Spoilers ahead for 12 Years a Slave
Two out of six ain’t too shabby, right?
If you checked out my irresponsible, rampant, pandering Oscar speculation yesterday, it might appear that of the six categories on my Oscar bracket that I divulged on this blog (Supporting and Lead Actor and Actress, Achievement in Directing and Best Picture) I got three wrong.
Trust me, compared to the rest of the bracket I had filled out for my friendly life or death Oscar prediction contest, .40 is a pretty great K:D ratio.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Who I picked: Sandy, my dear, dear friend and a national treasure
Who won: Kate Blanchet, who is an Australian
How was I supposed to know Kate Blanchet would win? What, because she won the Golden Globe and everybody said she was going to win I should have guessed? Well I didn’t. I voted with my heart. Which steered me woefully wrong.
I still haven’t seen Blue Jasmine, though by all accounts it’s a solid flick. Maybe I’ll rent it at some point, or maybe I’ll read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, but for now I’ll probably just stew in anger over the points Kate Blanchet cost me in my Oscar contest.
Gravity was a phenomenal movie, but I can’t blame the Academy for not picking Sandra Bullock simply because the film isn’t one that overtly focuses on acting or writing. It’s a conceptual work that is at its best when it’s broadest and most conceptual.
That being said, there is a turn in Dr. Stone’s mentality about ¾ of the way through the movie that hit me in the heart like a space harpoon.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Who I picked: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Who won: Matthew McConaughey
As far as I’m concerned the Academy screwed up something fierce on this one. McConaughey was good in Dallas Buyers Club, I absolutely don’t dispute that. But the things I felt watching Ejiofor’s performance in 12 Years a Slave I’ve never felt anywhere else. There’s a sustained shot in the film, a close up of Ejiofor taking in his surroundings amongst the waning night of day, which says more in utter silence than any amount of “alrights” ever could.
Additionally, as far as I’m concerned, that McConaughey can never win an Oscar for his role in True Detective is bonkers. So, you know, it doesn’t quite make up for the fact that I missed True Detective last night to watch this nonsense, but good on him.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Who I picked: Barkhad Abdi
Who won: Jared Leto
Dallas Buyers Club laid waste to my Oscar predictions this year. But, as much as I absolutely loved Abdi’s performance in Captain Phillips and hope against all hope that audiences will see more of him in the future, Leto completely transformed himself in his role as Rayon. I can’t really argue with this win, because Leto undisputedly displayed good acting. But there was something so sinister and yet so unbelievably relatable about Barkhad Abdi’s portrayal of Abduwali Muse.
Who I picked: Martin Scorsese
Who won: Alfonso Cuaron
The Academy has changed things up in the past two years. Where once the Best Director was almost assuredly from the Best Picture that hasn’t been the case as of late. And while I absolutely felt Steve McQueen was deserving of the honor I couldn’t get past just how impressive Scorsese’s storytelling was in Wolf of Wall Street. That he was able to make such an intriguing, linear story out of such unbridled indulgence and debauchery is a testament to his talent as a director. But Gravity was certainly a feat in cinema. You won’t get any groans from me in regards to Cuaron’s win.
So yeah, I was wrong about pretty much everything, but at the end of the day the categories I would have been most upset about picking wrong were the ones I picked right.
Lupita Nyong’o, who won Best Actress in a leading role for her performance as Patsey in Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, was without a doubt the most worthy actress in her category. Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor and 12 Years a Slave humanized a facet of American history most would prefer to label distant. I would never say 12 Years a Slave entertained me. It isn’t American Hustle of Wolf of Wall Street. But the breadth of emotion it stirred in me is second to none. It is art in the truest sense, and whether the Academy would have agreed or not it is undoubtedly the Best Picture of 2013.