2014 Oscar Predictions – Ben’s Picks

Best Actress

Amy Adams American Hustle
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock Gravity
Judi Dench Philomena
Meryl Streep August: Osage County

Will win: Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine

Should win:Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine Movie Still 2 Cate Blanchett & Andrew Dice Clay

Analysis: This is no contest, Cate Blanchett has won pretty most of the critic awards as well as the Critics’ Choice Award, the SAG, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. At this point, unless some hideous scandal hits her at the last moment. I do not see how she can lose.

Personal Bias: This is no contest for me, either, with this weak bunch of nominees. After last year having such strong female performances, it is a shame that the trend didn’t continue. Streep was over the top for me, Adams (See Supporting Actor), Dench was fine, but did nothing special, and Bullock was hamstrung by a script that didn’t giver her character enough room to be interesting beyond the action around her. My personal ballot would have been Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks, Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine, Brie Larson Short Term 12, Adèle Exarchopoulos Blue is the Warmest Color, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Enough Said. The good news is the Academy did nominate the person who would win on my personal ballot. Cate Blanchett has been great before and will continue to be so, but this was a different level for me. Her comedic timing is great combined with her ability to switch from spoiled socialite to mentally ill women to unbearably horrible person, all while still being sympathetic, nonetheless is remarkable to see. If she does not win it will be a miracle and a travesty at the same time.

Best Actor

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

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club Movie Still 1 - Matthew McConaughey & Jared Leto

Analysis: After the critic awards seemed to be hinting at Chiwetel Ejiofor or Bruce Dern early on, the momentum swung to Matthew McConaughey, winning the Globe, the Critics’ Choice award, and the SAG. His film did better than expected, as mentioned with Jared Leto, and he is also currently on TV every week with True Detective continually reminding us how great he is.

Personal Bias: This was not clear cut for me, personally. I wanted Robert Redford to win for his haunting minimalist performance in All is Lost. With him not here, though, it made things tougher. Bale was out (see Supporting Actor) and I never got what the fuss was about Bruce Dern. So I was torn between Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey. If any of these three wins, it will be a worthy choice. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the center through which we see the events of 12 Years a Slave. Leonardo DiCaprio is impossible to look away from in Wolf of Wall Street, just radiating charisma and showing the darkness and appealing aspects of his lifestyle. Matthew McConaughey wins by a hair partially because whenever he wins it feels right to me. Not the most analytical of reasons, but whenever I put someone else in the “should win” category it doesn’t work. Maybe the momentum for him has gotten to me or True Detective is influencing me. Still, he gives a a physical and emotional performance of a man suffering with AIDS that sinks in and is hard to let go of. He gave it his all and that is enough for me.

Best Documentary

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Will Win: The Act of Killing

Should Win: The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing Movie Still 1
Analysis: The awards have been divided. The BAFTA went to The Act of Killing, the Critics’ Choice went to 20 Feet from Stardom, and the DGA went to The Square. So the big question is, where will the Academy’s mood take it? The last few years, really dark subject matter has not done well in this category, which would speak well for 20 Feet from Stardom, but then again, usually the winner is very clear because it has won most of the awards and attention of the year . So I am going with The Act of Killing, since it is the most acclaimed documentary this year and has the most attention, though an upset here would not surprise me.

Personal Bias: This is a category I do not usually look at, mainly because I haven’t seen enough of the nominees. But this year, I have seen them all, so Ithought I should weigh in. First, the absence of Stories We Tell, is criminal. Okay, having said that, really I find it hard to give this to anyone but The Act of Killing. Cutie and the Boxer was fine, but not that deep or insightful. Dirty War’s narrative had structural issues and a harder time getting its information across in a way that I found compelling. 20 Feet from Stardom, I think, is overrated, not really getting at any major points and all over the place in its narrative. The Square was well made and got into the heart of Egypt’s protest since Mubarak lost power. Still, nothing came close to the raw, unflinching look The Act of Killing had interviewing killers free in Indonesia to explain and act out their own atrocities. It was beautifully compiled to get as close a look at monsters that I have ever seen.


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Benjamin is a film connoisseur and Oscar watcher who lives in Minneapolis and, when not reviewing movies, works at the Hennepin County Library.

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