2014 Oscars Preview

The 86th annual Academy Awards have been announced, and so begins the speculation as to what films and performers will take home the coveted career changing hardware.  Over this past year, there was an abundance of memorable films and performances; it’s a general consensus among critics that there isn’t a guaranteed winner in any of the major categories.

There are nine films up for the coveted best picture award, but only three atop the cinematic totem pole with ten overall nominations apiece.

“Gravity,” with its haunting nature and groundbreaking technical direction, is story of a space mission gone horribly wrong.  For the first time in his career Alfonso Cuarón is nominated for best achievement in directing.  In addition, the academy has bestowed Cuarón with the nomination for best achievement in film editing for the second time, the prior being in 2006 for the science-fiction drama “Children of Men.”  It’s no surprise “Gravity” is also nominated in all the technical categories, including sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.

David O. Russell, director of “American Hustle,” is simply on a career-defining road right now. For the third time in the past four years, Russell is nominated for best achievement in directing.  However, Russell’s films would be nothing without the impeccable cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence; all of who are up for an Oscar come March.  Last year both Lawrence and Cooper were nominated for an Academy Award for best actress and actor respectively in Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”  Lawrence took home the Oscar then, but this year the statue will be much tougher to come by for each.

Without a doubt, the most eye opening, jaw-dropping movie of the year is “12 Years A Slave.” Oscar nominated director Steve McQueen brings to life the incredible story of Solomon Northup, a black man who was stolen away from his family and sold into slavery despite being a legally free man. The over spectacle of “12 Years a Slave” is one that no American should skip out on. The movie tears at our country’s greatest sin and shoves it in everyone’s face.  McQueen pulls no stops in illustrating the horror, both physically and mentally, that slavery embodied.  Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a performance of a lifetime in the leading role, making himself a leading candidate to take home the Oscar for best actor in a leading role. In addition to Ejiofor, who excels in the protagonist role, Michael Fassbender, who’s nominated for the best actor in a supporting role, shines as a disgustingly evil, bible quoting, slave owner.

“Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” lead the pack with several Oscar nominations apiece, but some rather unknown movies and performances may rise.

Be on the lookout out for “Dallas Buyers Club.”  Matthew McConaughey has already been awarded a Golden Globe and SAG award for his portrayal of the AIDS infected homophobe Ron Woodroof.  Not to be forgotten, Jared Leto shocked critics with his portrayal of Woodroof’s unorthodox best friend Rayon.

Additionally, Cate Blanchett is superb as the lead in Woody Allen’s film “Blue Jasmine,” and Lupita Nyong’o may be taking home her first Oscar for her supporting performance in “12 Years a Slave.

The 86th Academy Awards will be hosted by Ellen Degeneres and airs at 7:00 p.m. on March 2 on ABC.

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