Well, this is it! We’re in the home stretch of that star-studded, gold-plated marathon called Awards Season, and the finish line is finally in sight: the Academy Awards are this Sunday, and then, just like that, it will all be over.
And after a steady pace of winners collecting trophies at awards shows like the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild (among many others), it may seem like a foregone conclusion who will reign supreme at the Oscars, right?
Well, when it comes to the acting, writing and directing categories, yes. But when it comes to Best Picture, it’s a three-way horse race between the groundbreaking space disaster epic “Gravity,” the ‘70s-set heist dramedy “American Hustle” and the unflinching drama “12 Years a Slave.”
That means millions of viewers watching around the world will have to wait until the bitter end to see the big winner, but then again, last-minute nail-biters like this are what make watching the Oscars so much fun.
So on that note, here are my predictions for who should win (and will win!) on Hollywood’s biggest night:
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Nominees: “American Hustle,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska”
And the Oscar will go to: When it comes to an “original” screenplay, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more worthy contender than “Her,” the beautiful, deeply moving and wildly imaginative love story written and directed by Spike Jonze.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Nominees: “Before Midnight,” “Captain Phillips,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”
And the Oscar will go to: “12 Years a Slave” seems to have lost a bit of momentum in the Best Picture category, but its staying power here is assured due to John Ridley’s powerful and uncompromising screenplay.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Nominees: Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”), June Squibb (“Nebraska”)
And the Oscar will go to: Lupita Nyong’o made a smashing feature film debut as an abused slave in “12 Years a Slave.” That gives her an edge (albeit, a small one) over Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle,” and the Academy tends to favor newcomers in this category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”), Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle”), Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”), Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
And the Oscar will go to: After taking a five-year break from acting to focus on being a rock star with his band 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto made the comeback of a lifetime with a daring performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” that was both physically and emotionally devastating.
The Nominees: Amy Adams (“American Hustle”), Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”), Judi Dench (“Philomena”), Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”)
And the Oscar will go to: Cate Blanchett justifiably won every single award that she was nominated for as a former New York socialite who loses everything, including her sanity in “Blue Jasmine.”. It’s quite simply the stuff that great performances are made of.
The Nominees: Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
And the Oscar will go to: Chiwetel Ejiofor was the early awards season favorite for his powerful performance as a kidnapped free man who was sold into slavery, but Matthew McConaughey gained momentum for his transformative turn as a small-time hustler who goes around the medical system to help AIDS patients, including himself. It’s a career-capping performance from McConaughey in an “all right, all right, all right” year that also saw stellar turns in “Mud,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the HBO TV series “True Detective.”
The Nominees: David O. Russell (“American Hustle”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)
And the Oscar will go to: No one can touch Alfonso Cuaron, who waited seven years to develop the technology to make the groundbreaking, awe-inspiring 91-minute thrill ride known as “Gravity.”
The Nominees: “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”
And the Oscar will go to: “12 Years a Slave” was an early frontrunner, and it still has the edge as the year’s most powerful movie. But “Gravity” was a trailblazing, out-of-this-world nail-biter, and it’s the highest-grossing movie of the bunch. So will the Academy vote for the important movie, or will it vote for the crowd-pleaser? Or will they split the vote, allowing “American Hustle” to sneak through? I’m going with “Gravity,” a movie with a capital “M” that I saw in theaters four times.
-- Scott Mantz
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