May I Have the Envelope, Please?

On our Twitter feed (@denverlibrary) earlier this week, we asked you to tweet your Oscar picks. In that spirit, let me offer my own best guesses in what is shaping up to be a year of, shall we say, prohibitive favorites. (Disclaimer: please do not wager any of your hard-earned money on my carefully researched amateur prognostications, despite what is almost a deafening consensus in each of these categories. Disclaimer number two: I do not mean to suggest that you or yours would participate in any activity that could be construed as extra-legal.)

Okay, in the Best Picture category, three films have emerged as front-runners over the course of the past few months: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle. (Sorry fans of Her - myself included - and Philomena​, this may not be your year. Maybe it's never your year, and if that's also true, I'm sorry.) Of this big three, 12 Years a Slave does feel like it has gained the slight edge. After going a bit off-board in terms respectability the past few years - cough, Argo​, cough - it's just hard to see the Academy passing on such an obviously important and well-made piece of historical-themed cinema. If the Academy does pick 12 Years a Slave, and again I suspect they will, no one will look back in twelve months or twelve years (pun alert!) with anything other than an 'oh yeah, that was really good.'

Best Director seems like a good place to honor one of the other two, and of these Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón appears to be the clear favorite for his extraordinary work in three digital dimensions. See this one on the big screen if you haven't already. Or become number 4,992 in our holds queue.

To the acting categories: despite the, how should I put this, "controversy" surrounding its director - the less said the better on this family forum - Best Actress looks like it's going to be Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett, in what is comparatively a less-than-crowded field.

Best Actor, however, is as deep as it's been in years - and that's not including surprise omissions such as Captain Phillips' Tom Hanks and All Is Lost's Robert Redford. Of those who did make the cut, all signs point Wooderson, a.k.a. Matthew McConaughey, claiming his Oscar statuette for Dallas Buyers Club... and delivering a rambling 'thank you' speech that you are most likely to dig if you got the "Wooderson" reference.

McConaughey's co-star and fellow early-to-mid 90's icon Jared Leto​ (if you're a 33 year-old woman, you no doubt wrote "Jordan Catalano" over and over again somewhere in your Trapper Keeper) is another favorite and I will go with the consensus on Best Supporting Actor as well.

Of all the categories, Supporting Actress might just be the most wide open and hardest to pin down this year. My sense is that it is likely a two-person race pitting American Hustle's Jennifer Lawrence (she's famous, you may have heard of her) against newcomer Lupita Nyong'o​, to whom I will give the slight edge for her performance in 12 Years a Slave. If that happens, it's going to be a very long night for American Hustle supporters as well.

I won't bore you with the rest - mostly because I want to stop writing now - except to say that some of the best films of 2013 are represented in the more minor categories, whether it is The Grandmaster for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design; The Great Beauty for Best Foreign Language Film; or Before Midnight for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Now it's your turn - again. What's going to win or better still, what should win... or if you're reading this Monday morning, what should have won?

Written by MichaelA on February 28, 2014



This is a great post! As a former Jordan Catalano aficionada I concur with all your predictions, but everybody knows that Oscar pools are won and lost in the short film categories. Any consensus there?


I really enjoyed reading your blog and may even have to rethink some of my predictions. Every year there seems to be a film or actor that surprisingly doesn't receive an Oscar nomination. My disappointment this year was in the Best Foreign Language category. I agree The Great Beauty will probably win but it shouldn't! Unbelievably, Wadja was not included as a contender. Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, a female director from Saudi Arabia, Wadja is probably one of the most important films of 2013. I can't wait until the Library secures copies because I am going to be really annoying and make all my friends view the film. But they'll thank me afterwards.



There is "deserving" and then there is "deserving." I suspect I liked "The Great Beauty" more than you did - I wrote about it here for the Denver Film Festival:… - but even for me it wasn't my favorite foreign language film of the year. That title goes to either "The Grandmaster" (Hong Kong) or "A Touch of Sin" (China), neither of which were nominated in the category. I will say that of those I have seen among the actual nominees, the Sorrentino film is my favorite.

Now, I haven't yet seen "Wadjda," but I am very eager to do so after your recommendation and the rather exceptional reviews it received last summer and fall. And of course, it is always exciting to see new female filmmaking voices and representatives of countries that have not yet made an impact in the global film scene.


Lisa B.,

There seems to be agreement in both the Documentary Short ("The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life") and Animation ("Get a Horse!") categories. Live action is a bit more wide open, though the favorite seems to be "Helium." I can't believe that everything will go 'chalk,' i.e. according to betting form, but you never know.

All that said, there is some talk among pundits that perhaps the short categories should be reconfigured or even eliminated given the lack of adequate candidates. In the US, at least, most shorts tend to be student films which are eligible for their own Academy Awards, in my understanding.

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