One Month Until Oscar Night

BEST-PICTURE-OSCARS-2014

With a month to go until Oscar night, ballots going out eleven days from now, and an eventful week that involved an unheard-of rescinded nomination, we thought we should offer up our predictions with how we see Oscar night playing out.

The nominees are…

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

Ella: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle are currently in a three-way battle, and it’s likely to stay that way for the rest of the race. 12 Years a Slave in the front runner in my opinion, it has a strong critical and audience following, topping many critics groups awards and won the Golden Globe. Look out for American Hustle or Gravity to possibly pull an upset- the former has been garnering it’s fair share of fans, surprisingly sweeping a few precursors; and the latter has had a late boost with a DGA win.

Alex: American Hustle seemed to be a disappointing frontrunner for a while – as entertaining as it is, it’s decidedly not Best Picture standard – but the buzz has quieted somewhat and after the shared PGA win for Gravity and 12 Years A Slave, either of those seems poised to take it. In a way, it’s the traditional vs. technical battle we saw with The Hurt Locker and Avatar a few short years ago; my money is on 12 Years to take the prize at this point, however, will the Academy be able to stomach an unrelenting portrait of human slavery?

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

Ella: McConaughey, Ejiofor, and DiCaprio are the front-runners here, all incredible performances, but McConaughey almost has this ‘in the bag’. Ever since his career revival in 2011, there has been a demand for him to get some awards attention, and he has almost nabbed too many precursors to argue that he won’t win. Plus, the film got a late surge of love with a total of six Oscar nominations, four more than anyone was predicting until about a week before the announcement.

Alex: With Bale and Dern nominated for good-but-not-great turns, it’s a three horse race. DiCaprio does some of his best work of late with Wolf, but once again it just doesn’t seem to be his year. Ejiofor is arguably the most deserving with his harrowing performance in 12 Years A Slave, but the buzz the film is enjoying doesn’t seem to be singling him out. Yep, McConaughey has this in the bag – precursor wins, career resurgence, physical transformation. Bet on it.

Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Ella: Ever since Blue Jasmine’s in mid-2013, it’s been constantly correctly predicted that Blanchett will take home the little gold man. This category is locked up, she has only lost one precursor, and that was the Gotham to Brie Larson. I was hoping that Adams would win when she finally got a Lead Actress nomination, but Blanchett deserves it, and, at this very early stage, it looks like Adams is going to have another great year in 2014.

Alex: If there’s one absolutely 100% sure thing of this year’s awards, it’s that Blanchett will take home the prize for her turn in Woody Allen’s latest. It’s not a film I particularly enjoyed but she’s absolutely outstanding and the prize is rightfully hers. I want to see Amy Adams win sooner rather than later, but she’s done far better work than American Hustle – and I haven’t quite forgiven Sandra for taking home a statue for The Blind Side, although her work in Gravity was stellar. Judi Dench was suitably quaint in Philomena (though she’s been better), and nominating Streep for August: Osage County is almost as bad as her nomination/win for The Iron Lady.

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Ella: Another lock here, Leto has received near-constant praise all awards season, and it would be quite an upset if he doesn’t win.

Alex: I haven’t yet seen Dallas Buyers Club, but I’ve heard excellent things about Leto’s performance and he’s clearly the frontrunner at this point. An upset would be nice, as the supporting categories can traditionally be occasionally surprising – but Bradley Cooper was one of the weaker performances in American Hustle, so if we’re going to reward someone else – let’s go with overdue Michael Fassbender or newcomer Barkhad Abdi. Jonah Hill, your time will come.

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Ella: All season, it’s been between two candidates: Nyong’o and Lawrence. Nyong’o seems to have the upper hand currently though, she delivers an absolute knock out performance that just blows you out of the water. Lawrence is charming and funny, being the ‘celebrity pick’ at awards, but she won for a performance that is perceived to not be incredibly deserving only a year ago. Her time will come again, though.

Alex: The one acting category I’m genuinely invested in, as Lupita Nyong’o’s performance in 12 Years A Slave was one of the most riveting I’ve ever been witness to in a cinema. Academy, please get one thing right. (Though I found Jennifer Lawrence and June Squibb hilarious in their respective roles, their performances seem inconsequential in comparison. And JLaw won once already.)

Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Ella: Another category all locked up. Cuaron has it.

Alex: Just give it to Cuaron already. (Though McQueen’s work is nothing to be sneezed at.)

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

Ella: A surprising choice due to it’s rather avant-garde style, The Great Beauty is the most likely candidate at this point in time. Plus, it has been playing to pretty good box office receipts, considering it’s run time, small distributor, and limited release. Look out for audience favourites The Broken Circle Breakdown and The Hunt to possibly cause an upset.

Alex: I find this category more than a little odd, as I didn’t care for The Broken Circle Breakdown or The Missing Picture at all. The former seems to be getting its fair share of praise, but after its win at the Golden Globes I’m going to go with The Great Beauty – possible upset, The Hunt.

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

Ella: My heart is saying Before Midnight, as it would be a wonderful gesture for 18 years of consistently incredible and unique work (plus, who doesn’t want to see those three give an Oscars speech?), but my head is saying 12 Years a Slave, which has won nearly every category it has been nominated for.

Alex: Captain Phillips just picked up the WGA nod (somewhat surprisingly, I might add), but 12 Years A Slave wasn’t eligible for the awards so it could pose a threat to snag the trophy. In another life, I would love to see Before Midnight take the top prize, but it ain’t gonna happen.

Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her – Spike Jonze
Nebraska – Bob Nelson

Ella: Jonze, finally.

Alex: Spike Jonze has it in the bag, and rightfully so.

Best Animated Feature Film
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Ella: There’s potential here for a ‘farewell’ nod to Miyazaki (after all, Spirited Away won the prize only the second time it was ever handed out in 2003), but Frozen seems the likelier choice.

Alex: Frozen definitely has the positive press and Disney charm to put it in prime position, but if the Academy gets sentimental about the end of Miyazaki’s career we may see The Wind Rises snag the prize.

Best Production Design
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her
12 Years a Slave

Ella: I’m not a massive expert on this kind of stuff, but the Oscars love period work, so I’m predicting Gatsby or Hustle, which are both glitzy, grand, and loud. It’d be cool to see Her snag this though, taking our current world and smartly tweaking it slightly to give a ‘futuristic’, fantasy vibe.

Alex: The Academy doesn’t tend to reward subtlety in the design categories, so it’s likely to be a two horse race between American Hustle and The Great Gatsby. With all the buzz Hustle is getting, I think it’ll come out on top. I agree with Ella, however – it’d be nice to see Her take the prize.

Best Cinematography
The Grandmaster – Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners – Roger Deakins

Ella: I’d love Delbonnel to win, as a lone prize for Llewyn Davis, but Lubezki has it, and rightfully so. He constantly turns in spectacular work, this being no exception.

Alex: Lubezki looks poised to finally take home the Oscar, and that couldn’t be a more exciting prospect for what is revolutionary work. I do wish Sean Bobbitt had scored a nom though.

Best Sound Mixing
Captain Phillips – Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Chris Munro
Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, and Tony Johnson
Inside Llewyn Davis – Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, and David Brownlow

Ella: Gravity is quite a technical achievement, and that has been one of the main talking points when it comes to praise, so I’m expecting it to basically sweep these categories.

Alex: With Gravity unlikely to receive any major awards aside from Best Director, I’m predicting it’ll clean up in the technical categories. It’s very disappointing that this is one of two nominations for Llewyn Davis, though.

Best Sound Editing
All Is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney
Gravity – Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Brent Burge and Chris Ward
Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Ella: Same case as Sound Mixing- Gravity has been the majority of the buzz, so it’s expected to win.

Alex: Gravity, again.

Best Original Score
The Book Thief – John Williams
Gravity – Steven Price
Her – William Butler and Owen Pallett
Philomena – Alexandre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks – Thomas Newman

Ella: After it’s very, very surprising Golden Globe win, it was a shock to not see Alex Ebert in here. Two of these composers are Academy darlings (Williams and Newman), but make up their respective films lone nominations, which lessens their chances of winning. Desplat has a chance, but his Philomena score isn’t his best, and Arcade Fire seems a bit too ‘edgy’ for the Oscars, so it looks like Steven Price is taking this one.

Alex: Tough call. Oscar mainstays Williams, Desplat, and Newman all did fairly pedestrian work this year. But will the Academy really give the prize to the guys from Arcade Fire? I’m hoping Steven Price gets the gong for his wonderfully understated score.

Best Original Song
Happy from Despicable Me 2 – Pharrell Williams
Let It Go from Frozen – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
The Moon Song from Her – Karen O and Spike Jonze
Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen

Ella: Frozen has the best chance at the moment, and rightfully so, but if the Academy decides to go the ‘celebrity route’ like the Golden Globes did, don’t be surprised to see U2 take home the prize. On another note, I can’t wait for the performances of Let It Go, The Moon Song, and Happy.

Alex: It’s fantastic to see Pharrell Williams and Karen O get recognized, but Let It Go is the obvious choice here. A Bono Oscar speech is not something we ever need to see.

Best Costume Design
12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris
American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster – William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman – Michael O’Connor

Ella: This category is another interesting one, because it has The Grandmaster’s second nomination, a film that didn’t even make it into the Best Foreign Language category. As I said previously, the Oscars love period that really amps up the time period in a flashy way, so it’s between Hustle and Gatsby, with former the surer bet at this point. Yes, The Invisible Woman and 12 Years a Slave=m> are period too, but to be honest, there has been little to no conversation surrounding the former, and the latter isn’t ‘showy’ enough to win.

Alex: Oscar tends to reward flashy period pieces in this category (The Artist, Anna Karenina, The Young Victoria). The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster don’t look to have the traction to take home the prize, and as great as the work in 12 Years A Slave was – it’s a two horse race between American Hustle and The Great Gatsby, and as with Production Design, all the love for American Hustle puts it in the lead.

Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Ella: If you follow me on Twitter or Letterboxd, you’d know that I have been a massive fan of Stories We Tell all year, so you can imagine my shock and anger (like most of the internet) when it very surprisingly didn’t pick up a nomination after being the top choice on most critics predictions all year, and winning most of the awards it was nominated for (if it didn’t win, The Act of Killing did, basically). The Act of Killing seems like the next most likely choice, but it can be quite divisive at times, and may prove to be slightly too controversial for the Oscars. At this point, it seems slated for a win, but don’t be surprised if 20 Feet From Stardom, the highest grossing doc of 2013, and a much more crowd pleasing choice, takes it home.

Alex: With the extremely surprising omission of Stories We Tell, I think The Act of Killing is the frontrunner here. But it may prove too confronting for Academy members’ tastes – in that case, critical charmer Cutie and the Boxer and crowd pleaser 20 Feet from Stardom could be possible upsets.

Best Film Editing
12 Years a Slave – Joe Walker
American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club – John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Ella: There’s a famous rule of thumb that if a film is not nominated for Film Editing, it’s very unlikely to snag Best Picture, which is interesting when you consider these nominees, because wow, Dallas Buyers Club garnered (ha) quite a bit of support in a very short amount of time, showing that a push towards the end goes a long way. It won’t win, but still an interesting observation. On that principle, 12 Years and Gravity are your front runners, and out of those, I think 12 Years will win at this point.

Alex: Gravity, because it deserves all the technical love it can get.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa– Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger – Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Ella: It’s unlikely that two of these films are going the become Oscar winners- one is considered to be one of the biggest flops of 2013, and it’s nearly impossible to take the other seriously (‘Oscar winning Bad Grandpa’ just doesn’t have a ring to it), so expect Dallas Buyers Club to win.

Alex: Dallas Buyers Club. I really can’t imagine a scenario when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa becomes an Oscar winner.

Best Visual Effects
Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3 – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, and Burt Dalton

Ella: Another one for Gravity, as I said previously, most of the conversation has been surrounding how much of an incredible visual spectacle it is.

Alex: Gravity, please and thank you.

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