Bolded nominees WILL win
Italicized nominees SHOULD win
- American Hustle
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Wolf of Wall Street
This is a real toss-up: On the one hand, I don’t believe American Hustle, Nebraska, Philomena or The Wolf of Wall Street deserve a Best Picture nomination. However, the remaining nominees could definitely go home with the award. 12 Years a Slave has all the makings of a Best Picture film, but in terms of advancement of the art of filmmaking, Gravity is leagues ahead of all other contenders. Technically and visually, it is simply the best film ever made. Captain Phillips is a tense, thrilling ride but is still behind Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave. And while I was not in love with Her (which was far too ambitious for its own good), it is an undeniably important film.
Notable Omissions: Blue is the Warmest Color, The Place Beyond the Pines, Before Midnight, Short Term 12
Best Actor in a Leading Role
- Christian Bale (American Hustle)
- Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
- Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
While nothing is set in stone, it would be very surprising if Leonardo DiCaprio walked away with an Oscar. Between Ejiofor’s performance, which was one of the most powerful in recent memory, and the McConnaissance at its peak, there is just not enough momentum behind DiCaprio to result in an Oscar. This is not to say his performance was not great, or that he doesn’t deserve one. His portrayal of Jordan Belfort was a brilliant mix of physical comedy, manic rage and unbridled energy, and anyone doubting Leo’s range should have been silenced if they hadn’t been already. But was it the best performance of the year? Simply put, no.
Notable Omissions: Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Amy Adams (American Hustle)
- Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
- Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
- Judi Dench (Philomena)
- Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Despite the talent present in this nominee pool, this category should be one of the easiest locks of the year. Cate Blanchett has swept the awards season (winning 30 of 35 nominations, with 2 still pending) with her portrayal of the titular Blue Jasmine, and while Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock were great, they didn’t do anything on the same level. Dench and Streep’s performances were good as well (although my problems with Streep’s acting style were quite visible within August: Osage County), but their nominations are likely due more to prestige than performance.
Notable Omissions: Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color),Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Brie Larson (Short Term 12)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
- Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
- Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
- Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
- Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Before seeing Dallas Buyers Club, I would have put Michael Fassbender as the uncontested winner of this category, as Abdi, Cooper and Hill’s performances left much to be desired (and can we take a minute to mention that the guy who played a character who got comedically raped by a demon is now a two-time Oscar nominee? What a crazy world we live in). However, Leto’s work as the AIDS-stricken transvestite Rayon nearly broke me. It was a phenomenal transformation. Leto has always impressed with his ability to take difficult roles and nail them, but this performance was truly amazing to watch. He nearly steals the spotlight from McConaughey, and he lights up every scene with a brilliant energy. This is not to take away from Fassbender, of course; his role of sadistic plantation owner Edwin Epps included one of the best scenes of 2013 and deserves every award it wins.
Notable Omission: Daniel Brühl (Rush)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
- Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
- Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
- Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
- Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
- June Squibb (Nebraska)
It is frankly baffling that American Hustle has joined the sickeningly-overrated Silver Linings Playbook as the only film since 1981’s Reds to garner nominations in all four acting categories. David O. Russell is known as an “actor’s director”, but nothing in either of these films convinced me that all four primaries deserved nominations. Jennifer Lawrence is a good actress, undoubtedly, but the possibility of her joining Katherine Hepburn and Luise Rainer as one of three actresses to win two Best Actress awards in a row is just unbelievable. With that said, the only person who truly deserves this award is Lupita Nyong’o. Behind her, the best performance is actually June Squibb or Sally Hawkins. Nebraska was underwhelming overall, but her small role was a nice surprise amongst the drudgery. Hawkin’s performance was overshadowed by Blanchett’s, but she still held her own and had a great chemistry with everyone around her.
Best Animated Feature
- The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson)
- Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri)
- Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner)
- Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)
- The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)
Blegh. 2013 has been one of the least impressive years for animated films in a long while (thanks in large part to the slow and steady decline of Pixar). I have not yet seen Ernesy & Celestine or Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, but Oscar-favorite Frozen left much to be desired in many ways. Nevertheless, since it was the only one I saw, I guess it should win. Whatever.
- The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
- Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
- Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
- Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
- Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)
Sorry, but Deakins is most likely going 0 for 11. Prisoners was a beautifully shot film, but there is just no competing with the work Lubezki did on Gravity. Surprisingly, neither of these two cinematographers has never won despite having 17 nominations between them, and this is the first year they have both been in the running.
Notable Omission: Sofian El Fani (Blue is the Warmest Color)
Best Costume Design
- American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)
- The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)
- The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
- The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor)
- 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)
If there is anything Oscar-worthy about Baz Luhrmann’s lavishly shallow rendition of The Great Gatsby, it’s the set and costume design. Everything looked amazing, but the compliments really stop there. American Hustle, The Grandmaster and 12 Years a Slave’s costumes were respectable but ultimately forgettable (save for Amy Adam’s open-heart surgery dress). And nobody cares about The Invisible Woman.
- American Hustle (David O. Russell)
- Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
- Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
- 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
If you have seen all of these films, it would be quite a feat if you could adequately explain why anyone but Cuarón should win the Best Director award for his work in Gravity. Yes, Steve McQueen’s relationship with his actors was extraordinary and his unyielding focus on the events that unfold was heartbreaking, but on a technical level Gravity is the most impressive movie ever made. I lost count of how many times I thought to myself “how in the world did he do this?” (I meant that figuratively and literally), and that was only in the opening 13-minute take. Cuarón’s mastery of camera movement and spatial logistics were a sight to behold, and the work he put in made Gravity one of the few films that I wanted to see again immediately without even digesting it the first time.
Notable Omissions: Spike Jonze (Her), Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines)
Best Documentary Feature
- The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen)
- Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher)
- Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill)
- The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer)
- 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)
I have only heard of two of these films (and between 20 Feet from Stardom and The Act of Killing I have only seen the latter), but since 20 Feet from Stardom has Weinstein backing I would have to give it the advantage.
Best Film Editing
- American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)
- Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
- Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)
- Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)
- 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)
Dallas Buyers Club is arguably the Academy favorite candidate for this award, but the digital transitions within Gravity (which Cuarón also utilized heavily in 2006’s Children of Men) are a bold step forward in the craft.
Notable Omissions: Jim Helton, Ron Patane (The Place Beyond the Pines)
Best Foreign Language Film
- The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
- The Great Beauty (Italy)
- The Hunt (Denmark)
- The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
- Omar (Palestine)
Having only seen Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, I have to give my support to it, and since it was one of my favorite films of the year it deserves it. However, The Great Beauty seems to have an unstoppable momentum behind it among the aging Academy members. The absence of Blue is the Warmest Color is a travesty, and had it been included it should have won.
Notable Omissions: Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)
- Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)
- The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)
Oscar-nominee Bad Grandpa. Let that sink in. Oscar nominee. Bad Grandpa. Nobody saw that one coming.
Best Original Score
- The Book Thief (John Williams)
- Gravity (Steven Price)
- Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)
- Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
- Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)
This is one of the most unstable categories of the year, but the edge goes to Her since its score was one of the few that are actually memorable after the film. Due to its impact on the experience, however, Gravity takes the cake.
Best Original Song
- “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone)
- “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
- "Let It Go" (Frozen)
- “The Moon Song” (Her)
- “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
Frozen was a disappointment of a film, but there is no denying that Idina Menzel’s performance of “Let It Go” is just stellar.
Best Production Design
- American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler)
- Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard)
- The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)
- Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena)
- 12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)
After seeing the film twice (hopefully a third time this week), I am still convinced that Gravity was shot in space. Everything looked and felt so authentic
Notable Omission: Andrew Neskorommy, Carol Spier (Pacific Rim)
Best Sound Editing
- All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns)
- Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)
- Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward)
- Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)
I don’t know much about sound design, but what I heard in Gravity sounded better than anything else on the list so congratulations!
Notable Omission: Franke Kruse (Rush)
Best Sound Mixing
- Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)
- Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson)
- Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)
- Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow)
See above. Captain Phillips actually did sound very good, so perhaps it will steal one technical award away .
Notable Omissions: Damian Elias Canelos (The Place Beyond the Pines), Danny Hambrook (Rush)
Best Visual Effects
- Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
- Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
- The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)
- Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)
Did you know Gravity wasn’t actually filmed in space? Because you sure as hell could have fooled me. The other four films on this list look like oversaturated cartoons compared to the work in Gravity, which has set the bar in visual effects for years to come.
Notable Omission: John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel (Pacific Rim)
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
- Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
- Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
- 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)
There’s really no contest here; 12 Years a Slave had one of the strongest scripts of the past few years, faithfully adapted and tightly structured (if a bit theatrical in its presentation). Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy deserves recognition and a Best Adapted Screenplay would be well-deserved, but it is not likely.
Best Original Screenplay
- American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
- Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
- Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
- Her (Spike Jonze)
- Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
In production for over two decades, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack’s script for Dallas Buyers Club has taken the scenic route to the screen but arrived with universal acclaim. It expertly handles the complex, emotional subject and refuses to treat it with kid gloves. That being said, I think Her is one of the most important screenplays of this generation. Its ability to generate a character out of nothing more than a voice is marvelous, and while I didn’t think Her was all it could have been, Jonze truly brought his idea to life in a way only he could.
Notable Omission: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder (The Place Beyond the Pines)