I consider myself a pretty big film fan, but over the course of the last year I saw relatively few films. I only saw four of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. Frankly, many of the films received nominations seemed like they told stories that were a bit depressing, films such as 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, Her, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue Jasmine. Of that group the only film that I saw was Dallas Buyers Club. I only recently went to see Dallas Buyers Club after reading the many positive of reviews of the performances that Matthew McConnaughy and Jared Leto gave in that film. I’m sure all the films I mentioned above are very good and I’ll probably see all of them in time, although probably on my iPad.
I did see Captain Philips, American Hustle and Gravity. I thought Captain Philips was a very solid, well made film. Tom Hanks delivered a strong performance in the title role and the rest of the cast was quite good as well.
I thought American Hustle was highly entertaining. I my initial reaction to this film was that just might win a couple of Oscars because it is full of terrific performances and Director David O. Russell distinguished himself yet again. Russell has certainly become one of the best directors working today. The film did win ten nominations and they are well deserved, but the other leading films out there are so strong it may not win any Oscars. In another year, perhaps, but not this year.
I thought Gravity was a film that largely lived up to the hype surrounding it. Bullock and Clooney were fantastic and the FX may have set a new standard.
So, if I haven’t seen all the films and performances how can I make predictions of which films and performers will win? Well, I never base my Oscar picks solely on what I think of the films and the individual performances nominated. I always try to gauge which films and performers will win based the results of the other major awards and honors.
BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave This film has already won Best film honors from BAFTA, Golden Globe, AFI and many others. I have to think that the win streak will continue and that the Oscar for Best Picture will be added to the list.
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
I thought Gravity was extremely well made. I made point of seeing this film on the big screen and I’m glad I did. I thought this space based drama was exciting and raised the special effects bar to a new height. I expect Gravity to win multiple Oscars for all things related to sound and image (Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Cinematography, Original Score)
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConnaughy, Dallas Buyers Club McConnaughy delivers an outstanding performance as a rough and tumble Texas oil field worker who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. The film is based on a true story and McConnaughy’s character is initially a very unsympathetic, but turns out to be a very inspirational figure in the end because he is unwilling to accept the death sentence the doctors at the hospital give him when his HIV positive condition is discovered. McConnaughy’s character displays a great fighting spirit and resourcefulness in his quest to find drugs and treatments, both legal and illegal, to keep both himself and others in Dallas with AIDS alive as long as possible.
EDIT: I found out after the Awards that although Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story, but that large parts it were totally fictional. The person that McConnaughy’s character was based on was not a cowboy, and was in fact bisexual, not hetrosexual so in that respect it is more understandable how he ended up with AIDS to begin with. The transsexual (played by Jared Leto) that McConnaughy partners with was a fictional character, as was a doctor (played by Jennifer Garner) that played a key role in helping McConnaughy’s character. That doesn’t diminish the fine performances all these actors gave, but it does diminish the film itself in my view. I felt the same way when I find out that important parts of the film Argo, which won Best Picture, were total fiction. Maybe Hollywood should describe these films like these as “Loosely Based” on the truth.
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine Blanchett is always solid and easily one the best actresses working today. She seems to be a lock for this award.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club Leto was very convincing in his role has a HIV positive transgendered person who forms a seemingly unlikely partnership with McConnaughy’s character to sell drugs and vitamins to AIDS victims in late 1980’s Dallas.
The girls in the Best Supporting Actress category should be thankful that the Academy did not put him in their category because he might well have won. (JUST KIDDING!! Calm down all you members of the PC Thought Police!!)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave Based on the posted odds this seems to the most competitive category. Looks like a race between newcomer Nyong’o and Hollywood Golden Girl Jennifer Lawrence. I’m going with Nyong’o because 12 Years seems to have more momentum behind it and that film addresses more serious subject matter. I thought Lawrence was very good in American Hustle (although I thought Amy Adams was even better), but I didn’t view her performance in AH as the type I would call classify as a strong Oscar contender.
POST OSCAR THOUGHTS
Well, that pretty much went as expected. All the favorites won, at least in the major categories. I really can’t say it was too much of a challenge to pick the Oscar winners this years. All in all, I think 2013 was a pretty strong year for films. In a less competitive year one of the films nominated for Best Picture may have swept the awards, but this year the split of major awards among leading films was justified because there were so many distinguished performances.