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Richard Roeper: It’s down to three for top Oscar

'12 Years Slave' is likely Best Picture winner. It stars (from left) Michael Fassbender LupitNyong'o (front-runner for Best Supporting Actress)

"12 Years a Slave" is the likely Best Picture winner. It stars (from left) Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o (the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress) and Chiwetel Ejiofor. | FOX SEARCHLIGHT

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Updated: March 17, 2014 10:52AM



The quirks of the Oscar way always leave us with some headshaking realities.

To wit: “Jackass: Bad Grandpa” has more nominations (one, for Best Makeup and Hair) than “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which features multiple Oscar-winning actors.

And: Jonah Hill, whose movie career basically kicked off around 2007, now has more acting nominations (two, for “Moneyball” and now “The Wolf of Wall Street”) than Robert Redford (one, for “The Sting”), whose legendary movie career basically kicked off about 40 years before that.

Oh, and you might have missed this, but one of the nominations was taken back.

The Motion Picture Academy’s Board of Governors voted to invalidate the Best Song nomination for Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” from the faith-based movie of the same name, which starred Kelly Greyson, Natalie Racoosin and Clay Walker, and no, I didn’t see it either.

The Academy says the nomination was rendered ineligible because Broughton’s emails to Music Branch members violated a policy that says members should nominate songs based “solely on the achievement of a particular song in a movie, without regard to who may have written it.”

Really? So the members of the Academy’s Music Branch didn’t realize “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was written and performed by U2?

As for the six major categories, I’m already doubting at least two if not three of my picks, but it’s time to commit, so these are my predictions (not my preferences).

For Best Director, Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity” is a near-lock, and deservedly so. This is the most groundbreaking visual achievement since “Avatar.” Oh wait, James Cameron didn’t win Best Director for “Avatar,” did he? I’m still going with Cuaron.

In the Supporting Actress category, Jennifer Lawrence had early momentum for what I thought was an overrated performance in “American Hustle.” (Lawrence wasn’t nearly old enough to play someone who had been through so much, nor did her performance or makeup make me believe she was old enough to play that character. Also, she went over the top — way over the top — in at least two scenes.) But now all signs point to Lupita Nyong’o for her magnificent work in “12 Years a Slave.” In this case, my preference and my prediction are one and the same.

Supporting Actor is still a tight race. I think Michael Fassbender is most deserving, but it probably comes down to the popular Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” vs. Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club.” I think voters will go with the more tragic and flamboyant of two very colorful performances. Leto wins. Cooper likely has an Oscar coming his way some time in the next decade anyway.

Best Actress goes to Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine.” She’s one of the surest locks of the last 10 years. If anyone else wins, you’ll hear cries of shock in the auditorium. The cool thing is, Blanchett also deserves to win. If you tell me you’re picking against Blanchett in your Oscar pool, you’re not really trying to win your Oscar pool.

In one of the most competitive Best Actor fields in Academy Awards history, there’s a lot of support for Chiwetel Ejiofor’s brilliant work in “12 Years a Slave” and Bruce Dern’s career-crowning performance in “Nebraska.”

But the guy gaining all the momentum in the stretch run is Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Not only is McConaughey great, his role has many of the ingredients for an Oscar. Based on a true story? Check. Startling physical transformation? Check. Important cause that resonates with particular weight in Hollywood? Check. Tragedy? Check.

Finally, Best Picture, with nine nominees but only three films with a realistic chance of winning: “Gravity,” “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle.”

A month ago I was sure “12 Years a Slave” would win, but now the trendy pick is “Gravity,” with many also saying the actor-friendly “American Hustle” could pull off the upset. I believe we’re overthinking it, and “12 Years a Slave” will indeed take home the Oscar.

Email: rroeper@suntimes.com

Twitter: @richardroeper



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