With just six days remaining, it is now time for me to reveal my Oscar predictions for this coming Sunday's Academy wards telecast. As always, I am no expert and please do also remember that I have not even seen every single film and performance nominated. For me, this is really all in good fun so I hope that you are all ale to appreciate it as such and not judge me too harshly if I end up being completely wrong!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins ("Blue Jasmine"); Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"); Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years A Slave"); Julia Roberts ("August: Osange County"); June Squibb ("Nebraska")
SHOULD WIN: Lupita Nyong'o
WILL WIN: Lupita Nyong'o
Out of this category, I have actually seen four of the five nominated performances and I have t say that Lupita Nyong'o's work in "12 Years A Slave" was the searing, almost unbearably painful moral core to the film as she portrayed the female slave who consistently picked major amounts of cotton compared to her male counterparts, befriended the newly enslaved Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), was the obsession of Michael Fassbender's brutal plantation owner and was also the object of vicious scorn by the plantation owner's enraged wife (Sarah Paulson). Not only does Nyong'o portray an object of relentless lust and abuse, she fully represents the meaning of survival, especially while enduring an experience that she (and all enslaved African-Americans) were not meant to survive. It is a ferocious and haunting performance that reaches your guts deeper than any other.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: 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")
SHOULD WIN: Michael Fassbender
WILL WIN: Jared Leto
Now please take my "Should Win" selection with a grain of salt as I have not seen all of the performances and I already know that this is Jared Leto's category to lose, as he has swept the industry awards thus far. I am so certain of Leto's win in this category that I would be flat out shocked and would fall to the floor if the former "Jordan Catalano" did not claim the prize.
MERYL STREEP AND FOUR OTHER WOMEN: Amy Adams ("American Hustle"); Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"); Sandra Bullock ("Gravity"); Judi Dench ("Philomena"); Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County")
SHOULD WIN: Cate Blanchett
WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett
Do not get me started on the presence of Meryl Streep once again in the Best Actress category, which I have re-named due to the fact that all Streep has to do is sign on the dotted line to even appear in a feature film and she will automatically find herself nominated. Ugh!
Regardless, and despite the adoration that has been following both Any Adams and Judi Dench's work, plus the walloping power delivered by Sandra Bullock in "Gravity," I think that this is Cate Blanchett's time to shine and receive Oscar gold. She gave a high wire performance in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" that was fearless, truly frightening, completely without vanity and ultimately, transformative as I fully believed that I was witnessing a woman who was gradually and completely losing her mind.
BEST ACTOR: 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")
SHOULD WIN: Leonardo Dicaprio
WILL WIN: Matthew McConaughey
Now THIS category (and typically so) is one of the strongest and tightest competition as it is loaded with rich performances from top to bottom (even Bale can't be fully capsized by the iceberg that is the unbearable "American Hustle"). Even so, and as brilliant as Ejiofor is, I would be thrilled if DiCaprio won this category as he has surprisingly never won an Oscar and this performance shows him with an intensity and jump off of the cliff exuberance that he has never elicited before. That said, Hollywood loves a victory dance and I think that now just may be the time for the coronation of Matthew McConaughey as he has miraculously seemed to have fully delivered upon the hopes and promises of his on-screen arrival over 20 years ago with his recent performances in film and cable television. I have a feeling that this will be McConaughey's night.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "Before Midnight" (Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy); "Captain Phillips" (Billy Ray); "Philomena" (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope); "12 Years A Slave" (John Ridley); "The Wolf Of Wall Street" (Terence Winter)
SHOULD WIN: John Ridley "12 Years A Slave"
WILL WIN: John Ridley "12 Years A Slave"
Also an extremely tight category but I do think that this is one where Oscar will give "12 Years A Slave" some attention as I fear that the film hits too close to the bone for the Academy to fully recognize it for Best Picture.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "American Hustle" (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell); "Blue Jasmine" (Woody Allen); "Dallas Buyers Club ("Craig Borten and Mleisa Wallack); "Her" ( Spike Jonze); "Nebraska" (Bob Nelson)
SHOULD WIN: Spike Jonze "Her"
WILL WIN: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell "American Hustle"
I think that this night will belong to "American Hustle" and I'm telling you, if this does indeed win for Best Original Screenplay, as I fear it will, it will be the ultimate cinematic joke as that film, I still contend, is barely written at best! My greatest wish for this category is that Spike Jonze pulls an upset and his screenplay for "Her" is truly the definition of Best Original Screenplay, as there is nothing else like it in the bunch and for most of he full cinematic year.
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity"); Steve McQueen ("12 Years A Slave"); Alexander Payne ("Nebraska"); David O. Russell ("American Hustle"); Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf Of Wall Street")
SHOULD WIN: Steve McQueen
WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuaron
This category has always been the most ridiculous because for whatever reason that is unbeknownst to absolutely everyone, possibly including the Academy itself, Oscar feels it unnecessary to nominate every director of every film nominated for Best Picture--as if those disregarded films directed themselves.
At any rate, as you all know, "12 Years A Slave" is my favorite film of 2013 and for that, I feel that Steve McQueen should be awarded as Best Director,. but, even so, I do think that this is Alfonso Cuaron's category to lose and I think this will also be the category in which the Academy gives "Gravity" its most deserved attention and Cuaron handled a gargantuan piece of filmmaking absolutely brilliantly.
BEST PICTURE: "American Hustle," :"Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Gravity," "Her," "Nebraska," Philomena," "12 Years A Slave," and "The Wolf Of Wall Street"
SHOULD WIN: "12 Years A Slave"
WILL WIN: "American Hustle"
If I could pick the grand prize winner of the night, it would, of course, be "12 Years A Slave." But as for what I think actually will win, that is actually a bit trickier.
I have been reading that what we essentially have is a race between "12 Years A Slave" and "Gravity" but to that, I am not entirely convinced. While "Gravity" has indeed seen its share of major accolades, I do feel that the overall tenor is that Alfonso Cuaron delivered a great "special effects movie," a dismissive term considering the massive cinematic achievement he has actually made. Additionally, and in regards to "12 Years A Slave," I do not think that the Academy is quite that open to awarding a film about that is not just about slavery, but is an extremely uncomfortable and often brutal film to experience, with the grand prize either.
So, if neither of those films actually win, that really leaves "American Hustle," a film which I firmly believe has completely conned every single one of its supporters yet it is precisely the very thing that Oscar loves. A cavalcade of A list stars in a lushly presented period piece of entertainment (filled with pseudo substance) that evokes a time--in this case, the 1970's--that has long been described as Hollywood last "golden age." It feels like the perfect fit for Oscar, especially as the film has been winning one industry award after another after another during these last few weeks. If "American Hustle" does indeed win the title of Best Picture, believe me, it will be the one nominated film that fully lived up to its title!!
And that's how I am leaning with my predictions. Let's see how I actually do on Sunday night!