Oscar Picks

Usually by this point in awards season (if not sooner), it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen on Oscar night. Clear favorites emerge, especially in the best-picture category: “Argo” last year, “The Artist” in 2012. But things could go a few different ways Sunday night at the Academy Awards. So! Here are a few thoughts on who will win, who should win and who might serve as a possible wild card.

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

12 Years a Slave Movie Review

Will win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: “Gravity”
Wild card: “American Hustle”

“Gravity” was my pick for the year’s best film. It’s both an incredible technical achievement as well as a profound emotional experience. But “12 Years a Slave” is just too important, too powerful. Director Steve McQueen makes you squirm, think, confront uncomfortable emotions and feel deeply. It’s beautifully shot and acted. It matters. I’m not sure I ever want to spend another night watching it, but “12 Years a Slave” will take the top prize Sunday.

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”; David O. Russell, “American Hustle”; Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”; Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”; Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

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Will win: Cuaron
Should win: Cuaron
Wild card: McQueen

Here’s one of those weird years where different films will win best picture and best director. What Cuaron has done with “Gravity” is just too groundbreaking, too magnificent. It took several years and an army of geeks pounding away at computers, but Cuaron has changed the way movies will be made moving forward. His film is so awesomely beautiful and technically dazzling, it had me on the edge of my seat and the verge of tears for 90 tight minutes. He deserves this prize.

BEST ACTOR

Nominees: 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.”

Dallas Buyers Club Movie Review

Will win: McConaughey
Should win: Ejiofor
Wild card: DiCaprio

“The McConaissaince” will be complete when the winner of the best-actor category is announced Sunday night. Over the past few years, McConaughey has transformed himself from a smug, rom-com bimbo to a serious actor capable of versatility and depth. The line he walks in “Dallas Buyers Club” is impressive because his character, the real-life Ron Woodruff, undergoes a change of mind and heart once he’s diagnosed with AIDS, but he remains kind of an asshole. Yet, we can’t help but root for him to find an answer to his disease and survive. Ejiofor is quietly dignified and powerful as Solomon Northup in “12 Years a Slave,” and undergoes a great transformation of his own, but I suspect it’s McConaughey’s year.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”; Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”; Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”; Judi Dench, “Philomena”; Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County.”

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Will win: Blanchett
Should win: Blanchett
Wild card: None

Blanchett is the juggernaut. No one can stop her. As a damaged Blanche DuBois figure in “Blue Jasmine,” she’s selfish and condescending, fragile and desperate. She’s kind of an awful human being, and yet you still find yourself hoping that she’ll turn it around, build a new life for herself and find some happiness. But man, it would be nice to Adams finally win an Oscar. She is just too damn sexy in “American Hustle” — formidable in two distinct personalities. Some other year, it will be hers. This year, it’s Blanchett’s.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees: 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.”

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Will win: Leto
Should win: Fassbender
Wild card: Abdi

Leto has won every single award imaginable leading up the Oscars, and is the front-runner in the supporting-actor category Sunday night. I’m not in love with his performance as an AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club” the way most people are. I think it’s a little superficially showy and stereotypically drag queeny. Fassbender is truly frightening and disturbingly unpredictable as a plantation owner in “12 Years a Slave” but, for whatever reason, he isn’t even part of the convesrsation. Maybe his character is just too evil. I also have these wild fantasies of seeing former limo driver and first-time actor Abdi win for “Captain Phillips.” Weird things happen in the supporting-acting categories, so who knows?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees: Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”; Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”; Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”; Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”; June Squibb, “Nebraska.”

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Will win: Nyong’o
Should win: Nyong’o
Wild card: Lawrence

Nyong’o is such a discovery and such a force as Patsy, Fassbender’s character’s favorite slave. She brings such raw fear and humanity to the part. She is going to be a superstar, and deservedly so, but first she’ll win Sunday night. Lawrence is a hilarious scene-stealer as a trashy trophy wife in “American Hustle” — and she does rock the cleavage and big hair in those flashy, ’70s get-ups — so it wouldn’t be a total shock to hear her name called. We know from her win last year for “Silver Linings Playbook” the she gives one doozy of an acceptance speech.

2 Comments on “Oscar Picks

  1.  by  JozieLee

    While the trailer for Nebraska made the movie look too flat to me, I watched the movie yesterday enthralled. Loved the relationship between the father and son. Few words needed, yet the younger son seemed to be so connected to his father that he was willing to be the conduit through which the dad lived what would probably be his final dream. Family dynamics burst to full bloom when Mom joins the sojourn, then when older brother shows up I was totally enchanted. Stealing the compressor . . . HAHAHAHAHA

    Black and white film isn’t my favorite thing, but the characters brough enough color to the film to satisfy me.

    And I don’t agree with Matt Achity about Alexander Payne making fun of mid-Westerners. No matter where we’re from we all have our idiosyncrasies. The majority of characters treated Woody with friendship and love. Only a few (the nephews, and the “friend” who cuckold Woody) were bored, self-indulgent, spoiled creeps.

  2.  by  JozieLee

    Funny, I saw Blue Jasmine first week it opened in Los Angeles – last summer. Total Woody Allen fan. His homelife is his problems/terror, but his artistry is undeniable.

    So when I saw Blue Jasmine I went to IMBD to see what other film-o-phils thought of the movie. Entry after entry praised Kate Blanchett’s work. Multi predictions she’d win the Oscar. This was last summer and I knew, as time passed, momentum would subside. People would forget her amazing work and find another actress they’d champion for Best Actress. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That, to me, proves just how compelling Blanchett’s performance was . . . that people would remember how good she was and no actress, not even Meryl Streep, would take the award away from her.

    By the same token, Andrew Dice Clay was also predicted to get a nomination, but that bubble burst when Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Her and Nebraska hit our movie screens. Maybe another year now that the film industry sees his talent in a different light.