Oscars 2014 Analysis & Predictions: Part 1

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

Will Win (my prediction):  12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse:  Gravity
Should Win:  12 Years a Slave
What's Shocking:  Omission of Inside Llewyn Davis

The feeling is that this has always been a three-horse race between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle.  The latter is losing some awards steam, and is the weakest of the three movies in my opinion.  

Gravity may be the more popular choice, but due to its important subject matter, 12 Years a Slave is most likely to receive the most votes.  I also think the time is ripe for a film about slavery to win a Best Picture Oscar, after 2012's Django Unchained and Lincoln spurred debate over America's traumatic past.

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

Will Win:  Alfonso Cuaron
Dark Horse:  Steve McQueen
Should Win:  Alfonso Cuaron
What's Shocking:  Inclusion of Alexander Payne over Paul Greengrass 

I thought Paul Greengrass deserved a nomination for his exemplary work directing the tense thriller Captain Philips.  

The Academy seems to like Alexander Payne a lot - he has also been nominated for Best Director for his last two films The Descendents (2011) and Sideways (2004), and has won two screenwriting Oscars for those two pictures.  

That aside, Alfonso Cuaron seems to be sweeping most of the Best Director awards this season, notably the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs.  Steve McQueen is the dark horse, especially if voters want to reward his work.  

In my opinion, Cuaron ought to win.  He is one of the world's leading filmmakers who is not only a brilliant storyteller and innovator, but also a visionary.

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)

Will Win:  Chiwetel Ejiofor
Dark Horse:  Matthew McConaughey
Should Win:  Leonardo DiCaprio
What's Shocking:  Where's Robert Redford or Tom Hanks?

This is probably the the most exciting (and difficult) category.  

There are four probable winners (sans Christian Bale) who are deserving of the Oscar, none more deserving than Leonardo DiCaprio who already has three previous acting nominations under his belt.  This is his time, but I think the Academy will once again delay rewarding him.  Which of course will be a shame.  

Matthew McConaughey and Chiwetel Ejiofor are earning their first nominations, and either one of them will probably win.  I am rooting for Ejiofor over McConaughey.  But I won't be crying over lost points if Leo finally wins.

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

Will Win:  Cate Blanchett
Dark Horse:  Amy Adams
Should Win:  Cate Blanchett
What's Shocking:  If Meryl Streep wins... and where's Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks?!

A stark contrast to the Best Leading Actor category, this is easy picking.  Cate Blanchett is the strong favourite to win her second Oscar after her supporting acting win for The Aviator (2004).  It is almost a certainty, unless Amy Adams pips her to the award.  

Adams now has five acting nominations, and some may find that she is due an Oscar for her understated work for the last decade in films such as Doubt (2008), The Fighter (2010) and The Master (2012).  She is also the only one in the category without an Oscar yet.  

For once, a Meryl Streep win will be an absolute shocker.  She is possibly the world's greatest actress, but every nomination now can be considered a win.  

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

Will Win:  Jared Leto
Dark Horse:  Barkhad Abdi
Should Win:  Jared Leto
What's Shocking:  -

Jared Leto has one hand on the Oscar, and quite deservingly so.  

His 'closest' competitors at the moment are Barkhad Abdi (who won the BAFTA in the same category recently, though it was one without Leto) and possibly Michael Fassbender (who was snubbed for his performance for Shame in 2011).  

The Academy may want to appease Fassbender, but I feel that his incredible talent will help him chalk up more nominations in the near future; it's just way too early for him.  

If Abdi wins, it will be a pleasant surprise rather than a shocker.  It's one of those from-a-nobody-to-somebody stories everyone is fond of.  But I think it's quite difficult for anyone to break Leto's grip now.

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

Will Win:  Lupita Nyong'o
Dark Horse:  Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win:  Lupita Nyong'o
What's Shocking:  If Jennifer Lawrence actually wins...

Lupita Nyong'o really deserves her Oscar, and I would hate to see Jennifer Lawrence steal the limelight from her.  Lawrence is one of the most gifted actresses of her generation, and she has already won an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook (2012) last year.  

For some reason, she was rewarded over Nyong'o at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, which was a pity.  The other nominees gave good supporting performances, but they never really had any awards momentum from the get-go.  Let's hope the Academy give their support to Nyong'o.


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