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Movie Review

Predictions and wishful thinking on Oscar winners

By Rob Rector | Mar 01, 2014
Sandra Bullock in Warner Bros.' "Gravity"

This year, the Oscars encompass quite the range, with front runners reaching from the darkness of outer space to the darkest part of American history. The majority of the films jostling for prizes in this year’s race have been hits, if not all-out blockbusters (“Gravity” raking in upwards of $700 million, with “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips” and “Wolf of Wall Street” all taking in more than $100 million).

Or will the academy bestow its love on one of the smaller flicks, such as Spike Jonze’s stunning “Her,” or give Bruce Dern a best actor trophy for “Nebraska?” Most importantly, will “The Lone Ranger” be able to claim itself as an Oscar-winning film (it is nominated for two, after all)?

Following is the list of nominees, followed by predictions of what will win and what I felt should win. Place your bets!

Best film

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


Which will win: “12 Years a Slave.” Steve McQueen’s harrowing drama is exactly the kind of serious film that voters flock to.

Which should win: “Gravity.” As emotional and flawless as “12 Years” may be, if the academy were to vote on films that we experience and not just view, “Gravity” was an achievement that marked a giant leap for audiences.

Best director

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


Who will and should win: Cuarón’s achievement may have been overlooked by those who only saw “Gravity” in 2-D on a smaller screen, but the director said he created it with the sole intent of it being an event meant to envelop the audience. Mission accomplished.

Best actor

Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Christian Bale in “American Hustle”


Who will win: Ejiofor for his lead role in “12 Years.”

Who should win: As good as Ejiofor was, he wasn’t the best performer in the film, and although McConaughey received notice for his weight loss, his performance as a bigoted-addict-turned-champion was one that he wore like a fine-fitting suit.

Best supporting actor

Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”
Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”


Who will win: Leto, for his heartbreaking turn as an AIDS-scarred transvestite.

Who should win: Though these are hearty roles for all, Hill’s slow descent and fast delivery were some of the best aspects of an otherwise bloated “Wall Street.”

Best actress

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


Who will and should win: Blanchett, who made narcissistic neuroses look lovely in “Jasmine.” Better get your response to the whole Woody Allen mess rehearsed, Cate.

Best supporting actress

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


Who will and should win: Nyong’o. Forget the fact that this category typically goes to newcomers, and put aside the fact that everyone loves Lawrence, Nyong’o’s soul-baring performance was perhaps one of the finest seen in any film this year.

Adapted screenplay

“12 Years a Slave” Screenplay by John Ridley
“Captain Phillips” Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“The Wolf of Wall Street” Screenplay by Terence Winter
“Before Midnight” Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke


Who will win: “12 Years”

Who should win: Linklater, Delpy and Hawke deserve credit for creating a poetic, wholly satisfying end to the overlooked romantic trilogy.

Original screenplay

“American Hustle” Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Her” Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Blue Jasmine” Written by Woody Allen


Who will win: This is a tight one, but I think “American Hustle” may make up the ground it loses in the other categories with this category.

Who should win: In what could have easily been a jokey premise, Jonze made falling in love with a computer system both realistic and touching in “Her.”

Animated feature

“Frozen”
“The Croods”
“The Wind Rises”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”


Which will and should win: Disney has reclaimed its throne once again with “Frozen” (and to think, Pixar was not even nominated this year!).

Cinematography

“Gravity”
“Nebraska”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Prisoners”
“The Grandmaster”


Which will and should win: If “Gravity” does not take it home in this category, voters better go back and brush up on their film school texts.

Costume design

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


Which will win: The glitzy duds in “Gatsby” will make voters swoon in this category.

Who should win: The outlandish ‘70s period attire in “Hustle” never once felt like a gimmick or a distraction (except for Adams’ plunging necklines, of course).

Best documentary feature

“20 Feet from Stardom”
“The Square”
“The Act of Killing”
“Dirty Wars”
“Cutie and the Boxer”


Which will win: “Killing’s” intriguing premise was both unique and eye-opening, but…

Which should win: ...not as eye-opening as “Blackfish,” which failed to even earn a nomination, and should have been on this short list.

Documentary short

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


Which will win: These are all strong contenders, but look for the doc on pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, a 109-year-old concentration camp survivor who is “The Lady in Number 6” and looks like the odds-on favorite.

Film editing

“American Hustle”
“Gravity”
“12 Years a Slave”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”


Which will and should win: “Gravity” should pull this one into its orbit.

Best foreign-language film

“The Hunt” Denmark
“The Great Beauty” Italy
“The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium
“Omar” Palestine
“The Missing Picture” Cambodia


Which will win: “The Great Beauty.”

Makeup

“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
“The Lone Ranger”


Which will win: Odds are in favor of “Buyers Club” but…

Which should win: ...damn it would be nice to see Johnny Knoxville and company get acclaim for their excellent work in “Bad Grandpa.”

Original score

“Gravity”
“Philomena”
“Her”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“The Book Thief”


Which will and should win: The haunting, minimalist score of “Gravity” was one of its many stellar attributes.

Original song

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“The Moon Song” from “Her”


Which will and should win: Anyone with a grade-school girl at home knows the answer to this one, and bravo for Disney for getting it back with “Let it Go.”

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