27 Days of Oscar: Day 25 Rick's Oscar Predictions!


This season started out as a completely open field, with favorites all over the map. But in recent weeks, it seems that everyone has aligned and almost all predictions look remarkably similar. Is the evening really that planned out? Will there be a surprise other than the few two horse races? Will one-time favorite American Hustle go home completely empty-handed? In the end, does it really matter? It’s been another incredible year for film. I think the two frontrunners for Best Picture are exceptional films and either way it goes, strong filmmaking and great storytelling will be rewarded.

Tomorrow will be the first year in a long time that Brian and I have not watched the Oscars together. But I’m so glad that he finally made the move to LA that has been a long time coming. I was honored the first time that he asked me to write a piece for Awards Wiz and proud to have been entrusted with its care during the times he has needed to be elsewhere.

But without further ado, here are my predictions for the Awards as well as how I would have voted and, of course, some thoughts on most of the categories.

Picture
Predict to win: 12 Years a Slave
But don’t discount: Gravity
How I would have voted: 12 Years a Slave
What’s missing: Fruitvale Station, Saving Mr. Banks and The Great Gatsby over Nebraska, Captain Phillips and possibly Dallas Buyers Club or The Wolf of Wall Street

With the PGA tied, 12 Years has a slight edge after winning the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. But Gravity is still a strong possibility (as I explained here) and there’s even a chance that feel-good Hustle (winner of the SAG ensemble) may still be in the running. This one is hard to call, especially since I’m predicting a split with Best Director, which will be the second time in a row. The most unscientific reason I almost called Gravity as the winner here? You have to go back to 1991’s Silence of the Lambs for my favorite film of the year to be named Best Picture.

Directing
Predict to win: Alfonso Cuaron
How I would have voted: Steve McQueen
Who’s missing: Spike Jonze for her over Payne

Whether Cuaron or McQueen takes home the gold (and it’s highly doubtful it would be anyone else), it will be a first. There’s never been a black or Hispanic person to win Best Director. Both have done exceptional work in completely different films. We should expect great things from both of them in the future.

Actor
Predict to win: Matthew McConaughey
How I would have voted: Chiwetel Ejifor
Who’s missing: Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station over DiCaprio

There’s a chance that Ejifor’s BAFTA win could earn him some momentum. Some are saying DiCaprio will sneak in there, but I don’t see that happening. If the Academy really wants a win for him (and I don’t see that they do), it will need to be for a less controversial film. The BAFTAs (where McConaughey was not nominated) were his place to show a resurgence and that didn’t happen. After I saw this year’s Mud, I was sure McConaughey would get his first Oscar. Of course, I was thinking for that film in the Supporting category, so my prescience is a bit off…

Actress
Predict to win: Cate Blanchett
How I would have voted: Cate Blanchett
Who’s missing: Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks, though it’s hard to choose who to replace, probably  over Streep

This seems to be one of the few absolute givens of the night, considering she’s taken home almost every other precursor award. Thompson was my favorite of the year in this category and she didn’t even score a nomination. Each of the woman are incredible in their films, though. Adams gives a very nuanced and layered performance with what I think is a relatively weak screenplay. Bullock’s performance really stood out to me when I saw it for the second time on my computer—taking away the scope of the special effects really hones in on her spectacular work. Dench is charming and rides her character’s emotional journey like a roller-coaster. I’ve continually kicked myself for not missing Blanchett’s performance as Blanche in Streetcar Named Desire, but after seeing Blue Jasmine, I think I’ve seen the next best thing.

Supporting Actor
Predict to win: Jared Leto
How I would have voted: Michael Fassbender
Who’s missing: Stacey Keach in Nebraska, Matthew McConaughey in Mud, Chris Cooper in August: Osage County, Colin Farrell in Saving Mr. Banks, John Goodman in Inside Llewyn Davis —any of these over Hill

Leto turns in a wonderful performance as Rayon, but I don’t think it compares to the dynamics Fassbender brings to his role in 12 Years. However, losing the BAFTA (where Leto was not nominated) was the only place for him to pick up some steam. That award went to Abdi, but I don’t see him taking home Oscar gold.

Supporting Actress
Predict to win: Lupita Nyong'o
But don’t discount: Jennifer Lawrence
How I would have voted: Lupita Nyong'o
Who’s missing: Sarah Paulson in 12 Years a Slave, Octavia Spencer and Melanie Diaz in Fruitvale Station and Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games—any of these over Squibb and possibly over Lawrence

At this point, it’s pretty much a two woman race between newcomer Nyong'o and Lawrence, who was a first time nominee not that long ago. I had thought the tides turned from Lawrence after the Golden Globes, but her recent BAFTA win means that’s not necessarily so. To be fair, she’s an extremely talented actress who I just feel was miscast in this role, but she does relish every moment of her onscreen time. Nyong'o, on the other hand, gives an incredible multi-layered performance that deserves accolades. It’s so real, that I think it wasn’t until she became the glamorous darling of the red carpet that people realized how brilliant she is in it.

Animated Feature
Predict to win: Frozen
How I would have voted: Frozen

This would be the first Oscar for Walt Disney Animation in this category. In quality, the drop off after Frozen is pretty steep. Many, myself included, don’t like The Croods or Despicable Me 2 very much—the animation is good, but the stories are weak. Ernest and Celestine has the benefit of being hand drawn, but the visual styles are very simple and clunky, which don’t allow for connection with the characters. In contrast, the other hand drawn entry (The Wind Rises) is beautifully rendered, with vibrant colors and gorgeous backgrounds. However, it is a slow moving historical fiction by Hayao Miyazaki—more known for his works of fantasy. It certainly has its supporters, but I doubt they are numerous enough to overtake Frozen.

Foreign Language Film
Predict to win: The Great Beauty
How I would have voted: The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Great Beauty has been one of the constant nominees in this category throughout the season, which might have been dominated by Blue is the Warmest Color had it not missed the cutoff date to be France’s entry this year. However, they were up against each other at the Golden Globes and Beauty still won. I did not see its appeal at all, except as an homage to Fellini. Perhaps the biggest problem with two of the other strong candidates, Broken Circle Breakdown and The Hunt is that they don’t seem “foreign” enough, but each is excellent and could make a showing here. I don’t see the Academy voting for Palestinian entry Omar and it’s hard not to feel The Missing Picture (a documentary) is in the wrong category.

Documentary Feature
Predict to win: The Act of Killing
But don’t discount 20 Feet From Stardom or The Square
How I would have voted: The Act of Killing
Who’s missing: The Armstrong Lie over Dirty Wars or Cutie and the Boxer

This is only the second year that the entire Academy has voted on Best Documentary, instead of only those that had seen all five films in approved screenings. Instead, they are all sent screeners and have the option of watching at home. Or not… (Though they still have to attest to have seen all five before voting). Which means that it’s still hard to get a feel for how things will go. It used to be rare for an entertainment themed film to make it into this category, much less win. But last year’s (phenomenal) Waiting for Sugarman did just that. If crowd-pleaser 20 Feet From Stardom wins, that will set a tone for all future years’ predictions. For this year, Netflix’s The Square is relevant, not just because of how recent the events in Egypt were, but in how similar situations are happening currently across the globe, is an excellent film and could sway some voters. But The Act of Killing is one of the most powerful documentaries of several years that made quite a few Top 10 Films of the Year lists. It’s a perfect example of the transformative effects film can have.

Cinematography
Predict to win: Gravity
How I would have voted: The Grandmaster

You may remember that The Grandmaster almost sparked me to create a best scenes list just so I could include its opening (see here, if you don't). I was glad to see it honored here, though there’s no chance of it winning.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Predict to win: 12 Years a Slave
How I would have voted: 12 Years a Slave
Who’s missing: Blue is the Warmest Color

I liked the Philomena screenplay quite a bit and it won at the BAFTAs, though that probably had more to do with being on home turf. I was not enamored of any of the other nominees.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Predict to win: her
But don’t discount: American Hustle
How I would have voted: Nebraska

My favorite aspect of Nebraska was the screenplay and I wish the final product lived up to it. I’ve gone back and forth on whether American Hustle or her will win this so many times, I’ve lost track of what I really think. This may be the closest race other than Best Picture. Up until I started making this list, I was pretty sure her was my prediction. But then I realized how little American Hustle would be taking home if all my selections were true. And that just didn’t coincide with the love I know people feel for it. However, her is a truly unique screenplay and those don’t come around very often. I have to think that creativity will be rewarded.

Production Design
Predict to win: The Great Gatsby
How I would have voted: The Great Gatsby

It’s rare this doesn’t go to a Best Picture nominee and both Gravity and 12 Years a Slave have a chance here. It’s a bit old school to go with the extravagant period film, but I think its lavishness was gorgeously perfect for the film.

Costume Design
Predict to win: American Hustle
But don’t discount: The Great Gatsby
How I would have voted: The Great Gatsby
Who’s missing: her, with a completely viable futuristic style

Other than the performances, what are the two things that stand out the most in American Hustle? The hair and the costumes. (Bonus points if you answered Amy Adams…) Astonishingly, it isn’t nominated for hair and make-up, so I think that will give it an edge here over Oscar favorite Catherine Martin

Hair and Makeup
Predict to win: Dallas Buyers Club
How I would have voted: Dallas Buyers Club
Who’s missing: American Hustle and The Hunger Games
After watching it, I had to admit that the Makeup in Bad Grandpa is indeed good—it had to be, otherwise the “secret” of the filming would have been given away. But I’m not sure the Academy is ready to give an Oscar to the Jackass franchise. What was accomplished with Dallas Buyers Club on less than a shoestring budget was remarkable, though had either American Hustle or Hunger Games been nominated, I’d have voted for one of those.

Film Editing
Predict to win: Captain Philips
But don’t discount: Gravity
How I would have voted: 12 Years a Slave

Captain Philips has the type of editing that tends to win here—fast and frequent. It’s not generally the style I like. It did win the editors’ guild award and that has a strong track record of aligning with this category. But frequently it also aligns with Best Picture. 12 Years a Slave uses long takes and extended sequences in a way that magnifies the circumstances and enhances the performances. Knowing when not to cut can be the mark of a tremendous editor. This is one of the few places open to rewarding Philips, a movie many preferred more than I did, or American Hustle. However, if Gravity pulls a sweep in the tech category, it could win here easily.

Sound Editing
Predict to win: Gravity
How I would have voted: Gravity
Who’s missing: Upstream Color (especially considering one of the major themes of the film is sound)

Sound Mixing
Predict to win: Gravity
How I would have voted: Inside Llewyn Davis

Visual Effects
Predict to win: Gravity
How I would have voted: Gravity
Who’s missing: World War Z or Pacific Rim over The Lone Ranger

Music (Original Score)
Predict to win: Gravity
How I would have voted: Saving Mr. Banks
Who’s missing: Frozen

Music (Original Song)
Predict to win: “Let it Go”
How I would have voted: “Let it Go”

“Happy” is extremely gleeful and catchy as well as climbing the charts. “Ordinary Love” has a wonderful backstory and Bono and U2 have been making the rounds of the campaign trail. While it’s possible that either could sneak in and take the prize, “Let it Go” has taken on a life of its own—as witnessed by the numerous covers, sing-a-longs and YouTube videos.

Short Film (Animated)
Predict to win: Get a Horse!
How I would have voted: Mr. Hublot

This is actually a tough call, because my gut tells me to go for Mr. Hublot as I think it’s the kind of film the Academy would usually go for—loveable characters in an imaginative world. However, I think it’s Disney’s year and Frozen may help carry Get a Horse! to victory. Last year, I should have trusted my gut on the doc short and here I am again doubting myself. I loved Horse! when I first saw it (in front of Frozen), but that dimmed some when in direct comparison to the others in the category. Or perhaps it was because I knew what was coming. I don’t think Possessions or Feral are in the running and Room on a Broom is delightful, but the Academy tends not to vote for the children’s story book adaptations.

Short Film (Live Action)
Predict to win: Helium
How I would have voted: Just Before Losing Everything
What’s missing: Aningaaq (the short film that depicts the other end of Ryan’s distress call in Gravity was excellent, but didn’t even make the shortlist)

There are three major contenders: Helium, The Voorman Problem and Just Before Losing Everything and each of them is strong in its own way. Voorman boasts star power and many are predicting it will win. But it lost the BAFTA back when it was eligible there and the film feels like it ends too soon. Just Before… is a fantastic film about a woman escaping from her abusive husband that plays out like a taut spy thriller, but I think it may be too subtle to gain votes. Helium is perfectly structured with a definitive beginning, middle and end. It also pulls at the heartstrings and has beautiful cinematography. I think it’s what the Academy will go for.

Documentary Short
Predict to win: The Lady in Number 6
How I would have voted: The Lady in Number 6

I can’t even imagine another film winning. Karama Has No Walls is very timely, but may be too similar to feature length documentary nominee The Square. Facing Fear is a great, but while the director has commendably avoided taking a sensationalist approach to a very extraordinary story, it feels at times like a television news story. Prison Terminal covers a fascinating, but uncomfortable subject. The focus in CaveDigger isn’t quite as enthralling as his art works. Alice Herz Sommer, the titular Lady in Number 6, spent many years in Theresiendstadt, the Nazi concentration camp full of artists and musicians, but has maintained a steadfast positive outlook on life. She is so likable, with a contagious smile. Sadly, she passed away at age 110 earlier this week.

Totals:
Gravity: 6
12 Years a Slave: 3
Dallas Buyers Club: 3
Frozen: 2
American Hustle: 1
Blue Jasmine: 1
Captain Phillips: 1
The Great Gatsby: 1
her: 1

Comments

  1. Nice predictions mate! I feel like I'm second guess myself with a few now.

    I wish I had seen the shorts this year, I'll need to commit more time to them in the future.

    Agree completely with the acting categories. Would have loved to see Ejiofor win and I would have had Michael B. Jordan in over DiCaprio in a heartbeat!

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    Replies
    1. I love going to see the shorts. There are always a couple I wonder why they were included, but most of them are really strong.

      I'm most unsure about Best Documentary now. After it winning the Spirit Award last night, I'm pretty sure "20 Feet" may win. I really wanted to like that movie more than I did. "Act of Killing" and "The Square" are far superior.

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