Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oscar Predictions 2014

The calendar has rolled to March again, which means not only have baseball players have reported to spring training (yippee!), it's time for me to get to the plate and swing at the curveball known as Predicting the Academy Award Winners.

 A former coworker of my husband’s runs a sizeable pool every year.  I don’t always win, but I’ve won frequently enough to be called out as The One To Beat. (Not that this amps up the pressure, right?) Here are my picks for this year...if you haven’t seen any of this year’s movies and need to crib, feel free. You can take me to task on Monday if I've lost my touch. 

Best Picture:  12 Years a Slave
NOTE: See my big fat caveat at the bottom of this post. 

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
NOTE: Conventional wisdom says not to split your Best Picture and Best Director picks.  However, a healthy number of Hollywood pundits are doing exactly that, going with 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture and Curarón for Gravity as Best Director.  That split also falls in line with what happened at many of the earlier awards shows this season.  

Best Actor:  Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club 

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
NOTE:  Closest thing there is to a lock in the acting categories. 

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club 

Best Supporting Actress:  Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave 

Best Animated Feature Film:  Frozen 

Best Foreign Film:  La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), Italy 

Best Original Screenplay:  Her
NOTE:  This will be a tight race, kids.  Her put the “original” in Best Original Screenplay.  However, American Hustle (rightfully) earned a pile of nominations and I’d be stunned to see the night end without it earning a single statue.  This is an easy place for Academy voters to award the film.  If you're so inclined, pick Hustle here. 

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave 

Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby
NOTE: 12 Years a Slave is also a strong contender here. However, I think the Academy likes spectacle in this category, and Gatsby is a spectacle. 

Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby 

Best Original Song:  “Let it Go,” Frozen 

Best Original Score:   Gravity 

Best Documentary Feature:  20 Feet From Stardom
NOTE: I didn’t see the entire documentary, but saw enough of it—and news pieces about its backstory—to find it fascinating. Also, its upbeat tone is the type Academy voters love. 

Best Film Editing:  Captain Phillips
NOTE: I’m taking a leap on this one.  If you want to play it safe, go with Gravity.  

Best Cinematography:  Gravity
NOTE: In my heart of hearts, I don’t want this to go to Gravity. I want it to go to Nebraska. But I also want to win my pool. 

Best Makeup:  Dallas Buyers Club

Best Sound Editing: Gravity 

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity 

Best Visual Effects: Gravity 

Best Documentary (Short Subject):   The Lady in Number 6:  Music Saved My Life 
NOTE: Want to win your pool? You know you do. Go with me on this one. 

Best Animated Short Film:  Get A Horse! 

Best Live Action Short Film:  Just Before Losing Everything
NOTE:  Another tough category.  If you go with film critics, several are picking Helium (the sentimental story of a dying boy) while others like The Voorman Problem (a jailhouse psychiatrist faces an astute prisoner who believes he is God.) I’m going against both by picking the story of a woman running from an abusive husband while trying to protect her children.

And now my big fat caveat:  I am probably the one person who didn’t oooh and aaah over Gravity.  While I thought it was a solid film, it it didn’t rock my world to the extent most film connoisseurs claim it should have. I watched it to kill time during a long plane flight…but even then, I found myself picking up my Kindle and reading mid-movie, waiting for Sandy Bullock to hit the button that would either doom her to a cold death in space or send her hurtling home. As a story, I found it predictable and somewhat slow. On the other hand, I can't imagine anyone picking up a book while watching 12 Years a Slave. So while I picked Gravity to win a number of technical awards, I couldn’t bring myself to jump on the Best Picture juggernaut. Take that bias into account when making your own picks.  If you liked Gravity, you should still feel confident checking a lot of boxes on your ballot. Popular opinion is with you.

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