The 86th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

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I’m possibly going to be trying out a new series here. Essentially, today I’ll be going back and looking at the most recent Oscars and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories. Potentially, I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, so there’s a chance that this could turn into a long running thing. There are 86 of these to sift through after all…and counting. If nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of he year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit.

Alright, here goes nothing:

Best Picture – Her

The nominees here were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Considering that it was my favorite film of 2013, a vote for Her would be pretty clear and decisive here. The Wolf of Wall Street would be my runner up, but it wouldn’t be a close race. Spike Jonze’s meditation on love is an absolute masterpiece, so that’d be my pick.

Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

I’d have voted for Jonze here, but he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, David O. Russell for American Hustle, and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street. I very nearly went with Scorsese here, but it’s fairly hard to deny Cuarón’s work here on Gravity. The aforementioned Jonze is my personal pick overall, but Cuarón is my choice of the actual nominees.

Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street

In a perfect world, I’d have seen Oscar Isaac in the lineup for Inside Llewyn Davis and subsequently he’d be my vote. The actual nominees here though were Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. Everyone is worthy here and I really came close to selecting Dern, but DiCaprio showed an incredible aptitude for comedy and that would be enough for me to give him his first Oscar.

Best Actress – Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Without the ability to cite the snubbed Adele Exarchopolous for Blue is the Warmest Color, my choices here were obviously Amy Adams for American Hustle, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Judi Dench for Philomena, and Meryl Streep for August: Osage County. Adams was a compelling second choice for me, but I have to agree with the masses that Blanchett was just superb in Woody Allen’s flick and well worth bestowing another Academy Award upon.

Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

The real Best Supporting Actor of last year to me was Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners, but in lieu of him, I had to choose from the actual nominees…Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. Hill would have been my second choice, but of this group, I again go with the masses and cite Leto’s transformative performance.

Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle

Without question, my top choice would have been Scarlett Johansson for Her, but that nomination was never going to happen. The nominated women here were Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County, and June Squibb for Nebraska. Squibb is such a scene stealer that I had to consider her, but Lawrence’s firecracker turn would have been the one that got my vote, had I actually had one of course.

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Wolf of Wall Street

Given the opportunity, I would have lept at the chance to cite the brilliant screenplay for The Spectacular Now, but without the option, I had to choose between the nominees 12 Years a Slave, Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street. I was an eyelash away from going with Before Midnight in order to cite the trio of Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater, but in the end I went with ribald comedy and chose The Wolf of Wall Street, written by Terence Winter.

Best Original Screenplay – Her

One more place where I can’t disagree with the winner. The nominees here were American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, and Nebraska, but this was never really a close race. Perhaps Blue Jasmine would have been my runner up due to my fondness for Allen, but Jonze’s screenplay is an all time great to me, so how could I in good faith ignore it?

Stay tuned, there might be another one of these next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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