Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oscar Update: 1/4- "American Hustle" leads, Ejiofor, Bullock gain ground, while "Gravity", "Wolf" lose momentum

The Oscars are not too far away folks. The nominations are announced on January 16 by the Academy, which means that coverage is going to be nonstop for the awards show. I'll be doing some more in-depth analysis before the nominations are announced, but for now, let's catch up on what's going on in the Oscar race. A lot has changed since November (last Oscar update) and I figured that it was about time that I updated what was going on. Here we go.

BEST PICTURE

1. American Hustle
2. 12 Years A Slave
3. Her
4. Gravity
5. Captain Phillips
6. Nebraska
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
8. Saving Mr. Banks
9. Dallas Buyers Club
10. The Wolf of Wall Street

Although it is hard to imagine, Harvey Weinstein could be shut out from this year's Oscar race entirely. His main contenders (Fruitvale Station, Philomena, The Butler) are long-shots at this point. If there's any film from Weinstein that can make the race, it's Philomena (a very good film), but that's a long shot with the competition. This is one of the most competitive Oscar seasons in history, and there are a lot of films competing for nominations. The Wolf of Wall Street is on the edge this time around, as the controversy surrounding the film has been getting a lot of publicity. Dallas Buyers Club seems to be getting a lot of support from various groups, and I really think that this could be a powerhouse. Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks have both seen their stock drop, as they both have seen a lack of nominations from the guilds. Gravity has fallen out of the upper echleon of the contenders, but could see an Argo-style comeback with the right snub. Captain Phillips is just hanging around, but I doubt it will win. At this point, it's American Hustle vs. 12 Years A Slave with Her playing spoiler. I can't say that there's a clear favorite, but I'm tipping the odds in Hustle's direction.

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
2. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
3. David O. Russell, American Hustle
4. Spike Jonze, Her
5. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

There really are only two contenders in this category. Payne, Jonze and Russell will be recognized in other ways. They really can't compete with our top two contenders, Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen. These two will fight down to the wire. But I think that McQueen will come out on top. His directorial eye made 12 Years A Slave work so well and as great as Cuaron's direction was in Gravity, I think that McQueen comes out on top.

BEST ACTOR

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
2. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
3. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
4. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
5. Robert Redford, All is Lost

This category has been narrowed down to two contenders in my opinion. Redford doesn't have much of a chance at this point and Hanks' performance doesn't quite have enough to get a win. Bruce Dern has strong support from many people, but I just don't really know if he can pull off the win. To me, this is a race between Ejiofor and McConaughey. I think that Ejiofor is the clear winner in this scenario, but I can't be sure. McConaughey's performance has a lot of support and Dallas Buyers Club is becoming a dark horse in the Oscar race. Right now I'm going with Ejiofor. His performance has everything that the Academy is looking for and I believe that they'll honor him for it.

BEST ACTRESS

1. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
2. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
3. Judi Dench, Philomena
4. Amy Adams, American Hustle
5. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

This is the tightest category at this point. In most corners of the internet, people seem convinced that Blanchett has the win in the bag. I wasn't convinced back in July and I'm still not convinced. I'm just not sure how much support is behind Blue Jasmine. It certainly is a possibility, but I can't say that I'm sure of it yet. For me, the favorite is Sandra Bullock. I believe that she gave one of the most effective performances of the year in a film that the Academy seems to love. Judi Dench has a good chance as well for her affecting performance in Philomena. Adams and Thompson have a shot but I doubt that they'll be able to pull off the win.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
4. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

I would be so excited to see Bruhl get the nomination for Rush, but I know that he's not going to win. However, I do believe that Rush could play spoiler and manage to find its way into the Best Picture race. I'm currently excluding Barkhad Abdi, but I think that he could swap with Hill at any moment. Bradley Cooper gives a great performance in American Hustle but there's just too much competition. Fassbender is great, but in the end, we all know that this award is going to Jared Leto. He's been the clear favorite since people saw Dallas Buyers Club, and I really am certain that he's got the win.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
2. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
3. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
4. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
5. June Squibb, Nebraska

This race has also narrowed itself down with Roberts and Squibb having a very small chance at taking home the win. Even Oprah has seen her Oscar stock drop since the premiere of her film back in August. This race will be a fight between Lawrence and Nyong'o and I'm certain that Lawrence will come out on top. Lawrence's performance is fantastic in Hustle and the Academy loves her. In addition, I didn't really think that Nyong'o was that strong in 12 Years A Slave. She's good, but I don't think that she's got a great chance of winning.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
2. Spike Jonze, Her
3. Bob Nelson, Nebraska
4. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine

American Hustle is the clear favorite in this category. Its screenplay is fast and funny with a lot of thing going on, yet it balances it all out. However, both the cast and director have spoken about the amount of improv in the film, which could hurt its chances. The only other logical contender is Her. Spike Jonze created an original romance movie with a vision of the future that isn't far off. Her could certainly take home the Oscar here.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave
2. Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
4. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
5. Billy Ray, Captain Phillips

Ridley's screenplay for 12 Years A Slave is the clear frontrunner here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Terence Winter's screenplay for Wolf of Wall Street take the prize. That film isn't going to be honored in many other categories, and a win for its fast and funny screenplay could be in order. Before Midnight seems likely to get the nomination here, and Philomena and Captain Phillips could hang around as well.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1. Frozen
2. The Wind Rises
3. Monsters University
4. The Croods
5. Ernest and Celestine

The Oscars often surprise us with their tendency to nominate obscure foreign films for best animated feature. That's why I have Ernest and Celestine getting nominated in this category. However, don't expect it to win. In fact, don't expect any other film but Frozen to take the prize for best animated feature. The box office juggernaut is the best reviewed film of the year, and only The Wind Rises has a shot at competing with it.

BEST FOREIGN FILM

1. The Hunt
2. The Great Beauty
3. The Broken Circle Breakdown
4. Two Lives
5. Omar

This year, there no clear favorite in this category. Sure, there's a lot of support for The Great Beauty, but I believe that support is greater for The Hunt. I've seen a ton of people mentioning The Hunt on their top ten lists and I really believe that it can win this award. However, I do think that The Great Beauty will give it a run for its money.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. The Act of Killing
2. Blackfish
3. 20 Feet from Stardom
4. Stories We Tell
5. The Armstrong Lie

No documentary has sparked more conversation in the real world than Blackfish. That documentary has been solely responsible for a lot of negative publicity for Sea World, and has changed a lot. But no documentary has seen stronger reactions from audiences than The Act of Killing. This film has done a lot and I really believe that it is the favorite in this category.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. The Great Gatsby
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. American Hustle
4. 12 Years A Slave
5. Oz, The Great and Powerful

The Great Gatsby had the craziest sets of the year, and I see no reason why it won't take the Oscar here. The Hobbit and American Hustle are Gatsby's greatest challengers but I don't believe either comes close to winning the award. Gatsby gets its lone Oscar here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Gravity
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. 12 Years A Slave
4. Rush
5. Prisoners

One of the best things about Prisoners was its excellent cinematography, and I hope that the Academy recognizes Roger Deakins for it. Rush had a great look to it, and so did 12 Years A Slave. Inside Llewyn Davis seems to take an interesting approach to things, but in the end, this is Gravity's award. The cinematography was stunning and the film is going to take the award here.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. American Hustle
2. The Great Gatsby
3. 12 Years A Slave
4. Saving Mr. Banks
5. The Invisible Woman

I'm predicting the upset here. American Hustle is currently ranked third in GoldDerby's handicapping, but I bet that American Hustle wins this award. The 1970's costume designs for this film are amazing, and I'd call them better than Gatsby's CGI mess any day. 12 Years A Slave and Mr. Banks could play spoiler, but I bet that American Hustle takes the award here.

BEST EDITING

1. 12 Years A Slave
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
3. American Hustle
4. Gravity
5. Captain Phillips

The editing on these films was fantastic, but one still stands out in my mind and that is the editing on 12 Years A Slave. Joe Walker, the editor on Slave, knew how to transition each shot into the next, and it was his eye, and McQueen's direction, that made that film so incredibly memorable. Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle have a good chance here as well, and Captain Phillips could certainly play spoiler.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. American Hustle
2. The Great Gatsby
3. Dallas Buyers Club
4. Bad Grandpa
5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

American Hustle by a long shot in this category. The film had some of the best hairstyling of the year, and I would be shocked if anything else won in this category.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. Gravity
2. 12 Years A Slave
3. Frozen
4. The Book Thief
5. Rush

I'm predicting the Mr. Banks snub here and instead putting The Book Thief in. I believe that John Williams has a lot of support there. Gravity seems to be the odds-on favorite, so I'll go with that for now. 12 Years A Slave's score seems too familiar to win, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see it take home the gold.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. "Let It Go", Frozen
2. "Young and Beautiful", The Great Gatsby
3. "Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
4. "The Moon Song", Her
5. "Atlas", The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Frozen has this one locked up. There's no chance that anything else wins. Maybe Gatsby stands a chance but I doubt it. This one's a sure thing.

BEST SOUND EDITING


1. Captain Phillips
2. Gravity
3. Rush
4. All is Lost
5. 12 Years A Slave

Captain Phillips will have seen itself fall to second place all night, but I believe that it wins for sound editing. Captain Phillips was a fully realized experience and I felt the action going on around me. I really do think that it takes this category.

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Gravity
2. Rush
3. Captain Phillips
4. All is Lost
5. 12 Years A Slave

Same five contenders, just in a different order. I think that Gravity and Captain Phillips split on this one. I can't really say what the difference between mixing and editing is, but I'm pretty sure that Gravity will take one of them.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1. Gravity
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Pacific Rim
4. Iron Man 3
5. Star Trek Into Darkness

Gravity wins this one without a doubt. I seriously can't see another film winning. The Hobbit and Pacific Rim are strong contenders, but nothing tops Gravity.

If you were wondering, based on my predictions, here are the amount of nominations that each film will have.

-12 Years A Slave- 13 nominations
-American Hustle- 10 nominations
-Gravity- 9 nominations
-Captain Phillips- 6 nominations
-Rush- 5 nominations
-Nebraska- 5 nominations
-Her- 4 nominations
-Dallas Buyers Club- 4 nominations
-The Wolf of Wall Street- 4 nominations
-The Great Gatsby- 4 nominations
-Frozen- 3 nominations
-Inside Llewyn Davis- 3 nominations
-Saving Mr. Banks- 3 nominations
-All is Lost- 3 nominations
-Blue Jasmine- 2 nominations
-Philomena- 2 nominations
-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire- 2 nominations
-The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- 2 nominations

All other films received one nomination. Check back soon for more Oscar updates.

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