Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And Down the Stretch They Come!

Can you believe it? The Oscars are only 5 days away people. Woo hoo! After all the campaigning, schmoozing, and in some cases I’m sure downright groveling, the die has been cast and the winners (good or bad) will be announced this Sunday, March 2nd. I cannot wait for the big day; I’ve already selected my Oscar gown and menu (just kidding on the gown part, the menu is a done deal though).

I’ve kept an ear open of late for Oscar-related news and I can report that there are going to be plenty of celebrity sightings (duh!), nominees and non-nominated presenters are set to include Robert De Niro, Sidney Poitier, Bill Murray, Kim Novak, and Sally Field, to name a few. Last year's acting award winners will also all be there to pass the baton (Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence and Christoph Waltz). As in year’s past, we’ll also get some memorable and wonderful (fingers-crossed) musical performances including U2 performing “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and Pharrell Williams with “Happy” from Despicable Me 2.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Ellen DeGeneres is this year’s host; a safe choice for the Academy especially after last year’s Seth McFarlane debacle (I actually found him funny, though I know many were offended by his sexist humor). I think Ellen’s warm and kind vibe and her brand of silly and light humor will be the perfect tool to set the jaded crowd at ease. She’ll entertain, she’ll keep it light, make them laugh, and undoubtedly keep it classy.

This year’s amazing crop of films and performances has me a little stumped in picking the winner and losers, but that has not deterred me from taking a stab at making some educated guesses. So without further ado, below are my choices in the six major categories (lead actor and actress, supporting actor and actress, best director and best picture). I went above and beyond and not only listed my personal favorites (should win), but also who I think will win and those heartbreaking snubs (shoulda been here) that kept some very deserving recipients from attending the big night. The predictions are listed in what's supposed to be an Oscar gold-hued font, but it's looking a little green to me right now. Oh well, you get the idea.

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

Will win: 12 Years a Slave
Should win: American Hustle
Shoulda been here: All Is Lost

Best Director
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Will win: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Should win: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Shoulda been here: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)

Best Actor
Christian Bale (American Hustle) (2nd Oscar nomination)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska) (2nd Oscar nomination)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) (5th Oscar nomination)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) (1st Oscar nomination)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) (1st Oscar nomination)

Will win: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Should win: Each is very deserving but I'd love to see Leo bring one home; his body of work merits it
Shoulda been here: Robert Redford (All Is Lost)

Best Actress
Amy Adams (American Hustle) (5th Oscar nomination)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) (6th Oscar nomination; won once for The Aviator)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity) (2nd Oscar nomination; won for The Blind Side)
Judi Dench (Philomena) (7th Oscar nomination; won for Shakespeare in Love)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) (18th Oscar nomination; won for Sophie’s Choice, Iron Lady, Kramer vs. Kramer)

Will win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Should win: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Shoulda been here: Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) (1st Oscar nomination)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) (2nd Oscar nomination)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) (1st Oscar nomination)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) (2nd Oscar nomination)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) (1st Oscar nomination)

Will win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Should win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Shoulda been here: James Gandolfini (Enough Said)

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) (1st Oscar nomination)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) (3rd Oscar nomination; won for Silver Linings Playbook)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) (1st Oscar nomination)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) (4th Oscar nomination; won for Erin Brockovich)
June Squibb (Nebraska) (1st Oscar nomination; at the tender age of 84 no less)

Will win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Should win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) or June Squibb (Nebraska)
Shoulda been here: Oprah (L. Daniels, The Butler)

As I said, I can’t wait for the big night and the inevitable drama, moving speeches, and of course surprises (love those). Tune in to the 86th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday, March 2 on ABC at 8 PM ET to see who takes home Oscar gold.