of my predictions, I will use Entertainment Weekly's predictions and note them.  For the others, I'm going by what I think will not, not what I want to win.

Last year, I went 15 for 24 (curse you, Writing Branch).  Let's see if this year I do better.  Predictions will be bold, MY ballot (if I had one) will be in green.  With that, let us begin...


Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Pitaako Mun Kaikki Holtaa? (Do I have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

The Voorman Problem has Martin Freeman (aka John Watson, aka Bilbo Baggins), so I'm giving that the edge.  I DO wish I could have seen them.


Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

The Lady in Number 6, about Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known surviving Holocaust survivor who died February 23 at age 110, I think will find itself the winner.  The fact that she outlived the Nazis I think was perhaps a far greater victory, and while her death would not have had an effect on voting, it would be a lovely tribute.


20 Feet From Stardom
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square

Last year, the Academy opted for optimism over anger when it selected Sugar Man over How to Survive a Plague.  This year, they face the same dilemma, where the brutal The Act of Killing faces the joyful 20 Feet From Stardom.  I think again they will go for happiness over despair (though I think The Act of Killing is still a great film). 


Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom

EW thinks the Mickey Mouse Get a Horse! will win, and I think that Disney again will take this prize. 


The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Here we have one of the few locks this year.  Frozen is this gigantic hit (and a simply great movie).  However, my heart belongs to Hayao Miyasaki, so I would go for flight rather than freeze.


The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

First, I should point out that "Palestine" does not technically exist (UNESCO's designation notwithstanding).  There is no independent sovereign state of Palestine, and for those who say there is, my question is, "What is its capital?" because it sure ain't Jerusalem.  I guess I too am a "Zionist hoodlum".  Leaving that aside for a moment, it looks like Italy's The Great Beauty (which won the Golden Globe as well) will give Italy another win, but I would go for The Hunt based on its reputation.  Yes, I was sent a screener, but blame Dr. Enoch for my failure to watch it.


Alone Yet Not Alone (Alone Yet Not Alone)
Happy (Despicable Me 2)
Let It Go (Frozen)
The Moon Song (Her)
Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

I'm throwing in Alone Yet Not Alone even though the Academy, in what I think is a deliberate act of anti-Christian bigotry, rescinded its nomination (a wild overreaction to dubious charges of improper voter solicitation).  Of the four survivors, nothing will topple the behemoth that is Frozen's massive theme.  So confident were they that it would win that Let It Go was the ONLY song submitted from the film for consideration.  Compare that to The Great Gatsby, which had two or three submissions.   Let It Go is a simply fantastic song, and if I look at its competition Ordinary Love is good U2, but nothing more, and I found The Moon Song a bit slow.  The only one I think can possibly challenge it is Happy (which is also a hit), but a hit too late.   Expect 'girl power' to rule here.


The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks

John Williams has now 49 Oscar nominations (and 5 wins), but don't expect this to be Win 6.  As for the others, I think all of them are great scores, but somehow I prefer Thomas Newman's music for the faux-P.L. Travers' biopic.  I don't know if any of them will be as memorable or iconic as the scores to Star Wars or Doctor Zhivago, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Ben-Hur, A Place in the Sun, Sunset Boulevard , or The Godfather Part II among others.   However, Gravity looks like its going to take many, and this I suspect, is one.


Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Technical awards like these usually go to the most...technical, or the most musical.  Inside Llewyn Davis may pull an upset, but I think its yet another Gravity moment. 


All is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

The Hobbit just isn't the powerhouse its predecessor was.  And THIS is the only nomination All is Lost got?  Again, Gravity.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Make that four for four.  Anything technical or technical-sounding, just put Gravity.


Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

First, I still call it just plain Best Makeup.  Second, the mind boggles at Academy Award winner Jackass or The Lone Ranger (and who would give that dreadful work on Johnny Depp an Oscar).  Therefore, making hunky Matthew McConaughey into a dying man gets the prize. 


American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years a Slave

The normal rule is that films involving royalty win Costume Design (Restoration, The Last Emperor, Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Duchess, The Young Victoria).  Failing any monarchs, go for the one that has the most pizzazz.  The Great Gatsby was if anything an ode to the Roaring Twenties.  Curiously, the last film adaptation of The Great Gatsby won in this category too.  There's just something about flappers...


American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave

I am out of step...I still call this category Art Direction/Set Decoration.  Gaudy, lavish, and proud of it, F. Scott Fitzgerald would approve of the sets and costumes...if not the adaptation itself.


The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis

They might as well just have given Emmanuel Lubezki the Oscar when Gravity premiered.   Few films have been as visually stunning as Gravity, but out of the other nominees, I can see only Nebraska's beautiful black-and-white visuals giving it any competition.


American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

This actually is a tough one, for me anyways.  I thought American Hustle did the best Martin Scorsese film style that wasn't an actual Martin Scorsese film (down to the editing), but after giving it more thought, I think the obvious answer is, yet again, Gravity.  The opening scene is enough to justify its win here.

How many has it won already?  


Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Well, something EW and I disagree on at last.  They are going for 12 Years a Slave, and I think that will win.  However, I think the true-life story of Philomena Lee was the more touching and yes, hopeful of the nominees.  One thing I and EW probably agree on: Wolf of Wall Street is too divisive (and profane) to win.


American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

I am not a Spike Jonze fan, but Her is the most inventive of the bunch.  The resurfaced accusations against Woody Allen won't sway voters against him (because I don't think he would have won anyway, and it's a particularly ugly business Allen, his former paramour Mia Farrow and their children Dylan and Ronan Farrow are in).  I loved Nebraska and American Hustle, but of all the nominees, Her is the most original of the Original nominees. 


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

Marty should be thankful for The Departed, otherwise he'd find himself yet again a loser with The Wolf of Wall Street.  Honestly, apart from Best Actor, I don't see how Wolf could win anything.  The film has supporters, but it also has passionate haters, and the haters are more passionate than the supporters.  Right now the technical prowess of Cuaron is rolling over everyone, but if we go by acting, it would be Russell vs. Payne.  My heart would pick Payne's loving view over Russell's cynicism. 


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

It's been a knock-down drag-out fight between J-Law and L-Nyo for Best Supporting Actress, leaving the others hoping that there will be enough vote-splitting between them to let them squeeze in to the winner's circle.  Should that happen, the only one who I think would benefit would be Squibb, whose turn as the loving yet sarcastic matriarch has been gaining strength (though perhaps too late to get her the win).  Roberts won't win (who saw this movie?) and Hawkins was a surprise nod.  I think Nyong'o will win for two reasons. One--Lawrence won last year (I don't think she should have, but that's irrelevant), so I think voters will want to spread the wealth.   Two: her smaller turn as the brutally abused Patsey is more intense that Lawrence's crazy wife. 


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)

In a way, the predictions from last year came true: someone had won their second Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  It just wasn't whom everyone had thought.  Tommy Lee Jones was assured he would take this prize for Lincoln. From out of nowhere, a little Austrian named Christoph Waltz stunned the crowd when his name was announced for Django Unchained (about the only shock that evening).  Jared Leto should keep that in mind when he writes out his speech.  He looks like the proverbial winner, and while I don't foresee most of the nominees dethroning him (especially Hill, whom I'm convinced must have slept his way to two nominations), the only one who has a chance is another Teutonic actor: the half-German half-Irish Fassbender.  Maybe if he concentrates hard enough, Magneto can seize the Oscar from the drag queen.


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

Oscar-bait just isn't what it used to be.  Streep's turn in August: Osage County was one of those 'prestige' productions of a critically-praised Pulitzer Prize-winning play.  Also, it's Meryl Streep, who gets nominations like they were Cracker Jack prizes.  Personally, I would have dumped Meryl and inserted Shailene Woodley, but I can't have everything. Still, even though she stole the Best Actress Oscar from Viola Davis, she ain't got no chance of winning here.  Each of these women has won at least one Oscar...except for Adams, who is on her FIFTH nomination.  Given she hasn't had a long career, coming one short of tying Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter, and Glenn Close for most nominations sans win speaks to her talent.  Adams is the only challenger to Blanchett, but I can't see her pulling an upset.  I'd like to see it, but Blanchett has been overtaking everyone for Blue Jasmine, and I think Adams will have to satisfy herself with the next Superman movie (so long as Lois Lane doesn't sleep with Bruce Wayne...)


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)

I've resigned myself to hearing "A'igh, a'igh, a'igh, just keep livin'" and other insipid bromides coming from the winner's podium.  The good news is that this is the most competitive category, so while McConaughey looks like a lock this one has the best potential for a surprise.  Our hunky Austinite (who is just as wacko as the citizens of my state capital) has competition from all sides, chief among them is the three-time loser DiCaprio, who is the only thing even Wolf of Wall Street detractors say was good about the movie.  DiCaprio threw himself into this role (quite literally, in one famous scene), and perhaps he can siphon off enough votes from our naked bongo-playing toker to win.  The chances are low, but plausible.

Still, I'm going to have nightmares of hearing the Best Actor speak in a laid-back East Texan drawl.


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

Good news: there is no clear-cut front-runner.  Bad news: there are only three front-runners.  You have the Important Historic Film (12 Years a Slave), you have the technical marvel (Gravity) and you have the 'popular' choice (American Hustle).  Let's look at some things.

Captain Phillips?  It has a chance...the exact chance that I have of being found in bed with Aaron Rogers in the 50-yard line of Lambeau Field.  Now that I've stopped laughing, let's get serious.

Philomena?  If ALL the voters remembered Eisenhower, sure.  Not gonna happen.

Her?  Too quirky for the older voters.

Nebraska?  Too homespun for the younger voters.

The Wolf of Wall Street?  Too divisive.

Dallas Buyers Club?  Not enough tickets sold.

That leaves those three: as EW put it, "heartbreaking" (12 Years a Slave), "groundbreaking" (Gravity), and the other one (American Hustle).  Now, they call it for Gravity, but it's a science-fiction film, and the last science-fiction film to win Best Picture was...well, none.  Also, no Best Original Screenplay nomination, suggesting the support doesn't go as deep as people may think.  It's going to be tight, but I think 12 Years a Slave will squeak it out: history over technology.

I however, think that of all those, American Hustle will be the one people remember five or twenty-five years from now, which is why I would have made it my choice.

Well, we'll find out how well I did.

On to the show...

1 comment:

  1. Since I am majorly behind on watching 2013's movies, I have not some of the Oscar picks yet, but you are probably right on many of those considering what I have been reading. While I have not seen The Wind Rises yet, I also hope that it wins Best Animated Feature since Hayao Miyasaki is also one of my favorite directors. Most of his movies are so much better than anything American animation has produced.



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