This weekend finally sees Hollywood award its most prestigious and coverted prizes. At the Oscars on Sunday night, the Academy will reward the best films from the last twelve months and, at last, Haus of Phag has been able to see all of the nine Best Picture nominees.
As a whole, I’m pleased with the line-up. I don’t think there’s a film in the list that doesn’t deserve to be there, but seeing as the Academy is able to have up to ten nominees, I don’t really understand why Inside Llewyn Davies was excluded. But that’s by the by; all nine nominees have been released in the UK and we can now properly evaluate the line-up.
12 Years A Slave is definitely the front-runner to take the award. Historical films that chronicle a previously unexplored period, or come with a particularly powerful message, always do well at the Oscars. The film has the gravitas, received the overwhelmingly positive reception from both audiences and critics and has even been described as “one of the greatest films ever made”. I have no doubt that 12 Years A Slave will take the prize, but do I think it should? No.
For me, 12 Years A Slave sits at about number five in the list. Coming in above it, I believe American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and Captain Phillips to be better films. And striding out in front, leading the whole pack is Gravity. This remarkable feat of film-making is innovative, breath-taking and a real cinematic experience that could only have been made now. The kind of technology this space epic uses is beyond what we could even have imagined five years ago and if you add the performances, the cinematography and the astonishing work of director Alfonso Cuaron, you have an absolute masterpiece of cinema. It’s the 2001: A Space Odyssey of the twenty-first century and, like 2001, will go unrewarded. Tokens will come in the technical categories, maybe even winning Best Director, but Gravity won’t receive the top prize.
Captain Phillips was the biggest loser of this year’s Oscar race. As the earliest release on the list, it clearly lost steam in the run-up to nomination day and missed out on nods for both Tom Hanks and its director, Paul Greengrass. If this were a year of five nominations, it probably wouldn’t have made the cut. Realistically, Nebraska would have taken the fifth spot, what with the Academy’s love of director Alexander Payne, his questionable inclusion in the Best Director line-up and his previous nominations for The Descendants and Sideways.
Dallas Buyers Club:
12 Years A Slave:
The Wolf Of Wall Street:
Philomena, Her and Dallas Buyers Club are here to make up the numbers. All three are very worthy inclusions, but none of them pack the same punch as the others. Steve Coogan and BBC Films will be over the moon about Philomena’s inclusion, who were only really expecting a nomination for Dench. Coogan’s screenplay nomination is also a nice gesture. Similarly, the appearance of Her in the list, though not unexpected, is great for Spike Jonze, finally receiving the nomination that alluded him for Where The Wild Things Are, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. Meanwhile Dallas Buyers Club is included due to its main performances, benefitting greatly from cresting the wave of Hollywood’s current McConaissance.
American Hustle, like last year’s Silver Linings Playbook, has seen the Academy go wild for David O. Russell. Again, Russell’s film has received nominations in all four acting categories, as well as for directing and Best Picture. One day, Russell will sweep up at the Oscars, but unfortunately t hat’s not this year. I doubt the film will actually win in any of its fields, but I’m certainly happy that it’s there.
The Wolf Of Wall Street has seen Martin Scorsese’s return to the Awards, but with the Academy very rarely awarding comedies, its likelihood of winning is greatly lowered. I think it likely that Scorsese will win another Best Picture before the end of his career, but I don’t think it will come this year. I would LOVE for this dizzy and fun explosion of a film to clean up on the night, but it hasn’t been *that* long since The Departed won the big prize and Scorsese stepped up to collect his statuette.
2013 was a very strong year for film and the nominees just stand to prove this. We’re a long way from 2011’s ludicrous nominees, that went so far as to include War Horse, Midnight In Paris and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. It’s a shame that in such a strong year the winner is such a foregone conclusion, but you never know, we may be surprised on the night. Gravity or American Hustle may still take the prize, but we all know that when it comes for giving awards out as a token apology prize, the Academy is always guilty as charged. 12 Years A Slave will become the 86th winner of Best Picture on the night of Sunday 2nd March. Oh well, I’ll still be tuning in anyway
Haus of Phag's FINAL Oscar predictions:
Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Documentary: The Act Of Killing
Best Original Screenplay: Blue Jasmine
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years A Slave
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Costume Design: American Hustle
Best Editing: 12 Years A Slave
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Original Score: Gravity
Best Original Song: “Ordinary Love” by U2 – Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Best Production Design: Gravity
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Visual Effects: Gravity