Posted Mar 02 2014

Lastword Calls The Oscars 2014

Voting for the 86th Academy Awards closed on Tuesday evening, so whatever’s going down this coming Sunday is now a done deal, bar the counting. And the crying that will follow. It’s been the closest year for ages, largely due to the fact there are some really good movies out there. Despite that, three titles have been going neck and neck for most of it. Gravity and 12 Years A Slave were early favorites, then American Hustle became a pre-Christmas late shower and threatened to eclipse all (no idea why – it’s not that good.)

However the subsequent weeks of avid campaigning have seen the novelty of new wear off and we’re fairly confident in saying that Hustle has lost its edge, so we’re backing the other two to dominate one way or another. (Although never say never – the Academy’s system of preferential voting on the Best Picture award can easily see one movie cancel out another in a split vote, leaving a lesser film to pick up the prize.)

All that aside, the time for theorizing and speculating is over. We’re calling it. Here are the Oscar winners for 2014 (or do we mean 2013?). We’re sure of it! (In some sort of order that leaves the biggies to the end.)


Best Supporting Actress – This looked like a lock but has in recent weeks become one of the harder one to call. Jennifer Lawrence’s win at the BAFTAs surprised a lot of people – ourselves included. And if the Brits love here that much, it’s safe to say that the home team have a mighty big thing for her as well. That said, two years in a row? For one so young? Beloved? Or cries of “upstart?” We’re thinking the latter and this is a category that traditionally likes to reward young talent (sorry Roberts and Squibb) so we’re going young, gifted and knock out fantastic in 12 Years – the Oscar goes to Lupita Nyong’O.

Best Supporting Actor – You lose weight, you throw on a frock, you rock a disease – everyone knows who’s taking this one home. Cooper – you’re in the fashion film that went out of fashion, Hill – they don’t think you’re the real deal yet, Fassbender – your day will come undoubtedly. And as for Abdi – well if anyone can upset this applecart, it’s you. But it’s not – it’s Jared Leto.

Let’s sidestep into some of the evening’s technical nods and –

Best Cinematography

This is a hell of a high quality collection of nominees, despite the ridiculous omission of Her. Even though it saddens us to chalk up another fail for always the bridesmaid Roger Deakins, this one is very clearly destined to land on the mantle-piece of Emmanuel Lubezki for his groundbreaking, breathtaking work on Gravity. (And thus the sweep begins.)

Best Costume Design – Yes, the clothes are cool In Hustle but really that’s less a case of design and more a case of raiding your parents’ closets. Costume should be grand and period detail is always a fave. No, not the drab period of The Invisible Woman, but the sheer decadence of the statuette’s claimant – The Great Gatsby…

…which also picks up Best Production Design for all those lavish sets and haunting billboards.

Best Animated Film

There are a handful of locks this evening. We’ve already had one in Leto and here’s another – Frozen (The Croods – really?) And speaking of which…

Best Original Song – True, the Academy likes a bit of star-fucking when it comes to pop royalty. And on display tonight they have Pharrell, Karen O and the mighty U2 whom I’m sure they’ve been trying to get along to their party for years. Well, they’re all here, they’re all performing…and that will have to do. As the golden boy is bound for Let It Go from Frozen (even if it does sound like a bad outtake for an even worse Kelly Clarkson album.)

From the perceived frivolity of cartoons and pop tunes to the eminent accepted worthiness of –

Best Documentary Feature – and The Act of Killing should be ticking that box with ease. But what are the odds that, despite the Academy sending every voter a 13-disc box set of all these titles (shorts included) for the first time this year, most of ‘em haven’t watched most of ‘em. The one they would have put in the player however is the one that was fun, just be grateful it’s deserving to boot – keeping that pop thang going – gong goes to 20 Feet From Stardom. (Cue Darlene and the ladies giving back some serious Love.)

Sticking with the difficult ones that the majority will not have got round to placing in their Blu Ray trays, we move swiftly along to -

Best Foreign Language Film - Difficult this one. After all, Belgium’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, like the doc before it, has recognizable songs, sung in English, whilst Denmark’s The Hunt has a recognizable storyline (and ever since The Killing everything Danish is cool. “No, hang on we watched the American version.”) Italy’s always classy “and I heard this was really good.” Step forward in a fine looking suit – The Great Beauty.

Next, one of the problem categories of this year –

Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Really, what the hell happened here?! Only three nominees and one of them is the biggest flop of the year. And another is Jackass! Neither of which anyone wants to be seen to be voting for, so by default, the Oscar accompanies the weight-losing-for-your-art-performances of -Dallas Buyers Club. And it’s another year in which Johnny Knoxville goes home empty handed again. Sigh!

And so to a swathe of techie awards we’re going to run through very quickly as they are, in most cases, foregone conclusions. If you can guarantee four tables at this year’s bash that are going to be drinking heavily, secure in the knowledge they don’t have to stay sober enough to get up on that stage and make a speech, it’ll be those belonging to Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Lone Ranger and The Hobbit. Because the Oscar for Best Visual Effects is so clearly destined for Gravity’s orbit that the others are surely just pleased to be in the room.

Similarly, the space pic picks up the nod for Sound Editing (despite serious competition from the all at sea All Is Lost and Cap’n Phillips.) As is traditional in these cases (mostly) we’re giving it Sound Mixing as well.

And while Gravity s sweeping the board, Steven Price picks up an uncle Oscar lookalike for his fab score for Gravity in Best Music. (Sorry, Alexander Desplat, it’ll happen soon.)

And while we’re at it –

Best Film Editing – Captain Phillips had the editors awarding it their own award a couple of weeks back – and they should know. But for the first time this year, the whole Academy is voting for every award. So we’re calling it for – yes, you guessed it – Gravity.

Getting bored with the space pic? Don’t worry, time for a breather – it’s not up for –

Best Original Screenplay – but Her is. And Spike Jonze has been impressing them for a while now and here’s a chance to both welcome him in, and acknowledge one of the most remarkable films of the year. And it’s definitely “original”, unlike some - David O Russell, it’s really turning out to be not your night.

Best Adapted Screenplay – and talking of poor showings so far – just what has happened to 12 Years? We’d be very happy to have the dynamite combo of Linklater, Delpy and Hawke walk away with the honors for the wonderful Before Midnight – but it won’t happen. We even think that Coogan and Pope are in with a shot for Philomena – probably won’t happen. The Wolf is a deserved winner, but ultimately we think it loses by a whisker to – 12 years A Slave.

Which leads us to the big four and the next lock –

Best Actress in a Leading Role – The only way Cate Blanchett is losing this is if Dylan Farrow has been at the ballots – literally or metaphorically. And seriously, if by any chance she doesn’t pick it up, everyone will know it’s the result of the recent Woodygate flare up and everyone will die of shame. So the woman who has led the race since day one and seen off all the worthy comers (and Meryl Streep) deservedly picks up her first Oscar for a leading role – Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine. (Whether she mentions Woody in the speech is another matter).

Best Actor In A Leading Role – First off, BAFTA winner Chewy is now out of it. Sorry, just isn’t happening. Bale never had a hope, and Dern may have marshalled a lot of the codger vote but not enough. So it’s Leo versus Matt and whilst we would dearly love for it to be Leo - and Wolf has gained a lot of favor sine its original unnecessary controversy, largely due to the tireless campaign work DiCaprio has put in, the winner is picking it up not just for that old trick of losing weight and having a terrible disease, but for a mid-career turnaround that everyone has rejoiced in seeing. Take the stage – Matthew McConaughey.

And so to the final two and the question that hangs over the entire evening – will there be a split? Will Director and Picture go hand in hand, or will the BAFTA influence be felt with people feeling liberated enough in light of what happened there two weeks ago, to divide the spoils??

Best Director – This is the evening’s final lock. Yes, Russell is desperate to win one and this will be his third fail in four years if he doesn’t. He doesn’t! Suck it up and try again (ideally with a stronger film.) Both Payne and his mentor Scorsese aren’t really in the running. So it’s a black-Mexican stand-off. And while a win for McQueen would be historical, a loss for Alfonso would be ridiculous. Pass the statue please to the visionary work of Alfonso Cuaron.

And the crowd goes crazy…

…then hushes up again for the big one.

Best Picture – Two horse race. Both great movies, both worthy of the title. 12 Years has the weight of history behind it, Gravity is a science fiction movie with lots of fx – a genre that has never won before. It’s also a terrific, masterful piece of genuinely humane filmmaking so, no, they’re eschewing the split and the Best Picture of 2013 goes to – Gravity. And Oscar gets it right.


That’s how we here at lastword see it. Come back on Sunday 2nd March when we’ll be live-blogging the event to see just how right we were.

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