Academy Awards: LemonWade’s Predictions

It’s been an endless Oscar season, but on Sunday the big night arrives. LemonWade’s Oscarologist, Rex Okpodu, has studied all the precursors from the past several weeks, and offers his predictions after the jump. Use them to win your Oscar-betting pool. Thanks, Rex!

By Rex Okpodu
It is a mistake to believe that the Oscar race is the most important achievement for a work of art. Nevertheless, the awards are an important marker in the history of Hollywood. In that spirit, I offer my predictions for this year:

Best Picture:
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street
Predicted winner: Gravity
Going by precedent, the Producers Guild (PGA) and Directors Guild (DGA) winner often indicates the frontrunner in the Best Picture and Director categories. Having won both, (it tied with 12 Years a Slave at the PGA in January), Gravity looks set for both big wins on March 2nd.
However, Gravity has only 2 actors, which might hurt it with the largest voting block in the Academy. Furthermore, for 13 times over the past 65 years, a film has lost Best Picture despite winning the DGA – an important precursor in the race. This year looks like being one of those exceptional years with 3 films running neck and neck for the top prize; voters might want to split the top 2 categories.
Alternative winner: 12 Years a Slave.
Though a hard-hitting and difficult to watch film, it is about an important historical subject that the Academy might want to recognize. It also tied with Gravity at the PGA, won the Golden Globe for Best Film Drama, and recently took BAFTA.
Spoiler: American Hustle
This feel-good caper film, populated by well-known actors, won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Best Ensemble in January as well as the Golden Globe for Best Film Comedy. As the largest voting group of the Academy, the actors could propel it to victory.

Best Director:
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Having won The Globe and DGA in January and BAFTA more recently, Cuaron is the inevitable frontrunner in this category.
Alternate Winner: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
The general rule is the winner of Best Picture often comes with a win in the Best Director category. Might not the Academy go for 12 Years and McQueen altogether?
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
To his credit, David O Russell has directed 4 actors to Oscar nominations in all the acting categories for the last 2 years. Actors (the largest voting block at the Academy) might want to reward that.

Best Actor:
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club).
He won the Globe and SAG for Best Actor in January, so Matthew looks set to cap a remarkable year with a win on Oscar night.
Alternate Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)
With 4 acting nominations to date, Leo is overdue for his first win. He won the Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy in January.
Spoiler: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Watch out for a surprise win from Chiwetel (BAFTA winner) as the consensus winner if the 2 frontrunners split their votes.

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August Osage County)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Cate has swept every precursor (Critics/Globe/SAG/BAFTA) and is the frontrunner to win this category. There was some chatter that the recent spate of bad publicity in director Woody Allen’s personal life might have hurt Cate but this does not seem to be the case as she recently won at BAFTA. It will be a huge surprise if she does not join that select group of women who have won Oscars for supporting and lead actress (Helen Hayes, Ingrid Berman, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange).
Alternate Winner: Sandra recently won for lead actress in 2009 (The Blind Side) but that does not stop the Academy from awarding a second to a well-liked actress.
Spoiler: Amy Adams (American Hustle)
With 4 past nominations in support — Junebug (2005), Doubt (2008), The Fighter (2010), The Master (2012) — and her first lead this year, Amy is overdue and could benefit if Cate’s bid falters due to the Woody Allen saga and the Academy decides that American Hustle should not go home empty-handed from its record 4 acting nominations.

Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhard Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)
Predicted Winner: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Like Cate Blanchett, Jared has swept every precursor except BAFTA (he was not nommed) and it would be an upset if he does not win this category.
Alternate Winner: Fassbender might benefit if there is a surge for 12 Years in the final voting.
Spoiler: Barkhard Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Abdi won BAFTA in a surprise over Fassbender at BAFTA . That could be telling if there is an upset in this category.

Best Supporting Actress:
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Julia Roberts (August Osage County
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Predicted Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Having won the Critics and SAG in January, Lupita is this year’s belle of the ball with her poise and charm on the red carpet and podium. We might be seeing the dawn of a bright new movie star and fashion icon in Hollywood.
Alternate Winner: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Hard on Lupita’s heels is last year’s belle of the ball and winner for best actress. Jennifer also won the Globe in January, the BAFTA in February, and is currently the biggest young female star in Hollywood. “The might really really like her” and let her join the rare group of only 6 performers to win back to back Oscars in 86 years. (The last was Tom Hanks in 1994 and 1995 for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.)
Spoiler: June Squibb (Nebraska)
The supporting acting categories can sometimes spring surprises and this 84-year-old veteran of stage and screen could be the one on Oscar night, making her the oldest acting winner ever.

Best Foreign-Language Film:
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
The Hunt (Denmark)
Omar (Palestine)
Predicted Winner: The Great Beauty (Italy)
Alternate Winner: The Broken Circle (Belgium)
Spoiler: Omar (Palestine)

Best Original Screenplay:
American Hustle (Eric Singer and David O Russell)
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack)
Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
Predicted Winner: American Hustle (Eric Singer and David O Russell)
These 5 nominees matched the WGA 5/5 so it is likely that the WGA winner will also win the Oscar. If the well-liked American Hustle loses the top 2 prizes and its 4 acting nods, and Gravity sweeps the technical categories, this might be the only place Hustle might eke a win. Watch out for Spike Jonze’s Her, which won the Writers Guild (WGA), and Dallas Buyers Club. Both were liked enough to score best picture nominations.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater)
Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
Philomena (Steve Coogan)
Wolf of Wall Street (Terrence Winter)
Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave
There’s no way of accurately gauging the strength of 12 Years here, as it was ineligible at the Writers Guild (WGA). But the current buzz is that it will take this with or without winning best picture. Billy Ray’s Captain Phillips seems to have surged recently since winning the WGA in February and could be the alternate winner with the well liked Philomena by Steve Coogan (also ineligible at the WGA) also a spoiler in this category. Philomena just won Adapted Screenplay at BAFTA over the heavy favorite 12 Years. Could this also happen on Oscar night?

Best Animated Feature:
Despicable Me 2
The Croods
The Wind Rises
Ernest & Celestine
Predicted Winner: Frozen
Alternate Winner: The Wind Rises
Spoiler: The Croods
Having swept the precursors and the Annie Awards, Frozen looks set to be the Oscar winner. (By Oscar night, its worldwide gross will have surpassed $1 billion.) But: The Wind Rises, from Hayao Miyazaki, who won for 2003’s Spirited Away, could spring a surprise.

The Other Categories:
Predicted Winners:
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Costume:The Great Gatsby
Best Documentary Feature: Dirty Wars
Best Documentary Short Subject: 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Film Editing: Captain Phillips
Best Animated Short Film: Get a Horse!
Best Live Action Short Film: That Wasn’t Me (Aquel No Era Yo) Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat – Philomena
Best Original Song: Let it Go (Frozen)
Best Production Design: Gravity
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Visual Effects: Gravity

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