Thursday, January 16, 2014

Early picks for Oscars

Oscar nominations came out this morning, with some surprising omissions. For the most part, however, they seemed to go as many thought they would. It's a little early to see how things will play out, and I know I'll probably change my mind about at least one of these before the actual ceremony, but these are my preliminary predictions for the six major categories:

American Hustle
Captain Philips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

With the field opened up so that there can be more than five nominees now, many of these are here just for the recognition of being nominated - Captain Philips, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, and Philomena. Her has a lot of great buzz, but without any acting or directing nominations, doesn't stand much of a chance. That leaves American Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street. All four have strong buzz, but I'm going to put my money on 12 Years a Slave. It's the type of "important" movie the Academy likes to recognize, and I think it's going to lose out in the acting categories, which will spur many voters to give it picture instead. 

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Efiojor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

This is one of the really tough categories for me this year. I can see a case being made for any one of these actors to win. Bale is respected and AH is getting great buzz, Dern's a veteran, DiCaprio has never won, Efiojor is in a political juggernaut, and McConaughey has his transformation in the role. I think it's going to come down to DiCaprio and Efiojor, and that ultimately DiCaprio's going to edge into the win. The Academy likes recognizing actors in Scorsese roles and he's had a great couple of years.

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Street, August: Osage County

There's a lot of talk about Adams, but honestly, this one is Cate Blanchett's to lose. She's not managed to snag Best Actress yet, it's a powerful performance, and the Academy loves her.

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

Another easy category. Leto's got this one locked up. A transformative role as well as a comeback story. This will be the performance from Dallas Buyers Club that gets recognition for the movie.

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

This is a two-woman race - Lawrence and Nyong'o. Lawrence is a Hollywood darling in a movie getting great buzz that isn't likely to get other acting wins. Nyong'o has crashed onto the scene and red carpet this year in a pivotal role and film. At this point, I'm going to say Lawrence, based solely on her popularity amongst her peers. Voters are likely to believe Nyong'o will have more opportunities to win. Not to say that Lawrence won't, but she didn't win on her first nomination, either.

David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

This one's almost as hard for me as Best Actor. It seems safe to knock out Scorsese and Payne right away. Scorsese is a perennial favorite, and Payne's movie is too small for the win. That leaves Russell, Cuaron, and McQueen. Cuaron won the Golden Globe, but Russell has had a lot of great work in recent years with a lot of respected actors, while McQueen is responsible for what's considered an "important" film. Any one of them could win and people wouldn't get upset. If 12 gets best picture, then it comes down to Cuaron and Russell, since voters have liked spreading the wealth in recent years. Based on that, I'll say...Cuaron, but only because his film was more technically difficult and it's not likely to win in any of the other major categories like AH probably will.