Film fans await a big night at the Academy Awards

Column by Ned Leebrick-Stryker

Ned Leebrick-stryker-w2000-h2000The Oscars should be exciting when they air on Sunday. 2013 was a great year for film, and although I have my problems with award shows, I still get giddy when the Oscars begin to play on my television. Here are my picks:

Best Actor – Leading Role

Who will win: Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey used to be pegged as an actor who played the sexy love interest in romantic comedies. In recent years, McConaughey has taken strange and offbeat roles, whether it be “Mud” or “Killer Joe,” ones which audiences have come to realize he was made for. So has the academy, and for his strong performance as Ron Woodrof, a homophobic cowboy with AIDS, they know its due time to reward him.

Who I’d like to see: Bruce Dern

“Nebraska” was an understated film. It dealt with its story and characters subtlety, especially between Dern’s Woody and his son. This was due, in part, to Alexander Payne’s direction, but it couldn’t have possibly been elevated to the level it was without Bruce Dern. Best Actor – Supporting Role 

Who will win and who I’d like to see: Jared Leto

How many movies has Jared Leto been in? Well, by looking at his IMDB page, a good amount, but strangely he hasn’t acted in a film since 2009. But holy cow, he gave a hell of a performance in “Dallas Buyers Club.” As the transgender woman Rayon, Leto is utterly believable and brave. Just give him the damn Oscar already.

Best Actress – Leading Role: 

Who will win:  Cate Blanchett

“Blue Jasmine” went in and out of theaters rather quickly in 2013. I didn’t even know it existed until the award season rolled around. It’s surprising, too, not only because I enjoy most things Woody Allen puts on screen, but it managed to make almost $100 million at the box office. So I regret to inform you that I have yet to see the film. Why do I think she’s going to win? Look at the facts: She’s won the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the SAG award. Every guild, critics group and movie website is giving her awards left and right, like candy.

Who I’d like to see: Amy Adams

Amy Adams is incredibly talented, and the only actress on the list of nominees without an Oscar. She’s been nominated five times, and there’s a reason why. Adams’ performance in “American Hustle” is layered and funny, all while wearing a hilariously low cut shirt. She consistently delivers great performances from poor material (“Man Of Steel”), so when she’s given something great, it’s fun to watch.  It’s time, Oscar. Give it to Amy.

Best Actress – Supporting Role

Who will win and who I’d like to See: Lupita Nyong’o

“12 Years a Slave” as an incredibly powerful movie, despite how hard it was to watch. Lupita Nyong’o played Patsey, a slave subjected to her master’s horrible sexual abuse. Her role is played emotionally and with conviction. It’s impossible not to be haunted by her performance.

Best Directing 

Who Will Win and Who I’d Like To See: Alfonso Cuarón

There really is no other choice. It takes a director with a vision to do what Cuarón did. “Gravity” was a film like no other. It relied on its visuals, but that’s all it needed. It delivered what it promised: a feeling of isolation, adrenaline and fear that I’ve never experienced before in a theater and perhaps will never experience again.

Best Picture:

Who Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”

Deservedly so. Last year, “Django Unchained,”  a somewhat comedic, and controversial, take on the horrors of slavery was nominated in the very same category. “12 Years a Slave” is decidedly different. Shocking, brutal, but profoundly moving, There should be no doubt that this will be Oscar’s pick.

Who I’d Like To See: “Her”

Don’t get me wrong, I would be ecstatic if “12 Years a Slave” won best picture. Yet, I would be just as satisfied if “Her” took home the gold. A film about communication, love and how we define it, this bizarrely plotted romance between a man and his computer took me through the ringer. I went through every emotion during my viewing, and by the end, I couldn’t help but break down. It was quirky, yet at the same time felt all too real. My finger’s are crossed for this one.

Leebrick-Stryker is a first-year broadcast news major and can be reached at


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