A&E editors’ 86th Academy Awards predictions

January 30, 2014 6:09 pm0 commentsViews: 25


American Hustle*
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

American Hustle, the beautifully executed crime romp that reunited Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence after 2012’s Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook, seems destined to bring home the Academy Award for Best Picture this year. American Hustle brings together the cinematic motifs and drama of Martin Scorsese’s classic The Goodfella’ s with the fun and romance of a summer blockbuster. Hustle’s predicted win against equally worthy opponents 12 Years a Slave and Her is tied up in the details. Careful editing and cinematography perfectly tie together the color and drama of the characters and their stories. It’s a  beautiful story which manages to be witty and descriptive while never relying on exposition. And there is, of course, incredible acting, demonstrated by Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams who all received nominations for their performances. All in all, American Hustle is the type of quintessential American film that gives movie goers a taste of fun without sacrificing substance.



Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)*

Nominated and awarded too many times to call the competition fair anymore, Meryl Streep still produces some of the most powerful and compelling performances on the silver screen. Streep’s Violet Weston in August: Osage County is one of the more complex characters on screen this year, and she brought the character life with unsettlingly precision. While Sandra Bullock’s strength to hold all of Gravity on her shoulders is admirable and Cate Blanchett is heartbreakingly compelling in Blue Jasmine, Streep still outshone everyone as the drug addicted, emotional-wreck mother in August. Her performance was raw and real, forcing the audience to not see her as Meryl Streep playing a role, but as Violet Weston. She was a terrible, physically and mentally ill person and Streep was dedicated to making everyone hate her. While even she herself thinks it’s about time she stops getting awards, Meryl Streep is well-deserving of the Best Actress award this season.



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)

Leonardo DiCaprio, the quintessential ’90s heartthrob turned philanthropist, is up for an Oscar after being famously snubbed by the Academy five times. But this year, it seems he is the actor most likely to walk away with the golden statue. His performance in The Wolf of Wall Street (see page 7 for a full review) was seething with power and grit. DiCaprio is no novice when it comes to breathing life into heavy subject matter; his films Blood Diamond and Django Unchained testify to his fearless film choices. However, this year, his performances in The Wolf of Wall Street and fan favorite The Great Gatsby have been particularly breathtaking and alive. Honorable mention must go to Christian Bale for his fully believable portrayal and fantastic “make under” as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle and to Chiwetel Ejiofor for his career-making role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.



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)

The Best Directing category is always a difficult one to judge. So often it is assumed it goes hand-in-hand with the destined winner for Best Picture, but that is not the case. The most likely winner of this category is Alfonso Cuarón for  Gravity. Cuarón took full advantage of the heavy need for special effects and let the camera float through and explore space like the astronauts. As a movie that is centered on only one character, he did a fantastic job avoiding awkward, self-aware moments and keeping it visually focused on the story. The other one-man-show of awards season, All is Lost, was not able to achieve this as easily and therefore has only one nomination. Arguably, being a movie that is primarily special effects, there was not much to direct. Nevertheless, Cuarón still envisioned and achieved a visual materpiece with beautiful symbolism, meaning and compelling movement throughout, making Gravity our pick for the Best Directing Oscar.



David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)*
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Martin Scorcesse (The Wolf of Wall Street)

We have come to a tie between American Hustle, written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, and Her, written by Spike Jonze. Structurally, American Hustle executed the interweaving of potentially convoluted storylines and complex character arcs with admirable finesse. The introductions of Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) were unique: they narrated their backstories instead of resorting to the traditional flashback. The end was cinched together in a satisfying but not-too-clean fashion – the punch line to an anecdote told through the whole movie was never revealed, but it worked. American Hustle is a great example of a well-composed story and is a solid bet for an Oscar win.

Her, on the other hand, is a beautifully insightful story about humans and scientist technology. At the very least it should be applauded for its wonderfully organic dialog and character interactions; props to Joaquin Phoenix’s acting and Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting abilities. Her provides intimate insight into the intrinsic need that humans have to be connected with someone while presenting the paradoxical social commentary that humans have withdrawn from others by becoming attached to their smart phones.

However good both of these original screenplays are, we predict that the Academy will choose American Hustle for the same reason they will for the Best Picture category: good old-fashioned American storytelling is an easier pill to swallow than  stories that point out our flaws.