We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

oscars4 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

As you might imagine, Oscar season is our favorite time of the year here at We Got This Covered, and 2014 is primed to be one of the most interesting years in Academy history.

Tomorrow, nine terrific films will go head-to-head for the coveted title of Best Picture, and there are still heated arguments about who is currently in the lead, between Alfonso Cuarón’s thrilling space odyssey Gravity and Steve McQueen’s devastating historical drama 12 Years a Slave. Other races are just as tough to call, with Best Actor looking like a photo finish between Matthew McConaughey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Leonardo DiCaprio. And of course, Oscar night always has surprises in store, so even the most seemingly sure calls are actually far from assured.

However, guessing is half the fun, and We Got This Covered’s excellent panel of judges are more than happy to offer up their own personal preferences and opinions about how the 86th Academy Awards will unfold tomorrow night.

In one corner, we’ve got Jeff Beck, WGTC’s main awards analyst. So far, he’s brought you solo coverage of all the major awards (Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, PGA, DGA, SAG, WGA, BAFTA), including predictions for most of them, and now that we’ve come to the Oscars, he’s excited to have some more voices join the discussion.

Oscar aficionado Jordan Adler has his picks set for a telecast he believes will likely award only a few of the nine Best Picture nominees with any gold.

And assistant editor Isaac Feldberg, still crushed about the exclusion of Inside Llewyn Davis and Spring Breakers, is hoping that some of the races currently set to be locks can pull out major surprises on Oscar night – after all, what’s the Academy Awards without some upsets? (Right, Crash?)

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Best Picture:

JB:

Gravity 3 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win: Gravity

By now it’s no secret that I’ve been rooting for Gravity throughout this entire race. It’s a breathtaking masterpiece, a work of art and a technical marvel, one that easily deserves the award over the other eight nominees. Looking at what I believe will win, if you’ve read my analysis of the Best Picture race, then you know where I stand and why, but it really boils down to some very simple points:

  1. Gravity won the PGA (tying with 12 Years a Slave) and the DGA. It’s rare for a film to win both of these and lose Best Picture. When it does happen, it’s usually a really big surprise (Crash beating Brokeback Mountain, Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan). Looking specifically at the DGA award, we find what can be seen as an even better indicator for Best Picture than the PGA. There are several instances of the DGA winner correctly picking Best Picture even when the PGA did not (Martin Scorsese for The Departed, Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind, and Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven). Gravity’s win here certainly gives it an extra boost.
  2. We know that the Academy loves to match up Best Picture and Best Director when possible, something they couldn’t do last year due to Ben Affleck getting snubbed for Best Director. However, this year presents them with an easy opportunity to go back to matching them up, and with Cuarón being the clear favorite for Best Director, they could easily award him for his outstanding direction, while awarding Best Picture to his masterpiece as a whole.
  3. Support for 12 Years has been dwindling over the past couple of months, winning one Golden Globe, three Critics’ Choice awards, and two BAFTAs (the last of which didn’t tell us anything, because the British Academy gave both Gravity and 12 Years Best Picture). Granted, the awards it’s won have always included Best Picture, but will the Academy really award it top honors while giving another film double the amount of Oscars? This is an occurrence that we haven’t seen happen in over 40 years (The Godfather vs. Cabaret), so it’d be quite shocking to see it happen tomorrow. Gravity is a film with a lot of love behind it, which, if my complete predictions are correct, will see it winning seven Oscars before Best Picture is announced, while 12 Years a Slave will have won only two. Will we really get another Best Picture winner that only takes three Oscars total, once again without winning Best Director? I just don’t see that happening, not with another film that’s receiving support in the form of wins from many other categories.

For all of these reasons, I believe Gravity has the edge going into the big night. Sure, you could make the case that 12 Years a Slave could win based solely on its Best Picture victories, but looking at precedent shows us that something else will more than likely happen. Normally we’re well aware of what’s going to win Best Picture in advance, but this year has provided a lot of curveballs (an unprecedented tie from the PGA, a multitude of groups splitting between Best Picture and Best Director), so who knows how it will all end up. It’s an extremely tight race between these two extremely popular films, one that will surely lead to a nail-biting Oscar night.

JA:

Her FILM We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: Her

After the Producers Guild of America tie last month, the results of the night’s final envelope could be either Gravity or 12 Years a Slave. I figure Steve McQueen’s true story of enslavement has a few things working for it. First, Gravity does not have a nod for screenwriting. Furthermore, the Academy likes to pick films that are triumphs of storytelling rather than filmmaking and the voting body is a sucker for period pieces. Plus, 12 Years a Slave‘s “It’s time” campaign may prove effective at persuading voters to lend their bid to a film about an African-American subject that has a black director, screenwriter and lead actor.

However, if I was an Academy voter, I would give Her the top prize. Spike Jonze’s disarmingly moving and imaginative glimpse at the near future contains one of modern cinema’s most poignant love stories. It likely will not win, as the Academy skews older, and the film seems to have more support from the millennial generation.

IF:

Gravity Review We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win: Gravity

No other film transported me like Alfonso Cuarón’s space-set survival thriller. Between its groundbreaking, absorbing visuals, emotionally charged storytelling and Sandra Bullock’s career-best performance as an astronaut fighting against external obstacles (like space debris, depleting oxygen levels and terrifying firestorms) and her own all-consuming grief, Gravity had it all for me, and it’s held up tremendously under repeat viewings. People will be talking about the film’s technical brilliance for years to come, and that alone would be enough to give it a strong shot at Best Picture in a weaker year, but the supremely impressive balancing act that Cuarón pulls off between his visuals and the emotional heft of Bullock’s journey will and should earn it the accolade. 12 Years a Slave may be a devastating, admirable look into America’s past, but Gravity has presented the Academy with the future of moviemaking. It deserves this honor.

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Best Actor:

JB:

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actor has been the most fascinating of the acting categories due to the sudden shift it’s undergone. Throughout the critics’ awards, the very clear favorite was Chiwetel Ejiofor for his outstanding performance in 12 Years a Slave. However, as soon as the major awards started up, we suddenly had a new favorite, with Matthew McConaughey winning the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and SAG, making him far and away the most likely to be taking home Best Actor on March 2nd. Both actors are very deserving, but I would have to tilt slightly in the direction of McConaughey, who completely blew me away with his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. While he is the new favorite, I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of a surprise victory for Ejiofor here. It will just depend on how popular 12 Years a Slave ends up being on the big night.

JA:

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave 163136 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

McConaughey is truly deserving of an award, and his turn as Rust Cohle on True Detective should also bring the heat in September. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio deserves an Oscar and he was outstanding in The Wolf of Wall Street. However, McConaughey is sure to win for a performance that relies less on externalized theatrics.

On the flipside, Ejiofor gives a nuanced and heart-breaking turn without any of the formidable scenes you generally see played during an actor’s “Oscar reel.” As Solomon Northup, Ejiofor internalizes the pain and grips our heart by showing us the aching experience in subtle, nuanced ways. The Academy does not usually award more measured performances, but Ejiofor commands the screen by showing us a man’s hurt and vulnerability. It is his humanity that ultimately makes McQueen’s film shine, and watching Ejiofor’s soul rise to the surface is a true pleasure.

IF:

Dallas Buyers Club We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

When the Academy calls McConaughey’s name on March 2nd, they’ll be honoring him not only for his career-best performance as swaggering cowboy Ron Woodroof, but also for his admirable career resurgence, from Mud and Magic Mike up through The Wolf of Wall Street and HBO’s True Detective. He’s absolutely terrific in Dallas Buyers Club (undeniably the crowning achievement of his so-called McConaissance) as a defiant survivor masquerading as a blustering desperado. Additionally, his weight loss for the role speaks volumes about McConaughey’s steadfast belief in the Method acting that the Academy so admires. As Woodroof, he goes to bold, risky places, capturing both the man’s ingrained homophobia and his uplifting rebel spirit. What McConaughey has that none of the other actors up for this category can really boast is a streak of danger in his characterization, and that cinches it for him.

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Best Actress:

JB:

gravity sandra bullock skip We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Should Win: Sandra Bullock, Gravity

This is one of the easiest categories to call for Oscar night. Blanchett has been an unstoppable force, winning nearly every award in sight, including the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, SAG, and BAFTA. If anyone else were to win, it would be the biggest upset of the evening. That being said, this is the one acting category where I don’t agree with the most likely winner. My vote would easily go to Sandra Bullock for her outstanding performance in Gravity. Blanchett was fine, but her performance came off as nothing but a 90-minute nervous breakdown, whereas Bullock took the audience on an emotional roller coaster. Her portrayal of a woman trying to cope with a terrible loss while dealing with a present crisis and trying to find a reason to continue on is unforgettable and, in my opinion, is the most deserving of the award.

JA:

bluejasmine cateblanchett We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Should Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Any other year, this would be a stunning race between Amy Adams’ dazzling turn in American Hustle and Judi Dench’s vivid portrayal of Philomena Lee. However, this is Cate Blanchett’s year, and it has been her Oscar to lose ever since her boozy, unhinged Jasmine wandered onto movie theatre screens last summer. Blanchett’s performance is full-bodied, although she never lets her character’s anxious mumbling and hot flashes define her. Even after playing queens and movie stars, the actor has never shined quite like this, making us feel deep pathos for a spoiled, saddened belle. Even if we despise Jasmine, we pity her too and recognize that her journey to start over is a noble and necessary one. It must be hard for her fellow nominees to watch Blue Jasmine and see just how sorely they are going to miss Oscar gold.

IF:

%name We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Should Win: Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Blanchett has been the frontrunner for Best Actress ever since Blue Jasmine exploded in July. Her revealing, brave turn as a damaged socialite spiralling into depression, poverty and mental instability wowed critics then, and no actress has really landed as much immediate goodwill as her since. Best Actress is as close a lock as any at the Oscars this year.

But though Blanchett had one of the showiest roles this year, Bullock brings remarkable strength and charisma to her desperate astronaut in Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Some tend to overlook the brilliance of her performance due to the film’s visual splendor, but the film would be next to nothing without its lead actress. She’s completely electric to watch, capturing Stone’s wounded soul and silent resilience in a performance both athletic and emotive. Bullock also deserves some serious credit for acting alone, and in tremendously difficult conditions, for the majority of the film. In Gravity, she’s more natural and vulnerable, not the mention better, than we’ve ever seen her before. She gave my favorite performance of the year, hands down.

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Best Supporting Actor:

JB:

Dallas Buyers Club1 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Here we have a category that’s pretty much all locked up. Jared Leto has practically been unbeatable when it comes to the major award precursors, taking the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and SAG. It’s not that surprising. He’s incredible in Dallas Buyers Club and is very deserving of the award, so expect him to win the Oscar very easily.

JA:

Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Sorry, Michael Fassbender. I doubt it will be long until you get your golden statue, but this is Leto’s prize all the way. It could be easy to mock the performance for all it does to ensure the Academy recognizes it – the actor lost a lot of weight and played a transgender woman who fought with AIDS – yet Leto makes Rayon vibrant and vivid enough to thwart these categorizations. The most astonishing moment in Dallas Buyers Club is actually the one where Rayon removes the wigs and makeup and dresses as a more “socially presentable” man to plead for financial support from a family member. The sense of abandonment and betrayal that Leto portrays stands in contrast to his feminine tenderness that glowed in earlier scenes, but it’s still completely shattering. This is Leto’s award to lose, and a rather weak competition does not allow for much of a spoiler here. Leto is a safe bet.

IF:

barkhad abdi 5266b2bae087c377d7de3549 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Though Leto’s brave turn as a transgender woman living with AIDS will undoubtedly bring him a statuette come Sunday, I’m personally rooting for Barkhad Abdi. His riveting, terrifying portrayal of lead hijacker Abduwali Muse in Paul Greengrass’s nail-biter Captain Phillips was the most brilliant debut from any actor I saw last year. Though it would have been easy to play Muse as a megalomanical baddie, Abdi’s finely textured portrait instead paints a picture of a complex human being as much as a prisoner (to his unknown bosses and his very profession, entered into out of sheer desperation) as the titular captain. Muse is both supremely menacing and surprisingly empathetic, and that’s entirely thanks to Abdi.

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Best Supporting Actress:

JB:

Lupita Nyongo We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actress seems like it’s all sewn up, but it’s also one of the categories where there’s the biggest chance of an upset. However, I fully believe that it will be going to Nyong’o for her emotionally powerful performance in 12 Years a Slave. First, Nyong’o won the SAG award, showing that she has tremendous support with actors for this category. Second, her closest rival, Jennifer Lawrence, just won the Best Actress Oscar last year. I doubt very much that the Academy is going to give her another Oscar right away, especially for a performance as forgettable as hers in American Hustle. There are those that believe the Academy will randomly give an award to American Hustle given that it’s not in the lead for any of its ten nominations, but I just don’t see that happening in the major categories. Its best chances for a pity Oscar will remain with Production Design and Costume Design, but it will even still have a hard time beating The Great Gatsby there.

JA:

june squibb nebraska We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: June Squibb, Nebraska

Yes, Nyong’o’s performance is a devastating debut and the actor will hopefully find material worthy of her talents in the future. But few things would delight me as much as a June Squibb win, if only to watch the 83-year-old veteran crack some jokes onstage that are worth their weight in Oscar gold. The Academy rarely awards comedic performances, but Squibb’s was stellar. As Bruce Dern’s stubborn, unfiltered wife, Kate, she remained a voice of disgust railing against the unsophisticated family and lifestyle around her, which she did with hilarity and honesty. She also gives the relationship with Dern’s slouched, battered middle-class loser a touching quality, showing both the couple’s struggle and their sympathy toward each other. If Nebraska walks out of the Dolby Theatre with any awards, let us hope it is Squibb’s. 

IF:

June Squibb Nebraska reelgood We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: June Squibb, Nebraska

For a while now, Best Supporting Actress has been a race between Nyong’o, for her powerhouse portrayal of abused slave Patsy, and Jennifer Lawrence, for her boozy housewife in American Hustle. Nyong’o is sure to win, given how much more love has been lavished upon 12 Years a Slave (hailed as historical filmmaking of the highest caliber) than American Hustle (dismissed as a diverting lark by many). However, I’d much rather see Squibb, a long undervalued actress, get the Oscar love she deserves for her hilarious, against-type performance in Nebraska. Playing Kate, the acid-tongued, long-suffering wife of Bruce Dern’s Woody Grant, Squibb is comic dynamite, but layers of bitter fury are just visible underneath. We’ve all met (and ran away from) people like Kate before, so it’s some kind of wonder that Squibb is able to make her both highly recognizable and enjoyably horrible.

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Best Director:

cuaron gravity We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

JB:

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Here’s another easy one to call. Alfonso Cuarón has been the clear favorite for his incredible work on Gravity, a technical masterpiece that shows his artistry in every frame. Not only did he dominate the critics’ awards (including the Critics’ Choice), but he also won the Golden Globe, DGA, and BAFTA. Of course, the most important of these was his win from the Directors Guild of America, which alone gives him an 89% chance of winning the Best Director Oscar (that’s how often the two match up). His other wins are just icing on the cake. This will be a very easy win for him on Oscar night, one that will be most deserved.

JA:

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Although Oscar splits between director and picture are rare – it did occur last year, but likely would not have if Affleck got a directing berth – most of the momentum is behind Cuarón. Academy members who were not crazy about Gravity were still likely stunned by the major technical achievements the Mexican filmmaker spent many years striving to pull off, alongside collaborator (and hopeful cinematography winner) Emmanuel Lubezki. The sci-fi survivalist epic looked authentic and completely realized. The difficulty he had making the film has been well documented, too. Gravity’s groundbreaking achievements were Cuarón’s job and he sets the bar high. It should not be too hard for Academy voters in that branch to realize the virtuoso filmmaking present.

IF:

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

No competition here. In a weaker year, I’d love to give it to Alexander Payne for painting such a delicate, beautiful picture in Nebraska, but Cuarón’s accomplishments in Gravity are truly groundbreaking. That I never questioned the film’s space setting or massive scale is a testament to the director’s visionary brilliance. But let’s be honest here - Cuarón had Best Director in the bag as soon as voters saw his gripping, unbroken 17-minute opening shot.

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Most Egregious Snub:

JB: Her, for Best Director/Best Actor/Best Supporting Actress

Joaquin Phoenix in Spike Jonzes Her We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

Ok, this might be cheating a little bit, but I was genuinely shocked at the number of snubs towards Spike Jonze’s brilliant film Her (my #2 pick of 2013). Jonze’s direction for the film is rather subtle, but he does it in such a way that it makes it an intimate portrait of this man who has found love in the most unusual of places. Then there are the performances that should have easily grab nods from the Academy. Phoenix gives what could be the performance of his career. His portrayal is sweet, touching, and grabs the audience from the very start without ever letting go. The same can be said of Scarlett Johansson, who does more with just her voice than anyone could have ever imagined. Without ever appearing on screen, it’s an extremely tough battle to get the audience to sympathize with the character, but through her incredible performance, we come to care about her deeply. The fact that some undeserving nominees got in over Jonze, Phoenix, and Johansson is rather annoying, but at least the film managed to get a few nominations including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay (the latter of which it will easily win).

JA: Next to nothing for Prisoners

Prisoners 2 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

With the exception of Roger Deakins’ 11th nomination for cinematography, Denis Villeneuve’s startling thriller Prisoners received no Oscar love. It is confusing as to why the film received such little fanfare at the end of the year, considering the immense, moving performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, a twisty and complex screenplay from Aaron Guzikowski and Villeneuve’s unflinching direction. Like Villeneuve’s earlier film Incendies, a triumph that notched a Foreign Language Film nomination, Prisoners is an absorbing character study that captures people tied to systems of value at their breaking point. Using spare images and sinister music, the French-Canadian director cuts right to the bone of American violence and terror. Was it too dark and intense to register with voters? In the same year as the uncompromising 12 Years a Slave and the glorified debauchery of The Wolf of Wall Street, absolutely not.

IF: Inside Llewyn Davis gets basically shut out

Inside Llewyn Davis still 4 We Got This Covered Picks The Oscar Winners!

One of my favorite films from last year was the Coen Brothers’ deceptively quaint, melancholy tribute to the 1960s New York folk scene. I was convinced that it would earn Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Original Score and Original Song, but I was also crossing my fingers for Best Director, Best Actor (for Oscar Isaac), Best Supporting Actress (Carey Mulligan) and Best Original Screenplay. None of the above received nods though. The downbeat, gloomy feel of Inside Llewyn Davis likely turned off many voters, and I’m inclined to believe that a fair number of voters just didn’t get it, as dismissive as that sounds. Inside Llewyn Davis was a highly symbolic, soulful and darkly funny outing for the Coen Brothers, and it easily ranks among the director duo’s best work. That it was snubbed so thoroughly is a real shame.

That’s our picks for this year’s Academy Awards! Who are you rooting for in the major categories? And what snubs are you still stinging from? Let us know below!

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  • Honestly

    Agree with most of these, JB’s too technical though. I think American Hustle should win because it was definitely the most entertaining, plus, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams in low-cut dresses in one flick? What more could a dude ask for?