Scannain predicts the 86th Academy Awards

For the most part we here at Scannain love the Oscars. Some of our crew detest the politics, while some of us are intrigued how campaigns can influence winners. Still all of us just love talking about it and speculating about we will win. Here’s the result of that speculation:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

While there are nine nominees the awards season to date has helpfully whittled them down to three. Less helpfully the guilds and awards bodies are pretty evenly split between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle. The Screen Actors Guild, who represent the largest block of Academy voters went with American Hustle, but we’re going to say that it’s more likely a straight shoot-out between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. Conventional wisdom says that while they recognise the power of big box office the Academy is wary of anything that is too science-fictiony, preferring to reward weighty dramas with the highest accolade. For that reason we are predicting that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave brings Oscar home.

Best Directing: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

There are heavy-weights in this category with four of the five directors either previous winners or nominees. The fifth, Steve McQueen, was cruelly overlooked for both Shame and Hunger, and while fully deserving of the win here will miss out on Oscar. That accolade will go to Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón invented many of the techniques used to make Gravity, and the Academy will want to reward this seismic change in how films are made.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

The Hansel of the acting world, McConaughey is just so hot right now. Christian Bale’s performance in American Hustle is easily the best thing in that film, while the elder statesman Bruce Dern is deserving for his body of work and is great in Nebraska. In any other year Leonardo DiCaprio or Chiwetel Ejiofor would win, but it’s McConaughey’s time.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

There are award’s calibre performance and then there is Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. A tour-de-force of emotion and fragility from an actress who just seems to be getting better and better. Meryl Streep picked up her annual nomination but the film is poor. Amy Adams is fun in American Hustle while lacking real depth. Judi Dench gave her typical strong performance in Philomena but there wasn’t enough to make it stand out. Sandra Bullock is the driving force in Gravity and would be a worthy winner, but Blanchett’s is the performance that was truly out of this world.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Physically transforming yourself for a role always get’s the Academy’s attention, so much so that the “never go full retard” riff in Tropic Thunder has almost become a mantra. When you can do the transformation and bring real emotion to the role as Leto does in Dallas Buyers Club then you get the Oscar. Barkhad Abdi and Michael Fassbender will feel that they could have won, and they easily could have in a non-Leto year, after giving two of the year’s strongest performances. Elsewhere Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill make up the numbers.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

This is hotting up to be a two-way race between Academy darling Jennifer Lawrence and the more deserving Lupita Nyong’o. We’re going to let heart overrule head and say that the Academy will reward the depth and quality of Nyong’o’s performance over the fluffier and funnier turn from Lawrence. Sally Hawkins, Julia Roberts, and June Squibb should have already written their “it was an honour just to be nominated” speeches.

Best Original Screenplay:
Her (Spike Jonze)

This one is another close call. We want to believe that David O Russell’s recent comments that he cared about characters and not scripts will cause the Academy to move away from American Hustle and towards the more deserving Her, and so that’s how we’re calling it.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

As we’re predicting a Best Picture win for 12 Years then it has to pick up Adapted Screenplay too.

Best Cinematography: Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

If Blanchett is an obvious lock for Actress then the same is true of Lubezki for Cinematography. Gravity can be criticised for many things, but as a visual spectacle is peerless.

Best Film Editing: Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)

Editing and Best Picture used to move in lockstep but recently the Academy has been more willing to split them. They will again this year with Captain Phillips rewarded for the sheer intensity of action that the films editing provided.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty (Italy)

One of our favourite films of last year we truly want to see The Great Beauty win. However don’t be surprised if The Hunt or Omar takes the award.

Best Animated Feature:
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Another nailed on certainty as the Academy will want to reward the exceptional box-office performance of Frozen, as well as the fact that it’s a great musical.

Best Original Score:
Gravity (Steven Price)

While Gravity is rightly lauded for its visual its use of music to increase tension and mood is equally note-worthy. This is why we see it winning here.

Best Original Song: Let It Go (Frozen)

The entire film of Frozen is designed around the song Let It Go, which sets the scene for everything that follows as well as being the focal point for all of the visual effects. As such the Academy will deem it more worthy than Pharell’s Happy. The fly in the ointment could be U2’s Ordinary Love due to the recent death of Nelson Mandela, but we can’t see beyond Let It Go.

Best Visual Effects: Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)

For all the same reasons that it wins Best Director and Cinematography Gravity is the sure bet for Visual Effects. Doing things with computers and cameras that have never been seen before and require whole new technologies is something worthy of awards.

Best Documentary Feature:
20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

While we would love nothing more than to see The Act of Killing win, we firmly believe that the Academy will favour the slightly lesser but more heart-warming 20 Feet from Stardom. It will be a close one though.

Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)

We’re really just guessing but the true story of the world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor seems like something the Academy will like.

Best Live Action Short Film:
The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill, Baldwin Li)

Another shot-in-the-dark but the buzz around this one seems too loud to ignore.

Best Animated Short Film:
Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim)

It’s Disney, it mixes old-school cartoons with modern 3D technology, and it was attached to Frozen so everybody saw it.

Best Costume Design:
American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)

Say what you will about American Hustle, and we will because we’re not big fans here at Scannain towers, but the costume design was beautiful. Especially those Amy Adams dresses.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)

The other two nominees are The Lone Ranger and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, neither of whom deserve an Oscar for anything.

Best Production Design    The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

The Great Gatsby has many flaws, but its period design is unparalleled.

Best Sound Editing:
Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Generally speaking most people don’t know the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Neither does most of the Academy. In a nutshell Editing is the creation of new sounds and tends to happen on set, while Mixing is the layering of sounds and tends to hppen in post-production. Either way the sounds in Gravity are brilliant.

Best Sound Mixing:
Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)

See Sound Editing.