The Oscars

There’s little point in a layman like me predicting the Oscar winners. Almost everything I think I know (I don’t actually know anything) about what might happen during Sunday’s ceremony comes from hours of perusing, out of sheer curiosity, the work of very knowledgeable writers who have spent the past few months actually speaking with people in the industry so that they can form opinions about what they think (they don’t actually know anything) might happen during Sunday’s ceremony. Here is what we know:

  • Barring some homophobic comments from the current Oscar producers, Ellen Degeneres, and not Billy Crystal, will host the Oscars, as planned.
  • Barring some more odd nomination repeals (imagine Steve Coogan sending out pleading letters in favor of Philomena’s Best Picture nomination, and the Academy discovering this, in horror, tomorrow morning), there will be nine Best Picture nominees, but only three or four that really matter.
  • Idina Menzel, Pharell Williams, and Karen O will all perform wonderful Oscar-nominated songs, which is reason enough to tune in on its own. U2 will also play a song that probably sounded much better acoustic on the first Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
  • The people who won Oscar’s last year will hand them to the people who win them this year.
  • Jennifer Lawrence, if she wins, will not fall again. That is so last year, she probably practiced not tripping.

Aside from this, who knows? Anything’s fair game. I’m more than happy to play favorites, root for my darlings. So below, find the consensus expected winner, followed by, for funsies, my pick (likely incorrect), and then, screw it all, what I’d like to actually win if the Academy Award voting body consisted only of me:

BEST PICTURE: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, Wolf of Wall Street

Consensus Winner: Is there one, really? At the moment, 12 Years a Slave is being picked to eke out a victory, with no prognosticator willing to really put much on that prediction, so prevalent is the notion that Gravity is breathing right down its neck. American Hustle is the outsider.

My Pick: Is it a cheat to say I’m hoping for a tie? Like a straight-up, gasps in the auditorium deadlock. That’d be FUN! I guess I think 12 Years a Slave wins.

If the Academy Were Me: Gravity. Favorite film of the year. Favorite film in years. I could hem and haw, but I’m rooting for Gravity, accusations of empty spectacle be damned.

I’d Be Okay If: I’d be more than thrilled to see Her and Wolf of Wall Street win, I think these are both visionary masterpieces. If Dallas Buyers Club or 12 Years a Slave won, I’d still probably do a little dance, not that my little dance for 12 Years would be an especially surprised dance. Philomena or Nebraska would be utter shocks, but I guess I wouldn’t hate what the Academy were saying about film if it put one of those two on top.

I’d Be Upset If: I am utterly ambivalent towards Captain Phillips, and would be aghast if it won, but would probably be most upset about an American Hustle win because of how worried I’ve been for weeks about its “momentum.”

BEST ACTOR: Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chewetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Consensus Winner: We’re in the middle of the McConaissance, doncha know? Matthew McConaughey is expected to make good on his comeback narrative and take the top prize on his first nomination.

My Pick: And yet… I think this will be a better night for 12 Years a Slave than is being allowed at the moment. Chewetel Ejiofor takes home his first Oscar for his stunning portrayal of Solomon Northup.

If the Academy Were Me: And yet… I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for Leo. Hard. I’ve never seen anyone doing anything like what Leo does with Jordan Belfort before, and I’d like to see him rewarded for his comedy chops.

I’d Be Okay If: Any of the above three men one. Genuinely. It is that close. I will cheer any of them on.

I’d Be Upset If: Bale wins for a performance I’m stunned to see him nominated for. And as for Dern: I don’t begrudge a lifetime achievement award for Buddy Grant, but I’m in the camp that doesn’t see much in Woody Grant beyond a monosyllabic, irritating old codger.

BEST ACTRESS: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August Osage County), Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Consensus Winner: Blanchett. Winning by so many laps it’s embarrassing for the rest of the field.

My Pick: Adams. I’m a risk-taker. I like the idea that support for American Hustle hits with laser-focus right on Adams.

If the Academy Were Me: I’d take Sandy. It’s my Academy, I don’t have to care that she just won for Blind Side. Sandy is why I love Gravity. I was so with Dr. Stone on that journey, forced exposition about dead daughters or not.

I’d Be Okay If: Judi Dench won. Really. I think she is the best thing about a movie that is not up to her talents, both in melodramatic flashbacks to young Philomena’s life and in Coogan’s interplay.

I’d Be Upset If: Blanchett won. I get it, I do. But I don’t. I don’t see the masterful work everyone else sees. This has nothing to do with Allen and everything to do with me not getting Blue Jasmine. I don’t even want to discuss the notion of Meryl taking this Oscar. Let her get the next one, I don’t want to entertain the dour idea of her winning for such a dour performance in such a dour film.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Consensus Winner: Leto. Once again, not even a close race.

My Pick: Can’t disagree on this one. Leto.

If the Academy Were Me: I’d be just fine with Leto, but I’m really pulling for Jonah to really enshrine that entire Quaalude scene in film history.

I’d Be Okay If: Pretty much anyone other than Cooper won. Abdi and Fassbender both do seriously great work in seriously serious films as quasi-villains (or in Fassbender’s case, full-on monsters).

I’d Be Upset If: Cooper won. Once again, with Hustle I’m just not functioning on that level where I see a need to lavish it with awards.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Consensus Winner: Nyong’o by the smallest of margins over Lawrence, who is our own cottage industry of media buzz at this point.

My Pick: Nyong’o. Everyone agrees 12 Years has to win something or it will be a very rough morning tomorrow, and Nyong’o is a sure rallying point for even those who were indifferent on the movie.

If the Academy Were Me: For good reason. Recognizing Nyong’o for her chops in this film is the whole reason these awards should exist!

I’d Be Okay If: I’d be really fine if J-Law won. If there’s one thing I’d want rewarded from Hustle, it’s her hysterical turn as a jilted housewife. Squibb is also far and away the best thing about Nebraska.

I’d Be Upset If: I wouldn’t be upset if Hawkins won, I’d be more like “Really?” That performance did not leave much of an impression. Roberts did, but I’d rather not see August reach the podium, thank you very much.

BEST DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Martin Scorsese (Wolf of Wall Street), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Consensus Winner: Cuaron. Look at the film. It is a director’s film, and people anticipate this will be Gravity’s consolation prize for missing out on Best Picture.

My Pick: McQueen. I’m sticking to my better night for 12 Years than anticipated narrative.

If the Academy Were Me: I can’t pick Spike Jonze? They didn’t nominate him for Her?!? Damn them… Then Cuaron, hands down.

I’d Be Okay If: I would love to see McQueen or Marty win. Seriously, if Marty wins, I’ll let out a squeal of joy.

I’d Be Upset If: Previous comments should indicate how not fine I’d be with Nebraska or Hustle taking this award.