My Oscar Picks 2014

by Tony Shea on March 2, 2014

in FILM, LISTS, REVIEWS

Ellen Degeneres Oscars

The Oscars are once again upon us. Below are my picks.

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave” WINNER
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”


This film has a number of strong performances that will resonate with the Academy’s members who are actors – the largest voting block. Look for “12 Years a Slave” to take home the big prize.

DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity” WINNER
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”


Cuarón has already won the DGA Award for Best Director, and deservedly so. “Gravity” is a feat of technical wizardry that raises the bar on the filmgoing experience. The film is a little light on story however, which will account for it losing out to “12 Years a Slave” for Best Picture. Look for “Gravity” to take home Best Director as well as a number of other technical awards.

LEAD ACTOR
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” WINNER
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”


Matthew McConaughey has had an outstanding year when you consider his work in “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well as on the HBO show “True Detective.” Look for the Academy to reward his work in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”

LEAD ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” WINNER
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”


The ongoing controversy over wether Woody Allen molested his  7 year old daughter may give some Academy voters pause, but ultimately Cate Blanchett’s performance as a neurotic socialite will take home the award for Best Actress.

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” WINNER


Jared Leto has already won the SAG award in this category so look for him to repeat based on the pool of overlapping voters. Here, Leto talks with the LA Times.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave” WINNER
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”


Lupita Nyongo delivers a performance that is notable for the depth of its grief in “12 Years a Slave”  and the Academy will award her Best Supporting Actrress.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Frozen” WINNER
“The Wind Rises”


“The Wind Rises” from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki is certainly the best of the bunch and the most adult. “Frozen” is the odds on favorite to win.

CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Grandmaster,” Philippe Le Sourd
“Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki WINNER
“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska,” Phedon Papamichael
“Prisoners,” Roger A. Deakins

Lubezki deserves to win for the astonishing technical virtuosity displayed in “Gravity.” On the other side of things, though I imagine he has little in the way of grassroots support, Phillippe Le Sourd did some fine work this year in “The Grandmaster” and he should be proud of the nomination.

COSTUME DESIGN
“American Hustle,” Michael Wilkinson WINNER
“The Grandmaster,” William Chang Suk Ping
“The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin
“The Invisible Woman,” Michael O’Connor
“12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris


Since American Hustle began its awards season run there has been a backlash against the film that I imagine will keep the films from most of the top honors. The film will earn a few bones along the way, Costume Design Among them.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“The Act of Killing” WINNER
“Cutie and the Boxer”
“Dirty Wars”
“The Square”
“20 Feet from Stardom”


I think that “The Act of Killing” will win, if for no other reason that the acclaimed pedigrees of its executive producers, Errol Morris and Warner Herzog. But for my money “Cutie and the Boxer” is the real gem of the lot – a beautiful and touching story of married Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
“CaveDigger”
“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” WINNER
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”


The Oscars has a long history of honoring survivor stories, especially stories concerning the Holocaust so expect the The Lady in Number 6 to take Best Documentary Short Subject.

FILM EDITING
“American Hustle,” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips,” Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club,” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger WINNER
“12 Years a Slave,” Joe Walker

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“The Missing Picture,” Cambodia
“Omar,” Palestine


It’s a strong field this year on the foreign film side of things. That said, look for “The Great Beauty” to win since it is a wonderful and lively meditation on life and joy and legacy that comes off like a modern day “La Dolce Vita,” which should capture a variety of admirers young and old.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” Stephen Prouty WINNER
“The Lone Ranger,” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny
Original score
“The Book Thief,” John Williams
“Gravity,” Steven Price
“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman


Though it sounds perhaps impossible, but really the award should go to “Jackass Present: Bad Grandpa” which required that Johnny Knoxville wear that would have to stand yup to close scrutiny from real life people standing right in front of him. No small feat.

ORIGINAL SONG
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“The Moon Song” from “Her”
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” WINNER


The combination of U2 and Nelson Mandela should prove an unstoppable force to win the award for Best Original Song.

PRODUCTION DESIGN
“American Hustle,” Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler WINNER
“Gravity,” Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
“The Great Gatsby,” Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn
“Her,” Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
“12 Years a Slave,” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

“The Great Gatsby” is the odds on favorite to win in this category, but I think “American Hustle” will win this one a guilty choice for those rethinking their opinion on wether “American Hustle” is great or any good at all for that matter.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
“Feral”
“Get a Horse!” WINNER
“Mr. Hublot”
“Possessions”
“Room on the Broom”


Though it seems impossible to me that Mickey Mouse could win, I’ll defer to Jay Hood on this one.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
“Helium”
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” WINNER
“The Voorman Problem”


Again, I think Jay Hood made the right call on the Oscar shorts.

SOUND EDITING
“All Is Lost,” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips,” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle WINNER
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Brent Burge and Chris Ward
“Lone Survivor,” Wylie Stateman

SOUND MIXING
“Captain Phillips,” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro WINNER
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor,” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

VISUAL EFFECTS
“Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould WINNER
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger,” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Before Midnight,” written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke WINNER
“Captain Phillips,” screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena,” screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave,” screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street,” screenplay by Terence Winter


Though there is some confusion to why this “Before Midnight” is included in the adapted category, the film’s creators, namely Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy, have been around a long time and have many admirers between them. Look for “Before Midnight” to win this award.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“American Hustle,” written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine,” written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club,” written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her,” written by Spike Jonze WINNER
“Nebraska,” written by Bob Nelson


“Her” had an interesting concept at core – namely that a man falls in love in with his computer’s operating system, and the film already won at the WGA Awards. You can look of this trend to continue when “Her” picks up an Oscar in this category.

Tony Shea ( Editor-in-Chief, New York)

Tony Shea is based in New York, having recently moved from Los Angeles after more than a decade on the sunny coast. His short films have won numerous awards and screened at major festivals around the world including Comic-Con. As a musician, he is the lead singer for Los Angeles rock n’ roll band Candygram For Mongo (C4M) candygramformongo.com who has been a featured artist on Clear Channel Radio’s Discover New Music Program and whose songs have been heard on Battlestar Gallactica (Syfy Channel) and Unhitched (Fox) among other shows and films.

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