Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris

Best Actor
Bruce DernNebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaugheyDallas Buyers Club
Leonardo DiCaprioThe Wolf of Wall Street
Christian BaleAmerican Hustle

Christopher Schobert:

Let’s be honest. Four of the five nominees are deserving, and four of the five have a semi-legitimate shot. (Sorry, Christian Bale.) The most deserving of the five, honestly, are DiCaprio and Ejiofor. After seeing 12 Years at TIFF, I truly thought it would be Ejiofor’s to lose, but that’s highly unlikely. The winner should, then, be DiCaprio, who literally owns the screen in Wolf, giving the most searing, king-of-the-world performance of his career. He has never won, and Wolf is his finest hour. But … I don’t think his first win happens this year. Dern is wonderful in Nebraska, but this is likely a case of the nomination being the victory, and recognition of a unique career. (See also: Richard Farnsworth.) The obvious choice, then, is Matthew McConaughey. And who can truly be upset about that? He has been on fire for the last several years, he’s likable, he gives a great speech, he’s McConaugheyyyyyyyyy. He will win, and that’s fine. Honestly, I’d give it to him for “True Detective” if I could.

Chris’s pick: Matthew McConaughey

William Altreuter:

How many things can I find to disagree with you on in two paragraphs, Chris? First of all, if the Oscars were boring we wouldn’t be doing this. The Oscars are great. There are fewer and fewer appointment television moments in American culture, and the Academy Awards are, I’d say, one of the peaks of the season. I love the Super Bowl, but it provokes nothing like the pre- and post-program discussion that the Oscars do. And even if we think we know who the winners are going to be, I’m not the man who is going to go back over our picks in the past to debunk you—all I know is that I’m far from the Amazing Kreskin when it comes to handicapping these awards. Let’s see if I can change that this year. I liked Bruce Dern in Nebraska. Everybody who saw it did, but let’s face it, unless you are a huge Bruce Dern fan the likelihood that you saw it was pretty small. I hope a lot of people catch up with it. Christian Bale was solid in an ensemble cast, but I agree that this was not a Best Actor performance. I wonder if the Academy has the guts to give the award to Chiwetel Ejiofor. It would be cool if they did, and certainly Ejiofor’s performance merits it, but doesn’t it seem like this is an award that frequently acknowledges a body of work? If that’s the case then the two most probable winners would be either McConaughey or Leo. Matthew McConaughey is an interesting case. For quite a while I couldn’t understand what the point of McConaughey was beyond Dazed and Confused. If that was as good as it got then I reckoned we were really looking at a pretty one dimensional talent. And then, you are absolutely right, he ignited. I think about his performance in The Paperboy all the time, Magic Mike was terrific, he showed range in Tropic Thunderand I like The Lincoln Lawyer so much I teach it in my class. He has become someone that is exciting to watch pretty much every time. Dallas Buyer’s Club is a worthy movie, and a great performance. Leonardo DiCaprio consistently surprises me with how really good he is every time out, and Wolf looked to me like the sort of performance that we’ll talk about as career-defining years from now, the way that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was for Jack Nicholson.

Bill’s Pick: Leonardo DiCaprio

Jared Mobarak:

Can I hope the Academy somehow allows a write-in vote for Joaquin Phoenix in Her? I’m still reeling he didn’t get a nomination even though I was someone who thought post-American Hustle that Bale deserved a nod. Do I think that now in context with this group and the guys who missed out (Phoenix and a fantastic Michael B. Jordan from Fruitvale Station)? No. Star power wins again and David O. Russell gets his full house of acting nominees two years in a row.

So, crossing Bale off like both of you, it comes down to four guys. Dern is great, Nebraska was overrated, and the nomination is his victory. Ejiofor is a force that I’m glad to see is finally becoming a household name a decade after catching him in a blind buy DVD of Dirty Pretty Things, but I don’t think his gold statue arrives in 2013.

Again, it comes down to Leo and Matthew. If I were voting it would be Leo hands down. I’ve found him at the top of the industry for years now yet it’s hard to come up with a performance of his better than Wolf’s Belfort. I think he has a real chance and could be the biggest (unsurprising) surprise of the evening. But he didn’t lose any weight.

So, like Chris, I have to go with Leo’s Wolf co-star. A victory for Matthew would be the culmination of a McConaughssance I’ve personally had a blast watching. And it’s deserved too despite what detractors say about the performance being all about his rail thin physique. He carries Dallas Buyers Club on his slight shoulders (with help from my guaranteed Supporting Actor winner below) to turn what could have been a made for TV drama into an Oscar candidate itself.

Jared’s Pick: Matthew McCounaghey

Best Actress
Amy AdamsAmerican Hustle
Cate BlanchettBlue Jasmine
Judi DenchPhilomena
Sandra BullockGravity
Meryl StreepAugust: Osage County

Christopher Schobert:

The consensus, of course, is that Best Actress is Cate Blanchett’s to lose. In Blue Jasmine, she gives the finest performance an actress has ever given in a Woody Allen film. OH. Right. Woody Allen … Is it possible the reemergence of sexual abuse accusations could cost Blanchett the Oscar? Yes, absolutely. Of course, it also seems wildly inappropriate to even think about something as frivolous as the Oscars when questions of sexual abuse are on the table. In any event, I think Blanchett still takes it. She is well-liked and very respected, and in my eyes, her only real competitor here is Amy Adams. Bullock, Dench, and Streep are all very good. (Admittedly, I still have not seen August, but it’s Meryl Streep—I hear she’s an actress of some note.) But Amy Adams is an intriguing alternate choice. She gives the finest performance in Hustle, and it comes after a string of past performance that garnered Oscar noms (Doubt, The Master, The Fighter). She could take it. But she won’t, not this time.

Chris’s pick: Cate Blanchett

William Altreuter:

I hate the idea of the Academy Awards becoming a referendum on Woody Allen almost as much as I hate the idea that everyone seems to believe that they should have an opinion about Woody Allen vs. Mia Farrow. Cate Blanchett deserves better, even if I don’t quite agree that she gives the best performance an actress has ever given in a Woody Allen movie. How could you choose? Whatever else can be said about him, Allen gets consistently great performances out of actresses. (If it weren’t for Woody Allen would we only think of Mia Farrow as the star of Rosemary’s Baby?) Sandra Bullock was a solid pro in a two-person movie, and even though George Clooney sucks all of the air out of the room whenever he walks in she more than held her own. On the other hand, Gravity isn’t the sort of movie that wins a lot of prizes, and Bullock already has a statue. So does Streep. She’s about two wins away from them naming the award after her, but that win won’t come for August: Osage County which I haven’t seen either. Judi Dench, in Philomena is going to win. She is getting a big push—part of which includes prominent mention of the fact that she has never won over the course of a long and distinguished career. Plus she’s English. The Academy loves English—they think it classes things up. I haven’t seen Philomena either, but my mom says it’s swell.

Bill’s Pick: Judi Dench

Jared Mobarak:

Wow. I really like Bill’s sleeper pick here. I never would have thought it, but he makes a good point. She was prominently displayed in the Weinsteins’ campaign to get Philomena’s R reduced to a PG-13, the woman she portrays has had her own face in the spotlight at the Golden Globes and in print (love that open letter to Kyle Smith, who may be more reviled on Twitter than Woody Allen), and she’s Judi Dench. Why she won’t win, though? I have to believe the Weinsteins’ behind the scenes antics with voters has been pushing their other horse in the race: Meryl Streep.

I did see August and I liked it a lot. Streep is great and deserving of the nomination, but I really don’t see anyone caring enough to give their vote. She’s simply won too many times. It was a safe pick by the Academy and unfortunately stole praise from three other ladies I would have put in her place: Brie Larson, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Emma Thompson.

So whom does that leave? Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett. (Sandra Bullock is this category’s Bale. Her performance is solid, but no one remembers the acting after leaving Gravity. They just don’t.)

I’d love Adams to win. She’s the current Susan Lucci of the Oscars and seems primed to give Meryl a run for her money where nominations are concerned by the end of her career. The best part of Hustle—and not just because of her wardrobe—her Golden Globe may unfortunately be the end of the line.

If anyone uses their uninformed opinion about Allen’s scandal to not vote Blanchett, they are missing the point. Don’t vote for his screenplay if you can’t stand what he did/didn’t/may have/never would have done. Cate is brilliant in Blue Jasmine—everyone saw it and if they didn’t they know.

Jared’s pick: Cate Blanchett

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad AbdiCaptain Phillips
Bradley CooperAmerican Hustle
Jonah HillThe Wolf of Wall Street
Jared LetoDallas Buyers Club
Michael Fassbender12 Years a Slave

Christopher Schobert:

Sigh. Maybe I was wrong about surprises. It sure seems that way, especially when looking at Best Supporting Actor. Abdi, Cooper, and Hill are great actors and fascinating individuals, but they have no shot. Fassbender should have been nominated—and won—for Shame, and if there was a runner-up prize, he’d take it. But let’s be honest. Jared Leto will win. He gives a subtle, memorable performance in Dallas Buyers Club, he is attractive and smart, and he wins in a landslide.

Chris’s pick: Jared Leto

William Altreuter:

I have to agree with you here, Chris. Sometimes Best Actor in a Supporting Role is a lifetime achievement award, but that’s not how this field shakes down. In the universe of should-have-beens I’d like to put in a word for John Goodman’s performance in Inside Llewyn Davisa cracking good job that lifted the movie up and snapped it into focus. Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club is the sort of thing this prize exists to honor, and he will walk away with it

Bill’s pick: Jared Leto

Jared Mobarak:

Jared Leto is to Supporting Actor 2013 as Anne Hathaway was to Supporting Actress 2012. Slam-dunk.

Who’s missing: James Franco from Spring Breakers. Even if he were nominated, though, I’d still vote Leto. I said it after TIFF and haven’t changed my mind—he’s the heart of Dallas Buyers Club and possibly the best performance of 2013 as a whole.

Jared’s pick: Jared Leto

Best Supporting Actress
Sally HawkinsBlue Jasmine
Jennifer LawrenceAmerican Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o12 Years a Slave
June SquibbNebraska
Julia RobertsAugust: Osage County

Christopher Schobert:

Okay, now we’re getting interesting. Supporting Actress is a category in which anyone could win, although I would say Julia Roberts and Sally Hawkins are highly unlikely to do so. Therefore, it comes down to Lawrence, Squibb, and Nyong’o. Sadly, I think Squibb faces the same problems Dern does (lifetime achievement, nomination is the victory). Jennifer Lawrence is the most well-liked young star in Hollywood, but it feels like she won yesterday. That leaves Lupita Nyong’o, who is simply stunning in 12 Years. Her Patsy is the film’s most memorable character, the actress’s backstory is fascinating, and quite honestly, she deserves it. This is a rare instance in which the deserving party wins.

Chris’s pick: Lupita Nyong’o

William Altreuter:

Julia Roberts wins prizes when she plays roles that tone down her astonishingly attractive appearance, but she is too big a movie star—still—to win for August: Osage County. When my mom comes to visit maybe we’ll watch it, and maybe I’ll say, “Holy cats, she really deserved the prize!,” but I doubt it. Sally Hawkins was excellent in Blue Jasmine, but my hunch is that although Cate Blanchet may overcome the Woody Allen hex, she won’t. It is fun to think about Jennifer Lawrence’s career: She is a key player in two big franchise series (and is predictably great in both Hunger Games and as an X-Man) and she is every bit as good in her more serious roles. If she’d won for Winter’s Bone, which she very well could have, she would be off to a career start that would be without precedent. I’m excited by seeing what she will do next, but she won’t win this award. Lupita Nyong’o wins because (a) she was amazing; (b) 12 Years a Slave was amazing; (c) liberal Hollywood guilt will pick up some votes; and (d) Nyong’o is such an intriguing person. I have a hunch people will vote for her just because they are interested in hearing and seeing more of her.

Bill’s pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Jared Mobarak:

I too think this is Lupita Nyong’o’s to lose. Admittedly, I was a bit underwhelmed with how little screen time she had in 12 Years after all the hype, but boy does she pack a punch every second she’s onscreen. It’s a harrowing portrayal that’s harder to watch for the psychological abuse inflicted upon her than the physical. The only actress I liked better in the category this year was Squibb, but that upset would be astronomical.

Her only real competition is Jennifer Lawrence and J-Law’s Globe and BAFTA could mean things sway her way, but I hope not. She’s great in Hustle, but it’s less a performance and more a show. I believed her unhinged Rosalyn, but couldn’t help see her as little but comic relief in an already pretty funny film.

Also, Bill makes an interesting point about liberal guilt despite my naïve belief people will vote on talent and talent alone. And there were so many fantastic turns from black actresses this year too that missed their time in the spotlight. I’d remove J-Law and Roberts by popping in Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) every time.

Jared’s pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Best Adapted Screenplay
Before MidnightRichard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain PhillipsBilly Ray
PhilomenaSteve Coogan, Jeff Pope
12 Years a SlaveJohn Ridley
The Wolf of Wall StreetTerence Winter

Christopher Schobert:

Now things are heating up. The screenplay categories are so stacked that just about anyone COULD win. That’s rare, honestly. Take Adapted ScreenplayBefore Midnight was one of the most critically acclaimed smaller-scale films of the year. Captain Phillips was taut, tight, and tough. Philomena was adorable, and moving. 12 Years a Slave was shattering. And even those who had issues regarding The Wolf of Wall Street would likely salute its script. But I think we can cut Midnight and Philomena (sorry, Steve Coogan) from the likely-winners list. Too “small.” I have a disappointing feeling Wolf is going to get completely ignored this year, and the only way I could see it winning here is if—OMG—it sweeps the biggies. I just don’t see that happening. So that brings us to 12 Years a Slave and Captain Phillips. And even though I found the film fine, but unmemorable, Phillips is an intriguing pick. I think John Ridley’s script for 12 Years was marvelous, but I’m not sure folks praising the film are giving it enough attention. So I am saying Billy Ray wins in a bit of an upset for a script that at the very least is constructed with real intelligence. Not my choice. But I think it wins.

Chris’s pick: Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)

William Altreuter:

I always feel funny about the screenplay categories. What difference does it make if the work is adapted from a different source? It seems like a distinction that doesn’t need to be made, particularly when, as is the case here, I am unfamiliar with the original source material? It amounts to two bites of the apple for the screenwriters, since the award isn’t really about how well the material was adapted. My other problem is that I am pretty solidly an auteurist. What I see on the screen is what the director put there—most of the time—so evaluating the work of the screenwriters seems daunting to me. All that said, it seems to me that Philomena was a performance movie, not a writerly movie; likewise Captain Phillips. Swap out either lead for another equivalent actor and you have two entirely different movies. I don’t see Wolf of Wall Street running the table, but it’s a hell of a movie, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it win here. Before Midnight is the culmination of an amazing collaboration. It would be great to see it win, and it is the movie I’ll have my fingers crossed for, but I think that 12 Years a Slave is what will take it. 12 Years really is an important movie, and it is the kind of movie that people like to give awards to.

Bill’s Pick: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Jared Mobarak:

I do like the double screenplay categories if only to show that those in the adapted half didn’t come up with their story idea themselves. Yes, some who adapt their own novel/play/etc. would be exceptions, but for the most part the delineation helps showcase the original work’s creator(s) as well.

That said, why is Before Midnight here? Am I alone on this? Perhaps I missed the explanation in my internet travels? It’s a bona fide sequel so saying it’s an adaptation solely due to being based on characters Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke didn’t write is weird to me. But I guess from what I said above, this distinction does give Kim Krizan notice.

So I’m not even going to consider Midnight mostly due to what Chris said about it being too small. I’m throwing Captain Phillips out too because I see it as more a tit-for-tat between Hanks and Abdi like Bill.

I think Philomena and Wolf both have outside chances because it gives the former a chance at a win that I don’t think Dench will bring and the latter well-deserved praise for a fast-paced 3-hour film that’s consistently funny and entertaining throughout.

That leaves 12 Years a Slave and John Ridley if only because I believe those who decide not to vote it Best Picture will feel a need to give it something. And while the performances are great and McQueen directs the hell out of it, a lot of its success is in Ridley’s ability to distill a decade plus of time into the Cliff’s Notes of emotional horror that it is. I’d probably have voted it either way.

Jared’s pick: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Best Original Screenplay
American HustleEric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine: Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers ClubCraig Borten, Melisa Wallack
HerSpike Jonze
NebraskaBob Nelson

Christopher Schobert:

Damn! Another stunner of a category. Woody .. is not winning. And I don’t think that has anything to do with outside difficulties. Nebraska is, I think, seen more as Payne’s triumph than Nelson’s. The script for Dallas Buyers Club is one of its weakest elements, I think. So right away we’re down to two: Her and American Hustle. The Academy would love to award Spike Jonze, and feel as if it is doing something bold. And my goodness, it would be! The winner, I believe, will be American Hustle. Many have joked about the film’s script, but it is colorful and fun, and also awards David O. Russell, who has been close to an Oscar with his previous two films. I have had a theory for some time that Hustle could surprise us this year … Even if it does not, I think it wins this category.

Chris’s pick: American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)

William Altreuter:

An abundance of riches here—each of these were movies that I walked out thinking that I’d seen something really, really good. As with Philomena I think Nebraska is mostly about the performance of the lead. To some extent I think the same can be said of Dallas Buyer’s Club as well. Her, for me works as well as it does because of Spike Jonze’s direction, to the extent that the distinction can be made at all. If Blue Jasmine is going to be recognized it will be for Cate Blanchett’s performance. Woody may not be all that toxic in Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean that the Academy is going to fall all over itself for a guy who isn’t even going to show up to say thanks. American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell) is an easy pick, and I agree with you that it’ll win.

Bill’s Pick: American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)

Jared Mobarak:

Time for contrarian duties because I really think Her is going to take this. The direction and aesthetic are a huge part of why it was my personal favorite film of the year, but this category is Jonze’s only shot at victory. It’s such a fresh script, unlike anything else this year, and a sign of how good Spike is without the specter of Charlie Kaufman hanging over his work.

Success for Nebraska and Blue Jasmine has a lot to do with their central performances, but to me Dallas Buyers Club and American Hustle are even more so with their ensembles stealing the show. I do believe both Dallas and Hustle’s scripts are their weakest link, relying heavily upon the amazing actors bringing every word to life in a way you would not read off the page. Her is more: it’s a sci-fi tale you could read and feel every emotion, the heart, and its authenticity. Phoenix, et al., only make it better onscreen.

Jared’s pick: Her (Spike Jonze)

Best Director
American Hustle: David O. Russell
GravityAlfonso Cuarón
NebraskaAlexander Payne
12 Years a Slave: Steve McQueen)
The Wolf of Wall StreetMartin Scorsese

Christopher Schobert:

It is tricky, of course, to predict a different winner for Best Director and Best Picture. Most years see a sweep. But not all years — recall Soderbergh’s win for Traffic in the year of Gladiator, for example. I think this year’s Oscars will end in a similar fashion, with different winners for Director and Picture. But of the two, Director is the no-contest: Alfonso Cuarón takes this, and takes it easily. And despite my relatively mixed feelings regarding Gravity—it’s a good film, and a fantastic cinematic experience, but wildly overrated—I can certainly buy the argument that Cuarón is the year’s finest filmmaker. He crafted a giant, creative, complex monster of a film that was a critically acclaimed blockbuster. OF COURSE he’ll win.

Chris’s pick: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

William Altreuter:

Best Director/Best Picture splits were rare when the Best Picture field was smaller. Now that Best Picture has opened up a bit I expect that we will see an increasing divergence—even though I’m not exactly sure why that should be so. This does look like a good year for a split. What we have here are a terrific technical achievement in filmmaking (Gravity); three powerful social critiques (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street) and an idiosyncratic road picture (Nebraska). Of all of them the one I am most likely to go back to is American Hustle, and as a directorial accomplishment I think Russell did a fantastic job with a great cast. If I had a vote, that’s how I’d vote, but my hunch is that Hustle will split its support with Wolf. Wolf’s problem may be that it is a bit too strong for mainstream tastes—it is a pretty debauched movie. The Academy’s Director’s wing may not have a problem with that, but the at-large voters might. I don’t think it happens for Gravity because I have a theory that the Academy feels burnt by AvatarWith the benefit of hindsight Avatar was like a beautiful cake that turned out to be frosted Styrofoam, and I think the voters will stay away. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave wins this. It’s an opportunity to give a major prize to a person of color and to an Englishman, the film is certainly deserving, and everyone can feel high-minded about the award.

Bill’s Pick: 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

Jared Mobarak:

Ten films and only five directors is a sure-fire way to split more often than not and I too believe we’ll have it happen a second year in a row (poor Ben Affleck). My belief, however, hinges on my giving the Academy the benefit of the doubt that Gravity is not worthy of a Best Picture win. It’s just not. But like I said about Bullock’s mind-boggling inclusion at Best Actress, this spectacle is all about the entertainment value and sheer movie-going experience—two things credited to Alfonso Cuarón.

Just think about the time it took for him to get this thing off the ground. He waited years for the technology to catch-up, found a way to seamlessly integrate everything like he did with Children of Men, and quite honestly proves why he is one of the best directors working.

Payne has no shot and Scorsese won his (although for one of his least deserving films). Russell has an outside chance simply because he is Hollywood’s new darling and someone who knows how to work a cast, but to me McQueen is the only one who can give Cuarón a run for his money. The reason he won’t, though, is because everyone should (and I think will) give 12 Years the big prize. How do you praise Gravity? Give Alfonso his due.

Jared’s pick: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Best Picture
American HustleCharles RovenRichard SuckleMegan EllisonJonathan Gordon
Captain PhillipsScott RudinDana BrunettiMichael De Luca
Dallas Buyers ClubRobbie BrennerRachel Winter
Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
Her: Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay
NebraskaAlbert BergerRon Yerxa
PhilomenaGabrielle TanaSteve CooganTracey Seaward
12 Years a SlaveBrad PittDede GardnerJeremy KleinerSteve McQueenAnthony Katagas
The Wolf of Wall Street: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Tillinger KoskoffJoey McFarland, Martin Scorsese

Christopher Schobert:

And so it ends, with an interesting group of nine films. Captain Phillips, Philomena, Her, and Nebraska won by being nominated; they stand no chance. If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have called Dallas Buyers Club a serious contender, but as time has passed its status as an actors’ film has cemented. And so we come to American Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street. I think Wolf was the best film of the year, but it ain’t winning here. 12 Years a Slave is a stunner that still makes me shake—it might win. But I just don’t see it having the widespread support a film on a “difficult” subject like slavery needs. Gravity might win, too. It’s a hit, and a big one, and made people go to the movies. But for some time now, I have had a feeling that American Hustle hits voters just right. It’s fun. It’s light. It plays well at the theater or at home. It has a killer cast and a director on fire. And it could have been made at any point in the last three or four decades. It is timeless in an unthreatening way. I loved it, and I think the Academy does, too.

Chris’s pick: American Hustle

William Altreuter:

The Academy has nothing to be ashamed of with this line-up. I’d say Nebraska is a bit of an outlier, but if it had been released last year couldn’t you see it giving Silver Linings Playbook a run for its money? Her might be one of the worst date-night movies ever (or maybe one of the best?) but it was provocative and engaging and very much of its moment. In other years I can imagine Philomena sneaking in too. Perhaps it isn’t my cup of meat, but there is no disputing the quality of it, and I expect it will be the sort of movie that people come back to. Captain Phillips is the movie I’d swap out for something else—the under-rated Spring Breakers perhaps, or more realistically, Before Midnight. You know what would be good to see on the list? Wolf, it seems to me, is a half-bubble off from mainstream tastes. Some of the luster does seem to have come off Dallas Buyer’s Club, as much as I liked and admired it. I wonder about 12 Years a Slave—indisputably great, how many people are ever going to put themselves through the experience of watching it a second time? I’m with you on this pick, Chris: American Hustle works on so many levels. For me it was a thrill just knowing that I don’t have to worry about having that hair.

Bill’s Pick: American Hustle

Jared Mobarak:

I’ll be honest, so much comes out every year that I very rarely revisit anything—even my favorites. Heck, I don’t even buy DVDs unless it’s a Criterion Collection entry or a TV set anymore. So to think about this award in terms of what voters would want to watch again is a tough sell. To me it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the piece that hit them hardest or close-to hardest if the former already scooped up its fair share of gold.

With that said, NebraskaHerPhilomena, and Captain Phillips are out. And in all honesty, I think they would have been out had Oscar only been doing five films. Of what’s left, Dallas is too much about the actors like Chris said and Wolf is way too debauched like Bill explained. So it’s down to three for me.

Gravity is something that has absolutely no replay value at home unless you have a Barney Stinson-sized TV in your house. It is an accomplishment for cinema like Avatar was before it and I believe it will suffer the same fate. American Hustle will give a tight race and could easily come out on top, especially with Silver Linings lovers still sore about it getting upset last year. Russell is the wild card, but I still don’t think it’s his year.

Like so many of the lead-up ceremonies that ignored it for everything but Best Picture, this is 12 Years a Slave’s award to lose. I think the Academy has embraced the idea of rewarding as much work as possible and unless Lupita secures her trophy this is McQueen’s critical darling’s last chance. It will be close, but I think everyone’s favorite coming out of TIFF will pull it off.

Jared’s pick: 12 Years a Slave

One Thought to “Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards”

  1. […] honestly one of the few things that make the Oscars entertaining every year. That and the yearly Buffalo Spree prediction sessions with Christopher Schobert and William Altreuter of which I was eight for eight […]

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