It is almost upon us: the famed night in which radiant film stars and unfamiliar scruffy faces of behind-the-sceners light up our television screens to celebrate the most exceptional cinematic gems of the year. Or, well, the most-strategically campaigned films of the year… And “year” meaning only November and December… You know what, let’s just say some of the most exceptional cinematic gems of the year, huh?
Aside from ogling sleek gowns and watching celebrities interact (it’s like seeing Disney characters mingle at Disney World, isn’t it?), my absolute favorite part of the Oscars is predicting the Academy’s picks. And what follows is a list of my predictions for this Sunday’s festivities. How do your picks match up.
Best Picture — “12 Years a Slave”
“12 Years a Slave” is an important film. I know that, and the Academy knows that. It may not be my personal favorite film of the year, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel the desire to re-watch the film (it hurts the same way a necessary shot does), but I’m hoping with all my heart that it ultimately comes out on top. “Gravity” is a definite possibility, but with so many strong Best Picture nominees this year, I predict a split between Best Picture and Best Director.
Best Director — Alfonso Cuarn, “Gravity”
“Gravity” is an epic experience, and Cuarn’s 17-minute opening alone is enough to safely guarantee him the gold. He has been winning awards left and right for his directing of this massive yet tight film, and I would be shocked if the Academy left him high and dry.
Best Actress — Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Blanchett is astounding as a crumbling widow socialite in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” and I highly doubt the Academy would deny her the award due to the recent Allen accusations. Her Jasmine is a frightening yet somehow sympathetic marvel, and Blanchett was somehow able to make the Woody Allen stutter sound fresh and authentic.
Best Actor — Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Whatever Matthew McConaughey has been on lately, I want some. The actor infamous for his frequent shirtless and easy-breezy repetitive characters did a complete 180 in the last two years, ditching the bronzed six-pack and relying only on sheer talent, of which he surprisingly has a lot. As illustrated in 2012’s “Mud” and “Magic Mike” (don’t knock it till you try it!) and 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” McConaughey is a highly impressive actor. For his latest role, McConaughey dropped 47 pounds to play an AIDS patient that discovers unapproved pharmaceutical drugs, which he smuggles into Texas for fellow victims of the deadly disease. It is certainly a deserving performance and a great topper to an astounding two years.
Best Supporting Actress — Lupita Nyong’o,“12 Years a Slave”
This “12 Years a Slave” breakout talent brought me to tears. Nyong’o plays a slave girl unfortunate enough to attract the leering eye of Michael Fassbender’s chilling slave owner. When Nyong’o’s character is whipped, her pain is palpable. Jennifer Lawrence could win for “American Hustle,” but I just can’t see the Academy overlooking Nyong’o’s startling realism. Plus, Lawrence won last year, and I imagine the Academy’s decision to award Christoph Waltz two years in a row is still fresh in their memories.
Best Supporting Actor — Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Leto has it in the bag. He and McConaughey will both win for their roles in “Dallas Buyers Club,” something that rarely occurs. Leto’s HIV-positive Rayon, a transgender woman, is thoroughly engrossing and I look forward to seeing what Leto does in the future.
Best Original Screenplay — Spike Jonze, “Her”
I’m kind of going out on a limb here, because “American Hustle” has a very strong chance of winning, but “Her” is my personal favorite film of 2013, and the screenplay is refreshingly raw and thought-provoking. The screenplay for “American Hustle” is a bland Frankenstein of deceased heist films but it’s a critical darling and has been winning quite a few awards, so we’ll see. This is an optimistic pick, but perhaps the Academy will surprise me. It’s happened before.