By Michael Leaser
The Schindler's List of American slavery, 12 Years A Slave will likely take home a deserved Oscar for Best Picture Sunday night (though American Hustle and Gravity are also strong contenders). This personal, visceral, authentic take on slavery from the perspective of an adult New York citizen who had known nothing but freedom his entire life may become essential viewing for mature students of this period.
The tightly-focused, armchair-gripping, visual tour-de-force that was Gravity will earn Alfonso Cuarón a Best Director Oscar, but it won't be enough to get the film the Best Picture trophy.
Historically underrated Matthew McConaughey will probably take home the Best Actor Oscar for his all-in performance in Dallas Buyers Club as a straight man diagnosed with AIDS in the 80s who uses any means he can to locate medications, legal or illegal, that will keep him and members of his buyers club alive.
Cate Blanchett is a shoo-in for Best Actress with her work as a wealthy New York socialite who loses practically everything in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. There has been buzz that recent stores about Allen's alleged child abuse may put a dent in her chances, but if they do, it won't be enough to keep her from talking home the gold statue.
Best Supporting Actor may be one of the more difficult major categories to call this year. Michael Fassbender was brilliant as the cruel slavemaster in 12 Years A Slave, and there has been some buzz around Barkhad Abi for Captain Phillips because of the actor's inspirational personal story. But this is Hollywood, so we're giving the edge to the guy playing the transgendered AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto.
Though many people liked Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, she just won an Oscar last year for Silver Linings Playbook, and it is rare for an actor to win Oscars two years in a row, the last being Tom Hanks in the early 90s, so our pick for Best Supporting Actress is Lupita Nyong'o in her heartbreaking performance as slave Patsy in 12 Years A Slave.
Mark Rodgers is the principal of the Clapham Group. Michael Leaser is an associate of the Clapham Group. He edits FilmGrace and has written more than 50 film, television, and culture articles for World magazine.