Oscar Season 2014 Comes to An End: My Pick, Our Picks – And Thanks

Oscar Season 2014 Comes to An End: My Pick, Our Picks – And Thanks

It's been a fantastic ride, an awards season rich with excellence and rife with surprises

We made it. Here we are at the end of another Oscar season, knowing as little about the likely winner for Best Picture now as we did back in September.

But it's been a fantastic ride, an awards season rich with excellence and rife with surprises, from the rapturous reception for “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” to the sneaky affection for “Her” to the surge in enthusiasm for “American Hustle.”

This year the race has been a series of wild cards, and what seemed likely to veteran prognosticators three months ago has not necessarily come to pass. Nonetheless, we have loved getting inside the best performances of the season, the daunting directorial ambitions, the latest technological barriers broken and the new frontiers explored in the art form.

Today, our Steve Pond gives you his final predictions  for all the awards but especially the Big One. The uncertainty around the Best Picture race is in stark contrast with the sense of fait accompli around nearly all the acting categories. It's a bit anti-climactic to note that Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”) is likey to win Best Actor, that Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) is apparently fated to take Best Actress, that Lupita N'yongo (“12 Years a Slave”) is favored over Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”) for supporting actress and that Jared Leto need only show up to take home his Best Supporting statue.  But there were so many other incredible acting performances – I will point out Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, Sandra Bullock as the unforgettable astronaut in “Gravity,” the unmatchable Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, to cite just a few. Do people even remember that Michael Fassbender – who declined to campaign at all – is nominated for his brave, villainous turn as a slaveowner?

Our executive editor Joseph Kapsch gave his own predictions on CNN's New Day this morning too, check it out.

As for me, I'm going out on a limb and on the record for Best Picture (did so here: TheWrap's Oscar Partygoers Pick Best Picture Winners (Video) )… with “12 Years a Slave.”

Much as I adore “Gravity” for its daring and its accomplishment (that's the other real contender, I think), I feel “12 Years” should win. To me, “12 Years” is a lasting work of art that contains within it both elegaic beauty and a glimpse into the blackest part of the human condition. It bothers me that some Academy members may not have seen it out of fear of the emotional journey the film promises, and that may hurt the film's chances.

But it's not too much to watch (I took my teenaged son to our screening series, and I'm sure he'll never forget hearing the cast discuss making this film, Lupita N'yongo describing the day of the whipping scene.) Steve McQueen has provided us a vision that as a country we needed, drawing the most authentic possible performances from his actors in the process. Here film serves its highest purpose – allowing us to share in an experience of artifice to better understand harsh reality.

It may or may not win, of course. And we will all rejoice with whoever does take home the gold statue. On the whole it's been a delightful season. W e are all the beneficiaries of our cinematic artists reaching ever higher to tell their stories in innovative, unexplored ways.

Wishing everyone a great Oscar weekend.

Here's that video of industry insiders picking their Best Picture favorites:

  • Lizziebeth-1, IMDb

    Dear Ms Waxman, thank you for your thoughtful summary and conversation(s), I've always enjoyed your view. Overall: I'll go further to admit that the field is too open, none of the films are of sufficient execution or in most cases barring one or two, of calibre. I always compare a film to Amadeus(1984) to see if it deserves Best Pic. This year, I happen to agree with you about 12Yrs. Would add that as frustrated as many Afr-Am's are with this theme, the fractiousness of Am. society still needs the consolidating impacts, hopefully, of 12Yrs. And when the film is as deep as this, why not? (Personal Niggles: the uncontexted scene of Chiwetel contemplating in closeup for too long trying to decide whether to escape; the whipping scene going on for too long without editorialisation. Audiences veer off according to their own perceptions – not good). My subjective favourite which probably cannot win: Her (but it too was flawed, specifically claustrophobic and scope- limited, plus non-credible with its sexual resolution). So not a comfortable field. American Hustle contained so many embarrassing human behaviours esp by Bradley Cooper's FBI agent, that it's difficult to take the film seriously, we lose faith in the whole filmic representation of the era. It's too ludicrous. Done before, perhaps better, in American Gangster(2007), and I had niggles enough about that at the time! None of this year's field are cultural must-sees, except for Tom Hanks’ Captain Phillips – er, whatever happened to A Hijacking last year, Academy?? – and 12Years. So, frankly, not all that impressed with this year’ nominees.

    • Lizziebeth-1, IMDb

      And here it is, no surprise: “12 Years a Slave” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers *WINNER.
      Thanks, Ms Waxman.

    • Lizziebeth-1, IMDb

      So what about the animated field? I cannot really abide the overwhelming WIN by Frozen this year. I found DM2 so much better on every level – I can only imagine that, A) there was more technological innovation in Frozen, or B) Everyone has voted to simply support John Lasseter now at Disney just because.
      I like the man myself, but Frozen doesn't win my support – whereas John Carter might have had (in a different categ)… I don't get it.
      I also don't get the win by The Great Beauty. That movie is even mental. :-(