Academy Awards remains typical, lacks surprises

By Jeffrey Robinowitz

The 86th Academy Awards is tonight and that means it’s time for Oscar predictions. Although the Academy Awards usually honors the best in film, it is impossible for them to always give the award to those most truly deserving (due to a lot of politics and campaign that skew the judgment of voters).

So here are my feelings on the four top categories, Picture, Director, Lead Actor, and Lead Actress, and who is predicted to win, who should’ve won, and who should’ve been nominated.

Best Picture:

While the cinematic mastery that is 12 Years A Slave absolutely cannot be denied, it does feel like a conventionally safe pick for Best Picture. It’s a period piece about an honest man who experienced grave injustices at the hands of some ignorant Southerners. This is not a criticism of the film; it just makes it seem like a film made specifically to win awards.

My vote still goes to Gravity, because it is not only an exemplary piece of filmmaking, but is extremely daring in its presentation. A 90-minute, two man movie that takes place in almost real time with the first 12 minutes consisting of the single greatest tracking shot of all time, Gravity is ambitious, innovative, and a landmark in cinema.

Unfortunately, the film that should’ve been here, Fruitvale Station, never had much of a chance. An outstanding film top-to-bottom for its mostly freshman cast and crew, Fruitvale Station never gained mainstream traction because of its limited release and story about a recent real-life tragedy.

Best Director:

Although Gravity is not predicted to take the top honor, its sure to win the Best Director spot for producer, director, co-writer, and co-editor Alfonso Cuarón;   his hard work surely will  not go unrecognized. He spent years developing the film and even had new technology invented so the film could be made. The Oscar is his just deserts.

I would have liked to see Spike Jonze get nominated for Her since I immensely enjoyed the style of that film and all his others, but all the nominees in this category were deserving of their nominations, except for maybe one: American Hustle.

Best Actor:

photo courtesy of E Online

photo courtesy of E Online

While many may have mixed feelings about his career as a whole, the Matthew McConaughey of late has done no wrong and his extraordinary performance in Dallas Buyers Club is the feather in his redemption cap. A tour de force role that allowed McConaughey to prove his acting abilities in the most spectacular way, his projected win for Best Lead Actor is well placed.

Too bad for Leonardo DiCaprio who once again had to watch someone else win his Oscar. McConaughey was undeniably great in his film, but DiCaprio was his film. In a three-hour biopic where not much else drives the plot, but the random actions of the characters, DiCaprio carried his film from start to end. No one else could’ve done it better.

And I’m probably saying this just because I am a huge fan of his, but it would have been great to see Tom Hanks get nominated for his work in Captain Phillips. His performance was outstanding all the way through, with the last few minutes of the film receiving particular praise for his incredible explosion of emotion. But at the end of the day, nobody’s crying for the man with two Oscars.

Best Lead Actress:

photo courtesy of Collider

photo courtesy of Collider

In a year of predictable winners, Best Lead Actress was the one a man living under a rock could’ve called. Regardless of the controversy surrounding Woody Allen’s personal life, Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine was never under threat. Though I have not seen the movie, the sheer fact that the film premiered in July of 2013 and her Oscar buzz held for over seven months is a testament to the power of her performance. Another Oscar for one of the best contemporary actresses.

Unfortunately for Emma Thompson, she lost her nomination spot to Amy Adams (who’s been nominated for better performances in better films) and has to watch the Oscars from the sidelines. In large part, she was brought down by the fact that Saving Mr. Banks wasn’t the critical slam dunk everyone at Disney was hoping it would be, but Thompson is hardly a victim here. Much like Hanks, she already has two Oscars (one for acting and one for writing, the only person in history with such a combination) and her legacy as a great actress will remain untouched.

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