Like last year, there are nine nominees vying for the Best Picture prize at this year’s Academy Awards. I saw the last of those last week with Philomena and I have to admit, this year’s nominees are much better than last year’s. Also on the extreme plus side, no musicals. I don’t think there are going to be many surprises in this year’s race. I didn’t do very well with my picks last year, so hopefully this time around, I can get it right. Here are my picks for this year’s Oscars:
What Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
What Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
Spoilers: American Hustle, Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave packs an emotional punch unlike anything I have seen in a historical drama. Some of the scenes are gut-wrenching and horrifying and none of the other films in this category did the same. Gravity has been rolling with other award wins, but it lacks the storytelling and acting from 12 Years a Slave. American Hustle is really picking up a lot of steam as well and if anything is going to take out 12 Years, it will be this movie. Dallas Buyers Club has the political message along with the best acting in the bunch, but I just don’t think anything can stop the power and momentum behind 12 Years a Slave.
Who Will Win: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Who Should Win: Steve McQueen
Spoilers: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Steve McQueen got shut out of the Oscars a few years back with his controversial NC-17 film, Shame, a really great movie that happened to be about a sex addict. There were whispers that the rating was the reason for this shutout, so I feel like people will vote for him because there was so much feeling that he should have been nominated for Shame. Really though, he does deserve a statue for the reasons mentioned in the Best Picture paragraph above. It’s an extremely powerful story and is presented in a masterful way. I think David O. Russell also has a good chance to grab this award as well, because he went all out in American Hustle, much like Scorcese does when he is at his best. Cuaron did some amazing, innovative things with Gravity and in 3D, the film is breathtaking, but movies that have to do with space usually don’t fare too well at the Oscars. 12 Years a Slave is rolling away with this one as well.
Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Who Should Win: Matthew McConaughey
Spoilers: Any of them
This to me, is really the tightest race at the Oscars. McConaughey is the clear favorite due to his physical transformation he made for the role as a man with AIDS, but really, all of the actors had some incredible performances. Bruce Dern in Nebraska, was convincing as a grumpy jerk with a limp from Montana. Chiwetel Ejiofor was amazing as Solomon Northup, a free man sold into slavery in 12 Years a Slave. Leonardo DiCaprio goes wild as a likeable, young Bernie Madoff in the fun Wolf of Wall Street and Christian Bale does the opposite of his Machinist and Fighter characters as a fat, bald, leisure-suited swindler in American Hustle. Watch for McConaughey to be holding the statue though, in his continually awesome year.
Who Will Win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett
Spoilers: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Meryl Streep (August Osage County)
This award is all Cate’s. If you’re looking for an absolute transformative role, look no further than Blue Jasmine. Throughout the film, Blanchett brings horribly uncomfortable scenes to life in the other film inspired partly by the Bernie Madoff mess. There’s strong traces of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow’s tumultuous autobiographical story laced throughout the film and Blanchett grabs this by the throat and doesn’t let go. The end of the film is crushing and it’s hard to see anyone else getting the trophy.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will Win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Who Should Win: Jared Leto
Spoilers: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
In my eyes, this is a two man race. I really think Fassbender was incredible as a very crude slave owner and Bradley Cooper is pretty good as a disco-loving cop with a perm in American Hustle, but all the talk has been directed at Abdi and Leto. I really don’t think Abdi was that great (mostly because I couldn’t hear what he was saying the whole movie), but it’s also his first role. Leto is amazing as a cross-dressing man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club and I feel that he really competed with McConaughey as the best actor in the film. I really hope he wins this Oscar because he deserves it.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Who Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Spoilers: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Oscar’s new sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence has a chance to trip up the stairs again on her way to another Academy Award. She was really good in the movie, but it doesn’t compare to the heartbreaking performance from Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. Her scenes in the film make you grit your teeth and cower in your seat, especially in one scene that seemed to last an eternity. Sally Hawkins has a great role in Blue Jasmine as Blanchett’s carpet of a sister, but I don’t think she’ll be able to get past Lawrence’s limelight.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Who Will Win: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Who Should Win: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Spoilers: Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street), Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
This was a tough call because I loved the stories in Wolf of Wall Street and Philomena. Terence Winter was a mainstay during the airing of The Sopranos story and Steve Coogan did an amazing job with the subtle knock on Catholics in Philomena. This really has to go to Ridley though, as by the end of the film, I felt like I had been hit by a truck with the fists of a heavyweight boxing champion. I wouldn’t be unhappy if one of the other two listed above win, though.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Who Will Win: Spike Jonze (Her)
Who Should Win: Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)
Spoilers: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell (American Hustle)
This is a tough one. I think all the films nominated in this category are deserving but I think Her distances itself far enough from the rest of the contenders with its strangeness and originality. A lot of you may know Jonze as the old lady whose dress falls off in the Jackass movies, revealing some saggy aberrations of Makeup work. He wrote a great film here, though. However, my gut is going with Blue Jasmine on this one. Woody went all out in writing this story for Blanchett and the intercut scenes between different times are really impressive. Woody pumps out a movie every year and he hasn’t lost his ability to write great films. American Hustle has a really good chance behind Her in this category, but I think the Oscar is going to future hipsters with highwater pants this year.
Check out the Academy Awards, this Sunday March 2nd with Host, Ellen Degeneres on ABC.
Follow me on Twitter: @SheldonSpanjer
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