Oscar Watch: Columnist provides Oscar predictions and preferences


By Christian DiMartino

The Academy Awards, which airs Sun. March 2, is drawing near, and the competition is getting tough. Some of the categories are obvious. That said, others, such as Best Picture, are up in the air. Here is what will probably win and what should win on the big night.

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity

Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne- Nebraska

David O. Russell- American Hustle

Martin Scorsese- The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Alfonso Cuaron is winning pretty much every directing award for his groundbreaking sci-fi film, Gravity. He is pretty much the one to beat. If anyone can take him down, it is McQueen. But count on Cuaron for this category.

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Watch about ten minutes of Gravity, and it goes without saying. Each of these directors directed great movies, but none of them are quite as devoted as Cuaron. This is the greatest visual achievement since Avatar, and it is even better. This is a film that sounds nearly impossible to make, but yet Cuaron did it. It has been said that him and his crew had to create their own technology to bring the film to life. So, if anyone is truly worthy, it is Cuaron. McQueen is a close second.

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

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o

Jennifer Lawrence seemed to be the favorite at the start of the race, considering she won a Golden Globe. But now it seems like all of the attention is being directed toward Nyong’o for her performance as the tragic slave Patsy. Nyong’o is taking home the awards, and will probably take home the biggest one. It is not set in stone though. Lawrence could swoop in, because she recently won the BAFTA. This race is a tough one.

Should Win: Julia Roberts

There is no love for August: Osage County, so Roberts doesn’t stand a chance, but I thought this was her best work since Closer (2004). Roberts’ performance is borderline over-the-top, but yet it was one of the most entertaining performances of the year. Watching her fight with practically everyone onscreen helped the film’s entertainment value. This is a tough category, because all of these women, particularly Squibb and Lawrence, steal the show. Roberts is my vote. She probably will not win, but she should.

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi- Captain Philips

Bradley Cooper- American Hustle

Michael Fassbender- 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill- The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club

Will Win: Jared Leto

It seems as if Jared Leto cannot be stopped. He is winning practically every award for his scene-stealing performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto does quite a transformation here, and the academy loves a good transformation.

Should Win: Jared Leto

Part of what makes Dallas Buyers Club special is its acting, and Leto is a huge contribution to that. Leto steals the show as the tragic transgender sidekick Rayon. Rayon is possibly the films best character, and Leto, who has been overlooked for such a long time, is too great to ignore. I am also a fan of Abdi, Cooper, and Fassbender, but Leto is a done deal.

Best Actress

Amy Adams- American Hustle

Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock- Gravity

Judi Dench- Philomena

Meryl Streep- August: Osage County

Note: Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career in Gravity, not in The Blind Side (the film that won her Best Actress). So I would like to pretend that the Oscar she won for that film was actually for Gravity.

Will Win: Cate Blanchett

Blanchett is practically a sure thing for her performance as the mentally unstable title character in Blue Jasmine. She is being showered with awards. If anyone can take her down, it is Adams, who also won a Golden Globe. But count on Blanchett.

Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Amy Adams is a great actress, and she definitely will win an Oscar someday, but not yet. Bullock’s case has been covered (a very close second). By now, Streep goes without saying. She’s amazing all the time. The same goes for Dench and Blanchett, but Blanchett’s is the best. Blanchett gives the performance of her career in the best performance of the year, and easily deserves her long overdue second Oscar. Jasmine is almost too interesting. She’s a woman so trapped in the past that she cannot come to terms with reality, and watching Blanchett self-destruct is possibly the best work from an actress since Natalie Portman in Black Swan. So, to summarize, yes, she should win.

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

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Ah, this is where things get tricky. The competition for this category has been hectic from the start. But all signs seem to be pointing towards Matthew McConaughey. He lost a ton of weight, and Dallas Buyers Club is a true story, and the academy loves both of those things. They love transformation (even though Christian Bale wasn’t nominated for The Machinist, the craziest transformation ever, and gained a bunch of weight for American Hustle).Aside from that, he truly is fantastic. He is winning pretty much every award he is nominated for. There is a slight chance that someone else could swoop in, but it is not likely.

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

All of these performances are terrific. Actually, it is pretty difficult to rank them. Once upon a time, Matthew McConaughey was a second rate actor. But now it seems like has really proved otherwise. He has become the actor he always should have been. That said, he has only been great for about two years, and does not deserve an Oscar quite yet. Leonardo Dicaprio, however, has been great for over twenty years, and has somehow never won an Oscar. The time is now. The fact that DiCaprio has not won an Oscar is outrageous, considering the fact that he has been so great for so long. DiCaprio gives possibly the performance of his career in this movie. He plays such a despicable human being, but yet DiCaprio makes this terrible person watchable. In fact, you sort of want him to get away with everything. DiCaprio has never done anything quite like this before, and it is definitely a bold performance, considering the content that is put on display. McConaughey will win, but it would be nice if the academy came to their senses and finally gave him the Oscar.

Best Picture

American Hustle                  Nebraska

Captain Philips                   Philomena

Dallas Buyers Club              12 Years a Slave

Gravity                              The Wolf of Wall Street

Her

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Ah, this is where things get even trickier. Gravity began this race as the favorite. Then came the arrival of 12 Years a Slave, which then became the favorite, and remained the favorite. Then American Hustle arrived to theaters in December and hustled its way into the race. So now the race is down to these three. Momentum for American Hustle seems to be gaining. With that said, I think we’re all overthinking this. 12 Years a Slave was the favorite for so long, and at the end of the day, there is no way that it can lose.

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

This category is basically a toss-up between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but at the end of the day, there is no denying the power of 12 Years a Slave. Finally, for the first time since The Departed (2006), my favorite movie of the year actually stands a chance. 12 Years a Slave is a devastating, disturbing, raw, and intense look at possibly the ugliest chapter in America’s history. Solomon Northrup’s tale is one that truly needed to be told, and the film’s secret weapon the magnificent Chiwetel Ejiofor. Ejiofor carries this film, and so does the entire cast. If you were not in tears by the end of this movie (something that rarely happens to me during movies), then you must have no soul. This is the best movie of the year.

Well, hopefully this gave a little insight on what to expect on the big night. The race is tough, so don’t expect everyone to leave happy. In closing, there is really only one thing that must be said: TEAM DICAPRIO. Academy voters, please vote well.

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