The M&M Report predicts the Oscars
Before tonight’s Academy Awards, M&M Report hosts Mark Lieberman and Devin Mitchell made their predictions and picked their favorites in all of the major categories. Tune in to a special edition of The M&M Report tomorrow morning to hear their instant reaction to the ceremony and the results of their predictions.
Mark: “12 Years a Slave.” The year’s most complicated, stirring, devastating drama.
Devin: “12 Years a Slave.” Steve McQueen’s film about a free man sold into slavery is the year’s most powerful and depicts the evil of the institution unflinchingly. The acting is hauntingly good. My clear preference.
Mark: “12 Years a Slave.” The race is close, but Hollywood likely won’t pass up the opportunity to atone for its sins – or, alternatively, to honor the best movie of 2013.
Devin: “12 Years a Slave.”
Mark: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave.” The shot of Solomon Northrup’s eyes wandering left and right before staring directly into the camera is enough to convince me that this performance is one for the ages. DiCaprio is a close second, though.
Devin: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave.” His portrayal of Solomon Northrup manages to be subjected to brutal abuse without being essentialized and robbed of his humanity. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey give memorable performances too, but Ejifor edges them out in my mind.
Mark: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Devin: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Mark: Amy Adams, “American Hustle.” She’s been nominated three times in the past for three very different kinds of characters. She revealed new facets of herself here – dark, sexy, captivating.
Devin: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine.” Her take on a modern day Blanche Du Bois from Streetcar Named Desire is phenomenal, playing her tragic character with impressive charisma.
Mark: Amy Adams, “American Hustle.” (Everyone needs to go out on a limb once in a while.)
Devin: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine.”
Best Supporting Actor
Mark: Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips.” He was a cab driver in Minnesota until Paul Greengrass cast him as the fearsome, darkly alluring leader of the Somali pirates who hijacked the title character’s cargo ship in 2009. A remarkably swift and impressive transformation.
Devin: Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle” or Michael Fassbender, “12 Years A Slave.” Cooper’s energetic performance stands out in a film with multiple notables ones and his chemistry with Amy Adams is palpable. Fassbender throws himself completely into his role as an evil plantation owner with breath-taking results. Very different performances, but I couldn’t pick one between the two.
Mark: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Devin: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Best Supporting Actress
Mark: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave.” Jennifer Lawrence is a delight in “American Hustle,” but she won Best Actress last year, and her performance is less surprising and critical to the movie’s success than that of Nyong’o, who captures the agony of the young slave Patsey’s plight without exploiting it for cheap gasps.
Devin: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave. The film’s best chance at an acting win is Nyong’o’s performance as Patsey, a female slave assaulted by Fassbender’s Edwin Eppes. She develops an identity beyond that though and shines in a unforgettable scene near the end with Northrup and Epps.
Mark: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave.”
Devin: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave.”
Mark: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity.” It’s impossible to watch Cuaron’s grand achievement in visual storytelling without wondering multiple times, “How on earth did he do that?”
Devin: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity” or Steve McQueen, “12 Years A Slave.” Much has been made of the technical masterpiece that is Cuarón’s Gravity, and rightfully so. But the way he uses the vastness of outer space to consider human mortality shouldn’t be ignored. As for McQueen, his recreation of plantation life is something to behold. And his tendency to linger on shots, refusing to let you look away, is so effective and adds a lot to the movie. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide between these two.
Mark: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity.”
Devin: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity.”
Best Adapted Screenplay
Mark: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight.” As great as “12 Years a Slave” is, it seems criminal not to reward these three for crafting such beautifully drawn characters and growing more confident with each film in this sensational series.
Devin: John Ridley, “12 Years A Slave.” Ridley’s screenplay stays faithful to Solomon Northrup’s autobiography and his dialogue, in particular, Alfre Woodard’s monologue, stays with you.
Mark: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave.”
Devin: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave.”
Best Original Screenplay
Mark: Spike Jonze, “Her.” A fractured love story wrapped with a light coating of science fiction. An unlikely Oscar winner, but it would be refreshing to see the Academy make the case for modernity in all of its complexity.
Devin: Spike Jonze, “Her.” I had some issues with “Her,” but the story’s observations about the nature of love and relationships are worthwhile, and it offers a plausible and fascinating vision of the future.
Mark: David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, “American Hustle.”
Devin: David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, “American Hustle.”
Best Original Song
Mark: “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” Setting aside the song’s stunning long-term popularity, Idina Menzel’s enormous pipes go to town on a soaring melody that captures a key moment of transformation in Disney’s appealing animated musical.
Devin: “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2.”
Mark: “Let It Go.”
Devin: “Let it Go.”