Tuesday, January 14, 2014

86th Academy Award Nomination Predictions

As I write this, there are still (as usual) several films I have yet to see. Probably the two biggest awards contenders I haven't seen are Her and August: Osage County. There are then quite a few lesser contenders for technical awards that I might still see including The Invisible Woman, Rush, The Grandmaster, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Lone Ranger, The Book Thief and possibly some others.

When you look at other nomination predictions, you see long lists of spoilers and outside possibilities. I could list at least ten deserving and, in some cases, remotely possible candidates in each category, but I'm interested in picking what I honestly think will be nominated and naming one or two that I truly think are the strongest additional contenders. My basic claim is that (at least for the top eight categories) you won't hear a name or title called on Thursday morning that isn't listed here.

Picture

With the possibility of anywhere from five to ten nominees, it's obviously much harder to guess not only which films, but how many, will be nominated. Since that rule was implemented there have never been fewer than nine nominees. This year has a number of strong contenders, so I see no reason why there won't be nine or even ten nominated films again. My predictions are listed in order of likelihood, with the top four being my dead locks. As much as I was disappointed in The Wolf of Wall Street, I think it's making enough impact that it will make the list. If there were only five nominees, I think the fifth spot would be a tossup among everything else I have on my list.

I'm going with nine nominees playing out as follows.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Gravity
3. American Hustle
4. Captain Phillips
5. Dallas Buyers Club
6. Her
7. Nebraska
8. The Wolf of Wall Street
9. Inside Llewyn Davis

spoilers: PhilomenaSaving Mr. Banks

Director
I think we're looking at seven films battling it out for fives spots. And truthfully, because the first three are sure things, it's four for two.

1. Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
2. Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity
3. David O. Russell - American Hustle
4. Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips

spoilers: Alexander Payne - Nebraska; Joel and Ethan Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis

Actress
As much as it pains me to say it, Sandra Bullock is a lock for a nomination. She never deserved the Oscar she won for The Blind Side. She doesn't deserve a nomination for Gravity. She is not a great actress and has never given a great performance. She is good and that's it. Compared to the other five women who might get nominated, she is an amateur. The top three on this list are definite. I have to say Meryl Streep is also just because she gets nominated for farting on screen (I think she's the greatest living screen actress, but you know what I mean). Amy Adams was just so good - a career high, in my opinion - that I have to think she'll be nominated. So I leave off Emma Thompson, whom I strongly believe will be nominated, but I have to pick five. I leave her off because I just can't stand Saving Mr. Banks.

1. Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
2. Judi Dench - Philomena
3. Sandra Bullock - Gravity
4. Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
5. Amy Adams - American Hustle

BIG spoiler: Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks

Actor
If you'd asked six weeks ago, Robert Redford is near the top of this list. But he's lost a lot of momentum, so I have to drop him. The top four a locked in, as far as I'm concerned. The fifth spot is a tough call between Leonard DiCaprio and Christian Bale, but it just feels like DiCaprio has a lot of recent momentum.

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
2. Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
3. Bruce Dern - Nebraska
4. Matthew McConaughy - Dallas Buyers Club
5. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street

spoilers: Christian Bale - American Hustle; Robert Redford - All Is Lost

Supporting Actress
Here's another battle of six women for five places. I think we're looking at certainty for the first three. The fourth and fifth spots are dicey. Oprah Winfrey failed to get the Golden Globe nomination, but I can't see the Academy passing. She was honestly very very good. I haven't seen August: Osage County, so I can't judge the quality of Julia Roberts' performance, but I'm going to elect her over Sally Hawkins because of general likability within the Hollywood community and star power. 

1. Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
2. Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
3. June Squibb - Nebraska
4. Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler
5. Julia Roberts - August: Osage County

spoiler: Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor
Again, we're looking at locks on the top three positions. There are more potential spoilers in this category than in other top categories. I say Bradley Cooper rides the American Hustle coattails and I think the Academy will give James Ganolfini the posthumous honor of a nomination. That's a gut feeling more than anything else.

1. Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
2. Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
3. Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
4. Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
5. James Gandolfini - Enough Said

spoilers: Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street; Daniel Brühl - Rush

Original Screenplay

1. Her
2. American Hustle
3. Nebraska
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Blue Jasmine

spoilers: Gravity; Dallas Buyers Club; Enough Said

Adapted Screenplay
Probably not a lot of spoiler chance this year. This is a pretty narrow field.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Before Midnight
3. Philomena
4. Captain Phillips
5. The Wolf of Wall Street

minor spoiler: August: Osage County

Animated Feature
A notably weak year for animation.

1. Frozen
2. Monsters University
3. The Wind Rises
4. Ernest & Celestine
5. The Croods

spoilers: Turbo; Epic

Production Design
Always a lot of possibilities in this category. It's very hard to judge what this branch of the Academy will choose. Again, we'll call the top three on my list the locks. Beyond that it's anyone's guess. Sorry, I'm sort of breaking my own rule by listing so many spoilers, but I really can't narrow it down to seven contenders.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. The Great Gatsby
4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
5. Saving Mr. Banks

spoilers: Gravity; American Hustle; Oz: the Great and PowerfulThe Invisible Woman; Lee Daniels' The Butler

Cinematography
This was a very strong year and I'd have to say the top three are certain and beyond that it could go several ways, but I've provided my two predictions plus two spoilers.

1. Gravity
2. Prisoners
3. 12 Years a Slave
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Nebraska

spoilers: The Grandmaster; Rush

Costume Design
I wouldn't even go as far as to call the third spot a certainty, but pretty close. 

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. The Great Gatsby
3. American Hustle
4. The Invisible Woman
5. Oz: the Great and Powerful

Film Editing
This is often the "who the hell knows" category when it comes to nominations. Because so often film editors will see something great in a movie least likely. Something like Rush or even Lone Survivor can sneak through here.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Gravity
3. American Hustle
4. Captain Phillips
5. Inside Llewyn Davis

Makeup and Hairstyling
There is a finite list of shortlisted films for this category.

1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
2. American Hustle
3. The Lone Ranger

other shortlisted films: Dallas Buyers Club; The Great Gatsby; Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sound Mixing
So this category is really about the overall sound mix. That is, how all the elements on the soundtrack (music, dialogue, effects) are mixed together to create a complete aural experience. This technical aspect of filmmaking has gotten so good in Hollywood movies in the last fifteen to twenty years that it's virtually impossible for a layperson to distinguish the best from the almost best.

1. Gravity
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. Captain Phillips

Sound Editing
This category is meant to honor the way sounds are cut together and the different effects that are used to enhance a sequence. That's why action films tend to shine here.

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. All Is Lost
4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
5. Pacific Rim

Visual Effects
There are ten shortlisted films to choose from.

1. Gravity
2. Pacific Rim
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
4. Oblivion
5. Star Trek Into Darkness

other shortlisted films: The Lone Ranger; Iron Man 3; Elysium; World War Z; Thor: The Dark World

Original Score

1. Hans Zimmer - 12 Years a Slave
2. Alex Ebert - All Is Lost
3. Steven Price - Gravity
4. John Williams - The Book Thief
5. Thomas Newman - Saving Mr. Banks

Original Song

1. "Let It Go" from Frozen
2. "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
3. "Young and Beautiful" from The Great Gatsby
4. "Amen" from All Is Lost
5. "Atlas" from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Foreign Language Film
This category has nine shortlisted films.

1. The Great Beauty from Italy
2. The Grandmaster from Hong Kong
3. The Hunt from Denmark
4. The Broken Circle Breakdown from Belgium
5. The Notebook from Hungary

Documentary Feature
There are fifteen shortlisted films in this category.

1. Stories We Tell
2. The Act of Killing
3. 20 Feet from Stardom
4. Cutie and the Boxer
5. The Square

other shortlisted films: Tim's Vemeer; Blackfish; The Crash Reel; God Loves Uganda; Life According to Sam; Dirty Wars; The Armstrong Lie; Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington; Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer; First Cousin Once Removed

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