This is hands-down the best time to be a film critic, let alone an avid movie lover. The week leading up to the Academy Awards is very exciting mostly due to the fact that no matter what the results, we win. Seeing as we aren’t the ones holding our breath to see if we’re being named Best Director or Best Supporting Actress, anybody and any movie that wins deserves it solely for being nominated in the first place.
Did I fill out a ballot with my predictions in the same fashion March Madness junkies scribble out brackets? You bet. The main difference being, anyone can take home the Oscar and I won’t even be mad. All of the work, time and passion that came from every director, actor, composer and cinematographer on the ballot makes their effort worthwhile with the promise of achieving something, but most of all, being recognized for doing what you love.
Ty Burr, the film critic from the Boston Globe, recently visited Springfield College this week talking about some of the nominees, so I decided to share my votes, along with the probable results of this year’s 86th Academy Awards.
My Vote: The Wolf of Wall Street
Reality: 12 Years a Slave
I’m probably (more like definitely) going against the grain by choosing the drug-heavy, expletive-ridden Scorsese/DiCaprio collaboration, but I chose the film for what it stood for, not what made it stand out. A modern day Great Gatsby if you will, this was a story of a man that suffered from one of America’s deadliest diseases: greed. When everything is not enough, you become Jordan Belfort. Obviously I enjoyed how comical it was from start to finish as well as the refreshing supporting cast that was rather diverse, but looking past the “all it is, is swears and cocaine,” the story of Belfort was immortalized in the highest regard by the dynamic acting/directing duo that continues to stir up audiences like a glass of Nesquik.
The more likely candidate here is one of the most bone-chilling historical pictures that dives into America’s deadliest sin: slavery. This film has a few advantages over the competition that could very well sway the Academy. One is that it’s based on the true story of a free black man that is abducted and sold into slavery. The other is that it tackles a dark era of American history through a lense that trumps even Lincoln. With much of its cast and crew currently heavy contenders in just about any category you throw a dart at, I’d have to say that this is the most probable winner.
My Vote: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Reality: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)/Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Drawing comparisons to Ang Lee’s achievements for Life of Pi, Alfonso Cuaron is my favorite option here. Following in Lee’s shoes, Cuaron has made huge technical and directorial strides surrounding isolation, a topic all too familiar to audiences, but with a much more realistic eye for detail. He already possesses the Golden Globe for Best Director, so he’s far from a shot in the dark, but aside from the wondrous sound mixing/editing and cinematography, the performances and story hindered it from selling strong to everyone. The only other sensible choice in this category would be Steve McQueen. I already mentioned how iconic and important 12 Years a Slave is to film and American history, so McQueen could definitely end up the victor and I wouldn’t be surprised.
My Vote/Reality: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Judging by the fact that this is the only category where my vote matches reality, you have to realize Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club is out of this world. Any time an actor becomes so in-touch with their role that they go above and beyond to alter their body, they not only impress upon you the importance of the role and the film, but how much being in the industry means to them. Up until recently, McConaughey’s resume has been somewhat sloppily stacking a number of casually entertaining performances in chick flicks and action-adventures. That man has since ceased to exist and he has instead been on a roll with successful appearances in Wolf of Wall Street, Mud, The Lincoln Lawyer, and his crowned jewel, Dallas Buyers Club. If you’ve been sleeping on McConaughey, consider this him finally pulling the pillow from under you.
My Vote: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Reality: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
There are very few Amy Adams’ roles that have ever stuck in my memory. Until Lois Lane in Man of Steel and her nomination as Sydney in American Hustle, the only other memorable roles for me came in The Fighter, with cameos during the first seasons of The Office and one episode of That ‘70s Show. Despite the movie as a whole being a little bit different and emotionally driven, Adams really stands out. Between her very convincing accent and sexual hold on Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale’s characters, she’s a firecracker that wears emotion on her sleeves from beginning to end. This may be the only award for this film that even stands a chance with extremely difficult competition in just about every category. Having said that, the competition in this round is just as strong with Cate Blanchett most likely taking the honor for her performance in Blue Jasmine. The only possibility of Blanchett’s opportunity falling through is whether or not the Academy will refuse to vote for anything related to a Woody Allen film. In all honesty, it likely won’t affect her chances, but you can’t rule it out.
There are 20 other categories on the ballot including Supporting Actor/Actress, Sound Mixing/Editing, and Visual Effects, but I can’t go into detail about all of them.
Jared Leto is (at this point) a shoo-in to win Supporting Actor in Dallas Buyers Club, but Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and my choice, Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), could pull off an upset if his stock drops before Sunday. Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o has been tearing it up in the spotlight from her Supporting Actress campaign for 12 Years a Slave, and has an excellent shot to win her (one and probably only) Oscar for it with the only competition coming from Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s hot-headed, fire-breathing wife in American Hustle.
Sound Editing and Sound Mixing is surely headed to Cuaron and Co. for outstanding technical achievements for Gravity, as they are seeing very little noise from the other nominees. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug should be the winner of Best Visual Effects, as Peter Jackson and his crew routinely display some of the most stunning special effects on the big screen, especially with the awesome work we finally got to see on Smaug the dragon.
That just about does it. Those are my top predictions and realities of this year’s Oscars. If you want to talk about your choices, or think there’s a problem with mine, feel free to contact me and we can talk film. Good luck to all of the nominees, and enjoy the 86th Academy Awards – I know I will!
Connor Getz can be reached at email@example.com