The Oscar Goes To

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

By: Connor Lenahan

Oscar Night. Let’s do this. I’m excited, as are you (I assume). It’s going to be insane. There is a clear front-runner for almost every category, but it could get a bit weird. Tonight just feels like it’s going to be something special.

Or at least I hope it is going to be. As much as I loved nailing all of my Golden Globe predictions save for Best Director, I could use some chaos. I could use some golden anarchy. So today let’s go through the categories we actually care about – get the hell outta here Best Sound Mixing – and what could, should and will happen.

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Best Original Screenplay

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            Seeing as I’m both a writer and a nerd, I actually care about what should win for the screenplay awards. This category is scary strong. The nominees are American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Her, Nebraska and Dallas Buyers Club.

I loved three of these movies: American Hustle, Her, and Nebraska. I liked Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s performances in Dallas Buyers Club better than I liked the movie itself. Then there’s Blue Jasmine, which infuriated me when I saw it. So what’s going to happen with them?

After everything that has been in the news with Woody Allen recently, you can entirely remove Blue Jasmine from this race. I don’t see the Academy awarding him right now. Dallas Buyers Club seems like it’s here to fill out the five, not actually contend, so I’m not betting on that either.

What Will Win: American Hustle – And it’s hard to make a case against it. American Hustle was one of my favorite movies from last year and one that I will probably rewatch for the rest of my life. It’s a spectacular movie, and spectacularly written, so this is going to happen.

What Should Win: Her – This movie was awesome, and hyper original. Smart, sweet, wonderful. It won’t win, because American Hustle is tailor made for Oscar voters, but should its name be called tonight it’ll be a victory for nerds everywhere. Who wouldn’t want that?

Chaos Pick: Nebraska – I do not see this happening, but if it did, if the Academy shone a light on one of the funniest movies I saw last year, I’m going to cry a river of joyous tears.

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Best Adapted Screenplay

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            This category is a bit easier to predict than the Original Screenplay. The nominees are 12 Years a Slave, Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

What Will/Should Win: 12 Years a Slave – This isn’t hard. It’s that good.

Chaos Pick: The Wolf of Wall Street – I saw it three times in theaters, call me a homer (which is entirely accurate) but this movie is brilliant in large part to the script that Scorsese and DiCaprio get to play with.

Super Chaos Pick: Captain Phillips – “Look at me, look at me… I’m the captain now.” I. Love. This. Movie.

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Best Supporting Actress

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            This is almost impossible to predict, which makes me very excited. Ask 100 people that are in on this race who’s coming away with the statue and you’re going to get just about a 50/50 spilt between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. It’s going to be neck and neck.

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle – I’m giving the slight edge to J Law, slight being the operative word there, because of her universal admiration from the world. I love her. You do too. She’s up for an award? Let’s give her all the awards. It’s not a perfect system, nor is it flawless logic, but she is lights out in American Hustle so I’m fully okay with her picking up Oscar #2.

Who Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave – Lupita is amazing in 12 Years a Slave. It’s impossible not to be moved by her performance. She deserves the trophy. I’m happy with either her or Jennifer Lawrence, but gun to my head I’d pick Lupita for who deserves it.

Chaos Pick: June Squibb, Nebraska – Let me be clear: I love June Squibb more than life itself. Her character in Nebraska actually made me laugh to the point I couldn’t breathe. She’s perfect. I want her to be my grandma. I just want to give her a hug. I think I’d get more excited over meeting June Squibb than any other movie star on the planet. Academy Award winner June Squibb. Let’s do this.

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Best Supporting Actor

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            I was watching Wesley Morris and Chris Connelly debate who they thought would win this award earlier this week on Grantland when Morris made a point I hadn’t thought of. If I had a ballot, my vote would be for Michael Fassbender from 12 Years a Slave here. I thought he did the best job of any of these nominees. However, as Morris pointed out, it’s tough to reward a guy for being an evil slave owner. He’s incredible in this movie, but it’s tough to vote for that. Fassbender apparently has not even been campaigning for the award, which makes a lot of sense. “Vote for me, I whipped and raped Lupita Nyong’o,” is not the greatest sales pitch of all time. Therefore, he’s excused from the race. The nomination was the proper recognition. He didn’t need the Oscar to justify what anyone would tell you: that he’s one of the best actors alive, and never better than he is here.

What Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club – He really does a tremendous job as Rayon in this movie. I started to get a tad misty eyed when Rayon screamed, “I don’t wanna die,” towards the end of the film. This is also an amazing reintroduction into Jared Leto the actor, as opposed to Jared Leto the rock star.

What Should Win: Bradley Cooper, American Hustle – I have no problem with Leto winning, but Cooper is the right choice here. He plays the douchey, annoying Richie DiMaso a bit too well in American Hustle. He’s just so good in this movie. His performance sticks with you for a while. It’s fantastic. I’d like to see this upset happen, even though it won’t.

Chaos Pick: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips – “No problem Irish, everything is going to be okay.” Have I mentioned how much I love this movie before? It’s so damn good.

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Best Actress

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            Know what, let’s just make this easy.

Who Will/Should Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine – “The sky is blue,” “Fire is hot,” “Cate Blanchett is winning tonight.” This has been Facts with your host Connor Lenahan.

Chaos Pick: Amy Adams, American Hustle – I could blabber on about how terrific she is in this movie, or how it might be time for her to win (5th nomination in 9 years, wow) but in reality I just want to give her the trophy as a reward for coming up with the best idea for a scene this year. It was her idea to have Jennifer Lawrence kiss her in American Hustle. This alone is worthy of the statue.

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Best Actor

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            Here’s who’s actually nominated tonight: Matthew McConaughey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Dern, and Christian Bale. Now, let’s play a little game here. Imagine that those five movies don’t exist. So all five of them are out. The new crop of nominees would possibly look something like this:

Joaquin Phoenix, Her; Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station; Robert Redford, All is Lost; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Oscar Issac, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Holy shit. The 6-10 choices alone would be a highly competitive, amazing field. That’s why this is the award I’m most excited for tonight. Even though a certain Texan is in the lead, I think any of these five could come away with it. Their chances however are not equal at doing it.

Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club – Raise your hand if “Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey” was a string of words you thought would one day be true back in 2009. If you’re raising your hand you’re either Matthew McConaughey or lying. He’s great in this movie. It’s not just rewarding him for a great turn as Ron Woodruff, but a thank you for actually tapping into the talent McConaughey has as an actor the past few years. I like living in a world with Thespian McConaughey as opposed to Bro McConaughey.

Who Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street – On the basis of merit alone, Leo should win here. I was captivated enough by his performance as Jordan Belfort that I spent over nine hours watching it. He gives his all in every scene. This makes for an amazing performance and an amazing movie. I’m not even going to play the “Leo deserves one” card. I don’t need to. He earned this one outright.

Upset Scenario #1: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave – Chiwetel is perfect as Solomon Northup. Just perfect. I have no flaws to point out about him. However, there’s a force that might be working against him. His performance is so nuanced, it is easy to forget about the incredible job he’s doing. He doesn’t give nearly as “showy” a performance as Fassbender, but he’s most certainly the equal of Fassbender in this film as ironic as that is. He’s heartbreaking, he’s strong, he’s lovable, he’s moving. He’s the lead in the best movie of the year. If he wins I am going to end up very, very happy.

Upset Scenario #2: If the Academy goes for either Christian Bale for American Hustle or Bruce Dern for Nebraska, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, but surprised nonetheless. I was shocked Bale got nominated as I thought his spot would have been for Hanks or Redford. As cheesy as it is, he’s a winner just by getting the nomination. Dern however is a driving force behind what makes Nebraska so wonderful. Simply by acknowledging that he is not really Woody Grant in real life, it becomes clear at what an amazing job Dern did. Like the other three nominees, either Bale or Dern could get the call tonight and I’m going to be happy. I love this category.

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Best Director

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            This category is a bit odd for me. I’m looking at it less as a way to recognize the director, but more as a way to recognize the first runner up to Best Picture. Many writers have posed the idea of a split between the two categories. This would be how the Academy recognizes Gravity while giving 12 Years a Slave Best Picture and American Hustle some acting gold.

Who Will/Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity – He made a movie that looks like it was actually filmed in space. I’m not about to try and poke holes in this choice. That’s like trying to claim the color choices of the Sistene Chapel could have been improved.

Chaos Choice: David O. Russell, American Hustle – He doesn’t just get good performances from actors, he gets some of the best of their careers. Plue his movies are always incredible, especially American Hustle. A weaker year would have allowed O. Russell to walk to a win here.

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Best Picture

If you have been reading Oscar coverage recently, you know this is a three-movie race. Despite the greatness of some of the other films nominated, they simply aren’t pulling this one out. And if they do, the world will lose its collective mind.

What Will/Should Win: 12 Years a Slave – It was not only the best movie of 2013, but one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s that good. I don’t need to explain this one all that much. It’s been the deserved frontrunner from the day it premiered and is widely regarded as a classic. This isn’t rocket science.

What Might Happen: There are two other scenarios in play tonight. The Academy might reward Gravity for being an amazing movie making accomplishment. I will be furious if this happens. I’m not going to pretend that I hated Gravity; I love the movie. But the suggestion that it’s more worthy than 12 Years a Slave is insane. Gravity is a visual experience, something incredible to see in IMAX, this is undeniable. But its plot doesn’t hold up at all. Rewatching it will only show how thinly written the story is and how cliché and over the top the ending really is. Again, on the first watch this movie is flawless, but I should be able to watch the winner for Best Picture again and again with it retaining the same magic. Gravity doesn’t, so I don’t want it to win. That said, I will not be shocked in the slightest if it does win Best Picture to go along with every single technical award it is nominated for and will win.

The other scenario is for American Hustle to win out. I wouldn’t be upset here. The voting process for Best Picture includes preferential rankings. So If you vote one movie at number one, it will earn X amount of points and each choice further down the list will earn less. This is huge. This means American Hustle, or Gravity, or 12 Years a Slave could end up with enough votes in those top spots to pull out a victory. I think Hustle might do it too. It was nominated for the most awards, including some surprise choices (Bale). The Academy might adore it. This might get weird. I’m on pins and needles.

That’s enough for now. See you in a few hours for the show.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be contacted at lenahan@bu.edu