Oscars: Final Predictions – Will Win/Should Win (Clayton Davis)


OscarsThe staff writers of AwardsCircuit.com has weighed in on this year’s Academy Awards (the Oscars) and it has all come down to this.  So much pressure as the Editor-in-Chief, you are looked upon to “know” the answers which in past years has not been the case.  With a wide open race in several categories, we are in for a very tension filled Oscar night from beginning to end.  Sunday marks the end of our fiscal year at Awards Circuit and I feel it appropriate to do my Oscar-type speech.

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Enough with the sappy crap.  You have all come here for the official Oscar Predictions for the Awards Circuit.  There’s so much to take into account and I haven’t felt less confident about my choices in previous years then I do now.  All I can do is say, “whatever happens, it was a hell of a ride.”

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12YearsaSlave_DwightHenryBEST MOTION PICTURE
WHO WILL WIN: 12 Years a Slave

COULD WIN: Gravity
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films), Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics), and The Square (Netflix)

The one that will have everyone at the edge of their seat, no matter how Best Director or Editing go.  The guilds went mostly different directions.  The Producers Guild of America tied Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, on a preferential balloting system no less while the Screen Actors Guild awarded American Hustle.  The Directors Guild of America rewarded Alfonso Cuaron with the BAFTA and Golden Globes going with Steve McQueen’s film in their top categories.  I have never been a fan of “predicting” a Best Picture/Best Director split.  I’ve only done it two times since I’ve been officially writing and both times, I felt like a moron after I did it (since I know you’re wondering, I did it with Little Miss Sunshine/Martin Scorsese and The King’s Speech/David Fincher, both shortsighted).  This year, looks like I’m going with the highly acclaimed and rewarded film from Steve McQueen.  12 Years a Slave just seems like the more viable option for Oscar voters.

WHO WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity

COULD WIN: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
SHOULD WIN: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Spike Jonze (Her)

For someone who thoroughly appreciates everything that Alfonso Cuaron brought to the table with Gravity, I’m still surprised that all the guilds and award shows embraced him the way they did.  Even with that, I’m still not convinced that its far and away Alfonso Cuaron for the win.  I still think Steve McQueen is very much on the table, especially if voters are voting the film #1 in Best Picture.  Kristen Lopez had the gumption to choose McQueen.  I would love to join her.  I’m afraid to.

movies-dallas-buyers-club-matthew-mcconaugheyBEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
WHO WILL WIN: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

COULD WIN: Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
SHOULD WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight)

With Golden Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice under his belt, Matthew McConaughey is looking pretty darn good for his bravura work as Ron Woodroof.  However, BAFTA offered a nice alternative for voters that were looking for one when they rewarded Chiwetel Ejiofor in McConaughey’s absence.  More importantly, it happened when ballots were in their hands.  Another thing worth noting is that McConaughey won all those awards never going directly against Leonardo DiCaprio.  Receiving his fourth and fifth nomination this year, Leo is definitely overdue for some Oscar love.  In the end, McConaughey peaked and sustained throughout the entire Phase 2 process.  HBO’s “True Detective” also helped a whole lot too.  I do wonder if there’s a narrative out there where the understated and well-campaigned Bruce Dern wins for Nebraska?

blue-jasmine-cate-blanchette-sliceBEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
WHO WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

COULD WIN: Sandra Bullock for Gravity
SHOULD WIN: Sandra Bullock for Gravity
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Veerle Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown), Brie Larson (Short Term 12), Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)

There’s no way around Cate Blanchett at this point.  She’s won everything she’s needed to and even through the Woody Allen controversy, has held her head high and handled it like a champ.  Amy Adams had a few weeks to build the narrative for her first Oscar win on her fifth nomination but none of that has happened with the vocal “Hustle” haters hitting the ground.  The only potential for an upset is Sandra Bullock, who can be carried through on pure “Gravity” evening, which wouldn’t really bother me.  Any way you slice it, this category sewn up anyway.

WHO WILL WIN: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

COULD WIN: Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
SHOULD WIN: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners), Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine), Tahar Rahim (The Past)

If there’s one major category where you can just put your million dollars on, this is the one.  Jared Leto has swept the season remarkably, proving he was a force to be reckoned with and makes a very worthy winner.  Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill are two previous nominees who may have some fans within the Academy, also both in “comedies” which this category lends itself to every once in a while.   There’s also Barkhad Abdi who won the BAFTA award, which some have immediately moved to the “spoiler position” but without co-star Hanks or director Greengrass, Abdi doesn’t stand a chance unfortunately.

WHO WILL WIN: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

COULD WIN: Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
SHOULD WIN: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station)

Another completely wide open race that has been split down the middle with the televised award shows.  Lupita Nyong’o won SAG which many consider “the one that matters” but she also lost the BAFTA award to Jennifer Lawrence, which was shocking in the British community.  BAFTA has also chosen the Best Supporting Actress winner every year since 2000 except for 3 times, when the eventual Oscar winner wasn’t even nominated.  That’s got to give a lot of hope to Lawrence fans.  In the end, I think the Academy at large will feel moved and compelled with the performance of Nyong’o, who has performed exceptionally on the circuit, giving tender and beautiful speeches at the award shows.  I’m fully expecting the Academy to prove me wrong though.

JenniferLawrence-AmericanHustleBEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WHO WILL WIN: Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell for American Hustle

COULD WIN: Spike Jonze for Her
SHOULD WIN: Spike Jonze for Her
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), Asghar Farhadi (The Past), Alfonso Cuaron & Jonas Cuaron (Gravity)

This is one of the more ballsy predictions of the evening since Spike Jonze has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Writers Guild Awards.  However, I feel like American Hustle fits more in line with the 62-year-old white voter who may not “get” Jonze’s picture.  Russell’s film was nominated in all seven major categories and I don’t think it’s going home empty handed and most of all, they may want to reward HIM.  Lawrence will represent the film sure, but Russell will still be Oscar-less and there are some can’t seem to live with that.  I’m sticking to my guns.

12YearsaSlave_BenedictCumberbatchBEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WHO WILL WIN: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

COULD WIN: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope for Philomena
SHOULD WIN: Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Carl Joos & Felix Van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown), Destin Cretton (Short Term 12)

I’ve felt compelled to go with the power of Harvey Weinstein who hasn’t gone home without an Oscar in a very long time.  Philomena came on strong in the past few weeks and managed to upset 12 Years a Slave at the BAFTA awards.  It’s also no secret that the only Black writer to ever win a screenplay Oscar is Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious.  I think there is a narrative out there where we get a shocker like Before Midnight taking this as well but that seems so far-fetched especially since its the only film not nominated for Best Picture.  I’m going with the Best Picture winner power in the end.

Frozen-Official-Trailer-1BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

COULD WIN: The Wind Rises

Walt Disney played this too well to lose it in the end.  The Wind Rises won a whole of critics awards but Frozen won at the Annies, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice.  I think it holds up with the box office that its brought in as well.

Gravity_Sandra-Bullock-floats-onBEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
WHO WILL WIN: Andy Nicholson & Rosie Goodwin for Gravity

COULD WIN: Catherine Martin & Beverley Dunn for The Great Gatsby
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis

This is one of the few categories where it can go any number of ways.  Any of the five nominees can potentially win.  The Art Directors Guild went with Gravity, The Great Gatsby, and Her, all three films that have their admirers.  I’ve stuck with 12 Years a Slave for a few months and only now did I make the switch.  Anyone who listens to our weekly podcast, Mark Johnson convinced me of risky switch last year from eventual Oscar-winner Lincoln to surprise nominee Life of Pi, something I’ve held over his head for a while.  The connection is the Visual Effects winner with this category which happens often and with Gravity’s subtle but brilliant construction of the space stations, he might be right this time.  I can dig it.

Gravity_CinematographyBEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
WHO WILL WIN: Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity

COULD WIN: Roger Deakins for Prisoners

3D is tailor made for this category nowadays and what Emmanuel Lubezki did with Gravity was nothing short of magnificent.  His losses for The Tree of Life and Children of Men still ring high and he’s needed on an Oscar stage.  The only way I see him losing is if enough voting members of the Academy get wind that Roger Deakins is still Oscar-less after all these years.  His work on Prisoners was impressive enough but he looks to be sitting tight in Row H.  Same goes for the terrific Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis.

AmericanHustle_DavisAwardBEST COSTUME DESIGN
WHO WILL WIN: Michael Wilkinson for American Hustle

COULD WIN: Catherine Martin for The Great Gatsby
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Kill Your Darlings, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Saving Mr. Banks

Too many wide open categories.  This one is between three very solid contenders though and that’s American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson), The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin), and 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris).  Norris is 82 years old, which I’m sure many members don’t know, which may result in a consolation prize, and also add to the film’s awards tally.  Martin’s costumes are flashy and what they normally reward but I feel the poor reviews and lack of buzz for Gatsby will cost it in the end, making room for the disco wear of American Hustle to reign supreme.

Captain-Phillips-15-Barkhad-AbdiBEST FILM EDITING
WHO WILL WIN: Christopher Rouse for Captain Phillips

COULD WIN: Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger for Gravity
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners

When in doubt, go with the A.C.E. winner and that’s Christopher Rouse for Captain Phillips.  With long takes, some members may not see the “editing” that went into “Gravity.”

jared_leto_dallas_buyers_clubBEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
WHO WILL WIN: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews for Dallas Buyers Club

COULD WIN: The Lone Ranger
SHOULD WIN: Dallas Buyers Club
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: American Hustle, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lone Survivor

When in doubt, go with the Best Picture nominee.

gravity_featuredBEST SOUND MIXING
WHO WILL WIN: Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro for Gravity

COULD WIN: Inside Llewyn Davis

Another one for Gravity to pick easily.

WHO WILL WIN: Glenn Freemantle for Gravity

COULD WIN: Captain Phillips
SHOULD WIN: Lone Survivor
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rush, Inside Llewyn Davis, Man of Steel

I feel confident enough in Gravity taking this one but I keep looking towards Captain Phillips for a potential upset.

WHO WILL WIN: Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould for Gravity

COULD WIN: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: All is Lost, Man of Steel, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

If there’s one category, in the entire evening, to put the title to your house on (I’m not endorsing this move at all), this is the one to do it.

WHO WILL WIN: Steven Price for Gravity

COULD WIN: Alexandre Desplat for Philomena
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rush, Captain Phillips, Frozen

The score for Gravity is simply superb and one of the best things I’ve heard in a film since Gustavo Santoalla for Brokeback Mountain.  I think every scene is heightened by its bombastic chords that settle gently into a movement without overwhelming the viewer.  Here’s where Harvey could take one home with them though.  Please don’t.

Disney-Frozen-Let-It-Go-1BEST ORIGINAL SONG
WHO WILL WIN: “Let It Go” from Frozen – Music by Kristen Lopez, Lyrics by Robert Lopez

COULD WIN: “Happy” from Despicable Me 2
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis, “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

This is close.  “Let It Go” has the popular support and box office while “Happy” is very much the song of the moment.  There’s also U2 that is on the table.

Paolo-Sorrentino-The-Great-Beauty-winner-european-film-awards-2013-coverBEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
WHO WILL WIN: The Great Beauty from Italy

COULD WIN: The Broken Circle Breakdown
SHOULD WIN: The Broken Circle Breakdown
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Past, The Square, Ernest & Celestine

Globe and BAFTA picked the same film.  You got to go with the one that matched up there but boy do I want to pick The Broken Circle Breakdown.

WHO WILL WIN: 20 Feet from Stardom

COULD WIN: The Square
SHOULD WIN: The Square
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Stories We Tell, The Crash Reel, Bridegroom

20 Feet from Stardom has put its stars at every party and its the only one in English.  That’s accessibility to voters.  DGA did choose The Square which should pack the emotional punch if enough saw it.

WHO WILL WIN: Get a Horse!

COULD WIN: Possessions
SHOULD WIN: Get a Horse!

WHO WILL WIN: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved my Life

COULD WIN: Cave Digger
SHOULD WIN: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved my Life


COULD WIN: The Voorman Problem

Gravity – 7 wins
12 Years a Slave – 3 wins
Dallas Buyers Club – 3 wins
American Hustle – 2 wins
Frozen – 2 wins
Captain Phillips – 1 win

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Clayton Davis--prolific writer and autism awareness advocate of Puerto Rican and Black descent, known for his relentless passion, dedication, and unique aptitude. Over the course of a decade, he has been criticizing both film and television extensively. To date, he has been either featured or quoted in an array of prominent outlets, including but not limited to The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton’s avid interest in the movie world began the moment he first watched "Dead Poets Society” at just five years of age. While he struggled in English class all throughout grade school, he dived head first into writing, ultimately taking those insufficiencies and transforming them into ardent writings pertaining to all things film, television, and most importantly, the Academy Awards. In addition to crafting a collection of short stories that give a voice to films that haven’t made it to the silver screen, Clayton currently serves as the Founding Editor of AwardsCircuit.com. He also holds active voting membership at various esteemed organizations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Broadcast Television Journalists Association, African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, and International Press Academy. Furthermore, Clayton obtained his B.A. degree in American Studies and Communications.