The Oscar Warrior’s 2013 Oscar Picks

For those who have been patiently waiting for my final Oscar predictions i.e. those of you who haven’t been keeping track of them on Gold Derby, that is, I’m putting them all in one place for your convenience. There are a few tougher categories this year (like Best Picture – man, has this been a good year for movies!), but for the most part, it’s just that fifth slot in some of the categories and how the Academy will go vs. some of their precursors like the Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood Foreign Press (who nominate the Golden Globes).

If you read my Oscar update a few weeks back, you may already have a good idea where things are going, although since then, most of the other guilds have announced their nominations, giving us a clearer picture of how people in the industry are thinking. I noted some of the precursor nominations next to the names of the actors and movies I’ve personally picked.

KEY:
GG – Golden Globe nomination
SAG – Screen Actors Guild
BFCA – Critics Choice
DGA – Directors Guild of America
PGA – Producers Guild of America
WGA – Writers Guild of America
ASC – Cinematographers Guild Nomination

Best Picture:

This is a particularly tough year to pick just ten Best Pictures and who knows? The Academy may just go with nine this year or even less. There are definitely some factions in play and while there are movies that generally have a lot of support like 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and Gravity, there are more fringe movies like Her, Nebraska and Inside Llewyn Davis that have their fans but won’t appeal to everyone, so will they get enough top picks to even get into the running? There’s also movies like Dallas Buyers Club, which would seem like a movie more for acting nominations, but it has found support among the guilds as have very different, almost conflicting films, like Saving Mr. Banks and Wolf of Wall Street.

1. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) – SAG Ensemble, PGA, BFCA, DGA, GG
2. American Hustle (Sony) – SAG Ensemble, PGA, BFCA, WGA, DGA, GG
3. Captain Phillips (Sony) – PGA, BFCA, WGA, DGA, GG
4. Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) – SAG Ensemble, PGA, BFCA, WGA
5. Gravity (Warner Bros.) – PGA, BFCA, DGA, GG
6. Her (Warner Bros.) – PGA, BFCA, NBR, WGA, GG
7. Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films) – BFCA ,GG
8. Nebraska (Paramount) – PGA, BFCA, WGA, GG
9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) – PGA, BFCA, WGA, DGA, GG

Alternate(s):

The three below seem like the most obvious choices to appear in a tenth slot or to supplant one of the nine above, but none of them have gotten nearly as much support and at least the latter two, the earliest releases, may have been forgotten.

Saving Mr. Banks (Disney) – PGA, BFCA

Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) – PGA

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (The Weinstein Company) – SAG Ensemble

Director:

A much simpler category in some ways because out of the nine or ten Best Pictures, there are definitely five or six that stand out as directorial achievements – the big question is whether the Academy’s love for all things Scorsese (especially among the directors branch) will surpass those who question the entertainment value of the film’s Wall Street anti-hero. Alexander Payne may seem like an odd choice over either Scorsese or Greengrass, but he’s received two nominations for similarly quirky material and Nebraska is generally getting love from different branches. Cuaron, McQueen and Russell are the sure bets, but the DGA rarely goes five for five.

1. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, GG, DGA, BFCA
2. Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips, GG, DGA, BFCA
3. Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave, GG, DGA, BFCA
4. Alexander Payne – Nebraska, GG
5. David O. Russell – American Hustle, GG, DGA, BFCA

Alternate: Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street, DGA, BFCA

Actress in a Leading Role:

As in past years, this category filled up pretty quickly and definitely early on in the race, mainly with veteran actresses who have all won Oscars previously. The male contingent of the acting branch of the Academy tends to always go with at least one pretty young ingénue and considering how many times Amy Adams has been nominated in the supporting category, we could see her bumping one of the older actresses, but which one?

1. Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine, GG, BFCA, SAG
2. Sandra Bullock – Gravity, GG, BFCA, SAG
3. Dame Judi Dench – Philomena, GG, BFCA, SAG
4. Meryl Streep – August: Osage County, GG, BFCA, SAG
5. Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks, GG, BFCA, SAG

Alternate: Amy Adams – American Hustle, GG

Actor in a Leading Role:

A few months ago, this was the toughest category to pin down because there were so many great male performances from Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station to others, but this year, it looks like we’ll get a good mix of veterans who haven’t been nominated for a while (Dern, Redford) and well-deserving actors who have never been nominated (Ejiofor, McConaughey). The question is which of the vets Leonardo DiCaprio’s unforgettable performance might bump if the Academy decides to nominate him a fourth time.

1. Bruce Dern – Nebraska, GG, BFCA, SAG
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, GG, BFCA, SAG
3. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips, GG, BFCA, SAG
4. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club, GG, BFCA, SAG
5. Robert Redford – All is Lost, GG, BFCA

Alternate: Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street, GG

Actress in a Supporting Role:

Another category that seemed a bit bare a few months back but seems to have gelled in recent weeks with SAG and BFCA nominations which matched up one for one with only one difference between the Golden Globes (who went with Oprah). I’d love to see Sally Hawkins get a much-deserved nomination after being snubbed for Happy-Go-Lucky, but this one seems pretty locked up.

1. Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle, GG, BFCA, SAG
2. Lupita Nyong’O – 12 Years a Slave, GG, BFCA, SAG
3. Julia Roberts – August: Osage County, GG, BFCA, SAG
4. June Squibb – Nebraska, GG, BFCA, SAG
5. Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler, BFCA, SAG

Alternate: Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine, GG

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Same as above. There are a number of outstanding performances by actors who are essentially co-leads in some places and very often steal scenes from the film’s lead. For someone like first-time Somali actor Barkhad Abdi, to do that from a vet like Tom Hanks, is pretty amazing. Michael Fassbender has been deserving and snubbed for his lead performances a couple of times, but he probably won’t have such a problem with his role playing a cruel slavemaster. It would be nice to see Gandolfini get a posthumous Oscar nomination but his performance isn’t anywhere near the level of the others—if anything, he’ll bump Bradley Cooper.

1. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, GG, BFCA, SAG
2. Daniel Brühl – Rush, GG, BFCA, SAG
3. Bradley Cooper – American Hustle, GG, BFCA
4. Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave, GG, BFCA, SAG
5. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club, GG, BFCA, SAG

Alternate: James Gandolfini – Enough Said, BFCA, SAG

Original Screenplay:

Pretty straight ahead category here with a lot of former nominees, but the screenwriters branch sometimes goes off the beaten path and picks something unexpected and I think Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said fits into that category just fine.

1. Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell – American Hustle, WGA, GG, BFCA
2. Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine, WGA, BFCA
3. Spike Jonze – Her, WGA, GG, BFCA
4. Joel and Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis, BFCA
5. Bob Nelson – Nebraska, WGA, GG, BFCA

Alternate: Craig Borten, Melissa Wallack – Dallas Buyers Club, WGA

Nicole Holofcener – Enough Said

Adapted Screenplay:

Not so much of a tough year as much as one where there just aren’t that many great adapted screenplays vs. originals. 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street stand the best chances since they’re expected to get Best Picture nominations. Captain Phillips could easily get in there, too, likely bumping the play-to-screen adaptation of August: Osage County.

1. John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave, GG, Scripter, BFCA
2. Tracy Letts – August: Osage County, BFCA
3. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy – Before Midnight, BFCA
4. Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan – Philomena – GG, Scripter, BFCA
5. Terrence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street, WGA, BFCA

Alternate: Billy Ray – Captain Phillips, WGA, Scripter, BFCA

Animated Feature:

Always an interesting category, because there’s generally one or two beloved blockbuster hits and then every couple of years, something small sneaks in. Other than Toy Story 3, the Academy’s animation branch tends to shy away from animated sequels, but it’s hard to ignore Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University, although one could easily get bumped by the smaller French film Ernest and Celestine.

1. The Croods (DreamWorks Animation), GG, BFCA
2. Despicable Me 2 (Universal/Illumination), GG, BFCA
3. Frozen (Disney Animation), GG, BFCA
4. Monsters University (Disney•Pixar), BFCA
5. The Wind Rises (Disney/Studio Ghibli), BFCA

Alternate: Ernest and Celestine (GKids)

Cinematography:

Not a lot to say about this category except that it includes a number of vets who have been nominated a couple of times before as well as a couple first-time nominees. Of course, most people will want to see a vet like three-time Oscar nominee Bruno Delbonnel or five-time nominee Emmanuel Lubezki get their due but once there are five nominees it usually comes down to how pretty a movie looks rather than about the talent, experience and skill level of the DP. I think the Oscar nominations will be off slightly from the recent Cinematographers’ Guild ASC Awards.

1. Sean Bobbit – 12 Years a Slave, ASC, BFCA
2. Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity – ASC, BFCA
3. Simon Duggan – The Great Gatsby
4. Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis, ASC, BFCA
5. Phedon Papamichael – Nebraska, ASC, BFCA

Alternate: Barry Ackroyd – Captain Phillips, ASC

Film Editing:

Another pretty straight-ahead category with the nominations coming directly from the film-editing branch of the Academy. There have been some really well-edited films which something so deserving like Ron Howard’s Rush might be ignored for something like 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, both which use a lot of long takes, but they’re going up against Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese’s three-time Oscar winning editor, and Christopher Rouse who has already won for a previous collaboration with Paul Greengrass.

1. Joe Walker – 12 Years a Slave, BFCA
2. Jay Cassidy & Kevin Tent – American Hustle, BFCA
3. Christopher Rouse – Captain Phillips, BFCA
4. Mark Sanger & Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, BFCA
5. Thelma Schoonmaker – The Wolf of Wall Street, BFCA

Alternate: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill – Rush, BFCA

Original Score:

Always a tough category to pick the nominations because every year there are some great scores out there and who knows what the music division of the Academy looks for? But expect to see a lot of familiar names including 8-time nominee (and already an Oscar-winner) Hans Zimmer may actually go up against himself if they continue to show love for his work. There’s a couple of lower key scores from notable composers that contributed enough to their respective films to sneak in.

1. Hans Zimmer – 12 Years a Slave, GG, BFCA
2. Gustavo Santaolalla – August: Osage County
3. Steven Price – Gravity, GG, BFCA
4. Arcade Fire – Her, BFCA
5. Hans Zimmer – Rush

Alternate(s): Alexandre Desplat – Philomena; Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks, BFCA

Visual FX:

Not much to say here either as we’re already down to ten movies that have been shortlisted, some more worthy than others.

1. Gravity
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Iron Man 3
4. Pacific Rim
5. Thor: The Dark World

Alternate: World War Z

Who I Think Will Win:

And of course, this is bearing in mind that we don’t have actual nominations as of yet…. picking Ben Affleck as Best Director this time of year would have been somewhat premature.

Picture – American Hustle
Director – Alfonso Cuaron
Actor – Matthew McConaughey
Actress – Cate Blanchett
Supporting Actor – Jared Leto
Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o
Original Screenplay – American Hustle
Adapted Screenplay – 12 Years a Slave
Animated Feature – Frozen
Cinematography – Gravity
Visual FX – Gravity
Film Editing – The Wolf of Wall Street
Film Score – Gravity

That’s it for my picks. Please let us know what you think of them in the comments below and make sure to tune in for the nomination announcement for the 85th Annual Academy Awards on January 16, 2014. Also, the Weekend Warrior will hopefully be live-blogging this year’s Golden Globe Awards so if you want to see my opinions of the winners and speeches live, check out ComingSoon.net on Sunday, January 11, around 8pm Eastern.

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