I’ve written a lot about the 2014 Oscars on this blog and elsewhere. Last week, eight guest contributors joined me to debate the deserving winner of the Best Picture gong and I wrote about this year’s stark unpredictability on the website of the Bournemouth Rock newspaper.
So now, after months of waiting, the 2014 Oscars are almost upon us as tonight we will find out the identities of the winners.
Before that though, I’m going to have one last shot at some predictions for all 24 categories.
Anyone who read the Best Picture debate on this blog last week will know exactly where I stand on the top award. As strong as the field is this year, for me, there is no competition for 12 Years A Slave.
Steve McQueen’s slavery drama is uncompromising, difficult and downright terrifying in equal measure. It boasts great performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o and jaw-dropping cinematography.
It has dominated awards season with wins at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, making it the clear frontrunner going into the 2014 Oscars.
Nothing on the list of nominations can top it.
Prediction: 12 Years A Slave
Possible Spoiler: Gravity
What Happened To: Inside Llewyn Davis
Cuarón’s direction is beautiful, utilising the same continuous shooting he deployed to great effect on Children of Men. The combination of this with the effects work of UK studio Framestore makes for a really powerful visual look. He also coaxes great performances from his actors, working under difficult conditions.
He has won just about every other prize for Gravity, so the Oscar seems like a formality.
Prediction: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Possible Spoiler: Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
What Happened To: Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
For a long time, this award looked destined to fall into the arms of Chiwetel Ejiofor. But then, along came Matthew McConaughey with a performance of physical and emotional transformation in AIDs drama Dallas Buyers Club.
His remarkable display, marking the culmination of what the star calls his ‘McConaissance’, has been scooping prizes throughout awards season and he looks a dead cert at the 2014 Oscars too.
Prediction: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Possible Spoiler: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
What Happened To: Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Of all of the categories at the 2014 Oscars, this is perhaps the only award that is completely sewn up.
Blanchett is perfectly measured in the film, selling Jasmine’s madness completely whilst never becoming an overblown caricature.
Prediction: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Possible Spoiler: Amy Adams – American Hustle
What Happened To: Emma Thompson – Saving Mr Banks
Best Supporting Actor
There has been controversy around Jared Leto in the run-up to the 2014 Oscars and indeed throughout awards season.
Performing as a transgender woman was always going to divide opinion, but Leto sells the role completely and the criticism is simply an example of mud-slinging Oscar campaign bullshit.
Barkhad Abdi pulled off a surprise victory at the 2014 BAFTAs, but I can’t see that happening at the Oscars given the physical transformation that Leto went through and the way in which he inhabited the part completely.
Prediction: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Possible Spoiler: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
What Happened To: Daniel Brühl – Rush
Best Supporting Actress
Of the main categories, Supporting Actress is probably the hardest to call. It’s a definite two horse race between Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave and Jennifer Lawrence – darling of just about everyone – for American Hustle.
The issue is that the two performances are remarkably different. Nyong’o is intense, emotional and completely stripped down, whilst Lawrence plays as a combination of broad comedy, surrealism and bizarre power.
Just about everyone loves J-Law, and so the final prize at the 2014 Oscars will probably end up with her. But, quite easily, Nyong’o could hop in and stage a surprise. This one’s tight.
Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Possible Spoiler: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
What Happened To: Oprah Winfrey – The Butler
Best Original Screenplay
There’s a very strong field for Original Screenplay at the 2014 Oscars, which is bizarre as its usually Adapted Screenplay that produces the best works.
The probable winner, based on the rest of awards season, is Spike Jonze’s wonderfully innovative script for the remarkable Her. His tale of a man falling in love with his operating system is intelligent, quirky and very funny.
Conventional wisdom says that American Hustle is a more Academy-friendly movie, but Her has been winning elsewhere and has the substance over style that David O Russell’s film severely lacks.
Prediction: Spike Jonze – Her
Possible Spoiler: Eric Warren Singer & David O Russell – American Hustle
What Happened To: Joel & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Adapted Screenplay
If a film wins Best Picture, the odds are in its favour for its screenplay prize. As a result, John Ridley’s script for 12 Years A Slave looks likely to be the winner at the Dolby Theater.
Philomena popped up with a surprise victory at the BAFTAs, but this seems like a result of the British connection more than anything else. It is unlikely to replicate this success at the 2014 Oscars.
Prediction: John Ridley – 12 Years A Slave
Possible Spoiler: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope – Philomena
What Happened To: Steven Conrad – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Best Original Score
Gravity is likely to be the big winner at the 2014 Oscars by picking up prizes in the technical categories.
As a result, Steven Price’s perfectly judged score is going to sweep away the competition. It’s the ideal accompaniment to the innovative drama going on around it and the fact that it remains memorable speaks volumes about just how good it is.
There’s always a chance, of course, that the Academy will vote with their favourite people, which could benefit The Book Thief – scored by five-time Oscar winner John Williams.
Prediction: Steven Price – Gravity
Possible Spoiler: John Williams – The Book Thief
What Happened To: Hans Zimmer – 12 Years A Slave
Best Original Song
Overall, I’d still give Frozen the edge because that song is absolutely amazing. That said, I wouldn’t count out either U2 or the song from Her.
Expect Disney to be winning its umpteenth Academy Award this year.
Prediction: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen
Possible Spoiler: U2 – ‘Ordinary Love’ from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
What Happened To: T Bone Burnett et al. – ‘Please Mr Kennedy’ from Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Film: The Great Beauty
Best Documentary Film: The Act of Killing
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Film Editing: Gravity
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Costume Design: American Hustle
Best Make-up and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Live Action Short: The Voorman Problem
Best Animated Short: Get a Horse
Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6
Do you agree with my picks? Let me know in the comments section below.