86th ACADEMY AWARDS (2014) Gavin’s Picks

Best Picture

The buzz this year has all been around “12 Years a Slave”. This is an excellent picture and will most likely win. The runner-up seems to be “Gravity”. However, I am not picking the safe bet or the good possibility. I pick Dallas Buyers Club. This film was not only relevant, edgy, and well-scripted, but offered us the career-topping performances of both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

Best Director

Again, the battle seems to be between “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity”. No surprise from me in this one — I have to give it to “Gravity” and director Alfonso Cuarón. One could argue how much the film relied on the director and how much it relied on the brilliance of its technical crew. But when you get down to it, the director is the one who gets the honor or the blame. Whether this is a great film or not, that’s a debate… but it’s an achievement, and should be recognized as such.

Best Actor

This category is a tough call, because depending on how voting works, a split could give an unexpected person the boost they need. Granted, it is strong all around. Many people are rooting for Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Bruce Dern is due to win after 50 years in the business… some are even saying DiCaprio (though not me). How can you argue with Matthew McConaughey? He has proven himself over the last few years, and he really went 110% this time, even risking his own health to play a role. Give the man a statuette!

Best Actress

The edge seems to be for Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”, which I have not seen. Others are rooting for Amy Adams. And you can never count out the long-term professionals Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. But I am giving it to Sandra Bullock. Her performance in “Gravity” was a one-person show, and she carried it. Not to mention the peak physical health she had to be in for the harness and whatnot…

Best Supporting Actor

I loved Jonah Hill in “Wolf of Wall Street”, and you have to appreciate Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips” — this will likely be both his first and last acting role. And there is a strong push for Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”. Fassbender (who reminded me of Christoph Waltz in all the right ways) would be my second pick, and if he won I wouldn’t be heart broken. But it has to be Jared Leto for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club”. He may not have gone quite as far as McConaughey in weight loss, but he still went the full nine yards… this is better than Sean Penn in his prime.

Best Supporting Actress

This category is both easy and hard to pick. We can easily rule out Julia Roberts and Sally Hawkins. Thanks for playing, but no. I think an award for June Squibb would be nice, but it’s not realistic. So narrowing it down is easy, but then it’s something of a split between Jennifer Lawrence (the youngest actress ever to receive 3 nominations) and the unknown Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”. I think Lawrence is great (who doesn’t?), but the advantage must be Lupita Nyong’o. The raw emotion that brought the humanity to “12 Years” in a way that no other character could… flawless.

Best Original Screenplay

This category is a race between “Her” and “American Hustle”. In my mind, it is not a strong race… for all that “Hustle” has going for it, it is an actor’s film and not a writer’s film (odd when you consider that it got four acting nominations but may not win any). But “Her” is the one that ought to win. Completely original, thoughtful, and full of creativity… if it doesn’t win, there’s something terribly wrong.

Best Adapted Screenplay

This category is stronger than the original screenplay one… and harder to choose. I see some people really want Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight”… and while I didn’t see it, I would love Linklater to get some recognition. And then there seems to be a split between “12 Years a Slave” and “Philomena”. I think “12 Years” will win, but I’m throwing my support behind “Philomena”. I thought it was a great story, and could help spark reforms in Ireland. It’s an important story to tell, and it’s told well.

Best Documentary Feature

In this category, I would love for “Dirty Wars” to win, just because I think Jeremy Scahill is a great guy and excellent journalist. It won’t happen, though. There is some buzz on “20 Feet From Stardom”, and some are saying “The Square” should win. In all honesty, “The Square” is probably the most relevant and therefore has every right to win — the more publicity it gets, the more people will see it. But my pick has to be “Act of Killing”, a bizarre and surreal look at how Indonesia sees their genocidal past. These are not the shameful and remorseful people of Germany… these are unforgiving men, whose acts transcend evil.

Best Animated Feature

2013 must have been a terrible year for animation, because somehow “The Croods” was nominated. It’s not good. And apparently it will have a spin-off television show and a film sequel. Why? I liked “Despicable Me 2”, but it won’t win. The push seems to be for “The Wind Rises”. And yet, the overwhelming favorite (with which I agree) is “Frozen”. This is the strongest Disney film in recent memory, far better than the overrated “Brave”, possibly even their best since the early 1990s… good work all around.

Best Cinematography

I did not see all the films in this category, so I’m going with “Gravity”. Not an educated opinion, so don’t put much stock in this.

Best Film Editing

Editing is hard to judge, because it works best when you don’t see it. This category is a split between “Gravity” and “Captain Philips”. Trends are leaning towards “Gravity”, but I’ll throw “Captain Philips” a bone here… it was a slick, well-paced film.

Best Production Design

This category is pointing at “Great Gatsby”, a film that few people actually saw. Others are hoping for “Her”. I’ll give this category to “American Hustle”. Well done bringing back the 1970s, folks.

Best Costume Design

Much like production design, costumes are all about bringing the time period to life. Again we have “Great Gatsby” and throw in “12 Years a Slave”, and once more “American Hustle”. Tough call between these last two. My love of history is gonna go with “12 Years a Slave” even if my guy says the statuette belongs to “Hustle”…

Best Original Score

No opinion here. There seems to be a consensus that this will go to “Gravity”, but I don’t feel strongly one way or another.

Best Original Song

No contest — it’s “Let It Go” from “Frozen”. I’m not even sure how “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” was included!

Best Visual Effects

This is the category where otherwise unworthy films show up — “The Hobbit”, “Iron Man 3” and “Lone Ranger”. But there’s no contest here, wither, it’s “Gravity”.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

This could go down as the greatest Oscar award ever presented. Why? Because only three films were nominated. Will “Lone Ranger” win? Heck no. And “Dallas Buyers Club” is amazing, but not really known for its makeup and hair… which means the award must go to “Jack Presents: Bad Grandpa”! What world do we live in where the “Jackass” franchise gets the highest honor in film? Well played, Steve Prouty!

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