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Oscar Predictions Part IV: Nothing's coming between Cate Blanchett and Oscar #2

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In this penultimate part of my five-part Oscar predictions piece (read Part I, Part II and Part III), I’ll be running down my final predictions in both screenplay categories, my personal favorite category – the Best Cinematography prize, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and the final acting category – Best Actress in a Leading Role. Let’s get on with it.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees:

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

On paper, John Ridley’s masterfully written script for 12 Years a Slave should have had this award sewn up by now. But at every major industry show this season, he’s come up short. First, he lost out to Spike Jonze and Her at the rather inconsequential Golden Globes. Then his script wasn’t eligible at the WGA due to some arcane guild rule. Finally, at the one awards show where he was supposed to be the frontrunner, he once again came up short – losing out the BAFTA to Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for their Philomena screenplay. I don’t think the same thing’s going to happen with the Academy but there have been surprises before. One thing’s for certain, the year’s best screenplay and the year’s best filmBefore Midnight – won’t be winning. Now that’s a shame. But I know how these things pan out. The trick is not minding.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Philomena
Should Win: Before Midnight
Should Have Been Here: Short Term 12

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Nebraska

The big surprise in this category when nominations were announced on January 18th was the absence of the Coen brothers and their sharp Inside Llewyn Davis screenplay. In its place was Dallas Buyers Club, a fine but unremarkable film elevated by its sterling performances. That it stands to end up with three statues at the end of Oscar night is a disappointing thought. Nevertheless, like Best Picture, this is one category where it’s very unlikely to win since this is a two-horse race between David O. Russell and Eric Singer’s hilarious American Hustle screenplay and Spike Jonze’s thoughtful, tender Her. After their win at the BAFTAs, there’s a case for Russell and Singer prevailing here but then I realized that neither Jonze nor his film were nominated anywhere at that show. Jonze has won the screenplay award at every precursor leading up to the Oscar – the Critics Choice, the Globe and the WGA. Barring some last minute PR disaster on Jonze’s part, the award is his.

Will Win: Her
Could Win: American Hustle
Should Win: Her
Should Have Been Here: Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Nominees:

The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

There’s been a lot of debate of late about the role of the cinematographer in a world where visual effects are starting to take over. While the majority of cinephiles still believe the DP is the one ultimately responsible for the look of the film, many credit visual effects artists as the ones who do all the work. A lot this stemmed from 2009 when cinematographer Mauro Fiore controversially won the Best Cinematography award for Avatar, even though he was involved in only 30% of the film. In the three years following that win, TWO 3D, visual effects-driven films have taken the prize (Hugo, Life of Pi). I’m extremely confident that the streak will continue this year when Gravity wins. The difference this time around is that Emmanuel Lubezki, arguably the best cinematographer in the world (alongside Roger Deakins naturally), was indeed the one who called all the shots on set. His signature – the long, moving take – is all over this film and in many ways, his work here is groundbreaking. It’ll also be his first ever win after six prior nominations, even though he should have already won for Children of Men in 2006 and The Tree of Life in 2011.

Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Nebraska
Should Win: Gravity
Should Have Been Here: 12 Years a Slave

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

Nominees:

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass presents Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Now this is a strange field of nominees: One well-loved Best Picture nominee, one critically panned bomb, and one Bad Grandpa. When predicting this category, my thought process goes something like this: (1) Is there a Best Picture nominee contending for the prize? If not, which nominee is also nominated in one of the top five categories? If all or none of the nominees are mentioned in the top categories, which one of the three has the biggest nomination haul? If the nomination tally is also equal, then ask yourself… which one has the most obvious use of makeup? You’ll have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a film that bucked that methodology. In case you’re wondering, Elizabeth won the Oscar over Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love. It must have been the hairstyles that won the day. Speaking of hairstyles… how the hell wasn’t American Hustle nominated here? Ludicrous. Anyway, you won’t have to look further than question (1) this year because Dallas Buyers Club is a Best Picture nominee. It wins by default – that is unless the Academy feels like awarding Bad Grandpa the award (which it actually deserves).

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club
Could Win: Jackass presents Bad Grandpa
Should Win: Jackass presents Bad Grandpa
Should Have Been Here: American Hustle

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominees:

Amy AdamsAmerican Hustle
Cate BlanchettBlue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

The media may keep blabbing about the Woody Allen scandal but aside from Gravity’s hold on the Best Visual Effects award, no other Oscar is as done a deal as Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress Oscar. The six time nominee (and 2004 Best Supporting Actress winner) has won nearly every Best Actress prize awarded over the last two months – including every major precursor (Critics Choice, the Globe, the SAG, the BAFTA). The only one with a hint of a chance of upsetting the Great Cate is five-time nominee Amy Adams – also the only non-winner in the category. Her smart, complex and best-in-show turn in American Hustle is career-best work but her day in the light will come soon. It just won’t be this year.

Will Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Could Win: Amy Adams – American Hustle
Should Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Should Have Been Here: Brie Larson – Short Term 12

In the final part of my Oscar predictions piece, I’ll go over the three remaining categories: The all-important Best Film Editing, Best Director and of course, Best Picture. Until then, you can read my previous posts on the subject below:

Oscar Predictions Part I: Best Supporting Actor, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Animated Feature and Animated Short

Oscar Predictions Part II: Best Supporting Actress, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

Oscar Predictions Part III: Best Actor, Foreign Language Film, Live Action Short, Original Score & Original Song

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