Last August, “12 Years a Slave” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. The day after, the same festival premiered “Gravity.” Since then, the Oscar race has basically been between those two films. On Oscar Sunday this weekend, “Gravity” will come out with the most awards, but “12 Years a Slave” will win best picture.
Oscar season is kind of like a sports season. But instead of games, there are dozens of precursor awards given out by various voting bodies like the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America. This year, those awards have been awarded mostly to “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.” The Producers Guild, usually a good predictor for the Oscars, had their first-ever tie when they gave both movies their best picture award. Best director and best picture normally go to the same movie at the Oscars, but in close races like this one, those awards are often split between two films.
“Gravity” will likely walk away with six awards out of 10 nominations: for best director, visual effects, cinematography, score, sound editing and sound mixing. If Alfonso Cuarón wins best director for “Gravity,” he’ll be the first Hispanic director to win, and if Steve McQueen wins for “12 Years a Slave,” he’ll be the first black director.
So why will “12 Years a Slave” win best picture when “Gravity” won’t? Well, it really could go either way. But “12 Years,” given its important subject matter (slavery) and historical setting, makes it a more Oscar-y movie, and sometimes that’s all it really takes. “12 Years” will likely end up with three wins out of nine overall nominations, winning best picture, adapted screenplay and editing. Best original screenplay, on the other hand, will probably go to “Her,” but “American Hustle” could be a threat.
In the acting categories, “Dallas Buyers Club” will come out on top. Jared Leto has won virtually every precursor in the supporting actor category all season. We are also living in the age of the McConaughssance, where Matthew McConaughey has turned from sexy hunk to serious actor who stars in serious dramas. Aside from “Dallas Buyers Club,” he was the lead in the best-reviewed indie movie of last year, “Mud,” and is currently in “True Detective.” For whatever reason, McConaughey has beaten out Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave” in most precursors, and he’ll probably win again here.
Cate Blanchett has also swept virtually every precursor, so she’s a lock for best actress. The supporting actress awards this season have been divided between Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave” and Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle.” “American Hustle” is tied with “Gravity” for the most nominations, with 10 apiece, but doesn’t seem to be a lock to win for any of them. Lawrence is about as popular as actors can get right now, and it looks like this year she’ll be the first actress to win consecutive Oscars since Tom Hanks did for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump” in the ’90s.
The best foreign film category is always a weird one. Most acclaim went toward “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which wasn’t even eligible for this year’s Oscars. Italy’s “The Great Beauty” seems to be the favorite for the awards.
Last year, “Brave” surprisingly beat out the better-reviewed Disney stablemate “Wreck-It Ralph” in the animated feature category. There’s a similar situation this year, with Disney’s “Frozen” and Pixar’s “Monsters University” in the running. This will be the first time a traditional Disney princess movie will win an Oscar for best animated feature, and an Oscar for best song will make it two.
Best picture: “12 Years a Slave”
Best director: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Best actor: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Best actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Best supporting actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Best supporting actor: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Best original screenplay: “Her”
Best adapted screenplay: “12 Years a Slave”
Best animated feature: “Frozen”
Best foreign film: “The Great Beauty”
Best editing: “12 Years a Slave”
Best score: “Gravity”
Best original song: “Frozen”
Best sound editing: “Gravity”
Best sound mixing: “Gravity”
Best visual effects: “Gravity”