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Oscar Watch: “It’s an honor just to be nominated…”
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By Erich Vandussen
Erich Van Dussen's film reviews have been featured in newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and online for more than 20 years. He lives in the Finger Lakes region.
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This year’s Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning – and after all the stress of a legitimately competitive awards season, it turns out that a lot of the likely contenders are pretty clear after all. Here are my predictions:
Best Picture
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Dark Horse: The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese movies are always popular with the Academy, but this one’s focus on sex, drugs and profanity (as opposed to violence, which is often perversely OK with Hollywood) might find a cooler reception with voters.
    Best Director
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle
  • Spike Jonze, Her
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • Dark Horses: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street; Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips. The Best Picture field opened up a few years back to accommodate more than five nominees, but there are still only five slots for directors. Greengrass might not make it in.
    Best Actress
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Dark Horse: Meryl Streep, August: Osage County. Tepid reviews for this film lead me to speculate that Meryl might sit this year out.
    Best Actor
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Robert Redford, All is Lost
  • Dark Horse: Leonardo Di Caprio, The Wolf of Wall Street. He just won the Golden Globe, which makes me wonder if there’s more support for his performance than for his film.
    Best Supporting Actor
  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Daniel Bruhl, Rush
  • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  • Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Dark Horse: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s been nominated before (for Moneyball), but there’s heavy competition in this category. A longshot at best.
    Best Original Screenplay
  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Her
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Dark Horse: Enough Said. Again, a longshot. The five picks feel pretty solid here.
    Best Adapted Screenplay
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • August: Osage County
  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Dark Horse: Philomena. This and August could switch places, if the Academy doesn’t decide to throw a bone to Meryl’s film.
    Best Documentary Feature
  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • The Act of Killing
  • Blackfish
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Stories We Tell
  • Dark Horse: Dirty Wars. Political docs often do well at the Oscars, but Killing is already almost guaranteed a slot, and it’s a very competitive category this year. 
    How did I do? We’ll find out tomorrow…

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