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What you need to know for 10/19/2017

Foss picks: '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity' to win big

Foss picks: '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity' to win big

Gazette news columnist makes her picks for Sunday night's Academy Awards. Readers who entered The Ga
Foss picks: '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity' to win big
Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, as 'Solomon Northup,' Paul Giamatti, center, as 'Freeman' and Adepero Oduye, second from right, as 'Eliza' in '12 Years a Slave.' (Fox Searchlight)

This marks the fifth year The Gazette has sponsored a contest in which readers try to outguess my Oscar predictions.

For the first time in a long time, I feel a little uncertain about who will win some of the bigger categories, such as Best Picture. I’d really like more time to think about it, but my predictions are due, so I guess I’ll go with what my gut tells me and hope that I’m right. And since I’ve seen all of the major nominees, I’ll let you know who I want to win.

Anyway, here goes:

Best Picture

Will Win: “12 Years a Slave.”

“American Hustle” or “Gravity” could take the grand prize, but I’m going with “12 Years a Slave.” Sci-fi films tend to fare poorly with Oscar voters, who tend to respond to serious films on important topics. Like slavery, for instance. “12 Years a Slave” is grueling to sit through, but it’s a beautifully crafted, impeccably acted and emotionally devastating story about one of America’s darkest topics.

Should Win: “The Wolf of Wall Street” is my favorite of the nine Best Picture nominees. But it’s controversial and long (180 minutes!) and a lot of people hate it. I understand that it has no chance of winning.

Best Actor

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey — “Dallas Buyers Club.” McConaughey has been on a roll, delivering one fine performance after another. In “Dallas Buyers Club,” he is absolutely amazing — charismatic, tough, vulnerable and moving.

Should Win: McConaughey. Although I’d really love to see Bruce Dern win for his excellent work as the addled patriarch in Alexander Payne’s low-key comedy-drama “Nebraska.”

Best Actress

Will Win: Cate Blanchett — “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett has been the favorite for a long time, and the Woody Allen controversy seems unlikely to ruin her chances. In “Blue Jasmine,” she delivers a compelling performance as a once-wealthy woman ruined by the economic crash and down on her luck.

Should Win: I didn’t like “Blue Jasmine,” and although I thought Blanchett was good, I don’t understand why she’s such a shoo-in. If I had a vote, I’d probably go with Amy Adams for her terrific work in “American Hustle.”

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Jared Leto — “Dallas Buyers Club.” Leto has been cleaning up on the awards circuit for playing a transgender woman dying of AIDS and you know what? He deserves the acclaim. His performance is that good.

Should Win: Leto.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o — “12 Years a Slave.” “12 Years a Slave” is full of good performances. The one that will be recognized Sunday night is Nyong’o’s heartbreaking work as long-suffering slave Patsey.

Should Win: I’d be happy with a win for Nyong’o. But I’d love to see June Squibb win for playing Bruce Dern’s wife in “Nebraska.”

Best Directing

Will Win: This appears to be one of those weird years in which voters split on Best Director and Best Picture. Rather than reward Steve McQueen for helming “12 Years a Slave,” they are going to give Alfonso Cuaron the gold for directing the visually stunning, special-effects laden “Gravity.”

Should Win: “Gravity” was a huge technical feat. But it didn’t move me, and I thought it was overhyped. So I guess I’ll go with Martin Scorsese, for directing my favorite nominated film (“The Wolf of Wall Street”).

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: John Ridley — “12 Years a Slave.” The dialogue in “12 Years a Slave” really packs a punch, and voters will reward Ridley for turning Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir into a major motion picture.

Should Win: “12 Years a Slave.” Although I’d certainly be pleased if Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke were recognized for creating the “Before Midnight” script.

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Spike Jonze — “Her.” For penning the inventive screenplay for one of the year’s most inventive movies, Jonze appears to be the favorite.

Should Win: Jonze.

Best Animated Film

Will Win: “Frozen” is the front-runner — a popular, widely seen film that people seem to love.

Should Win: This is the category where I haven’t had a chance to see most of the nominees, so I won’t weigh in. But I’d love to see Hayao Miyazaki pick up an Oscar for “The Wind Rises,” his final film, which opened this weekend in the Capital Region.


Which Film Will Win the Most Oscars?

“Gravity” will clean up in the smaller, technical categories, giving it the most Oscars of all the nominated films.

Reach Gazette columnist Sara Foss at

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