Generation Film’s 2013 Academy Award (Oscar) Nominee Predictions Pt. 1: Best Picture and Best Director

It’s that time of year again where rushed movie outings occur to catch up on all of the missed films so that faux-Oscar ballots can be created in order to compete with family and friends at home in an epic showdown that always leaves friendships damaged and family separated. Okay, perhaps it doesn’t get that intense (although my house is close to reaching this point), but be sure that Oscar season brings out the anger in most dedicated Cinephiles and also brings out the inner movie geek in even the most casual of movie watchers. The following post shall address a majority of the major categories for awards first predicting who indeed will get nominated based on the Academy’s erroneous history and then I’ll add in my list of what really should be nominated based on true quality and not politically pandering.

After having seen pretty much a majority of the real contenders all the way from earlier in the year with Before Midnight and Fruitvale Station up to now with American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street I’m pretty sure I can assess the quality of each film and their chances of getting up for nominations in the various categories. We shall start with all of the major awards and then move into multiple posts for all the technical awards allowing me to give the proper focus to each and every important category and nominee.

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Best Picture

What will be nominated (up to 10 nominations):

  1.  12 Years a Slave
  2. Gravity
  3. American Hustle
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis
  6. Nebraska
  7. Fruitvale Station
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street
  9. Her
  10. Saving Mr. Banks

Some potential sleepers: Lee Daniels’ The Butler, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, Short Term 12, Before Midnight, Blue is the Warmest Color

GRAVITYThe above list of 10 films that the Academy will most likely nominate is a list that ignites very little objection from me.  In a way it’s a mix of realistic choices that envelope the year as a whole for the artistry of filmmaking (Her, Inside Llewyn Davis), the social criticism of filmmaking (12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street), and the technical achievements of filmmaking (Gravity). While some of the choices such as Her are a questionable hope it has already garnered some recognition from both the Golden Globes and the certain film critics’ awards. The only real contenders, however, are Steve McQueen’s astonishing slavery biopic 12 Years a Slave, David O. Russell’s well-acted yet mildly derivative American Hustle, and Alfonso Cuaron’s narratively simple yet technically proficient Gravity. If there is justice in the world (which there is very little) and if the Academy gets it right (which they seldom do) then Steve McQueen’s masterfully made and emotionally poignant 12 Years a Slave will walk away with the Best Picture win.

The not so sleeper Lee Daniels’ The Butler could step in to replace one of the above nominees and that would be a horrid tragedy because it’s overall an incredibly flat film that boasts cameo gimmickry instead of emotionally sustaining memorability. The performances had some good moments but never approached the level of quality in any of the other films mentioned above and even more that could be considered for the big prize, especially Richard Linklater’s incredible Before Midnight, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine (though it’s basically A Streetcar Named Desire), or Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color (about as good and uncomforting as Michael Haneke’s Amour nominated just last year for Best Picture and Director).

THE BUTLER

Finally, if I had my choice of the 10 nominees for Best Picture they would be the following:

  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. Short Term 12
  4. Blue is the Warmest Color
  5. Nebraska
  6. Before Midnight
  7. Her
  8. Gravity
  9. The Wolf of Wall Street
  10. American Hustle.

It’s a shame that the more independent and foreign choices this year, such as Short Term 12, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Before Midnight, won’t get their proper recognition but then I would be ecstatically surprised if they actually did.

Blue-Is-The-Warmest-Color-2

Best Director

It’s probably safe to say that the Academy and its members will be on high alert this year for the directing category mostly because of last year’s uproarious objection to their choices and omissions (Ben Affleck’s snub certainly guaranteed Argo winning an undeserved Best Picture win). With that said it seems the five directors are pretty much safe bets and are the following:

  1. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  3. David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  4. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
  5. Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street).

Some potential sleepers: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), Spike Jonze (Her), Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Color), Asghar Faradi (The Past)

inside-llewyn-davis-oscar-isaacImmediately I do have some objections to the above list because while my love for Scorsese has practically no limit and I was personally hurt when he didn’t win again for his work on Hugo (a more deserving piece of cinematic recognition than the remake The Departed) I’m not sure he fits here in this list especially with many other capable directing feats this year. It’s quite possible that Paul Greengrass could become a favorite and it would be partially deserving since his work on Captain Phillips was a delicate balance of tension filled drama and reserved technical choices (a sign of growth in the overindulgent filmmaker). His nomination though would knock out either Martin Scorsese or Alexander Payne and I’m not quite sure if it was good enough to warrant such a replacement.

It might be personal taste or an appreciation of subtlety in storytelling rather than overtly loud direction (looking at you David O. Russell and Martin Scorsese) but Joel and Ethan Coen’s work in Inside Llewyn Davis was remarkably subdued and Spike Jonze’s embodiment of a near future in tone, style, and performance was also an exercise in limitation. Both of these exceptional films will most likely be misunderstood now but looked highly upon in the future so it’s safe to say their recognition will come later instead of being properly exalted from the lacking in foresight Academy.

american-hustle-amy-adams-1If I were to pick the five nominees for Best Director this year my choices would be the following:

  1. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
  3. Richard Linklater (Before Midnight)
  4. Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  5. Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Color).

It might be wrong of me to praise Abdellatif as much as I have considering the complaints his two leading actresses have aimed towards him but the film is a remarkable and memorable piece of cinema that carefully and respectfully captures the ups and downs within the intimacy of first love. Also Richard Linklater’s ability to deliver a consistently emotional and thought provoking product in his Before series will be overlooked by the Academy but be sure it’s an incredible feat in directorial capability.

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