Oscars 2014: Will Win/Should Win Selections (Mark Johnson)

Gravity-1

I’ve said it many times before, but I believe it bears repeating: the calendar year for most people runs January through December, but for such Oscar-obsessed people as you will find writing here at The Awards Circuit, the year ends with Oscar Sunday. Everything we do at this site leads to and culminates with the Academy Awards. The time we’ve spent (over)analyzing this crazy race for nearly an entire year boils down to twenty-four final predictions. And then, win or lose, we have to deal with putting it all to bed.

To me, that week after the Oscars is the hardest part of the year, and I, admittedly, go through a period of withdrawal and depression. Sad, isn’t it? Admit it though: you’re just like me.

My history with predicting the Oscar race dates back to 1990, when I was a wide-eyed 13 year-old. I correctly predicted that Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves would be named the Best Picture of the year over Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (having seen the former, and still being too young to be allowed to see the latter, it was an easy call). At the time, I was obviously a neophyte to the Oscar game, knowing absolutely nothing about the precursors or the politics that figure into the race. What I did know, as a movie geek and a hugely competitive person, was that I loved guessing correctly. I played a novice-level guessing game with the ceremony from 1990 through 1996, and began taking more of a vested interest in the race by 1997. From the year Titanic swept AMPAS away – winning a record-tying 11 Oscars – through 2008, I played this annual awards challenge with more and more ferocity, trying harder each and every year to crack the code. Then I began my own site in 2009, and ran that until I joined the talented staff here in April of 2012.

The point of me telling you this long history I’ve had with the Academy Awards is so that you’ll believe me when I say I have rarely witnessed a year that delivered an Oscar race that was as fun and unpredictable as this one. As I type this, I’m still undecided on five – FIVE!! – categories. I honestly expect to be wrong with my Best Picture prediction regardless which film I take, and if so will be only the second time since 1990 that I have missed the big prize (I missed Crash).

Please humor me as I continue on a more personal note now. We’ll get to the predictions soon enough. This is, after all, a once in a year kind of post, and I’d like to soak up as much time with it as you’ll permit.

I want to thank Clayton for continuing to provide me with a place to have a voice, the entire staff for the great debates and conversations, and (of course) all of those who took the time to read and participate in my posts both here, and on Facebook and Twitter (@MJAwardsCircuit). Having the communal experience that The Awards Circuit provides us is one of the best parts of my life, and something I look forward to taking part in each and every day.

Most of you have already skipped ahead to my predictions or the comment section to tell me where you agree or disagree, so let’s go ahead and put a bow on it.

I present to you my Oscar Prediction Manifesto, and wish you all the best of luck in your Oscar pools!

Motion Picture
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Gravity or American Hustle
Should Win: Gravity or 12 Years a Slave would be more than worthy champions
Should Have Been Nominated: Inside Llewyn Davis12
Additional Thoughts: One of the toughest categories to predict, which has made this awards season one to remember (I wonder if you’d believe me if I told you I switched from Gravity to 12 Years a Slave at the very last moment?). With the PGA – the only other major awards body to use the same preferential ballot that Oscar does for Best Picture – creating a tie between our two front-runners, the next best group to rely on should be the DGA (they, in fact, have the highest overall accuracy rate when determining not only Best Director, but Best Picture as well – 53 out of 66; 80%). But I just can’t get away from the fact that 12 Years a Slave seems too big – too important, maybe – to ignore. While these are my personal top two films of the year, I’ll be happy regardless the outcome, but I think I’ll hedge my bet and go against the one I’d prefer to see win. Splitting hairs either way.
Interesting Stat: If Gravity were to win, it would become the first film to win Best Picture without an SAG Ensemble nomination since Braveheart (1995), the first year the SAG category existed.
Interesting Stat #2: If Gravity were to win, it would be the shortest Best Picture winner ever (if you do not count the closing credits). It is already the shortest film nominated in 61 years (High Noon; 1952; again, not counting the closing credits).
Interesting Stat #3: Gravity was not nominated for Screenplay. If it were to win, it would be the only third film in the last 58 years to take the top honor without a Screenplay nom, the other two being The Sound of Music (1965) and Titanic (1997). It would also be the first 3-D film to win. It would also be the first science-fiction film (though that placement it slightly arguable) to win Best Picture.
Interesting Stat #4: The only Guilds to go with 12 Years a Slave for its biggest prize were the Costume Designers and the Producers (the PGA couldn’t even do it without creating a tie with Gravity).

Director
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Could Win: Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave or (long shot) David O. Russell – American Hustle
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón or Steve McQueen – again, both worthy champions.
Should Have Been Nominated: Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Additional Thoughts: Cuarón has won nearly every prize in sight. While I feel Best Picture could go one of three ways (American Hustle is still a possible long shot there), I just can’t see anyone but Cuarón winning after taking home the Globe, BFCA, BAFTA, and, most importantly, the DGA. The DGA has only differed from the eventual Oscar winner seven times in 66 years (89% efficient).
Interesting Stat: This is Martin Scorsese’s eighth Director nomination, tying him with the legendary Billy Wilder for second most all-time.  William Wyler is still out front with 12 total nominations for Best Director.
Interesting Stat #2: David O. Russell has three Director nominations in the last four years, becoming only the 12th director to achieve such a feat, and only the second to do so in over 50 years (Clint Eastwood being the other do to so in that time).
Interesting Stat #3: Steve McQueen becomes only the third black director nominated for the Oscar (John Singleton and Lee Daniels being the other two).