Final Predictions for the 86th Academy Awards

Final Predictions for the 86th Academy Awards [GRID] :

Overall I predict ‘Gravity’ will win 8 Oscars, followed by ’12 Years A Slave’ with 3


Best Picture:

Prediction: ‘12 Years A Slave’

Alternative: ‘Gravity’

Should Have Been Nominated: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Despite the fact that Steve McQueen’s masterpiece ’12 Years A Slave’ scored one nomination less than ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Gravity’ it remains the film to beat among the nine nominees.  The film has gravitas, social significance, historical importance and relevance to the present day, something that the two other frontrunners ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Gravity’ lack. And from looking at the impressive nominations it did win, ’12 Years A Slave’ has broad support in the main branches of the academy, the directors, writers, actors, film editors. The Best Picture Academy Award is voted on by all the branches of the Academy. It is unlikely that there will be an upset but if there was my money would be on ‘Gravity’, my favourite film of the year, and ground-braking, daring, visual masterpiece. If ‘Gravity’ were to win it would join ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965) and Titanic (1997) as the only two other films to win Best Picture without a screenplay nomination and it would be the first predominately 3D film to win.


Best Director:

Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’

Alternative: Steve McQueen, ‘12 Years A Slave’

Should Have Been Nominated: Spike Jonze, ‘Her’

For nine of the past 10 years the film that has won Best Picture, has also won Best Director. That changed last year when Ben Affleck director of Best Picture winning ‘Argo’ (2012) wasn’t nominated for Best Director and Ang Lee won for ‘Life Of Pi’ (2012). ‘Gravity’ is similar to ‘Life Of Pi’, a 3D shot film with spectacular visual effects directed by master of the craft. Alfonso Cuaron is one of the greatest directors working today, having directed what I consider to be the best film of the 2000’s decade and one of the best films ever the dystopian masterpiece ‘Children Of Men’ (2006). Although Steve McQueen is worthy of the Best Director Oscar as well, his hand as a director is less present in his film compared to the huge ambition and daring of ‘Gravity’. I further predict ‘Gravity’ to take home the most Oscars on the night, sweeping the technical categories. Remarkably it is only the fifth film in Oscar history to score nominations in all seven of the technical categories.


Best Actor:

Prediction: Matthew McConaughey, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Alternative: Leonardo Di Caprio, ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’

Should Have Been Nominated: Robert Redford, ‘All Is Lost’

This year’s Best Actor race is by far the most competitive I have seen in many years. Of all the categories an upset is most likely to occur here. Since winning the Golden Globe and SAG (Screen Actors Guild Award), Mathew McConaughey’s role as the HIV positive straight cowboy who started a unapproved AIDS medicine drug smuggling business into the US in the 1980’s is the frontrunner and presumptive Oscar winner. Although I am predicting a McConaughey win, I wouldn’t be surprised if Leonardo Di Caprio won for his controversial role in ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’. Four-time Oscar nominee, Leonardo Di Caprio is the Hollywood leading ‘man most overdue for an Oscar win’ and most critics believe his latest performance to be his best yet. So crammed is this category another five Oscar worthy performances missed out this year: Tom Hanks for ‘Captain Phillips’, Robert Redford ‘All Is Lost’, Joaquin Pheonix ‘Her, Forrest Whittaker ‘Lee Daniel’s: The Butler’ and Oscar Issac ‘Inside Llyewn Davis’.

Best Actress:

Prediction: Cate Blanchett, ‘Blue Jasmine’

Alternative: None

Should Have Been Nominated: Emma Thomspon, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Cate Blanchett’s Oscar for her stunning performance in ‘Blue Jasmine’ is the most bankable Oscar outcome this year. As sure as night follows day Cate will win her first Best Actress Oscar. With her sixth Oscar nominations Cate Blanchett joins the elite group of the most highly nominated working actress: in a world of her own Meryl Streep nominated again this year for ‘August: Osage County’ for a total of 15 noms, Judi Dench nominated for ‘Philomena’ for a total of 7 noms, and both Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet also have six nominations. What’s more Cate’s performance is the best of the year.

Best Supporting Actor:

Prediction: Jared Leto, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Alternative: Michael Fassbender, ’12 Years A Slave’

Should Have Been Nominated: Will Forte, ‘Nebraska’

Another easy to predict category, Jared Leto has won almost all of the other award ceremonies Best Supporting Actor awards this year and is the clear favourite for the Oscar. His main competitor Michael Fassbender has refused to campaign for the award which has cost him greatly. If you want to win an Oscar you need to play the campaign game. In the ‘gay Oscar movie of the year’, Leto plays an HIV positive transgendered prostitute who helps smuggle unapproved AIDS medicine into the US.

Best Supporting Actress:

Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o, ’12 Years A Slave’

Alternative: Jennifer Lawrence, ‘American Hustle’

Should Have Been Nominated: Scarlett Johansson ‘Her’

In one of the best and most important films of this decade, ’12 Years A Slave’ Lupita Nyong’o’s performance is the beating heart of the film. Playing the role of a horrifically abused slave on a cotton plantation her performance is masterful, heart-braking and deeply haunting. Nyong’o deserves to win. However Jenifer Lawrence’s performance in ‘American Hustle’ was the best part of a popular if overrated 10 nomination Oscar film. Lawrence won the Golden Globe and lost the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) award. American Hustle clearly beloved by the Academy voters could potentially walk away from the night empty handed, giving Lawrence Best Supporting Actress could be a way to avoid that fate. Lawrence won Best Actress last year and might be seen as being ‘too soon’ to win another. Ultimately the sheer importance and power of Nyong’o’s performance suggest that she will pull through to win.

Original Screenplay:

Prediction: Spike Jonze, ‘Her’

Alternative: David O’Russell. Eric Singer, ‘American Hustle’

Should Have Been Nominated: Joel and Ethan Coen, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

The word is: if the popular but overrated 10 nomination juggernaut that is ‘American Hustle’ is to win any major award it’s best bet is to win Best Original Screenplay. It is the favourite in this category to win and could very easily pull it off. I’m predicting Spike Jonze to win for his darkly satirical and brilliantly original screenplay for his masterpiece ‘Her’. Every year Oscar commentators suggest that the voters will spread the love around and give an Oscar to a beloved film just because it won’t win in the other categories. I believe this assumption to be false. Except for Best Picture, each category is voted on by a branch composed of its practitioners. Screenplay writers vote for Best Screenplay and I believe as practitioners of their field they will award the superior work based on merit and not based on Oscar politics.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Prediction: John Ridley, ’12 Years A Slave’

Alternative: Terrence Winter, ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’

Should Have Been Nominated: Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’

As ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) put a human face on the Holocaust, so has ’12 Years A Slave’ humanized American slavery. The story of Solomon Northrup a free man, captured and sold into slavery was the perfect access for modern audiences to understand the arbitrary horrors of slavery. ’12 Years A Slave’ will easily win Best Adapted Screenplay.

Other Categories:

Best Animated Feature:

Prediction: ‘Frozen’

Alternative: ‘The Wind Rises’

Best Documentary Feature:

Prediction: ’20 Feet From Stardom’

Alternative: ‘The Act of Killing’

Best Foreign Language Film:

Prediction: ‘The Great Beauty’, Italy

Alternative: ‘The Hunt’, Denmark

Best Cinematography:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: None


Best Costume Design:

Prediction: ‘The Great Gatsby’

Alternative: ’12 Years A Slave’

Best Film Editing:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: ‘Captain Phillips’

Best Original Score:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: ‘Philomena’

Best Original Song:

Prediction: ‘Let It Go’, ‘Frozen

Alternative: ‘Ordinary Love’, ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’

Best Production Design:

Prediction: ‘12 Years A Slave’

Alternative: ‘Gravity’


Best Visual Effects:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

Prediction: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Alternative: None

Best Sound Editing:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: ‘Captain Phillips’


Best Sound Mixing:

Prediction: ‘Gravity’

Alternative: ‘Captain Phillips’


Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) A Tribute


Dear Philip, a beautiful beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much. Bless your heart.” — Jim Carrey on Twitter.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the greatest and most ambitious actors of his generation. Hoffman died at 46 due to a drug-overdose. He leaves behind three fatherless children. The potential for his career cannot be underestimated. Winning the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in ‘Capote’ (2005) and scoring 3 other Academy Award nominations; made him one of the most successful working actors to be awarded at the Oscars. Although we have a host of immortal performances, we must lament the unborn performances that are now lost forever. The circumstances of his death and the legendary career he had made for a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.

When I think of Philip Seymour Hoffman I think of an actor who was clever, ambitious, fearless and emotionally raw. Watching him on-screen, it usually felt as if he were channeling something bubbling under the surface, something not pleasant. He came across as an intelligent, thoughtful man, who seemed to know something you didn’t, who had visited the darker reaches of human nature. How I wished to go to a dinner party with him and ask him probing questions about his characters. To journey with Hoffman is go deep into the dark.

I remember first seeing Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the cowardly rich kid in ‘Scent of A Woman’ (1992). He was again cast as a rich menacing insufferable snob in the beautiful ‘Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1998). Many of his roles were as villains or especially unsavoury characters particularly as the sexual repressed pervert in the most disturbing movie I’ve seen ‘Happiness’ (1998), or as the charismatic paedophile priest in ‘Doubt’ (2008), the odious and manipulative journalists in ‘Almost Famous’ (2000) and ‘Red Dragon (2002), self-destructive Truman Capote in ‘Capote’ (2005), or the egomaniacal cult leader in ‘The Master’ (2012).

Here are my top Philip Seymour Hoffman performances:

FILM_TORONTO_OSCARS_3661141‘Capote’ (2005)

The role that won him his Best Actor Oscar. The performance that beat Heath Ledgers phenomenal turn in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005). The larger than life character of Truman Capote has been captured in films countless times since his death. His distinctive voice, mannerisms and flamboyant personality, a beacon for Hollywood which all too often ended in a grotesque caricature. Not with Hoffman. He became not just the character of Capote but his inner psychology. He explored the love, lost and self-destruction of an artist consumed by his art and desire for glory. The scene in which Truman final breaks Perry, the murderer of the Clutter family is savage as it is beautiful. Hoffman’s performance sees through the facade that was Capote and discovers as tortured soul on a path of self-destruction in pursuit of artistic fame.


‘The Master’ (2012)

To create the character of a cult leader that at once must be both seductive and unsettling is one thing. But to create a character that is perversely drawn in a subtlety sexual and psychological complex way to a man who is his opposite, a slow, violent drifter, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. In the draw dropping ‘processing’ scene where the cult leader Lancaster Dodd, played by Hoffman, psychologically dismantles Freddie (Joaquin Pheonix) the chemistry between the two subverts what appears as a frightening interrogation into a twisted sexual dance and power play. The rage that erupts from Hoffman when a man confronts the hypocrisy of the ‘cause’ is palpable and deeply unnerving. Hoffman again turns what could have been a clichéd story of a cult leader and his converted follower into a psychological complex romance of monumentally twisted proportions.

 magnolia-1999-08-g‘Magnolia’ (1999)

Phil Parma is a softly spoken sensitive nurse looking after a dying man in a larger family drama and meditation on chance in life. An overlooked and underrated performance I consider one of Hoffman’s best is because it displays his versatility outside of his usual darker roles. His supporting role in a larger drama becomes a small island of humanity is an ocean of uncaring disconnected individuals. His kindness, caring for an old man no one else seems to love and his deep internal conflict over difficult moral decisions portray a rare Hoffman character a sensitive soul trying to navigate a dark world. Hoffman displays an emotional sensitivity and depth that was a glaring departure from his usual roles.

 philip_seymour_hoffman_as_father_flynn_in_doubt_‘Doubt’ (2008)

The epic showdown scene between Meryl Streep’s hardnose sister Aloysius  and the suspected peadophile priest Father Flynn ranks as one of the most taught dramatic scenes I have ever seen. Perhaps more than any other role Father Flynn is a character of a seemingly good man trying to do the best for his parish yet holding a dark secret that is destroying him and others. To create sympathy for a priest most likely guilty of the sexual abuse of a young boy is no easy feat. Once again Hoffman works his magic taking what could be a very black and white case of evil and adding grey. A role that is both fearless and disturbing, making the audience ask themselves some very hard questions about guilt and peadophilia.

Honourable Mentions:

Scent of A Woman (1992)

Boogie Nights (1997)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Happiness (1998)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Almost Famous (2000)

Red Dragon (2002)

Punch Drunk Love (2002)

Owning Mahowny (2003)

Before The Devil Knows Your Dead (2007)

Synecdoche New York (2008)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

See my tribute at The Feed Magazine as well: