Oscars 2014: The Verdict

This Sunday marks the most prestigious night in the Hollywood calendar; the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Now many people are chiming in with their guesses for the big prizes however I have found myself conflicted on a number of categories with who I think will win and who I want win and so I have decided to acknowledge both. You can find a full list of those nominated here . Now not to ramble on like so many of the speeches this Sunday will.

Best Actor

ImageThis years Best Actor category is the most stacked category of the year. In my opinion any one of the five men nominated put in better performances than any and of the nominees from last year’s awards, Daniel Day Lewis included. We have been treated to five top class and diverse performances from five of the best actors working today. A lot of people have picked Mattew McConaughey as their pick for the winner which is perfectly understandable. In my opinion the best actor over the last 12 months is without a shred of doubt is McConaughey. Not only in Dallas Buyers Club but he also gave Academy Award nomination worthy performances in Mud and The Wolf Of Wall Street, not to mention his haunting stint on True Detective. However Best Actor is awarded to the best single performance of the year not the best Actor of the year overall. Chiwetel Ejiofor delivered that for me. 12 Years A Slave was a completely different animal of a movie which brought its cast to places rarely explored in Hollywood cinema. Ejiofor plays the protagonist with a combination of power and weakness that has stayed with me for months now. Another factor towards my favoritism of Ejiofor is that I feel this will be the best performance of his life while McConaughey has had several stunning performances, which is a testament to the man’s ridiculous talent.

Best Actress

ImageCate Blanchett. That about sums up this category for me. Not trying to sound disrespectful as there were many great performances from truly talented women however Cate Blanchett was preposterously brilliant in Blue Jasmine. That film was the best outing for Woody Allen in over a decade and most of that success boiled down to the fragile brilliance of Blanchett, I said it months ago when I reviewed it for this very site and I’ll say it again, Cate Blanchett will be winning an Oscar this year.

Best Supporting Actor

ImageThis is the category that is causing me the most angst. Michael Fassbender was, for me, the best part of 12 Years A Slave. He may be my favorite actor. This was the best performance of his career. However I can’t see him winning. Jared Leto not only put in the performance of his career but he also ticks every Oscar box. Body transformation, Check. First performance after a long spell away from acting, check. Portraying a real life person who faced massive struggles, check. He’s the blue print for an Oscar actor. Fassbender’s role may be a little too despicable for the Academy voters and may suffer the same fate as Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List. I will watch Sunday with crossed fingers however I feel Jared Leto has this in the bag which is no tragedy as his performance was transformative in every sense of the word and he has been criminally underrated for far too long.

Best Supporting Actress

ImageDespite how good Jennifer Lawrence was in American Hustle and how heavily tipped she is going into the award show, Lupita Nyong’o has to be the sexy pick for best supporting actress. However I am going to be shockingly main stream and say not only do I think Jennifer Lawrence will win I completely feel she deserves it too. Lupita gave a pitch perfect performance as 12 Years most tragic character, she was given a compelling character and did it justice. However Lawerence not only did her character justice but she elevated it far and beyond how it looked on the page. David O. Russell is known to involve his actors hugely in the formation of their characters and it’s clearly an effective method as two years in a row he has an actor in each of the four major acting categories. Patsey will be tough to forget however Rosalyn Rosenfeld will be remembered forever.

Best Director

ImageThis category is a conundrum as it features four directors I would list as some of my all time favorites. Steve McQueen is the best new Director to emerge in the past five years, Martin Scorsese delivered us one of my favorite films on his god like filmography and David O. Russell has never made a film I didn’t love. However for the sheer genius and innovation it took to pull it off I gotta agree with most of the awards bodies this year and give it to Alfonso Cuaròn. Gravity was a film experience unlike any I have ever experienced. I suspect it won’t have the same rewatch-ability factor as some of his other greats ala Children of Men, however he achieved things that have never been possible before in film. Even though McQueen certainly has a chance I think this year is Alfonso’s year.

Best Film

ImageThis year has been so great in regards to Oscar films. Where many of the big budget summer films fell flat for me this year’s Oscar period has more than compensated for this. I have seen all nine of the nominees and while all were good and a few were great, one film in particular stands proud above the rest; The Wolf Of Wall Street. This movie just ticked every box for me and just had that intangible it factor that stuck it ahead of the rest. For a film that was three hours long I could have stayed and watched it for another three and not once feel bored. That being said I don’t think it will or honestly should win. It is too controversial a film to win and 12 Years is too controversial not to. It represents everything Best Picture stands for and it would be foolish of me to begrudge it due to my own personal taste. An honourable mention should be given to Gravity but I can’t see it translating well to home viewing.

The rest of my picks are as following:

Foreign Language: The Great Beauty (Italy)

Animated: Frozen

Documentary Feature: The Act of Killing

Original Screenplay:  Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell for American Hustle

Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity

Film Editing: Joe Walker for 12 Years a Slave

Music Original Score: Steven Price for Gravity

Music Original Song: “Let it Go” – Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; Frozen

Production Design: Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration) for American Hustle

Costume Design: Michael Wilkinson for American Hustle

Sound Editing: Wylie Stateman for Lone Survivor

Sound Mixing: Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland for Inside Llewyn Davis

Visual Effects: Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould for Gravity

Make Up And Hair Styling: Stephen Prouty for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

However as always this is just my personal opinion. Please comment below with your thoughts and picks. What have you made of this year’s Oscar field? Any snubs you want to address? Comment below or let me know on Twitter @spillanejohn .

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