Time to Check Back in on the Oscars

by Michael Hunley. 0 Comments

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett, looking beautiful in an outfit that appears to have been made by Reynolds Wrap, arrives Monday at the Oscar nominees luncheon. (Photo courtesy Associated Press)

It’s been a while since I’ve made Oscar ranking predictions, and with less than a month to go until the ceremony, and the annual nominee luncheon held earlier this week, what better time than now? So here we go:

PICTURE
1. “12 Years a Slave”
2. “Gravity”
3. “American Hustle”
4. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
5. “Nebraska”
6. “Captain Phillips”
7. “Her”
8. “Dallas Buyers Club”
9. “Philomena”

“Gravity” and “12 Years,” clearly, are the ones to beat. “12 Years” took home the top prizes at the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards, though it tied with “Gravity” for the Producers Guild of America award; “Gravity,” for its part, has been winning all the high-profile Best Director prizes, including the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Directors Guild of America awards. So it appears that, like last year, the Best Picture and Director winners at the Oscars will be split: I’m predicting a “12 Years” win for Best Picture and “Gravity” for Best Director.

However, if those two cancel each other out (which I don’t see happening), then “American Hustle” will probably sneak in — it won the Best Comedy/Musical Film prize at the Golden Globes and Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (that ceremony’s equivalent of Best Picture).

ACTOR
1. Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
2. Chiwetel Ejiofer, “12 Years a Slave”
3. Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
4. Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
5. Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

It now looks like we’re soon going to know what it’s like to live in a world with an Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey. His much-publicized physical transformation for his role in “Dallas Buyers” is music to Oscar voters’ ears (see: Charlize Theron’s win for “Monster”), and he’s scooped up prizes from the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice awards. Unless there’s a surprise resurgence of buzz for “12 Years'” Ejiofer, McConaughey has got this in the bag.

ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
2. Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
3. Judi Dench, “Philomena”
4. Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
5. Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Much like McConaughey, Blanchett has been gobbling up all the precursor awards, including a smorgasbord of critics prizes and just about anything she can get her hands on. She’s been the front-runner since “Jasmine” came out last summer, and despite the negative press swirling around “Jasmine” director Woody Allen, she should easily win her second Oscar.

SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
2. Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
3. Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
4. Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
5. Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Again, like Blanchett and his co-star McConaughey, Leto has been grabbing a lot of the high-profile acting accolades so far and is pretty much a lock for the win. I would maaaaybe say Fassbender could upset, but probably not — this is all about Jordan Catalano.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
3. June Squibb, “Nebraska”
4. Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
5. Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

Now THIS is where it gets (a little) interesting. While McConaughey, Blanchett and Leto are all pretty much the favorites to win their respective categories, there’s two gunning for the prize in Supporting Actress: newcomer Nyong’o (who won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice prizes) and American sweetheart Lawrence (the Golden Globe victor). Lawrence is coming off a Best Actress win last year, which will probably cause voters to want to spread the wealth a bit and honor Nyong’o for her debut performance (and to also give more love to “12 Years”). So I’m going with Lupita right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a J.Law. upset a-brewin’.

DIRECTOR
1. Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
2. Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
3. David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
4. Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
5. Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Just like Ang Lee’s 3-D opus “Life of Pi” did last year, I’m thinking Cuaron’s visually breathtaking sci-fi drama “Gravity” will snatch the Best Director prize without scoring Best Picture — Cuaron has won tons of precursor awards already, including the prestigious Directors Guild of America award. The only thing keeping him from being a complete lock is the Oscars’ tendency to award Best Director to the Best Picture winner — so while Cuaron may be the favorite, McQueen is still very much in the game.

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