For film buffs, this Sunday is the Super Bowl. Sure, any movie freak worth his salt will tell you that Oscars aren’t everything. Even still, it’s undeniable that the Academy Awards ceremony, for all its problems and drawbacks, still commands significant pop-cultural prestige and significance. Yes, they mean nothing. But they also mean everything.
Some of us even measure time in Oscars. Having trouble picturing 1999? That was the year American Beauty cleaned up. 1977? Woody Allen vanquished George Lucas. 1940? Rebecca was the first and only Hitchcock film to win Best Picture.
So what will 2013 be? Therein lies the question. The 86th Academy Awards is this Sunday, and it’s time for us to weigh in.
A lot of websites and commentators lay out their picks using a “Will Win/Should Win” or “Favorite/Dark Horse” format. But that’s of course cheating. It’s just a convenient way of making two picks, when everyone knows there can be only one.
We’re not going to do that. The picks below refer to a kind of pained reconciliation between what we think will happen and what we want to happen. Some of our picks are deliberately bold; some less so. Some of our predictions line up nicely with our own personal tastes; some do not.
You can think of these picks as optimistic predictions: conclusions reached by weighing our subjective aesthetic perceptions against the realities of Academy politicking, popular appeal, and good old fashioned buzz.
For dense, meandering, and thoroughly entertaining analysis of each individual category, don’t miss our post-show podcast next week. We’ll be going in. You won’t be disappointed.
But for now, these are just our straightforward picks. So without further ado, here are our learned choices:
Braden: 12 Years a Slave
syvo: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Braden: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Male Actor
syvo: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Braden: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Female Actor
syvo: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Braden: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Male Actor
syvo: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Braden: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Female Actor
syvo: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Braden: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay
syvo: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Braden: Spike Jonze, Her
Best Adapted Screenplay
syvo: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Braden: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Best Visual Effects
Best Film Editing
Best Animated Feature
Best Animated Short
syvo: Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim, Get a Horse!
Braden: Lauren Witz and Alexandre Espigares, Mr. Hublot
Best Foreign Language Film
syvo: The Great Beauty
Braden: The Great Beauty
Best Live Action Short
syvo: The Voorman Problem
Braden: Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Best Costume Design
syvo: Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
Braden: Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
syvo: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Braden: Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Best Documentary Feature
syvo:Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, The Act of Killing
Braden: Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, The Act of Killing
Best Documentary Short Subject
syvo: Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Braden: Jeffrey Karoff, CaveDigger
Best Music (Original Score)
syvo: Steven Price, Gravity
Braden: William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Best Music (Original Song)
syvo: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, “Let It Go” (Frozen)
Braden: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mix
Best Production Design
syvo: Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn, The Great Gatsby
Braden: K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena, Her