Friday, November 8, 2013

2014 Oscar Predictions: November
With a few of the contenders getting released already and the field narrowing down heading into the December awards season, it seemed like a fitting time to take one more stab at the Oscar predictions before the National Board of Review and Golden Globes show where the movies truly stand with voters. Since my last predictions, it was announced that Best Picture contenders The Monuments Men and Foxcatcher were pushed back to 2014, the latter due to editing issues. It is unfortunate for both, but maybe they can go against history and still contend in 2015. The Wolf of Wall Street was supposedly too long, pushed back to 2014, then compromised and placed on the Oscar-friendly release date of Christmas. I love that. It is by far my most anticipated of the year and an almost certain Oscar favorite. Without further ado, check out how the race is shaping up, and stay tuned for my Golden Globe predictions in the coming weeks!

The Predicted Five
1. 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley – It appears that this movie is heading into awards season as the heavy favorite. Seven of the last eight years, the Best Picture winner also won for its screenplay. The only one that didn’t was a silent movie…
2. Labor Day – Jason Reitman – Reitman is going against type with this movie, and it seems like the sort of drama that would get mentioned here. Reitman is still without a win, despite a few really popular Oscar movies.
3. Before Midnight – Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy – This nomination is basically guaranteed, but can the third leg of one of the best trilogies ever actually take home the award? It certainly deserves it, but I can’t see it actually winning.
4. Philomena – Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope – This movie seems like the one most likely to get the British vote. It sounds terrific, and early word claims that it is just that. If the performances ring true, then this should secure a nomination here without too much trouble.
5. Blue is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix – It is the Cannes winner. It is a very female-centric movie. If the Academy can get past the NC-17 label, then this nomination would be a welcome addition and step forward for the old-timers.
Others in contention
6. The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter – The movie looks insane, but how great is the screenplay? I am hoping for the best, but as we saw with The Counselor, a popular writer’s first major screenplay doesn’t always pan out. This seems to be a very solid contender, though. Short Term 12 – Destin Cretton – This movie is sort of a wildcard. There is always an indie that never really got a serious release that pops up in a couple categories. This could be that film.
8. August: Osage County – Tracy Letts – The Oscars are always hesitant to award a script based on a play. This type of performance piece could buck the trend.
9. Captain Phillips – Billy Ray – The movie is going to be a threat in several categories, but the screenplay seems to be pushing it. It was a solid script, but I am not sure if it will get the first place votes.
10. The Book Thief – Michael Petroni – It does not exactly have the pedigree of a contender, but the trailer looks great and certainly Academy-friendly. I would not be surprised if this gets a few mentions.
11. The Spectacular Now – Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber – It will be an uphill climb with Before Midnight probably tapping into the same voter market, but it is one of the finest scripts of the year.
12. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Steve Conrad – This film’s buzz is rampant, but the Oscar status is unknown. If it is a Best Picture contender, then Conrad’s script will probably be one of the main reasons.

The Predicted Five
1. American Hustle – Eric Singer – The trailer looks amazing and well-written. The cast are certainly going to be putting Singer’s words to good use. It seems like an obvious frontrunner at this point.
2. Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen – It is Allen’s best screenplay in years. His dramas are usually rewarded with a nomination in this category at least.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis­ – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – The Coens are always getting nominated. The movie is a dark-horse Best Picture contender. I would be shocked if the Coens are not nominated here.
4. Fruitvale Station – Ryan Coogler – The movie has seemed to lose its buzz, but Weinstein will not allow it to completely go by the wayside. If Coogler is mentioned somewhere, it is here. The socially-relevant material is too good to pass up.
5. Prisoners – Aaron Guzikowski – It is a bit like Zodiac in terms of format. It is more conventional, though. It is a star-studded and gritty drama. It is this year’s Flight.
Others in contention
6. Nebraska – Bob Nelson – The movie looks really offbeat and interesting. We will see how Alexander Payne shapes the movie into his own without the writing credit.
7. Her – Spike Jonze – I have yet to get a good read on this movie, but it looks like it could be the next Eternal Sunshine or the next Punch-Drunk Love. Both are excellent, but the former is definitely what Oscar prefers. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – Danny Strong – This is another Weinstein movie that dominated the box office for a solid month. When that happens, it is usually good for its awards chances.
9. Saving Mr. Banks – Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith – It is certainly the family-friendly movie that could either make a huge Oscar splash or be completely written off.
10. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron – The movie is more about experience and visuals rather than screenplay. If the movie is in for major Oscar love, then this nomination will be become more and more likely.
11. Mud – Jeff Nichols – It is one of the best parts of the first half of the year, but just not enough people saw it. If the movie were to defy the odds and get mentioned somewhere, then this is where it will be. It still has the highest wide release Rotten Tomatoes score of the year.
12. Rush – Peter Morgan – The movie just seems way too Oscary for it to be forgotten. The awards buzz is lacking, but we will see with the NBR and such whether it stands a chance at the Oscars.

The Predicted Five
1. Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler She is Oprah. Her movie was hugely popular with audiences. She is a past nominee. She has to be the favorite.
2. Lupita Nyongo – 12 Years a Slave She is the emotional center of the story. If the movie is in for a sweep, then she could go all the way.
3. Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station She had the most excruciating scene of the year. She wonderfully underplayed what would have been overdone by almost any other actress. Voters may want to reward the Oscar-winner with a validation nom.
4. Melissa Leo – Prisoners Even though she is always a bit over-the-top, that is what the voters love. Her part is one of the more important ones in the movie, and she is almost unrecognizable. It seems like a performance that will be forgotten all awards season until Oscar nomination morning.
5. Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle Her character resembles Blake Lively’s part in The Town, but this is a much safer Oscar movie. She is maybe the most popular actress in the world at the moment. They cannot give her enough noms.
Others in contention
6. Sarah Paulson – 12 Years a Slave She is said to be one of the most hateful characters of the year. This seems like a wide detour from her normal parts. She could split votes with her co-stars, though.
7. Julia Roberts – August: Osage County It is unclear which roles are truly lead and supporting. She has not been invited back since her win in 2000, despite several co-stars getting nominated. Could this be her big Oscar comeback?
8. Jennifer Garner – Dallas Buyers Club Her part in the trailer seemed to be a bit less consequential than I had originally suspected, but the movie has Oscar written all over it. She could ride the film’s momentum all the way if it strikes a chord with wide audiences.
9. June Squibb – Nebraska This would be a seriously random nomination, but she is said to have a scene-stealing part. If the movie is an About Schmidt-type venture, then she could be the Kathy Bates nomination. Wait, Squibb was in that movie too?
10. Scarlett Johansson – Her She had a nice year with this and Don Jon. She will get her due at some point, and this part could be the one that finally brings her to the ceremony. Carey Mulligan – Inside Llewyn Davis The Coens are always good for their supporting players. She looks like one of the standouts, judging by the trailers.
12. Margo Martindale – August: Osage County She is a face that tons of people will recognize from TV and smaller parts in movies. Can she outshine Roberts?
13. Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine The supporting actresses in Woody Allen movies are always in contention. She was excellent, and voters may still be looking for a way to make up for not nominating her incredible role in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky.

The Predicted Five
1. Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street The second trailer painted Hill as the Christoph Waltz-type part from Django. He looks like the sidekick with all the great lines and probably will walk away with the star-studded movie. He already has one nom. It is weird to think that he could be an Oscar winner.
2. Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave McQueen has proved that he pulls the best out of Fassbender. If her were to win an Oscar, he owes it to McQueen for it to be for one of his films.
3. Bradley Cooper – American Hustle In that crazy cast of David O. Russell veterans, Cooper appears to be the supporting player who is most in his element.
4. John Goodman – Inside Llewyn Davis After two straight Best Pictures and countless goodwill, Goodman is in excellent position to finally get his first ever nomination. It is fitting that it would be for a Coen Bros film.
5. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club The stills and clips that we have seen thus far of his character are frighteningly believable. Playing a cross-dresser is hit or miss with the Academy. In a film like this, it seems like a relative sure thing.
Others in contention
6. Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks I am not completely sold on its Oscar merit, but Disney and Hanks seem like a match made in movie heaven. If the movie is a hit, then a double nom is likely in the cards for Hanks, even though he has never been mentioned in this category.
7. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips He absolutely holds his own in that movie, and actually steals a fair amount of it. It is not unheard of for a non-actor to get nominated: Quvenzhane Wallis last year, Gabourey Sidibe in ’09…
8. Josh Brolin – Labor Day He is going to have a big couple of months with Oldboy and Labor Day. His role seems like one that is made for a Supporting Actor nomination, but the trailer was somewhat underwhelming. Reitman is going to need to really push him for him to get mentioned here.
9. George Clooney – Gravity Not surprisingly, he steals the scenes that he is in just because he is who he is. If the Academy really loves it, then look for him to make an appearance, since they no longer have The Monuments Men to go gaga over.
10. Jake Gyllenhaal – Prisoners He gave the best performance in the film and of his career. He is definitely not supporting, but he wasn’t in Brokeback either. This would be a cool outside-the-box nom.
11. Geoffrey Rush – The Book Thief He is one of the most beloved character actors out there. If the movie is a hit, then he could threaten the top five. James Gandolfini – Enough Said The posthumous nomination always sounds good on paper, but it almost never actually happens. He had been so close to a nomination recently that this might just be the type of role that could do it, even though Nicole Holofcener’s films have never gotten a single nom in any category.
13. Will Forte – Nebraska It is funny to think that an Oscar category could include Will Forte and Jonah Hill, but it is entirely possible. The co-lead who campaigns supporting is nominated often.
14. Daniel Bruhl – Rush I am still holding out hope for this role and this film to get mentioned. He gave one of the most moving and surprising performances of the year.

The Predicted Five
1. Sandra Bullock – Gravity The movie is essentially the Sandra Bullock show, and it is the best she has ever been. Is she really ready for a second win? It certainly appears that way…
2. Meryl Streep – August: Osage County She is getting nominated, obviously. Can she tie Katherine Hepburn’s record with four wins? If the trailer is any indication, then that answer would be a big Y-E-S.
3. Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine She dominates Woody Allen’s film with a frustrating and brilliantly-realized character. If she starts to pick up the precursors, then she will immediately establish herself as the favorite in the category.
4. Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks The movie looks a bit goofy, but Thompson is a great actress and former winner who always seems to elevate the material.
5. Brie Larson – Short Term 12 This would definitely be an eyebrow-raising nomination, but there is always a newcomer in the group. Her film is almost unanimously praised, so keep an eye on this one.
Others in contention Judi Dench – Philomena Well, she is Dame Judi Dench, so she is always nominated for every relevant role, but maybe they will take a break from her. I mean, she wasn’t nominated for Skyfall, despite the buzz, right? Yeah, I am not convinced either.
7. Amy Adams – American Hustle She is said to be terrific in the movie, but I never got the indication that she actually was the lead. This would be a pleasant surprise, though.
8. Kate Winslet – Labor Day I love the film’s potential, and her character seems like it was made for Oscar. It can’t be exactly like 2006 (Blanchett, Streep, Winslet, Dench), can it?
9. Berenice Bejo – The Past Fresh off a nom for The Artist, she gets directed by recent Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi. She has got to be in contention.

The Predicted Five
1. Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave Despite several great roles and movies, he has never been nominated. That may be the thing that prevents him from winning. Only one of the last six winners in this category was for a first-time nominee.
2. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club He is ready for a nomination, and this heroic role seems like it was written for McConaughey to play and get nominated for.
3. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips He is Tom Hanks, and while his role did not require him to stray too far from his comfort zone, it should not matter. This is the Denzel Washington – Flight guaranteed nomination with no chance of winning.
4. Joaquin Phoenix – Her This may seem a little bizarre at this point, but watching the trailer, it is impossible to see any Phoenix in it. This may be his biggest step out that the chameleon has ever taken.
5. Bruce Dern – Nebraska He has been buzzed since Cannes, and he hasn’t been nominated in 35 years. His nom seems assured, assuming that audiences seek out the black-and-white indie flick and fall for it the way festivals and critics have.
Others in contention
6. Robert Redford – All Is Lost It appears to be between him and Dern for the fifth spot. I give the edge slightly to Dern, only because it is more conventional. Without any real speaking in the film, how much will the Academy like All Is Lost?
7. Forest Whitaker – Lee Daniels’ The Butler He is the star of the box office hit. Weinstein will never give up on the movie. It seems weird to not be predicting such an Academy-friendly role…
8. Christian Bale – American Hustle He is almost unrecognizable in the movie. He sounds like he is doing his De Niro impression. In fact it is totally a 1970s-era De Niro-type role. If the movie is a massive hit, then he will be nominated.
9. Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis He has been in and around Oscar movies recently, but being the star of a Coen Bros movie does not always yield nominations, sadly. Idris Elba – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom On paper, this has to be the favorite. The film might just be too conventional to really hit home with audiences.
11. Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station He gave one of the best performances of the year, and he is a future movie star. If he gets nominated, then Weinstein deserves all the credit. This movie seems almost completely forgotten.
12. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street The Academy loves to snub DiCaprio. Throughout both trailers, it just seems that we are watching Leo being Leo. It is all of the supporting roles that seem to own the film.
13. Ben Stiller – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty If the movie wins over wide audiences, then this could be the Kevin Costner – Dances with Wolves overenthusiastic nomination.
14. Hugh Jackman – Prisoners The movie is an actor showcase, and this is the best work he has ever done. If they film is in for a few acting noms, which is entirely possible, then look for him to gobble up a second consecutive Best Actor nom.

The Predicted Five
1. Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave His film is the one to beat at this point, and with the exception of the fallout of the strange and pathetic Ben Affleck snub last year, the Academy does not like to split Picture and Director.
2. David O. Russell – American Hustle He is going to win one at some point. His last two films have been hugely popular Oscar movies. He is just up against a juggernaut.
3. Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street Four of his last five films have been nominated for Best Picture and Director. The only one that wasn’t was pushed back and blew up the box office. He cannot miss right now. We will see how much he had to compromise in his editing process, though.
4. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis The Coens are always nominated here. Their film could win the whole thing if it lives up to the promise.
5. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity His nomination should be guaranteed, given that it is the best pure directorial achievement since United 93. The Academy is just hesitant when it comes to science-fiction, but this is more like science-reality. It could/should demolish that voter reluctance and preconceived notions.
Others in contention
6. Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips His film is one of the more interesting directorial achievements of the year, blending several different styles into one big action-drama picture. He could easily garner his second career nomination.
7. Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine He seems to get nominated here even more than in Best Picture. This film does not have any real Woody Allen originality in terms of directing, but it is an impressive detour from his usual style.
8. John Lee Hancock – Saving Mr. Banks If the film is good enough and deep enough, then the past nominee for producing could get his first nom for directing.
9. Lee Daniels – Lee Daniels’ The Butler Never count out the impact of Harvey Weinstein. He was singled out for Precious back in ’09, so he could still be fresh on the memory of the Academy, since supposedly everyone has already forgotten about the horrible 2012 movie The Paperboy. Ben Stiller – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I still think that this movie could be the next Forrest Gump, so to think that Stiller could be nominated here is not out of the question. He is an even better director than an actor.
11. John Wells – August: Osage County The movie may be too simple for the director to be in contention, but he must have some talent, given that his only two films (The Company Men was the other) were star-studded and widely-hyped.
12. J.C. Chandor – All Is Lost He seems to be in a tough spot with Cuaron’s film taking the novelty of the isolation movie, but he is a past nominee for writing, so he could have the hot hand. The movie appears to have astonishing directing.
13. Ron Howard – Rush Howard is always in contention, and his film seems to bring the Oscar goods. Is auto racing just not their thing, though? Where is the buzz?

The Predicted Ten (I predict 9 will get nominated)
1. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen) – It has been reviewed as being the next Schindler’s List, which is about as high of praise that can be given to a historical movie. Unless its wide release proves otherwise, this will likely be the frontrunner for the long haul.
2. American Hustle (David O. Russell) – Following Argo may be the worst thing for the movie, since that is the style and era of the film. In any other year, it would be the odds-on favorite for sure.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen) – I love its chances at getting nominated, but a win will only happen if it wins over the box office. We shall see in December…
4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese) – Under no circumstances can this movie win Best Picture, but under no circumstances will this miss out on a nomination. Even though it appears to be more Casino than anything else, with the current format, Casino would have been nominated too.
5. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass) – The Tom Hanks-starring film leaves the audience with a gratifying and rewarding experience. It seems like a no-brainer Best Picture nominee.
6. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels) – The box office success has this all but locked into a nomination.
7. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock) – It seems clear that the film will win over wide audiences, but will Academy voters be moved enough to give it the necessary first place votes?
8. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen) – Woody Allen’s films are probably always in the second five for Best Picture. If enough voters remember the film for something other than Blanchett, then this should coast to a nomination.
9. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron) – I am still not completely sold on this, but it deserves it. Even District 9, as violent and action-packed as it was, got nominated for Best Picture. Gravity has the box office and critical acclaim. I think it sneaks out a nom.
10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) – There really is not too much more to say about this. No one has seen it. It is completely in limbo until its Christmas release.
Others in contention
11. August: Osage County (John Wells) – It would be difficult to snub a movie if there are as many acting noms as it could end up with. It is going to need to be a hit. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallee) – The movie seems like a safe Oscar movie, but what exactly has Jean-Marc Vallee done to convince us he is capable of handling that material? His only other film with real aspirations (The Young Victoria) sort of flopped.
13. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater) – It is the best film that will come out this year, but it is hard to imagine that many voters actually proclaiming that fact.
14. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) – If there is something from the first half of the year that has a chance at this category, then it is this timely, tragic, and brilliant little true story.
15. Rush (Ron Howard) – It was hailed as the next Rocky and had box office and reviews to prove it. Maybe it could still surprise, but I almost feel like it needs to take the NBR or get a Golden Globe nom to get back in the race.

So, there you have it. Thoughts? Predictions? Overlooked films/performances? What are your favorites of the year so far? Let me know!

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