For part three of my Oscar predictions, I’m going to break from the previous mold and give you my thoughts directly for each nominee in each category. I will be highlighting my pick for who I think will win, not who I want to win. Read below each category for my thoughts.
These aren’t your Grandma’s Oscar predictions. Get ready for some brutal honesty all up in this motherfucker. Cinema! CINEMA!!
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
If American Hustle wins, so help me God my head will explode. Hustle might be David O. Russell’s worst film in years. It’s by no means a bad film, but it’s uneven, flashy and pretty forgettable. Tell me, honestly, that you’ll remember it 10 years from now and I’ll call bullshit. You won’t. I’m not going to waste any more time on it.
I haven’t seen Captain Phillips. I know. I know! How can I give predictions if I haven’t seen all of the films? I’ll let you in on a little secret: a lot of Academy members don’t watch some of the nominees. So I don’t feel that bad. I’ve managed to watch most of them, and I’m happy with what I’ve seen. I’ll get to Captain Phillips in time, I’m a big Paul Greengrass fan (Bloody Sunday, United 93 and The Bourne Ultimatum will do that to you), but a part of me didn’t rush to watch it because I don’t think it’s a strong contender for the top prize. But I didn’t see it so I really can’t say.
Dallas Buyers Club is a film held up by performances. Strong performances, yes, but it’s not the best film of this year, or of any year for that matter. Then again, it’s the type of film the Academy could potentially gravitate toward. If the votes get split somehow, this could end up as a controversial Best Picture winner. I doubt it, though. Moving on!
Ah, Gravity! The closest thing I’ve seen to an “art” film by a studio in a long while. Then again, they were backing Alfonso Cuaron, one of the best popular filmmakers working in cinema today. Too bad his masterpiece Children of Men was released in 2007, the year of the best films this side of the year 2000 (Zodiac! The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford! No Country For Old Men! THERE. WILL. BE. BLOOD! The Diving Bell And The Butterfly! Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead! Rescue Dawn! Eastern Promises! Michael Clayton! ABSOLUTELY FUCKING RIDICULOUS competition.). Gravity is a monumental achievement, but it’s not the best film of 2013. It starts so strong but by the end the sentimentality, obvious references to 2001, the occasional obvious plot point, and Bullock’s uneven performance (I also blame it on some of the writing) don’t really add up to the most prized statuette of the night. Still, I have tremendous admiration for what this film accomplished, and it’s fucking gorgeous, so it’s still a winner in my mind. If I had to pick a second place winner, it would be Gravity.
I didn’t see Her. Joaquin Phoenix is one hell of an actor and Spike Jonze is one hell of a director, but Her doesn’t have a chance. I’m still looking forward to watching it, though. I’ve heard very good things.
Nebraska is great. It really is. I’m glad it got nominated, but it’s not going to win. It’s small, quiet, charming, funny and smart. Bruce Dern deserves his nomination and so does Bob Nelson for his wonderful screenplay, but Nebraska is dead in the water. I wouldn’t be angry if it won, though. Go watch it.
I haven’t seen Philomena either, but those who have seem to be very happy with it. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan rarely disappoint separately and Stephen Frears is a reliable director. I look forward to watching it, but it doesn’t have a chance either.
And here we are. The Best Picture winner itself. Steve McQueen exploded into cinemas with the masterful Hunger and followed it up with the excellent Shame. 12 Years A Slave isn’t his best film, actually of his three films it’s his weakest in my opinion, but that’s a testament to his talent and genius. 12 Years A Slave isn’t perfect. Some of the dialogue falls flat and some of the supporting performances don’t measure up, but this film contains the most powerful and memorable moments of any of the nominees this year. It’s a triumph and says more about the history of America than most others films could dream of. Read my review here.
Last but not least (that would be American Hustle), we arrive at The Wolf of Wall Street. I like this film. It’s has a lot going for it. It’s very funny, overindulgent (on purpose) and it’s made by a certified master (who hasn’t been at the top of his game the last 20 or so years), Martin Scorsese. They gave Scorsese the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for The Departed as an apology for stiffing him for Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy and Goodfellas. The Wolf of Wall Street was fun to watch, but it doesn’t deserve it.
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
This year, fuck David O. Russell. He shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place.
As an apology for not giving him the Best Picture Oscar, the Academy is going to award Cuarón the Best Director statuette. He deserves it for the (mostly) brilliant vision that is Gravity. It’s groundbreaking and the work of a visionary.
Alexander Payne did a great job on Nebraska, I even prefer it to his previous films The Descendants and Sideways. It’s auteuristic and charming, but not the most monumental or memorable directing job this year. He deserves the nomination, though.
If Steve McQueen wins, he deserves it too. Almost as much, if not as much, as Cuarón. But with two such strong contenders for the Academy to vote on, the split goes to 12 Years for Picture and Cuarón for Director. Don’t be surprised if it’s the other way around! I said it here first, folks.
I’ll remind you again: the Academy snubbed Scorsese multiple times for his best films, some of the best films of that or any era, so they gave it to him for The Departed. Won’t happen again, shouldn’t happen again. I’d be very surprised.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
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
Christian Bale deservedly won his Oscar for his performance in another Russell film, The Fighter. He was transcendent in it. He wasn’t in American Hustle. He was solid, but come on let’s drop some real talk. A gut and a heavy New York accent doesn’t earn it for you this year, Mr. Bale. Check out The Machinist. He’s way better in that. Way way better.
Bruce Dern, if you’re a dark horse to win I’d be more than happy if you did. Dern is funny and sad as the dementia-ridden patriarch in Nebraska who leads his son on a road trip to collect what he thinks is a million dollars. I have nothing bad to say about his performance.
Leo? No. He doesn’t transform here. It’s a great performance with a lot of energy (and some killer, I said KILLER, dance moves) but it’s not his year. Sorry, Leo. They should have nominated you for The Aviator.
Ejiofor would probably win if it wasn’t for the next guy on the list. His is a fearless and raw performance that would win in other years. He bares the soul of Solomon Northrup and carries the film and the audience through some tough scenes (that’s an understatement). I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Ejiofor.
What does the Academy love? “Real stories” based on “real people”. What else do they love? A good story behind the scenes. McConaughey was, for a long time, that “romcom guy” who transformed into the serious actor who took on the role of AIDS stricken Ron Woodruff. He is skin and bone in the film, certainly a sign of dedication. I knew he had this type of performance in him even way back then, and he delivers here. I can’t even say he doesn’t deserve it. He becomes Woodruff. He’s barely recognizable and his range in the film is impressive. Congratulations in advance to him.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Amy Adams is easily the best part of American Hustle. EASILY. She’s an actress (an excellent actress) playing a woman playing a part in a con. Her range in the film outdoes anyone else and all of the praise heaped on Jennifer Lawrence should be directed towards her. She was the only part of American Hustle that I was fully satisfied with, and she’s long overdue for her statuette.
Cate Blanchett could have won. She might win. The other reason I say otherwise is because of the recent controversy surrounding Woody Allen. Then again, Academy voters are stubborn and loyal to a fault (like not picking films that deserve the awards), so don’t be surprised if Blanchett wins anyway. From what I’ve heard, she deserves it. Still, fuck Woody Allen, he’s a scumbag.
Sandra Bullock is great in Gravity. The writing for her character, however, isn’t as great. It’s a brave and daring performance, but she won for The Blind Side (I almost forgot! Yuck!) and Sandra Bullock isn’t really a good enough actress to win two of these golden buddy boys. Hell, she didn’t deserve her first one.
Again, I didn’t watch Philomena, but Judi Dench is a sure bet almost any year. She probably won’t win, but I never doubt her nomination. She even kills it in the new Bond movies.
I haven’t seen August: Osage County either. But this is Meryl Streep, arguably the GREATEST ACTRESS EVER. Or at the very least the most consistent. Never be surprised if she wins. She almost always deserves it, but I don’t think this is her year. She’s only been disappointed 15 times before, walking away three times in victory. EIGHTEEN TIMES IN TOTAL! All hail Meryl Streep!
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
I’m glad Abdi was nominated. To be honest, when I saw the trailer for Captain Phillips, I was more interested in the story from Abdi’s character’s point of view. One of the more surprising and delightful nominations this year, Abdi won’t win but I’m glad he’s included here.
Have you learned nothing, readers? Except for Amy Adams, Hustle is overrated by far. Forget Bradley Cooper.
Fassbender deserves the nomination. He’s great, but he should have won for either of his two previous collaborations with McQueen. Ain’t happenin’ this year.
Jonah Hill is hilarious and excellent in The Wolf of Wall Street. Better than I expected, to be honest. If Jared Leto wasn’t nominated this year, you better believe Hill would be a serious contender. Wow, who would have expected Jonah Hill to have been nominated for two Oscars? Good for him!
Jared Leto. The winner, whether he deserves it or not. I think he does, by a hair. Leto has always been fearless and excellent, from Requiem for a Dream to Fight Club to Lord of War. I’m just glad he’s back to acting and not making “music” in that band of his. Welcome back, Mr. Leto.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine, but Sally Hawkins is so good. She’s another good reason for me to watch it. A bad reason? Woody Creepscum Allen.
AH! The most overrated part of a film that is defined by being overrated. NO. NO. NO. She’s not that great in it. She’s a very talented actress and deserved her win for Silver Linings Playbook but this nomination is absurd and insulting to me as a viewer.
Lupita Nyong’o needs to win. At the end of the day, her performance in 12 Years A Slave is soul-crushing and masterful. She outshines Ejiofor and Fassbender in quite a few scenes, the most memorable being the scene where she begs Northrup to put her out of her misery. I knew she would win in that moment. It’s her year.
Wow, I didn’t realize Roberts was nominated until now. I guess I need to watch August: Osage County. Then again, Julia Roberts doesn’t really excite me that much. She can’t have been better than Nyong’o.
June Squibb is an absolute delight in Nebraska, providing some much needed potty-mouthed comedy relief. She’s adorable in it, and I’m glad she got nominated. Unfortunately this isn’t a winning performance, but fuck yeah, June Squibb.
That concludes my Oscar predictions. I won’t be watching, but if you plan to, Ellen Degeneres is hosting the ceremony on Sunday March 2nd at 7pm on ABC. Check out a teaser below.