Oscar History: 2013

Recapping the Oscar Season of 2013, a few things stick out. The big winners were 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, which cleaned up in the tech races. The big loser was American Hustle, which came away with zero victories despite 10 nominations (tying it for most nods with Gravity, which won 7 of them). Another take: it was a packed year for Best Actor with some deserving gents left out.

As I have done with previous years, let’s take a deeper dive in the 86th Academy Awards in the major races:

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave unsurprisingly came away with the Best Picture prize in a field that yielded eight other films. They were David O. Russell’s American Hustle, Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Spike Jonze’s Her, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Philomena from Stephen Frears, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. 

That’s a solid grouping of pictures and there’s probably no obvious omissions from my end in 2013.. That said, many young girls may protest Frozen not making the cut though it did win Best Animated Feature. And certainly Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers had its ardent admirers.

There was a Picture/Director split with Cuaron emerging victorious for Gravity. The filmmaker would achieve the same feat five years later when he won for Roma but Green Book took Best Picture. Other nominees were McQueen, Payne, Russell, and Scorsese.I would argue that Greengrass and Jonze could have made the final five.

In the aforementioned crowded Best Actor derby, Matthew McConaughey took gold for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. The four other contenders were Christian Bale for Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for Wall Street, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. Note that all nominees came from Best Picture hopefuls.

Let’s start with Tom Hanks, who I absolutely feel should have gotten in for his remarkable performance in Captain Phillips. The clip I’ve included below proves it and then some. You could say the same for Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Others worth noting: Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, and Robert Redford for All Is Lost. 

Cate Blanchett was the latest actress to be honored for her work in a Woody Allen picture as she took Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. The other nominees were Amy Adams (American Hustle), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), and the ever present Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).

I’ll mention three others left out worthy of consideration: Brie Larson in Short Term 12, Julia-Louis Dreyfus for Enough Said, and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. For the latter, it was a bit unexpected that she was left out.

McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers costar Jared Leto won Supporting Actor over Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). Again, all nominees stemmed from Picture contenders.

Some others that didn’t quite make it: Daniel Bruhl in Rush, Steve Coogan for Philomena, Paul Dano in Prisoners, and Will Forte in Nebraska.

Another big 12 Years victory was Lupita Nyong’o in Supporting Actress. She took the prize despite competition from Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska).

Despite it being a voice only performance, I would say Scarlett Johansson in Her deserved a spot and the same could be said for Margot Robbie in Wall Street.

And there you have it, folks! My look back at the Oscar landscape in 2013. I’ll have 2014 up in due time…

New York Critics Go Caroling

In 2002, the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) went gaga over Todd Haynes’s drama Far From Heaven, bestowing it with their award for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Dennis Quaid), and Supporting Actress (Patricia Clarkson). Yet when it came time for Oscar nominations, none of those picks were reflected with the Academy.

Thirteen years later, could history repeat itself again for Mr. Haynes? It’s a worthy question as the NYFCC have showered love upon his latest project, Carol. The 1950s drama centering on a lesbian relationship won big at their ceremony today, taking Picture and Director. The Big Apple critics appreciation for Carol gives it a somewhat needed boost for its Oscar chances. When it screened at film festivals earlier this year, it seemed close to a lock for Picture recognition but its stock has waned some.

As I did yesterday with the National Board of Review’s selections, it’s important to show you how often each critics organization matches what the Academy ends up doing. With the NYFCC, 12 out of their last 15 selections for Best Picture (the ones in the 21st century) have gone onto Oscar nominations in the same category. The exceptions were the aforementioned Heaven, 2001’s Mulholland Drive, and 2006’s United 93.

The same 12/15 ratio extends to the Directing category in which winners were Academy snubbed. Besides Haynes, the others were Mike Leigh for 2008’s Happy Go Lucky and Kathyn Bigelow for 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty.

I believe it’s much more likely that Carol manages a slot in the Picture race come Oscar nomination time than Haynes himself, but we’ll see how that plays out well as my predictions continue to be updated on the blog.

As for the acting races – the NYFCC hit us with two surprises. The biggest was Supporting Actress where they selected Kristen Stewart for her work in the little seen Clouds of Sils Maria. While she’s been mentioned as a possibility, very few prognosticators (this one included) have picked her for a Oscar nomination. I still don’t see it happening, but this win does raise her profile for sure. It’s also worth noting that only 2 of the last 15 NYFCC recipients in this category haven’t received Academy attention (the aforementioned Clarkson for Heaven and Maria Bello in 2005’s A History of Violence). Even more surprising is that the NYFCC didn’t honor Rooney Mara’s work in Carol, since many consider her the most likely winner for the gold statue.

The other surprise was Best Actor, which went to Michael Keaton in Spotlight. The shocker was the category he won for because Mr. Keaton is being campaigned for in Supporting Actor and not lead. It’s highly likely that the Bat/Birdman will be recognized come Oscar time… just not in the race where the NYFCC feted him. Of note: three past winners in the 21st century didn’t get Oscar nods: Paul Giamatti in 2004’s Sideways and the last two recipients: Robert Redford for All is Lost and Timothy Spall as Mr. Turner.

Actress went to Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and her Academy nod seems pretty much assured. She joins Room‘s Brie Larson (who won the NBR yesterday), Joy‘s Jennifer Lawrence, and Carol‘s Cate Blanchett as front runners for award attention into the future. As with Actor, three winners out of the past 15 didn’t receive Academy attention: Hope Davis for 2003’s American Splendor, Sally Hawkins for 2008’s Happy Go Lucky, and Rachel Weisz for 2012’s The Deep Blue Sea. 

Supporting Actor went to Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies and he’s also a strong contender in the big race. It is worth noting that the NYFCC has actually picked five out of their last 15 winners that never made it to the Academy’s red carpet: the previously mentioned Quaid in 2002, Steve Buscemi for Ghost World (2001), Eugene Levy in A Mighty Wind (2003), Albert Brooks in Drive (2011), and Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike and Bernie (2012).

Bottom line: a solid day for Carol and we’ll see if the momentum keeps up as my analysis for the 2015 awards season keeps rolling along…

2014 Golden Globe Awards: Todd’s Predicted Winners

In four days, we’ll have the Hollywood Foreign Press bestow their honors to the film and television world at the Golden Globe Awards with return hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Readers of my blog will note that I’ve extensively and frequently been posting my Oscar predictions. I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the Globes, but I did want to put my two cents in and predict the winners in the picture, directing, and acting categories.

The Globes are different from the Oscars because categories are divided between Drama and Musical/Comedy categories for Picture, Actor, and Actress. Director and Supporting Actor and Actress are awarded regardless of genre. If you would like to read my detailed analysis of awards contenders, I suggest you look on the blog for my Oscar predictions posts. For the purposes of this post, I’ll simply predict who I think will Globes this Sunday and note the other nominees. I am noting my second choice if my primary choice doesn’t win in bold. I am not predicting the TV categories except for one: it should be an interesting showdown in Best Drama between the final season of “Breaking Bad” and first season of “House of Cards”, but ultimately I think Walter White and company win out.

And with that, my predictions:

BEST DRAMA

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush

BEST MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Other Nominees: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Other Nominees: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), David O. Russell (American Hustle)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Other Nominees: Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Kate Winslet (Labor Day)

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Other Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Other Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)

And there you have my predictions for your Golden Globe winners on Sunday!

Oscar Predictions: Todd’s December Take

Well, folks, we’ve arrived at my December predictions for the six major categories at the Oscars! And there’s been significant changes in some categories. There’s not one category that’s remained the same from my last go-round of guesses. A lot has happened since my November predictions. Every major contender has now screened with critics. Golden Globe and SAG nominations have been announced. And, per usual, things are unclear. Don’t get me wrong – there’s certain films and actors that seem destined for nominations. However, no field is close to being set. Not even close.

For the first time in making my predictions, I am predicting the winner in each race. I would expect at least one more round (more likely two) prior to nominations being announced in mid January. Here we go!

BEST PICTURE

Todd’s Predictions –

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Saving Mr. Banks

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

Analysis: Yes, I am keeping the number at nine predicted pictures (there could be anywhere from five to ten). This new round of predictions brings in three new films – Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks – and takes out three – All is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Other possible nominees include Dallas Buyer’s Club, August: Osage County, Lone Survivor, Philomena, Rush, Prisoners and Fruitvale Station.

Predicted Winner: Conventional wisdom is that the race is between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, with The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle as potential spoilers. My gut tells me (at least for now) that 12 Years a Slave is in the driver’s seat and it is my current prediction to win.

BEST DIRECTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Analyis: As I see it, only Cuaron and McQueen are surefire nominees and should compete with each other for the win. Let’s not forget that last year’s Director nominees were a total shocker to everyone when Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) did not pick up expected nominations. My predictions today reflect putting Payne and Scorsese in and taking J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) out. Chandor seems highly unlikely to get a nod at this point, but any combination of Greengrass, Spike Jonze (Her), the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), or John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks) could get in.

Predicted Winner: As mentioned, Cuaron and McQueen are the frontrunners. I could easily see a scenario where 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture and Cuaron still nabs Director for the amazing technical achievement that Gravity was. It’s tempting, but for now, my prediction is that Picture and Director will match up and McQueen wins.

BEST ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Analysis: This is shaping up to be by far the most fascinating race to watch. My current predictions put Dern and DiCaprio in and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Joaquin Phoenix (Her) out. And don’t count out Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Christian Bale (American Hustle), or Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis). Frankly, I would say Ejiofor is the only nominee I would be shocked at if he’s not nominated. The crazy thing is – I could see any one of the five predicted nominees actually win and that’s rare. This is an extraordinarily tough call, but right now I’m staying on the 12 Years bandwagon and going with Ejiofor.

BEST ACTRESS

Todd’s Predictions –

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Analysis and Predicted Winner: Just one change here – Amy Adams (American Hustle) out and Emma Thompson in. This looks to be a showdown between Blanchett (who’s picking up the majority of critics awards) and Bullock (the most popular actress starring in a wildly popular film). The fact that Bullock won four years ago leads me to give Blanchett a slight edge and she’s my prediction. Other contenders not predicted: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), as well as Adams.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Analysis: Of the five predicted, I am only confident about Fassbender and Leto. My current predictions have Hanks in and his Captain Phillips costar Barkhad Abdi out. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abdi, John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Will Forte (Nebraska), Harrison Ford (42), or the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said) nominated.

Predicted Winner: A 12 Years sweep could give Fassbender the prize. However, my prediction is Jared Leto for his acclaimed work in Dallas Buyer’s Club.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Analysis: Voters might not be able to resist nominating Julia so she’s in and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) is out. Other not predicted contenders could be Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Margo Martindale (August: Osage County). This race appears to be coming down to Lawrence and Nyong’o.

Predicted Winner: Much like Supporting Actor, a 12 Years night should include Nyong’o. And then came Jennifer Lawrence, who’s having an incredible film year with her Best Actress Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook and headlining the massive hit The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her performance in Hustle is garnering raves. Could she win two years in a row? Between her and Nyong’o, this seems like a coin toss at this juncture. For now, I’ll predict the 12 Years momentum gives Nyong’o the win.

And there you have it. To recap, my current winner predictions:

PICTURE – 12 Years a Slave

DIRECTOR – Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

ACTOR – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

ACTRESS – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Oscar Predictions: Todd’s Third Take

Here we are with November arriving and that means it’s time for my third round of predictions for what and whom will be nominated in the six major categories at the Oscars. Let’s break them down by category, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

I am still sticking with my estimate of nine pictures getting recognition – just like the two previous years. The family drama August: Osage County seems to be losing steam so it’s the only pic I’ve taken out. I’ve replaced it with Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. The slot could just as easily go to John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks or Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. Other contenders that didn’t make the cut: Her, Blue is the Warmest Color, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Lone Survivor.

The predicted nine:

All is Lost

American Hustle

Blue Jasmine

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron are absolute shoo-ins for nominations. After that, things get complicated. I’ve taken out Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis and replaced them with Paul Greengrass for his work in Captain Phillips. David O. Russell and his efforts in American Hustle remain another prediction. I’m still (somewhat stubbornly) including J.C. Chandor for All is Lost, even though few others have him in. There were simply so many surprises in the Director category last year that I have to include a surprise pick. Other contenders that didn’t make the cut: Martin Scorsese for Wolf of Wall Street, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, Lee Daniels for The Butler, Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine. and John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks.

Predictions:

J.C. Chandor, All is Lost

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

David O. Russell, American Hustle

BEST ACTOR

Only one change here from a month ago: I’m including Joaquin Phoenix as a somewhat surprise pick for Spike Jonze’s Her and taking out Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. More contenders who missed the five: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street), and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis).

Predictions:

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Joaquin Phoenix, Her

Robert Redford, All is Lost

BEST ACTRESS

This is the only category where I have no changes from a month ago. This still seems to be a close race between Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock. I was tempted to put Emma Thompson in for Saving Mr. Banks on here but didn’t feel comfortable taking any of the other five out right now. Other contenders not predicted: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), Kate Winslet (Labor Day), and Julie Delpy (Before Midnight).

Predictions:

Amy Adams, American Hustle

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This category seems to be the most wide open at press time. The only surefire nominee in my mind is Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave. I’ve taken out the late James Gandolfini for Enough Said and replaced him with Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips. Others who didn’t make it but could easily be included later: Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks, John Goodman for Inside Llewyn Davis, Matthew McConaughey for Mud (especially if he’s not recognized for Dallas Buyer’s Club in lead Actor), Daniel Bruhl for Rush, Josh Brolin in Labor Day, Jake Gyllenhall in Prisoners, and Harrison Ford in 42.

Predictions:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Many believe this race will come down to Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave vs. Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Both Margo Martindale and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County are possible, but I’ve taken Martindale out and replaced her with June Squibb in Nebraska as the only change. Other possible nominees: Sarah Paulson in 12 Years a Slave and Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station.

Predictions:

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

And there you have it – round 3 is in the books! I’ll be back with round 4 in the coming weeks! Please note: my next round of predictions (around Thanksgiving most likely) will include my first forecast for winners in each race. Stay tuned.