Berardinelli's 2014 Oscar Picks

February 22, 2014
A thought by James Berardinelli

When the 2014 Oscar nominations were first announced, it looked like there would be a number of tight races. As is often the case, however, the fortunes of the nominees have waxed and waned. Some of the front-runners have become also-rans and a few opportunists have moved to the fore. Most of my picks fall in the “safe” category. I rarely pick against a consensus choice because, except on very rare occasions, such blind shots don’t pan out. This isn’t a sports game. This is a highly political voting process. You can make a case for a variety of dark horses but, except in the most unlikely of cases, those men and women don’t end up on the podium making boring acceptance speeches. As of today, eight days before the winners are announced, it looks like all six of the major awards have strong front-runners. So the upsets, if they come, are more likely to arrive in the secondary categories. One of special note is Original Screenplay, which is neck-and-neck between Her and American Hustle. I picked the former in large part because there’s enough of an anti-David O. Russell contingent in Hollywood to swing a close vote away from him. But this is one category where I could easily be wrong.

I have designated each pick with a letter: H, M, L. This indicates the degree of certainty I feel about the choice. H (High) means I’m at least 80% certain that person/film will win. M (Medium) is about 60-65%. And L (Low) is about 50%. Obviously, if I feel there’s significantly less than a 50% chance, I wouldn’t pick the movie. So, without further delays, here are my official 2014 picks. These are the ones to beat if you’re playing in the contest or to laugh at if they turn out to be horribly wrong. (As usual, I don’t pick in the three short film categories.)

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave [H]
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) [H]
Lead Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) [H]
Lead Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) [H]
Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) [H]
Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyoung’o (12 Years a Slave) [H]
Animated Feature: Frozen [H]
Documentary Feature: 20 Feet from Stardom [L]
Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty [M]
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): 12 Years a Slave [H]
Writing (Original Screenplay): Her [L]
Cinematography: Gravity [H]
Costume Design: The Great Gatsby [M]
Film Editing: Gravity
Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club [H]
Music (Score): Gravity [H]
Music (Song): "Let It Go" (Frozen) [H]
Production Design: The Great Gatsby [M]
Sound Editing: Gravity [H]
Sound Mixing: Gravity [H]
Visual Effects: Gravity [H]