The Oscars a grimy political business - studios shelling out PR campaigns that appeal the voting demographic that skews old, conservative and ex-actors. You start seeing nasty little negative stories planted in The Hollywood Reporter and the more obvious than usual pimping out of the 'talent' at minor award ceremonies who's only real value is as a predictor for the big event. The Oscars are not a judge of merit - just look at the iconic pictures that have been unrecognised. But they DO add to the bottom line. And so, we Greedy Capitalist Bastards simply have to take them seriously.
This year there seem to be three main contenders: AMERICAN HUSTLE, GRAVITY and 12 YEARS A SLAVE. I loved the raucous slippery energy of HUSTLE but was left wondering if it's gonzo kitsch was intentional or not. GRAVITY was a technical tour de force and pure in intention but, of course, has to fight charges that it contains little else. 12 YEARS - ah 12 YEARS - I loved the courage, the artistry, but was left cold by the inclusion of Pitt and the epilogue. So it's pretty much even stevens.I guess my overall feeling is that liberal Hollywood will go for 12 YEARS for behind the lens but that HUSTLE will win out in front of the lens, with GRAVITY pulling the Technical awards. Also, BEST ACTOR is a sentimental tie between Bruce Dern and a form-busting Matthew McConaughey. The only egregious inclusions are PHILOMENA, which was schlocky at best. The pleasant surprise was Sally Hawkins for BLUE JASMINE.
So here we go: who was nominated, who shoulda been nominated, who will win, who should win. "Will" is marked with an asterisk, "Should" with a cross. Also, I should point out that I haven't seen DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB or HER yet.
BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave*; American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska+; Philomena; The Wolf of Wall Street.
BEST DIRECTOR: David O Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity; Alexander Payne, Nebraska+; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave*; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST ACTOR: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska+; Leonardo DiCaprio, The; Wolf of Wall Street*; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club.
BEST ACTRESS: Amy Adams, American Hustle*; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine+; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle*; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave+; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle*+; Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: American Hustle*; Blue Jasmine; Dallas Buyers Club; Her; Nebraska+.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Before Midnight; Captain Phillips; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave+; The Wolf of Wall Street*.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium); The Great Beauty (Italy); The Hunt (Denmark); The Missing Picture (Cambodia); Omar (Palestine).
BEST DOCUMENTARY: The Act of Killing; Cutie and the Boxer*; Dirty Wars; The Square; 20 Feet from Stardom.+
BEST ANIMATION: The Croods; Despicable Me 2; Ernest and Celestine; Frozen*+;The Wind Rises.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Alone Yet Not Alone, Alone Yet Not Alone; Happy, Despicable Me 2; Let It Go, Frozen*+; The Moon Song, Her; Ordinary Love, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Grandmaster; Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis; Nebraska+; Prisoners.
BEST EDITING: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity*+; 12 Years a Slave.
BEST SOUND EDITING: All Is Lost+; Captain Phillips; Gravity*; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Lone Survivor.
BEST SOUND MIXING: Captain Phillips; Gravity*+; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Inside Llewyn Davis; Lone Survivor.
BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIR: Dallas Buyers Club*+; Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa; The Lone Ranger.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Book Thief; Gravity*+; Her; Philomena; Saving Mr Banks.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: American Hustle+; Gravity*; The Great Gatsby; Her; 12 Years a Slave.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity*+; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Iron Man 3; The Lone Ranger; Star Trek Into Darkness.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: American Hustle*+; The Grandmaster; The Great Gatsby; The Invisible Woman; 12 Years a Slave.