86th Academy Awards Preview

oscars

Well, it is that time of year again. That time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out their Oscars to deserving films and actors, and sometimes some undeserving ones as well.

Much like last year, I will look at the major awards from the 86th Academy Awards, but unlike last year, I am going to be adding in the two writing categories as well, trying to see if I can figure out those awards this time around.

I also want to mention that I am not going to be looking at the technical categories, as we all know that ‘Gravity’ is going to win them all anyways.

Best Animated Short Film

"GET A HORSE!" ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Nominees: Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Room on the Broom

Will Win: Get a Horse!

Should Win: Get a Horse!

Won’t get into this category too much other than to say that this should be a slam dunk for Disney with ‘Get a Horse!’. Appearing in front of ‘Frozen’ last November, a return to the big screen for Mickey Mouse using both traditional and 3D animation, there is little doubt in my mind that ‘Get a Horse!’ wins this award.

Best Original Song

letitgo

Nominees: Happy – Despicable Me 2, Let It Go – Frozen, The Moon Song – Her, Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Will Win: Let It Go – Frozen

Should Win: Let It Go – Frozen

Curveball: Happy – Despicable Me 2

Originally a five nominee category, Best Original Song is now down to just four nominees following a rare disqualification of one of the entrants. While that may be the story of this category, it will not change how a winner is crowned here.

This is another runaway slam dunk category for Disney in my eyes. Yes, U2’s “Ordinary Love” won the Golden Globe for this category, yes, it’s a song from a popular band about one of the most influential men of the 20th Century, but a Disney song is a Disney song.

“Let It Go” from ‘Frozen’, sung by Idina Menzel, is one of the most powerful songs to have ever come out of an animated film, and let’s be honest, Disney has one hell of a track record in that category. A curveball on this front could be Pharrell’s “Happy” from ‘Despicable Me 2’, just on the strength of his Arby’s hat.

Best Animated Feature

frozen

Nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celstine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Will Win: Frozen

Should Win: Frozen

Curveball: The Wind Rises

Okay, I think it is completely safe to say that Disney may be back on top of the animated film summit. Thanks to recent hits like ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, Disney had started to catch up on Pixar and DreamWorks, and a return to the fairytale princess stories of old with ‘Frozen’ has seen them reach that summit again.

‘Frozen’ was won of my favourite films of 2013 and is head and shoulders above anything else in this category. The curveball here could be the final film from renowned film maker Hayao Miyazaki. Should the voters determine that is enough, this could be a major upset.

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

12years

Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Before Midnight

One of the easiest categories to call, but also one of the hardest as well. Four of these films are also up for Best Picture, and if one of them wins that award, it will be foreshadowed in the Adapted Screenplay category.

For myself personally, the winner here is ’12 Years a Slave’. Adapting a memoir from the 1860’s is hard enough, but making it relevant, poignant and heart breaking all at the same time is something special indeed.

The curveball here would be ‘Before Midnight’. Critics have a love affair with this love story trilogy and if the Best Picture winner does not come from the other four films in this category, it could count an upset.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay

her

Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

Will Win: American Hustle

Should Win: Her

Curveball: Dallas Buyers Club

Much like the Adapted Screenplay category, the Original Screenplay category features four of the nine films up for Best Picture, but unlike its sister category, I would be shocked if the winner of this category ends up winning the big one at the end of the night.

That being said, this category will go a long way in telling us just what the voters are thinking. If ‘American Hustle’ has withstood its much warranted backlash, it wins this category, even over quite possibly the most original film in years in ‘Her’, which would be the film I would vote for here.

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is my curveball in this category as it was, to me, the best film of the five that are nominated for Original Screenplay.

Best Supporting Actress

nyongo

Nominees: 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: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball – Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

I have a real sneaking suspicion that this will be the biggest joke of the evening. There is a very deserved winner of the Best Supporting Actress awards that is going to be be completely disregarded so more people can give a completely unwarranted trophy out. The clear winner of this category, based on actual performance and emotional impact, is Lupita Nyong’o for ’12 Years a Slave’.

Instead, the Academy seems sure to bestow this award on a third rate, meaningless and totally un-impactful performance in ‘American Hustle’ to last years Best Actress winner, Jennifer Lawrence. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence is the best young actress in Hollywood today, but take her out of ‘American Hustle’ and you end up with pretty much the same film.

Outside winner here, and one that would be a huge shocker, would be Julia Roberts for August: Osage County. If Meryl Streep ends up not winning Best Actress, I would say that the chances of Roberts winning her would go up.

Best Supporting Actor

fassbender

Nominees: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, 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 – Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Much like Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor seems to be a shoo-in for Jared Leto for his performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. While both the film and his performance were well done, all I kept seeing was a rock star in drag on screen, and as a result of that, I would look elsewhere for this category.

My personal choice would be Michael Fassbender for his role as a plantation owner in ’12 Years a Slave’. Showing the worst of what a rich white man could be in the middle 1800’s, and doing it so convincingly, is why my vote would go here.

If you took Fassbender off the board for Best Supporting Actor, I would immediately turn to newcomer Barkhad Abdi for his role as a pirate in ‘Captain Phillips’.

Best Actress

bullock

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

Will Win: Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Should Win: Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Curveball: Judi Dench – Philomena

Best Actress is a very tough category to call this year, as four of the five nominees seem to have very legitimate hopes of winning the trophy, which of course means that this could be the one category where the curveball comes out on top.

This really should be a two actress race between Sandra Bullock for ‘Gravity’ and Cate Blanchett for ‘Blue Jasmine’, and I would not be surprised to see it go either way. Bullock seems to be the favourite here, as she carried her film on her shoulders almost 100% solo, so I feel she takes it home.

Should the four front runners cancel themselves out, I would love to see Judi Dench win for ‘Philomena’.

Best Actor

ejiofor

Nominees: 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 – Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Bruce Dern – Nebraska

Best Actor is truly a two-man race between Matthew McConaughey for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and Chiwetel Ejiofor for ’12 Years a Slave’. It is a bit of a shame that Tom Hanks isn’t here for ‘Captain Phillips’, but such is life.

If you go for best year, and inexplicably include what he is doing in HBO’s ‘True Detective’ right now, along with what he did earlier in 2013 in ‘Mud’, this is McConaughey’s Oscar to lose. If you are going with the best performance from any actress or actor on film from 2013, you are going to the bank with Ejiofor’s performance, hands down.

Ejiofor’s performance as Solomon Northup in ’12 Years a Slave’ may just be the single best performance I have ever witnessed, and for my money is the runaway winner here.

Off the wall chance goes to veteran Bruce Dern for the black and white ‘Nebraska’, as we all know how the Academy loves older style films.

Best Director

gravity

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

Will Win – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Should Win – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Curveball – Alexander Payne – Nebraska

Best Director is another very tough category to predict. For myself, there are two clear front runners for the Oscar, but when taking into account the voters themselves, it brings four of the five into play, which of course means that there could be an upset from the fifth nominee.

For my money, I can see it going to either Alfonso Cuaron for his revolutionary ‘Gravity’ or to Steve McQueen for crafting a film in ’12 Years a Slave that is both wonderful and hard to watch all at once. I truly believe that there is a good chance that if either director wins here, they also pick up Best Picture for all the same reasons. I would dearly love for McQueen to win here, but I think this is all Cuaron all day long.

Should there be a canceling out of the voters, look to a shock win for a second straight year, this year to Alexander Payne for ‘Nebraska’.

Best Picture

12slave

Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

For the second year in a row I feel like I truly have nailed down the Best Picture winner, and for the second year in a row, it is a film that was long in the public eye before the nominations came out.

To be completely honest, I don’t think this is anywhere near as close as many believe it to be. ‘American Hustle’ is nowhere near as good as many make it out to be. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is too bloated with swearing to win over the Academy. ‘Her’ is just to weird for most voters to have even seen. ‘Philomena’ and ‘Nebraska’ are just too small to be taken as legitimate contenders. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is all about the two main stars, and “Captain Phillips’ suffers from not having its main actor or director get nominations.

That leaves ‘Gravity’ and ’12 Years a Slave’. One is a redefinition of what can be done to put a film on the screen, and the other is simply the most heart breaking film that I have ever seen. Here is how I break them both down: ‘Gravity’ was a great “movie”, one that needed to be experienced in the correct cinema environment. ’12 Years a Slave’ is a pitch perfect “film” that I will be able to watch over and over again due to the entire experience, from the silent scene featuring only Chiwetel Ejiofor’s eyes, to the use of actual plantations and clothing from the era.

No curveball or surprises here.

Check back on Monday for my review of what actually goes down at the 86th Academy Awards.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

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