Matt's Blog

Matt's Super Mega Awesome 2014 Oscars Form Guide

Ok.  It’s time for my annual super mega awesome Oscars form guide!

It’s an interesting race in 2014 with one of the tightest categories being best picture.  I think we’re going to see a few surprises on the night.  Just a hunch.

My 14th Annual Oscars Contest!

As I have done for the last 13 years, I am conducting my annual "pick the Oscars" competition. I have selected 6 of the more wide-open categories (it's such a tricky year) and everyone is invited to pick who they think will be the winner.

In the event of a tie, the winner will be determined using my traditional tie-breaker question. You just have to guess the age of the person who presents the award for best picture. If two or more people present, an average age will be used.

The first and only prize is a $100 Amazon voucher. Hopefully you'll be able to use it wisely and buy some great DVDs.

The awards are held at 11am on Monday, March 3 (Brisbane time) and entries close at this time. You can only enter once so think it over and choose carefully.

The entry form is online and you can check it out by clicking here.

Oscar Betting

As I also do each year, I like to put a small/large wager on the Academy Awards.  I’m not normally a big gambler but this is the one time of the year where I have fun and try to hope my predicting skills are better than others.  I steer away from favourites and tend to look for a bit of value.

I had a small win on the Golden Globes (finished up $328) but I already lost $200 on the Oscars by backing Robert Redford early in the race (who wasn’t even nominated).  Here’s a look at my current bets and I’m happy with the odds achieved…

Best Picture – Gravity - $500 at $7.65 to return $3,825 (current odds on Sportsbet are $5.00)
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey - $200 at $3.50 to return $700 (current odds on Sportsbet are $1.17)
Best Picture – Jennifer Lawrence - $200 at $3.00 to return $600 (current odds on Sportsbet are $2.20)

Gravity is the deal breaker for me.  It’d be my largest ever collect on the Oscars if successful and my fingers are crossed.  I still think it’s a coin flip between it and 12 Years A Slave (evidenced by the tie at the Producer’s Guild).

Super Mega Awesome Oscars Form Guide

On that note, let’s get to the form guide.  Here’s a look at all the categories with my thoughts on who will take home the coveted statues.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf Of Wall Street

This is a very interesting race.  When you look at all lead up awards, you won’t find a stronger correlation that the Directors’ Guild Award.  Since 1950, only 7 directors have won the Guild and not won the Oscar for directing.  In 3 of those cases, the director wasn’t nominated at the Oscars (making it impossible for Academy members to vote for said person).  So the bottom line is that in 95% of cases, he who wins the Directors’ Guild, wins the directing Oscar.  That makes Gravity’s Alfonso Cuarón a short favourite (and for good reason).  To take that a step further…. Since 1957, only 9 films have won best director and not won best picture Oscar since 1957.  That’s an 84% strike rate.  This leads me to conclude that Gravity will win best picture.  That said, we know this has been a close year.  The Producer’s Guild award was a tie (between Gravity and 12 Years A Slave) for the first time in history.  While there isn’t usually a split between director and picture, a surprisingly large number of lead up awards (including the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs) have fallen that way.  I’m saying it’s a coin flip right between the two leading contenders and while American Hustle isn’t completely without hope, I think Gravity will edge out 12 Years A Slave by the narrowest of margins.   Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Achievement in Directing
American Hustle (David O. Russell)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)
The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

For those who think 12 Years A Slave is going to win best picture, you might want to consider Steve McQueen in this category given the correlation I mentioned above.  Hard to see Cuarón getting beat though.  He’s won pretty much everything else in the lead up.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

This is a trickier race that people might think.  The Golden Globes were split between Leonardo DiCaprio (comedy) and Matthew McConaughey (drama).  McConaughey then took the honours at the important Screen Actors Guild Awards where Leo wasn’t nominated (largely because the nominations were announced before most had seen The Wolf Of Wall Street).  The reverse applied at the BAFTAs where McConaughey missed a nomination (no one had seen his film either) and most tipped Leo to win… but it was Chiwetel Ejiofor who took the win in an upset.  McConaughey is a short priced favourite here but I think he’s vulnerable.  With Jared Leto also looking like a winner in the best supporting actor category, this might be the spot where voters reward The Wolf Of Wall Street (as opposed to another win for Dallas Buyers Club).  It’ll be close but Hollywood does like a comeback story and so I’ll stick with McConaughey at this stage.  Matt’s Pick: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

On my national ABC Digital show last December, I said that if Cate Blanchett doesn’t win this category, I’ll walk to Sydney.  I am still just as confident.  If Cate gets on stage and proclaims that she didn’t expect to win, she’ll be lying.   Matt’s Pick: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

While I think Barkhad Abdi and Michael Fassbender had much “meatier” roles, most of the key lead up awards have been falling the way of Jared Leto and he’s hard to tip against at this point.  Matt’s Pick: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

It’s hard to work out who has the momentum at this point in time.  Lawrence won the Golden Globe, Nyong’o rebounded with the Critics’ Choice Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award.  Lawrence then countered by winning the BAFTA.  It’s looking like another coin flip category.  The Academy clearly loves Jennifer Lawrence but will they really give her two awards in two years (she won in 2013 for Silver Linings Playbook)?  Or will then honour a largely unknown actress instead?  Matt’s Pick: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave).

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

All five films are best picture nominees but this would appear to be a race between American Hustle and Her.  I think both films are overrated but I’d still like to see Spike Jonze pick up his first Oscar (he was nominated previously for directing Being John Malkovich) so I’ll take his side.  Matt’s Pick: Her.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf Of Wall Street

Another category were upsets are possible but given it’s the favourite to take the best picture prize, I’ll go with 12 Years A Slave.  Matt’s Pick: 12 Years A Slave.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Frozen is currently $1.05 on Betfair and those odds look to be good value.  A Walt Disney Studios production has never won in this category (the honours have been dominated by Pixar and Dreamworks) but that will change.  Frozen can’t lose.  Matt’s Pick: Frozen.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

Here’s another category with a history of upsets.  The Great Beauty has been popular in early lead up awards but I’m a huge fan of The Hunt and I’m hoping Denmark will pick up its 2nd win in the last 4 years.  Matt’s Pick: The Hunt (Denmark).

Best Achievement in Cinematography
The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis

Most would acknowledge at Gravity is a special effects driven film… but it looks so beautiful and realistic.  Who deserves the credit?  The visual effects guys?  Or the cinematographer?  Recent winners in this category have been in films heavy on special effects (Life Of Pi, Inception, Avatar) so I see Gravity continuing that trend.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Achievement in Film Editing
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave

A lot of people subscribe to the theory that the film that wins best editing is the film with the best chance of taking best picture.  It doesn’t always hold true though.  Some think Captain Phillips has a chance to surprise here (it won the Guild Award) but given it was overlooked for best director and best actor, I don’t think it’ll have enough support to stop Gravity.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years A Slave

The Great Gatsby made a substantial amount of money around the Globe and this might the one chance where the Academy can recognise its popularity.  They tend to go for flashy, extravagant period piece films in this category and The Great Gatsby ticks a lot of boxes in that regard.  Matt’s Pick: The Great Gatsby.

Best Achievement in Production Design
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years A Slave

This one isn’t as easy as costume design.  The Great Gatsby is the early favourite but the likes of Gravity and 12 Years A Slave could surprise here.  I’m going to stick with Gatsby though.  Matt’s Pick: The Great Gatsby.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

I’m still laughing at the fact that a Jackass movie has been nominated for an Academy Awards ahead of films like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, American Hustle and The Great Gatsby (which all made the shortlist).  As the only best picture nominee in the bunch, this is one award Dallas Buyers Club should have in the bag.  Matt’s Pick: Dallas Buyers Club.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
The Book Thief
Saving Mr Banks

One of my favourite categories is best music and I think all five of these nominees are terrific.  I’ve listened to them often.  I’d like to see Thomas Newman finally manage a win for Saving Mr Banks (he’s been nominated 11 times previously without success) but it’s the film’s only nomination and appears unlikely.  I’m also a fan of Alexandre Desplat and his beautiful Philomena score.  Perhaps this is his chance after 5 nominations previously?  That said, given the lack of sound in Gravity and the prominence of the music, I have to lean with Steven Price.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” from Frozen
“The Moon Song” from Her
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

There are a lot of U2 supporters out there but given so many people saw and loved Frozen, I think it’s home and hosed here.  Matt’s Pick: “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

The sound categories tend to go hand-in-hand and as you can see, 4 of the 5 nominees for best sound mixing also pop up for best sound editing.  Gravity is a staggering technical achievement and I think that’ll swing voters in its favour.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Lone Survivor

See commentary above.  Matt’s Pick: Gravity

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Of all the categories, this is the one that is least in doubt.  Gravity is $1.02 on Betfair and if loses here, they should launch an inquiry.   Matt’s Pick: Gravity.

Best Documentary, Feature
The Act Of Killing
Cutie And The Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet From Stardom

I’ve only seen one of this year’s documentary nominees (20 Feet From Stardom) and it’s in the mix along with The Act Of Killing and The Square.  Matt’s Pick: The Act Of Killing.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Cave Digger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days Of Private Jack Hall

We’re now getting down to some of the more random categories.  Very few members of the Academy and the public will have taken the time to seek out these films and watch them.  Matt’s Pick: The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Best Short Film, Animated
Get A Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room On The Broom

Get A Horse! appeared before screenings of Frozen which gives it a distinct advantage over the other, lesser known animated shorts.  Matt’s Pick: Get A Horse!

Best Short Film, Live Action
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

I’m going with Helium because it has the shortest title.
Matt’s Pick: Helium.

The Oscars will be held on Monday, 3 March 2014 at 11am Brisbane time.  Don’t forget to enter my contest!