Ellen

 

Best Picture:

 

Nominees

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Philomena
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Nebraska
  • American Hustle
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her

 

There are several interesting choices in this nomination list. Films like Her and Nebraska show the Academy is willing to give smaller art films more recognition. Her, directed by Spike Jonze, is an unusual character study of a man who falls in love with his computer’s voice. It’s a film that ten years ago would have succeeded at Cannes and then dropped off the mainstream radar. It gives hope that independent filmmakers will be given more chances in the future.

When it comes to a winner in this category, it is difficult to look beyond 12 Years a Slave. It has been acclaimed by almost all critics (except Diorama) and hits all the right notes with the Academy. It’s easy to say it will win just because it’s about slavery but everything else also makes it prime material for the Academy. It’s a ‘journey’ film, which the Oscar voters love. It has a clear ‘good vs bad’ divide and it has a great central performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. I am almost certain it will win.

 

Prediction – 12 Years a Slave

 

12 2

 

Best Actor:

 

Nominees

  • Christian Bale – American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern – Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

 

The actor’s list has no real surprises in it. The only exception would be Oscar Isaac for his performance in Inside Llewyn Davis, but since that didn’t even get a Best Picture nod, it would have made a surprising inclusion.

The Golden Globe winners were DiCaprio in the Musical/Comedy category and McConaughey for Drama. Somewhat surprising, as I thought Ejiofor would be the favourite. Nevertheless, this category remains wide open.

The best performance I’ve seen this year, by a long way, was Bruce Dern in Nebraska. He plays a man suffering from dementia. He must have spent time with actual sufferers to get such a refined idea of their mannerisms and speech patterns.

Though I have not seen Dallas Buyers Club, I rate McConaughey as the best leading man working just now. There is nobody else who has his screen presence and magnetism. His performance in Killer Joe, along with Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood must be one of the best acting performances of this century. He deserves the win.

 

Prediction – Matthew McConaughey

 

MM

 

Best Actress:

 

Nominees

  • Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
  • Amy Adams – American Hustle
  • Sandra Bullock – Gravity
  • Judi Dench – Philomena
  • Meryl Streep – August Osage County

 

I’ve been surprised at the amount of fuss created over Amy Adams’s performance in American Hustle. To me, she is one of many bland new actresses, along with Carey Mulligan, who seem to garner acclaim merely by showing up. It’s tough to work out who’s the favourite between her and Cate Blanchett for her performance in Blue Jasmine.

So who else is there? Meryl Streep, as with every other year, has to be a contender. She gives a confident performance, although August was a rather poor film, which may stand against her. Having said that, The Iron Lady was dreadful and she still won.

It’s a weak year for actresses, no doubt. It’s not that there aren’t good actresses about (Jennifer Lawrence) but there are few parts that let them flex their acting muscles to the full. This is something Hollywood should address soon.

 

Prediction – Amy Adams

 

AA

 

Best Supporting Actor:

 

Nominees

  • Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
  • Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
  • Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

 

I was very surprised at the inclusions of Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill. Not because they’re bad in their films but because the parts they play, I thought, were not meaty enough to warrant a nomination. I think their names are just there to fill out the places while the other three fight for the win.

Barkhad Abdi gave a masterful performance in Captain Phillips and it was hard to believe he had not acted before. He didn’t win at the Golden Globes though, which perhaps indicates he will not win it here. One of the reasons he lost could be that Captain Phillips was too much of an action thriller to attract many awards.

Michael Fassbender is outstanding in 12 Years a Slave and steals every scene he’s in, though it was Jared Leto who won at the Golden Globes for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club (which I really need to see). Nevertheless, I’m going to stick my neck out and say Fassbender will steal this. And he deserves it too.

 

Prediction – Michael Fassbender

 

MF

 

Best Supporting Actress:

 

Nominees

  • Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
  • Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
  • Julia Roberts – August Osage County
  • June Squibb – Nebraska

 

This is the only category in which we already know the winner. At almost every acting award so far, Jennifer Lawrence has won. Her performance in American Hustle is yet more evidence that she is the most promising actress since Meryl Streep.

Lupita Nyong’o was good in 12 Years a Slave, playing a very difficult part and it’s a shame she’s come up against Lawrence this year, as she would have perhaps won it in another year. Julia Roberts, too, is decent in August Osage County.

The only poor performance in this list is by June Squibb. I thought she was utterly dreadful in Nebraska, playing Bruce Dern’s wife. She says her lines in this over the top, absurd way, like she is reading them off a screen to a class of five year olds, accentuating all her vowels and with no facial expressions. It’s a classic example of Hollywood rewarding a long career with a performance that is not as deserving. Rather like when Al Pacino won for Scent of a Woman instead of The Godfather 2.

 

Prediction – Jennifer Lawrence

 

JL

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