Oscar Nominations 2014

It's the mooooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiiime of the year! Not Christmas. Don't be ridiculous. If December should be recognized, it would be for those wonderful best-of/worst-of lists. But even that section of the calendar can't compare to the relentless predicting and the celebrating and the snarking and the rending of clothes over snubs that is Oscar season. The nominations came out this morning, and why wait to dive into wild and no-doubt-pointless speculation? Let's go for it! Wheeee!


American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf Of Wall Street

Of the nine nominees, I've seen three. That's pathetic. What's even more pathetic is that of the six that I've missed, I really am only interested in seeing half of them. Wait, does that sound familiar to you? Did I accidentally just copy/paste last year's note about the Best Picture category? No, it turns out I'm in exactly the same situation this year. Uncanny! I'm very anxious to see Her, and will likely catch Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave at some point. Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Dallas Buyers Club aren't anathema to me, but strike me as homework that I may or may not ever get to.

Both American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave won Golden Globes. While I liked American Hustle, it's getting wildly overpraised, and the Academy tends to favor stark drama, especially if they can look like they're awarding diversity. I think 12 Years a Slave has got this one, which is too bad for the marvelous Gravity. I feel like that one was the year's best blend of prestige, audience appeal, technical achievement, and good performances.


Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Having seen two of these five performances makes it difficult to predict, but based just on buzz and chatter, I think it's unlikely Bale or McConaughey will win. Ejiofor is the front-runner, but DiCaprio and Dern have the potential to edge past him: DiCaprio because he's been "perennially overlooked" (I don't agree, but it's what people are saying), and Dern because he's old. I'll be keeping an eye on this one to see if the conversation shifts the way it did in the whole Argo vs. Lincoln thing last year.


Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Normally, given these five actresses, I'd find this a difficult choice, both for who should win and who will win. This year, though, the answer to both questions is Cate Blanchett. Streep's win for The Iron Lady surprised me, but at least in that case, it was a marvelous performance in an otherwise disappointing movie. Even the great Meryl can't quite humanize the monstrous mother in August: Osage County. Bullock was great in Gravity, but mostly through emoting; the Academy likes a good speech or two. As far as Dench goes, here is as good a place as any to predict a Philomena shut-out across the board.

That brings it down to two. Adams is a terrific actress and just about carries American Hustle on her shoulders, but I just don't see how she can beat Blanchett's performance in Blue Jasmine. Adams was wonderful, but Blanchett was transformative.


Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Did you ever think you'd hear yourself saying "Two-time Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill"? It's so surreal. The only thing more surreal would be "Academy Award winner Jonah Hill", but I don't think we need to worry about adopting that nomenclature this year. Though I haven't seen Dallas Buyers Club, I can't read any movie site that doesn't go out of their way to laud Jared Leto's performance. Sometimes that buzz is enough to carry someone to victory, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened here. I could be talking out of my ass, though. Cooper's is the only performance of these five that I've seen, so beyond a prediction that he won't win, I have to go out on somewhat of a limb.


Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Of all the acting categories, this one is the hardest to call. I'm pleased to see Hawkins' nomination, as talk about her performance has generally been outshone by the Blanchett juggernaut. Lawrence was amusing in American Hustle, but part of the over-praise that the movie has been getting is reserved for her. Squibb was fantastic in Nebraska, but the role may be too slight to be awarded. Roberts surprised me in August: Osage County, but the movie being a drag may bring her down with it (the movie getting acting nominations with nothing for Best Picture or Best Director is telling). And I've heard great things about Nyong'o, but without having seen it, I can't judge. So who will win? Arrrgh! I think I'm going to whittle it down to Nyong'o or Squibb - Best Supporting Actress is often the category where the underdog has the best shot. After flipping a mental coin, I'll predict Nyong'o, but wouldn't stake my retirement fund on it.


David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

Oof. Another tough one. Based on gut instinct, I think it will come down to McQueen or Cuarón. The three others made movies very much in their traditional vein, and movie quality aside, the Academy likes to reward breakthroughs. That would seem to imply Cuarón will win, but 12 Years a Slave has been hogging a lot of buzz. I think I'll go ahead with my Cuarón prediction, anyway. Gravity was such a technical achievement, it will be difficult to overlook.


Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)
Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
Spike Jonze (Her)
Bob Nelson, (Nebraska)

Why are my predictive powers so wonky this year? Was it something I ate? Or are the nominees just more evenly-matched? I could honestly make a case for any one of these movies to win. I get the feeling that Her may be passed over in the bigger categories, so Original Screenplay may be where they give it some gold.


Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight)
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope (Philomena)
John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Terence Winter (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

Before Midnight is a good option, since it wraps up a beloved trilogy, and the writing is one of the qualities that people praise most highly about it. Its main competition would come from 12 Years a Slave, which has a fair probability of winning in any category it appears in.


The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Frozen. Done. Okay, that's not fair. Normally, I'd say there's a real possibility that The Wind Rises could sneak in for the win, especially with the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki upon us. Still, he's already been rewarded for Spirited Away, and that movie didn't have a powerhouse like Frozen to compete against.


The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Missing Picture

This one's odd, because all the foreign movies that got the most praise this year aren't on the short-list, either because they didn't qualify or they were overlooked. As a result, I don't have a good sense of which of these will win. I'll probably let the critical establishment make my pick for this category.


Phillippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)
Roger A. Deakins (Prisoners)

Hmm. Do we go for what seems like the obvious choice and pick Gravity? Or do we go with perpetual also-ran Roger Deakins, who has to win at some point? If Skyfall didn't get the job done, I don't see how Prisoners can, so I think this one is going to Lubezki. Also, pity the poor Inside Llewyn Davis, which is virtually ignored this year, and when it is recognized, it's in categories where it has no shot.


American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years a Slave

This one always goes to a period piece, whether or not it should. The Great Gatsby would normally be the one to beat, but time and critical divisiveness has killed a lot of the buzz surrounding that movie, which may allow the '70s cheese of American Hustle to grab this one.


American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave

Ditto on this one. Gravity may be able to sew up Cinematography, but I can easily see the disco and polyester aesthetic of American Hustle swaying it.


The Act Of Killing
Cutie And The Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom was entertaining, but too slight to win. My guess is that this will go to The Act of Killing, which popped up on a lot of Top Ten lists last year.


Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days Of Private Jack Hall

Your guess is as good as mine! I'm hoping a local theater has one of those screenings where they show all the nominated shorts. As far as predictions go, though, I'll have to rely on someone else's.


American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

I hope you won't think it's catty of me to be pleased not to see The Wolf Of Wall Street on this list. You can say a lot of nice things about Scorsese movies, but telling a tight story and avoiding bloat is not among them. It's tough to pick the winner from the nominated movies, though I think Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are the likely front-runners. Based on no evidence whatsoever, I'll go with 12 Years a Slave.


The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

How did Pacific Rim miss out on this? I won't waste time being nonplussed about it, because there's no way it would have beaten Gravity, anyway. Although that raises a good question. Will the people that vote in this category choose a more traditional winner (a summer blockbuster, that is) rather than a story-driven science fiction movie? This will be an interesting test case.


Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Oh, what the hell. Jackass.


John Williams (The Book Thief)
Steven Price (Gravity)
William Butler & Owen Pallett (Her)
Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)

OK, I know I predicted a Philomena shutout, but Desplat has won before, so who knows? I'm in the dark on this one, so I'll have to do some more research before making a prediction.


“Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone)
“Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
“Let It Go” (Frozen)
“The Moon Song” (Her)
“Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom)

Let's not even talk about the winner, which will obviously be "Let It Go". Not when the articles about a weird Christian, racist movie that nobody's ever heard of suddenly popping up to get a nomination for no reason have been so extremely entertaining.


Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room On The Broom

Get A Horse! was remarkable for its 3D animation, but that's the extent of what I know about this category.


That Wasn’t Me
Just Before Losing Everything
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
The Voorman Problem

I haven't seen nor heard of any of these, so let's go with Helium. When in doubt, depend on the periodic table.


All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Lone Survivor


Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Hey, you wanna go grab some sushi?


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