Entertainment & Arts

Oscars: What to watch out for

Giant Oscar statue is winched into place in front of a billboard of the host Ellen DeGeneres Image copyright AFP
Image caption Final preparations are made to the Oscar's venue where Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting for the second time

The voting is over. With only one day to go, here's a look at what this year's Oscar race could throw up.

The Best Picture race is tougher to predict than most years, says Scott Feinberg, Oscar expert with industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter.

This is from the man who predicted 21 out of 24 winners in 2013.

"It's extremely close. Nobody can say with any degree of confidence who's going to win, which is the first time that's been the case since I've been doing this."

Best Picture seems to be down to three main contenders: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity or American Hustle.

12 Years, nine nominations

Speaking to the BBC in Los Angeles, Feinberg said: "The experts are very split on who will win. Partly because it's been a great year for movies. Part of it is that they use this preferential ballot which makes it hard to calculate.

"Now it's not just who's got enthusiastic fans but it's also going to come down to what people put as number two on their ballots as well."

Image copyright film promo
Image caption Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are front runners for the best film award

Feinberg himself favours 12 Years a Slave - which has nine nominations in total - based on what the Academy has done in the past.

If Steve McQueen's film is named best picture, it will be the first time a black director's film has taken the top prize.

Who is in the Academy? A study two years ago found that of the 6,000 or so voting members, around 86% were older than 50, 94% were white and 77% male.

This doesn't fit the profile of the people who pay to see films in the cinema.

"I'm not super-confident about it - 12 Years is the one that makes sense when you consider the Academy's historical tendencies," says Feinberg.

"They've always responded well to movies that are about important subjects - especially stories derived from revered pre-existing material. So 12 Years a Slave checks off a lot of boxes.

"It also has relevance to the present day - America's race relations issues are obviously far from settled."

But some of the film is so brutal that some Academy members have said that they couldn't bring themselves to watch it.

"It's going to come down to how many of them were able to handle it," suggests Feinberg.

Making Oscar history?

Gravity and American Hustle have 10 nominations each.

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Image caption Sandra Bullock is nominated for best actress for her role in Gravity

The film with the most nominations often wins, says Feinberg, but the problem is the Academy has never given best picture to a science fiction or a 3D film.

A win for Gravity here would make Oscar history on two counts.

"American Hustle people clearly like a lot - it's only the 15th movie to get nominated in all four acting categories," says Feinberg.

"But it's hard to see how it appeals to the present day - it doesn't really have a lot of gravitas. It's really a period piece dram-edy. The last comedy to win best picture was Annie Hall 36 years ago.

"Both Gravity and American Hustle have a lot of history up against them."

The Allen issue

The biggest scandal to blow up during the Oscar race, apart from the disqualification of one of the best original song nominees, were the allegations that Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter.

He has denied those allegations.

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Image caption Cate Blanchett has already won best actress at the Baftas, the Golden Globes and the Sag Awards

Allen is nominated for best original screenplay for Blue Jasmine, and both Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins are up in the actress categories.

Blanchett had been the favourite to win best actress for months, so the question is whether the scandal has had an impact on the final vote?

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, gave a diplomatic answer when asked this in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview.

"I believe our Academy members take voting seriously. They do their homework, they see the movies, they know quality when they see it and they vote accordingly."

Feinberg adds: "I haven't heard it come up at all with Oscar voters. I don't think it will affect Cate Blanchett at all."

If she loses, though, many people will assume the allegations about Allen were the reason.

"It may or may not be fair to the person who beats her," says Feinberg. "But I don't think there's a likely scenario that she loses at all. She has not lost any award for which she's been up so far."

Jackass chances?

What else to watch out for?

If Jennifer Lawrence wins best supporting actress, it would be back-to-back wins for the 23-year-old actress, who won last year for Silver Linings Playbook.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The best hair and make-up categories has thrown up a few surprises from Dallas Buyers Club and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

In the hair and make-up category, the prize could go to the prank-packed hidden camera comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

The film sees Johnny Knoxville transformed into a crude 86-year-old man named Irving Zisman who goes on a road trip across America with his eight-year-old grandson.

But the big revelation in this category comes from the team behind the make-up in Dallas Buyers Club.

They caused a shock when they revealed the budget for the entire 28-day-production was... was $250.

And could Mickey Mouse get his first Oscar for 72 years?

The veteran cartoon mouse dates back to 1928, making him 86 years old. But he stars in Disney's Get a Horse! which is up for best animated short.

His last appearance in a winning short cartoon was alongside Pluto in 1941's Lend a Paw.

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