2014 Academy Awards- Devon’s Bets
Category: Best Picture
Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street
Devon’s Pick: 12 Years A Slave, because it’s the subject matter that the Academy goes for (see: Lincoln, Crash). Her, though brilliant, is too cruel, cold, and nuanced to get the nod.
Category: Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Leonardo di Caprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club
Devon’s Pick: Matthew McConaughey, partly also to recognize Mud and Killer Joe. He’s turned out some very commanding performances lately, and Hollywood will be happy to certify his ascent into the realm of ‘serious actor’.
Category: Best Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Devon’s Pick: I think Amy Adams is going to narrowly edge out Cate Blanchett.
Mea Culpa: Sorry Amy, you’ve just not spent enough time on Oprah. Maybe in 10 years they’ll let you win. I figured the Woody Allen fracas was going to keep Cate out of the running.
Category: Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club)
Devon’s Pick: Jared Leto is going to continue his winning streak. Barkhad Abdi was a dark horse, but I don’t think the Academy is going to award a first-time actor in this case, even with his inspiring backstory.
Category: Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)
Devon’s Pick: Lupita Nyong’o is the one dark horse nomination I’m really willing to bet for. Her performance acting against heavyweights like Fassbender and Ejiofor was amazing. More than the main character, she really portrayed the horrors and mutilations of slavery.
Category: Best Director
Nominees: David O. Russell for American Hustle; Alfonso Cuaron, for Gravity; Alexander Payne, for Nebraska; Steve McQueen, for 12 Years a Slave; Martin Scorcese, for The Wolf of Wall Street
Devon’s Pick: Alfonso Cuaron. Gravity was, visually, a more interesting film than 12 Years a Slave, and the Academy is going to want to acknowledge his commercial and critical success.
Category: Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska
Devon’s Pick: Her. David Russell won last year for Silver Linings Playbook, and I think they’re going to reward Russell in other categories.
Category: Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
Devon’s Pick: 12 Years A Slave masterfully compressed a complex bibliographic account, keeping the language accessible while still clearly in the diction of the 1840s. The pacing helped to compress a 12 year arc into a comprehensible format while still retaining the essential beats of the plot.
Category: Best Original Score
Nominees: John Williams, The Book Thief; Steven Price, Gravity; Win Butler, Her; Alexandre Desplat, Philomena, Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Devon’s Pick: Gravity
Category: Best Cinematography
Nominees: Phillipe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster; Emmaneul Lubezky, Gravity; Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis; Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska; Roger Deakins, Prisoners
Devon’s Pick: The Grandmaster did have some beautifully filmed slow motion sequences.
Mea Culpa: But Gravity has all those dynamic three dimensional set pieces. And it grossed more domestically.
Category: Best Costume
Nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years a Slave
Devon’s Pick: American Hustle’s 70s-80s costumes, while glamorous, helped to convey the era and the aspirations of its cast.
Robbed! (Should have been a nominee): Her created a subtle but dystopian fashion, as effective if less obvious than that of Gattaca or Clockwork Orange.
Mea Culpta: Maybe American Hustle was more recent in my mind that Gatsby. But generally, 1920s fashions beat the horrors of Carter’s America.
Category: Best Editing
Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave
Devon’s Pick: Captain Phillips would have been far more forgettable if not for the taut and effective editing.
Mea Culpa: Gravity didn’t have the social message to win Best Picture, so they just decided to give it every technical award.
Category: Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Nominees: Dallas Buyer’s Club, Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger
Devon’s Pick: Dallas Buyer’s Club. The other options are the Native American equivalent of black face, or a retread of Benjamin Button.
Category: Best Original Song
Nominees: “Happy”, from Despicable Me 2; “Let it Go”, Frozen; “The Moon Song”, Her; “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Devon’s Pick: “Let it Go”, from Frozen. Happy was clearly just a musical graft, with no bearing or relation to Despicable Me 2. And nobody wants to swell Bono’s ego further.
Category: Best Production Design
Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her, 12 Years A Slave
Devon’s Pick: The Great Gatsby. The sets and the props were gorgeous.
Category: Best Sound Editing
Nominees: All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lone Survivor
Devon’s Pick: Lone Survivor gave an effective aural impression of a chaotic firefight.
Robbed! (Should have been a nominee): Berberian Sound Studio– a dark little comedy that revolved around sound editing.
Mea Culpa: I underestimated Gravity’s ability to sweep the technical awards.
Category: Best Sound Mixing
Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor
Devon’s Pick: Gravity
Category: Best Visual Effects
Nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into Darkness
Devon’s Pick: Seriously? Hobbit and Lone Ranger, with their 90s level textures, got nods? I’m going to go with Gravity.
Robbed! (Should have been a nominee): Oh, you feature the clunky buffalo of The Lone Ranger, but not the giant mecha of Pacific Rim?
Category: Best Documentary
Nominees: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, Twenty Feet From Stardom
Devon’s Pick: The Act of Killing, despite the mini-controversy over whether it lauds mass murderers.
Mea Culpa: Nope, they go with the safe sequel to the superior Standing in the Shadows of MoTown.
Category: Best Animated Feature
Nominees: Frozen, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, The Wind Rises
Devon’s Pick: Frozen is one of Disney’s must successful franchises ever. Ernest & Celestine was a dark horse, and Despicable Me 2 was decent but not great.
Robbed!: I suppose they disqualified The Congress on the basis that it included live action scenes. More’s the pity. It was more visually and dramatically innovative than any of these films.
Category: Best Foreign Language Film
Nominees: The Broken Circle Beatdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar
Devon’s Pick: The Hunt
Mea Culpa: I figured Mads Mikkelsen’s star power and performance would carry it, but like my mistake with Act of Killing, I forgot that the Academy usually veers away from dark films.