Arts and Entertainment

The Spec’s picks for the 2014 Oscars

By Brian Burns ’17

Best Actor

My Pick: Mathew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

If anyone tells you that they know who is going to win this category, they are lying.  In the five performances, you have what is possibly Leo’s best performance, a veteran actor returning to the fold (Bruce Dern), an actor that serves as the harrowing centerpiece of a film for the ages (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the actor on the hottest streak seen in ages (Matthew McConaughey).  Christian Bale even managed to slip in with all the sneakiness of Batman, shutting out heavyweights like Tom Hanks and Robert Redford.  I’m going with McConaughey, with Ejiofor as a close second.  His physical transformation into the AIDS-stricken Ron Woodroof may have gotten all the press, but he deserves the award for his total commitment to thoroughly inhabiting the homophobe-turned-hero.  But again, I could literally close my eyes and pick an actor, and I’d have as much chance of guessing right.

Best Actress

My Pick: Amy Adams, American Hustle

I don’t know why I even bother giving my two-cents on this one —Cate Blanchett has had her name printed on that statue since July for her role in Woody Allen’s A Streetcar Named Desire riff Blue Jasmine (I agree that Blanchett turns in a formidable performance that dominated the film).  However, Amy Adams has been nominated for an Oscar five times and still hasn’t won.  Not only that, she managed to be the highlight in a movie that included in its cast Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence—proving the film’s most emotionally vulnerable performance.  For me, that is the greater accomplishment and she deserves to be rewarded for it.  Regardless, I’m just going to continue to seethe with disappointment that the female performance of the year from Blue is the Warmest Color’s Adèle Exarchopoulos didn’t receive a nomination.

Best Supporting Actor

My Pick: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

The big story of Dallas Buyers Club was said to be Matthew McConaughey’s weight loss for his role as Ron Woodroof, and for the most part it was. However, Leto manages to take some of the spotlight off of Mr. Alright Alright Alright in his performance. He portrays both the vulnerability and incredible strength of Rayon, a transgender woman who has contacted HIV and teams up with Ron to form the Dallas Buyers Club. If I had to pick a runner-up it would be Michael Fassbender. He was positively savage in the role of slave owner Edwin Epps—a villain that rivals Ralph Fiennes’ Amon Goeth in his brutality.  Also, if Jonah Hill wins and Leo doesn’t, I will literally laugh at the screen.

Best Supporting Actress

My Pick: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence’s rise to fame is almost unprecedented, and her streak will probably continue with her second Oscar in two years.  Casting her as the shrill and unstable wife of Christian Bale could have ended embarrassingly, but David O. Russell’s risk paid off handsomely.  He’s come up with a winning formula: hand Jennifer Lawrence cleaning supplies and put on “Live and Let Die” and let the accolades flood in.  12 Years a Slave wasn’t a showcase for Lupita Nyong’o in my opinion—Chiwetel Ejiofor owned the film.  The same can be said of Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine—she was sidelined by Cate Blanchett.

Best Picture

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave

No film deserves the Academy’s highest honor more than 12 Years a Slave. While possible dark horse Gravity was a technical marvel, and is sure to sweep all the technical categories, 12 Years is even more of a landmark film—one that confronts the horrific subject of slavery in visceral detail. I would be shocked if the Academy didn’t reward it. Don’t feel sad for Alfonso Cuaron though—Gravity is still probably going to win a much-deserved best director prize. They might play it safe and go with the universally liked American Hustle (a film I found to be enjoyable but nothing special, especially after having my memories of it obliterated by The Wolf of Wall Street). Her was the year’s greatest love story, but as much as it connected with me I doubt it will connect with the old-timers in the Academy (I have my fingers crossed for a best original screenplay win). The snub of Inside Llewyn Davis (my favorite film of the year) from this category still stings.


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