We're fast approaching the pinnacle of the past cinematic year. This Sunday March 2nd marks the 86th annual Academy Awards hosted by Ellen DeGeneres (sign up for our FREE Oscar Contest here). With many races up for grabs, including the highly coveted Best Picture race, the Oscars should be an exciting watch filled with Hollywood's biggest celebrities. Here are my predictions for the 2014 Academy Awards.
Any of the trio 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle have a shot at bringing home the evening's biggest prize, but the true gut-wrenching tale of a free man drugged, captured and sold into slavery seems to have all the intangibles. Gravity holds steady as the film's most feared rival, yet the sci-fi drama is more so a technological achievement than a cut from the typical Best Picture mold.
Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Although many prognosticators use the logic that a traditionally rare Best Picture/Best Director split gives Gravity the edge in the Best Picture race, I turn that rationale upside down and wonder if Alfonso Cuaron should be worried. The director's groundbreaking work has been lauded by just about every precursor award known to man, however a big night for 12 Years a Slave could mean that Steve McQueen plays the spoiler role ... but I doubt it.
Winner: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
While attempting to predict the year's most important awards show, there's tons of over-analyzing that comes into play. Anyone who tries to sway you against Matthew McConaughey is clearly thinking too hard. We've all heard the rumblings about it being Leo's time and Chiwetel Ejiofor potentially riding the Best Picture frontrunner's wave of success, but the truth is all indicators point to Matthew McConaughey and, even more to the point, he simply deserves the award.
Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
One of the safer picks of the evening is Cate Blanchett in the Best Actress category. We all know you can never count out Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock is the star of a serious Best Picture contender, Judi Dench has every ounce of support from the British voters in the Academy, and Amy Adams has been trending upward for a while now. But the fact remains that Cate Blanchett's performance was "that" good, and even director Woody Allen's recent controversies revolving around his step daughter's sexual allegations couldn't stop Blanchett from bringing home the golden statue.
Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Supporting Actor
In the past I've learned that sometimes it's good to go against the populous and stick with your gut instincts. I believed whole-heartedly that Christoph Waltz gave the finest Supporting performance in last year's Django Unchained. However, I conformed to the general consensus and missed a chance at accurately predicting the major upset. I have a similar feeling about Michael Fassbender this year, although I'm still going to throw my hat into the widely popular Jared Leto ring. I thought Leto gave a strong turn, but nowhere near the effect of Fassbender. So if the underdog from 12 Years a Slave ends up winning, give me the tiniest amount of credit.
Winner: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Supporting Actress
Like many others, I've bounced back and forth between one of the evening's tighter races featuring Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence. Although I personally loved June Squibb in Nebraska and I'm pulling for her to win the award, I give the edge to Nyong'o for multiple reasons. This being her debut performance makes for an excellent story and it's difficult to expect a film like 12 Years a Slave to take the Best Picture prize without winning a single acting category. And for as much as I love Lawrence in general, her fast-burning ascent into stardom could use a little cool-down.
Winner: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Other Winners Include ...
Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Cinematography: Gravity