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The Oscars – 2014 Preview

Read our preview and predictions of the big 6 awards before Sundays awards night!

So another year, and another boatload of quality film for our eyes and ears to digest.  2013 was an incredible year for film, and before we get too excited about what 2014 has in-store, there’s the small matter of the 86th Academy Awards, to celebrate what was a bumper year for cinematography and storytelling.

The Oscars are legendary for rewarding achievements that very few other people agree with.  The famously mysterious Oscar panel have made some utterly outrageous decisions over the years, and despite our frustrations, shock and rage at the incredulous nature of some results, this is also partly the reason we look forward to it every year.

Last years event was dominated by a boundary pushing technical achievement (Life Of Pi), an amazing untold true story (Argo),  and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook); there are some interesting parallels with this years front runners.

Space drama Gravity and David O. Russell’s American Hustle are both up for ten awards, with Steve McQueen’s historical epic 12 Years A Slave nominated for nine.  But there’s some exceptional competition for awards in shape of Matthew McConaughey’s stand out performance in Dallas Buyers Club, Tom Hanks in the tense Captain Phillips, Martin Scorsese’s Wolf Of Wall Street and the little film that could – Nebraska.

In a strange case of affairs, could the academy actually get it right this year?  Here’s Hit The Floor’s predictions for the big six awards…in no particular order.

Best Film
The biggest award of the night is contested between 9 films, the academy controversially picking one less than the quota, but what a line-up.
Unsurprisingly, 12 Years A Slave and Gravity are the front-runners, but for very different reasons. 12 Years A Slave is a story which needed to be told, a text on the brutality of the slave trade that will be used for decades to educate and inform. Gripping, heart-warming and shocking, 12 Years is a mediator for us to judge our own knowledge and morals, and left audiences questioning the society in which they live, and its origins. Gravity pushed the boundaries of technical achievement, a first in ‘Science-NonFiction’ the movie is a drama about the places we are going, and far removed from the themes in 12 Years. There can be few movies that ask us so much about ourselves in such starkly different ways.
Whichever camp you reside, this is a two horse race, with Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, Wolf Of Wall Street, Her and American Hustle rightly missing out. It’s impossible to know how the Academy will go here, but whatever their decision, we can only hope and pray for a lineup like this again next year.
And the Winner is… 12 Years A Slave

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence will be hoping to add to her best actress award from last year, by taking home the best supporting award for her role in American Hustle. But she has stiff competition from acting power-house Julia Roberts and new star, 12 Years a Slaves’ Lupita Nyongo’o. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) and June Squibb (Nebraska) are outside shots, but we think it’ll be a second award for the 23 year old Hunger Games star.
And the Winner is… Jennifer Lawrence

Best Director
This is another two horse race between Alfonso Cúaron (Gravity) and Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave). Cuaron is the expected winner following last month’s BAFTA’s, but McQueen’s historical epic breaks new ground and tells a story few have dared to touch. Despite competition from Scorsese, David O. Russell and Alexander Payne, 12 Years A Slave is the deserving winner.
And the Winner is… Steve McQueen

Best Supporting Actor
Perhaps the most difficult one to predict, this award has some truly memorable performances: Michael Fassbender’s evil protagonist in 12 Years A Slave; Jared Leto’s astounding turn in Dallas Buyers Club; new star Barkhad Abdi as a Somalian Pirate in Captain Phillips. Jonah Hill made a career best performance in Wolf Of Wall Street, and Bradley Cooper nominated in a David O. Russell movie again folowing last years performance in Silver Linings Playbook. But for sheer depth of character, terrifyingly convincing rage and edge of the seat tension, the award should go to the evil plantation owner Edwin Epps in 12 Years A Slave
And the Winner is… Michael Fassbender

Best Actress
This one would appear to be sewn up already. Cate Blanchett’s incredible turn in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is clear choice. Whilst many will hope the Academy will perform one of their incredible upsets and reward Judi Dench (Philomena), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Amy Adams (American Hustle) and multi-nominee Meryl Streep (August Osage County) will most likely be going home disappointed.
And the Winner is… Cate Blanchett.

Best Actor
Some stand out performances in some stand out films. Chiwitel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) will be a popular choice. A British actor who’s provided huge quality in smaller roles, Ejiofor took his chance as free man Solomon (Northup) in 12 Years A Slave, and his career looks set to take a huge step forward in the coming years. Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf Of Wall Street), both nominees for this award in previous years, owned the screen in the ensemble casts of Wolf Of Wall Street and American Hustle. Bruce Dern (Nebraska) is the outside choice, with perhaps his last chance of an award after nearly 3 decades in the industry. All, however, are likely to be undone by a man who only a few years ago was famous for leaning against co-stars in romantic comedies, and taking his shirt off. Matthew McConaughey’s role as Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club marks a very important time in his ‘McConnaissance’ and shows a remarkable turn of form in a funny, emotional and difficult role that he absolutely deserves to win for.
And the Winner is… Matthew McConaughey

It should be an incredible night.  Presented by Ellen DeGeneres, Gravity promises to be the big winner, only the third film ever to be nominated in all seven technical categories. It’s also a big night for Britain, with a number of nominees from our very own shores. The night kicks off 1.30am and you can follow all the winners by following our live tweets on @hitthefloormag.

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