Friday, February 28, 2014

The Academy Awards - Matt's Picks

The 84th Academy Awards

I am certainly more of a pessimist than most, where I spend too much energy actively cheering for certain films and certain actors to fail. Do people actually want to see American Hustle win Best Picture? Captain Phillips definitely had its share of admirers, but I most certainly was not one of them. And Martin Scorsese's nomination for Best Director is most undeserved if you had to suffer through The Wolf of Wall Street

That being said, I am most interested in seeing Cate Blanchett triumph for her best work in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine - and fuck those who want to talk about scandals. I wish Sally Hawkins had a chance at winning, but Lupita Nyong'o might have the inside track ahead of Jennifer Lawrence. Can, or should, Lawrence win a Best Supporting Actress award for a performance that comes nowhere close to last year's triumph in Silver Linings Playbook?

If you think the Supporting Actress race is tight, what about Best Picture? Will it be Gravity, my top film of 2013, or 12 Years a Slave, my third favourite film?

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave*
The Wolf of Wall Street

Five of these films do not even belong here. It has been rumoured that some Oscar voters are not willing to watch the violence of 12 Years a Slave. I may have been quick to pick it earlier in the season, but I think the award will go to Gravity

Best Director
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity*
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street 

Cuarón has crafted a gripping space odyssey that made space scary. He also won the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director. How can he lose? 

Best Actor
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*

I wish Bruce Dern would win, I think it is my favourite male performance as I look back. Ejiofor is probably the most deserving for his performance, but I think voters are over-eager to acknowledge McConaughey - even if I didn't fully appreciate the film (let's blame Jennifer Garner).

Best Actress
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine*
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County

No one can, should, or will defeat Cate Blanchett. 

Best Supporting Actor
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*

Leto is almost as tight a lock as Blanchett - especially when nominated alongside Hill and Cooper!

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

Lawrence versus Nyong'o. Even my decision flip-flops. Not because Lawrence is more deserving, but because I think people want to give her awards. But I am going with Nyong'o. 

Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

Best Adapted Screenplay
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave*
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Animated Feature Film
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown - Belgium
The Great Beauty - Italy*
The Hunt - Denmark
The Missing Picture - Cambodia
Omar - Palestine

Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing
20 Feet from Stardom*
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square 

Best Documentary Short
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved by Life*
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Live Action Short
That Wasn't Me
Just Before Losing Everything
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
The Voorman Problem

The French film Avant que de tout perde (Just Before Losing Everything) is a devastating look at a woman trying to flee her abusive husband. It highlights the tense moments as she hides her children at work while her husband wanders the aisles of the store. The Voorman Project is the only English-language nominee and it stars Martin Freeman, but it was the least interesting for me. I would also enjoy it if the light-hearted Finnish film Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? won. 

Best Animated Short
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot*
Room on the Broom

It seems likely that the Disney film Get a Horse!, which played before Frozen, will win. It mixes old school Mickey Mouse with new animation. I quite disliked Feral and I was not thrilled by Possessions, but I would most like to see Mr. Hublot win. 

Best Original Score
The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks

Best Original Song
Happy - Despicable Me 2
Let It Go - Frozen* (not the Dragonette song!)
The Moon Song - Her
Ordinary Love - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Alone, Yet Not Alone - Alone, Yet Not Alone [nomination revoked]

Best Sound Editing
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Best Production Design
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby*
12 Years a Slave

Best Cinematography
The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 
Dallas Buyers Club*
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Best Costume Design
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby*
The Invisible Woman
12 Years a Slave

Best Film Editing
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness 

Happy watching!

EDIT: Winners indicated with a star.

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