They might be screwy. You never know with predictions. Meteorologists, a lot of them pretty smart, predicted a “tough” winter a few months back. Instead we got a season better described as “Roland Emmerich disaster movie material.”
But this year, despite all the nomination day predictions I made in haste and repented at leisure, I'm going with the London oddsmakers for the most Hollywood of events. I speak of the Academy Awards. The London bookies, among others, have “12 Years a Slave” winning the best picture award at Sunday's ceremony (8:30 p.m. Eastern, ABC). A few weeks ago the race seemed quite tight between “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “American Hustle.”
It feels looser now.
So how might the evening go for you, the Oscar viewer?
Early on, in and among the design and technical awards, we'll learn who won best supporting actress and best supporting actor, a sop to the movie star-besotted. These are fairly easy to call: Lupita Nyong'o will likely take one home for “12 Years a Slave,” unless June Squibb pulls a Cinderella story for “Nebraska.” And Jared Leto is a solid bet for his funny-yet-tragic turn in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
If Nyong'o scores, she'll probably be alone among the three nominated performers for her picture. If front-runner Leto wins, by contrast, it'll be the first half of a one-two emotional punch, paving the way for Matthew McConaughey's best actor win to come. When the 1932 MGM star vehicle “Grand Hotel” won best picture, it won for best picture and nothing else. Since then the best picture winners have garnered at least three statuettes. “12 Years a Slave” might join that three-win club, whose members include best picture winners “Crash” and “Rocky.”
Now let's talk volume. “Gravity” appears likely to win the most awards Sunday night. Six, let's say, for direction, cinematography, visual effects (duh), original score, sound editing and sound mixing. Or seven, if it also wins for editing.
When you start hearing “Gravity's” title out loud during the Oscar telecast, you can be forgiven for wondering if it's destined to go all the way. It's possible, of course. The London oddsmakers have it as the second-most likely of the nine best picture nominees. But I'm still going with “12 Years a Slave,” and the fact that back in January I predicted a win for “American Hustle,” along with Bruce Dern instead of McConaughey, makes me what film-savvy meteorologists might call a “polar vortex of unreliability.”
Suss the following at your peril. And enjoy the show Sunday night, whether at home, in a bar, at a friend's house or at an undisclosed location.
Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
"The Great Beauty"
John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave"