Last year, when I was studying abroad in Kenya: I was doing statistics and modeling stuff I didn’t understand about science stuff I didn’t care about, and the Oscars were the next day. As a result, instead of doing stupid science and not understanding it, I wrote a blog post about the Oscars – who I wanted to win, who I thought would win. I was actually pretty accurate I think.
Today, I find myself in the same place mentally if not physically (no, I’m not in Kenya, although part of me wishes I were. The part that doesn’t mind being pooped on by bats and getting silenced by moths in the bathroom).
SO, in lieu of “thesis,” I’m going to write a post about the Academy Awards. Bold is who/what I think will win. Italics is who/what I want to win. I’m going to start this off by saying this was an AMAZING YEAR IN FILM. Seriously. Some years, the nominees are like bleh… and there’s a clear stand out. Not this year. I feel like in every category it could honestly go to at least two or three of the nominees. Enjoy:
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
So, of the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen all but Nebraska and Philomena. I liked all of them. They were all thoroughly enjoyable, but 12 Years a Slave, unlike something like American Hustle or The Wolf of Wall Street MATTERS. I don’t want to pull the race slavery card but I’m going to because I think it MATTERS; that we should still talk about this shit and that’s what this movie does. I’m a story heavy person when it comes to how good or bad a movie is because I think most movies of high quality have things like acting and visuals so what matters to me is what a movie is saying with its story. Those are the best movies – the movies you watch and then talk about: “OK, what did that mean? Do I feel differently after watching this?” There’s so much in the Solomon character and the actions he does and doesn’t do when. There’s so much FEELING IN EVERY FRAME OF THAT FILM. The truth is, none of the other Best Picture nominees I watched made me think anything too deeply. American Hustle took home the Golden Globe for Best Picture Comedy, but it didn’t elicit any meaningful discussion between my friends and myself besides, “wow that was good acting.” 12 Years a Slave has won the GGlobe, BAFTA, and Independent Spirit Award. If 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win, it might lose to Gravity – which seems to be making a push in the media as of late, probably because of it’s BAFTA win as Best British Film – or American Hustle. But really it should just win.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett has won the Golden Globe, SAG, Independent Spirit Award, and BAFTA. Usually when shit like that happens it’s in the bag. I’ve seen four of the five performances (no Philomena so no Judi Dench, remember), and frankly I think my pick would have to be Meryl Streep in August: Osage County. I think at a certain point, because Meryl Streep has won, like, a bazillion times, her standard for winning is just so much higher than everyone else’s. Like, in order for people to say Meryl Streep deserves an Oscar she needs to rise up to a higher standard than other people. However, Cate Blanchett was also really awesome in Blue Jasmine. I mean, her performance carried the movie. That ending is so powerful; it sticks with you and it’s Cate Blanchett that’s able to do that. But Meryl has a similar crazy person ending! I just think Meryl’s character was way more intense difficult to pull off. But since it’s Meryl Streep, she does it.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
I think Matthew McConaughey should’ve been nominated for his supporting role in Magic Mike, but maybe that’s just me. I think it took people a while to recognize that he’s a legit good actor. Anyway, this seems pretty open and shut to me: his character was ridiculously interesting and he ROCKED IT. He’s won the Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award, and SAG (BAFTA went to Chiwetel Ejiofor). I just don’t think it’ll go to anyone else. People (i.e. the internet) seem to think Leonardo DiCaprio’s going to win because he’s never won before and nows his year. I’m sorry. Leo’s year was last year as Best Supporting Actor in Django Unchained, but the stupid Academy gave it to Christoph Waltz AGAIN. For basically the same role. Stupid. I can’t even. Anyway, I do think Leonardo DiCaprio was awesome in The Wolf of Wall Street. It wasn’t until halfway in that I remembered that I was watching Leonardo DiCaprio acting, I was just sucked in, but I think that’s because of the story, less so his acting. Also, Matthew McConaughey was in The Wolf of Wall Street too, and he was awesome. More of a reason it should go to Matthew McConaughey.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
I do not know. I want to say Lupita Nyong’o but I don’t want to keep picking my picks because I don’t think I’ll be that lucky. So I’m going to say Jennifer Lawrence. She won the GGlobe. She won the BAFTA. Lupita won the SAG – which I think is a better predictor for Academy Award – and Independent Spirit Award, but you just never know. Here’s the thing, and this is gonna sound bad but, you (and by “you” I mean you if you’re me) watch American Hustle and you’re very conscious that you’re watching Jennifer Lawrence deliver an amazing performance. You watch 12 Years a Slave and you’re like “why does life suck for Patsy and why won’t Solomon just kill her?” Basically, Jennifer Lawrence is too big and that role was one in that it was easy to recognize the JLaw under the Rosalyn surface. That being said, she had some crucial moments where she knocked it out of the park, but on the whole, Lupita was just so clutch and delivered and you’re sucked in. You’re sucked into the narrative and her character in a way that you’re not with JLaw. You know, now that I think about it, I’m going to say the Academy goes with Lupita. I have faith. Although, maybe not. AHHH. This is so hard. I’m going to stay with JLaw and I know I will regret it.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
So, I watched Dallas Buyers Club and was like, “this is why Jared Leto needs to stop making shitty music and act full time. Give him the Oscar now.” But then I watched 12 Years a Slave and was like “Michael Fassbender is unstoppable. GIVE THAT MAN THE OSCAR NOW.” Now, weeks after watching both of those films, I feel like I’ve settled on the Michael Fassbender camp, possibly for the wrong reasons. I think Fassbender deserves an Oscar for the work he’s done thus far and this role, he just knocked it out of the park. I think he outshined Chiwetel Ejiofor and was the real star of the movie. I think without Michael, it wouldn’t have been as good a movie. I mean, you know Steve McQueen would’ve cast him as Solomon if that wouldn’t have been just the most racist thing ever. I don’t think the same is true of Jared Leto’s performance. Although I think it’s for sure going to Jared Leto, who’s won the GGlobe, SAG, and Independent Spirit Award. BAFTA went to Barkhad Abdi and I’m not really sure why. For someone who has never acted before, he was really good. But not better than the rest of these guys.
Best Original Screenplay
Dallas Buyers Club
This is tricky. Spike Jonze’s Her won the Golden Globe and the Writer’s Guild. David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer’s American Hustle won the BAFTA. Nebraska won the Independent Spirit Award. I want Dallas Buyers Club to win because those people took, what was it, OVER TEN YEARS to write this film. That’s dedication. And I think it pays off. The characters – as alluded to in the best actor and best supporting actor response – are so complex and the way their stories play out on screen is so palpable. My problem with American Hustle is I think the story is dull. What makes that movie is the acting. To a certain extent it’s important what the actors are actually saying and that’s where the script matters, but American Hustle just wasn’t doing it for me. Also wasn’t diggin’ the narration in the beginning that totally left in the middle of the film then came back. Also I hate how David O. Russell’s stories always end with a nice little bow on top like everything’s great now – THAT’S NOT REAL LIFE WHY WOULD YOU WRITE THAT?!? Her was so cute. But it kind of dragged. It had a false ending where I thought the movie was over and then it kept going for like 30 minutes. No. Just no. It totally took me out of the narrative and I was like “when is this going to be over?” Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, just that it was frustrating. I think the story is cool, but the execution of the story was lacking. Needed to be tightened up. I’m going to guess the Academy goes with the Writer’s Guild.
Best Adapted Screenplay
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
First of all, what is Before Midnight adapted from? Itself. Yep. Well, not itself, but from the other two Before films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. So that’s weird. I haven’t seen Philomena so I don’t really know how it stacks up, but it’s won the BAFTA. GGlobe and Independent Spirit Award don’t distinguish between Adapted and Original Screenplays, so those two awards don’t really help say anything concrete about the Adapted Screenplay since they both went to originals. The Writer’s Guild breaks it up, and the adapted went to Captain Phillips. But I’m just not feeling it. I just have this feeling that the Academy wants to smile down on Philomena and this is how they’ll do it. Also, it does seem like a wonderful story. I’m putting down 12 Years a Slave because, as I’ve said earlier, I think it’s amazing and asks so many questions about slavery and human nature in general that no other film (sans The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) asked this year (I will defend this claim about the Hunger Games if you want.).
David O. Russell
This is going to be racist, but I want Steve McQueen to win because he’s black. At this level, all of these directors are awesome. They’re all qualified, so why not give it to the qualified individual who represents a minority in the field? I know that’s racist, so I’m going to back it up with another reason. Steve McQueen’s brought some of that arthouse feel to 12 Years a Slave and I think it works. That being said, Alfonso Cuarón is also extraordinarily artsy. Y tú mama también and Children of Men are amazing. Also, it must be very difficult to be a director in a second language. One thing that is true, Alfonso would also be making history if he won, so I guess I don’t really care if it’s Alfonso instead of Steve. I guess the kicker is the fact that I want 12 Years a Slave to win more awards. This may be horrible, but I feel like if 12 Years a Slave wins a bunch of awards, it’ll open us up to more stories like this (i.e. minority struggles people don’t really understand)? Although I think that’s just a pipe dream.