As 2013 races to a close, it's time for the first round of Oscar predictions. 2013 started with a whimper with a truly slumping spring season that moved into a relatively disappointing summer slate of blockbusters (at least from a critical perspective). But the fall season hopes to make up for any inadequacies of the rest of the year with a lump sum of certifiably great films. Although some of my predicted contenders have yet to see the light of day, there are now enough pieces in play to make a fair judgement as to what may and may not make the cut come the year's end. Come join us to discuss our first round of 2014's Oscar predictions.
I've personally only seen a few of the big contenders for Best Picture (Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips), some have played their way through the festival circuit (Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis) and the remainder have yet to be seen at all (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Monuments Men). But even for these unknown qualities, all you have to do is look at the talent and directors and a shoe-in is the rule rather than the exception.
Coming off a fiery debut at TIFF, 12 Years a Slave seems the clear front runner and is sure to nab nomination across the board (including Steve McQueen's first directing Oscar nomination as well as first time nominations for Chiwetel Ejifor and Lupita Nyong'o). Others such as Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks won high praise out of Cannes and the AFI fest respectively and will similar play across many categories.
As far as those that have yet to play for any audience, David O. Russell's sterling track record speaks for itself and, depending on how well-received American Hustle is, he may prove to be 12 Years a Slave and Steve McQueen's biggest challenge. While The Wolf of Wall Street is involved in a bit of a juggling act, it's darkly comic tone may keep it from being amongst the top tier, a similar situation to George Clooney's The Monument's Men. Although Clooney's name, an all-star cast, and a historic context have proved successful in the past, the first trailer looked a little too light to make it a serious player in a very heavy year.
Gravity still sits pretty as a critical darling that will have the backing of the mainstream, who rushed out to see it this weekend to a tune of more than $50 million and for it, is likely to take home a bulk of the technical categories.
Probably one of this year's biggest talking points will orbit the discussion of an unprecedented amount of African-American nominees. Steve McQueen may not be the first black director to be nominated (he would actually be the third after John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) and Lee Daniels (Precious)) he is the first who actually stands a fair chance at winning. Likewise, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o lead their respective category. Even more impressive is the fact that the Best Supporting Actress category is likely to see nominations for three black actresses (Nyong'o, Oprah Winfrey, and Octavia Spencer)
1. "12 Years a Slave"
2. "American Hustle"
4. "Saving Mr. Banks"
5. "Captain Phillips"
6. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
7. "Dallas Buyers Club"
8. "The Monuments Men"
9. "The Wolf of Wall Street"
10. "August: Osage County"
11. "All is Lost"
14. "Before Midnight"
1. Steve McQueen "12 Years a Slave"
2. Alfonso Cuaron "Gravity"
3. David O. Russell "American Hustle"
4. John Lee Hancock "Saving Mr. Banks"
5. The Coen Bros "Inside Llewyn Davis"
6. Paul Greengrass "Captain Phillips"
7. George Clooney "The Monuments Men"
8. Martin Scorsese "The Wolf of Wall Street"
9. JC Chandor "All is Lost"
10. Alexander Payne "Nebraska"
6. Leonardo DiCaprio "The Wolf of Wall Street"
7. Christain Bale "American Hustle"
8. Bruce Dern "Nebraska"
9. Joaquin Phoenix "Her"
10 .Oscar Isaac "Inside Llewyn Davis"
6. Bradley Cooper "American Hustle"
7. Jake Gllyenhaal "Prisoners"
8. Barkhad Abdi "Captain Phillips"
9. Sam Rockwell "The Way, Way Back"
10. Andrew Dice Clay "Blue Jasmine"
2. Oprah Winfrey "Lee Daniel's The Butler"
3. Julia Roberts "August: Osage County"
4. Octavia Spencer "Fruitvale Station"
5. Cameron Diaz "The Counselor"
6. Margo Martindale "August: Osage County"
7. June Squibb "Nebraska"
8. Melissa Leo "Prisoners"
9. Jennifer Lawrence "American Hustle"
10. Carey Mulligan "Inside Llewyn Davis"