The Oscar telecast is set for March 2. The nominations in all categories have been announced. Host Ellen DeGeneres is tightening up her dance moves. Designers in major fashion houses are scurrying to avoid getting panned on the red carpet. All that remains, until the envelopes are opened, is predicting the names written inside of them. That’s a task that can be a bit more difficult than imagined. To avoid being the big loser in your office pool, take the following picks to heart.
Matthew McConaughey has already taken home a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as a slew of Film Critic Association awards, for his harrowing portrayal of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey is in the midst of a career renaissance that began with The Lincoln Lawyer in 2011 and has continued thru roles in Bernie, Mud, and Magic Mike. Dallas Buyers Club appears to be the pinnacle of that renaissance and Academy voters are sure to notice and reward the first time nominee’s body of work over that period of time.
Don’t be too surprised however if Christian Bale’s name is announced instead of McConaughey’s. His role as con man in David O’Russell’s period piece American Hustle has been more widely seen ($135 million domestic gross versus Club‘s $30 million) and the film has garnered 10 Academy Award nominations to Club‘s 8. Those are hard numbers to ignore.
This category is a bit harder to handicap. Industry darling and past winner Sandra Bullock is nominated for her role in the visually stunning Gravity. Meryl Streep earned her 18th nomination, a new record, as a domineering matriarch in August: Osage County. The older members of the Academy may be inclined to award seven-time nominated veteran Judi Dench for Philomena. But my money is on Cate Blanchett for her role as broken socialite teetering on the edge of sanity in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
Blanchett has already collected the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for a role that many consider to be the best of her long and impressive career. Woody Allen has long had a remarkable knack for drawing the best out of the women in his films and getting them rewarded for it. Anybody remember Mira Sorvino’s improbable Best Supporting Actress win in 1995 for Mighty Aphrodite? Yeah, that happened. With this knowledge in mind bet on Blanchett taking Oscar home two Sundays from now.
The nine nominated films create an impressive lot with a nice mix of crowd favorites like Gravity and The Wolf of Wall Street sitting snuggly with art-house stunners like Her and Nebraska. But look for David O’Russell’s American Hustle to take home the night’s big award. Universally loved, the film ties Gravity for the most total nominations (10) with all four leads as well as the director earning nominations. Last year, Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook lost out in this category to Ben Affleck’s Argo. Don’t anticipate a repeat.