Alex’s 2014 Oscar Predictions
Most critics called 2013 a monumental year for movies, yet I can not help but recall enjoying 2012’s fare quite a bit more. 2012 was more fun, with more positive outlooks on life and more grandiose adventures. I was so caught up in the excitement of 2012’s films that I forgot to give my Oscar predictions a close second look (I was also rather furious with them for some painful snubs). Like Sandra Bullock being flown off course by militant space debris, my predictions for last year’s Oscars were a bit…erm…off. Oscar got the nominations mostly right this year. They spread the love liberally by honoring the venerable greats, the surprise gems, and the successful crowd pleasers. Yet the races that are close this year are even harder to call than last year. So, after pouring through the nominated films and researching what other critics are saying, I am taking a gander at which awards will fall into the right hands come Sunday, March 2nd.
Will win: 12 Years a Slave
I have been sitting at my computer for the past 10 minutes typing and then deleting “Gravity” … “12 Years a Slave” … “Gravity” … “12 Years a Slave”. They are without a doubt the two most moving and inspiring films of 2013, but in very different ways. Historically, the technical marvel pick rarely nabs top prize (the most recent exceptions were Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Gladiator, and Titanic, a sparse few for 16 whole years). With 10 nominations, Gravity has just one nod more than 12 Years a Slave, but the latter has already nabbed the equivalent Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice award. With two equally amazing movies vying for top honor, is it too much to ask for a tie?
Should win: Gravity
No matter which of the two most deserving films wins, I’ll be clapping my hands, but nothing else this year made my jaw drop like Gravity. This groundbreaking film goes above and beyond technical perfection to move, excite, and delight. Gravity was the most gripping film of the year, but awards momentum is still on the side of 12 Years a Slave.
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
As usual, the Director race is a man’s field, but this year will likely mark a first: Steve McQueen would be the first black director to win the award, and Alfonso Cuarón would be the first Mexican director. One of these two men will likely become the second non-white director to win. Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee won his second Directing Oscar last year for Life of Pi, which was hardly the best film of 2012 but was likely the hardest, technically and logistically, to create. I predict a repeat occurrence this year when Cuarón is awarded Best Director for pulling off a wondrous feat that would challenge even the most experienced directors.
Should win: Alfonso Cuarón
Steve McQueen chillingly brought slavery to life through the eyes of a formerly free man, but no matter which film wins Best Picture, Cuarón deserves the honor for his sheer perseverance, self-discipline, and vision in making an impossible film possible.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Will win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
After nabbing the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress (while top Oscar competitor Amy Adams was not even nominated), along with the Critics’ Choice Award and the equivalent Golden Globe (although Adams won the other Actress Globe, for Comedy), Cate Blanchett seems prepped for her second Oscar. Movies released as early in the year as Blue Jasmine are typically, criminally forgotten come awards season. The fact that Blanchett is somehow the front-runner now shows her likelihood to win on Oscar night.
Should win: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
The former Best Actress front-runner deserves a second glance for her crowd-pleasing but bizarre role in American Hustle. Amy Adams stole duet scenes from her male counterparts while keeping her cool just enough to allow the rest of the ensemble to shine. Adams proved to be more than a team player, she carried the humanity of Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld on her shoulders, gave ethos to Jennifer Lawrence’s crazy Rosalyn, and justified the anxiety of Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Will win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
The Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards were on McConaughey’s side. Chiwetel Ejiofor may give him a run for his money thanks to a powerful yet restrained turn as a free man turned distraught slave, but no performance this year was as transformative as McConaughey’s. He is both harrowing and surprisingly funny in Dallas Buyers Club, and I expect the Academy to recognize that.
Should win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Tina Fey poked fun at McConaughey during the Golden Globes for his Dallas Buyers Club weight loss (“…he lost 45 pounds, or what actresses call being in a movie!”), but the role truly stuns and commands attention. This is McConaughey’s year.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Will win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Jared Leto is this year’s Abraham Lincoln. He was the front-runner from the start, much like Daniel Day Lewis in 2012 (though for two different awards). He will plow through his fellow nominees like a freight train and emerge victorious in the end. No one else has a chance.
Should win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Barkhad Abdi was terrifying but lacked humanity in Captain Phillips. Michael Fassbender was impressive but not particularly memorable in 12 Years a Slave. Bradley Cooper was delightfully neurotic but also overly silly in American Hustle. Jonah Hill is Jonah Hill. This is a weak field of contenders when compared to Jared Leto’s heartbreaking act of pure magic in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto and McConaughey gave the two most transformative and absolute best performances of the year.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Will win: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but Jennifer Lawrence is on her way to a second consecutive Oscar for her second David O. Russell movie. Lawrence provides the best laughs in American Hustle as a young housewife who hides her fear of change behind rebellious anger. Her boisterous performance could only be eclipsed on Oscar night by Lupita Nyong’o, whose brief appearance in 12 Years a Slave is tragic and adored by critics.
Should win: June Squibb (Nebraska)
Even Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t as funny as June Squibb’s angry old mom in Nebraska. The movie was lauded for Bruce Dern’s re-emergence as a confused old man finding his way, but Squibb steals the show as his racy yet adorable wife. She turns a plain character from the plains into a performance to be talked about.
Meet the House Guest: Alex Murfey
Alex is a freshman film production student at Columbia College Chicago, as well as a KC native and brother to House co-founder Alyssa Murfey. An avid amateur film writer, director, and critic, Alex is currently midway through production of his second feature-length film.