Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Deadlocked Duel of 2013

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Deadlocked Duel was the fourth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed. With the 2013 Oscar season wrapped, it’s time to take a look back at the past two years.

Each year after the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s at least one category where two nominees end up in a heated battle for the award right up until Oscar night, dividing predictors and keeping Oscar watchers anxiously in suspense. This series is devoted to analyzing the biggest and most intense of those battles each year, in any category.

The Deadlocked Duel of 2013:

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) vs. Lupita N’yongo (12 Years a Slave) for Best Supporting Actress

The background: Two of the biggest movies of the year, both very different but highly acclaimed. The first was from director David O. Russell, who had earned Best Director nominations twice in the previous three years. The second was from Steve McQueen, who, despite sterling cinematic achievements, had not yet earned the distinction of an Oscar nomination. The women in question were a wildly popular American actress with two Oscar nominations, coming off a Best Actress win, concurrently starring in one of the biggest blockbusters of the years, and a Kenyan actress with barely any credits to her name.

Why it was just the two of them: The other film that scored as big an Oscar nominations take was “Gravity,” which netted its lone acting nod in the Best Actress race. Of the other three nominees, Sally Hawkins was the least likely to take home an award, meriting her film’s only mention aside from star Cate Blanchett. Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for “Erin Brockovich” in 2000, earned her first nomination since then for a supporting performance that was overshadowed by Meryl Streep’s leading turn and didn’t have any real shot of winning. 84-year-old June Squibb surely got some votes for stealing all of her scenes, but it wasn’t enough to truly put her in the running.

Setting the stage: Jennifer Lawrence started out strong with a win at the Golden Globes. Lupita N’yongo triumphed at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but Lawrence took the BAFTA, which seemed like a blow to N’yongo since British voters should have appreciated her performance more. Going into Oscar night, “American Hustle” had ten nominations and “12 Years a Slave” had nine.

Oscar night: In one of the first announced categories of the night, N’yongo took the trophy. “American Hustle” went home empty-handed, while “12 Years a Slave” also picked up awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and the top prize, Best Picture.

Consolation prize for the loser: Lawrence did win an Oscar the year before, and has plenty of film roles coming up. N’yongo was ultimately the winner though, since this jump-started her career, setting her up to earn choice quality roles in the near future.

Come back next week for the First Five Forgotten of 2012!

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