Sunday, March 2 2014, 07:02 PM MST
Last week when I was asked to put together a short list of films people should see before Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast I suggested Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Frozen. It’s starting to look like I should have included American Hustle to that list as many are now predicting that it could sneak in and steal Best Picture as voters divide themselves between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. I’d personally be upset if that happened. I liked American Hustle, but it didn’t crack my top 10 of 2013 and was a slight disappointment (particularly considering the amount of praise that New York’s critics were giving it in early December). I applaud the comedic aspects of the film; it’s the lack of tension that keeps the film from being something really special. It does seem rather odd that the film wasn’t nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling considering the amount of attention (on screen and off) that was given to Christian Bale’s hair.
So, who will be Sunday’s big winners? I’d like to see 12 Years a Slave land Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and wouldn’t mind if Chiwetel Ejiofor took Best Actor in a Leading Role. I’d prefer that Before Midnight win for Best Adapted Screenplay, but 12 Years a Slave seems to be the going favorite there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gravity walks away with five or more wins. It will likely get Best Director, possibly Best Original Score and a host of technical awards including Best Cinematography (my vote there would go to The Grandmaster). Dallas Buyers Club will take Best Actor in a Supporting Role (I’d give it to Captain Philips’ Barkhad Abdi) and Best Actor in a Leading Role. Frozen will get Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (sorry Bono and Co.). So where does that leave American Hustle? If Woody Allen’s recent headlines influence voters you might see Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar go to Amy Adams and you can’t count Jennifer Lawrence out of any Oscar race (even if she’d be my third choice behind both Blue Jasmine’s Sally Hawkins and likely winner12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o). American Hustle could also pick up Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Original Screenplay (which could as easily go to Her). Best Foreign Language Film will most likely go to The Great Beauty, but I’m more partial to films that weren’t even nominated.
It’s a wide open year in all but a few categories and that means there should be more than a few surprises come Sunday evening.
-Ryan Michael Painter