All season long, I’ve been quietly giddy with excitement at the prospects of so many of my favorites potentially taking the stage on Oscar night in triumphant Oscar-winning glory.
Daniel Montgomery’s piece this morning, I realised that I too might be looking at one of my favourite Oscars in years, no matter how it ends up panning out on the big night, the high holy day for us kudos nuts and Oscar nerds.
We all know that the Oscars are not necessarily the supreme arbiter of quality when it comes to world cinema. Heck, they get it wrong just as much as they get it right. But you can’t deny the power of an Oscar win, the stamp of approval from this group of a few thousand artisans, industry veterans and Hollywood insiders. Say what you will about who has and hasn’t been nominated for or won Oscars.
But Oscars matter. Deal with it.
This year, the three frontrunners for Best Picture – “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” – are films that I admire, respect and love in varying doses, and all three feature on my list of the best films of 2013 (for the record, “Gravity” is right up there at number one, “12 Years a Slave” is at number seven, and “American Hustle” is a worthy inclusion as a runner-up honorable mention).
The 12th Annual Gold Derby Film Awards were good to "12 Years a Slave," but perhaps even better to "Gravity," depending on how you look at it. "12 Years" won Best Picture (by only a single vote over "Gravity") plus Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Nyong'o also won Best Breakthrough Performer, but "Gravity" was the biggest winner with six awards, including Best Director and five below-the-line categories: Cinematography, Editing, Score, Sound, and Visual Effects.
A trio of films won two awards apiece: Best Picture-nominee "American Hustle" won a pair of its 11 bids: Best Ensemble Cast and Best Makeup/Hairstyling. "Frozen" won Animated Feature and Original Song ("Let It Go"). "The Great Gatsby" claimed Costume Design and Production Design.
All five Best Picture nominees came away as winners. In addition to the awards for "12 Years," "Gravity," and "Hustle," "Her" won a single prize out of its 10 nominations (Best Original Screenplay), while "The Wolf of Wall Street's" sole victory was Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio).
DiCaprio has long been a darling of the Gold Derby Awards. He previously won Best Actor for "The Deaprted" (2006), and he took Best Supporting Actor just last year for "Django Unchained." Neither of those performances earned him Oscar nominations.
Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), won Best Actress, her second individual win at the Gold Derby Awards, following her Supporting Actress victory for "The Aviator" (2004). First-time nominee Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") won Best Supporting Actor.
See the complete list of winners below, and then predict whether "12 Years" and "Gravity" will repeat their victories at the Oscars:
Thinking that Ellen DeGeneres might be in need of a few funny lines still, I offer her these dozen jokes to use on the Oscars this Sunday:
2. I’m your host for the evening, Ellen DeGeneres. Or as many people like to call me – “Her.”
3. “Her” is one of tonight’s nine nominees for Best Picture. Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with his computer yet can’t relate to actual human beings. He’s not up for Best Actor, because these days the role isn’t that much of a stretch.
4. One of the most talked-about films of the year has got to be “Gravity,” up for 10 awards tonight. Sandra Bullock is a woman trapped in outer space with almost no chance of survival. The only time she’s overcome longer odds is when she beat out Meryl Streep for an Oscar.
5. There’s Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Three hours of non-stop debauchery, greed, hedonism and profanity. It’s kind of the like of the Oscar ceremony, only shorter and less humiliating.
While only seven Experts expect "Gravity" to win Best Picture at the Oscars Sunday, all 30 of them favor the chances of that film's helmer Alfonso Cuaron. That overwhelming support gives him odd of 1/10.
Cuaron has swept the precursor prizes, including most tellingly that of the Directors Guild of America. In the 65-year history of that guild honor, its winner has gone on to take home the Oscar on 58 occasions. The seven exceptions have been:
The 23 Experts predicting "12 Years a Slave" to prevail are: ;
Thelma Adams (Yahoo!)
Michael Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes)
Kyle Buchanan (Vulture)
Mike Cidoni (AP)
Scott Feinberg (THR)
Thom Geier (EW)
Mark Harris (Grantland)
Tim Hayne (Moviefone)
Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair)
Dave Karger (Fandango)
Tariq Khan (Fox News)
Mary Milliken (Reuters)
Michael Musto (Gawker, Out.com)
Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby)
Kevin Polowy (Yahoo!)
Claudia Puig (USA Today)
Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post)
Sasha Stone (Awards Daily)
Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood)
Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere)
Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com)
The seven who favor "Gravity" are:KEEP READING
What are the 25 most notorious, revealing, or memorable fashion statements from the history of the Oscars? A new photo gallery looks back at Cher's infamous gasp-inducing risks, Ashley Judd's wardrobe malfunction, plus Bjork, Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Barbra Streisand, Charlize Theron, and more. Entertainment Weekly.
Boris Kachka profiles several longtime awards bloggers during the home stretch of "the most competitive Oscar season ever." Included is Gold Derby's founder Tom O'Neil, who brings along his awards collection and says, "What I love about it is that Hollywood is fighting over a merely gold-plated statuette that tarnishes easily. Is it meant to be ironic?” Also included in the lengthy article are Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere), Pete Hammond (Deadline), and Kris Tapley (In Contention). Vulture.
Steve Pond asks the difficult question of who will make the cut on the Oscars "In Memoriam" segment Sunday night (and who won't). An annual tradition since the early 1990s, it is a fairly brief segment that can only hold around 30 people. There are 27 past Oscar nominees and winners who passed away this past year, many of them from behind-the-scenes. The Academy website includes a list of members who have died since the last ceremony, and it currently contains 108 names. Will such a recent death as Harold Ramis be too late to be included? Will people like Sid Caesar and Cory Monteith, more noted for TV work than films, be there? The Wrap.
The Tony Awards quietly make a major change to to their show categories. The administration committee voted last month to allow a fifth nominee in the musical, play, musical revival, and/or play revival categories if any receive enough votes. To achieve that fifth slot, a production would "achieve a vote tally that would put it in the same ballpark" as the fourth place nominee. It's good timing for the 2014 ceremony since there will be at least 12 new musical shows this season. Variety.
Las Vegas oddsmakers certainly know sports, but can they correctly predict the Oscars this year? They currently have "12 Years a Slave" a 2/11 favorite over "Gravity" at 4/1. Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") is a heavy 1/20 favorite. The acting winners are projected to be Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") at 1/5, Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") at 1/30, Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") at 1/10, and Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave") at 4/7. Rope of Silicon.
Several times during Oscar history, an ill-timed bad movie has derailed a good Oscar campaign. A new photo gallery looks back at nine examples, including Alec Baldwin ("Along Came Polly"), Tom Hanks ("Punchline"), Anne Hathaway ("Bride Wars"), Nicole Kidman ("Just Go With It"), Eddie Murphy ("Norbit"), and Meryl Streep ("Before and After" and "It's Complicated"). Entertainment Weekly.
For some stars, winning an Oscar is like winning the lottery. Bagging that gold statue often means commanding better roles and bigger bucks. Here are 10 actors whose careers took off after their Academy Awards triumphs:
10. Kevin Spacey
Soon after Kevin Spacey won an Oscar in the supporting race for "The Usual Suspects" (1995), he earned fat paychecks like the $4.5 million he snagged for "The Negotiator" (1998) and the undisclosed fortune he certainly made for "Superman Returns." But he also leveraged his victory to dig up more academy gold, this time in the lead category when he prevailed as Best Actor in "American Beauty." It's doubtful that he'd have the lead role in "House of Cards" today without those boosts from Oscar.
9. Marcia Gay Harden
Harden worked consistently during the 1980s and 1990s, but didn't become a household name until the 2000 Oscar race when she upset frontrunner Kate Hudson ("Almost Famous") to win Best Supporting Actress as artist Lee Krasner in "Pollock." That win has paid off for Harden in another Oscar nomination (for "Mystic River," 2003), two Emmy nominations ("Law & Order: SVU" in 2007, "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler" in 2009), and a Tony Award ("God of Carnage," 2009). Plus a big salary leap.
8. Marion Cotillard
When the Oscars crown a new princess, the results can be unpredictable – Halle Berry and Reese Witherspoon's post-Oscar careers have been hit-and-miss – but for Cotillard that breakthrough success has paid off. She hasn't been nominated again at the Oscars since her 2007 Best Actress win for "La Vie en Rose," but she has put together a string of commercial ("Inception," "The Dark Knight Rises") and critical successes ("Midnight in Paris," "Contagion," "Rust and Bone"). She earned $1 million for starring in "Inception."
7. Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis gave a pair of critically acclaimed supporting performances in 1985 ("My Beautiful Laundrette" and "A Room with a View"), but it was his 1989 turn as a man with cerebral palsy ("My Left Foot") that brought widespread international acclaim to his extreme brand of method acting. He won Best Actor and followed that with four more nominations and two more wins ("There Will Be Blood" in 2007, "Lincoln" in 2012), becoming the first man to win three Oscars in the lead race. He's also earning lofty paychecks like the $8 million he scored for starring in "The Crucible" (1996).
The awards season has been pretty good to me, all things considered. After various precursor awards, this year's Best Picture Oscar race has narrowed down to "12 Years a Slave" or "Gravity," my favorite narrative films of the year; I think the documentaries "Stories We Tell" and "The Act of Killing" give them a run for their money, and the latter might very well win Best Documentary Feature, so this is poised to be one of my favorite Oscar ceremonies in years.
Of course, the Oscars aren't all about what I want, but dammit, wouldn't it be better if they were?
I'm (half) kidding. The fact is most of us awards-watchers are probably of two minds. There's the part of us that knows the Oscars aren't the true arbiters of quality; time is. The reflection of ensuing years elevates some Oscar choices ("The Silence of the Lambs," "Schindler's List") while making mincemeat of others ("Dances with Wolves"), so it's hard to predict which ones will be remembered fondly a generation from now.
At Saturday's Indie Spirit Awards, we are predicting that "12 Years a Slave" will win five of its leading seven bids: Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyongo), Screenplay and Cinematography. It is tipped to take the top prize at Sunday's Oscars too as well as Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay.
Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") and both star Matthew McConaughey and featured player Jared Leto from "Dallas Buyers Club."
Our collective opinion as to this year's winners at the 29th annual edition of these kudos is drawn from the combination of the four sets of forecasts at Gold Derby: Experts, Editors, Top 24 Users predicting last year's winners and All Users.
We expect three films to win just one award each despite multiple nominations: six-time contender "Nebraska" is expected to win First Screenplay while three-time nominee "Fruitvale Station" is likely to claim First Feature and twice-nominated "Frances Ha" is predicted to win Editing.
Among those films we expect to be shut out are four-time contender "All is Lost" and three-time nominee "Inside Llewyn Davis."
(Be sure to check out the breakdown of winners by category here.)
What do you think will win Best Picture at the Indie Spirit Awards? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.