Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: Oscar Picks, Part 1

In this first part of Oscar Picks for the upcoming 86th Academy Awards, this Blogger will make selections in the acting categories.
Best Actress

For the second year in a row, director David O’Russell has directed actors to nominations in all four acting categories. His AMERICAN HUSTLE is an acting powerhouse, which makes Amy Adams a visible favorite. Adams however has plenty of company; Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep are all veterans of the screen with plenty of Oscar experience. Bullock has the disadvantage of a light script to work with, although her role required a lot of physical work. It feels like Dench and Streep’s nominations were obligatory, which leaves Adams vs. Blanchett. Both actresses had accents to work with, but Blanchett’s character constantly teetered upon a nervous breakdown which was unsettling for the viewer to see, and she clearly had to dig deeper.
Winner: Cate Blanchett

Best Supporting Actress
Simply put, Jennifer’s Lawrence’s performance in AMERICAN HUSTLE stands tall above her competition in this category. Lawrence had to work with an accent, play a half-insane character, and had to find a way to stand out in a film populated with veteran acting heavyweights; she had the most work to do out of everyone in this category. And looking at the big picture, AMERICAN HUSTLE, despite its many nominations, is unlikely to win in any other acting category. A movie powered by so much good acting has to win at least one, and this is the most likely.

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence
Best Supporting Actor

What exactly is acting? It’s difficult to define, but perhaps the best work is done when a person plays a character which is their total opposite in real life. This is where Jared Leto’s performance as a transgendered woman in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB steps in. Leto not only had to be a man playing a woman, but he had to play a character with a terminal disease with a constant hopelessness. There was an aura of sadness around the character which is hard to forget, and he had the most layered character of the year to inhabit.
Winner: Jared Leto

Best Actor
If Oscar history has proven one thing, it’s that the Academy loves actors who drastically change their bodies for their art. That puts Christian Bale of AMERICAN HUSTLE and Matthew McConaughey of DALLAS BUYERS CLUB in the front seat of this category. Bale removed his Bruce Wayne muscles and perfect hair for a blob of a beer-gutted belly and a balding head hidden by the worst combover in history, while McConaughey dropped the pounds to turn himself into a diseased waif. Bale hid his accent well and McConaughey hit the southern twang just right. Bale had the more interesting character, while McConaughey’s was the one we felt the most sorry for and he had to work harder to sell his plight. Aside from the physical transformation, McConaughey seemed to vanish inside his role a little bit more, and his scene inside of a car when he has an emotional breakdown is clearly the acting highlight of the year. McConaughey by a nose.

Winner: Matthew McConaughey

In Part 2, it’s all about the movies. The Oscars will be awarded March 2nd.


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