On Sunday night, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honor what they feel has represented the best achievements in film of 2013 during their 86th annual Oscars ceremony. The Oscars are always interesting to watch. Even though numerous races are set in stone from the get-go, there will always be the tricky categories to give us pause in predicting what we think the winners will be. This year has been no less perplexing, with support for films flying all over the place from presumed runaway frontrunners, to now several films having a legitimate chance to take the victory.
I wasn’t planning on doing this, but given how good and how hectic the year has been, I decided to toss in my predictions of who is going to win in all 24 categories, and my reasons as to why. I’m not 100 percent sure on all of these predictions, but these are all as finalized and certain as I’m going to get. With that said, let’s get started.
We’ll start from the bottom and work our way up.
Best Live Action Short: Just Before Losing Everything
Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6
Best Animated Short: Get a Horse!
These are all me pretty much throwing a dart at my ballot. There is no easy way to predict these categories… but Animated Short is one I’m completely confident in. Get a Horse has the most exposure of all the nominees, playing in front of the highly beloved Frozen in theaters, ensuring a lot of popularity to it. It certainly helped out last year’s winner, Paperman.
Best Visual Effects/Best Sound Editing/Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
These awards are all guaranteed, none more so than Visual Effects, which has been the case since before the film’s release. The sound of Gravity plays a huge part in its excellent storytelling and terror tactics, and is the type of highly respected thriller they like to award in these categories. However, I will say that I’m still hoping that Lone Survivor pulls off a surprise win in Sound Editing for Wylie Stateman’s excellent work.
Best Original Song: “Let it Go” – Frozen
Its fluke loss at the Golden Globes aside, “Let It Go” has been the one to beat for a long time. The song has everything in its favor. It’s a sweeping and standout number that features prominently in the film, the film is a musical, everyone loves it, the box office and word of mouth has been very strong, it has the Disney pedigree attached, and it has all the momentum and hype to back it up. When you see its competition, it’s even more obvious.
“The Moon Song” is a lovely song that’s used beautifully in the film, but if the Academy will honor Her anywhere, it’ll more likely be in Original Screenplay. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela just doesn’t have the momentum going for it, coasting to its Golden Globes victory based mainly on U2’s star power, and the film itself is already so forgotten that I wouldn’t be surprised if voters have also forgotten the song as well. The only legitimate threat here is “Happy”, written for Despicable Me 2 by Pharrell Williams. The song has been gaining a lot of popularity and radio play (including reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot 100), Williams has just come off of winning several Grammys, and if the Academy wants to reward the film in a category that isn’t Animated Feature, this would be the more logical option. However, I don’t think it’ll be enough to top the Disney tune.
Best Original Score: Gravity
Given Gravity’s high respect as a Best Picture contender, and the immense buzz and strong word for the use of the music in the film, I say Steven Price’s victory here is a done deal. Although, I am secretly hoping that Alexandre Desplat pulls off a surprise win for his exceptional music from Philomena, which is a possibility.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
This is the only nominee that deserves to be in contention for a nomination, let alone get an actual nomination. The film’s makeup is excellently effective and transformative, but my main reason for predicting it is simply because everyone likes this movie the most. Given the terrible reception of the other two nominees, which makes me question if voters will actually watch the films, it should come as no surprise when Dallas Buyers comes out on top.
Best Costume Design/Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby
Say what you will about The Great Gatsby, but you can’t deny that the film is gorgeously designed. I think Costume Design is a done deal, and even the Best Picture contender American Hustle won’t be able to top it (being a Best Picture contender didn’t help The King’s Speech beat Alice in Wonderland). However, Production Design is trickier to call. I see it going one of two ways. That it goes the way of Alice in Wonderland, whose flashier sets and costumes beat out the Best Picture favorites to win both categories, or that it goes the way of Anna Karenina, which won for its Costumes, but lost Production Design to the more low-key work in Best Picture contender Lincoln. In that second case, I think 12 Years a Slave would be the benefactor (if the Academy wants to give it at least one more win to go alongside it’s presumed Picture and Adapted Screenplay victories), but I don’t think that’ll happen. I think the flashier work in Gatsby will win the day in both categories. Be aware that Gravity could pull off a surprise win in Production Design. Should that happen, we’ll know for sure it’s on its way to winning Best Picture.
Best Film Editing: Captain Phillips
I know many people are predicting Gravity for this category, but I have doubts of that happening. While the editing is absolutely wonderful, and an essential for this movie’s thrilling pace, it doesn’t draw the same attention to itself as several past winners have. The Academy has a tendency to pick flashier editing in this category (ie. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), which I think would benefit Captain Phillips, and its editor Christopher Rouse (who also won the ACE award for the film). I wouldn’t complain, as I think Captain Phillips has the best editing of the year. I’m probably setting myself up for a loss, but this is one gut reaction I have to go with.
Best Cinematography: Gravity
LOCK! Emmanuel Lubezki will at long last claim his rightfully deserved Oscar… one he should already have for Children of Men.
Best Documentary Feature: 20 Feet from Stardom
With the elimination of long time frontrunner Stories We Tell, the race here feels wide open. I think that the category will go to 20 Feet from Stardom, a massive crowd-pleaser in the same vein as Searching for Sugarman, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went to The Act of Killing or The Square.
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
I felt that this one was between The Hunt and The Great Beauty. The Hunt is a very good and popular film featuring a stunning lead performance from Mads Mikkelson, but The Great Beauty is the one I opted for. The film has gained a lot of exposure thanks to its victory at the Golden Globes (which has gone to the eventual Oscar winner three years in a row), and has elicited comparisons to the films of Federico Fellini.
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
This is a guarantee. Even in a year of animated features that wasn’t weak, Frozen would be a serious frontrunner. Everyone loves it, it’s still doing great at the box office, and it has all the momentum in its favor (winning the Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice, and the Annies). It doesn’t hurt that its competition is rather weak. The Croods is not that highly respected, Despicable Me 2 doesn’t have the same passionate support, and hardly anyone has even seen Ernest and Celestine or The Wind Rises. This is Disney’s to lose.
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Given that the Best Picture winner usually wins for its writing as well (assuming that it does win Best Picture), it seems only natural that 12 Years a Slave will win for Adapted Screenplay. I don’t think even the much loved scripts for Philomena or The Wolf of Wall Street will be able to beat it.
Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
There is the very real possibility that American Hustle, which initially had a lot of support this awards season, could follow in the steps of films like True Grit, winning for none of its ten nominations. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think they’re going to want to give the film something, as well as reward David O. Russell somewhere that isn’t Best Director, and Original Screenplay is the most logical place. There is a lot of support in this category for Spike Jonze’s excellent script from Her, having won a great deal of early precursor awards that suggest a likely victory over Hustle. But then again, let’s not forget about Up in the Air, which had every precursor and all the momentum to suggest it would win, but shockingly lost Best Adapted Screenplay to the much more beloved Precious. NEVER underestimate the stronger Best Picture contender. I’ll be happy for Her if it wins, but I am not about to get my hopes up.
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
This is a two horse race between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o, and a very tricky one to call. Unlike the other acting categories, this one has reason to pause and think things through. On the one hand, 12 Years a Slave is the Best Picture frontrunner, and the Academy may want to give it at least one more Oscar to go alongside its other wins. On the other hand, if American Hustle somehow loses Original Screenplay to Her, the Academy may want to give Lawrence a win as a consolation prize for the film. However, despite the overwhelming popularity of Lawrence, I’m not entirely convinced the voters are that eager to give her a second Oscar so soon after her first, so I have to give the slight edge to Nyong’o.
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
This is locked for Leto, and deservingly so.
Best Lead Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
This is the biggest acting lock of the year, and not even Woody Allen’s recent personal scandals will be able to keep her from winning.
Best Lead Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Unless DiCaprio has a late surge of massive support, I don’t see McConaughey losing this.
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
This is scripture. There is no greater achievement in film of 2013 than Cuaron’s direction, and I would be livid to see it go to ANYONE else. Should 12 Years a Slave win Best Picture, this will also mark the first time since Crash and Brokeback Mountain that the Best Picture and Best Director awards are split between two films (given that Ben Affleck was snubbed from the Directing lineup last year, and it eventually became clear that he would have won anyway, I’m not counting that one).
Best Motion Picture of the Year: 12 Years a Slave
This one comes with a lot of thought behind it. 12 Years a Slave has been considered the one to beat for months now, but it hasn’t been one without a lot of confusion. This all started back at the Golden Globes when the film won Best Picture, but lost every other category it was competing in. It did better at the Critic’s Choice, winning three awards (Picture, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay), but then only two at the BAFTA’s (Picture and Lead Actor), and it even tied for the top prize at the PGA’s. It’s impressive that it held on for so long, but it gives you an idea of where the race started to get complicated. It gave you the idea that maybe the film wasn’t the runaway victor we all assumed. Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor were initially considered the favorites in their categories, but that momentum later swayed to Alfonso Cuaron and Matthew McConaughey respectively. You could say the film was feeling the heat from its other competition.
Gravity has enjoyed a healthy and substantial level of passionate support, and on Oscar night, is very likely to go home with a potential 7 awards without also winning Best Picture, second only to Cabaret which won 8. However, it’s still entirely possible that it could win. When 12 Years a Slave won the PGA award, Gravity was the film it tied with. If support for Gravity is consistent enough, and voters place it high enough on their ballots, it has the chance to win top prize, and to be the biggest upset of the night. Even though this category has never seen a sci-fi winner (even though Gravity ISN’T sci-fi. It’s just been mistakenly labeled as such), I’d definitely keep my eyes on this one. In the end, though, I’m not gutsy enough to call it. I still think 12 Years a Slave will ultimately win Best Picture. It’s a very powerful and well made film, one that has moved viewers and voters, and stands as an essential piece of cinema.
That’s all I have to say about that, and we’ll see how many I guessed correctly this Sunday. Until then, see you later…