We’re just about ready to close the doors on 2013, but before we do, let’s take a look at the Oscar nominations that we know just have to win, and those we can’t help but wish would. To keep track of how well we did with our predictions, watch the Oscars live on Sunday, March 2nd, and keep tabs on Room 101 Magazine as we live blog the awards!
Will: 12 Years a Slave
Write-in: Inside Llewyn Davis
This year pits the most visually unforgettable epic (Gravity) against a concrete, technically and artistically brilliant period drama (12 Years a Slave). Because the past few years have shown that the CG-giants such as Avatar and Life of Pi don’t pull through when it comes time for the big award, and because Steve McQueen’s film was just so powerfully made, 12 Years a Slave will receive top honors on Sunday. But on the sidelines, Her – my favorite film of 2013 – sits as a wildcard that we would love to see rewarded in any of the major categories. Sadly, the well-deserving Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis was not given a spot on the nominees list, despite only 9 of the 10 available slots being used. We’re still calming down over it.
David O. Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Should: Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Will: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Write-in: Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Cuarón has a favorable position for Best Director having won at the Directors Guild Awards, and we can support that vote considering what a task it would be to take on leading Gravity to release. But our hearts are still in Nebraska where Alexander Payne – in the most humble of the nominees – introduced us to Bruce Dern’s Woody Grant and his son David (Will Forte) in a father-son road trip that went by as one of the quietest, delightful dramas of the year.
Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Christian Bale, American Hustle; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Should: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Will: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Write-in: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
We know how everyone feels about Leonardo DiCaprio, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards this year when you look at Chiwetel Ejiofor’s outstanding portrayal of shock, oppression, and resignation in 12 Years a Slave, and McConaughey’s unexpected, career-180 year that culminated in a transformative perfomance in Dallas Buyers Club. The once rom-com star transcended his “alright-alright-alright” attitude to become someone that could win an Oscar.
Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Amy Adams, American Hustle, Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Should: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Will: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Write-in: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Julie Delpy’s work in Before Midnight has gone unnoticed, but thankfully we do have an equally powerful female lead in Cate Blanchett. To my surprise, Blanchett was about the only thing I really loved about Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and I’m relieved to see her mid-year performance wasn’t forgotten.
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Should: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Will: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Write-in: James Franco, Spring Breakers
I never thought I’d go against Fassbender in a McQueen film, but Jared Leto surprised us all when he put down the microphone after a decade-long career as a musician to pick up the eyeliner and lipstick for Dallas Buyers Club. Leto is about as close to a sure thing as we have this year, but don’t take your eye off Barkhad Abdi, a great upset waiting to happen.
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; June Squibb, Nebraska; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Should: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Will: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Write-in: Scarlett Johannson, Her
No luck for Scarlett Johannson’s incredible, story-selling voicework in Her, but we are left with an exciting face-off between Lawrence and Nyong’o. We tip towards Nyong’o (debuting with career-best-level work in 12 Years a Slave) for the win based on hope that the Academy will see Lawrence was already awarded an Oscar for essentially the same performance just last year.
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena; Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight; John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave; Billy Ray, Captain Phillips; Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Should: Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy
Will: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley
Write-in: August: Osage County, Tracy Letts
Before Midnight was the most thoughtful, impressive screenplay of the year, but if we’re to suggest splitting the Director and Picture awards, 12 Years a Slave will have to win for Screenplay. John Ridley, a novelist and screenwriter, penned the adaptation of Solomon Northup’s memoir 12 Years a Slave with great attention to structure and theme and lays the foundation for many of the formidable moments that McQueen and team follows through on.
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle; Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine; Spike Jonze, Her; Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club; Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Should: Her, Spike Jonze
Will: American Hustle, David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
Write-in: Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen
Here’s a decent showdown. We really want to see Spike Jonze honored in this slot – he deserves the recognition for bringing us a near-future romance between man and machine that we actually believe in and fall for. This is also the one position that American Hustle has a real shot – the hilarious screenplay was the best thing about David O. Russell’s Scorsesification of a story about con men and government agents. Again, though, we’re pained to see Joel and Ethan Coen’s work in Inside Llewyn Davis, in which they succeed with perfect, direct simplicity in the dialogue, overlooked.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Should: The Great Beauty, Italy
Will: The Great Beauty, Italy
The Great Beauty is, in every regard, about as good as it gets. Excluding a few remarkable efforts from Eastern Asia, this Italian Fellini-revivalist film is the one film of the year that deserves to get in front of the eyes of English-speaking audiences.
The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet from Stardom
Should: The Act of Killing
Will: The Act of Killing
Write-in: Stories We Tell
20 Feet from Stardom, the lovingly constructed document of back-up singers through iconic eras of music, may be a favorite for the award considering it was by far the most widely-seen, but here’s to hope that The Act of Killing, the only utterly essential documentary of the past five years, will steal the much-needed spotlight.
The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises
Should: The Wind Rises
No Pixar this year, so Disney’s lighthearted and well-received Frozen is up. On the other hand, Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki released his final film, The Wind Rises - a nice opportunity to win for an excellent career in filmmaking.
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster; Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity; Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis; Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska; Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners
Should: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Will: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Write-in: Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave
Lubezki, in coordination with the visual effects team (more on that later), played a major part in the wonderment that Gravity inspired in audiences that couldn’t find an earthly answer as to “how they did that.” Children of Men, The Tree of Life, To the Wonder - Lubezki has had it a long time coming, and this is his year.
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle; Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips; John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club; Afonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity; Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave
Should: Afonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Will: Afonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Captain Phillips, in classic Greengrass style, has a decent chance in stealing the award here for its hectic yet digestible edit of the storming of a cargo boat by Somali pirates, but Gravity is notable for the complete opposite reason by presenting us with several takes upwards of ten minutes that appear to be mind-bogglingly unbroken. When it comes down to it, that’s the more impressive feat.
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity; Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3; Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger; Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness
Write-in: Pacific Rim
This list of nominees is just not respectable without Pacific Rim on it, but it won’t matter much because Gravity is a sure thing.
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle; William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster; Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby; Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman; Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
Should: Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
Will: Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
Write-in: Inside Llewyn Davis
The Great Gatsby and American Hustle – which out-flashed the other? We think Hustle has it.
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler, American Hustle; Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard, Gravity; Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn, The Great Gatsby; Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena, Her;
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker, 12 Years a Slave
Should: K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena, Her
Will: K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena, Her
Write-in: Inside Llewyn Davis
Probably the only category Her has significant advantage over, Spike Jonze’s art team managed to create a memorable and identifiable world purely through physical set construction and decoration.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club; Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa; Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger
Should: Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Will: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Write-in: American Hustle
Jackass transformed Johnny Knoxville into “Bad Grandpa,” but is the world ready for the Jackass guys to win an Academy Award? We’ll see, but we’re counting on the subtle work in Dallas Buyers Club to win out.
Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All Is Lost; Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips; Glenn Freemantle, Gravity; Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor
Should: Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Will: Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Gravity, for scaring us with silence.
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips; Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity; Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis; Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow; Lone Survivor
Should: Tracy LettSkip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro, Gravity
Will: Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro, Gravity
John Williams, The Book Thief; Steven Price, Gravity; William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her; Alexandre Desplat, Philomena; Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Should: William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Will: Steven Price, Gravity
Write-in: Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
Again, sound, silence, and score is all so crucial to setting and tone in Gravity.
BEST SHORT FILM: LIVE ACTION
Helium, The Voorman Problem, Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
Should: Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Will: The Voorman Problem
French short thriller Just Before Losing Everything is the clear-cut winner of the category, but The Voorman Problem may secure the award for being the only film that’s both in English and has an established star in Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit).