Arts staff predicts 2014 Oscars

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By Arts Staff

The 86th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC and will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, a vast improvement over last year’s host, Seth McFarlane. Cue the endless slew of shameless Finding Dory plugs.

While waiting for their invitations to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sam Bertschmann ’14, Elana Katz ’14 and Gabriella Levine ’14 shared their picks for this year’s Oscar winners in several of  the ceremony’s major categories.

BEST PICTURE

Sam’s pick: 12 Years a SlaveLike any good Best Picture contender, 12 Years a Slave has the whole package: expert directing, top-notch acting and a beautifully crafted screenplay. While I think the same can be said of American Hustle (but not of Gravity, which many pundits are calling the dark horse of the Best Picture race), Steve McQueen’s film has already nabbed the top prize at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Critics Choice Movie Awards and the PGA. At this point, 12 Years is unstoppable.

Elana’s pick: 12 Years a SlaveThis is a superb film that gets to the heart of an important part of American history through the experiences of a single man. It’s artfully constructed by Steve McQueen, and John Ridley’s screenplay was created with great care. Also, the stellar group of actors carried this film, truly taking it to the next level. The total amount of impressive work on this project deserves  recognition with a win in this category.

Gabriella’s pick: American HustleWhy? Because it’s got humor, sass, big hairdos, Long Island accents, a sketchy political scandal, a director who has made magic in his past few films and, drum roll please … Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The cast is incredible, David O. Russell is incredible, the story is not so incredible, but does anyone care? The amazing performances delivered by every cast member solidify this film as one of the few in history that has gained recognition in every acting category, and that alone should propel it to success. This movie is a bundle of fun and the fact that it is an enjoyable film should not be used against it.

BEST DIRECTOR

Sam’s pick: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a SlaveAlfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is a cool experiment and visual masterpiece, certainly, but I think it’s this year’s Avatar: a theatrical delight that can’t legitimately compete in the Academy’s bigger categories. Cuarón is currently the odds-on favorite to take home this prestigious prize, but I bet his film won’t see anything other than cinematography and visual effects trophies, which I think are the only truly remarkable components of Gravity. My money is on first-time nominee Steve McQueen. Best Picture and Best Director often go hand-in-hand (but not always, considering that Argo took home the top prize last year while director Ben Affleck was not even nominated), and I could easily see McQueen cleaning up this Sunday.

Elana’s pick: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a SlaveHis direction is an integral part of the film’s success. It seems his touch really set this film apart from the rest. It was clear and, best of all, artful.

Gabriella’s pick: Alfonso Cuarón, GravityThat guy who used his awesome directorial skills with technological savvy while guiding Sandy Bullock through space. I can’t remember his name, because the only name I can really think of is David O. Russell, who should be the winner in this category. But, alas, technology and special effects will take the cake for the director race this year.

BEST ACTOR

Sam’s pick: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers ClubDid Drake write “Started From the Bottom” in anticipation of McConaughey’s meteoric rise from hunky rom-com leading man to serious actor? Probably. Between this and True Detective, McConaughey has really turned himself around in the last year, professionally speaking. He already has a Golden Globe and SAG Award under his belt for this role, which has Oscar written all over it, too; McConaughey lost nearly 50 pounds for Dallas Buyers Club, which is based on the true story of AIDS victim and activist Ron Woodroof. Go git it, McConaughey.

Elana’s pick: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers ClubAll right all right all right. For me, McConaughey had this one in the bag when he snagged the SAG Award. Not only was his performance a complete knock-out, but he also showed great depth in the true story of Ron Woodroof’s valiant fight against AIDS.

Gabriella’s pick: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers ClubIf for no other reason than wanting to see him jump on the stage, spout out a few “All right all right all rights” in his manly drawl and potentially hear his lovely wife yell from the crowd, “GO GIT IT, MCCONAUGHEY! GO GIT IT, MY KING!” Then, Leo will put his head in his hands, tears will run down his face and quiet murmurs of the Curse of Leonardo will abound. Don’t get me wrong, DiCaprio should probably win, because, let’s face it, there are only so many times he can lose after giving mesmerizing performances under the direction of good old Scorcese. But McConaughey has the momentum, and I think he’s just going to cruise on through and go git it.

BEST ACTRESS

Sam’s pick: Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineMovie critics have had Cate Blanchett pegged as the winner in this category since the film’s release last August, and the only minor threat to her throne is Amy Adams’ superb work in American Hustle. Blanchett’s performance seems strong enough to snag her a victory nonetheless.

Elana’s pick: Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineMuch like McConaughey, Blanchett has swept this category at the other award shows. That aside, Blanchett’s performance in this film was unparalleled. From range of emotion to the neurosis that dictated her life, Blanchett’s Jasmine is one for the books.

Gabriella’s pick: Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineThere doesn’t even need to be a reason or an explanation for this. She will win. Also, to those who believe the whole Woody Allen scandal will cause her to lose: get on the Blanchett train or get lost. Discussion over.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Sam’s pick: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers ClubLeto steals absolutely every scene he’s in, a particularly impressive feat given McConaughey’s fantastic performance. His portrayal of Rayon is sympathetic and deeply moving, and he is a lovelier lady than I will ever be.

Elana’s pick: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers ClubDallas Buyers Club had two of the best performances this year, and Jared Leto is the prettiest woman I have ever seen. Who knew that Jordan Catalano had this in him? Leto transformed himself, and that effort should be recognized with a win in this category.

Gabriella’s pick: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers ClubAnother one who will come in, like Blanchett, and stomp out his competition. This category isn’t really a contest, although Bradley Cooper was obviously so cute in his perm.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sam’s pick: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle“Thank God for me,” says Rosalyn after a fire in the “science oven” that she both starts and extinguishes. J.Law might as well be talking about herself here. What would we do without her endless slew of show-stopping performances and hysterical interviews? I don’t care to find out. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Lawrence dominates American Hustle and I think she’ll do the same at Sunday’s ceremony. Lupita Nyong’o is a strong contender in this category as well, but I hope the odds will be ever in J.Law’s favor.

Elana’s pick: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a SlaveI know there are a ton of J.Law lovers out there, but she already got her Oscar; it’s time to recognize another ingénue. Nyong’o was such a gift to 12 Years a Slave, giving the film extra depth through her stellar performance. Also, I would love to see her give another acceptance speech.

Gabriella’s pick: Jennifer Lawrence, American HustleOkay, ladies and gents, THIS is the nail-biting contest of the Oscars. Will it be Lupita Nyong’o, the newcomer, Yale School of Drama graduate who gave a stunning, dramatic performance in a landmark film on slavery? Or will it be Jennifer Lawrence, the girl on fire who can’t seem to do anything wrong in her life and with whom everyone wants to be best friends? Nyong’o has the slightest edge in this category, but I’m going to go with J.Law. Lawrence’s staggering popularity has unfortunately overshadowed the toxic performance she gave as Rosalyn, a deranged yet somehow likable Long Island housewife in American Hustle. However, the talent and versatility that Lawrence shows as a 23-year-old actress should be awarded. She breathes the crazy into Rosalyn and leaves the audience wanting more. In essence, she is the true newcomer because she proves to us, time and time again, that she can take on new challenges and succeed effortlessly. Also, I want to see her trip in Dior again. With that being said, Nyong’o should be recognized as an angel who has illustrated the utmost grace and elegance. Plus, she delivered a heart-rending performance. This will be a close one.

BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Sam’s pick: Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell, American HustleWith its expertly crafted narrative, sharp dialogue and richly drawn characters, American Hustle has a solid chance at this one.

Elana’s pick: Spike Jonze, HerIf you haven’t already, you should see Her. It is inventive, touching and, most of all, a look into our tenable future. Jonze brings a special combination of depth and lightheartedness to his work. I value the sincerity of his writing.

BEST WRITING, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Elana’s pick: John Ridley, 12 Years a SlaveThe care and attention to detail that Ridley put into the script of this intense story definitely shows. It is the basis for why this film is a true contender for Best Picture.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Elana’s pick: FrozenDisney always wins. This has consistently been a crowd favorite.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Elana’s pick: Catherine Martin, The Great GatsbyMartin embodied the roaring ’20s with her costumes and really set the tone of the film. She even had Tiffany & Co. make custom jewelry for the film. Overall, Martin did beautiful work in the construction of this time period.

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