It’s time to find out which films and artists will reap Oscar gold according to the over 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who determined nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards. American Hustle and Gravity tie with 10 nods, but 12 Years a Slave follows with nine. Additionally, local filmmaker Julia Reichert, an Emmy winner and three-time Oscar nominee, served as associate producer of Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, nominated in the documentary short subject field.
Anything is possible when winners will be revealed tonight at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here are my predictions in the top six categories.
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street
Overlooked: 42, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, All is Lost, August: Osage County, The Bling Ring, Blue is the Warmest Color, Blue Jasmine, Enough Said, Frances Ha, Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Lone Survivor, Mud, The Place Beyond the Pines, Prisoners, Saving Mr. Banks
Could Win: Gravity or Hustle
Should Win/Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
By and large, it’s a three-way race between Gravity, Hustle and Slave. Hustle, David O. Russell’s clever, entertaining 1970s throwback, had momentum in January during the height of awards season, but passion seems to have cooled. Gravity captivated with stunning visuals and special effects recalling Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey, but its screenplay wasn’t nominated, tainting its overall impact. Slave is overtly chilling and tough to watch, but it’s also the most emotional, profound and significant when categorizing the kind of prestige film that typically grabs this coveted honor. In a close call, Slave feels on the verge of making Oscar history as the first best picture winner to chronicle the African-American experience.
Overlooked: Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine, J.C. Chandor, All is Lost, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis, Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station, Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring, Lee Daniels, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips, Spike Jonze, Her, Jean-Marc Vallée, Dallas Buyers Club, Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners
Could Win: McQueen
Should Win/Will Win: Cuarón
McQueen crafted an indelible look at the horrors of slavery, especially plantation life, but Cuarón will be duly recognized for his technological, visionary artistry.
Overlooked: Casey Affleck, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Chadwick Boseman, 42, Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips, Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis, Hugh Jackman, Prisoners, Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station, Robert Redford, All is Lost, Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Could Win: DiCaprio
Should Win: Ejiofor
Will Win: McConaughey
Ejiofor’s powerful, splendidly nuanced portrayal is the lifeblood of Slave and there is a late surge for DiCaprio’s finest work to date, but McConaughey will likely prevail for his physical and professional transformation as AIDS activist Ron Woodroof.
Overlooked: Berenice Bejo, The Past, Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color, Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha, Brie Larson, Short Term 12, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Enough Said, Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Could Win: Adams
Should Win/Will Win: Blanchett
Sentiment could favor Adams, who has been an Oscar darling since she wowed voters in Junebug. Even so, and despite unexpected Woody Allen backlash, this category, as it has since last August, belongs to the brilliant Blanchett whose phenomenally exquisite interpretation of a washed-up Manhattan socialite superbly evoked the riveting complexity of Blanche DuBois.
Overlooked: Bobby Cannavale, Blue Jasmine, Keith Carradine, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Steve Coogan, Philomena, Chris Cooper, August: Osage County, Paul Dano, Prisoners, Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings and The Place Beyond the Pines, Harrison Ford, 42, Ben Foster, Lone Survivor, Will Forte, Nebraska, James Gandolfini, Enough Said, Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners, Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks, Matthew McConaughey, Mud, David Oyelowo, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Sam Rockwell, The Way, Way Back, Geoffrey Rush, The Book Thief
Could Win: Abdi
Should Win: Fassbender
Will Win: Leto
The fact that Abdi received more support from the Academy than Tom Hanks speaks volumes about how much his terrifically authentic performance lingered in the minds of voters. Fassbender, who should have been nominated for best actor two years ago for Shame, took insanity and terror to another dimension as a vicious slave owner. Still, Leto, nearly unrecognizable, seems a sure bet for his gentle, striking portrayal of Rayon, a transgender woman living with AIDS.
Overlooked: Amy Adams, Her, Nicole Beharie, 42, Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station, Jennifer Garner, Dallas Buyers Club, Naomie Harris, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Allison Janney, The Way, Way Back, Scarlett Johansson, Her, Melissa Leo, Prisoners, Margo Martindale, August: Osage County, Juliette Nicholson, August: Osage County, Sarah Paulson, 12 Years a Slave, Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color, Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station, Emma Watson, The Bling Ring, Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Alfre Woodard, 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Lawrence
Should Win/Will Win: Nyong’o
Lawrence ignited the screen with her fiery, flashy turn and probably would be the frontrunner if she hadn’t won best actress last year for Silver Linings Playbook. Expect Nyong’o to reign for her impeccable, heart-wrenching, breakthrough portrayal of the haunting Patsey, a prized and abused slave.
The 86th annual Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will be telecast live tonight on ABC at 8:30 p.m. In related news, The Neon Movies, 130 E. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton, and FilmDayton will host Oscar parties tonight. For information about the Neon’s festivities, call (937) 222-7469 or visit www.neonmovies.com. For FilmDayton’s festivities, visit www.filmdayton.com.