By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Bring out the red carpet and the Gucci gowns. It’s that time of the year again. The posh Academy Awards are about to be given away. Never before has the statuette been so politicized. On one end we have a fabulous film Blue Jasmine mired in a paedophilic controversy. On the other hand we have a Black American director emerging with brilliant treatise 12 Years A Slave on slavery and cultural domination. And then to top it all we have the over-the-top The Wolf Of Wall Street whose over-brimming brilliance is being frowned upon as a sign of vulgar hedonism.
So who gets the main awards?
Here is a guess…
Best Actor: Kink Is King : The unorthodox out-of-the-box performances rule the Oscar nominations in this category this year. Shockingly Tom Hanks’ wired-up performance as an ambushed kidnapped ship captain in Captain Phillips is omitted from the list. The wunder-list journeys through characters as far-ranging as an aging near-senile Bruce Dern in Nebraska, a fey precocious HIV inflicted Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (who might just miss the honour because his surname is a teleprinter’s nightmare), Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave (whose tongue twisting name cannot erode the power and emotional impact of his naked performance). Christian Bale in the compelling caper American Hustle casts the cool chameleon as a cunning conman.In the same range of amoral vision is Leonardo diCaprio’s wolfishly materialistic Jordan Belfort in .
And The Oscar Is Likely To Go To: diCaprio for consistently honing his skills chipping away at his acting chops with every character he plays. It’s not easy playing a vulgar man with panache. He insults women, midgets and the American government without toppling into an abyss of morbidity.
Best Actress: Cate’s Denuded Of ‘Gravity: By far the best performance by a female actor in 2013 was Scarlett Johanssen in Spike Jonze’s Her. But like Bharati Achrekar’s invisible impact in Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox Scarlett was only seen not heard in Her. Amy Adams in The Hustler was heard and seen loud and clear. But the performance with its sinewy curves and enigmatic edges falls short of greatness. Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is by far the best bet off the nomination list. But Woody??!! Naah…It’s like giving Tarun Tejpal the award for best journalist of the year. So the Oscar by default would go to Sandra Bullock in Gravity for the sheer élan with which she floats in space .Although her husband was on the sets to direct her flight Sandra flies way pas the stipulated altitude. Judi Dench in Philomena is phenomenal. But her performance has not reached out to that many people. And Meryl Streep’s alcohol-soaked rant in August: Osage County is too obviously ‘Oscar’.
And The Oscar Is Likely To Go To: Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Cate’s a case of Malice Woody-land.
Best Picture: The Wolf In ‘She’ Is Clothing: Uncharacteristically, 9 films are nominated in this category, thereby proving the prevalence of all-round excellence in the American cinema of 2013. Interestingly, the protagonist as predator presides over the list. Christian Bale & Amy Adams in American Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska and Leonardo diCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street lust openly for money. Joaquin Phoenix (in my favourite performance of the year) lusts after his virtual ally in Her. Matthew McConaughey lusts for life in Dallas Buyers Club and Judi Dench’s quest for her missing child in Philomena is actually a lust for motherhood. Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave lust for freedom in very different time zones. And Sandra Bullock’s spatial saga in Gravity is no more and no less than a ‘lust’ in space.
And The Oscar Is Likely To Go To: Either Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street or Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. The second, because it is visually and emotionally stunning in equal measures. The first, because…well, greed is God and Scorsese’s film is the new-age mythological on materialism.