The Oscars 2014: A Night For History Making or…

The biggest storyline that’s headed into this year’s Oscar race has always been the discussion of diversity.  Male to female ratios, white to minority voting blocks, the impending conversation has stemmed from a lack of a wider voting body from a culture that’s technically supposed to support multiple ethnic backgrounds and groundbreaking movement in terms of equality and balanced perspectives.  Regardless of how the Academy is perceived, they have the ability to make history tonight.

Specifically with two categories: Best Director and Best Picture.  If Alfonso Cuaron (favorite) or Steve McQueen wins, they’d be the first director to ever receive the award for a Hispanic or a Black filmmaker in the history of the Academy Awards.  When I first heard that statistic, it was mind-boggling, thinking that it couldn’t be true that they’ve never awarded outside the Caucasian and Asian backgrounds.  But it is, and take it how you will, but if the cards play out tonight, one of the two will be rewarded unless…

The other major category, Best Picture, is a lot more mixed with mystery and confusion, with an ample amount of non-evidence for which picture has taken the lead.  You can make the argument for both 12 YEARS A SLAVE and GRAVITY, with 12 YEARS having the precursors and consensus split awarded them, whereas GRAVITY is the clear on favorite for Director and has won the DGA, which is usually the best predictor in regards to Best Picture.  Regardless, history will be made with one of these two films, with one film winning being the first time a black director, black producer, black writer, and a mostly black cast has ever won Best Picture.  The other would be the acceptance of the future of filmmaking, a thrill ride with an emotional punch surrounded by the incredible advancement in technology for the world of entertainment.  But you cannot deny AMERICAN HUSTLE’s presence, with David O. Russell’s pesky persona, hoping for third time’s a charm.  He’s greatly overdue in the eyes of the Academy, but it all depends on how a voter perceives each film.

But at least there’s a ton of speculation and unknown going into the biggest prize of the night, which hasn’t happened for quite some time.  Nonetheless, it’ll all unfold tonight, and the hysteria will end… until next year.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

One of the hardest categories to pick outside of Picture, this is dead heat race between Spike Jonze’s HER and David O. Russell and Eric Singer’s AMERICAN HUSTLE.  It’s easy to distinguish what I’d want to win, but it’s incredibly difficult to see where the trend is floating towards.  This is the one award that AH could potentially win (outside of Supporting Actress, Costume Deisgn, maybe Production Design or Editing), and if it doesn’t, then that means AH could be completely swiped out clean, which I have a really hard time seeing.  This is the one category where it’s chances are best, even if it comes down to a coin toss.  But I’m going to stick with HER, the precursor pick, and the more noteworthy film.  Yes, I’m mixing my thoughts and opinions into this category, but the script is just so much better and more complex, whereas Hustle is about people yelling and screaming for two hours.

Predicted Winner: Her
Dark Horse: American Hustle
If I Had A Vote: Her

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

This category is much more clear cut, with 12 YEARS A SLAVE winning the USC Scripter.  It’s biggest challenger would be Billy Ray’s CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, who won the WGA (though 12 YEARS was disqualified for the award).  Regardless, I believe it’s John Ridley’s night and he’ll graciously accept his achievement.

Predicted Winner: 12 Years A Slave
Dark Horse: Captain Phillips
If I Had A Vote: 12 Years A Slave

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Such a strong group of nominees, but the season has been dominated by Jared Leto and his strong performance in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.  No one has come close in regards to amount of accolades he’s collected, but Barkhad Abdi from CAPTAIN PHILLIPS has some momentum coming in, especially with his win from the BAFTA (Leto was no nominated).  It’s Leto’s night, and I think this is an easy call to make.

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Dark Horse: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
If I Had A Vote: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

This is one of those races that are full of absolute arrogance and preposterous banter, and no, it’s not because of Jennifer Lawrence’s potential upset against the better performance in Lupita N’Yongo in 12 YEARS.  It’s the conversation that if Lawrence, there’ll be this complete backlash and her popularity will take a major dive.  It’s a pathetic pop culture significance where a young woman’s success would ACTUALLY derail her potential and future career.  It speaks volumes of our current obsession and misplaced emphasis in these people’s lives, and if a woman has too much success and it’s become a bad thing, then, wow, we’ve really regressed as a country.  Pathetic.

Predicted Winner: Lupita N’yongo, 12 Years A Slave
Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
If I Had A Vote: Lupita N’yongo, 12 Years A Slave

BEST ACTOR

The McConnaisance is truly something to watch.  I don’t know if we’ve seen a better year from an actor in the history of film.  It’s tough to say, but he’s really out done himself in 2013 calendar year, and then add upon his riveting performance in TRUE DETECTIVE, he’s built quite the resume recently.  He’s got this one sewn up pretty much, with the only potential upset in the form of Chiwetel Ejiofor or Leonardo DiCaprio (which COULD happen), but I’ll play it safe and stay with the consensus for almost the awards season.

Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Dark Horse: Leonardo Dicaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street 
If I Had A Vote: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave

BEST ACTRESS

These are one of those categories where they not only award the best performance, but also the actor or actress’ career and their entire body of work.  No doubt Cate Blanchett has put in a wonderful piece in BLUE JASMINE, but she’s long overdue, and has dominated the acting scene for a long time.  There is no one close to touching her, and the biggest concern of the night for this category is her acceptance speech and her acknowledgement of Woody Allen.

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Dark Horse: Judi Dench, Philomena…?
If I Had A Vote: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (Brie Larson for Short Term 12)

BEST DIRECTOR

The funny thing is, I think director and picture go hand-in-hand, for the most part, and in most years, I’d vote for the director that I believed directed the best film, but this year, I’d likely regress because Alfonso Cuaron’s work in GRAVITY is astonishing, and his commitment and determination to create a moving and daring piece of work while advancing the world of filmmaking technology is groundbreaking stuff.  I have equal admiration for Steve McQueen, and I think Scorsese is one of the five greatest filmmakers in history, but as the consensus is showing, I think Cuaron should win and will.

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Dark Horse: Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
If I Had A Vote: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

BEST PICTURE

The big one.  The one that is probably the least predictable.  The reason for it is that history contradicts one another when perceiving who the likely winner will be.  Gravity has it’s own history with PGA (tie) and DGA win with the Director category pretty much already given to them.  12 YEARS has the precursor designation given to them, with the clear Picture/Director split the pronounced trend through the awards circuit.  And then you have AH, the film that usually tickles the Academy’s fancy with it’s heavy dialogue, actor friendly, and safe and friendly movie viewing.  But it’s only won the SAG Ensemble, and unless it pulls a Crash-like surprise, then I think it’s more of a dark horse than a contender.  This category can be determined by how the night is played.

If American Hustle starts winning awards that it wasn’t favored to (Production Design, Costume, Supporting, Screenplay, and ESPECIALLY EDITING), then you can make the assumption it could take Picture.  But the likelihood of that is incredibly slim.  Now if 12 Years start taking awards like Editing, Screenplay, Costume or Production, then you can start seeing a potential trend.  If it wins Director, it’s a lock.  The only thing you can’t make the assumption on is if Gravity starts sweeping the tech categories, which it’s pretty much favored to do outside one or two categories.  The only one category that I’d watch is Editing, because if it wins that, it leans favorably for a Gravity Best Picture win.  But who knows.  Like the entire awards season, it can be a spread-the-wealth type ordeal.  We’ll all have to wait a find out.

Predicted Winner: 12 Years A Slave
Dark Horse: Gravity (with a little glimmer of chance for American Hustle)
If I Had A Vote: 12 Years A Slave

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