I’ve always wondered what other families talk about around the dinner table. Does the conversation consist of current events, philosophical debates, and pop culture trivia? Or, is it merely a recap of one another’s day? Whatever it may be, I am convinced that my family is an anomaly. For as long as I can remember, the conversation has revolved around the one thing – The Academy Awards. In fact, the Awards have strengthened our relationships with one another through the establishment of various familial traditions such as movie theatre excursions, annual betting pools, and our very own holiday–the Oscar Jubilee. My younger brother Steve, a kind of “Oscars” clairvoyant, even began to offer his services, for a small fee of course, to neighbours and friends who were participating in their own Academy Award wagers.
I guess being the sister to a self-proclaimed “Oscar expert” has its perks, since Steve has recently decided to educate me on the art of Oscar predicting. And it truly is an art. “Initial predictions begin three weeks after the previous season ends,” he divulged, “but it’s in October when things start to get serious.” After flipping through his box containing nine years worth of Oscar-related documents, I finally understood how the Oscars became a family dinner preoccupation. Without further ado, it is with his expertise and my own two cents that I bring you: The Bull & Bear’s Unofficial Academy Award Predictions! And, if you are not as dedicated to the cause, at least you’ll get some first-rate movie recommendations from the list.
This year, the nominees for Best Picture are extraordinarily diverse. From a sci-fi that stars Miss Congeniality floating in space to Joaquin Pheonix’s love affair with his operating system, nine films have been recognized for their extraordinary merit but there are three that stand out from the list: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. All three films have been endowed with the sought after “Best Picture”-title in previous ceremonies like the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) which is often a telling sign of what to expect at the Oscars. Hustle had one of the most powerful cast ensembles to date with every actor holding their own against Christian “the chameleon” Bale. Since the majority of voters in the Academy consist of fellow actors, this dream team might be rewarded for their incredible performance.
On the other hand, if voters are basing their decision on the movie experience as a whole, Gravity is a shoe-in. The space-themed sci-fi is a visual masterpiece for which the special effects took three years to produce. Not to mention that special-effects enthusiasts, who are still recovering from Avatar’s controversial loss to The Hurt Locker back in 2009, will likely campaign for Gravity to win. Both films have been critically acclaimed for pushing the boundaries in cinema due to their exceptional images and 3D graphics.
Despite these two worthy choices, I am putting my faith in 12 Years a Slave. It is difficult to fathom that the heart-wrenching events that occur in the film actually took place only 170 years ago. Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes, the guy from Love Actually) and Lupita Nyong’o’s superb performances in their roles as abused slaves made the appalling events even more powerful to witness. Although all three films are equally deserving of the title, the political message relayed in 12 Years is more likely to resonate with and have a lasting effect on voters than Hustle or Gravity.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
This was Jennifer Lawrence’s year. She started 2013 by winning the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook – successfully avoiding being forever pigeonholed as Katniss Everdeen – and aside from Beyonce, she is probably the most beloved celebrity thanks to her killer one-liners. Alas, such accomplishments could actually prevent her from winning the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in American Hustle. Given that she just won an Oscar last year (at 22 years old, no less), it’s unlikely that her peers will give her the vote for a second win. Instead, look out for 12 Years’ Lupita Nyong’o. The soft-spoken Kenyan actress already took home the SAG which indicates that her fellow actors greatly admired her performance. Nyong’o has also hit every best-dressed list since the film’s debut, causing her to become Hollywood’s most recent “It girl”.
Best Actor in a Support Role
The Best Supporting Actor award will undeniably go to Jared Leto for his transformative role as a transsexual suffering from AIDs in Dallas Buyers Club. You might as well give him the Oscar now.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
I am fairly certain that Cate Blanchett will win the Best Actress title. It seems as if the sole purpose of Woody Allen’s drama Blue Jasmine was to showcase her ability to portray a wide array of emotions. It is an understatement to say that Blanchett carries the film. There is a slight chance that Amy Adams (American Hustle) may steal the award, as she has yet to win despite her fives nominations. For those in a betting pool however, I do not recommend putting my money on her.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
At last, we have the final and most difficult category to predict – Best Actor in a Leading Role. Unlike the previous groups, the race is still extremely tight and thus it has proven difficult to commit to a prediction. I must admit that I am completely biased in this category. I, like most people, have been waiting for Leonardo DiCaprio to win an Academy Award since bawling my eyes out in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. This year the actor is nominated for his portrayal of white-collar convict Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Sadly, it appears that the Academy has an unjustified hatred against Leo, as he has yet to win an Oscar despite several nominations. The heated debate on the actor most deserving of the 2007 title (Leo in Blood Diamond or actual winner Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland) is an ever lasting argument in my family. While the entire Twittersphere and I are rooting for Leo, my trusty Oscar expert insists that Matthew McConaughey will once again send Leo home empty handed. Indeed, McConaughey has become Hollywood’s very own Cinderella, transforming from a washed up Rom-Com amateur to a versatile leading man. His notable return to the movie business this year, especially in his role as a homophobic AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, have impressed audiences everywhere.
Alfonso Cuarón already took home the top prize at the Director’s Guild of America Ceremony (DGAs). His masterpiece Gravity—comprised of only 156 cuts (a typical feature has about 5000)—illustrates that art film can also be a box-office hit. Cuarón is likely preparing and rehearsing his Oscar acceptance speech as we speak.
Remember to tune in to the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd. My family and I will be bingeing on cheap Chinese food as we tally our ballots and I encourage you to do the same. Let the countdown begin!