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Just before the big event takes place, these are my final predictions for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. At this time some people like to say what “should” win, implying that they know better than the homogenous, easily swayed entity otherwise known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. This is a gross misconstruing of the Academy, that consists of literally hundreds of people who vote on the various nominated films, not one monumental committee that simply hands out awards to their friends. I find the “what should win” position uncomfortably arrogant, but accept that we are all allowed to disagree. So as well as offering my prediction, I also offer what would be my pick if I were a member of AMPAS, which is not to say I’m right, but what I happen to prefer.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club





The Wolf Of Wall Street

12 Years A Slave has won multiple Best Film awards, including the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, and there is no reason to expect that will not change. I have seen six of these films (Her, Nebraska, Philomena are the omissions), and 12 Years A Slave is the most impressive, prompting knuckle-chewing and tears from me. This non-member agrees with the Academy majority.

Prediction: 12 Years A Slave

My vote: 12 Years A Slave

12-years-poster Best Achievement in Directing

Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

Alexander Payne – Nebraska

David O. Russell – American Hustle

Martin Scorsese – The Wolf Of Wall Street

This looks to be another year when Picture and Directing go to different films, a relatively rare occurrence but increasingly common this century (Gladiator/Traffic, Chicago/The Pianist, Crash/Brokeback Mountain, Argo/Life of Pi). I see it continuing this year, as Alfonso Cuarón has been awarded by multiple award-giving entities and that tends to lead to the Oscar. I have no problem with this because if there is a more directed film than Gravity in the last year, I don’t know what it is. It is an astounding technical achievement, and I would have no problem with it winning Best Picture as well, but it does lack the socio-historical-political dimension of 12 Years A Slave, so it will not win that. But from a technical perspective of film craft, also known as directing, Gravity has few equals.

Prediction: Alfonso Cuarón

My vote: Alfonso Cuarón

Gravity 1

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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

Matthew McConaughey has the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and many more for Best Actor. He did not get the BAFTA, which went to Chiwetel Ejiofor, but then McConaughey was not nominated there either. His performance is everything the Academy members like – actual historical figure, suffering from an illness, requires physical transformation, so he will win. He would not be my pick, however, because I would vote for a full-on, jet-propelled performance that makes a thoroughly loathsome character endlessles compelling.

Prediction: Matthew McConaughey

My vote: Leonardo DiCaprio

Dallas Buyers ClubBest Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams – American Hustle

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Judi Dench – Philomena

Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Having picked up the other awards, there is no reason to expect that Cate Blanchett will not pick up the Oscar. I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine so cannot comment, as I found Sandra Bullock compelling and absorbing throughout her extra-terrestrial activities.

Prediction: Cate Blanchett

My vote: Sandra Bullock


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Once again, follow the pattern and Jared Leto will pick up the award. I have seen all of these and found all of them quite compelling, but Leto seemed a little slight. Were I in the Academy, I’d cast my vote for the BAFTA winner that we hadn’t heard of a year ago, who gives a sympathetic but frightening performance of ruthlessness and desperation. I hope we see more of him in the future.

Prediction: Jared Leto

My vote: Barkhad Abdi

Phillips Poster

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave

Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

June Squibb – Nebraska

This is a bit tricky, as it could go either way between Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence. They are the only two I have seen, and Lawrence is rather like DiCaprio in TWOWS in terms of being full-on and ferocious, while also very funny. But the Academy is more likely to reward drama than comedy, and because she moved me to tears, I would to.

Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o

My vote: Lupita Nyong’o

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

American Hustle – Eric Singer, David O. Russell

Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

Her – Spike Jonze

Nebraska – Bob Nelson

Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

For all its nominations, I think this is the one award that American Hustle is most likely to pick up, and I have no problem with that. Dallas Buyers Club did not stand out for me, and the sheer creative excess of American Hustle makes it strong for me as well.

Prediction: American Hustle

My vote: American Hustle


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Before Midnight – Richard Linklater

Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

12 Years A Slave – John Ridley

The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter

Philomena – Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

As an unlikely winner of Directing, I see Writing as a far more likely award for 12 Years A Slave. This is OK by me, as the writing of the film creates an understandable and relatable world despite its period detail and the retention of 19th century dialogue.

Prediction: 12 Years A Slave

My vote: 12 Years A Slave

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Book Thief – John Williams

Gravity – Steven Price

Her – William Butler and Owen Pallet

Philomena – Alexadre Desplat

Saving Mr. Banks – Thomas Newman

The music of Saving Mr. Banks was integral to the soulful aspect of the film, while music in Gravity was less noticeable. It’s hard to say, really, so a wild stab in the dark.

Prediction: Philomena

My vote: Saving Mr. Banks


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

“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

Take it, Disney!

Prediction: “Let It Go”

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

All Is Lost

Captain Phillips


The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Lone Survivor

In space, there is no sound, yet sound plays a major part in Gravity, the sudden collisions and silence in the surroundings adding to the heart-stopping drama.

Prediction: Gravity

My vote: Gravity

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips


The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

The layering of sound to create the voice of Smaug really impressed me, so that’s my pick. But I think the sound love for Gravity might spread out a bit.

Prediction: Gravity

My vote: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

SmaugProduction Design

American Hustle


The Great Gatsby


12 Years A Slave

A nice bunch of nominees here – three period pieces and two science fiction films. Sci-fi sometimes gets a bone like this, but with Gravity heading for more major awards this might go to something else with less chance of winning other awards. Hard to be sure.

Prediction: The Great Gatsby

My vote: Gravity


Best Achievement in Cinematography

The Grandmaster – Philippe Le Sourd

Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel

Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael

Prisoners – Roger Deakins

3D cinematography will continue its winning ways in this category. Simple as that. But Prisoners looked so good.

Prediction: Gravity

My vote: Prisoners

prisoners movie poster

Best Achievement in Makeup And Hair

Dallas Buyers Club

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

The Lone Ranger

Make healthy people look sick and a man look like a woman. No brainer.

Prediction: Dallas Buyers Club

My vote: Dallas Buyers Club

Best Achievement in Costume Design

American Hustle

The Grandmaster

The Great Gatsby

The Invisible Woman

12 Years A Slave

Period dramas, especially the Dickensian, have an edge here, and The Invisible Woman is literally Dickens, so pretty good chance. But the costumes in American Hustle for me were so garish and horrible that I think that deserves respect.

Prediction: The Invisible Woman

My vote: American Hustle


Best Achievement in Film Editing

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle


Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Editing is the silver bullet for Best Picture, so it will go to the Best Picture winner. But I loved the assembly and fast cutting of Captain Phillips, so I’d go for that.

Prediction: 12 Years A Slave

My vote: Captain Phillips

Best Achievement in Visual Effects


The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Iron Man 3

The Lone Ranger

Star Trek Into Darkness

So much of Gravity is visual effects that it would be terribly churlish not to reward them.

Prediction: Gravity

My vote: Gravity

In these categories, I have seen none of the nominees, so I simply expect the pattern to continue.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest & Celestine


The Wind Rises

Prediction: Frozen


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

The Great Beauty (Italy)

The Hunt (Denmark)

The Missing Picture (Cambodia)

Omar (Palestine)

Prediction: The Hunt


Best Documentary, Feature

The Act Of Killing

Cutie And The Boxer

Dirty Wars

The Square

20 Feet From Stardom

Prediction: The Act of Killing


Best Documentary – Short Subject


Facing Fear

Karama Has No Walls

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Prison Terminal: The Last Days Of Private Jack Hall

Best Live Action Short Film

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)


Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything?)

The Voorman Problem

Best Animated Short Film


Get A Horse!

Mr. Hublot


Room On The Broom

I know nothing about any of these, so have no opinion.