Entertainment Movies Oscar hopes: The surefires, dark horses and shock omissions
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Oscar hopes: The surefires, dark horses and shock omissions

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BEST PICTURE

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

No major surprises on what is here, with Marty Scorsese back in a big way with Leo’s manic performance as coke-snorting, Quaalude-popping Jordan Belfort in the epic bacchanal that is The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity’s blockbusting special effects bonanza and the searingly powerful 12 Years A Slave.

Dollars talk in Hollywood, so watch out for David O. Russell’s big hair and boobs showcase American Hustle, coming off the back of Silver Lining Playbook’s nomination landslide last year. It’s a strong year full stop with Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club and Her all attracting loads of chatter, and you know it’s packed when a textbook Tom Hanks flick is the outsider.

A couple of surprising omissions though, with the Coen Brothers missing out for their blackly comic folk odyssey Inside Llewyn Davis and no love for the Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts-led powerhouse of performances that is August: Osage County. Disney will be fuming about Saving Mr Banks’ snub. The Academy had one extra spot too, with up to 10 nominations allowed. Where the hell is Blue Jasmine?

Surprise, surprise, no films directed by women in here. In fairness, there wasn’t much competition out there. Perhaps Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said could have made a cameo, but it really wasn’t strong enough in this year’s line-up.

WILL WIN: Wide open this year in a three-way between Hustle, Slave and the big bucks Gravity. Scorsese is an outsider!

SHOULD WIN: 12 Years A Slave

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BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

 Some outstanding performances from the blokes this year, with Ejiofor turning in a towering turn as the broken but stoic Solomon Northrop, kidnapped from middle class comfort and dumped into the backbreaking hell of southern slavery. McConaughey’s physical transformation as HIV/AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club scored him a Golden Globe, but will it be enough to see him over the line here? Both films cover Oscar-baiting issues, with Django Unchained and Philadelphia‘s two each proving the form.

It’s worth noting that the Academy has never granted Leo the Best Actor Oscar, even though he deserved one for The Aviator the year Jamie Foxx scooped it for Ray. No love for Mr Hanks, which seems to sink Captain Phillips’ chances for Best Film, or Redford either, and he’s never bagged best Actor, only taking a tokenistic Honorary Award for services to film in 2002. Joaquin Phoenix and Oscar Isaac miss out too, with the latter more deserving.

WILL WIN: Threeway again between Leo, Ejiofor and McConaughey.

SHOULD WIN: Chiwetel Ejiofor

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BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

It’s a mad old year in Hollywood when a stunning central turn from cinematic goddess Streep is the least likely candidate for Best Actress, joining British living legend Dame Judy Dench in the rear guard.

I can’t recall being this sure about a winner in many a year. Cate’s got it in the bag for her nuclear-powered turn in Woody’s triumphant return to form, Blue Jasmine. The Oscar’s coming home to Australia, her second following her Best Supporting Actress win as Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Poor Emma Thompson. She really deserved to be here, particularly as her deliciously wicked turn as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers is the only thing that saved this Disney whitewash from being a hideous piece of unwatchable propaganda. Also sad to see Adele Exarchopoulos miss out too in a surreal year when Blue Is the Warmest Color didn’t qualify for Best Foreign Film but was up for Best Actress/Supporting Actress and failed to get nominated in either category.

WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett

SHOULD WIN: Cate Blanchett

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

No major upsets here, with the category following closely on the heels of the Best Actor crowd. Leto’s nod continues the impressive haul for Dallas, and Barkhad Abdi’s Somali pirate in Captain Phillips wins out where Hanks could not follow.  Jonah Hill is a bit of surprise, as funny as his drug-addled antics with an aggressive phone chord and a prosthetic penis were, and is probably the outsider.

WILL WIN: Tough call, but Bradley Cooper may just win out.

SHOULD WIN: Michael Fassbender.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

NO OPRAH! But then, let’s face it, The Butler wasn’t much cop, so it’s not really all that shocking. Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club) and Lea Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color) deserved a spot, in fairness. Good to see Sally Hawkins get a nod when Blue Jasmine performed poorly this year, but Lupita Nyong’o was a revelation in 12 Years A Slave and if there’s any justice should claim it. However, there’s no denying Lawrence’s dreams-destroying popularity.

WILL WIN: Jennifer Lawrence

SHOULD WIN: Lupita Nyong’o

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Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Captain Phillips is missing at sea again, with no joy for Paul Greengrass, but the real shocker here is the snub of the infinitely more deserving Woody Allen whose Blue Jasmine is a return to career high glory. Steve McQueen should win in a just universe, but when you’re up against Marty and David it’s a tough call.

Once again there are no female directors in this gentleman’s club. It took until 2010 for Kathryn Bigelow to secure the first directing statuette for a woman with The Hurt Locker! Jennifer Lee was Disney’s first ever female director for this year’s Frozen. Again, there wasn’t a lot to choose from out there THIS YEAR, but WHY aren’t we seeing women head up the big films? You can’t say well-deserving directors haven’t been overlooked historically either.

WILL WIN: David O. Russell, with Cuaron the dark horse.

SHOULD WIN: Steve McQueen

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And finally,

Lord knows exactly why Blue is the Warmest Color didn’t qualify for Best Foreign Film – answers on a postcard please – but the Mads Mikkelsen led the The Hunt would be an immensely deserving win.

The compelling Blackfish, which has taken the fight right to SeaWorld’s door over alleged mistreatment of its killer wales, is a shocking omission from Best Documentary Feature, considering all the buzz it’s created, and Stories We Tell also deserved a spot, though The Act of Killing is also a deserving likely winner here.

Pixar will be smarting at Monsters University’s snub in Best Animated Feature Film, as will Sony over Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, with Disney’s Frozen most likely the icing on the cake here.

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