Oscars contenders include new names, longtime favorites

    Another year, another round of the Oscars. Take a peek into The Elkhart Truth's entertainment news junkie's picks for the Academy Awards, airing March 2 on ABC.

    Posted on Feb. 24, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.

    Now that the Olympics are over, it's time to get back into awards season.

    The Oscars air at 7 p.m. March 2 on ABC, and I couldn't be more excited.

    But first, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Clara, and I'm a copy editor and huge entertainment news junkie.

    Being an entertainment junkie and a lover of fashion, I'm a big fan of award shows. When I took film literature in high school, my love of the shows and red carpets flourished.

    Awards shows are incredibly entertaining to me. They're live, and celebrities can really thrive or tank under the pressure. I also enjoy the pre-show red carpets. You never know what might happen, and I love critiquing all the fashion choices.

    The Golden Globes this year were one of the best award shows I've watched in a while. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler killed their hosting duties, and the booze sure made awardees say some ridiculous things. Emma Thompson, I wouldn't want to keep wearing my high heels either.

    Plus, that show didn't drag on like this year's GRAMMYs, which ran 20-or-so minutes past its allotted time.

    But now, it's time for the Oscars. Happily for me, these fall on my birthday. I consider it a fabulous present.

    This year is shaping up to be an unpredictable year. Usually one or two movies stand above the rest. Last year, "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" were clear frontrunners.

    While David O. Russell's latest flick, "American Hustle," is definitely a contender, other movies are hard to ignore, such as "12 Years a Slave," "Gravity," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."

    I admit I haven't seen all of the nominated movies, but I have read countless reviews, actor/director interviews and basically anything I could find about the Oscars and the nominated movies.

    Here's my take on some of the top categories and their close races: 


    Top 2: Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett

    These two actresses won the Golden Globes for best actress this year. Most of the time, the top two contenders for the Oscars are the Golden Globe comedy and drama winners. Adams plays a seductive con woman in "American Hustle," while Blanchett plays a woman who's lost everything in "Blue Jasmine."

    Blanchett's name has been thrown around for Oscar contention since the movie's opening in August. Woody Allen has directed many woman to Oscar nominations and wins, and Blanchett has never won for Best Actress, although she won one for supporting actress for "The Aviator" in 2005.

    But I wouldn't count Adams out just yet. This is her fifth nomination, and she finally won the Golden Globe. I personally have loved her work since I saw her in "Enchanted," and I think it's her time to take home a statuette.

    Edge: Amy Adams



    Top 2: Chiwetel Ejiofor vs. Matthew McConaughey

    Ejiofor didn't win the Golden Globe, but he just won the BAFTA Film Award for best leading actor. His role in "12 Years a Slave" was not an easy undertaking; it's brutal to watch at times. Critics can't stop talking about the realism of the movie, and he by far has the most screen time.

    But then there's the who-would-have-thought story that is McConaughey. This a man who's made a career out of good, and bad, romantic comedies. But he's since shifted his career focus from cute happy endings to gritty portrayals.

    It's clear he loved the role, and the movie took a long time to finally get on the screen. His road to the Oscars is a Cinderella one, which Oscar voters tend to love.

    Edge: McConaughey



    Top 2: Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong'o

    JLaw is beloved. No question about it. The young starlet has big-name franchises ("X-Men," "The Hunger Games") and indie films ("Winter's Bone," for which she received her first Oscar nomination) to her name. She won an Oscar for best actress last year. She won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress in "American Hustle" this year. She plays a hilarious, mouthy housewife who talks way too much in a movie that reunited her with David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper.

    But Nyong'o is in her first feature film, and she's nominated for her heartbreaking role as Patsey in "12 Years a Slave", a slave who picks cotton all day long. Her character has little hope and no way out. Her facial expressions only convey tense, fearful emotions. Off screen, her SAG speech became a quotable rave among new outlets.

    I think it's time for Nyong'o to shine. JLaw will still be loved, and this way we won't risk a repeat of last year's fall, which was apparently caused because she was thinking about cake.

    Edge: Nyong'o



    Top 2: Jared Leto and Jonah Hill

    In all honesty, this one isn’t that close. Jared Leto is all but guaranteed the win for his turn as HIV-positive transgender Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He’s won the Golden Globe and the SAG awards, and critics can’t stop talking about the Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman’s return to acting after six years. Like McConaughey, he lost weight and transformed for the role, and his efforts will mostly likely pay off with a win.

    But hear me out. Jonah Hill was a huge surprise for the nomination. His nomination left Tom Hanks ("Saving Mr. Banks") and Daniel Brühl ("Rush") out of contention. Even Hill, who plays the sidekick character in “Wolf of Wall Street,” was stunned by the nomination.

    Edge: Leto



    Top 2: Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuarón

    To me, this comes down to a question of what do you reward: raw reality or making the seemingly impossible possible?

    Cuarón took years to make “Gravity” because he had to figure out how to create the technology needed to make the film, which takes place in outer space, seem real.

    But Steve McQueen took a subject that’s a part of American history and turned "12 Years a Slave" into a visually stunning, emotionally haunting film.

    "Gravity" is stunning to watch as well, especially since it explores a world unknown. I think its bravura will win out this year.

    Edge: Cuarón



    Top 2: "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle"

    "American Hustle" has as much star power as 1970s glitz. It's been well-received across the board, especially now, right around Oscar voting time.

    But the power of "12 Years a Slave" can't be denied. It's raw history. It's a movie so honest, people say it should only be viewed once. After seeing it, I agree. It's brutal to watch at times, and watching it made me sad because it was so truthful to how this country treated humans. It's a movie that may not see a lot of love otherwise, so I suspect it's a frontrunner for best picture.

    Edge: "12 Years a Slave"


    Do you agree? The Elkhart Truth is hosting an Oscars contest, so you can pick your favorites. You might even win a prize if you guess enough answers correctly.

    I'll be live-Tweeting the Oscars on March 2, so follow me @ClaraAB2 and join the conversation.

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