Who’s Who and What’s What at the Oscars

The first Oscar ceremony I ever watched was in 2003 when I was 10 years old. Billy Crystal was the host and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was the big winner that year. Even at that age, I was in love with films for reasons other than they were entertainment. Films were, and are, for me an escape but at the same time taught me so much about life. Before people wind up in a diabetic coma from sentiment-overload, I’ll simply say that the Academy Awards are a momentous thing for a film lover like myself. Every year I stay up until the early hours of the morning watching the ceremony being broadcast live from Hollywood and frankly, it’s as thrilling as Christmas is for me. Also, much like Christmas, each year I become more aware of the tacky and superficial aspects of the event…but it still doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. Because if you can look past the self-aggrandizing presenters, questionable hosts (I think we all know who I mean) and backstage bribery, it’s this incredible event where countless renowned names in the world of film come together and celebrate the art form. If this was Oscar speech, now’s about the time they’d begin playing the music, so without further delay, here are my predictions for the eight most competitive categories.

Actor in a supporting role

I’d say Jared Leto for his role in Dallas Buyer’s Club is the favourite to win. He took home the award at the Golden Globes, which is normally (not always I concede) a pretty good indicator. Personally, I’m rooting for Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave, for his role as a ruthless and mentally unstable slave driver. In fairness though, I’ve not yet seen Dallas Buyer’s Club, so I’m speaking as an admirer of Fassbender and am not making the claim one performance is more deserving than another.

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Actress in a supporting role

Jennifer Lawrence might just succeed in doing what only two previous actors have done before her and win two Oscars in a row. Last year for Silver Linings Playbook and then this year for American Hustle, both films directed by David O’Russell. I’m a big fan of Lawrence. She’s a tremendous actress and a great role model but I’m not sure her performance in American Hustle, brilliantly comedic as it is, should win her another just yet. My personal vote is for Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave.

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Best adapted screenplay

This is a tricky one, but I’m going to play it safe and go with John Ridley, writer of 12 Years a Slave. Not that I wouldn’t love to see Terrence Winter claiming the Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best original screenplay

This is another difficult one. Spike Jonze’s Her is looking a likely favourite to win. Granted, I’ve yet to see the film but from what I know of it and Spike Jonze’s other work it seems a worthy winner. Based on the films I have seen, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Eric Warren Singer and David O’Russell for American Hustle.

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Best Actress in a leading role

I’d say it’s between Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Amy Adams for American Hustle, both actresses I admire very much. Woody Allen seems to have a knack for writing Oscar winning roles for women. He also has a great knack for casting as Blanchett’s performance as Jasmine proves. It may be evident I’m a little American Hustle-biased because once again I’m going to give it my vote. Amy Adams has consistently proved herself a versatile and skilled actress in roles ranging from light-hearted (Julie and Julia) to heavy (Doubt). American Hustle is another in a line of great performances. As an aside, I would like to take this opportunity to vent my anger that Emma Thompson was not nominated for Saving Mr Banks. That amazing film has been shamefully omitted from many categories.

Best Actor in a leading role

This is a three horse race, or two horses and a wolf if you will. I’ll come out and say I am backing the wolf. Not in any way to diminish Chiwetel Ejiofor’s great performance in 12 Years a Slave but ultimately Leonardo DiCaprio deserves the award not just for his wicked performance as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, but as a long overdue acknowledgement as one of the finest actors of our time. I have a horrible feeling Matthew McConaughay might just triumph though. Seriously Oscar, does one decent performance cancel out the dark years of Failure to Launch and Fool’s Gold? Please give the award to Leo.

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Best Director

I would love if underdog David O’Russell won this but I think it’s between Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity and Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. Cuaron took home the Golden Globe award for direction but I’m going to go with Steve McQueen. Gravity absolutely must win for cinematography though.

Best Picture

I reckon the sensible prediction is 12 Years a Slave. Although Gravity and American Hustle are not foolish bets either. In terms of memorability and cinematic experience, I’m going to make things interesting and give my personal vote to Gravity.

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