It is that time of year again: the time for Hollywood to engage in its annual orgy of self-congratulation. The Oscar nominations are set to be announced this coming Thursday, January 16, at a time early enough in the morning for all the nominated actors and actresses to insist –
“Oh, I was sound asleep when my agent called me to tell me the good news! I was so surprised! This is such an honor! Not that I think you can really compare art. I mean, there were so many amazing films this year. It’s an honor just to be mentioned among these other men/women. I suppose I’ll have to find something in the closet to wear…”
There are four basic reasons for someone to be interested in the Oscars: 1) they honestly love films and like to celebrate the best and the brightest, 2) they love to see all the fancy dresses that the ladies had to fast for three weeks to fit into, 3) they are hoping that the host will say something controversial or someone will have a wardrobe malfunction, or 4) they have a quasi-political fascination in the whole Oscar campaigning process.
You can put me down for reasons one, two, and four, though if anyone manages to say something attention grabbing, that is usually a plus – it’s the kind of thing you remember several years later. However, I listed out these four reasons to make the point that you do not actually have to be interested in film or “who is wearing who” to be fascinated by this annual game. The campaigning process for Oscar nominations is every bit as complex (and even as expensive) as many campaigns for political office.
I have been paying attention to this rat race for about a decade (a mere blip in Oscar history), and in that amount of time I have become aware of certain observable patterns in Academy voting behavior. As any good political strategist would tell you, knowing your voters is key, and the voting bloc that decides the fate of Oscar contenders is somewhat unique.
The Golden Globe Awards are voted on by less than 100 foreign journalists and the Screen Actors Guild Awards are voted on by anyone who holds a SAG card (a random sampling of 2,100 chooses nominees, and all 165,000 vote on the winners), but the Oscars are voted on by around 6,000 people in the film industry – actors, producers, cinematographers, makeup artists, editors, etc.
Less snooty than movie critics and more easily swayed by emotion, the Academy voters are, according to a recent study by the Los Angeles Times, 94% white, 77% male, and have a median age of 62. They usually shy away from heavily controversial material (Note the somewhat disappointing outcomes for films like The Passion of the Christ, Brokeback Mountain, and Zero Dark Thirty).
They definitely play favorites and tend to award someone when they feel they are “due”. They act as if science fiction, fantasy, animation, and some forms of comedy are beneath them, with only occasional exceptions. And boy, oh boy, do they love über-producer Harvey Weinstein. (That could be the subject of an additional post, but I will spare my readers.)
Keeping all of these quirks in mind, I now present you with my predictions for the nominees in eight of the main categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Check back on Thursday to see how impressed (or not impressed) you should be with my predictive abilities.
Here we go…..
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
This is one of the categories where the number of nominees is not absolutely set. There can be up to ten, but if a film does not receive a sufficient amount of top rankings, it can miss out on a nomination even if it was in the top ten overall. In both of the past two years, there were only nine nominees rather than ten. I am providing a list of ten fully aware that one or even two films could be left off due to this rule.
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler
Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Eric Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
NOTE: The film posters displayed on this page are used for commentary purposes only and are of a lower resolution than the original images. The following film distributors own these images: Columbia Pictures (American Hustle, Captain Phillips), Focus Features (Dallas Buyers Club), Warner Brothers Pictures (Gravity, Her), CBS Films/StudioCanal (Inside Llewyn Davis), Paramount Vantage (Nebraska), and Fox Searchlight Pictures (12 Years a Slave).