Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Film Section editor Michelle Douvris takes her best shot at making sense of this year’s Academy Awards race before the big ceremony on Sunday.Settings
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
2013 was a great year for film, which makes this an incredible difficult call. Gravity was a breathtaking showcase of groundbreaking technical work, American Hustle boasted a rich array of complex characters fueled by grade-A performances, and all the other nominees each had some distinct remarkable quality. However, none of them carry the weight that 12 Years a Slave does. Steve McQueen’s film is an epic tour-de-force with powerful performances and an even more powerful story. It’s the kind of movie that Oscar voters gravitate towards, and the choice that makes the most sense. However, Gravity could creep up and snag the statue because it is expected to dominate all of the technical categories and Alfonso Cuarón seems to be the frontrunner for best director. It’s a close one.
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
This is another very competitive category. All of the nominees showed an impressive level of commitment to their roles, but that commitment pales in comparison to McConaughey’s. McConaughey underwent a dramatic physical transformation to portray homophobic HIV patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, but that’s not all. He completely disappeared into his character and has recently shown Hollywood that he’s no longer the charming leading man in rom-coms like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Ghost of Girlfriend’s Past. McConaughey deserves this award for his career 360 and the odds are in his favor because he has already racked up the bulk of Best Actor statues this award season.
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
This one is a no-brainer. Blanchett has garnered virtually every Best Actress award for her work in Blue Jasmine and she’s an Academy favorite. It would be a major upset if the envelope held any other name. My favorite performance of the five is probably Sandra Bullock’s, but this is Blanchett’s award to lose.
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
If you have yet to see Dallas Buyers Club, I strongly recommend doing so. McConaughey is fantastic, but Jared Leto is simply brilliant as Rayon, an HIV positive transgender woman who forms an unlikely friendship with Woodroof. Leto steals every scene he’s in, crafting a multi-dimensional character with humor and heart. He has deservedly won every award so far for which he was nominated, making this Oscar category an easy one to predict.
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Out of the acting races, Best Supporting Actress is definitely the tightest this year; Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave and Jennifer Lawrence of American Hustle are battling it out for what will most likely be a photo finish. However, there are a few factors that put Nyong’o in a better position to take home the win. For one, she is a fresh face on the awards circuit while Lawrence took home the statue for Best Actress just last year. Many pundits don’t think that Lawrence topped her performance in Silver Linings Playbook with her turn as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, making it more difficult to secure a rare back-to-back win. On the other hand, Nyong’o flew onto everyone’s radar with her heart-wrenchingly beautiful performance as Patsey, and her poised and fashionable public appearances are turning her into this year’s It Girl (a role that was ironically filled last year by Lawrence, her fiercest competitor). Lawrence may have taken home the Golden Globe and BAFTA, but my money’s on Nyong’o. Besides, Lawrence has been nominated 3 times at the age of 23 so I think she can afford to lose this one, especially to an actress so deserving.
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
One of the most unusual, albeit exciting characteristics of this year’s award season is the high possibility of a Best Picture/Best Director split. In the past, it has been the pretty common for these 2 categories to go to the same movie. However, this year may not necessarily be the case. Alfonso Cuarón has been leading the pack for quite some time for his achievement in helming the technically ambitious Gravity, while 12 Years a Slave is favored to take home the top prize. However, don’t be surprised if Steve McQueen steals it from Cuarón’s clutches; his artful direction of a culturally impactful film makes him a formidable contender.
Other Category Predictions:
Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Score: Gravity
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Original Song: Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez for “Let It Go,” Frozen