Tag Archives: Oscar

SAG Awards Results and What They Mean for the Oscars


This past weekend the Screen Actors Guild handed out their yearly awards for film and television acting. I have updated the Oscar Predictions page to reflect what we’ve learned.

But really, what have we learned? Well, Saturday’s winners went something like this:

Ensemble – Spotlight
Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Actress – Brie Larson, Room
Supporting Actor – Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Stunt Ensemble – Mad Max: Fury Road

Ensemble, Drama – Downton Abbey
Actress, Drama Series – Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Actor, Drama Series – Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Ensemble, Comedy Series – Orange is the New Black
Actress, Comedy Series – Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Actor, Comedy Series – Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Actress, TV Movie/Mini-Series – Queen Latifah, Bessie
Actor, TV Movie/Mini-Series – Idris Elba, Luther
Stunt Ensemble – Game of Thrones

This diverse list stands in stark – seemingly deliberate – contrast to the current list of Oscar nominees and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has surrounded them. Those who defend the nominations by arguing that “maybe all of the best performances actually just happened to be from white actors this year” – yes, some people actually said that – were answered by Idris Elba’s not one but TWO trophies.

As for those Oscars and their eventual outcome, that Supporting Actor win interestingly gives us our biggest clue, despite Elba not being nominated. Historically, even when the nominees don’t line up exactly, SAG has always given it’s trophies to actors who were also nominated for Oscar. In this case that should’ve been Mark Rylance or Christian Bale. The fact that they lost tells us that their candidacies are not a strong as we once thought. Had either of them won, they would’ve been a strong threat to the current Oscar frontrunner, Sylvester Stallone. But since he doesn’t have to worry about competition from Elba, Sly actually gets a boost from this win.

Supporting Actress has been a pretty close race between Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara. Both are actually lead roles relegated the supporting category, a fact that helps nominees more often than not. (There’s a slight threat from Golden Globe winner Kate Winslet, but while her presence is more likely to pull votes away from the two leads, it’s not clear who actually benefits more from this.) But Vikander’s win this weekend, combined with actually giving two awards-worthy performances this year, gives her a solid lead above the rest.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larsen have been frontrunners in the lead categories most of this race. While Saoirse Ronan may have had a little bit of heat from the early season, SAG essentially just gave our leads a platform to practice their Oscar speeches.

The most interesting result was Spotlight.


The Ensemble award is SAG’s equivalent to Best Picture. Spotlight was the presumed frontrunner until The Big Short took the PGA a couple weeks ago. The two had pretty much the same precursors leading up to that, except for Spotlight curiously missing out on an ACE Eddie nomination. Still, it’s a far more universally well-liked movie. It has no drawbacks and offends absolutely no one. That’s the kind of thing that usually does win with the preferential balloting system used by exactly two groups: the PGA and the Oscars’ Best Picture.

Since the Oscars started using the preferential ballot for Best Picture 6 years ago, they have matched the PGA every single year. Since The Big Short came out ahead with the PGA, it moved pretty solidly into the lead. It’s a very strong statistic, and one that may yet hold, despite the latest development.

But Spotlight‘s SAG win does make things interesting. It clearly has a great deal of support, and would make a great winner. Honestly either one could still take Best Picture. So now we look to next week’s Director’s Guild Awards for a little clarity. The DGA have been a very reliable stat for the Best Picture Oscar (even moreso than Best Director) for a much longer time than the recent PGA matchups.

But if the DGA goes as I suspect it might, things could remain just as up in the air as they are now.

In terms of shear numbers, this year is dominated by two major epic films: The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. With 12 and 10 nominations respectively, they are going head to head in every viable category, except the the former’s two acting nods. Both are serious threats. Well, for director anyway. They are both unlikely to win Best Picture because of a surprisingly important stat: Since the SAG awards have existed, no film has won the Oscar for BP without at least a SAG Ensemble nomination. That’s something neither of these epics has. In fact, The Big Short and Spotlight are the only movies this year with this qualification.

The closest we’ve come to breaking that is when Gravity tied for the PGA and won the DGA and the Oscar for Directing. But even that eventually lost Picture to it’s PGA co-champ 12 Years a Slave.

But while The Revenant and Mad Max are unlikely to win the big prize they are still major threats for directing and for DGA. Or at least one of them is. Unfortunately for The Revenant, that director’s last film, Birdman, just swept the entire awards season, including the Oscars last year. While there’s a lot of passion for his new film, it doesn’t have that kind of inevitability it would need for Alejandro G. Iñarritu to win two years in a row.

That leaves George Miller and Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road sniper

In recent years visual and technical marvels Gravity and Life of Pi have had success in directing awards despite not winning Best Picture. I believe George Miller is in this camp, and I believe he’s got enough precursor wins to prove it. That’s why I think Mad Max: Fury Road will win the DGA and eventually the Oscar for Best Director.

But if he does win the DGA, it will only confuse the Best Picture race even further. If the 3 biggest and most important precursors go to 3 different films, who has the edge?

Hard to say. But for now I’m going with that PGA stat and sticking with The Big Short.

Once again, check the Oscar Predictions page for the most recent updates. You can also click the Oscar 2016 menu link at the top of the page for more Oscar information.

Oscar statues

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2015 Oscar Nominations

Oscar statues

Nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the way with 9 nods apiece. I find it interesting that the two films with the most nominations are both comedies. That’s a bit unusual, I think. We have 8 nominees for Best Picture this year. This is a slight change: ever since the new rule that allowed anywhere from 5-10 nominees depending on the voting, we’ve always ended up with 9. I’m sure there will be countles article on the various snubs and surprises, but for now the biggest surprise, in my opinion, is The LEGO Movie being left out of the Animated Feature race, where I think most people considered it the frontrunner.

Scroll to the bottom to see a breakdown of total nominations per film.

Best Picture
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Film Editing
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
“Everything is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Best Documentary — Feature
Finding Vivien Maier
Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Best Documentary—Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth 

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Total nominations per film:
Birdman – 9
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 9
The Imitation Game – 8
American Sniper – 6
Boyhood – 6
Interstellar – 5
The Theory of Everything – 5
Whiplash – 5
Foxcatcher – 4
Mr. Turner – 4
Into the Woods – 3
Unbroken – 3
Guardians of the Galaxy – 2
Ida – 2
Inherent Vice – 2
Selma – 2
Wild – 2

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The 86th Academy Awards Winners


Compare the results to the complete list of nominees, and ranked predictions, on our Oscar Predictions page.

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress – Cate Blanchette, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Adapted Screenplay – John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay – Spike Jonze, Her
Best Film Editing – Gravity
Best Music (Original Score) – Steven Price, Gravity
Best Music (Original Song) – “Let It Go” from Frozen
Best Sound Mixing – Gravity
Best Sound Editing – Gravity
Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Dallas Buyers Club
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Visual Effects – Gravity
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty
Best Documentary Feature – 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Short Film: Animated – Mr. Hublot
Best Short Film: Live Action – Helium
Best Short Film: Documentary – The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life

Winners by the numbers:
7 –
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
2 –
The Great Gatsby
Blue Jasmine
The Great Beauty
Mr. Hublot
The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life
20 Feet From Stardom

The Screen Life’s Predictions Score: 19/24

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Follow the Oscars with The Screen Life on Facebook

Head over to The Screen Life on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thescreenlife – and give it a “Like.” As you watch the Oscars tonight, remember to check back throughout the show, as I’ll be posting occasional updates directly to the Facebook page.

Rather than live-blog every single detail (which honestly made the Golden Globes less fun to watch), I’m thinking FB will make it easier and less distracting to post. And I can use my phone!

Also, remember to print off In Contention’s awesome printable Oscar ballot before the show, and/or use our Oscar Predictions page for a complete list of nominees and ranked predictions.

And don’t forget to come back to the blog tomorrow for a complete rundown and analysis of the show!

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“What Time Do the Oscars Start?” – The REAL Answer


UPDATE for 2016: Even though this article is two years old, the times listed below ARE correct for this year as well. Happy Viewing!

Tonight’s the big night: the 86th Annual Academy Awards!

According to Oscar.com, the show airs tonight on ABC at 6:00pm Central Time (7e/4p). But I’ve been burned by that before. Year after year I tune in at the time it tells me, only to get mired in Red Carpet coverage that seems to go on forever. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, there’s like half an hour of this. That’s not bad.” But 30 minutes later, it’s still going on. Jeez, when do we actually get to the good stuff??

This year I did my research. After an extensive (2-minute) web search I found the REAL start time. According to the LA Times and TV Guide

The Oscars will begin at 8:30 Eastern/5:30 Pacific. For those of us here in the Central Time Zone, that’s 7:30pm… a whole 1.5 hours later than advertised!

Look, I get it. Obviously ABC (the actual company behind Oscar.com) wants you to watch their station and see their ads for as long as possible. That’s their whole business model. But it’s really disingenuous they way they go about it. It’s one thing to pad out an hour and a half of red carpet interviews – hell, there’s a lot of people who actually like, even prefer that part. But by saying simply “The Oscars start at 7” instead of “Red Carpet starts at 7; Oscars start at 8:30,” they’re essentially tricking the public into watching. It’s the kind of thing that turns off customers.

Of course, they can get away with it easily – I’m not about to not watch the Oscars just because ABC is being dirty and underhanded. But there are 364 other days in the year. ABC has to realize that the face of network television is changing. The old model is disappearing. They’re not doing themselves any favors by giving consumers another reason not to tune in.

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Gravity or 12 Years A Slave: Making Oscar History Either Way


As discussed in yesterday’s final Oscar Predictions entry, this year’s top prize comes to two major frontrunners. It’s so close that honestly nobody really knows how it will turn out. (Some will guess right, but they don’t have any more insight than anybody else.) It’s the closest race we’ve seen since 2000’s Gladiator vs Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon vs Traffic. It could conceivably be even closer, but American Hustle seems to have lost a little steam in recent weeks. Still we’re left with two generation-defining films, both of which would make history if they were to win.

Gravity would make history by being the first 3D film ever to win Best Picture. It would also be the first sci-fi/space movie. Genre films tend to get a bad rap with the Academy elite, but that’s not impossible to over come. A decade ago the third Lord of the Rings movie became the first fantasy film to win. The 3D thing is the bigger get. It’s the new(ish) technology that seems determined to change the way audiences approach movies, possibly at the expense of films with smaller budgets. It’s understandable that industry voters might be wary. But then again, it’s movies like this, that go so far beyond their technical achievements to touch something primal and human in all of us, that have the ability to move us forward. It’s no surprise that a director like Alfonso Cuarón is behind this – he has always had an amazing talent for bringing humanity to genre.

12 Years a Slave would make history be being the first film to win written and directed by back filmmakers and starring a mostly black cast. It would also be the first film since Gone With the Wind to even touch on the subject of slavery. In 86 years of Oscar history, this is an embarrassing statistic. Slavery isn’t just a “black thing”; it’s a huge tragic piece of history for every American. Not only that, but modern-day slavery continues throughout the world. Like Gravity, it takes a film like this that touches on universal human themes to bring us all together, to move forward as one.

As unlikely and rare as it would be, I’m predicting a split: 12 Years a Slave will win Picture and Cuarón will win Director. That could mean the history-making story of either could be seen as being a little stunted. We would still be 86 years into Oscar history without a single black director having won. (Steve McQueen is only the 3rd ever even nominated.) And we would still not have a 3D sci-fi/space Film in the list of Best Pictures.

That may be how we remember this year in the future, but that’s also missing the picture entirely. 2013 was a truly incredible year for filmmaking. There were literally dozens of amazing films, any of which would have made worthy winners. That no fewer than two groundbreaking works of art have made it this close to the big prize is nothing short of astounding.

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Oscar Predictions – Picture and Director


Welcome to The Screen Life’s Oscar Predictions! This is last in a 6-part series, in which you will find a quick breakdown of each category, accompanied by ranked predictions. Also be sure to check out the complete OSCAR PREDICTIONS page (in the menu up top), which will be continually updated throughout the week. This is your grand guide to this Sunday’s big night!

Best Director

Martin Scorsese and Alexander Payne crafted incredible films – #1 and #2 respectively on my Top 10 List. Nevertheless, they’re all but sitting this one out. This is a close 2-man race, with a third nipping right behind their heels. That third is David O. Russell who, with his third nomination in only 4 years, already feels overdue for an Oscar. Many believe this is his crowning achievement (though not yours truly), but as American Hustle’s buzz has quieted a bit, so has his chances to win here. That leaves the other two to duke it out.

Steve McQueen has created a groundbreaking, monumental achievement. He is only the third black director ever nominated and the first to get anywhere close to winning. He could definitely win this. Splits between the picture and director are very rare and nearly impossible to predict, so if his film wins, he could easily scoop up this award as well.

Alfonso Cuarón is not making it that easy, however. He too has created a groundbreaking, monumental achievement. Plus, he has swept the director awards in nearly every precursor imaginable, including the all-important DGA. All signs seem to point to his direction. If Best Picture is still murky, Best Director is just a little clearer. Not clear, mind you, but clearer.

1. Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
3. David O. Russell, American Hustle
4. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

Best Picture

And finally we come to the biggest question mark of the season. That the ceremony is 2 days away still nobody really know who is going to win is incredible. Add to that the highest quality line-up of nominees in years (8 of these 9 movies made my Top 10 List), and we have the most fun and exciting awards race in recent memory.

What we do know, for the most part, is who’s not going to win. So let’s start there.

Her and Philomena both have a great deal of passionate supporters. The former has a nice bunch of critics’ awards, and the latter has the full attention of the great Harvey Weinstein campaign-machine (admittedly having an unusual off-year). But they are bringing up the rear of this powerful pack. Just ahead of them is Dallas Buyers Club, with far more nominations than expected and 2 likely acting wins. Nebraska is the kind of touching and hilarious film no one can not adore, and managed to wrestle a director nomination away from Captain Phillips.

If I were voting, The Wolf of Wall Street would be #1. If it had been released sooner it might have been more of a contender. As it is, much of the initial scandal has subsided and more people are appreciating its brilliance. Captain Phillips seemed doomed after Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass were shutout, but ever since then it has picked up several guild awards in the tech categories. If it weren’t for that missing director, I’d be tempted to put it ahead of American Hustle. That film, meanwhile, at one time appeared to be locked in a 3-way dead heat for the win. After multiple top awards from critics, winning the SAG ensemble, and tying Gravity for the most nominations, Hustle was really “hustling”. But ever since the other 2 tied for the PGA, it lost a bit of mojo and hasn’t picked up much since then.

The Top Two…

That PGA tie was basically a microcosm for the entire season. The PGA is the only other award besides the this one to use a preferential balloting system, which makes ties particularly difficult, and yet it still happened. Gravity and 12 Years a Slave have been sharing the top spot ever since their premiers within days of each other back in Telluride. Every time one appeared to gain the edge, the other pulled right back up. There hasn’t been a race this close since 2000’s Gladiator vs Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon vs Traffic. And if you think of Hustle as still being in the mix, it’s even closer.

Gravity might appear to have the slight edge with that DGA win. The DGA is still the biggest and best predictor for the Best Picture Oscar, even more so than Director. As I mentioned, splits between picture and director are rare and impossible to predict. (Last year was a very unusual exception.) Generally voters will vote the same for both. So by that logic we may see our first ever 3D sci-fi Best Picture winner.

But despite all of Cuarón’s directing victories, 12 Years a Slave has continued to win the top prize just about every time. It’s taken the vast majority of every “Best Picture” award out there. The only thing it has really lost is that ½ PGA. What’s more, it still has all the buzz it’s ever had. Despite missing out on some of the tech guild awards, it hasn’t appeared to lose any momentum.

What it really comes down to is that none of the predictors are really telling us anything. The only choice is to go back to the first awards – the critics’ awards. Ever since the King’s Speech/Social Network nightmare, the critics have seemed less important, but this year they’re the only steady trend we have to go by. And that trend is clear: Cuarón for Director and 12 Years a Slave for Picture. A split.

As crazy as it sounds, that’s what I’m predicting.

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Gravity
3. American Hustle
4. Captain Phillips
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
6. Nebraska
7. Dallas Buyers Club
8. Philomena
9. Her


Check out the other parts of the Oscar Predictions Series here:
Part 1 –  Animated, Foreign, Doc, and Short Films
Part 2 – Technical Categories (Cinematography, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects)
Part 3 – Sound and Music
Part 4 – Storytelling (Editing and Screenplays)
Part 5 – Acting
Part 6 – Picture and Director

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Oscar Predictions – Acting


Welcome to The Screen Life’s Oscar Predictions! This is part 5 in a 6-part series, in which you will find a quick breakdown of each category, accompanied by ranked predictions. Also be sure to check out the complete OSCAR PREDICTIONS page (in the menu up top), which will be continually updated throughout the week. This is your grand guide to this Sunday’s big night!

Before we begin, consider the following quandary:
American Hustle has nominees in all 4 acting categories – a rare feat, made all the more amazing in that it’s the 2nd year in a row for director David O. Russell. Logic would dictate that at least one of them has to win, right? But which one?…

Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto has won just about every single precursor imaginable. His excellent performance has practically steamrolled this category, and there is almost no way he can lose the Oscar. If by some bizarre chance he does, look to the only nomination he missed: BAFTA. In that vacuum Barkhad Abdi scooped up the award for overshadowing a Tom Hanks at the top of his game.

Michael Fassbender seemed to be a strong contender for his powerful performance of the evil-yet-human slave owner, but his campaign never really took off. Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill were both a bit of a surprise when nominees were announced, leaving the more deserving Daniel Bruhl (Rush) out in the cold. While Hill’s campaign has been one of the most noticeable, neither stand much of a chance to win.

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
2. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
3. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
4. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
5. Jonah Hill, Wolf of Wall Street

Best Supporting Actress

Julia Roberts and Sally Hawkins are both on the outside looking in, overshadowed by co-stars nominated for Lead Actress. The fantastic June Squibb has her fair share of supporters and could scoop up the trophy in a split-vote situation. But this race really comes down to a tight one between the two ingénues.

Most pundits are predicting Lupita Nyong’o to win. She has all of the buzz, the SAG, most of the critics awards, and the perfect Oscar story: young, pretty newcomer in a devastating role in a Best Picture frontrunner. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, just won last year. Consecutive Oscars are incredibly rare; only 5 actors have ever done it. But hers was the best performance of her film and of this race. She also has the Golden Globe and the BAFTA and the best shot at answering that question I posed at the beginning. If she loses, Hustle will almost certainly go 0/4 and that just seems too unlikely. (I’m going against popular wisdom here, so follow me at your own risk!)

1. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
2. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
3. June Squibb, Nebraska
4. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Best Actor

In the nominating phase, this was the most packed race of all. 8 actors all seemed guaranteed one of the 5 nods, with no real leader and nobody really sure who would be left out. In the end Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Forest Whitaker (The Butler) and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) were all left waiting in the wings as Leonardo DiCaprio and the largely unexpected Christian Bale nabbed what at the time seemed to be the last two slots. It was Bale’s somewhat shocking inclusion that allowed Hustle its hat trick, but he’s the least likely to win.

Matthew McConaughey, on the other hand, is most likely to win, in part for a career turnaround so remarkable that it has its own buzzword. After winning the Globe and SAG, all the uncertainty fell away and he sprinted into the lead. It’s by no means a done deal, however. Bern Dern is practically the definition of “overdue”. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a great actor in the role of a lifetime, and he’s won his fair share of precursors, including BAFTA. And DiCaprio handed in the greatest and most original performance of his illustrious career. I’ve long suspected that if he somehow managed a nomination, he’d be a major threat for the win, even despite his lack of precursor awards. If it weren’t for the late surge of the “McConaissance,” I’d say the award was his.

1. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
4. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
5. Christian Bale, American Hustle

Best Actress

If any actor has received more laurels than Jared Leto, it’s Cate Blanchett. She’s been the frontrunner ever since Blue Jasmine premiered last summer, and nobody’s been able to displace her. That’s not for lack of trying. There was a time when Sandra Bullock seemed a serious challenger. As the sole actor for the vast majority, she IS Gravity. But her win just a few years ago is generally seen as a mistake. While this performance is far superior, the nomination seems to be largely held as vindication that her Oscar wasn’t a fluke.

Meryl Streep was once thought to be a serious contender, until her film’s tepid critical response scuppered her chances. On the other hand, Judi Dench has been making a serious surge lately, with a lot of passionate support and the great Harvey Weinstein behind her campaign. But if anybody is going to topple Blanchett, it might actually be surprise nominee Amy Adams. She grabbed the spot that seemed to be reserved for the fabulous Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), as Hustle became a major Best Pic contender tied for the most nominations.

That brings us back to the opening question. Of American Hustle’s 4 acting nods, neither of the men have even the slightest chance. If Lupita Nyong’o does indeed win Supporting, as everyone else is predicting, then Adams is the only one left to take home an Oscar. Still, it’s an impossibly steep climb to overtake the great Cate.

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2. Amy Adams, American Hustle
3. Judi Dench, Philomena
4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County


Check out the other parts of the Oscar Predictions Series here:
Part 1 –  Animated, Foreign, Doc, and Short Films
Part 2 – Technical Categories (Cinematography, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects)
Part 3 – Sound and Music
Part 4 – Storytelling (Editing and Screenplays)
Part 5 – Acting
Part 6 – Picture and Director

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Oscar Predictions – Storytelling: Editing and Screenplays

Tom Hanks

Welcome to The Screen Life’s Oscar Predictions! This is part 4 in a 6-part series, in which you will find a quick breakdown of each category, accompanied by ranked predictions. Also be sure to check out the complete OSCAR PREDICTIONS page (in the menu up top), which will be continually updated throughout the week. This is your grand guide to this Sunday’s big night!

Best Film Editing

Most people think of editing as a technical craft, and I suppose it is (in the sense that filmmaking in general is). But I believe this craft – the piecing together of scenes and shots in just the right way – is just as much at the heart of storytelling as the script. The most textbook example of that may be the surprise nominee Dallas Buyers Club, but that surprise probably makes it the least likely winner. 12 Years a Slave is one of the Best Picture frontrunners and could easily take it if there’s a sweep, but the work is more subtle than some of the others. A couple months ago American Hustle seemed to have an edge, but it’s lost some steam of late. (Personally I think it’s the most confused jumble in the group.) Gravity is the giant in the room, scooping up the majority of the tech fields. It could easily win, and indeed many of the prognosticators are predicting it. However, I think Captain Phillips has the biggest advantage. It beat out Gravity for the ACE Eddie. It’s an editing showcase from a highly respected Best Picture player that many feel got snubbed in a few other categories, and this is probably voters’ best opportunity to award the film. And it helps that editor Christopher Rouse is a huge name in the industry who has won here before.

1. Captain Phillips
2. Gravity
3. American Hustle
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. Dallas Buyers Club

Best Adapted Screenplay

There were a slew of fantastic scripts this year, and all 10 screenplay nominees are deserving representatives of that fact. As for a winner, though, the Adapted side appears to be a pretty easy call. Before Midnight is really in the wrong category, but it doesn’t matter, as the nomination is its reward. The Wolf of Wall Street is the best of the five, in my opinion, but hasn’t been getting as much recognition in the lead-up as the others have. Philomena just won the BAFTA and could be considered a spoiler on the merit of Steve Coogan alone. Captain Phillips won the WGA, which might make you think frontrunner. But 12 Years a Slave was ineligible for the guild strict rules. Ridley’s script is all anybody’s talking about. This may be the surest award of the night for that film.

1. 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
2. Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
3. Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)
5. Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater

Best Original Screenplay

Unlike its sister category, Original Screenplay is one of the toughest to call. It’s an incredibly tight race, with 2 films going neck-and-neck. They are all fantastic, though Blue Jasmine is like bringing up there rear, not least because of Woody Allen’s damning scandal resurfacing in the media, but also because it’s the only film not nominated for Best Pic. Nebraska, meanwhile, may be my favorite of the group, and while Alexander Payne didn’t write it himself, his films have an excellent track record in this category. The Academy clearly loves Dallas Buyers Club, which surprised in many more places than expected, and I could even see it winning if the next two split the votes and knock each other out. But those other two are way out in front: Spike Jonze’ Her is the more quirky “writerly” type of script that usually does well here. It also just recently beat out its rival American Hustle for the WGA award. But the latter tied Gravity (sadly missing here) for the most nominations, and is arguably still a close third for the Best Picture. It’s clearly beloved by the Academy, and this may be their best opportunity to finally give David O. Russell his first Oscar. Still I’m giving Jonze the edge by the ever-so-slightest of margins.

1. Her (Spike Jonze)
2. American Hustle (David O. Russell, Eric Singer)
3. Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borton, Melisa Wallack)
4. Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
5. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)


Check out the other parts of the Oscar Predictions Series here:
Part 1 –  Animated, Foreign, Doc, and Short Films
Part 2 – Technical Categories (Cinematography, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects)
Part 3 – Sound and Music
Part 4 – Storytelling (Editing and Screenplays)
Part 5 – Acting
Part 6 – Picture and Director

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Oscar Predictions – Sound and Music

gravity soundtrack

Gravity Soundtrack – Screenshot from YouTube: http://youtu.be/q18NRboQSzk

Welcome to The Screen Life’s Oscar Predictions! This is part 3 in a 6-part series, in which you will find a quick breakdown of each category, accompanied by ranked predictions. Also be sure to check out the complete OSCAR PREDICTIONS page (in the menu up top), which will be continually updated throughout the week. This is your grand guide to this Sunday’s big night!

Best Music (Original Score)

This is often a tough category to call. That’s definitely the case this year, though the presumed frontrunner is upending the usual landscape. Steven Price’s Gravity score is so inextricably tied into its soundscape that suddenly it feels more like another extension of the two sound categories. And in that sense, it’s the most deserving work and should be the clear runaway favorite to win. But I’m not sure that all the voters will think of it that way. The score on it’s own isn’t exactly memorable or hummable in the traditional way, and some might look at it’s nomination as a curiosity, giving way to just about any of the other four. John Williams is the least likely. Nobody really cares for that movie, and it’s not exactly on par with the scores that made him famous. The same, to a lesser degree, goes for Thomas Newman. That leaves two more Best Picture nominees. Alexandre Desplat is another beloved giant in the field and a considerable threat. But I expect Arcade Fire to have a slight edge. The Academy has an odd occasional fondness for hip, young popular music groups, as evidenced be recent wins for Nine Inch Nails, Three 6 Mafia, and Eminem. Also, this category rarely sees first time nominees, but when it does they usually win. Then again, Price is a a first-timer too, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be the winner.

1. Steven Price – Gravity
2. Arcade Fire – Her
3. Alexandre Desplat – Philomena
4. Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks
5. John Williams – The Book Thief

Best Music (Original Song)

Oh this poor category. The nominations phase often seems rife with controversy; remember the year with only 2 nominees, and one was terrible? This year the most embarrassing nominee was disqualified due to shady campaigning. Unbelievably, that left us with one of the strongest Song categories we’ve ever seen! There’s not a dud in the bunch. Funny how that happened. What’s more, now we have a real race on our hands. What had once seemed an absolute lock for Frozen‘s epic anthem,  is suddenly a complete toss-up. “The Moon Song” may be least likely, but the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman has her fans. And the song is crucial to the plot of the film, which always helps. U2 picked up the Golden Globe recently, while Pharrell Willams just nabbed a few Grammys for having a banner year all-around. The campaigns for both have been especially huge in the past month, as voters and the public in general have been inundated with their songs. Still, musical always have an advantage, and Frozen marks a stunning return-to-form for Disney. “Let It Go” harkens back to their iconic wins of the 90’s. It’s competitors may be coming on strong but, it hasn’t missed a beat. Their are already dozens of different versions and parodies on YouTube. No song nominee has gone quite this viral in a long time. I’d say it’s still the one to beat.

1. “Let it Go” by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
2. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
3. “Ordinary Love” by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
4. “The Moon Song”, by Karen O, from Her

Best Sound Mixing

A lot has been written about the difference between sound mixing and editing. While the difference is clear and makes sense when you learn it, the end results at the Oscars are usually the same. Four nominees show up in both categories (all action/sci-fi/genre films). Movies with a big focus on music sometimes have an advantage in Mixing (just as animated movies do in Editing), which is how Inside Llewyn Davis nabbed that last spot. But its chances of winning are slim, as are that of the largely ignored Hobbit. Lone Survivor has a lot of respect – and not just in the tech fields – and with less competition could been a major contender. Captain Phillips, on the other hand, has been making a bit of a surge lately, and its teams came away with surprise wins in both categories recently for the third Bourne movie. Still, Gravity is the big player cleaning up the majority of the tech fields. It doesn’t hurt that it’s actually the most deserving, incorporating sound and music into an astoundingly original sonic identity.

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. Lone Survivor
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Best Sound Editing

As I mentioned, four films share both sound categories. It just so happens I’m rank those the same, and for largely similar reasons. The one unique contender is All Is Lost, which may actually be one of the most deserving. Because of the way the movie was made – without dialogue, and always surrounded by water – every sound in the film had to be created from scratch in post-production. (This is the same reason animated films often do well in Editing, though not this year, apparently.) Sadly, as its only nomination, this is as far as it’s going to go. Interestingly enough, due to the level of skill and difficulty, I would be inclined to give Lone Survivor a slight edge over Captain Phillips here, except that the latter actually won an MPSE Award. Still, all that’s academic because Gravity will take this handily, making an unusual 3-for-3 for its sound-related work.

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. Lone Survivor
4. All is Lost
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Check out the other parts of the Oscar Predictions Series here:
Part 1 –  Animated, Foreign, Doc, and Short Films
Part 2 – Technical Categories (Cinematography, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects)
Part 3 – Sound and Music
Part 4 – Storytelling (Editing and Screenplays)
Part 5 – Acting
Part 6 – Picture and Director

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