Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 86th Academy Awards: My Picks/Predictions

Each year I've done this a little differently. The last two years, I wrote a blog post after the Oscars were all said and done. This year I'm doing it before. The big reason for that is that this year is the first year I've set out to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies. Yes, there are a few of them that I skipped for various reasons, but for the most part I have seen enough of them to have an opinion about every category. So that is what I will give you at first. My pick as to who I would choose to give the award to if it was up to me. Then I will tell you who I think will actually win. Some categories I may just give one or the other if I don't have a strong opinion or if I have no idea who's favored to win. Also, a few of the smaller categories I may jump over, but I'll touch on all the major categories. Let's get started!

Best Picture

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

My Pick: Gravity

Likely Winner: 12 Years a Slave

It's a very weird award season for me. My favorite album of the year, Random Access Memories, won best album at the Grammy's And now at the Oscars, my two favorite movies of the year are the two that are in contention for best picture. I will repeat, this rarely happens for me. But this year it has, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts. Yes, if you know me well enough, you'll know that Gravity is my favorite film of the year, so it's a no-brainer that I would pick it to win. As far as the actual race goes, the two are close, but historically the Oscar has gone to the historical movie, so I think 12 Years a Slave will win. American Hustle is a close third, but it would be a huge shock if it won.

Best Actor

The nominees: 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)

My Pick: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

Likely Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

This category saddens me a bit. The performance that Chiwetel gave in 12 Years a Slave was one of the more memorable acting performances that I have witnessed. He's my personal pick, but McConaughey is going to walk away with it. He's been winning everything so far. Now I will say that I did like McConaughey's performance. The issue that Dallas Buyers Club brings up is a serious one. I just didn't think it was an award-winning performance. Personally, my runner up pick would be Bruce Dern.

Best Actress

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

My Pick: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Likely Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

This is the most loaded category in my opinion. All five of these actresses did a phenomenal job. Personally, I wasn't a fan of the movie Blue Jasmine, but I have to admit that Cate Blanchett did an amazing job and deserves the award that she is going to get. She was actually going to be my personal pick as well, but then I saw August: Osage County. And holy Meryl Streep! She is one of the greatest actresses of our day and I will say that her performance in August: Osage County is one of the best she has ever given. I don't exaggerate that ether.

Best Supporting Actor

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

My Pick: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Likely Winner: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Just like Matthew McConaughey is going to win best actor, Jared Leto is going to follow him up with a best supporting actor win. Both are pretty much a done deal. I did mention that I didn't think McConaughey's performance was award-deserving. However, I will flip the tables on that for Leto. His performance was award-deserving, so I can't really argue with this. I just also think Michael Fassbender's performance was also award-deserving and perhaps slightly more so.

Best Supporting Actress

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

My Pick: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)

Likely Winner: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)

This is the category I am most emotionally invested in. Why? Because the match-up here is Jennifer Lawrence vs Lupita. I LOVE Jennifer Lawrence. But if I'm being perfectly honest, she didn't deserve the nomination here. She was good in American Hustle, but not Oscar-nomination good. I'll be crossing my fingers on this, but luckily signs are pointing towards Lupita getting the win. And by goodness does she deserve it. Her, Michael Fassbender, and Chiwetel Ejiofor all gave memorable performances. If all three of them get snubbed, I'll be very mad. I hope Lupita represents.

Best Director

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

My Pick: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

Likely Winner: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

It's easy to judge best movie or best actor/actress because because you are judging what you see. It's harder to judge directing because that's mostly behind the scenes work. But at the same time, if you watch enough of the same director, you will know his or her style and you can appreciate the work that they have done. Moral of the story is that I really am slightly more clueless in this category, but since I loved Gravity, I will give lots of credit to Cuaron. Usually this award goes to the winner of the best picture as well, but so far in the other awards it has gone opposite with 12 Years a Slave winning best picture with Cuaron getting best director. No reason to think this will be different.

Best Original Screenplay

The nominees: American Hustle; Blue Jasmine; Her; Nebraska; Dallas Buyers Club

My Pick: Her

Likely Winner: Her

The actual name for this award is a bit longer, but essentially it implies best writing. When looking at the nominees, I can't just pick my favorite movie of the five, I have to pick which one had the best writing. It was a tough choice, but I settled with Her because it is a beautifully written love story between a man and his futuristic artificially intelligent operating system. It barely edges Nebraska in the writing department in my opinion. The Academy won't be debating between those two, but it looks like they will be awarding Her as well.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees: Before Midnight; Captain Phillips; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street; Philomena

My Pick: Before Midnight

Likely Winner: 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is looking like it is getting the award for best writing for a screenplay based on material already published, and I certainly will be happy at that win, but I personally selected Before Midnight because that movie impressed me by how much I loved it when it was only people talking for two hours. That requires excellent writing to pull that off, so I will give it some love.

Best Animated Feature

The nominees: The Croods; Despicable Me 2; Ernest & Celestine; Frozen; The Wind Rises

My Pick: The Croods

Likely Winner: Frozen

This pick might surprise some people. I've talked up Frozen a ton. I LOVED Frozen! So why am I not picking Frozen? You may have forgotten due to The Croods having come out nearly a year ago from today, but I talked up The Croods even more. In fact, I have gone to the point of calling it one of the best movies that Dreamworks has ever made. Unfortunately, enough people disagreed with me on that to make it so The Croods has no shot. Miyazaki's supposed swan song in The Wind Rises has been talked up a lot, but making a movie about the man who designed the Japanese WWII fighter planes is controversial enough to make it so Disney should easily grab their first win in this category.

Best Foreign Language Film

The nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium); The Missing Picture (Cambodia); The Hunt (Denmark); The Great Beauty (Italy); Omar (Palestine)

My Pick: n/a

Likely Winner: The Great Beauty (Italy)

If you want a category that includes a bunch of excellent movies that you've probably never heard of, this is your category. Just make sure you are watching it with subtitles, because these aren't in English. I actually do think it would be cool to check these movies out, I just haven't done it yet, so I won't give a personal opinion. But Italy's The Great Beauty is the favorite here.

Best Cinematography

The nominees: Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis; Nebraska; Prisoners; The Grandmaster

My Pick: Gravity

Likely Winner: Gravity

This category is usually fun to follow, but this year there's not going to be much of a race. It's fairly simple. Gravity is going to win every award that has to do with sound or visuals, which includes this one. Quite honestly, I think it deserves it.

Best Editing

The nominees: 12 Years a Slave; American Hustle; Gravity; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club

My Pick: n/a

Likely Winner: Gravity

I never watch a movie and come away thinking about the editing in the movie, so I'm not going to personally judge this one. But Gravity is looking like the winner here as well.

Best Production Design

The nominees: 12 Years a Slave; American Hustle; Gravity; The Great Gatsby; Her

My Pick: The Great Gatsby

Likely Winner: The Great Gatsby

I loved The Great Gatsby and I'm rather sad that there are a lot of people that didn't. However, I'm glad it snuck out a few Oscar nominations and I'm even more glad that it looks like the favorite to win in this. In terms of production design, The Great Gatsby was set in the 20's and they did a rather good job with that, so I'll pick it as my favorite here.

Best Costume Design

The nominees: American Hustle; The Great Gatsby; 12 Years a Slave; The Grandmaster; The Invisible Woman

My Pick: American Hustle

Likely Winner: American Hustle

In another nomination for The Great Gatsby, I would be happy if it grabbed its second win, but I'll be a little surprised if American Hustle loses this category, despite Gatsby actually winning the award in the BAFTA's. And I hate to also pick against it in my personal choice, but I can't deny the costume excellency of American Hustle. Personally I thought the movie itself was a little overrated, but the costumes were great. I mean, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper barely looked like themselves while Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence looked rather hip. I was impressed.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

The nominees: Dallas Buyers Club; Jacka-- Presents: Bad Grandpa; The Lone Ranger

My Pick: Jacka-- Presents: Bad Grandpa

Likely Winner: Jacka-- Presents: Bad Grandpa

Insert all jokes about Bad Grandpa being nominated for an Oscar here. I've heard hundreds of them. However, if you look at the actual award that Bad Grandpa got nominated for, you will realize it makes perfect sense. The grandpa in this movie is actually 43-year-old Johnny Knoxville with a bunch of makeup on, making him look like a grandpa. You better believe it deserves the makeup Oscar.

Best Original Score

The nominees: John Williams (The Book Thief); Steven Price (Gravity); Arcade Fire (Her); Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks); Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)

My Pick: Steven Price (Gravity)

Likely Winner: Steven Price (Gravity)

There are a lot of great scores here and as I went back and listened to all these, I was reminded about how much the music in Gravity made the experience what it was. It's such a good score! I'm happy to learn that the Academy is going to agree with me on this and give it the win. In second place, I would pick Arcade Fire's score for Her. That's also worth listening to if you haven't already.

Best Original Song

The nominees: "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (Despicable Me 2); "Let It Go" by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (Frozen); "Ordinary Love" by U2 (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom); "The Moon Song" by Karen O (Her)

My Pick: "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (Despicable Me 2)

Likely Winner: "Let It Go" by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (Frozen)

Now here's a controversial pick on my part. And I want to start by praising "Let It Go." It is such a good song that I will always think of as one of the better Disney songs. However, if you've been around me recently, you will know that I am absolutely addicted to the song "Happy." It just makes me so happy every time I listen to it. "The Moon Song" and "Ordinary Love" are good songs as well, but I just love "Happy." However, I am totally expecting "Let It Go" to win this one. U2's "Ordinary Love" did win the Golden Globe, but I don't think it will surprise again.

Best Sound Mixing

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

My Pick: Gravity

Likely Winner: Gravity

Best sound mixing? Who cares? Well, normally I don't when it comes to this award, but the sound in Gravity was amazing. Especially the realistic space scenes where there was no sound and things were just exploding silently. I think I would call that great sound mixing. And yeah, this award is no contest. Gravity will win.

Best Sound Editing

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

My Pick: Gravity

Likely Winner: Gravity

You can essentially refer to my paragraph in sound mixing for this. Normally, I would ignore sound editing, but when you think of sound editing, you think of Gravity. It will win.

Best Visual Effects

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

My Pick: Gravity

Likely Winner: Gravity

This is usually the one category in the Oscars where the Academy will honor the big blockbusters. Thus you see The Hobbit, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Lone Ranger. And yes, The Lone Ranger did just get nominated for an Oscar. And before you go on hating at this, realize that regardless of your opinion of the movie, the visuals were great. But none of that matters. All of these are just courtesy nominations. And no use getting mad over the snub of Pacific Rim. It wasn't going to win. And neither is anything else except for Gravity. And like I've been saying, it's deserved.

Best Documentary, Feature

The nominees: The Act of Killing; Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars; The Square; 20 Feet from Stardum

My Pick: n/a

Likely Winner: The Act of Killing

I'll have to admit, I usually don't watch a ton of documentaries, which is why I don't have a personal pick. But if do decide to watch one in the next little bit, this is the pool I will dip from. Word on the street is that The Act of Killing is going to win.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

The nominees: Cavedigger; Facing Fear; Karama Has No Walls; The Lady in Number 6; Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

My Pick: n/a

Likely Winner: n/a

I have no idea who is going to win this and I haven't seen any of them, so I'll jump this category.

Best Animated Short

The nominees: Feral; Get a Horse!; Mr. Hublot; Possessions; Room on the Broom

My Pick: Get a Horse!

Likely Winner: n/a

Out of all these options, Get a Horse! is the only one I have seen and that's because it was at the beginning of Frozen. And it was so fantastic!!! Classic Disney Mickey Mouse short that had the early 1900's style animation. Usually the Oscars enjoy praising historical pieces, so I imagine this will win, but who knows. Also, I enjoy animated shorts, so even though I haven't seen all of these, I may actually decide to go watch them all before the Oscars.

Best Live Action Short

The nominees: That Wasn't Me; Just Before Losing Everything; Helium; Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?; The Voorman Problem

My Pick: n/a

Likely Winner: n/a

I haven't seen any of these and I have no idea who is going to win, so I have no comment on this, but just like with the previous category, I may actually go watch these before the Oscars just to entertain myself.

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