Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The Oscars are nearly upon us. Prepare for live “blog”

Your favourite film department (and us) will be with you throughout the evening.

Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 16:58


Well, nothing much has changed since this morning. So I need only point you towards my Oscar meditations here and here. But, as we’re here, I guess the questions worth asking are: 1) What’s still in doubt? and 2) Which early awards offer pointers to the best picture winner? As we mentioned in today’s paper, though 12 Years a Slave remains favourite, Gravity still has a strong chance and American Hustle remains a viable outside bet.

The best documentary feature is still very much alive. Indeed, three of the five contenders still look like believable winners: The Act of Killing, 20 Feet from Stardom and The Square. Dirty Wars has an outside chance. Only Cutie and the Boxer seems to be totally out of it. All the critics are behind Joshua Oppenheimer’s Act of Killing — a weird study of atrocities in Indonesia — but we are not altogether certain that the queasy Oscar voters have the stomach to sit through their screener DVDs. So, don’t be surprised if Stardom (an uplifting study of the back-up singer) or The Square (ponderings on the Egyptian revolution) beat that fine film to the post.

Best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress are certainly two hinge awards. As we have said elsewhere, there is an outside chance that 12 Years a Slave could become the first film in 80 years to win best picture and no other awards. But, if it has got to the finish line without picking up a gong, then Gravity — certain to take a hatful of technical Oscars — will start to look like the favourite. Lupita Nyong’o is a nose ahead of Jennifer Lawrence in that acting race. 12 Years is stronger in the script category, but John Ridley could lose out to the people from Philomena or Before Midnight or Wolf of Wall Street. On reflection, the lack of one obvious challenger — in a vote that, unlike best picture, is not PR — should see the slavery film home safely.

Film editing is also an interesting one. Everyone assumes that Gravity is going to win here and it probably will. But, to some surprise, Captain Philips took the drama prize at the American Cinema Editors awards. So, there could be an upset. If so, then momentum swings away from Gravity.

Anyway, the time has almost come to stop gabbing. We really (no joke) have been having this conversation for six months. There’s just one more orgy of chatter to come. You will be delighted to hear that Tara and I will be live “blogging” from the event tomorrow night. There will be some initial skirmishes at 8.00 pm. Then smart-ass comments from the red carpet will begin at 12.00. It’s going to be a hoot. Click here tomorrow night to experience the fun.