The big day is almost upon us – the 2014 Academy Award ceremony airs this Sunday. It seemed so far away, but a chaotic and stressful February has mostly flown by. One of the casualties of this rough month has been my annual Oscar death race. I had been looking forward to trying to see as many of the nominees as possible like previous years, but a whole host of outside circumstances made that nearly impossible this year. I had seen all the major award nominees before they were announced, so I’m still in better shape than most of the country, but I’m still disappointed. I wouldn’t have been able to see all the nominees anyway, since two of the animated films haven’t gone to wide release yet, so that is some small solace. I’ll hopefully bounce back next year to chase after obscure foreign films, but I just didn’t have it in me this year.
That won’t stop me from making some predictions, however; even in the years where I have seen more of the nominees, I usually wind up guessing. On some things, my tastes and the majority (or plurality) of the Academy are simpatico; on others, we differ quite a bit. What I think will win and what I want to win are sometimes two very different ideas. Who knows – this could be the year that my accuracy actually increases because I don’t have to take my personal feeling into account for some categories.
So without any further ado – here are my predictions for the 2014 Oscars:
12 Years a Slave
This is an extremely close race this year and there are several of the 9 nominated film that I could see possibly walking away with a trophy. For me, I think it’s probably down to 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle and while Hustle was my favorite film of the year, I think that the importance of 12 Years a Slave will ultimately give it the edge. I’m guessing that voters will be more inclined to pick the more serious film. I don’t think that Nebraska, Captain Philips, Philomena of Her have any real chance, but a win for Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street or Dallas Buyers Club isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.
Actor in a Leading Role:
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
I was torn on this one – I’d like to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally pick up a win, but Oscar voters love a physically transformative performance and that gives the clear edge to McConaughey. I’d like to think that Chiwetel Ejiofor is in the conversation as well, but I haven’t heard a lot of buzz to indicate that. This would be a great capper on what has turned out to be the Year of McConaughey. Bruce Dern and Christian Bale were also great, but I don’t think that they’ll be factors.
Actress in a Leading Role:
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
I’m pretty sure that this is Blanchett’s award to lose; she’s done quite well at the earlier awards shows and she really gave an outstanding performance. I think Amy Adams is the best shot for an upset, but unless Blanchett did something awful to a lot of Academy voters, she appears to be a lock to win. Meryl Streep always makes things interesting, but I didn’t think her performance in August: Osage County was one of her best.
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Leto’s performance was one of my favorite things that I saw this year, so I’ll be thrilled to see him win. He completely disappeared into his portrayal of Rayon and brought a sensitivity and fragility to that role that was essential for the movie to work. I kind of like the idea of “Academy Award Winner Jonah Hill” appearing on posters for movies like 22 Jump Street, but I don’t think that is going to happen.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
I hate to go against my girl Jennifer Lawrence, but I think that Lupita Nyong’o will ultimately walk away with this one. She had the more challenging role and really nailed it; you can’t think about that movie without thinking about her Patsey. 12 Years a Slave was her film debut, which may hurt her with Oscar voters, but in the end I think she’ll ultimately walk away the winner.
Animated Feature Film
I was going to go out on a limb here and name The Wind Rises (a film that I haven’t actually seen from acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki), but I don’t think that will be any competition for the Disney machine. I quite enjoyed Frozen and it’s a nice throwback to the classic Disney movies of the 90s. And let’s be honest – there is no stopping “Let It Go.”
Few films were as visually stunning this year as Gravity and I think that the voters will reward the cinematographer for that achievement. I liked the black and white landscape of Nebraska, but the Midwest is no competition for the wonder of outer space.
I loved so many things about American Hustle, but the clothes were at the top of my list. I have a soft spot for 1970s couture, so I was in heaven while watching this film. It would have been easy to get caught up in 70s kitsch, but the costume designer showed enough restraint that the characters didn’t become caricatures.
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
The sheer magnitude of what he was able to pull off with all the special effects will surely win Cuarón Best Director. I had my issues with Gravity, but I think that Academy voters will be so awe-inspired by what he put up on the big screen that I don’t think the other directors have much of a chance.
20 Feet from Stardom
I predict that the change in the voting this year for documentaries (now open to all Academy voters) will result in a win for the more crowd pleasing 20 Feet from Stardom over some of the more depressing films that are in contention for Best Documentary. I really liked 20 Feet, so I have no issue with the win should it happen; I thought it was an interesting look at the world of being a back-up singer. And any movie that featured Bruce Springsteen gets my vote.
Documentary Short Subject
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
This is a total guess as I’ve seen none of these nominees and there usually isn’t a lot of news on the frontrunners in this category. The woman profiled in The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life just died, so it would be nice to see that film win.
I think that Gravity is going to win most of the visual awards. Just a hunch.
Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
This is how you know I really dropped the ball this year – usually I’ve seen at least half of the foreign language films and this year I’ve seen nada. But I’ve heard good things about The Broken Circle Breakdown, so it gets my vote.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club
I think this wins by default because I think most Academy voters would have a tough time voting for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa or The Lone Ranger.
Music – Original Score
I liked a lot of things about Her, but the music in particular stood out to me which is saying something as I am usually pretty oblivious to that stuff. I don’t know if John Williams being in this race will have any bearing – he’s a known quality – but I hope he isn’t a factor. I did notice the music in The Book Thief, but mostly because I found it schmaltzy and cloying.
Music – Original Song
“Let It Go”
Just going with the trend.
Short Film – Animated
Get a Horse!
I honestly didn’t really like this short, but it brings back Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse so I think that will be enough for people to get all nostalgic.
Short Film – Live Action
The Voorman Problem
I liked this title the best of the options.
In space, no one may be able to hear you scream, but you can sure hear things colliding with one another.
Sure – why not?
Writing – Adapted Screenplay
The Wolf of Wall Street
I don’t know if this will actually win, but I’m reading the book The Wolf of Wall Street and Terence Winter deserves the award. That book is not very well written. At all. Jordan Belfort might know a lot of ways to hustle people out of money, but he has a very limited knowledge of adjectives.
Writing – Original Screenplay
Not everyone loved this movie, but I think people can agree that it is a pretty unique story idea. I don’t know if that will be enough to get Her the win, but it is certainly the most non-traditional nominee.
What are your Oscar predictions? Let us know who you think will be a big winner on Sunday – and watch Monday for my love blog of the Oscars ceremony.