The 85th Academy AwardsÆ will air live on OscarÆ Sunday, February 24, 2013.


This Sunday night’s 86th Academy Awards show on ABC should be one of the most exciting in recent years.  Last year’s awkward host Seth MacFarlane has been replaced by daytime talker Ellen DeGeneres, making her second appearance.  This year, we also have at least a handful of great films all competing for the 8.5- pound golden statuette.

Here are my selections on who I think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will vote for to honor the highest achievements in filmmaking:



Early frontrunner was Michael Fassbender (’12 Years a Slave’) with a few accolades even going to big-screen newcomer, Barkhad Abdi.  However, Jared Leto’s strong-willed transgender role in the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and his ability to educate not only Matthew McConaughey’s character on living with HIV AIDS, but also the audience, solidifies Leto’s Oscar chances.  

• 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)



Anyone who has seen ‘Gravity’ knows that this is the easiest ‘called shot’ since Babe Ruth’s in the 1932 World Series.

 • The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)

 • Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

 • Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)

 • Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)

 • Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)


With ‘Gravity’ tied for the most Oscar nominations with ‘American Hustle’ (at 10 nominations each), look for the space adventure to clean up in the technical categories.

 • Gravity

 • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 • Iron Man 3

 • The Lone Ranger

• Star Trek Into Darkness



The polyester suits, tinted eyeglasses and barely dressed characters of Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence told the scheming story in ‘American Hustle’ nearly as much as the combovers, protruding gut and Sheik negotiations.    

 • American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)

 • The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)

 • The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

• The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor)

• 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)



The hard, true life story of cowboy and electrician Ron Woodroof was made possible from something besides McConaughey’s 50-pound weight loss.  

• Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews)

• Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)

• The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny)



Those very effective--but eery--silent moments in ‘Gravity’ brought audiences into outer space for what felt like the first time since ‘Apollo 13’.

 • Captain Phillips

 • Gravity

 • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 • Inside Llewyn Davis

 • Lone Survivor



This could be another win for ‘Gravity’ but I’m hoping ‘Captain Phillips’ sails to victory in this category.  Look at me.  Sure.  Look at me. Sure.  I’m the captain now.

 • All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns)

 • Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)

 • Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

 • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge)

• Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)



With nine Oscar nominations, ‘12 Years a Slave’ may have a great night; one of the best chances for the film is in this category.  Since Jennifer Lawrence is coming off last year’s Oscar win for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ I give Nyong’o a slim advantage.

• Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

• Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

• Lupita Nyong’ (12 Years a Slave)

• Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

• June Squibb (Nebraska)


At about this time during Oscar Night we’re going to know if ‘Gravity’ or ‘American Hustle’ is running away from the other competition.  Just as the Sound Editing came down to between ‘Gravity’ and ‘Captain Phillips’, I look for those two to fight it out in this category as well.

• American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers & Alan Baumgarten)

• Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)

• Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa)

 • Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger)

• 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)



Making a film that really does look like the characters are in the zero gravity  of space takes excellence.  In this case it’s an Oscar, or as it’s called formally; the “Academy Award of Merit”.

• American Hustle

• Gravity

• The Great Gatsby

• Her

• 12 Years a Slave



This is the best chance for ‘Philomena’ to upset ‘Gravity’ and send it re-entering our Earth’s atmosphere.  A small chance.  Odds remain that ‘Gravity‘ will such the oxygen right out of ‘Philomena’.  

• The Book Thief

• Gravity

• Her

• Philomena

• Saving Mr. Banks



Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.  Let it go, let it go.  Turn away and slam the door on ‘Gravity’.

 • Alone Yet Not Alone (Alone Yet Not Alone)

• Happy (Despicable Me)

• Let It Go (Frozen)

• The Moon Song (Her)

• Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom)



Wonderfully told true story of a grown mother looking for her son she hasn’t seen in 50 years, only to find forgiveness.  If Judi Dench can hold off James Bond on a regular basis, ’12 Years a Slave’ won’t pose that much trouble to ‘Philomena’. 

• Before Midnight (Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke)

• 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)



This could the night’s most awkward moment if ‘Blue Jasmine’ wins to bring Woody Allen front-and-center on the Dolby stage.  Thankfully, this should be a showdown between ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Her’.

• American Hustle (Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

• Blue Jasmine (Written by Woody Allen)

• Dallas Buyers Club (Written by Craig Borton and Melisa Wallack)

• Her (Written by Spike Jonze)

• Nebraska (Written by Bob Nelson)



David O. Russell has never won an Oscar (‘The Fighter’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’) and is overdue from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Russell faces stiff competition from Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron.  I’m thinking the Oscar voters split the Directing and Best Picture winners this year.

• American Hustle (David O. Russell)

Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

• Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

• 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

• The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)



You can’t watch ‘Blue Jasmine’ and Blanchett’s performance and not come away thinking that she’s already wrapped up this statuette. Blanchett deserves the Oscar just for her character’s total meltdown after losing her husband--Alec Baldwin.

• Amy Adams (American Hustle)

• Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

• Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

• Judi Dench (Philomena)

• Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)



The 50-pounds lighter and shockingly frail looking McConaughey shakes audiences with his realistic portrayal of a vile, homophobic, disbeliever in the AIDS fight for others and a cure.  Easily McConaughey’s best performance of his lifetime.

• 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)



My 2013 Movie of the Year was the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ but it won’t withstand the weightlessness of ‘Gravity’, and con job of ‘American Hustle’ or the real history lesson behind ’12 Years a Slave’.  The audible gasps from the audience throughout ’12 Years a Slave’ are proof that director McQueen succeeded in capturing the injustice, inequality, human suffering, and death that remains the darkest chapter of our nation’s past. ’12 Years a Slave’ is a very difficult film to watch, and yet impossible to forget, especially on Oscar Night.

• American Hustle

• Captain Phillips

• Dallas Buyers Club

• Gravity

• Her

• Nebraska

• Philomena

• 12 Years a Slave

• The Wolf Of Wall Street

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