Thursday, February 27, 2014

2013 Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Picture

This week, I've predicted every Oscar race with the exception of the Shorts - which I didn't get a chance to see, so I figured why bother. We finally come to the big one - Best Picture. And below, a recap of all of my predictions. Hope this helps in your Oscar pool!

Best Picture
9. Captain Phillips
For It: It is an old fashioned thriller, with a little bit of moral complexity thrown in for good measure. On the preferential ballot they now use, being widely liked is more important than having passionate supporters – and not too many people actively dislike the film.
Against It: The lack of a director or Best Actor nomination really does sink the films chances. I feel this will probably be everyone’s fourth or fifth pick – which isn’t good enough to win.

8. Dallas Buyers Club
For It: It picked up a few surprise nominations – for Original Screenplay and Editing – not to mention some didn’t think it would break the Best Picture lineup. The Academy obviously loves it.
Against It: It still feels like an acting showcase more than a Best Picture winner. The lack of a director nomination – and the fact everyone seems okay with that - really hurts the film. It will be rewarded on Oscar night – just not here.

7. Nebraska
For It: Sooner or later, you expect Alexander Payne to have a Best Picture winner on his resume – this is the third time in a row he has had a film nominated. It has wide support throughout the Academy – and appeals to older voters, who make up the Academy’s membership.
Against It: While I don’t think it will be at the bottom of many ballots, I don’t think it will be near the top either – it feels like everyone likes one of the “bigger” films more.

6. Her
For It: If critics were voting, this would have a great chance to pull off an upset. A highly acclaimed film that would fit in well with the Academy’s current efforts to appeal to younger people.
Against It: If they didn’t find room for its acclaimed direction or its oft nominated star, the support just doesn’t seem to be there. The Academy may want to appeal to younger people, but they are by and large still an old bunch – I wouldn’t be surprised to find this one near the bottom on many voters lists.

5. Philomena
For It: It speaks to the older Academy members – who seem to be running the show sometimes. It has wide support, if not exactly passionate support, which doesn’t matter the way voting goes now. While I don’t think it will rank #1 for a lot of voters, perhaps it picks up supporting in rounds 2 and 3.
Against It: If it had picked up a “surprise” nomination or two – say for Director or Supporting Actor or Editing – perhaps it would have a chance to sneak in. It didn’t get those.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street
For It: Martin Scorsese has gone from outsider to beloved Academy icon in a decade. While there is not the pressing need to give him an Oscar anymore, they still clearly love him – and the film battled off a late release date, and some stiff opposition to become a major nominee. It speaks directly to what is wrong in America today.
Against It: There will be too many people who rank it dead last on their ballots. It may do very well in the first round or two, but after that, I suspect its vote totals to plummet. It’s a love it or hate it film, and those don’t win the Best Picture Oscar.

3. American Hustle
For It: It won the SAG ensemble award, and has four acting nominations – meaning the Academy’s largest single branch – the actors – are behind it. To many, David O. Russell is due a win. The Academy has gone lighter the past few years, and American Hustle fits in nicely alongside the likes of Argo and The Artist.
Against It: The PGA has gone 4-4 since the new preferential ballot has come into play, since they use the same one. This year there was an unprecedented tie for their award – and American Hustle wasn’t one of the two films. It seems like a small thing, but it isn’t. The buzz has quieted down a lot – had they voted in January, I think this may have had a better shot.

2. Gravity
For It: An indisputable blockbuster of a film, Gravity has wowed critics and audiences since the fall festival circuit, and has done a good job of ensuring everyone sees it on the biggest screen possible. No film this year was a bigger technical achievement. The film is on its way to several below the line wins, and Cuaron looks like a good bet for director. A tie at the PGA helps it A LOT – winning the DGA helps as well.
Against It: It would be odd for a film with only two cast members to win an Oscar. Or a film set in space. Or one that is only 90 minutes. Or one that is this reliant on special effects. Or one that is made in 3-D. The last time the Academy faced a referendum between big and small movies – they went with The Hurt Locker instead of Avatar – and while Gravity doesn’t have giant blue aliens, it’s still seen as part of the same genre. While Cuaron won the DGA award – usually a good sign that he’ll take director, and the film will take Best Picture, I cannot help but notice that the Globes, the Critics Choice and the BAFTAs all went with Cuaron for director, but 12 Years for Picture.

1. 12 Years a Slave
For It: 12 Years a Slave has been the frontrunner since it debuted – and while it’s taken some knocks along the way, it is also the one film that was seemingly in play at every possible precursor award there was – which bodes well given the preferential ballot method of voting. While many awards groups have overlooked individual achievements of the film, they always come back to the film itself – like The Golden Globes or the Broadcast Film Critics or the BAFTAs. The PGA award is a good predictor, and although the film tied there, it still won.
Against It: Does the Academy love the film, or just respect it? Is the violence too much for some? Would they rather escape, like they have in recent years, with a film like Gravity or American Hustle? Has the film taken too many shots since being anointed the frontrunner back in September? Is the fact that Cuaron seems to be cruising for a Director win, mean that McQueen’s film will be a runner-up? All good questions.

Who Will Win: An impossibly tight race – I really could see either of the top two taking it – although American Hustle is still lurking. Having said that, I think 12 Years a Slave – still comes out on top. But it will be close.
Who Should Win:
Out of all the nominees, I like Nebraska – a close second going to The Wolf of Wall Street. Out of the three that actually have a chance, 12 Years a Slave.
Least of the Nominees: In what has become a theme here, I’ll say American Hustle. Sorry, I just don’t like it all that much.

Predictions Recap
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchatt, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Broken Circle Breakdown
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Production Design: 12 Years a Slave
Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Make-up & Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Score: Gravity
Best Song: Let It Go - Frozen

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