2014 Oscar Predictions and Preferences

A great year for movies. This year I’m doing things a bit differently. I haven’t read any predictions or Oscar discussions and have paid as little attention as possible to precursors. My ratio could be lower this year, but so what. All Oscar nominees below are ranked according to my preference. Also, my own best of the year list will come out as soon as I catch up on a backlog of 2013 titles. Here we go…

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Original Screenplay: David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
Foreign Film: Denmark’s The Hunt
Documentary: Act of Killing
Animated Feature: Frozen
Visual Effects: Gravity
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Editing: American Hustle
Original Score: Steven Price (Gravity)
Song: U2’s “Ordinary Love” (Mandela)
Production Design: Gravity
Costume Design: American Hustle
Make Up: Dallas Buyers Club
Sound Editing: Gravity
Sound Mixing: Gravity
Short Live Action: The Voorman Problem
Short Animated: Get a Horse!
Documentary Short: Facing Fear

Best Picture

  • Her (grade: A)
  • American Hustle (A)
  • 12 Years a Slave (A)
  • Gravity (B+)
  • Nebraska (B+)
  • Captain Phillips (B+)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (B)
  • Philomena (B)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (C+/B-)

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave is a worthy title to join the list of best picture winners. If it indeed does become the 86th winner, it is easily the best one we’ve gotten since No Country for Old Men. History will probably see Gravity go down as the more “relevant” and groundbreaking film of of 2013 but I feel a picture/director split makes sense with 12 Years taking picture and Gravity’s directing (and myriad technical achievement) being honored in the categories below. Gravity may not win here but it’s guaranteed to take home more awards than any other 2013 film. There’s a victory in that.
Should Win: Her with American Hustle coming in second.
Snubbed: So many but if I had to pick just one: Blue Jasmine. It’s so random that nine films got nominated. Just do a top ten, dummies. If we must nominated more than five, and there are enough worthy movies to choose from (which there were this year), then round up!

Best Director

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

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón. Good! I’m glad he’s (probably) going to win here because grand technical achievements in sci-fi like Tarkovsky’s Solaris Nolan’s films and 2001: A Space Odyssey are curiously never recognized by the overly sentimental Academy. The Ron Howards of the world will always get their Oscars while the colder yet far more intellectual Kubricks of the world always seem to be passed over. Perhaps that’s because voters are so wrapped up in their emotions that they fail to recognize artistry. Not this time. I’ll be clapping up a storm when Cuaron picks up his Oscar on Sunday but if voters should not follow the DGA rule and vote McQueen instead I won’t be too surprised.
Should Win: David Russell vs. Cuaron. So divided. Cuarón’s last film Children of Men was my pick for best director so, yeah, I’m a huge fan. If he wins for Gravity, he’ll be the only name on my list of the top five most important (from the 90s and beyond) directors with an Oscar; sadly, Christopher Nolan, PT Anderson, Quentin Tarentino and David Fincher may all join the company of Kubrick, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman and De Palma as legends without a best director win. However, American Hustle is Russell’s best work as a director since Three Kings and I’m going with Russell in the end as my personal pick because Hustle is made with such care and possesses a gleefully manic energy that reminded me of Boogie Nights.
Snubbed: I’d replace Scorsese’s overrated Wolf and Payne’s Nebraska with Spike Jonez’s Her and Chan-wook Park’s criminally underrated Stoker.

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Hard to argue with that. McConaughey comeback is nothing short of legendary and his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is remarkable and unstoppable.
Should Win: Christian Bale. Has zero chance but I’m just happy he was nominated. If Ejiofor wins I would also be thrilled but I don’t see that happening. His performance isn’t as showy as Bale or McConaughey but it’s rock solid. He anchors the movie. As for DiCaprio, he should have been nominated last year. He overacts in Wolf.
Snubbed: Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Robert Redford (All is Lost).

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Will Win: Cate Blanchett leads a very strong category. All great performance that, in any other year, could have won.
Should Win: Blanchett is my pick but I would be just as happy if Adams wins. She is, after all, way overdue and had a great year with performances in Her, Hustle and, yes, even Man of Steel. Such range!
Snubbed: Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha). GG getting snubbed is made even sadder by of the fact that this is probably her last great film performance before we lose her to the dark machine that is network sitcom (she got the lead in the How I Meet Your Mother spin-off).

Best Supporting Actor

  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Will Win: Jared Leto. Decent enough in Dallas, but underwhelming as potential winners go. He’s no Christoph Waltz. It’s a nice gesture to recognize a transgender character but not for that reason alone. Beyond politics, I don’t see any other reason to give it to Leto when all the other actors and the characters they play have so much more to them. Peter O’Tool and Carey Grant never got an Oscar but Jared-fucking-Leto will. Life is so unfair.
Should Win: Fassbender not winning will be a travesty on the level of Ralph Finnes not getting an Oscar for Schindler’s List. Best character of the year. The problem in both cases is that the characters they portray are so unlikable that people are turned off and vote with their hearts instead. Hence Tommy Lee Jones winning for The Fugitive and Leto winning.
Snubbed: Vithaya Pansringarm essentially plays god in the misunderstood Only God Forgives. Or Judge Dredd. Either way, his character is unlike anything else I’ve seen all year. A force of unwavering justice, this god-cop does not forgive, he instead slashes off arms before giving a karaoke sermons. He is the living embodiment of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s bizarre desire to get in a fistfight with god.

Best Supporting Actress

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

Will Win: Nyong’o 12 Years a Slave. A character defined by suffering but little else. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory and while her character is tragic and poignant there’s not enough of a character arc here. Sarah Paulson gave a better supporting performance in the same movie! It doesn’t make sense that Ejiofor and Fassbender won’t get an Oscar for their meaty roles in 12 Years a Slave but Nyong’o will. I wish the film was able to explore her hopeless situation with more focus and depth but it’s such a sprawling story that it simply didn’t have time.
Should Win: Aside from Nyong’o’s nomination, a strong category. My vote goes to Lawrence and Sally Hawkins. Tough call but I’d give Hawkins the edge. Her character is as essential to why Blue Jasmine works as Blanchette.
Snubbed: Nicole Kidman (Stoker).

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater (Before Midnight?)
  • Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
  • Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)

Will Win: Ridley’s 12 years. Yay! I’ve been a longtime fan of Ridley since his Three Kings script and his deliciously pulpy Elmore Leonard-esq crime novels like Everyone Smokes in Hell.
Should Win: The other 2013 film Coogan wrote and starred in, Alpha Papa, was even better than Philomena and as much as I’d like to see Coogan win an Oscar, Ridley is by far the best nominee.
Snubbed: This was a bad year for adapted screenplays. The less said the better.

Best Original Screenplay

  • David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
  • Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
  • Spike Jonze (Her)
  • Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)

Will Win: David O. Russell. Long overdue as a writer. He was my pick for best writer forever ago with Flirting with Disaster. I like Dallas Buyers Club but if it wins I’m going to be in a snit for the rest of the night. Please, please, please give Russell an Oscar!
Should Win: Jonez with Russell in a close second place. His first great script. I love that Jonez is able to show us that his career is not all due to Charley Kauffman.
Snubbed: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s At World’s End is the most clever movie of the year.

Best Foreign Film

  • Denmark, The Hunt
  • Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown
  • Italy, The Great Beauty
  • Cambodia, The Missing Picture
  • Palestine, Omar

Will Win: The Hunt. Mads!
Should Win: The Hunt. MADS!!!
Snubbed: Hum, why wasn’t The Grandmaster nominated?

Best Documentary 

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

Will Win: Act of Killing.
Should Win: Act of Killing.
Snubbed: Room 237. Also Tim’s Vermeer and that Sarah Polly doc. Problem is, entertaining documentaries are usually frowned upon in this category.

Best Animated Feature

  • The Wind Rises
  • Frozen
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Despicable Me 2
  • The Croods

Will Win: Frozen seems like a sure bet. Disney really needs another animated feature Oscar (he said sarcastically).
Should Win: Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. None of the nominees deserve to be spoken of in the same breath as Miyazaki’s latest (and last?) animated achievement. At least he won for Spirited Away.
Snubbed: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was pretty much the best (non-Miyazaki) animated film of the year.

Visual Effects

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger

Will Win: Gravity. With Life of Pi winning last year  and Gravity this year I’m very please with how visual effects are being awarded at the Oscars. It’s pleasing to see CGI reach such artistic heights.
Should Win: Gravity.
Snubbed: Man of Steel and Pacific Rim. Lone Range and Iron Man 3 have no business being nominated instead. Man of Steel is the best (and most underrated) blockbuster of the year and easily the best superhero movie. For the Zod vs. Superman fight alone it should have won this category. Iron Man 3, by comparison, offered nothing we haven’t seen before. If anything it offered less! Less Iron Man and more Tony Stark who, last I checked, wasn’t a special effect… so why was it nominated?!

Best Cinematography

  • Roger Deakins (Prisoners)
  • Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
  • Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
  • Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Will Win: Gravity. Gravity is going to (and deserves to) clean up in the technical categories. If that is the case than than it HAS to win for cinematograph
Should Win: Prisioners ties with Gravity. Not because it’s better than Gravity but because I want to see Deakins finally win.
Snubbed: Chung-hoon Chung (Stoker).

Film Editing

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

Will Win: American Hustle. Gravity has a good shot because, again, voters are dumb. Great movie but there’s so little editing involved I will laugh if it wins.
Should Win: American Hustle.
Snubbed: Her.

Best Original Score

  • William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her)
  • Steven Price (Gravity)
  • Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
  • Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • John Williams (The Book Thief)

Will Win: Wow, I have no idea. I’ll say Gravity because voters may just check it off in every category (except best picture). Also: STOP NOMINATING JOHN WILLIAMS!!!
Should Win: Arcade Fire’s Her because it’s beautiful and doesn’t sound like every other nominee. I’m partial to electronic scores. As long as it’s not John Williams I’m happy.
Snubbed: Not sure how Hans Zimmer’s 12 Years a Slave’s score missed the cut. John Williams got in though which makes me ill.

Best Song

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC3ahd6Di3M[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU6KFnGF9M8[/youtube]

  • “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
  • “The Moon Song” (Her)
  • “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
  • “Let It Go” (Frozen)
  • “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone)

Will Win: “Alone Yet Not Alone” haha. No, really, I hate this category. It’s like a shortcut for people who shouldn’t be getting Oscars and almost always has no impact upon the film artifact. It’s promotional crap and shouldn’t be a category. Anywhoo… Ordinary Love. U2 didn’t win for Gangs of New York and a win here seems likely. Not only does a Mandella movie get a win but a popular classic rock band does too. Win, win.
Should Win: Ordinary Love and Moon Song. What the hell, I’ll vote U2. A cheesy song but an effective one. And, as much as I hate to say it, catchy too. First U2 song in over a decade that didn’t make my ears bleed. Despite that, I’m dreading that giant piece of crap (South Park reference) Bono’s speech.
Snubbed: Inside Llewyen Davis. Outer… SPACE. I’m not complaining about this category though because I’m just so grateful that Taylor Swift didn’t get nominated and so glad Kings of Leon didn’t get nominated (for August Osage County) and thrilled that the overrated XX didn’t get nominated for Great Gadspy.

Production Design

  • Her
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • The Great Gatsby

Will Win: Gravity. Not 100% on this because it’s not a period movie and voters are more often than not ignorant when it comes to this category so it may very well not win.
Should Win: Props to Gravity but Her’s speculative near future design is remarkable and by far the most creative of the nominees. Smart and subtle too. Not too technologically advanced but foreign enough to really feel like the future. Everything about that movie is brilliant but I don’t see it winning a single award -_-
Snubbed: Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

Costume Design

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave. Random guess. I have no idea.
Should Win: I don’t care. American Hustle I guess.
Snubbed: Her’s near future costumes, like the sets, do so much to help establish the world and, even better, so much to not distract you from the characters and story. But this opinion requires recognizing a non period for its excellence which is sadly not done often even though it displays a lot more imagination and creativity. Anyone can look in a book and using preexisting fashion so I almost always respect non period movie sets and fashion when it comes to awards. I complain about this ever year.

Makeup 

  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Lone Ranger

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club.
Should Win: Bad Gramdpa. Anything but Lone Ranger which was inexplicably nominated. Disney threw some paint on Depp’s face. Ok. They also did an old man CGI. None of this is reason for a nomination. Another pointless category that I don’t want to waste much time on.
Snubbed: Uhhhh, where’s Hobbit?

Sound Editing

  • Gravity
  • All is Lost
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Captain Phillips
  • Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity’s a lock for the sound awards.
Should Win: Gravity. But I’m happy to see All is Lost get it’s single nomination. Too bad Robert Redfort wasn’t also nominated.
Snubbed: Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.

Sound Mixing

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Captain Phillips
  • Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity.
Should Win: Gravity.
Snubbed: Again, Pacific Rim: zero nominations! So, so sad.

Short Film, Live Action

  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
  • Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

Will Win: No Clue. At random I’ll guess The Voorman Problem because voters seem to vote based on title.
Should Win: Marvel’s One Shot short with Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was better than any 2013 Marvel movie. Oh, but it wasn’t nominated.
Snubbed: Me. All the videos I made of my Pug on Vine. I was ROBBED!

Short Film, Animated

  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

Will Win: Get a Horse! because Frozen.
Should Win: Any given episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is better than the above shorts.

Documentary Short Subject

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

Will Win: Facing Fear sounds like something that would win this category sight unseen. Sure, why not, that’ll win. You heard it here first. 
Should Win: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz