That time of year again when all eyes turn to Hollywood and the speculation mounts as to who will be taking home those statuettes.

Lately you may have noticed a strange feeling growing inside you. Like an uncontrollable urge to read a brief yet helpful guide to an upcoming awards ceremony. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s Oscar season again, and I’m here to help you.

You may have noticed that there are only nine Best Picture nominees this year. This is because the Academy ruled in 2011 that the number of nominees can be anywhere between 5 and 10. They seem to have felt that modifying their earlier “10 films” rule would stop less popular films getting nominated just to make up numbers. So, nothing for Blue Jasmine or Inside Llewyn Davis, even though both were praised to the skies on release.

This sends a clear message to Woody Allen and the Coen Brothers that a name is not enough to secure a nomination. As for the films that did get nominated, the smart money is on 12 Years a Slave to win, and it’s not hard to see why. Though I would argue that American Hustle is a better movie, the Academy often likes to reward films it sees as significant or inspirational. 12 Years is both.

Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett
Blue Jasmine did receive a nod for Best Screenplay, though it’s hard to imagine that Woody Allen’s any more excited about this than he was about his other 15 Best Screenplay nominations. Still, it’s richly deserved, as is Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of Jasmine.

Speaking of actors, while I’m not generally much of a Christian Bale fan, it would be nice to see him win for his performance in Hustle. Comedies don’t generally do well at the Academy Awards, and this would be a good year to set a precedent.

Scorsese’s Best Director nomination was inevitable; like Woody, he’s been an Academy favourite for most of his career. But the common wisdom is that Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) will win, largely because he’s won pretty much all the other directing awards.

Frozen is looking equally safe in the animation category. It was a massive success with the critics and the public, and the Academy will probably want to make Disney’s comeback official. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is the only other real possibility. It’s the animation giant’s last film, so it may just get the sentimental vote.

I promised that this guide would be brief, so I’ll wrap up here. It’s looking like 12 Years, Hustle and Frozen will all do well. A few good things could come of this. Tomorrow’s filmmakers might be inspired to make their own hard-hitting dramas, as well as comedies that make you laugh. And if the Pixar people are finally facing some serious competition for their animation crown, that can only provoke ‘em into keeping their standards high.

Enjoy the Oscars, and if you need a hand keeping things in perspective, watch this …

Lead image credit: zkruger / 123RF Stock Photo


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