Pop Goes the Culture’s Oscar Predictions, Part III

by Michael Hunley. 0 Comments

As I’m doing every other week during the Oscar season, here are the new updates to Pop Goes the Culture’s 2013 Academy Award Predictions:

PICTURE*
1. “12 Years a Slave”
2. “Gravity”
3. “American Hustle”
4. “Inside Llewyn Davis”
5. “Captain Phillips”
6. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
7. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
8. “Saving Mr. Banks”
9. “Nebraska”
10. “August: Osage County”

alternates:
11. “Rush”
12. “Fruitvale Station”
13. “Blue Jasmine”
14. “Philomena”
15. “Her”
16. “All is Lost”
17. “The Monuments Men”
18. “Blue is the Warmest Color”
19. “Before Midnight”
20. “Labor Day”

Not too many changes here: “12 Years” is still in the lead, and its frontrunner status can only grown with its limited release this weekend. The film’s studio, 20th Century Fox, will likely slowly push it out to more theaters over the next coming months (like they did with their 2008 Best Picture winner “Slumdog Millionaire”), and coupled with its fantastic reviews, “12 Years” appears to be the one to beat. But if there was one film to take it on, right now, that’d be “Gravity,” which has become a bona-fide hit at the box office and a major pop cultural talking point.

The whispers of whether “Wolf of Wall Street” will be able to meet its release date (it’s now rumored to be eyeing December) continue, though word is that it probably won’t be pushed to 2014. Whether its rushed post-production schedule will hurt the quality of the film remains to be seen, though. Buzz is also waning on the Disney drama “Saving Mr. Banks” after some scuttlebutt of the film being pleasant, if not spectacular — then again, it is from the director of “The Blind Side,” which, for whatever rea$on, did get a Best PIcture nomination, so anything is possible.

Continued buzz for Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” has pushed it up into the Top 10, while a strong reception at the New York Film Festival for Spike Jonze’s indie romance “Her” has made it a possible major contender. And though the reviews are still decidedly mixed for “August: Osage County,” overwrought family dramas with an all-star cast are like cat nip to the Academy Awards, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it were among the Best Picture nominees.

Dropping down the list is Ron Howard’s well-received car-racing drama “Rush,” which has stalled at the box office (you’re welcome for that awful pun), and Sundance winner “Fruitvale,” a critical favorite that probably won’t make as big of an impact on Oscar voters as last year’s Sundance darling, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

TEN MORE BEST PICTURE CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: “The Counselor,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Enough Said,” “Frances Ha,” “Mud,” “Out of the Furnace,” “Prisoners,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Short Term 12,” “The Spectacular Now”

*The number of nominees for Best Picture can range from five to 10, depending on the number of votes a film receives.

ACTOR
1. Chiwetel Ejiofer, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
3. Robert Redford, “All is Lost”
4. Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
5. Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

alternates:
6. Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
7. Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
8. Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
9. Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”
10. Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

Still solid: Ejiofer, Hanks and Redford. Still a strong, if not guaranteed, contender: McConaughey. New contender: three-time nominee Phoenix, who’s performance in “Her” has been getting raves.

I’m pushing DiCaprio off the list for now — amidst all the talk of “Wolf” not making its release date, the buzz for his performance has diminished greatly. He’s replaced by veteran character actor Dern, who’s working the publicity circuit like it’s his J.O.B. lately.

FIVE MORE BEST ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Christian Bale, “American Hustle;” Christian Bale, “Out of the Furnace;” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Fifth Estate;” Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom;”  Hugh Jackman, “Prisoners”

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

alternates:
6. Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”
7. Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”
8. Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
9. Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
10. Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue is the Warmest Color”

With the immense love critics and audiences are throwing toward “Gravity,” Bullock seems to be zeroing in on Blanchett’s once-concrete frontrunner status in the Best Actress race. Right now, I’m keeping Blanchett at the top because she’s a more, let’s say, respected actress than Bullock (though both are past Oscar winners). Whether Sandy B can overtake Catey B depends on how well they each do come precursor awards time (Blanchett is a lock for the Best Comedic Actress Golden Globe, and Bullock has a strong shot at the Best Dramatic Actress trophy).

Dench is an almost guaranteed shoo-in for her turn in the crowd-pleasing “Philomena,” while Meryl still sits pretty, especially if the Academy responds well to “August.”

For my past two predictions, I had former winner Thompson in the fifth spot for her role in “Mr. Banks,” but with the dampened buzz for that film building, I’m replacing her with Adams for the still-unseen “American Hustle,” mainly based on the film’s new trailer and how juicy her role appears to be.

FIVE MORE BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Berenice Bejo, “The Past;” Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha;” Brie Larson, “Short Term 12;” Naomi Watts, “Diana,” Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
3. Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”
4. James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
5. Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

alternates:
6. Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
7. Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
8. Javier Bardem, “The Counselor”
9. Matthew McConaughey, “Mud”
10. John Goodman, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

This is ending up to be the most up-in-the-air category, with nearly all of the actors standing on shaky ground. The only lock is Fassbender, who I don’t see leaving the top spot anytime soon.

Buzz has been strong for Cooper recently, so I’ve moved him all the way up to the second slot, bumping Hanks down — both of them could be nixed all together, though, depending on how well their respective films are received upon released.

And keep an eye out for newcomer Abdi, who scored great reviews for “Phillips” and could grab a nomination if any of the top five fall off.

FIVE MORE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: George Clooney, “Gravity;” Steve Coogan, “Philomena;” Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street;”  Matthew McConaughey, “The Wolf of Wall Street;” Jeremy Renner, “American Hustle”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
3. Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
4. June Squibb, “Nebraska”
5. Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

alternates:
6. Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
7. Margo Martindale, “August: Osage County”
8. Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
9. Sarah Paulson, “12 Years a Slave”
10. Amy Adams, “Her”

Still down to Nyong’o and Winfrey — it depends on whether voters want to honor the newcomer (Nyong’o was still in acting school when she cast in “12 Years”) or the legend (Winfrey herself got a nomination for her screen debut in 1985’s “The Color Purple”), but I can see the trophy ultimately going to either of those actresses.

Spencer is still sitting pretty for her second nomination, and Lawrence looks fun in what is rumored to be a fairly small role in “Hustle.” The big jump this week is for Squibb, a relatively unknown supporting performer who is getting raves for her role in “Nebraska” — her buzz could increase in the coming months thanks to a role in TV’s new zeitgeist hit “Girls.”

FIVE MORE BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Cameron Diaz, “The Counselor;” Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station;” Scarlett Johansson, “Her;” Carey Mulligan, “Inside Llewyn Davis;” Julianne Nicholson, “August: Osage County”

DIRECTOR
1. Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
2. Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
3. Ethan and Joel Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
4. David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
5. Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

alternates:
6. Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
7. Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
8. Lee Daniels, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
9. John Lee Hancock, “Saving Mr. Banks”
10. Ron Howard, “Rush”

No big changes here. I’d say Greengrass has a good chance at a nomination if the buzz for “Phillips” continues throughout the Oscar season, but who would he kick off? McQueen and Cuaron are essentially locks right now, so Coen brothers, Russell and Scorsese, you guys better sleep with one eye open the next few months.

FIVE MORE BEST DIRECTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine;” George Clooney, “The Monuments Men;” Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station;” Stephen Frears, “Philomena;” John Wells, “August: Osage County”

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