2013 was a crazy, polarizing year for cinema.
Either the film was extraordinary, or awful. It wasn't the easiest of years to wade through the sea of celluloid and find the quality films to declare which ones are the best from the rest. Yet, somehow, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences managed to do just that this morning.
Here are the key nominees below, along with my commentary about who will more than likely win, and who should win. For the full list, you can visit Oscar.com.
(NOTE: I still haven't seen every film here, but I will do my best to be objective.)
(SECOND NOTE: I'm passionate about many of the films on here, so objectivity is not guaranteed.)
WHO WILL WIN: American Hustle
WHO SHOULD WIN: American Hustle
If you look at the list below, you'll see a pretty noticeable pattern: American Hustle is nominated in nearly EVERY category. While they're often not indicative of Oscar gold, the Golden Globes this year did award Hustle with Best Picture -- Comedy and Musical, along with two other major awards (see below). While 12 Years A Slave may shake things up, the safe money is on Hustle this year -- and for very good reason. David O. Russell's frenetic, decadent love letter to ABSCAM is, by far, one of the best pictures of the year.
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
WHO WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio or Matthew McConaughey
WHO SHOULD WIN: Christian Bale
The Golden Globes did shake things up this year, giving love to DiCaprio's performance as real-life Wolf Jordan Belfort (for Comedy or Musical), as well as McConaughey (for Drama). And, while the Academy could shake things up and give it to previous front-runner Ejiofor, I still have a soft spot for Bale's beer gut, combover, and overly confident swagger.
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
WHO WILL WIN: Amy Adams
WHO SHOULD WIN: Amy Adams
While Blanchett, Bullock, Dench, and Streep put in wonderful performances this year, the fact is simple: they all have Oscar trophies at home already. If you look at last year, this category was filled with venerable actresses who had won in years' past, and the winner was a first-time nominee -- Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, another David O. Russell film. With Adams already winning the Golden Globe, and Russell's recent streak of getting his actresses award love all around, the safe money is with her.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
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
WHO WILL WIN: Jared Leto
WHO SHOULD WIN: Bradley Cooper or Jonah Hill
The Academy loves an underdog, and Leto, returning to acting after a six-year hiatus while fronting the band 30 Seconds to Mars, fits the bill. With his performance in Buyers Club, he's almost a lock -- especially with the Golden Globe win. However, I would love to see Cooper or Hill take it, seeing both put in amazing performances this year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
WHO WILL WIN: Jennifer Lawrence
WHO SHOULD WIN: Jennifer Lawrence
Say what you want, but Lawrence is a lock for this. Her gracefully chaotic performance in Hustle stole every scene and every critic's heart, and a Golden Globe mirror is inevitable. Sorry, Julia. Maybe next year?
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
WHO WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuarón
WHO SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese
While, as I mentioned before, the Academy could shake things up and go with the original front-runner McQueen, the probability is that Cuarón, who also won the Globe, will be taking home the gold in March for his bleak, minimalist sci-fi disaster pic. However, how awesome would it be to see Scorsese make it rain? Let's face it. Without Seth MacFarlane hosting, the Oscars are in need of some controversy, and Scorsese's win would certainly make that happen.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her, Written by Spike Jonze
Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson
WHO WILL WIN: Woody Allen or Spike Jonze
WHO SHOULD WIN: Spike Jonze or Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
The Oscars love Woody Allen. There's no doubt about it. Remember that Midnight In Paris took home the gold in this category in 2012, and the Academy loves patterns. However, Jonze's unique romantic voice in Her has won critics and audiences over, and could steal Allen's thunder. Though it doesn't matter much. Singers and Russell's script for Hustle still has my love, and I would laugh heartily if it caused the upset this year.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, 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
WHO WILL WIN: John Ridley
WHO SHOULD WIN: Terence Winter
With the separation between the screenplay categories, it gives more chances to the writers (something I've always appreciated). This is the chance for 12 Years A Slave to finally get some love in the Oscar race this year. Although Ridley has some tough competition. Wolf of Wall Street is gaining heat, and Winter's script could steal the thunder.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
WHO WILL WIN: Frozen
WHO SHOULD WIN: Frozen
If there's anything that Oscar loves more than Woody Allen, it's Disney. And Frozen is Disney's best film in over a decade, which makes it truly worthy of the Oscar gold this year. I'm sure other writers have probably made this joke by now, but I'm going to do it anyway: If Frozen doesn't win, hell will probably freeze over. You may groan now.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Alone Yet Not Alone", Alone Yet Not Alone (Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel)
"Happy", Despicable Me 2 (Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams)
"Let It Go," Frozen (Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
"The Moon Song", Her (Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze)
"Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson)
WHO WILL WIN: "Ordinary Love"
WHO SHOULD WIN: "Let It Go"
The Best Original Song category is a strange place to make a political statement, but I fear this may be inevitable. While Long Walk to Freedom, oddly enough, did not receive a nomination this year, the Academy will almost certainly give the gold to U2, as the Hollywood Foreign Press did this year -- which is the biggest tragedy, seeing that "Let It Go" is the most masterfully crafted song. You know? The type of song that was almost crafted for this category.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off below!