Like millions of other Canadians, I will watch the Academy Awards on Sunday, and like millions of other Canadians, four hours later I will hate myself for watching it. So, for those of you who don’t want to watch it, but want to know the winners, here they are …
Director: Easy one. Nine of the last 10 winners of the Directors Guild Award have won the directing Oscar. This year, Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) won. Ergo, it’s Alfonso. Only other possible winner is Steve McQueen, both for 12 Years A Slave and for having a cool name.
Supporting actress: This category is most often won by A-listers slumming it in lesser roles, up-and-comers, old veterans and any actress in a Woody Allen movie. This year, we have two A-listers (Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts) an up-and-comer (Lupita Nyong’o), an old timer (June Squibb), and a Woody Allen actress (Sally Hawkins). This is the toughest call of the night. Julia Roberts won’t win (nobody wants to hear another of her acceptance speeches), and Jennifer Lawrence is too fresh from her best actress Oscar from last year, even though everybody seems to love her. A Woody Allen actress is likely to win best actress (see Best Actress), which is enough to eliminate Sally Hawkins. I like the chances of a little known old-timer winning (Squibb, from Nebraska), but she has no body of film work to add a ‘lifetime achievement’ factor. That leaves Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave. And she’s been a red carpet darling, if that helps.
Supporting actor: This category tends to produce a lot of slam dunks — Christopher Plummer (Beginners) in 2011, Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) in 2009, Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), in 2008, Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) in 2004, etc. This year is another one of those — Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. A straight actor playing a trans-gender person with AIDS would have been an Oscar contender if Carrot Top had played it; fortunately, Leto is also great in the part. No other actors need to attend.
Best actress: Another apparent certainty. The Woody Allen actress award will go to Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine (haven’t seen it; still waiting for Woody to get funny again). If I had a vote, I’d go for Judi Dench in Philomena; she’s perfect in a really outstanding movie. But it’s Blanchett’s night all the way.
Best actor: Is there any way Matthew McConaughey won’t win for Dallas Buyers Club? Not anymore. If he had followed up Dallas Buyers Club with one of his old romantic comedies — something called She’s All That, or Best of Friends, or Getting Together, or Shirtless in Seattle — than he might have cost himself some votes. But thanks to his great performance, his dramatic weight loss for the role (shows commitment to the craft, after all), appearances in an indie film called Mud and in The Wolf of Wall Street, and his current starring role in the HBO series True Detective, McConaughey is a lock. Good for him. Now, please eat something. You’re skin and bones!
Best picture: A wide open category. First, the films to eliminate.
Nebraska is too small and too arty, and too black and white. Captain Phillips is too mainstream (I saw it last night, and it’s terrific). Philomena is also too small (but again, an excellent film). Nobody seems interested in Her. The Wolf of Wall Street has had almost as much negative attention as positive, so it’s out. Dallas Buyers Club might have been a contender in a weaker year (very good film; see it), but not this year.
So that leaves three possibles. American Hustle has a lot of support (it’s a good film, not great, in my view), but it also has its share of detractors. Gravity was a smash, a true movie experience, loved by critics and audiences (and only 90 minutes). 12 Years A Slave is Serious Film about race and slavery and all that stuff. (I haven’t seen it yet. It sounds like an ordeal, one of those take-your-medicine kind of movies.) I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these three films wins. But I’m picking Gravity, simply because it was the best movie-going experience of the year.
The show: Ellen DeGeneres will be nice and sweet and lovable and kind of boring. After last year’s Seth MacFarlane fiasco, DeGeneres is needed to fumigate the place with kindness.