Cinema Divinite – Oscar Picks 2014

As we move to the Oscars in a few days (March 2nd), Cinema Divinite would like to give you a run-down on our picks for some of the main Academy Award nominees for this year:

Best picture 
"12 Years a Slave" 
"The Wolf of Wall Street" 
"Captain Phillips" 
"American Hustle" 
"Dallas Buyers Club" 

The three definitely in the running are "12 Years," "Her," and "Gravity." All of these on the list are must-see movies. However, "Gravity" seems to be coming in the clear favorite among critics. My personal pick for winner would be "Her," but that seems unlikely. 


Best director 
Steve McQueen -- "12 Years a Slave" 
David O. Russell -- "American Hustle" 
Alfonso Cuaron -- "Gravity" 
Alexander Payne -- "Nebraska" 
Martin Scorsese -- "The Wolf of Wall Street"

"12 Years" had fantastic direction, with the additional benefit that McQueen has not yet received an award, unlike Scorsese. Cuaron is another close runner-up here for "Gravity," and, whatever the outcome, I think it will be very narrowly decided. 


Best actor 
Bruce Dern -- "Nebraska" 
Chiwetel Ejiofor -- "12 Years a Slave" 
Matthew McConaughey -- "Dallas Buyers Club" 
Leonardo DiCaprio -- "The Wolf of Wall Street" 
Christian Bale -- "American Hustle

Despite lauds for Matthew McConaughey, I veer toward Chiwetel Ejiofor for his moving performance in "12 Years" over the other alternatives. 


Best actress 
Amy Adams -- "American Hustle" 
Cate Blanchett -- "Blue Jasmine" 
Judi Dench -- "Philomena" 
Sandra Bullock -- "Gravity" 
Meryl Streep -- "August: Osage County"

This strikes me as one of the easiest picks of this years' nominees: Sandra Bullock, hands down. Sadly, Scarlett Johansson is unable to qualify, despite her awesome role in "Her," because she never appears on-screen.


Best supporting actor 
Barkhad Abdi -- "Captain Phillips" 
Bradley Cooper -- "American Hustle" 
Jonah Hill -- "The Wolf of Wall Street" 
Jared Leto -- "Dallas Buyers Club" 
Michael Fassbender -- "12 Years a Slave"

This is my personal favorite, leaving aside realism. Jonah Hill impressed me very much as having developed into a real actor for his role in the "Wolf of Wall Street." He was, more than DiCaprio, the one who displayed significant acting development and adaptation. It was surprising given his past in essentially B-movies. 


Best supporting actress 
Jennifer Lawrence -- "American Hustle" 
Lupita Nyong'o -- "12 Years a Slave" 
June Squibb -- "Nebraska" 
Julia Roberts -- "August: Osage County" 
Sally Hawkins -- "Blue Jasmine"

Jennifer Lawrence strikes me as a winner in this category partly because of her sympathetic role in "American Hustle," but also because the judges will undoubtedly want to recognize "Hustle" as it goes under-represented in the other categories. Sally Hawkins is another favorite. 


Best original screenplay 
"American Hustle" -- David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer 
"Blue Jasmine" -- Woody Allen 
"Her" -- Spike Jonze 
"Nebraska" -- Bob Nelson 
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

"Her" is, at least in my mind, the clear winner. I was completely blown away by Jonze's script, and I think, in this case, past awards will mean less than the clear quality of an impressive and highly original screenplay. 


Best adapted screenplay 
"12 Years a Slave" -- John Ridley 
"Before Midnight" -- Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater 
"The Wolf of Wall Street" -- Terence Winter 
"Captain Phillips" -- Billy Ray 
"Philomena" -- Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

"12 Years a Slave" was based on a true story, the book by the same name. Compared to the others, "12 Years" is a shoe-in. 


Best animated feature 
"The Wind Rises" 
"Despicable Me 2" 
"Ernest & Celestine" 
"The Croods"

This is another definite winner. "Frozen" has been highly popular and considered one of Disney's best movies to date. This is not to downplay "The Wind Rises," which I highly recommend (along with all other Hayao Miyazaki movies), but "Frozen" has the wider appeal. 


Best music (original song) 
"Frozen": "Let it Go" -- Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez 
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom": "Ordinary Love" -- U2, Paul Hewson 
"Her": "The Moon Song" -- Karen O, Spike Jonze 
"Despicable Me 2": "Happy" -- Pharrell Williams 
"Alone Yet Not Alone": "Alone Yet Not Alone" -- Bruce Broughton, Dennis Spiegel

Of all the songs, "Frozen" is beating out the others with its original song, "Let it Go," which has even showed up on pop radio channels. Expect Disney to be another winner here. 


Best music (original score) 
"Gravity" -- Steven Price 
"Philomena" -- Alexandre Desplat 
"The Book Thief" -- John Williams 
"Saving Mr. Banks" -- Thomas Newman 
"Her" -- William Butler and Owen Pallett

My bias gets the better of me again. "Gravity" will probably win this category, but "Her" strikes me as much more deserving for the depth to which the music contributed to the story, where "Gravity" had a soundtrack that played a more back-seat role. 


Best cinematography 
"Gravity" -- Emmanuel Lubezki 
"Inside Llewyn Davis" -- Bruno Delbonnel 
"Nebraska" -- Phedon Papamichael 
"Prisoners" -- Roger Deakins 
"The Grandmaster" -- Phillippe Le Sourd

My pick in this category is more because of the preponderance of nods to "Gravity" in other categories. But expect a close fight here. It could swing either way. 


Best visual effects 
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" 
"Star Trek Into Darkness" 
"Iron Man 3" 
"The Lone Ranger"

I don't think there's much of a contest - "Gravity" should win for the stunning visuals, which the others cannot hold a candle to. 


I won't comment on the last five categories of interest, but my picks are below:

Best costume design 
"The Great Gatsby" -- Catherine Martin 
"12 Years a Slave" -- Patricia Norris 
"The Grandmaster" -- William Chang Suk Ping 
"American Hustle" -- Michael Wilkinson 
"The Invisible Woman" -- Michael O'Connor


Best makeup and hairstyling 
"The Lone Ranger" -- Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny 
"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" -- Stephen Prouty 
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews


Best production design 
"12 Years a Slave" -- Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker 
"The Great Gatsby" -- Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn 
"American Hustle" -- Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler 
"Gravity" -- Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard 
"Her" -- K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena


Best sound mixing 

"Captain Phillips" 
"Lone Survivor" 
"Inside Llewyn Davis" 
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"


Best sound editing 
"All Is Lost" 
"Captain Phillips" 
"Lone Survivor" 
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"