I somewhat shamefully admit I have not seen most of the Oscar-nominated films this year. As a movie blogger who is about to offer her opinion on the nominees, I admit I should have tried to do better – perhaps see at least half of the nominated films before commenting on them. My only excuse is that I was not terribly inspired by the 2013 Oscar fare, so I’ve been content to wait for them to be released on DVD or on-demand. I’m not saying they aren’t worthy and remarkable movies. In fact, in some cases, I’m confident they are. So I plan to see them from the comfort of my home (except for “Gravity,” which I have promised to see on a big screen in 3-D ASAP), but it won’t be in time for the Academy Awards telecast Sunday. And I didn’t want to let the small fact that I haven’t seen most of the nominees stop me from filling out an Oscar ballot for my Oscar party and giving my opinion on which ones I want to win and why. To wit …
I have been forced to come to the conclusion that the Oscar race is primarily a PR contest. I don’t agree with it, and frankly I don’t understand why voters allow it to be so, but it is. It seems fairly simple to pick out the most well-crafted film, the most believable performance, etc., or at least narrow it down to the top two or three. But much to my dismay, it often comes down to a popularity contest.
For reasons I’ve already explained, I can’t say which film I thought was the best of the nominated films this year, but I can say that it seems “American Hustle” has positioned itself as the frontrunner. I like David O. Russell’s films (especially “Three Kings”), and I like all the primary actors in “American Hustle,” but I suspect the overall film is not as good as “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity.” And based on that suspicion alone, I’m pulling for any of the nominated films except “American Hustle.”
I believe Alfonso Cuarón is going to win this one, and he probably deserves it based on all the raves about the technical achievements in “Gravity.” I’m a fan of his former work – “Y Tu Mamá También” and “Children of Men” in particular – so I know he can craft a traditional tale with flesh and blood people (vs. outer space and physically isolated people), and that’s enough for me to be OK with him winning. Besides, I think Academy members are not going to give it to a rookie nominee like Steve McQueen.
I’m truly at a loss here. I could see the Academy giving it to Leonardo DiCaprio or Matthew McConaughey, both popular dudes. Some believe DiCaprio is overdue (well-deserved nod for “The Aviator” and overlooked for “The Departed”), and McConaughey’s performance looks like it has bravura written all over it. But I’m pulling for Bruce Dern – understated, exacting while seeming effortless, plus he’s due.
OK – obviously Cate Blanchett has this category on lock, and rightfully so. I’m a huge Amy Adams fan going back to “Junebug,” and word is that everybody’s pal Sandra Bullock does some solid work in “Gravity.” But I did see Blanchett’s performance, so I know it was impressive, and she has the momentum, which usually counts for a lot with Academy voters.
Best Supporting Actor
Another category all wrapped up by one nominee. In this case, it’s Jared Leto, and I’m rooting for him. I have no noble reasons that will further the arguments of cinematic authenticity other than he seems magnificent in the clips I’ve seen, the critics have all gushed themselves silly about his performance, and I’ve had a slight crush on him since I saw him in “Switchback” in 1997. (I never watched “My So Called Life.”)
Best Supporting Actress
I’m pulling for either Sally Hawkins or Lupita Nyong’o here. I saw Hawkins performance, and she crushed it as usual. I’ve been a big fan of her since I saw her in “Happy Go Lucky” and then in “Layer Cake” (which was actually released before the former). But even though I haven’t seen Nyong’o’s work in “12 Years A Slave,” it’s hard not to root for her, too, just because she’s received so much acclaim for her performance and she’s an Academy rookie with such style and grace.
I’d be OK with any of the nominated screenplays in this category winning, but I think they are going to give it to Spike Jonze for “Her.” It seems original and timely enough to stand out from the pack.
My heart is with “Before Midnight” because I saw it so I know how good it is. Plus I have been on the journey with those characters throughout Richard Linklater’s trilogy and loved every minute of it. But “Philomena” has raked in quite a few wins on the awards circuit, and it is a more predictable pick, so I think the Academy voters will probably go in that direction. And that’s cool – Steve Coogan is a talented guy.
I can’t imagine how any modern animated film could be as good as any animated film created by Hayao Miyazaki. That is all.
Foreign Language Film
I really have no business even messing about in this category because I haven’t even seen clips from any of the nominated films. However, based solely on the noise in the machine, I’d guess it will go either to “The Great Beauty” or “Omar.”
Fortunately, I was able to make time to listen to all the nominated songs. It was tough carving out 15 minutes, but I had to do it to maintain my credibility as a movie blogger. Oh yeah – I’m committed. Anyway, if the Academy voters remain their predictable selves, then the winner will be the U2 track “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Like nearly everyone else in the world, I love U2, but I love Pharrell too, and I love his song “Happy” even more than that. So there you go.
I have every intention of revisiting my unfounded ravings in this post after I’ve seen all the movies to reassess my choices, but until then, please take my humble opinions as grist for the Oscar mania mill, which is all they are. Enjoy the show Sunday night! Go Ellen!