RogerBW's Blog

86th Academy Awards Predictions 09 February 2014

For the last few years I've been making predictions of the Academy Award winners. I'm almost always wrong. Let's see what happens when I do it in public.

I haven't seen most of the contenders; I'm going by reviews and impressions I've picked up. I'm also considering old reliable Paddy Power who as always are giving odds: that's probably a decent guide to popular opinion in the UK and Ireland, though of course that's a country and a mindset removed from the Academy voters. I'm skipping the Documentary, Foreign Language and Short Film awards completely.

I'm also going to borrow, with permission, the "should win" vs "will win" division from Flick Filosopher, which is where you should go for actual film criticism rather than my maunderings; MaryAnn's list of nominees is here. "Will win" is my prediction for the award; "should win" is where I think it ought to go.

Now that the awards are in, I've updated with "did win". My major failures were assuming that Slave would be too uncomfortable for Best Picture and that Gravity would be largely neglected. I'm faintly surprised how far Hustle dropped out of the spotlight in the last couple of weeks, though.

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave is the favourite, and it's certainly classic Oscar-bait, but I don't think it'll win. It's just too damned uncomfortable. Like the excellent Cidade de Deus, nobody's going to want to see it again. I do expect it to pick up a whole stack of other awards on the "I'm not racist" slate.

Gravity is out because it's science fiction, and the Academy hates science fiction even more than it hates other "genre" material. (Yes it is, damn it. Those of us who know anything about orbital mechanics may even regard it as science fantasy.) Her is out for the same reason.

The Wolf of Wall Street is too profane and reviews have been mixed. Philomena is being painted as "anti-Catholic" by apologists for that church. Captain Phillips is too pro-US-Navy ("how would you feel about a film 'made with the cooperation of' the North Korean Army"). I think it comes down to American Hustle and Dallas Buyer's Club. And the Buyer's Club has dying homosexuals.

OK, they went for Slave after all. White Guilt for the win! I wonder whether that may backfire; let's see if pundits start complaining about the voters being "out of touch".

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club (will win)
Gravity (should win)
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave (did win)
The Wolf of Wall Street

Actor in a Leading Role

2013 was McConaughey's year for turning his innate skeeviness to good use: rather than play horribly unconvincing romantic heroes, he's shifted over to skeevy characters. Only one of those roles is here, and normally I'd call it a lock. However, I think he'll only win if 12 Years a Slave gets Best Picture; otherwise the award here will go to Ejiofor as compensation.

Nobody else is in the running: DiCaprio's just done what he always does since he gained all that weight around the face, play a completely unlikeable character; Dern might get it on the sympathy vote from people who didn't realise he was still alive; Bale didn't do anything exciting.

Well, as I said -- no need to compensage Ejiofor for Slave, so it went to McConaughey.

Christian Bale / American Hustle
Bruce Dern / Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio / The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor / 12 Years a Slave (will win)
Matthew McConaughey / Dallas Buyers Club (should win) (did win)

Actress in a Leading Role

Tricky. If they vote for the breasts, it'll be Adams. Blanchett gets some pretentiousness cred for Woody Allen and a Tennessee Williams adaptation (sorry, "inspiration"), and out of the other majors that film's only up for Supporting Actress. Bullock's still out because of science fiction. Dench and Streep look old, which is usually fatal. On balance I think the voters will go for Woody Allen. And they may even be right to do so.

Called it.

Amy Adams / American Hustle
Cate Blanchett / Blue Jasmine (should win) (will win) (did win)
Sandra Bullock / Gravity
Judi Dench / Philomena
Meryl Streep / August: Osage County

Actor in A Supporting Role

What, no nomination for "the whole damn US Navy" for Captain Phillips? I think this one's going to Jared Leto; he's the one thing everyone who's seen the film has talked about. Going by what I've seen, though, Abdi seems to have done an even better job.

As long as it's not Jonah Hill...

Called it.

Barkhad Abdi / Captain Phillips (should win)
Bradley Cooper / American Hustle
Michael Fassbender / 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill / The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto / Dallas Buyers Club (will win) (did win)

Actress in a Supporting Role

This is where Slave's political credit really kicks in. Apart from nobody else on the list being all that desperately impressive, it has to get in here as Proof That Academy Voters Aren't Racist. I won't argue, actually; nobody here's struck me as outstanding.

Called it.

Sally Hawkins / Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence / American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o / 12 Years a Slave (should win) (will win) (did win)
Julia Roberts / August: Osage County
June Squibb / Nebraska

Animated Feature Film

Frozen. Disney actually does something worthwhile, much to everyone's amazement. The only competition is The Wind Rises, and I think even the Academy might be chary of honouring a film about the man who designed the Zero. Politics, all is politics.

Called it.

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen (will win) (did win)
The Wind Rises (should win)

Cinematography

This is where Gravity's in with a chance: in the ghetto of technical awards. Given that it's only the second film that's really been made to take advantage of 3D, I think it probably deserves this one.

Called it.

The Grandmaster / Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity / Emmanuel Lubezki (should win) (will win) (did win)
Inside Llewyn Davis / Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska / Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners / Roger A. Deakins

Costume Design

If Hustle doesn't pick up anything else, it'll get this one as a consolation prize. That seems quite likely, actually. If not that, Gatsby, which to me appears to be a more impressive achievement.

I was excessively cynical. That's a hard thing to do where Hollywood is concerned.

American Hustle / Michael Wilkinson (will win)
The Grandmaster / William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby / Catherine Martin (should win) (did win)
The Invisible Woman / Michael O'Connor
12 Years a Slave / Patricia Norris

Directing

Really, who separates the quality of direction from the quality of the film as a whole? Slave.

No, the voters actually went for that crazy sci-fi stuff. I am frankly amazed by this.

American Hustle / David O. Russell
Gravity / Alfonso Cuaron (should win) (did win)
Nebraska / Alexander Payne
12 Years a Slave / Steve McQueen (will win)
The Wolf of Wall Street / Martin Scorsese

Film Editing

This usually seems to be for fobbing off films that didn't take one of the big ones. I think it might go to Captain Phillips, since that has to win something. I have no feelings about this list on technical grounds.

Well, I guess Gravity did make rather a lot of money.

American Hustle / Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips / Christopher Rouse (will win)
Dallas Buyers Club / John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
Gravity / Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger (did win)
12 Years a Slave / Joe Walker

Makeup and Hairstyling

A mega-flop, a hidden-camera comedy film, or one of the contenders for Best Picture. I know where my money's going.

Called it. Dead cert, really.

Dallas Buyers Club / Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews (should win) (will win) (did win)
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa / Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger / Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Music / Original Score

Gravity's in with a chance here, since it won't have won any of the majors. Can't call it apart from that.

Called it.

The Book Thief / John Williams
Gravity / Steven Price (should win) (will win) (did win)
Her / William Butler and Owen Pallett
Philomena / Alexandre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks / Thomas Newman

Music / Original Song

How many of these have you heard? The only one that's even come to my attention is Let It Go. Good call releasing that youtube video.

Called it.

"Happy" from DESPICABLE ME 2
"Let It Go" from FROZEN (should win) (will win) (did win)
"The Moon Song" from HER
"Ordinary Love" from MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

Production Design

Gatsby probably deserves this; bloated and overblown, sure, but lush! It'll probably go to American Hustle for bringing back Academy voters' childhoods.

I wonder what cancelled the nostalgia factor.

American Hustle / Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration) (will win)
Gravity / Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
The Great Gatsby / Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration) (should win) (did win)
Her / K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)
12 Years a Slave / Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration)

Sound Editing

Both the "wet" films are up here. Very surprised not to see more nominations for All Is Lost, and I'll give it my sympathy vote here.

No, it's time to cosy up to Gravity again.

All Is Lost / Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns (should win)
Captain Phillips / Oliver Tarney (will win)
Gravity / Glenn Freemantle (did win)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug / Brent Burge and Chris Ward
Lone Survivor / Wylie Stateman

Sound Mixing

Who can say? A film about musicians probably ought to get a sound award. Or Lone Survivor since that's not up for much else.

Never mind those other films, let's give Gravity lots of awards!

Captain Phillips / Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
Gravity / Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro (did win)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug / Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
Inside Llewyn Davis / Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland (should win) (will win)
Lone Survivor / Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Visual Effects

This is the only place most of the SF and fantasy films of 2013 are in with a chance. But I suspect this one goes to Hobbit to stop the fans whining.

Excessive cynicism again. The Academy is usually much more down on thinky SF -- and yeah, Gravity is thinky SF much more than it is whiz-bang SF -- than it is on fantasy.

Gravity / Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould (should win) (did win)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug / Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds (will win)
Iron Man 3 / Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger / Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness / Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Writing / Adapted Screenplay

Slave all the way. Before Midnight is more cleverly written, but I don't think it has the mass appeal that's needed for an Oscar winner.

Called it.

Before Midnight (should win)
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave (will win) (did win)
The Wolf of Wall Street

Writing / Original Screenplay

Apparently Blue Jasmine counts here rather than "Adapted". I'd like to see Her win this slot, but I think it's too close to call.

Called it even so.

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her (should win) (will win) (did win)
Nebraska

Tags: film

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