In the Mix

March 3, 2014

The 86th Annual Academy Awards

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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I usually do Oscar predictions; This year I’ve decided to do it in hindsight. The show is over and the winners have been named. Now is my chance to test my perspective and ability to analyze an outcome based on the actual outcome…

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. This was a good choice. This category traditionally rewards a new face who shows great promise. Spot on with this one.

Her performance was powerful and stood out from the others in the film. And amongst her challengers? I would have been happy to let the academy voters decide between Lupita and June Squibb in Nebraska. Either win would signify legitimacy in the academy voting process for me…

Final rankings: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

Sally Hawkins and Julia Roberts were flatline performances for me. Jennifer Lawrence was really a close third however.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. This was a clear choice. Before I saw this movie, I was on board with Bradley Cooper in American Hustle to win. After, I had to let that go. Dallas Buyers Club was a film about tough reality and very hard with which to get comfortable.

So, I needed Jared Leto to pass my litmus test; I did not see Jared Leto in this character. I was sure I was watching Rayon…

The challengers in the category thereafter were all really good in a dead-even kind of way, but with individual flaws…

Final rankings: Jonah Hill – Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Like the actress of this category, Jonah Hill was a close third. Michael Fassbender is really getting overly saturated for me. I had trouble appreciating his performance because he just comes off as the flavor-of-the-month. And Barkhad Abdi is an African who played and African pirate… nothing more.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. This was an academy IOU. Like Denzel Washington’s win for Training Day instead of Malcolm or the Hurricane. They owed her and now was the time. We know how the academy works…

I was not a fan of Blue Jasmine or Cate Blanchett’s performance. I would have been happy to let the academy voters choose between Judi Dench in Philomena or Amy Adams in American Hustle. Meryl Streep in August: Osage County would have been a close third. Cate Blanchett would have pulled up in lane #4. Sandra Bullock in Gravity doesn’t really register for me at all.

Because I didn’t agree with this choice, I’ll do a full ranking for this category:

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

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. I do support this win. But, like Jared Leto’s win, it’s tough because of the subject matter. But, the performance deserves the win. I found this film to be more about the parts than the whole. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street was a close second and was my choice until I saw Dallas Buyers Club.

Final rankings: Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (tied for third)
Christian Bale in American Hustle (tied for third)
Bruce Dern in Nebraska

Chiwetel Eijofor and Christian Bale both delivered great performances, but, there was just something missing from each of them. Not sure what, but, Christian Bale may be in the over-saturated category as well. It just seemed like he was trying too hard to be that character instead of just being the character. Eijofor seemed to be trying too hard as well. Bruce Dern on the other hand in Nebraska… Not sure why, but…

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Her. I confess – I did not see this film. It seemed a bit odd for me, but, I will see it on demand just because it won for best writing and I’m a writer. My choice would have been American Hustle or Nebraska.

I have to say, though I wasn’t so taken by Nebraska as a whole. It was a very linear, single minded story, but well written for what it was. June Squibb’s lines alone made the movie for me. American Hustle on the other hand is a really well written story and that comes across on the screen quite vividly.

The only glaring omission in this category was Philomena. It was such a powerful story and the writers did a fantastic job of telling it.

Full ranking for this category:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave. This was another category with which I would have been happy to let the academy voters decide between more than one option. Had American Hustle won, I would have supported that win.

I also think Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street were in that second tier of options that should have been accepted if they won. But, Philomena was too small and not sensational enough for Hollywood. Movies about slavery seem to be trending now and as I said in my review of 12 Years a Slave, my hope is that the trend has been fulfilled and moved on with this win.

Full rankings for this category:

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

The 86th Annual Academy Awards was not so dazzling. It seemed to come and go before I could get excited about any part of the show. Ellen DeGeneres was good as the host because she was Ellen if you like Ellen. But, the gags and the antics were more annoying than anything else.

I’m not a fan of having a comedian as the host. Ironically, most of the hosts have been comedians. I much prefer an actor/actress/performer as the host of a show about actors/actresses/performers. I stand by Hugh Jackman as my favorite Oscar host in recent history. That was a show…

Maybe The 87th Annual Academy Awards will have more dazzle.

If you haven’t read my reviews of these films, read them. Then this post will be crystal clear.

See you next year…