I usually don’t pick Oscars but this year was pretty exceptional as to quality and how close this race really is in some categories, which makes it ever more difficult to pick a winner. Having seen all the films nominated, and all the performances nominated, I thought I would post some my choices on the five top categories. In each, I am listing whom I think will win and whom I really think deserves and/or would like to win. By late Sunday night we’ll know how it all turns out. And yes, feel free to list your own choices.
The Best Picture race is awfully tight. The two films most mentioned as potential victors are “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle.” Some folks mention “Gravity” but, like in most categories here, the opposition is tough and I don’t think it will get the votes. “Gravity” should do well in the special effects categories where it excels. “Captain Phillips” contains two excellent performances that are the film’s highlights, but overall, it is one of the lesser films of the nine on the list. The Scorsese directed film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is a brilliant black comedy, however it may be a little too wild for some of the Academy’s voters. My own personal choice for best film in 2013 is the Coen Brothers, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” a film that was completely snubbed in the major nominations. That leaves me with “Nebraska,” a superb, poignant tale of old age and father/son/family relationships, as my favorite film to win but will not.
Who Will Win: 12 Years a Slave.
My Favorite to Win but Will Not: Nebraska
Matthew McConaughey has the edge going in having won the Screen Actors Guild Award, always a good barometer for who will win the Oscar. However, there are five magnificent performances, and cases can be made for each of the nominees to win. For example, Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated five times and is long overdue. More importantly, he portrays real life Wall Street con artist Jordan Belfort with a fierce savageness filled with greed, arrogance and distain. Once again, as he did in “Django Unchained” and “Shutter Island,” he proves beneath his sweet looks there is a dark character begging to break out.
Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
My Favorite to Win but Will Not: Tie between Bruce Dern for “Nebraska” who delivers a role of a lifetime with Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
There are two sure bets in this year’s Oscars. One is Cate Blanchett will win Best Actress. She just about swept all other award presentations and is superb in Woody Allen’s comedy /drama “Blue Jasmine.” Amy Adams may have an outside shot, but I would not bet on it. Go Cate!
Who will Win: Cate Blanchett
My Favorite to Win and Will Win: Cate Blanchett
I am a believer that whatever film wins the Best Picture, its director should win Best Direction. It just seems organic, if you made the best film, you must have done a heck of job directing. That said, Steve McQueen should win in this category. Yet, the Oscars are given for many reasons. Alfonso Curon made the most complex intelligent, visually stunning, science fiction film since Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the Directors Guild awarded him win its annual prize. He spent years getting this film to the screen and deserves recognition for it film’s visual splendor and he will it.
Who Will Win: Alfonso Curon
My Favorite to Win and Will Not: Steve McQueen
Best Supporting Actor
Remember, I said earlier there are two sure bets this year. Well, Jared Leto has this category locked up for his excruciatingly heartfelt performance as a tranvestite in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Admittedly, Michael Fassbinder has an outside shot at upsetting Leto’s chances for his performance as a slave owner in “12 Years a Slave,” but I do not think that is going to happen.
Who Will Win: Jared Leto
My Favorite to Win and Will Win: Jared Leto
Best Supporting Actress
The two names in the lead are Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave” and Jennifer Lawrence of “American Hustle.” I am giving the edge to Nyong’o for her superb, sensitive performance. That said, do not rule Lawrence out simply because she won last year in this category for “Silver Lining Playbook”. As for the other nominees, Julia Roberts and Sally Hawkins for ”August: Osage County” and “Blue Jasmine,” respectively, will have to settle for it’s just nice to be nominated. The last nominee is June Squibb, for “Nebraska,” who you may not know, but has been around for years and has appeared in films like “Being Schmidt”, “Scent of a Woman” and “Meet Joe Black” as well as many, many TV shows. In “Nebraska” she had the role of a lifetime as Bruce Dern’s wife. She is not going to win, but I just wanted to give her a special mention.
Who Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Who Should Win and Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o