It’s a rare year when every major film nominated for the Oscars reaches our shores before the Awards ceremony proper. 2014 is such a year, and I have managed to “unlock” the achievement of seeing all the movies before the big event. Also, as I am going to be a live screening of the ceremony with an Oscar pool, I am breaking past tradition by doing a full (if uneducated) list of predictions this year. It’s been quite an interesting lead up to the Oscars, with some categories a virtual lock and some still seemingly quite wide open. Without further ado, my predictions:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Should win: 12 Years a Slave
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave
Admittedly the more popular choice would be either American Hustle or Gravity, but I am not that big a fan of the former, and whilst I was very impressed by Gravity, I don’t think it’s managed to qualify (in my books) as the best movie for the whole of 2013. 12 Years a Slave was an engrossing, hard-hitting, well-rounded movie, and hence my pick for the nod in this category. However, this is one of the most wide-open races for Best Picture in years, so an upset is certainly possible.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Should win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Prediction: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
The Academy voters love extreme weight loss and gain, so McConaughey’s shocking weight loss for Dallas Buyers Club alone would have ensured a fair number of votes. On top of that, it is honestly an excellent, career-defining performance from McConaughey, and the lead up awards seem to indicate this as a near lock for him.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Should win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Prediction: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
It’s a very strong category this year, with plenty of deserving performances (Emma Thompson really ought to have been nominated for her excellent performance in Saving Mr Banks though). However, Cate Blanchett is simply astounding in Blue Jasmine and it’s practically in the bag.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Should win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Prediction: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
A clear frontrunner in this category, Leto’s first role in 6 years has rewarded him amply with wins in almost every single award show so far (barring the BAFTAs in which Leto was surprisingly not nominated). His performance in Dallas Buyers Club is extremely memorable, and based on thespian quality alone, actually a notch higher than that of McConaughey. The remaining nominations are honestly a mixed bag, so it would really be an upset if Leto loses out in this category.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Should win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Although this category has been awarded often to newcomers, it almost seems like an impossible task for Nyong’o to win out against Jennifer Lawrence, who worked so hard at delivering her performance in American Hustle that it was literally exhausting to watch. There seems to be an increasing backlash against American Hustle, and hence I’m going with Nyong’o as the dark horse winner here.
Best Achievement in Directing
Should win: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Given that Cuaron has won almost every award out there for his work on Gravity, this category is virtually locked. The only possible upset would be Steve McQueen, but even that seems like a remote possibility.
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Should win: Her
I totally enjoyed Her but it is way more “out there” than the other nominees. Hopefully the Academy would recognize the brilliance of Her and give it the nod it deserves.
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Should win: Before Midnight
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave
I have been an ardent fan of the Before… series and found Before Midnight to be hugely enjoyable. However, it has not been nominated for anything else so the chances of a win here is rather slim. 12 Years a Slave seems to be the more obvious choice, but Philomena was a delight and could be a dark horse as well.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Should Win: Inside Llewyn Davis
Inside Llewyn Davis was a gorgeously shot movie but will probably suffer from lack of exposure. Gravity is an equally handsome movie and is a much higher-profile film, meaning its chances are exponentially better here.
Best Achievement in Editing
Prediction: Captain Philips
The natural choice would have been Gravity, but given that ACE awarded the win to Captain Philips, there’s a good chance this would be repeated for the Oscars.
Best Achievement in Production Design
Prediction: The Great Gatsby
If nothing else, The Great Gatsby was a sumptuous celebration in art direction (renamed production design this year) and costume design. More deserving of these two awards in my opinion than any of the other nominees.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Prediction: The Great Gatsby
The only potential upset would be American Hustle’s daring 70s costumes, but I should think The Great Gatsby will have more of a wow factor.
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Prediction: Dallas Buyers Club
I honestly don’t think the Academy will have the chutzpah to give Jackass: Bad Grandpa an Oscar even if it really was the most deserving amongst the three. I don’t understand Lone Ranger’s nomination here and so it will have to default to Dallas Buyers Club.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Prediction: Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
This is a category that could go any of 5 ways, but given the number of nominations that Alexandre Desplat and Thomas Newman have garnered, I think it will be one of them clinching the award. Saving Mr Banks’ only nomination is here and it is thus unlikely for it to really gain any traction and win this award.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Prediction: Let It Go (Frozen)
Let It Go has become a pop culture phenomenon and there’s clearly no other contender that even comes close.
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Prediction: Lone Survivor
War movies have always done well in this category and I’m guessing that will be the only reason the film stands a marginally higher chance than Gravity in this category.
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
I actually preferred All Is Lost but it’s unlikely to beat out Gravity, which is far more visible and should be bagging most of the technical awards.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
This one is a dead lock.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Again, nothing else comes close.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Prediction: The Great Beauty
Full disclosure – I have not seen any of the five nominated films here. It seems the buzz is either for The Broken Circle Breakdown or The Great Beauty and I’ll just pick The Great Beauty as the synopsis seems more appealing.
Best Documentary Feature
Prediction: 20 Feet from Stardom
Given that the voting rules have changed this year for the category, The Act of Killing would probably lose out to the much more feel-good documentary about backup singers.
Best Documentary Short Subject
Prediction: The Lady in Number 6: Music saved My Life
Best Animated Short Film
Prediction: Get a Horse!
It’s a new Mickey cartoon and very enjoyable (and innovative) – I don’t think the rest of the nominees would be able to take that combination down.
Best Live Action Short Film
Prediction: The Voorman Problem
It’s the only English-speaking film in the category plus it stars Morgan Freeman, so on a very superficial level this should likely be the winner.