Valdosta Daily Times


March 2, 2014

Oscars! Times movie critic makes his 2014 Academy Award predictions

- — By Adann-Kennn Alexxandar

The Valdosta Daily Times

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the 86th Academy Awards live on ABC, 7 p.m. today, March 2.

Best Actor

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”

While the other actors are superb in this category, McConaughey is “the man.” Having already won multiple awards, McConaughey remains at the top. His performance as a Texan with AIDS is worthy material.

If the others are listed in order of performance, Dern, last nominated for an Oscar in 1976, would be next. Bale would follow with his spectacular performance in “American Hustle.” Bale is the best part of that movie. Ejiofor and DiCaprio tie for fourth.

Apparently, young is in style this year with Oscars, because stars such as Robert Redford (“All Is Lost”) and two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”) are noticeably missing. They were just as phenomenal as others in this category.

Selection: Matthew McConaughey


Best Actress

Amy Adams — “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett — “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock — “Gravity”

Judi Dench — “Philomena”

Meryl Streep — “August: Osage County”

Adams is a likable actress, but how did she get into this category? Surely, the omission of Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”) was a grave error. Minus Adams, this is the toughest category because the rest are spectacular, each deserving. 

Already the holder of an Oscar, Blanchett is superb in any role. Think of her as a younger Meryl Streep. Speaking of Streep, she was dynamic as a mean-spirited alcoholic, chain-smoking mother. Streep makes playing any role a flawless example of art. Bullock is very good in “Gravity,” yet all of those visual effects compete with her brilliance. Dench is solid as a mother searching for a son she lost as a teen.

If Hollywood sticks with its trend of youthful beauty over seasoned beauty this year, Bullock and Blanchett, in this order, have the edge. This is especially so for Bullock, as she is a close George Clooney friend. Dench and Streep are Academy Award recipients. This may diminish their chances, but these women deserve that statue. Streep is over-the-top enticing, and Dench plays a quiet role that energizes the soul. A good night would be both winning via a tie vote.

Selection: Judi Dench 


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”

Abdi is the lesser-known actor here. His performance is grand however. If he won —a long shot — the Oscar, it would be a surprise but not outlandish. He is spectacular as a Somali pirate. Cooper is good, but these over-the-top roles are becoming too common. Fassbender is a cruel sadistic man in “12 Years a Slave.” His role is awe-inspiring. He could easily surprise everyone in this area.

However, the stand out is Leto as a transvestite. He is remarkably moving. While Leto’s role is not the typical performance that garners the golden statue, it should. Leto is impressively talented. 

Selection: Jared Leto


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”

Lawrence has proven she can act. “The Hunger Games” star does her job in “American Hustle,” but the performance is very similar to 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” which netted Lawrence an Oscar last year. Roberts was surprising in “August: Osage County.” She is a ruthless, cursing woman, an atypical role for Roberts. Her scenes with Streep are engaging. Squibb’s role was the most humorous, and the 84-year-old actress played her cantankerous character well. Hawkins is the least known in this category. Though this lessens her chances, she is still good.

Scarlett Johansson’s voice work in “Her” is stunningly missing from this talented list. Although audiences only hear her voice, Johansson is worthy and offers a great performance as the voice of a computer-operating system.

This leaves Nyong’o a fresh face for most moviegoers, although she will be a well-known actress for her turn as a severely mistreated slave. She was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, raised in Kenya and educated in the United States. This was her first major film, so her multifaceted past makes her an Academy Award story worth sharing. Her performance makes her golden and topnotch.  

Selection: Lupita Nyong’o


Best Director

Steve McQueen — “12 Years a Slave”

David O. Russell — “American Hustle”

Alfonso Cuaron — “Gravity”

Alexander Payne — “Nebraska”

Martin Scorsese — “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Scorsese is a legend, but he was out-directed in this category by Cuaron and Payne, who both helmed artistically gratifying movies. Payne takes a small independent film and makes it engaging. Cuaron puts his best film with floating in space.

McQueen is a talented man. His direction of a big production film like “12 Years a Slave” is a historical masterpiece. Russell makes “American Hustle” pure enjoyment. However, the talented Mexican director Cuaron orchestrates a splendid show.

Selection: Alfonso Cuaron


Best Picture

“12 Years a Slave”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

“Captain Phillips”


“American Hustle”


“Dallas Buyers Club”



“Fruitvale Station” won attention from multiple sources, yet it failed to register for this category. It details the nature of relationships today and is just as worthy as “12 Years a Slave.” Apparently, modern films about class and race relations are not as riveting as historical events. This is a shame. “Fruitvale Station” is a relevant film. Also omitted from this category is “Inside Llewyn Davis” by Ethan and Joel Coen and “Blue Jasmine.”

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is over the top. It literally pushes the limits of Rated R, and Scorsese’s power is mighty. The movie on a whole is not as mighty as Scorsese.

“Her” and “Gravity” are the most original. They excel at giving audiences creative ventures that entertain.

“Nebraska” takes ordinary lives and makes them extraordinary in black and white. “Philomena” takes a real-life situation and turns it into riveting storytelling. “Captain Phillips” does the same with captivating moments of peril.      

“American Hustle’s” youthful and attractive cast makes it the front-runner on the surface. It is an intriguing story with a nice appeal. The problem is it is not as big as the hype surrounding it.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a solid movie. It is easy to find one’s self wanting to know more about these fascinating characters, but this is mainly thanks to the performances of a nice cast and good narrative. Yet, the film called the modern-day “Roots,” “12 Years a Slave” has a significant lead. Watch out “Gravity.” It could rise to the top of this group.

Selection: “12 Years a Slave”


Best original screenplay

“American Hustle” — David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer

“Blue Jasmine” — Woody Allen

“Her” — Spike Jonze

“Nebraska” — Bob Nelson

“Dallas Buyers Club” — Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” is missing from this list. That is a shame. It is an excellent screenplay.

Easily “Her” is the best in this category. If it is one thing he can do, Spike Jonze knows how to create an original piece that shines.  

Selection: “Her”


Best Adapted Screenplay

“12 Years a Slave” — John Ridley

“Before Midnight” — Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater

“The Wolf of Wall Street” — Terence Winter

“Captain Phillips” — Billy Ray

“Philomena” — Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

These are all good selections. One stands out because of the unique nature of the story and the mystery it creates. “Philomena.” The story is one that pulls you in and never releases the attention of its audience. It provides plenty in a refined manner that reigns majestic.

Selection: “Philomena”



Best Animated Feature

“The Wind Rises”


“Despicable Me 2”

“Ernest & Celestine”

“The Croods”

Selection: “The Wind Rises”


Best Foreign Feature

“The Hunt” (Denmark)

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Belgium)

“The Great Beauty” (Italy)

“Omar” (Palestinian territories)

“The Missing Picture” (Cambodia)

Selection: “Omar” (Palestinian territories)


Best Documentary Feature

“The Act of Killing”

“20 Feet From Stardom”

“The Square”

“Cutie and the Boxer”

“Dirty Wars”

Selection: “The Act of Killing”


Best Music (Original Song)

“Frozen”: “Let it Go” — Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”: “Ordinary Love” — U2, Paul Hewson

“Her”: “The Moon Song” — Karen O, Spike Jonze

“Despicable Me 2”: “Happy” — Pharrell Williams

“Alone Yet Not Alone”: “Alone Yet Not Alone” — Bruce Broughton, Dennis Spiegel

Selection: “Despicable Me 2”: “Happy” — Pharrell Williams


Best Music (Original Score)

“Gravity” — Steven Price

“Philomena” — Alexandre Desplat

“The Book Thief” — John Williams

“Saving Mr. Banks” — Thomas Newman

“Her” — William Butler and Owen Pallett

Selection: “Gravity” — Steven Price


Best Cinematography

“Gravity” — Emmanuel Lubezki

“Inside Llewyn Davis” — Bruno Delbonnel

“Nebraska” — Phedon Papamichael

“Prisoners” — Roger Deakins

“The Grandmaster” — Phillippe Le Sourd

Selection: “Gravity” — Emmanuel Lubezki


Best Costume Design:

“The Great Gatsby” — Catherine Martin

“12 Years a Slave” — Patricia Norris

“The Grandmaster” — William Chang Suk Ping

“American Hustle” — Michael Wilkinson

“The Invisible Woman” — Michael O'Connor

Selection: “American Hustle” — Michael Wilkinson


Best Film Editing

“Gravity" — Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger

“12 Years a Slave” — Joe Walker

“Captain Phillips” — Christopher Rouse

“American Hustle” — Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten

“Dallas Buyers Club” — John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

Selection: “Gravity” — Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger


Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“The Lone Ranger” — Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” — Stephen Prouty

“Dallas Buyers Club” — Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

Selection: “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” — Stephen Prouty


Best Production Design

“12 Years a Slave” — Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker

“The Great Gatsby” — Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn

“American Hustle” — Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler

“Gravity” — Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“Her” — K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena

Selection: “Gravity” — Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard


Best visual effects


“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

“Star Trek Into Darkness”

“Iron Man 3”

“The Lone Ranger”

Selection: “Gravity”


Best Sound Mixing


“Captain Phillips”

“Lone Survivor”

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Selection: “Lone Survivor”


Best Sound Editing


“All Is Lost"

“Captain Phillips"

“Lone Survivor"

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Selection: “Gravity”


Best Short Film, Live Action

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)”


“Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”

“The Voorman Problem”

Selection: “Helium”


Best Short Film, animated


“Get a Horse!"

“Mr. Hublot”


“Room on the Broom”

Selection: “Feral”


Best Documentary Short


“Facing Fear”

“Karama Has No Walls”

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”

“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Selection: “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

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