The Best Films That Should Have Won the Oscars

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The Best Films That Should Have Won the Oscars

Many films are excellent. No everyone can win the Oscar. Which films did not win however should have done:

Best Picture

This year is filled with tough calls because the competition is so steep. It’s been a long while since we had this many Oscar contenders to choose from. Each film listed here could win for its directors, actors and sheer entertainment value. Now, we present to you our stab at the top runners.

“American Hustle”

If the competition weren’t so strong this year, I’d say this one is a lock. The acting is flawless, the story original, and the soundtrack sublime. In years past the Academy has leaned toward films featuring actors who completely transformed themselves. Christian Bale put on 50 pounds in two months by eating a vast amount of donuts. He is unrecognizable compared to his role this month in “Out of the Furnace.” That film is on the top of my personal list, but I think it is too dark and violent for the Academy. “American Hustle” is my best guess.

“August: Osage County”

This is one of the strongest contenders. Its high literary value and arresting drama will score big among voters. It’s an adaptation of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play and boasts A+ humor that successfully diffuses the weight of staring at this painfully dysfunctional family. Another thing going for it is the cast; Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin and a long list of veteran actors the Academy has loved in the past. Yoo-hoo, it’s also produced by George Clooney. And it’s based on Letts’s real family; since nobody deserves to grow up like this, it could win by an empathy vote.

“Captain Phillips”

An original and memorable thriller with high entertainment value through its searing tension, gripping suspense and well-formed characters. It’s not often we see a movie about Somalian pirates and a sea captain in way over his head. Tom Hanks is the star and the Academy has loved him for years. Paul Greengrass as director is another strong pull. And it’s a true story, which gives it gravitas.

“Dallas Buyers Club”

As with Christian Bale’s extra poundage, and because of the Academy’s past favoring of films whose actors transformed themselves for roles, the extreme 50-pound weight loss by Matthew McConaughey is jarring enough to get votes. He appears appropriately gaunt to play a man burdened with the AIDS virus. Jared Leto reinvented himself also. Leto offers a sensitive and convincing portrayal of an HIV-positive transvestite with a feisty fighter personality.

“Gravity”

I can give you three reasons: Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock. Wow. Her dramatic performances keep getting better, and this one should score high. I’ll add another strong reason: George Clooney. And it’s been a long time since a science fiction film won best picture. The cinematography and Alfonso Cuaron’s directing add to this film’s strength.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

This one is very iffy at this point. Its Oscar buzz has been losing momentum. Despite much critical acclaim, it was totally snubbed by the Golden Globes. That’s hard to believe considering the originality of the story and its strong cast. Forest Whitaker gives a slam-dunk performance as White House butler Cecil Gaines, who worked under eight presidents. His wife is played by Oprah Winfrey, which should carry weight. I confess, though, I was not wowed by her performance. It was good but not mind-blowing. The movie was a big commercial success, however, and covers three decades of American society including the Civil Rights era, so it should still be a contender.

“Nebraska”

One big gauge for predicting “Nebraska” winning an Oscar nom vote is the number of awards and nominations it has won already. Five Golden Globe noms were announced, including six nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards. The American Film Institute put it on its top 10 list of this year’s films, and the cast won best ensemble from the Boston Society of Film Critics. Oh wait, there’s more, Bruce Dern won best actor and Will Forte won best supporting actor from the National Board of Review. “Nebraska” also won two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and three Satellite Award nominations.

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

The Academy can be rather conservative, and there’s been talk that this film is too hedonistic to win. What some may be missing is that Scorsese is showing how disgusting these guys were, not glorifying them. I loved it. During the preview screening, I was thrilled and wowed but felt that it was an hour too long. During my second viewing I enjoyed it even more, although I still thought a half hour to an hour could’ve easily been shaved off. Clearly Scorsese needs me to edit his next film.

“12 Years a Slave”

A powerhouse picture that is getting nothing but praise, except for one thing: it may be too graphic for the Academy voters. This epic film about Solomon Northrup, a free black man captured and sold into slavery, is so moving it may just be the one to capture the majority of votes. The cast is flawless and the fact that an indie director could produced a film of this strength is worthy of recognition.

A few dark horses may gallop into the lead. They include “Fruitvale Station,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Rush” and “The Way, Way Back.” As I said, the competition is killer this year.

As for the other major categories, here are our predictions for best director, best actress, best actor, best supporting actress and best supporting actor.

Best Director

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Steve Mcqueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Actress

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”

Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

John Goodman, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”    

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