Academy Award Predictions for the 2013 Oscars in the Main Categories
I’ve been watching magazines (like “Entertainment Weekly”) predict the potential Oscar nominees for Best Actor in advance and score only 3 out of 5. (They missed with Tom Hanks and Robert Redford). True, they did better in other categories, but as someone who covered the Chicago Film Festival and has seen nearly all of the nominees, it’s time to share my view(s) on who will win. After all, it’s over a month away.
The nominees are: “12 Years A Slave;” “American Hustle;” “Captain Phillips;” “Dallas Buyers’ Club;” “Gravity;” “Her;” “Nebraska;” “Philomena;” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” First of all, let me say that there were enough good movies out there this year that the Academy could/would/should have picked 10 films, but it is my understanding that, to make the list, a film has to receive enough first-place votes from Academy members, and, obviously, films like “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “August: Osage County” and “Blue Jasmine” didn’t quite make the cut. Why? Beats the heck out of me!I’d say they were too much “downers” as movie fare, except that “Blue Jasmine,” in particular, has some very funny moments, and “Dallas Buyers Club” is hardly frivolous fare. If I were to put the list above in order, entertainment-wise, I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite between “American Hustle” and “Captain Phillips.” For me, “12 Years a Slave” started much too slowly, was too depressing, and did not accurately depict what life would have been like for a free man in 1841 in the North. Steve McQueen, its director, is British, and I think he must have missed the Jackie Robinson film “42,” which depicted the struggles of blacks (even Jackie Robinson) to crack the color barrier as recently as the sixties. No way would a black man in 1841 in the North in Washington, D.C., have been served in the fancy dining room (seated with white men), attired as a fop, nor lived in the very fancy house he returns to at film’s end. I also did not like the hanging scene. From the standpoint of veracity, I will never believe that the other slaves depicted tip-toeing around in the background wouldn’t have helped poor Solomon out of that noose, since the slave master(s) had disappeared from the scene. However, having these negative things, I do think that the Best Supporting Actress award should go to new-comer Lupita Nyong’o. (For my money, the SAG awards got it right most of the time). However, if you hold my feet to the fire and say, “Rank order these films in the order of which ones are really good movies that I will enjoy,” I’d start out with “American Hustle” and move to “Captain Phillips” second. After that, “Dallas Buyers Club” was a revelation. I recognize the achievement(s) of “Gravity,” but it was a boring film a lot of the time, despite its technical achievements. I look for the Academy to award those achievements and perhaps its Director, but not the film. I think the feel-good film (“American Hustle”) will win out over watching the wicked slave owner Edwin Epps (excellently played by Michael Fassbender) whip Patsy till she damn near dies. I regret the omission of “Blue Jasmine,” a truly funny, yet heartbreakingly honest film. The minute I saw Cate Blanchett’s performance, I took my husband back for a second look, since it was such a good film and she was phenomenal in it. Let me be honest here: I’ve not (yet) seen “Her” or “Philomena;” I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be swayed by either. “The Wolf of Wall Street” contained good performances, but it was way too long and seemed rather self-indulgent on Scorsese’s part to carry scenes on so long when the point had been made 20 minutes earlier. (I’m thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio’s many scenes exhorting his troops of brokers.)
Best Picture of 2013
So, Best Picture: “American Hustle”—-when “Blue Jasmine,” which wasn’t even nominated, was its equal and so was “Captain Phillips,” a truly heart-thumping Paul Greengrass effort with his trademark quick cuts, which have made Matt Damon’s outing in the Bourne series so great.
Director: Even though David O. Russell deserves it, for directing both “Silver Linings Playbook” and this year’s “American Hustle” (and, many years ago, “Flirting with Disaster,” one of my All-Time Favorite comedies), the Academy will give it to “Gravity’s” director, Alfonso Cuaron, which I can live with. I realize he overcame some daunting technical issues to make this space epic so realistic, but, quite frankly, the best line I’ve heard about “Gravity” was from Tina Fey when she told the Golden Globes audience that George Clooney floated away after 10 minutes so he wouldn’t have to spend any more time with a woman his age. (I paraphrase loosely). That was part of the problem. One-person movies are not as riveting as those with an actual cast that hangs around. Yes, I know that “Castaway” was well done and that Robert Redford’s effort this year was good, but, for me (and most other movie-goers) watching one person onscreen for a couple hours gets boring after a while. Sorry. It’s just the way it is, Tina Fey funny remarks notwithstanding.
Best Actor: Nominees-Christian Bale (“American Hustle”); Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”); Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years A Slave”); Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”); Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”). I’ve bold-faced the winner. I could give you all the (good) reasons why, such as his great year appearing in “Mud” and his superb cameo in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which is one of the film’s most memorable moments. I will give you that both Tom Hanks and Robert Redford were snubbed, especially since Hanks not only had “Captain Phillips” but, also, “Saving Mr. Banks.” Nevertheless, the momentum is with the letter “M” and he will be joined onstage by his co-star Jared Leto, as Best Supporting Actor. Why not Best Film then? Too depressing, overall, but a really, really good film. (*It played in the Quad Cities for about 2 days, so I had to drive all the way to Chicago to see it; I think it’s coming back, however, so be sure to catch it if you are a true film buff).
Best Actress: Nominees –Amy Adams (“American Hustle”); Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”); Judi Dench (“Philomena”); Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”); Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”). I’ve not seen Judi Dench, but both she and Streep and Bullock have won previously, so there’s that to consider. The bottom line is that Cate Blanchett’s performance was pitch perfect, at times, funny, always touching and just perfect. She deserves it.
Best Supporting Actor: Nominees – 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”). This performance as a trans-gender male is outstanding. Leto deserves it, also. While the Somalian pirate was a wonderful debut by Minneapolis resident Barkhad Abdi, it’s his first film and we’ll have to see if there is a big market for Somalian pirates in future films. (Abdi hopes so, because he already has moved to Hollywood and plans to act.) Michael Fassbender was good, as always. I’m bummed that Jonah Hill got the nod while Tom Hanks and Robert Redford were ignored, but oh, well. Alfred Hitchcock never won, nor did Richard Burton and Hanks and Redford have at least won Oscars previously. Leto was just absolutely spot-on.
Best Supporting Actress: Nominees-Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”); Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”); Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”); Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”); June Squibb (“Nebraska”) Frankly, I think Jennifer Lawrence was a bit young for the role she played in “American Hustle.” She’s definitely Hollywood’s “it” girl, right now, but that isn’t a good enough reason to give it to her. Julia Roberts has already won. If Lupita doesn’t get the trophy she so richly deserves for playing Patsy, I’d enjoy seeing either of the 2 lesser-known nominees (Sally Hawkins or June Squibb) be so honored. This is the “Wild card” category that I would “wheel” if I were entering contests, because Jennifer Lawrence is the front-runner. I’m voting with my heart and remembering how many times there have been upsets in this category.
So, to sum up, my winners (given the nominees) are: “American Hustle”
Director – Alfonso Cuaron
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey
Best Actress – Cate Banchett
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto
Best Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o
How much you want to bet I can get at least 3 out of 6 right to rival “Entertainment Weekly’s” nominee predicting?