Man, what an awards season it has been. A fine sprinkling of comedy, sci-fi, drama, and historical films littered the field this year. Though this year's best picture line-up is not as perfectly diverse as last year's, nine films of varying themes, stories and genres still make this an interesting group. In case you forgot, here are the nine films vying for Hollywood's highest film honor- "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Gravity," "Her," "Nebraska," "Philomena," "12 Years a Slave" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
You have five dramas, three comedies, and one sci-fi blockbuster. Though I didn't like most of these films, it's showing how the academy is making strides to broaden their appeal when they decided to expand the best picture category to up to 10 nominees over five, and save for "Her," they all have acting nominations. And unlike years past where best picture nominees would only have two nominations - "The Blind Side," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" -, not one of these films has less than four nominations each. These aren't just showcases of great acting, but of great craftsmanship across all branches of the academy.
However, the acting races seem all sewn up so there's nothing fun to report there, but best picture is a true nail-biter.
While last year was a runaway for Ben Affleck's "Argo," this year is more heavily contested among three films; absolute frontrunners "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" (with 10 and nine respective nominations each) and"American Hustle" whose nominations in all of the acting categories favors heavily for it and their 10 total nominations. Almost every single precursor has gone to these three films, with a tighter split between "Gravity" and "Slave.'
"Slave" won the BAFTA for best film and Golden Globe for best picture (drama) - its only one at the Globes - and an unprecedented tie for best picture at the PGA with "Gravity." Meanwhile, "Gravity" won the DGA, and almost always does the DGA winner claim best picture and best director. While "Slave" has usually only been winning an award or two per ceremony, "Gravity" has done well with the guilds, plus winning six awards at the BAFTAs, including best director.
"American Hustle" won best picture (comedy), comedy actress and supporting actress at the GGs, best ensemble at SAG and three awards at the BAFTAs. Nine of its BAFTA nominations repeated at the Oscars (the 10th nomination swapped best makeup and hair at BAFTAs for best editing at Oscars).
The precursors are spread quite evenly, but which of these films will win? With its strong showing in the acting categories, "Hustle" could be the one to beat, especially if the other two split their votes. But is it really worthy of best picture? Like I said in my review of the film, it's "Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice" crossed with "Ocean's Eleven." It's a fun movie, that's it. It'll pick up an award or two but not best picture. It's not BP material.
"Slave" has Oscar bait written all over it. It's historical, reflects on a painful part of the country's past and it's a film that is socially conscious of the present day. The latter fact could explain how "Crash" won in 2005, it's relevant. The thing is that this doesn't have as much broad support (in regard to wins) as other films. The film overall is being praised and one of its actors, Lupita Nyong'o. Even though it seems heavily favored to win adapted screenplay, I wouldn't be surprised if that's all it won. I'd take it one step further thinking that it could win nothing but best picture, like "Grand Hotel" did in 1932, and like it did at the GGs.
Then you have "Gravity" who could pull off a "Cabaret" from 1972, winning a slew of technical awards, director and not best picture - "The Godfather" took the top prize that year. MAYBE, this will be like 1972, with "Gravity" acting like "Cabaret" and "Slave" as "The Godfather." "Slave could pick up picture, an acting award, and adapted screenplay just like "The Godfather" did.
I'm placing my bet on "Gravity" for the main reason that this will be the film to finally back through for blockbuster, visual effects-driven films. The past five years have seen at least one such film nominated for best picture, with last year's "Life of Pi" even claiming best director. Much like how Daft Punk broke the glass ceiling at the Grammys in February with their electronic album winning the top award, "Gravity" will do it for movies. And really, how can a film like this claim so many awards (probably five or six below-the-belt awards and director) and not win the top prize?
Sure, "Slave" won best film at the BAFTAs, but "Gravity" is of extreme craftsmanship that is not only deep, but visually stimulating. "Slave" might be too violent a film to reward, and, let's be real, it's a typical sympathy film that exploits a painful memory for profit. "Gravity" ushers in a new wave of entertainment.
Will win: Gravity
Spoiler: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Nebraska
Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"
Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"
Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"
David O. Russell, "American Hustle"
Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Considering the vast technical aspects, this is Cuarón's to lose. He's won every major director award up until this point and it would be shocking if he lost now. McQueen and Russell will still garner their fair share of votes, I'm sure.
|Cuarón with his DGA award with last year's winner for "Argo," Ben Affleck|
Will win: Cuarón
Spoiler: McQueen or Russell
Should Win: Cuarón
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"
These leading men are all in best picture nominees, but it's all about McConaughey's brute betrayal of a Texan with AIDS helping other patients get the meds they need in the middle of the '80s. Three-time also ran DiCaprio may win for "Wolf," but it's not likely (nor win best picture as producer of the film).
Will win: McConaughey
Should Win: none of them
Amy Adams, "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"
Judi Dench, "Philomena"
Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"
|The drunken face of Blanchett In "Blue Jasmine" only an Oscar voter could love.|
Will win: Blanchett
Should Win: Blanchett
Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"
Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"
Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Another sewn-up race, Jared Leto for sure. (yawn)
Will win: Leto
Should Win: Leto
Best Supporting Actress
|Lawrence and Nyong'o have been dueling for |
kudos all season long, but who takes Osacr?
Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"
Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"
June Squibb, "Nebraska"
Finally, an acting race with some contention to it. Ultimately, it's down to last year's best actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, and debut actress Lupita Nyong'o from "12 Years a Slave." The two have been splitting precuror hairs for months now, with Lawrence winning a few top critics awards and the GG and BAFTA, and Nyong'o winning the SAG. These are two charming ladies on and off the camera, so either one winning would be just that, a win. However, with four acting nominations and the probability of not winning elsewhere, this will be the consolation prize for the "Hustle" cast. Lawrence pulled the same fete last year when "Silver Linings Playbook" received nods in all acting categories, and she was the frontrunner and most likely actor to win for the film. Nyong'o's performance pulls at the heartstrings of viewers which will definitely pull in votes. Empathy votes prevail over all else in these races — though I thought Nyong'o's performance was nothing spectacular, just a sidebar to show the cruelties of slavery, nothing more. Anyway, I think Lawrence will squeak by here with a win (and maybe the only one for her film). That boost from the recent BAFTA wins surely help.
Will win: Lawrence
Should Win: Squibb
Best Original Screenplay- "Her"
Best Adapted Screenplay- "12 Years a Slave"
Best Animated Feature- "Frozen"
Best Foreign Language Film- "The Great Beauty"
Best Documentary Feature- "20 Feet From Stardom"
Best Cinematography- "Gravity"
Best Costume Design- "The Great Gatsby"
Best Editing- "Gravity"
Best Makeup and Hairstyling- "Dallas Buyers Club"
Best Production Design- "The Great Gatsby"
Best Original Score- "Gravity"
Best Original Song- "Let it Go"
Best Sound Editing- "Gravity"
Best Sound Mixing- "Gravity"
Best Visual Effects- "Gravity"
Best Animated Short- "Get a Horse"
Best Documentary Short- "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
Best Live Action- "The Voorman Problem"