Special to AMFM Magazine by Jimmy Willden

The Academy Awards are now three days away, so, for me that means stocking up on chips, salsas and queso, beer and champagne, and printing out my list to compare (and possibly yell at the screen over). Last year, I succeeded in predicting 12 out of the 14 (86%) categories I covered correctly; this year, I’m covering 20 categories – so we’ll see where I end up by the end of Oscar Sunday, after the dust has settled. I feel pretty confident, though. Despite the fact that there’s not a guaranteed winner for Best Picture (as there has been in the past six Oscars), I can definitely narrow it down to two.

Unlike other picks and prediction lists, I like to save the best for last. So, I’ll begin with the Best Screenplay categories:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
PICK (who I think should win): Her, Spike Jonze; Runner-up: American Hustle, Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell
PREDICTION (who I think will win): Same as my picks.
Her was by far my favorite film of the year, and it also so happened to be one of the most unique and original films to come out of Hollywood in years. The fact that Jonze wasn’t nominated for Best Director still bothers me, but if he wins for Best Original Screenplay(which he will), I’ll feel slightly vindicated.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
PICK: The Wolf of Wall Street, Terrence Winter; Runner-Up: Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke
PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley; Runner-Up: Philomena, Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope
The Wolf of Wall Street was so excellently executed, in my opinion, it should win most of the awards come Oscar Sunday…but it won’t. The Oscars love their movies steeped in history and controversy – and thusly, 12 Years a Slave will take the gold in this category.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
PICK: “The Moon Song”, Her; Runner-Up: “Let It Go”, Frozen
PREDICTION: “Let It Go”, Frozen; Runner-Up: “Ordinary Love”, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
PICK: Gravity, Steven Price; Runner-Up: Her, William Butler & Owen Pallett
PREDICTION: Same as my picks.

BEST ANIMATED FILM
PICK: The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki & Toshio Suzuki; Runner-Up: Frozen, Jennifer Lee & Peter Del Vecho
PREDICTION: Frozen, Jennifer Lee & Peter Del Vecho – no contest.
The Wind Rises is one of those rare, haunting animated films…but, when it comes to being instantly classic,Frozen wins that contest, hands down. It has become one of the most commercially successful (non-sequel) animated films of all time, and was one of the most critically-adored films of 2013.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
PICK: The Great Beauty, Italy, no contest.
PREDICTION: The Great Beauty, Italy – no contest.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
PICK: The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer & Signe Byrge Sorensen, no contest.
PREDICTION: The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer & Signe Byrge Sorensen — no contest.
Since Blackfish didn’t get a nomination (which still irritates me), I’ll go with The Act of Killing. It gives us a terrifying look into the dark recesses of the human psyche…and brings us face to face with murder. Less sentimental than the Oscars tend to like, but so much more powerful in its execution, The Act of Killing deserves to, and will, win.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
PICK: Her, K.K. Barrett (Production Design), Gene Serdena (Set Decoration); Runner-Up: American Hustle, Judy Becker (Production Design), Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration)
PREDICTION: The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin (Production Design), Beverly Dunn (Set Decoration); Runner-Up: Her, K.K. Barrett (Production Design), Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)

BEST MAKEUP & HAIR DESIGN
PICK: Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee & Robin Mathews; Runner-Up: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Stephen Poutry
PREDICTION: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Stephen Poutry; Runner-Up: Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee & Robin Mathews

BEST FILM EDITING
PICK: Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger; Runner-Up: 12 Years a Slave, Joe Walker
PREDICTION: Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger; Runner-Up: Captain Phillips, Christopher Rouse

BEST SOUND EDITING
PICK: All Is Lost, Steve Boeddeker & Richard Hymns; Runner-Up: Gravity, Glenn Freemantle
PREDICTION: Gravity, Glenn Freemantle; Runner-Up: Captain Phillips, Oliver Tarney

BEST SOUND MIXING
PICK: Gravity, Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead & Chris Munro; Runner-Up: Inside Llewyn Davis, Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff & Peter F. Kurland
PREDICTION: Gravity, Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead & Chris Munro – no contest

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
PICK: Gravity, Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk & Neil Corbould – no contest.
PREDICTION: Same as my pick.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
PICK: Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruno Delbonnel; Runner-Up: Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
PREDICTION: Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki; Runner-Up: Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruno Delbonnel

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
PICK: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Runner-Up: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
PREDICTION: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Runner-Up: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Usually, I would just say that the Oscars should just give Lawrence her yearly Oscar – but, the Academy does love their newcomers…so Lupita, you might as well go ahead and prepare your speech.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
PICK: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Runner-Up: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
PREDICTION: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club ; Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Same as with the Best Supporting Actress category – Jared Leto deserves the statue, hands down…but Abdi might sneak in and steal it away from him. Don’t worry, my money’s on Leto, but I’m keeping a watchful eye on Abdi.

BEST ACTRESS
PICK: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Runner-Up: Sandra Bullock, Gravity
PREDICTION: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Runner-Up: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett was so hauntingly perfect in Blue Jasmine playing a woman slowly unraveling, while she still portrayed classic beauty, elegance, and grace. Her performance was just wonderful. She will win on March 2…but Amy Adams will be trying to snag the statue away from her. Watch out!

BEST ACTOR

PICK: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Runner-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
PREDICTION: Mathew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club – no contest.
McConaughey – I never thought I’d use that name in relation to the Academy Awards, but here it is. Believe me, no one else is even a second thought in the eyes of the Academy. Sorry Leo, you definitely deserve an Oscar – but it was just bad timing. Better luck next time, Mr. DiCaprio.

BEST DIRECTOR
PICK: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Runner-Up: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
PREDICTION: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Runner-Up: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
It will be a battle of the wits between Cuaron and McQueen; the Academy usually chooses substance over heavy-handed style when it comes to their Best Directors…but I think Cuaron might just edge out McQueen, and take home gold come Oscar Sunday, leading to a similar situation as last year — with a split in the top two prizes. Directing goes to Cuaron…and…

BEST PICTURE
PICK: Her; Runner-Up: The Wolf of Wall Street
PREDICTION: 12 Years a Slave; Runner-Up: Gravity

POSSIBLE CURVEBALL WIN: American Hustle or Philomena (but not likely).
With Her being my favorite film of the year, it is with a heavy heart that I report that Jonze’s film is not going to the Best Picture winner. When it comes down to it, there’s only two real contenders – in the eyes of the Academy: 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. They’ve both swept the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, PGA and DGA Awards, etc. They are basically tied in first place…but the Oscars will make their final decision and I think, 12 Years a Slave (because it is classic Academy fodder) will take the win.

But, I have a weird feeling about the little film, Philomena. Most consider American Hustle to be the other (third) contender, which I do as well…but Philomena is sitting there, all innocent like. It might just be the film that pulls off an epic upset during the final moments of this year’s Academy Awards.



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