Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Oscar Predictions

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86th Academy Awards — Predictions

In just a few hours, the 86th Academy Awards will begin and another year in film will come to a close. Much like I did last year, this year I will also be predicting who will win the big prizes and walk away with the golden statue. Unlike last year where I was able to see all nine nominees before the ceremony, this year I’ve only managed to see eight of the nine nominees for Best Picture (Nebraska was the only one I missed). My predictions are two-fold: Most Deserving and Most Likely. Most Deserving is my personal choice for what I thought was the best nominee in a category. For a category where I haven’t seen any nominees (like Best Foreign Film or Best Documentary Short) I’ll list it as N/A. Most Likely are the choices I would put down on an official ballot if I’m trying to see how I compare to the actual winners. The reason I differentiate between the two is I know the way the Academy votes and what other people think was the best film (or the best performance, etc.) doesn’t always align with what I think is best.

Last year I predicted 17 out of 24 correct (71%) in terms of “Most Likely” and actually did better with my personal “Most Deserved” predictions (18 out of 24, or 75%). I’m curious to see how my predictions for this year turn out, especially in a race for Best Picture that is even closer than the battle between Argo, Life of Pi, and Lincoln was last year.


BEST PICTURE

Film
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

Most Deserving: Gravity

Most Likely: 12 Years a Slave

Why: One thing that everyone agrees on is that no one knows who is walking home with the Oscar for Best Picture tonight. The two clear frontrunners are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave with some upsets including American Hustle and Her. As I mentioned in my review for 12 Years a Slave, this is the “safe” choice for the Academy to choose. No science fiction film has ever won Best Picture in the at least the last thirty years and the last fantasy film to win was The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King a decade ago in 2003. Historical and biographical films, like 12 Years a Slave, on the other hand have had great representation including wins for Argo and The King’s Speech in addition to nominations for many others like Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, and The Blind Side.

My personal favorite has always been Gravity since the moment the credits started to roll and I stepped foot out of the theater. It was a cinematic experience like none other and shows just how entertaining original material can be and why you should still see films in theaters instead of at home on your TV, or even worse, your phone screen. Many have complained about a horrible script with poor dialogue and plot holes including breaking several key laws of physics. That may be true, but at least for me, I never once thought about those issues until after I saw the film because I was so lost in the moment by what was happening, so engrossed and tense that I couldn’t even think about that; all I could pay attention to was what was happening on screen at that very moment.

Another one of my personal favorites, Her, was easily the best character film of the year. Where Gravity excelled because of it’s awe and amazement and it’s ability to draw you into a theater, Her invited you to take a step back and look inside yourself and what it means to love. Spike Jonze showed how some in Hollywood are still able to be original and how a futuristic setting can give us a more accurate look at what our society is like and what that means for us. Sadly, this probably won’t get any recognition from the Academy although I can only hope it scores a win for screenplay.

While no one knows for sure who is going to win and the back and forth continues to be between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, there seems to be a slight edge for 12 Years a Slave. Despite Gravity being the frontrunner for many of the earlier awards (like the Directors Guild Award and the Producers Guild Award —for which it tied with 12 Years a Slave — and the Academy Award for Best Director), 12 Years a Slave is poised to take home the Best Picture award. The reason being is that Academy voting and its preferential system may favor 12 Years a Slave. It is an incredible film, deserving of its Best Picture nomination and my pick for a handful of other Oscars tonight, but only time will tell whether it can nab the top prize, or whether Gravity or some other contender snaps it up.


BEST DIRECTOR

Director Film
Alfonso Cuarón Gravity
Steve McQueen 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne Nebraska
David O. Russell American Hustle
Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street

Most Deserving: Alfonso Cuarón

Most Likely: Alfonso Cuarón


BEST ACTOR

Actor Film
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

Most Deserving: Matthew McConaughey

Most Likely: Matthew McConaughey


BEST ACTRESS

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

Most Deserving: Judi Dench

Most Likely: Cate Blanchett


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Actor Film
Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper American Hustle
Michael Fassbender 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club

Most Deserving: Jared Leto

Most Likely: Jared Leto


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Actress Film
Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o 12 Years a Slave
Juila Roberts August: Osage County
June Squibb Nebraska

Most Deserving: Lupita Nyong’o

Most Likely: Lupita Nyong’o


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Film
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Most Deserving: Frozen

Most Likely: Frozen


BEST FOREIGN FILM

Film Country
The Broken Circle Breakdown Belgium
The Great Beauty Italy
The Hunt Denmark
The Missing Picture Cambodia
Omar Palestine

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: The Great Beauty


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Film Writer(s)
American Hustle Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Her Spike Jonze
Nebraska Bob Nelson

Most Deserving: Her

Most Likely: Her


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Film Writer(s)
12 Years a Slave John Ridley
Before Midnight Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips Billy Ray
Philomena Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
The Wolf of Wall Street Terence Winter

Most Deserving: 12 Years a Slave

Most Likely: 12 Years a Slave


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Film
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman

Most Deserving: 12 Years a Slave

Most Likely: The Great Gatsby


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Song Film
“Alone, Yet Not Alone” Alone Yet Not Alone
“Happy” Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” Frozen
“The Moon Song” Her
“Ordinary Love” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Most Deserving: “Let It Go”

Most Likely: “Let It Go”


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Film
The Book Thief
Gravity
Her
Philomena
Saving Mr. Banks

Most Deserving: Gravity

Most Likely: Gravity


BEST DOCUMENTARY

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

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: 20 Feet From Stardom


BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

Film
“CaveDigger”
“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life


BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Film
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Most Deserving: Dallas Buyers Club

Most Likely: Dallas Buyers Club


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Film
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her

Most Deserving: Her

Most Likely: The Great Gatsby


BEST FILM EDITING

Film
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity

Most Deserving: 12 Years a Slave

Most Likely: Gravity

Why: Many signs point to Gravity winning the award for Best Film Editing. It’s one of the close contenders for Best Picture (which is typically a good indicator of Best Editing as well — sixteen of the last twenty Best Picture winners have also won Best Film Editing) and is also a shoe in for many of the technical awards as well (like cinematography and possibly sound). Despite my affection for Gravity, I wouldn’t say the editing was the best part about the film; the cinematography is a much more important player in the film. Looking at the other nominees, the two that stick out are Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave. Captain Phillips won the Eddie Award for dramatic editing and therefore has a good chance to upset at the Academy Awards (guild awards are usually a good indicator of who will win). While I did enjoy the editing in Captain Phillips and editor Chris Rouse does a good job at bringing out the tension and suspense in director Paul Greengrass’ documentary style of shooting (Rouse won the Academy Award in 2007 for his work on another Greengrass film, The Bourne Ultimatum), I had many problems with the editing on a larger scale; how the film worked as a whole. To me, Captain Phillips felt like three very distinct sections of pre-boarding, boarding, and post-boarding the ship. So that leaves 12 Years a Slave as my pick for Most Deserving. Here the editing played a much bigger role and was very well done. 12 Years a Slave also had many long takes, but unlike Gravity there was some variety so the editor Joe Walker’s choice of when he used them was more purposeful. As a whole, 12 Years a Slave also felt divided into separate sections (pre-kidnapping, first master, and second master) but these sections worked much better together and fed off of each other to build up to a powerful ending. All this being said, I decided on Gravity for Most Likely, but Captain Phillips does seem poised for an upset.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Film
The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

Most Deserving: Gravity

Most Likely: Gravity


BEST SOUND EDITING

Film
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Most Deserving: Gravity

Most Likely: Gravity

Why: Sound is the biggest part about Gravity even with all of its wonderful visuals and stunning long takes. Without the sound done the way it was, Gravity probably would have been much worse and fallen into the trap of the countless other space films out there. Instead they decided to go with realism and muffle all the sound effects (as there is no sound in space; the muffled sounds exist in the film as vibrations through interacting with the objects like the ISS). Lone Survivor blew me away with sound as well and is another film that would be entirely different had the sound been any less. While this put up a fight for my Most Deserving slot, I decided to stick with Gravity just because of the sheer scale and importance sound played in the film. Any different and the film would have changed drastically, and for a film where sound is that important, it should win the award.


BEST SOUND MIXING

Film
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Most Deserving: Inside Llewyn Davis

Most Likely: Gravity

Why: The sound categories are some of the most varied awards at the Oscars because it always seems to be changing. A few years ago I read that editing and mixing usually go to the same film since the voters don’t understand the difference (and for the 82nd, 83rd, and 84th Academy Awards that was true). But then I learned the difference (editing is more about the post-production side, mixing is on-set during production) and there was the tie between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty last year for Best Sound Editing which has me rethinking my thoughts on the same film winning Best Sound Editing and Mixing. While I did find a few sites pointing towards Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor as possible upsets here, most still point towards Gravity as winning the award. Again, sound plays a vital role in that film and without it, Gravity would be completely different. But knowing the the sound for Inside Llewyn Davis was all recorded on set (exactly like Les Misérables — which won Best Sound Mixing — was) has me choosing the Coen brothers film as my Most Deserving.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Film
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Most Deserving: Gravity

Most Likely: Gravity


BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Film
“Feral”
“Get a Horse!”
“Mr. Hublot”
“Possessions”
“Room on the Broom”

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: “Get a Horse!”


BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Film
“Aquel no era yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
“Avant que de tout perdre (Just Before Losing Everything”
“Helium”
“Pitääkö mun kaikki hoitaa? (Do I have to Take Care of Everything)”
“The Voorman Problem”

Most Deserving: N/A Most Likely: “Avant que de tout perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)”