Before the Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, two pieces of news loom large: the tragic and unexpected death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a true performing artist and one of my favorite actors, and the invalidation of the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel due to Broughton’s actions that “were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations.” Despite these, the year 2013 was relatively satisfactory for film fans, as the year saw the emergence of two refreshing works of art that contributed new meanings to filmmaking as an art form, namely Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and Her, a science fiction romantic comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The following Oscars predictions are divided into two categories: the one that WILL win and the one that SHOULD win, meaning my voting (if I was qualified to vote) may differ from that of the majority of the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy:
1. BEST PICTURE: There will be a fierce battle between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, intensified with the unprecedented tie at the Producers Guild of America Award ceremony. Academy members, I predict, will also have a hard time deciding which film to vote. I would vote for Gravity without any hesitation. To me, 12 Years a Slave is old fashioned in both content and form, particularly with regard to its way of storytelling. In contrast, Gravity breaks many grounds in filmmaking, and such a brave experiment ought to be rewarded.
Will Win: Gravity;
Should Win: Gravity.
2. BEST DIRECTOR: It is unanimous, and there will be no complication: it goes to Alfonso Cuaron, director of Gravity and one of the “The Three Amigos of Cinema.”
Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron;
Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron.
3. BEST ACTOR: Well, this will be a showdown between two handsome guys: Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo certainly deserves an Oscar after repeated nominations in this major category. But it seems he will lose once again this year. It is not because Oscars does not like him, but simply due to the fact that the competition in this category is too brutal. Matthew McConaughey’s exceptional performance in Dallas Buyers Club outweighs Leonardo’s. Too unfortunate for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey;
Should Win: Matthew McConaughey.
4. BEST ACTRESS: There will be little complication. It will go to Cate Blanchett, who plays a rich Manhattan socialite falling into poverty and homelessness after her boyfriend is indicted. Woody Allen must be hostile to the West Coast, as the story takes place in New York and San Francisco, with the latter as the setting of Cate’s uneasy screen life.
Will Win: Cate Blanchett;
Should Win: Cate Blanchett.
5. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: It will be a smooth ride for Jared Leto, who plays a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club. Academy members usually reward those actors/actresses whose roles are challenging and totally transformative.
Will Win: Jared Leto;
Should Win: Jared Leto.
6. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: The winner WILL and SHOULD be Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the wife of a con artist portrayed by Christian Bale in American Hustle.
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence;
Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence.
7. BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: This year’s nominations are relatively weak, with Denmark’s The Hunt and Italy’s The Great Beauty as front runners. Either one of them has the chance to win, but I think Italy’s The Great Beauty will benefit from its recent showings in LA and New York, as well as its sweet tribute to Federico Fellini’s works, such as La Dolce Vita and 8½.
Will Win: The Great Beauty;
Should Win: The Great Beauty.
8. BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The two box-office hits, Frozen and Despicable Me 2, will be neck and neck in this competition. Many people liked Frozen, but I loved the dark humor and outrageous jokes in Despicable Me 2.
Will Win: Frozen;
Should Win: Despicable Me 2.