Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Other nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street
Well, there are hardly any surprises here, with virtually every film commentator predicting ‘12 Years a Slave’’s win. It is easy to see why there was hardly any competition at all in this category, too. With the greatest of respects to other nominated films, ‘12 Years a Slave’ just stands out in terms of its artistic merit and, most importantly, the impact it produces. I don’t mind if ‘Gravity’ sweeps every award out there, as long as the Best Picture goes to its most deserved contender. Arguably, ’12 Years a Slave’ is the only film in the category to which you can comfortably assign the word ‘masterpiece’. It is a great achievement for everyone involved in the production of this film, especially for its director, Steve McQueen.
Winner: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Other nominees: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Although, yet again, my favourite nominee was Steve McQueen, I am pleased that Cuarón scooped the award. It seems that he carries away two Oscars from the ceremony – one for his directing, and one for Best Achievement in Film Editing, which he shares with Mark Sanger. ‘Gravity’ also won other Academy awards, totalling 7; Awards for: Achievement in Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.
Best Lead Actor
Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Other nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Perhaps Matthew McConaughey is the best actor of 2014, but I cannot help but compare his performance and win to that of Christian Bale’s (in a Supporting Actor category) for ‘The Fighter’ (2010). The reason is that both performances involved losing a lot of weight for the movie. McConaughey lost 40 pounds for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. In fact, maybe the whole Best Actor/Actress Category should be re-named ‘Lose (Sometimes Gain) Weight – Win an Oscar’ category, because the trend continues, with Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), and Anna Hathaway (Les Miserables) all losing their weight and gaining their Oscars as a result.
Best Lead Actress
Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Other nominees: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
A lot of people predicted that win too. I am not the least surprised. Blanchett was astonishingly good in ‘Blue Jasmine’. This solidifies her second Oscar. The first one she won for portraying Katherine Hepburn in Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’ (2004), alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Winner: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Other nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
A lot has been said already about Leto’s nomination, and although Michael Fassbender was my favourite for the win, Leto’s performance was just superb.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Other nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)
A new-comer and an instant Oscar winner? Just wow. Many famous actresses don’t get this honour in their whole lifetime, and she did just that for this one film, for her first major performance, but what kind of a film, and what kind of a performance. Magnificent. Totally deserved.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Winner: The Great Beauty (Italy)
Other nominees: The Hunt (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia), The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), Omar (Palestine)
I enjoyed ‘The Hunt’ more than ‘The Great Beauty’ by Paolo Sorrentino, but this great beauty seems now to be the greatest foreign film of 2014. Knowing how slow the Academy can be on taking in all the aesthetics of a film, I just thought the award would go to someone else. But, apparently, the Academy follows the Great Beauty’s wins at both the BAFTA and Golden Globes Awards. I also highly recommend everyone to watch ‘The Consequences of Love’ (2004), an intelligent film by the same director, Paolo Sorrentino, especially if you like foreign films and riddles. A little gem.
I am a bit disappointed that ‘The Blue is the Warmest Colour’ was ignored by the Academy, and so was ‘Short Term 12’, an excellent film. But then I can recall the Academy’s blind passing over Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’ (2011) – too much sex? Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Drive’ (2011) – too much violence?, Lars Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’ (2011) – too much of something else? I guess I should just feel grateful about ’12 Years a Slave’ – too much violence? and its nominations and outcomes. But my displeasure with the Academy and its theme-choices goes back to ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and its defeat by ‘The Departed’ in 2006. Whoever seen the former film can guess the obvious preference for the latter.
Other Oscar injustices of this year are Emma Thompson’s performance in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ and Tom Hanks’s role in ‘Captain Phillips’. Both actors were not even nominated, although many predicted their nominations. However, I am surprised and pleased that ‘The Great Gatsby’ also somehow managed to leave the ceremony gripping the golden statues, winning Achievement in Costume Design and Best Production Design Awards.