“They wuz robbed!”
It’s a cry you hear echo throughout the crowded corridors of the zeitgeist every time the nominations for an awards show are announced.
Everyone has their own firm opinion on who should and shouldn’t have received a nod, and the anguished cries only amplify come the aftermath of the show itself when the limited pool of nominees is whittled down, as is the way of these things, to one )(hopefully deserving) winner.
So in an attempt to avoid the battering of the flotsam and jetsam of recriminations, I’ve decided to list who I think should win and why, and no matter the outcome on the night of the 86th Academy Awards themselves, which will be beautifully hosted I’m sure by the accomplished and funny Ellen Degeneres, that will be that.
No post mortems, no raising my fist to the sky shouting “Why Harvey Weinstein why?!” and no second-guessing.
Whoever wins, this is my own little world of who I think should win and it shall remained blissfully unaffected by the reality on the ground.
But of course, by all means let me know who you think should or shouldn’t have won!
WHY I THINK ONE OF THEM WILL WIN
I am torn in this category largely because I loved just about every other movie in the category, with my greatest ardour reserved for her, Nebraska, Gravity and The Dallas Buyers Club. The reason I have chosen 12 Years a Slave however is not because it is the sort of movie that the Academy voters adore – an important message, groundbreaking performances, a stirring narrative with an uplifting ending of sorts, but because it is the most cohesive of all the movies. I realise that doesn’t necessarily mean it will win since there have been many years where the majority-regarded best movie is not the one that walked away with the gong. But there is something about Steve McQueen’s film that touches the soul deeply, delights the eyes with exquisite if wrenching performances and does it all without barely missing a beat.
Of course if Gravity were to win, I would utterly delighted too. It is engrossing, mesmerising and action-packed without once losing an gram of the rich characterisation that Sandra Bullock brings to the pivotal role of Dr Ryan Stone. And it is visually stunning, a feast for the eye, the sort of movie you could quite happily disappear into (assuming you can avoid exploding space stations and insanely fast space debris!) and it’s all thanks to celebrated cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki. Alfonso Cuarón justly deserves all the credit he is getting for his masterpiece of a movie.
So yeah now I am choosing two films. I am calling blogger’s privilege on this one!
Vulture have very helpfully prepared a guide to how you should respond to each of the Best Picture nominees winning. It is informative, detailed and saves you thinking up a response on the spot which is always handy!
Amy Adams | American Hustle
Cate Blanchett | Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock | Gravity
Judi Dench | Philomena
Meryl Streep | August: Osage County
WHY I THINK SHE WILL WIN
I was moved greatly by Judi Dench’s raw portrayal of a woman robbed of her child a lifetime ago in Philomena, dazzled by Amy Adam’s chutzpah in American Hustle, awed by yet another beyond impressive performance by Meryl Streep in August: Osage County and riveted to my seat by Sandra Bullock’s performance as a woman out of her depth fighting for survival in Gravity. But it was Cate Blanchett’s role as a brittle, delusional riches to rags woman who cannot comprehend the changed circumstances of her life in Blue Jasmine that left me moved beyond words. It is the performance of the year and should be treated as such.
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
WHY I THINK HE WILL WIN
Again I was greatly torn. I was mightily impressed with both Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave but there was something about Bruce Dern’s emotionally-injured, beaten down by life performance as Woody Grant in Nebraska, a man in search of that last possibly redemptive thing that will give his life some sort of meaning that had me every step of the way. It’s a truly affecting performance that remains with me still.
Sally Hawkins | Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence | American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o | 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts | August: Osage County
June Squibb | Nebraska
WHY I THINK SHE WILL WIN
Yes I know that Lupita Nyong’o turn as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave is mesmerising and one of the most finely-tuned and emotionally-impacting performances I’ve seen in some time. But then in its own quirky, foul-mouthed, down to earth way is June Quibb as Kate Grant in Nebraska, a woman worn by life, her alcoholic husband and an extended avaricious family. She brings a cranky character to life with grace and sympathy and great humour, entrancing me every step of the way.
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
WHY I THINK HE WILL WIN
He’s already walked off with the Golden Globe for the role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, a transgender woman living with AIDS, and deservedly so. He plays the unexpected ally to Matthew McConnaughey’s initially homophobic white trash Lothario and later AIDS activist of sorts with nuance, pathos and empathy, creating in the process a character who though larger than life, was never trivialised or cartoon-ish, retaining her humanity throughout. It’s a landmark performance, indelibly imprinted on my heart and mind.
Alfonso Cuarón | Gravity
Steve McQueen | 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell | American Hustle
Alexander Payne | Nebraska
Martin Scorsese | The Wolf of Wall Street
WHY I THINK HE WILL WIN
As is already quite obvious, I have a soft spot for Nebraska, a film directed with sensitivity and restraint by Alexander Payne, who drew impressively nuanced performances from all his actors and took the bold decision to render his movie in black and white, lending it the gritty, desperate air of people clinging to the last vestiges of hope, as well as an astonishing beauty and vitality. But I can’t go past Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity which in 90 minutes of tightly coiled, edge of your seat minutes takes you from one life-threatening situation to another, a ballet of barely controlled chaos, in which Sandra Bullock shines as a newbie astronaut doing everything in her power to get home. It doesn’t skip a beat, keeping you engrossed and involved every step of the way, and dazzling you with a visual feast along the way. A truly masterful creation.
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
WHY I THINK IT WILL WIN
It’s bold choice given I haven’t seen it yet but given the beauty and emotionally-impactful nature of all of master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films, especially Howl’s Moving Castle which I adored, and the near universal plaudits and rapturous praise it has received since its release, I am tending towards The Wind Rises. Yes Frozen was wonderful and the songs divine, and Despicable Me 2 was a thing of riotous, inspired joy but The Wind Rises sounds like a winner even before I have seen it.
* You can see the rest of the categories here at latimes.com
* And First Showing have posted their final predictions for the Oscars, which cover the Original Screenplay (MINE: Spike Jonze for her – a beautiful flow and feel) and Aadapted Screenplay (MINE: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave – perfectly balanced narrative and moving dialogue) categories which I didn’t feature for space reasons (but have now sort of snuck in!).
And now for some interesting and fun aspects of the Oscars, past and present …
(a) Did you know that Meryl Streep has been mentioned more times than God, who is usually thanked often and with fervour by pretty much everyone at every awards ceremony known to man, at the Academy Awards? So says Nathaniel Rodgers of The Film Experience who painstakingly analysed all the speeches given by actors and actresses at the Oscars since 2001. To read more, check the post at huffingpost.com.
(b) The Academy Awards have often been accused of not paying enough attention to diversity with a staggering 94% of the membership being white. The first female best director was only awarded in 2010 to Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker, while the first person of colour (as the infographic terms them) to win was Halle Berry in 2002 for Monster’s Ball. Male persons of colour have fared a little better with seven winners, the most recent being Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland in 2006. Reading the infographic from Lee and Low Books (below) you realise that the Academy still has some way t go before they are truly representative of America as a whole. You can read more at huffingtonpost.com.
(c) The Oscars have had more than their fair share of highly memorable moments thanks to actors as diverse as Woody Allen, David Niven and Sally Field. You can check out a “a mash-up of the most memorable moments of Academy Awards past” at moviefone’s site.
(d) But not all the action takes place on the podium. The goings-on behind the scenes have been just as memorable in their own way as the slide show at Total Film reminds us.
* LA Times published a great fly-on-the-wall about the rehearsals and behind the scenes preparations for this year’s Academy Awards. Worth reading if only to see what goes into getting a massive event like this ready for telecast.
(e) And who are all of the past 85 winners for Best Picture Oscars you might ask? I can’t remember offhand but this handy dandy infographic via firstshowing.net and created by Beutler Ink, will no doubt jog our memories.