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Acting Resources

My Fearless Oscar Picks

Of the eight major categories in the 2014 Academy Awards, I’ve seen every film except “Philomena” and “August Osage County.” Oddly, I had the opportunity to see a free screening of both – couldn’t do it.

With two hours until showtime, here’s my take on this year’s Oscars – (1) who I think will win; (2) who deserves to win; and, (3) who I (actually) want to win. Sorry Philomena and August – I’m sure Judi and Meryl were fantastic – but you won’t be taking home any statues from this voter…

Best Adapted Screenplay: Seems to me that “12 Years a Slave” is a lock in this category. Such a powerful film and it deserves to take home a few statues. Special mention here to “Before Midnight.” Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke had such great chemistry and it was a wonderfully relatable script.

  • Who Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
  • Who Deserves to Win: 12 Years a Slave
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay: Talk about a stacked category. There a five great flicks here. That said if anything other than “Her” wins here, I’m going to be mad. Spike Jonze created a truly inventive, unique and thought provoking love story. It may have been my favorite of 2014.

  • Who Will Win: Her
  • Who Deserves to Win: Her
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: Her

Supporting Actress: This might be the toughest call for me of the eight major categories. With apologies to Julia (again, I didn’t see her performance), the four that I did see were all wonderful in their own way. Jennifer Lawrence did the Jennifer Lawrence things we’re now used to seeing in her work. Sally Hawkins delivered a layered performance that played beautifully with Cate Blachett. Lupita Nyong’o, likely the favorite, hit a homerun with her unforgettable Patsey. And, finally, June Squibb stole practically every scene in “Nebraska.” You can make a solid case for all four. This is a tough call…

  • Who Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o
  • Who Deserves to Win: Jennifer Lawrence
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: June Squibb

Supporting Actor: Can we just give this one to Jared Leto and move on? Not to discredit his performance – it was excellent – he’s just such a heavy favorite. Michael Fassbender might be my favorite actor going (I’m still mad he didn’t win a Golden Globe for “Shame”) but he’s done better work and will likely have his shot somewhere down the road. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi was phenomenal and might be the winner any other year. Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill were great as well, but they’re just not going to win.

  • Who Will Win: Jared Leto
  • Who Deserves to Win: Jared Leto
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: Michael Fassbender (it’s the Oscars! Sometimes you don’t win for your best work).

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett is probably going home with an Oscar. I can only compare her performance to Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock. To me, “Gravity” was impressive, but not necessarily because Sandra Bullock was so great. Amy Adams and JLaw carried Hustle, but I actually thought her performance in “Her” was stronger. Of course, Cate did what we expect her to do with an emotionally complex and troubled character in “Blue Jasmine.” I feel like I’ve typed more words here than was necessary…

  • Who Will Win: Cate Blanchett
  • Who Deserves to Win: Cate Blanchett
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: Cate Blanchett

Best Actor: Some tough decisions here too. Christian Bale disappeared in Hustle. Bruce Dern, the sentimental favorite, was “Nebraska.” Chiwetel Ejiofor was the heart and soul of “12 Years a Slave” and most years might be the runaway winner. While I was not a hug fan of “Wolf of Wall Street,” Leonardo DiCaprio has been overlooked a few times and I feel like there’s a chance he could steal the Oscar tonight (although I hope not – it wasn’t his “best” work). The guy who I think has to win here is Matthew McConaughey. No one has had a run quite like him. He went from being almost a caricature of himself to one the finest actor around in about a year in a half. Last year, he was outstanding in Mud, (almost) made “Wolf of Wall Street” for me with his ten minutes on screen and, currently, is continuing his awesomeness in “True Detective.” The cherry on top of all those successes in “Dallas Buyers Club.” It has all the ingredients of an Oscar-worthy performance. I feel like it may end up being his most memorable work. Hard to top his quotable, on the map, breakout in “Dazed and Confused,” but I think an AIDs movie does just that. Plus, I feel like he’ll give us a great speech.

  • Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
  • Who Deserves to Win: Matthew McConaughey
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: Matthew McConaughey

Best Director: The three guys who aren’t going to win are three of my favorites. Scorsese finally won for “The Departed” (probably somewhere in the middle as far as his best films). So, I don’t think the Academy gives him the lifetime achievement statue again. David O’ Russell’s last three films have arguably been three of the best over that time frame. Alexander Payne just knows how to tell a story. This is a race between, Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen – who would be the first African American winner for Best Director (it shouldn’t be a factor, but it’s part of the equation). “Twelve Years a Slave” is magnificent and a much better film than “Gravity.” However, the technical mastery by Cuaron is impressive and I feel like that will sway the voters here.

  • Who Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron
  • Who Deserves to Win: Steve McQueen
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: David O’ Russell (I’m giving him the Oscar for “The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” Deal with it.

Best Picture: I feel like it was a good year for movies. Of the eight I saw (sorry again “Philomena”), “Captain Phillips” probably ranks last for me in Oscar-worthiness and it was still quite a ride. Nebraska is another one that probably doesn’t have a shot and is the one that most people haven’t seen, yet it’s a beautiful story and worth seeing. I didn’t like “Wolf of Wall Street.” Couldn’t wait for it to end – yet I can’t stop talking about it. Despite my lack of enjoyment, I think it succeeds as a film and wouldn’t be terribly upset if it won something. On the other end of the spectrum is “Her” (which I saw the same day as Wolf) and it’s probably my favorite film in recent memory. “Dallas Buyers Club” and “American Hustle” are both engaging and include some memorable performances. “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” are the front-runners. I saw “Gravity” after the hype machine went full throttle and, consequently, left the theatre underwhelmed. It’s technically amazing – which Cuaron the edge as Best Director. But, it didn’t feel like a Best Picture Winner when I left the theatre – actually, somewhat forgettable for me. “12 Years a Slave” is certainly the most important film of this year – although, even if it wins, I don’t think it’ll be the most remembered. All that said… The envelopes please.

  • Who Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
  • Who Deserves to Win: American Hustle
  • Who I (Actually) Want to Win: Her

 

So, there you have it. Let’s see how my predictions pan out. Let’s bring out Ellen and start the show!

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