Double Feature: The 2013 Academy Awards
This is it, the culmination of Oscar Month here at Deluxe Video Online. Today, we apply all our skill, determination, mental fortitude, and countless nights of bleary-eyed, drunken movie watching to the grandest night of cinema: we will pick the winners of the major Academy Awards categories based on merit, and get completely jobbed when the real awards all go to American Hustle due to the usual incestuous Hollywood grab-ass chicanery.
This month we split the eyeball duty up, with Erik and myself making a dedicated effort to watch all of the movies. No easy task, as dozens of movies are involved in just the 5 major awards. Here, we meet back up and hash out the winner, and give our impression of the hopefuls. A Herculean effort, but when Deluxe Video throws its muscle into a project, you know the results are going to be astounding.
Neil’s Pick: This category is pretty much Best Picture Lite, a tidy little category used to salve the pride of directors not given the nod for the big award. Kind of pointless, if you ask me, like a participation award for the losing team, unless Best Picture and Best Director line up, and then you are basically rewarding the film twice for essentially the same thing. That being said, I see Alfonso Cuaron getting this award for Gravity, but missing the Best Film award. It’ll be a nice gesture towards the tremendous audience response the film generated, and an affirmation of the amazing technical accomplishments the film showcased.
Erik’s Pick: I think this easily goes to Alfonso Cuaron hands down. Gravity is the first film to capture what 3D film making promised to us many years ago with James Cameron’s Avatar. Cuaron crafted an immersive experience there unlike any other; you actually feel how far away the Earth is and how difficult it is to move in space.
Cuaron masterfully utilized 3D as a storytelling tool for the first time in cinematic history, this accomplishment alone hopefully brings him the Oscar for Best Director.
Erik’s Pick: You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.
Mathew McConaughey has taken the advice of old Wooderson there and been doing just that. With an outstanding performance in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey appears ready to take that next step into Daniel Day-Lewis, Tom Hanks territory.
Just not this year.
I’d like to say Chiwetel Ejiofor gets the recognition he deserves for perhaps this year’s most powerful film, 12 Years a Slave, but my gut tells me this is the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally receives his Oscar. Leo’s performance as Victor Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street is mind-blowing. DiCaprio’s ability to immerse himself into the role and make every nuance of Belfort pop, to ultimately become the id incarnate is unmatched. Leo has been so consistently good throughout his career, this is the year Hollywood does right by him.
Neil’s Pick: Best Actor is a popularity contest, plain and simple. Big stars make big movies, which make big bucks for the studios, and Best Actor is how you keep those stars happy. Seeing as the award is also voted on by actors, I doubt we’re going to see a curve-ball here.
Chiwetel Ejiofor was really good in 12 Years a Slave, and Bruce Dern may have cemented a wonderful career with his role in Nebraska, but I see this award going to the white and handsome boy club. My initial feel was that Christian Bale was going to take this, but with the year Matthew McConaughey is having, I am going to put my neck out and give him the gold. He’s taken his career to a whole ‘nother level recently, with excellent performances on the big screen and small. Plus Bale is not nearly as likable, on-screen and off. Matthew McConaughey it is.
Neil’s Pick: An excellent field to choose from, but that fact that most of the roles are coming from less-appreciated films will muddy the waters considerably. Dame Judi Dench and Meryl Streep are good in everything they do, but are probably going to suffer from lack of visibility. Amy Adams was excellent…in Her, not American Hustle. Sandra Bullock played second fiddle to exploding space junk, so I don’t see her walking away with a trophy. That leaves Cate Blanchett, who is odds on to take this in a landslide. Seeing as Blue Jasmine is suffering from a lack of love in other categories, I expect her to take Best Actress easily.
Erik’s Pick: No sense in burying the lead here, the only way Cate Blanchett does not take home the hardware here is if Judi Dench swallows her soul, Army of Darkness style (editor’s note: we’d both pay to see that…nothing against Cate, but it would be the best Oscar night ever). Even then it’s probably too little, too late.
Best Supporting Actor
The fact that I didn’t want to punch Jonah Hill during The Wolf of Wall Street probably won’t earn him enough votes to be the frontrunner as Best Supporting Actor. Barkhad Abdi and Michael Fassbender don’t really impress me much, to the point I actually dozed off spell-checking their names. Bradley Cooper was fantastic in American Hustle, and has the looks of a Hollywood poster boy, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him win here…but Jared Leto‘s performance as a transgender woman who befriends a homophobic male is too hard to ignore. The deftness in which Leto pulls off the complexity of this role is superb and fresh; I find it hard to believe that Leto gets overlooked here.
Neil’s Pick: I have a hard time mustering any positive emotions about this category. Barkhad Abdi is going to get a major case of “who?” due to name recognition issues, and Captain Phillips having come out so long ago. Jonah Hill can stop making movies for all I care. Michael Fassbender was nothing special, as I recall. I desperately want Jared Leto to win. His role took some real courage to pull off, and to avoid falling into careless stereotypes. I just can’t see him overcoming the American Hustle glamor. Bradley Cooper takes the Best Supporting Actor statue.
Best Supporting Actress
Neil’s Pick: Easy pick. Lupita Nyong’o…should win but will probably get robbed by Hollywood darling Jennifer Lawrence. Lupita not only seemed right at home in her first major motion picture, but was stunning and powerful in an extremely difficult role. I don’t care if Jennifer Lawrence walked on water every damn day on her way to the set of American Hustle, feeding the poor and healing the blind: Lupita Nyong’o deserves this award.
Easy pick. The social media hype for Jennifer Lawrence is just too strong to ignore, coupled with the fact that she is so damned gorgeous, acting be damned. There is no way she does not come out on top.
Erik’s Pick: Best Picture, this one is truly for all the marbles, all the other awards leading up to this are simply accolades for those involved in the project and perhaps condolence packages to the filmakers. So who takes home the chicken dinner here?
Philomena I have a movie website and cant bring myself to see this movie, let’s face it the british have nothing interesting outside of Monty Python and Hugh Grant’s sexual escapades.
Nebraska Certainly hit’s a nerve, Bruce Dern and Will Forte give notable performances and the premise is something different than your standard fare. I just cant see hollywood embracing this film as it lacks the hype of other nominees.
Captain Phillips “Wilson!!” oh wait that’s another movie with Tom Hanks on a boat. Pardon me, it’s been too long since this film came out. Judging by its box office totals I am not the only one that’ll be confused.
Her Another out of the box concept much like Nebraska. Hollywood rarely smiles upon these flicks, which is a shame as it is certainly worth seeing.
12 Years A Slave Too depressing and disturbing for Hollywood to showcase this film on its grandest stage. Don’t get me wrong, I think this film has more weight than any others on this list and is beautifully crafted — I just don’t see them championing this film.
Wolf Of Wall Street Certainly an excellent film but lacks the technical prowess of Gravity or the depth of the Dallas Buyers Club.
American Hustle with 10 nominations it would be easy to pencil this film in as the frontrunner for the best picture. For starters this movie feels like an homage to Martin Scorsese and considering Scorsese put out his most engaging piece in years with Wolf of Wall Street I highly doubt American Hustle can earn a best picture. Visuals are great here, with compelling individual performances from the cast, But American Hustle lacks a unifying message or theme.
Dallas Buyer’s Club and Gravity Dallas buyers Club should win this with superb performances and an engaging story. But with that being said Gravity is a ground breaking film, the first of its kind.
The story in of itself may not have the punch, unlike Dallas Buyer’s Club, but i believe the technical aspects and the overwhelming public and critical responses ultimately puts Gravity over the top.
Neil’s Pick: Alright, time for the pay-off pitch. Best Picture, the only category most people care about. Hollywood knows this, and hides the damn thing at the end of the ceremony, like Lynyrd Skynyrd cock-teasing the audience by saving Free Bird for last every dang show. Hell, I set up this list, and I hid the thing at the end of the article. So let us check the field. American Hustle is generating a ton of noise, though it really left me cold. It’s up for about every award, so it is hard to bet against, but I’m just thinking this film lacks the merits of a true Best Picture winner. Wolf of Wall Street just felt like a Goodfellas re-tread, with repugnant characters and a muddled message (greed is bad…unless you get to party like a rock-star all day and have zero negative repercussions…but still bad, OK?) Nebraska was an excellent film, but the brutally depressing nature of its premise is not likely something Hollywood seems in a hurry to elevate. Gravity achieved amazing technical feats, and revolutionized 3D as an artistic medium, but beyond the sizzle, the movie had very little steak. It just failed to tell a deeper story than “don’t get murdered by space rocks.” Captain Phillips, too long ago. Philomena, too British. Her, too selfish (though I think it is a fine film, worth seeing.) So, no to the above. Which leaves…
The two movies that I feel have the heft and appeal to not just win, but to truly merit a Best Picture win are 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club. Both have an important and engaging story, both showcased some really terrific acting, and both were emotionally and mentally satisfying. So who gets it? My pick for Best Picture is 12 Years a Slave. This film has an added depth of significance, and is an important American film, that will be resonant for a long time. Visually, 12 Years was as good a film as has been seen in years, and Hans Zimmer’s music was powerful and lush, if not exactly novel (he just sounds the same every time you hear him…) A labor to get produced, it is ultimately a credit to Hollywood that it did find its way to audiences. Now the Academy should finish the job and give it the highest award.