thoughts//2014 OSCARS FINAL PREDICTIONS

AWARDS COVERAGE



2013 was quite the year for movies. Quality was celebrated in many different forms. Gravity had us on the edges of our seats asking ourselves "How did they do that?" 12 Years a Slave brought a piece of history into light, whether we could watch or not. American Hustle wallowed in the glow of a decade of greed and lavish looks. Her made everyone ask themselves if they were on the verge of a relationship with their own technology. Nebraska painted a landscape of family relationships without needing anything other than black and white. And these were just a few of the outstanding motion pictures being honored at tomorrow night's 86th Academy Awards.

Here's a rundown of my predictions for the evening. How do yours stack up?

Tune in to ABC tomorrow night at 7pm/et for complete live coverage. The Oscars will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

Best Picture

The mix of 9 nominees for this year's top prize are a mix of top notch films. While I wouldn't have placed Captain Phillips or Philomena in my top films (even though both were very good in their own right), the other 7 are all fitting choices. American Hustle was fun to watch, but mostly for its costumes and kitschy performances. The storyline itself didn't lend itself to much, which makes this once buzzed frontrunner lose some of its cred. The Wolf of Wall Street is a buzz of fresh, controversial fun. Scorsese knows exactly what he's doing, but the nomination alone is enough of a salute to the most inappropriate (in the best way) film of the pack. Her and Nebraska are both the "small films that could" this year. Her has the biggest chance of possibly upsetting the big race. Dallas Buyers Club made a huge jump in conversation towards the end of the year. Its performances are what makes the film outstanding. The fact that it received a Best Picture nod means great things for its leading men. The two biggest possibilities are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. The two tied for Best Picture with the PGA (a first for the organization), which shows just how neck-and-neck they really are. 12 Years is a historic epic with a deep, grassroots following. Gravity is the box office powerhouse with enough dramatic flair to catapult it into movie legend. While both films would be deserving and make complete sense, I think Gravity has the edge here.

PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: 12 Years a Slave

Best Director

I like Alexander Payne, but there's not way he's winning here. Same goes for David O. Russell. He was closer to winning last year with Silver Linings Playbook. Martin Scorsese is a legend, but The Wolf of Wall Street isn't necessarily a directing achievement. Steve McQueen has put together an impressive telling of American history and slavery (interesting that it took a Brit to do that). But, Alfonso Cuaron knocked things out of the park with Gravity. He's now cemented as one of the greats, on the patch to become a Cameron or Spielberg. The scope of Gravity is so unbelievable that it took an incredibly talented person to pull it all together. It helps that he also wrote and edited the flick.

PICK: Alfonso Cuaron
ALTERNATE: Steve McQueen

Best Actor

There's no getting past Matthew McConaughey's renaissance turn in Dallas Buyers Club. Despite the fact that he lost so much weight, he really does turn in an incredible performance as a straight man dealing with AIDs in the 80s. The other performers in the category are great, but I don't think anyone will break McConaughey's streak. Except, maybe, Leonardo DiCaprio. He's our generation's greatest leading man and he's never won. Plus, his work in The Wolf of Wall Street is what goes down in Hollywood history. Chiwetel Ejiofer has etched his way into an even nicer career with his nomination for 12 Years a Slave and Bruce Dern will have to enjoy the fact that Hollywood has proven, again, that age is just a number. Christian Bale is the major weak link, in my opinion. His performance didn't really stand out to me.

PICK: Matthew McConaughey
ALTERNATE: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress

Like McConaughey, Cate Blanchett has had a steady awards season with countless wins. She's basically already won this category, but the Oscars love having a surprise or two. Her biggest threats are Sandra Bullock's incredible work in Gravity and Judi Dench in the quiet surprise Philomena. If Bullock hadn't won a few years ago for The Blind Side, she'd definitely be the frontrunner here. Meryl Streep is, surprisingly, the weak link here. And Amy Adams, despite being a critical fave, isn't going to end her five-nomination streak with a win just yet. Blanchett is that good.

PICK: Cate Blanchett
ALTERNATE: Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto has been running the track like Blanchett and McConaughey, and for good reason. His work in Dallas Buyers Club will be talked about for years to come. The Cinderella story of Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi will definitely give the former cab driver a push. Bradley Cooper and the rest of his cast (minus Jennifer Lawrence) in American Hustle have just lost steam lately. And, Michael Fassbender is just too mean in 12 Years a Slave. Jonah Hill, celebrating his second nomination, could maybe be an upset here for the wacky The Wolf of Wall Street, but I'm betting on Leto.

PICK: Jared Leto
ALTERNATE: Barkhad Abdi

Best Supporting Actress

Most people are saying its a tight race between everyone's best friend Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave). Their performances are just different enough to really make this race exciting. Sally Hawkins steals her scenes in Blue Jasmine, but she's not there quite enough to warrant a win. It's nice seeing Julia Roberts in a meaty role, but her nomination is more of a plea to get her to do more acting. The sweet June Squibb is one of my favorite things from last year, but she doesn't quite invade Nebraska like Lawrence and Nyong'o control theirs. In the end, Lawrence will most likely win this award in a popularity contest, making her the youngest person to win two awards.

PICK: Jennifer Lawrence
ALTERNATE: Lupita Nyong'o

The rest of my picks will be sans commentary. Let me know at the end what your picks are and we'll see how we stack up after tomorrow night!

Best Animated Film
PICK: Frozen
ALTERNATE: The Wind Rises

Best Adapted Screenplay
PICK: 12 Years a Slave
ALTERNATE: Philomena

Best Original Screenplay
PICK: Her
ALTERNATE: American Hustle

Best Original Song
PICK: "Let It Go", Frozen
ALTERNATE: "Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Best Original Score
PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: Philomena

Best Documentary
PICK: 20 Feet From Stardom
ALTERNATE: The Act of Killing

Best Foreign Language Film
PICK: The Great Beauty
ALTERNATE: The Hunt

Best Cinematography
PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: Prisoners

Best Costume Design
PICK: The Great Gatsby
ALTERNATE: 12 Years a Slave

Best Film Editing
PICK: Captain Phillips
ALTERNATE: Gravity

Best Production Design
PICK: The Great Gatsby
ALTERNATE: 12 Years a Slave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
PICK: Dallas Buyers Club
ALTERNATE: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Best Sound Editing
PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing
PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Visual Effects
PICK: Gravity
ALTERNATE: Gravity will win

Best Documentary Short
PICK: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
ALTERNATE: Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Animated Short Film
PICK: Get a Horse!
ALTERNATE: Mr. Hublot

Best Live Action Short Film
PICK: The Voorman Problem
ALTERNATE: Helium

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