Local movie buff’s fearless 2014 Oscar predictions

It’s Oscar night on Sunday; the annual Hollywood extravaganza to celebrate the best of last year’s movies.

Picking the Oscar winners is never easy. This reviewer has a mixed record of success. While I got seven out of eight predictions right two years ago, last year I only got five correct out of nine. Often you are torn between what you think should win and what you expect to win because, as with most things, there is politics in movies too.

So, Best Actor. It’ll go to Matthew McConaughey. He’s had a great year with Dallas Buyers Club, Mud and a small but lovely cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street.

After all those fluffy, romantic comedies he shows in Dallas Buyers Club that he is a very good serious actor and that should appeal to Academy voters. Unfortunately, that means 77-year old Bruce Dern will never win an Oscar, despite a distinguished career, and once again, a great performance from Leonardo DiCaprio will be bypassed.

Cate Blanchett should win Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. The character she plays is not very likable, but her performance is very impressive. But again, that means wonderful performances by Judi Dench and Amy Adams (the only newcomer to the category) will go unrewarded.

Best Supporting Actress will go to Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave. Hollywood likes to recognize new talent and she stood out, even among a very strong cast. But, I must admit Jennifer Lawrence was very impressive in American Hustle.

Jared Leto will get the nod for Best Supporting Actor as McConaughey’s newfound gay friend in Dallas Buyers Club. It’s an appealing performance and Hollywood likes to reward guys in drag. Also, Leto’s a solid actor who’s been around for years.

Best Original Screenplay is often a runner’s up award, for good movies that can’t win any of the major awards and Nebraska is the prime candidate here. But Her, which this reviewer did not especially like, is the sort of script that often gets rewarded come Oscartime, to show that Academy voters are really hip, current and support independent movies. So Spike Jonze will probably get this one for Her.

For Best Screenplay from another source 12 Years a Slave is the likely winner.

Best Director usually goes to the person who directed the Best Picture winner. But, like last year, I think this year voters will split the awards between two pictures. My money is on Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity. That movie will also win a pile of technical awards. It made more money at the box office than other nominees, which the Academy likes to reward too. But I can’t help but feel sorry if it doesn’t go to Steve McQueen, the black Englishman who directed 12 Years a Slave.

When it comes to Best Picture, for a long time I thought it was going to be American Hustle. It’s a good movie about cons with a strong and popular cast. Hollywood, understandably, loves a great con (after all, most movies are really a con job). However, Nebraska, Philomena and even Gravity are arguably better pictures. Lately my view is shifting to 12 Years a Slave for its dramatic and realistic portrayal of the black experience in America.

And for a final prediction; a no-brainer. Frozen will win for Best Animated Film.

Looking back on the above I see I’ve left American Hustle without any major awards. That seems unlikely, so please take these predictions lightly. After all, it’s just Oscars we’re talking about and all the nominees are well above average. Make some popcorn, open a beer and enjoy the show, even though its the movies we should be watching.

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Two of the year’s best; Gravity and Nebraska.

Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.