Saturday, March 1, 2014
PICTURE: OK. I’ve been talked out of it. All along I’ve thought Gravity would win the top Oscar simply because it was the best picture of the year. But all along I’ve had so many others whispering in my ears telling me why Gravity wasn’t going to walk away with this prize. Their arguments against Gravity: 1. No 3D movie has ever won the best picture Oscar; 2. No film without a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild combined with no screenplay nominations has ever won; 3, No film set in space has ever won’ 4. No film with only two actors has ever won; 5. No special effects-driven movie has ever won and 90 percent of Gravity is special effects; 6. Too many voters probably saw Gravity when the DVD was mailed to their homes, and the magnificence of the film is greatly diminished on the home screen. So, somewhat reluctantly, I’m predicting 12 Years a Slave to pull out a narrow win, although I will be rooting for Gravity. What 12 Years has going against it is that it is a very difficult film to watch. That’s why I think an overwhelming majority of voters will actually list a film other than 12 Years at the top of their ballot. Which, ironically, works in 12 Years’s favor and why I am now predicting it will win. Because it is an "important, prestige" picture, those voters who don’t have it at No. 1 will list it at No. 2 or No. 3. In the Oscar’s new weighted preferential ballot tabulation system, in which the movie with the fewest votes in each round of counting gets eliminated until one film achieves more than 50 percent of the votes, the film listed on most ballots at either 1, 2, or 3 has the best chance of winning. Follow that?
ACTOR: When these nominations were announced, I thought Chiwetel Ejiofor would win easily for 12 Years a Slave. Then Matthew McConaughey’s (Dallas Buyers Club) ascent began until he became, first, as serious challenger to Ejiofor and finally the favorite. Then, another challenger began to emerge: Leonardo DiCaprio for Wolf of Wall Street, a film I didn’t like as much as most folks did. So, as of now, this is a two-person race between McConaughey and DiCaprio, but I think DiCaprio’s charge has come too late in the process and besides, on Oscar night, there is room for only one heartthrob, Finally, the story of how other actors are patterning their career path after McConaughey’s that appeared in this morning's New York Times sealed it for me. If you're featured on Oscar weekend in The Times that means the winner will be Matthew McConaughey.
ACTRESS: This award belonged to Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) before the nominations were announced, after and will be given to her tomorrow night. I only wish we could see the final tabulations because I would love to know whether Sandra Bullock or Amy Adams came in second place.
SUPPORTING ACTOR: No contest. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyer’s Club.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I see Lupito Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) winning, but this is a category that is always giving us major surprises. And the surprise this year could be Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, but I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it.
DIRECTOR: Not backing off my original prediction here: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) beccomes the first Hispanic to win this award, denying Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) the opportunity to become the first black director to take it home. Immigration reform anyone?
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The marvelous American Hustle cannot go home empty-handed from Oscar night, so I’m predicting it will win a close victory over Her.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: 12 Years a Slave
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Great Gatsby, although if Gravity wins here all bets are off on best picture.
COSTUMES: The Great Gatsby, although I will be rooting for American Hustle.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty
SOUND MIXING: Gravity, of course.
SOUND EDITING: Ibid
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Here’s where I’m going on record as predicting what mindless dolts the majority of Academy voters are. Prior to this year, voters were required to see all five nominees before they could vote in this category. If that rule were still in place, the superb The Act of Killing, a film superior to most of those nominated for best picture, would win going away. But because that rule has been rescinded, the nice, sweet 20 Feet From Stardom will win, but, boy, do I hope the Academy proves me wrong on this one.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Lady in Number 6
ANIMATED FEATURE: Frozen
ANIMATED SHORT: Get a Horse
LIVE ACTION SHORT: Helium, although I would not be shocked if The Voorman Problem snuck in there.
VISUAL EFFECTS: See the sound categories.
FILM EDITING: I’m going with Gravity just because of the bandwagon effect, but I would not be surprised to see Captain Phillips win its only Oscar here.
SONG: Let It Go from Frozen
MAKEUP: Dallas Buyers Club
I’ll try to do better next year.