86th Academy Award Predictions

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Incredibly biased predictions made by Alec R. Lee

Well, it’s that time of the year when the nominees for the most important movie awards ceremony have been released (as of yesterday).  And, like any good critic, I decided to submit my own predictions on who will win what award.  This was a great year for movies in general and deciding on these categories was no easy task.  However, I didn’t have to predict as many categories as the official judges.  This is because I had not seen any films in the categories, was not knowledgeable enough, or just didn’t care.  I don’t think anyone will be particularly torn up about the categories I’ve chosen to ignore, but if you want a list, they are for: Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Short Film (Live Action and Animated), Documentary (Feature and Short Subject), and Foreign Film.  If you have a problem with the choices I’ve made, send me a harshly worded note and I’ll be sure to delete it as fast as possible.

Enough stalling. Let’s jump in.

Best Sound Editing/Sound Mixing:

I’m just going to throw this one out there as I’m pretty sure that the majority of people who read these posts don’t know enough about the sound design process.  Any attempt I will make to try and learn you a few things will be fruitless….so just take my word for it when I say that I’m just going to nominate Gravity for both.

Best Costume Design:

  • 12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris
  • American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson (winner)
  • The Grandmaster – William Chang Suk Ping
  • The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin
  • The Invisible Woman – Michael O’Connor

This one’s for the ladies. I saw only a few of these movies, but I found Gatsby’s costume to be too garish and ostentatious for a beloved classic.  Plus I hate anything that Baz Luhrmann directs, so I’m not going to give him any satisfactions.  I’m picking American Hustle simply because of the extremely revealing clothing that Amy Adams’ character always wore. (Well, it DID make me notice the costumes…)

Best Film Editing:

  • 12 Years a Slave – Joe Walker
  • American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
  • Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse
  • Dallas Buyers Club – John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
  • Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger (winner)

From what I could tell, American Hustle had decent editing, nothing special.  And unfortunately, Captain Phillips’ editing was extremely slow paced in the second half of the film which grated on my nerves a bit.  Yes, I know that the film was trying to be accurate so I won’t hold that against the film much, but I’m going with Gravity on this one.  One reason: long takes.  Alfonso Cuaron is a master at long takes and it represents a technical work of art to utilize them in such a artistic manner. (See: Children of Men, Do not see: The Last Airbender)

Best Cinematography:

  • The Grandmaster – Philippe Le Sourd
  • Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki (winner)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel
  • Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael
  • Prisoners – Roger Deakins

While all of these films featured great cinematography, Gravity, again, was the clear winner.  Simply put, this movie features the best space footage I’ve seen in a film thus far, and every angle from a long sweeping take, to a POV helps create that air of tension that threatens to constrict you. Don’t argue with me on this one.

Best Visual Effects:

  • Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould (winner)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
  • Iron Man 3 – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
  • The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
  • Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

This should be self explanatory.  Iron Man 3 and The Lone Ranger’s effects are way to cartoony for this award.  The Hobbit had good effects, but also several terrible, and I mean atrocious ones.  Star Trek’s effects were good as it balanced a combination of CGI and practical effects, but that damn lens flare is overused and sours the mood for me.  Gravity’s effects were so realistic to the point that I couldn’t tell if they were practical or digital (and I’m usually good at distinguishing the two) so it gets the nom here. (WHERE’S PACIFIC RIM????!!!!!)

Best Original Song:

  • “Alone, Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone – Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel
  • “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 – Pharrell Williams
  • “Let It Go” from Frozen – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (winner)
  • “The Moon Song” from Her – Karen Orzolek and Spike Jonze
  • “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – U2

All of these songs hurt my ears except the featured winner (and I’ll go to hell long before I’d nominate Pharrell Williams for anything!) As I mentioned in my last review, “Let it Go” was my favorite song of the movie and it makes sense that it should be nominated here (I prefer the Idina Menzel version, personally).  Despite the Lopez’s (I don’t care if the spelling may be wrong, I’m done with that) tendency to write their songs as if they were meant for Broadway, this one was not immediately so obvious.  Then again, Broadway doesn’t mean that the songs are going to be bad…..

Best Original Score:

  • John Williams – The Book Thief
  • Steven Price – Gravity (winner)
  • William Butler and Owen Pallett – Her
  • Alexandre Desplat – Philomena
  • Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks

Let me explain this one for a bit.  Thomas Newman’s soundtrack was a bit too pedestrian for my taste as it sounded like most of the scores that he has composed over the years, nice sounding but not much differentiation.  Alexandre Desplat’s contribution is a little bland, a little “safe” as far as piano based scores go.  William Butler and Owen Pallett’s soundtrack has not even been released yet so that’s kind of a black mark against them already.  John Williams, despite my worship of the man, delivers a score firmly in his comfort zone, which admittedly, sounds a ton better then most of the swill put out today (*cough* Man of Steel *cough*) but it pales compared to Steven Price’s score for Gravity.  What Price did is make a soundtrack that is one of the most original auditory experiences that I’ve ever heard.  The final cues of the album alone deserve recognition all on its own.  It’s soothing, tense, and epic.

Bonus: I would have liked it if Hans Zimmer’s Rush got a nomination as that was one of my favorite scores of the year.  Come to think of it, Rush didn’t get any nominations this year…why not?  That is a movie that is in my top ten for the year!  Damn Academy voters.

Best Animated Feature:

  • The Croods – Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders and Kristine Belson
  • Despicable Me 2 – Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud and Chris Meledandri
  • Ernest & Celestine – Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
  • Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho (winner)
  • The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Um, yeah.  Who’s heard of Ernest & Celestine? I thought not.  I’m also a little surprised that The Croods or Despicable Me 2 knocked out Monsters University for the Oscar nom.  Granted, it wasn’t Pixar’s best, but it was better than those two films.  I decided not to nominated The Wind Rises, despite it being a Miyazaki film.  Yes, I’ve seen one of his films so I know how talented a director he is, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been released in the English market and I cannot stand Japanese dubs so if I won’t be able to tolerate it, I’m not going to support it.  Frozen should be the clear winner here, and it’s high time Disney’s Animation Studios gets an Oscar ever since that trash movie Brave stole the award from Wreck-it-Ralph (*grrr*).

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay:

  • 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley
  • Before Midnight – Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
  • Captain Phillips – Billy Ray
  • Philomena – Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
  • The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter (winner)

There’s only so many ways you can write romance movies (goodbye, Before Midnight!). Captain Phillips was just a rehashing of a recent event that required minimal research. Never saw Philomena…. I’m sick of movies that rub (not trying to be racist here) “white man’s guilt” in our faces in movies like 12 Years a Slave.  Yes, slavery was bad. I get it.  It happened over a hundred years ago, move on for God’s sake.  Wolf of Wall Street wins.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay:

  • American Hustle – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
  • Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen
  • Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
  • Her – Spike Jonze (winner)
  • Nebraska – Bob Nelson

This was a toughie to choose.  I couldn’t decide between Her or Nebraska, but I figured that we finally give Spike Jonze some recognition for being a totally out of the box kind of director.  His movies are so imaginative and crazy that they just work.  So props to him, and to the victor go the spoils. (But if Nebraska won, that would be fine, too)

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine as Ginger
  • Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
  • Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave as Patsey (winner)
  • Julia Roberts – August: Osage County as Barbara Weston-Fordham
  • June Squibb – Nebraska as Kate Grant

So… I’ve only seen one film out of this list, and I’m not giving it to Jennifer Lawrence (despite my adoration for her).  I strongly feel that she was miscast for her role and was unconvincing as a character (which took me out of the movie).  That being said, I’ve heard only good things about Lupita Nyong’o, so I’m nominating her.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips as Abduwali Muse (winner)
  • Bradley Cooper – American Hustle as Richie DiMaso
  • Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave as Edwin Epps
  • Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street as Donnie Azoff
  • Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club as Rayon

This was mostly the result of a coin flip as I was not going to nominate Bradly Cooper or Jonah Hill, so I boiled down to whoever’s character was more terrifying, and then flipped a coin.  Abdi won.

Edit: In all fairness, Abdi really did play his role as a Somali pirate quite convincingly and was terrifying and sympathetic, and even more impressive was the fact that this was his first film role.  He’s going places, I can tell you that.

Best Actress:

  • Amy Adams – American Hustle as Sydney Prosser
  • Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis
  • Sandra Bullock – Gravity as Dr. Ryan Stone (winner)
  • Judi Dench – Philomena as Philomena Lee
  • Meryl Streep – August: Osage County as Violet Weston

Despite her exposed cleavage, Amy Adams is not getting my nomination as she wasn’t that interesting as a character, in my opinion.  From what I’ve seen, Cate Blanchett seems to be the favorite for the award, but there’s a problem.  It just so happens that Blue Jasmine was directed by Woody Allen and I will never, ever, nominate anything that man has touched (oops) because he a rapist and an asshole.  Sandra Bullock should get this award, she deserves it because in Gravity, she puts on an even better performance than the Blind Side (which she also won).  Just….no Blue Jasmine. Fuck Woody Allen. (Sorry for cursing, I just really hate the man.)

Best Actor:

  • Christian Bale – American Hustle as Irving Rosenfeld
  • Bruce Dern – Nebraska as Woody Grant
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street as Jordan Belfort (winner)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave as Solomon Northup
  • Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof

At least DiCaprio got nominated this year.  This is a category that is really up in the air for me…except Christian Bale (wasn’t as good as the rest).  I’m just giving this to Leo because I highly enjoyed his performance, and I think that he will get a pity Oscar for all of the times that he was snubbed (I can only hope).

Best Director:

  • Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity (winner)
  • Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
  • Alexander Payne – Nebraska
  • David O. Russell – American Hustle
  • Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

You’ve already heard me profuse my love about all of the technical aspects of Gravity, so why wouldn’t I vote for the director now?

Best Picture:

  • 12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas
  • American Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon
  • Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca
  • Dallas Buyers Club – Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter
  • Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman (winner)
  • Her – Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay
  • Nebraska – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa
  • Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward
  • The Wolf of Wall Street – Nominees to be determined

At this point, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Gravity is a technical marvel, a landmark in for science fiction films.  It features exemplary acting, astonishing effects, and a symbolic, touching story that has little to no detractors.  This wasn’t even a tough choice, Gravity is my personal pick for Best Picture of 2013.

So, what did you think?  If you disagree or agree on what I’ve chosen, post a comment below. I’d love to hear your opinions! (No joke, I like interaction)

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