Once again, the informal Ionarts Best Movie of the Year poll correctly predicted the Academy Award for Best Film, which went to 12 Years a Slave, to no one's surprise -- with Best Adapted Screenplay for John Ridley to boot. For my money, Bruce Dern was better for Best Actor, in Nebraska, but Matthew McConaughey had a very good year (not just for Dallas Buyer's Club, with a nod for his Make-Up and Hairstyling crew, but for Mud and as the best part of the generally awful Wolf of Wall Street), although he should have hired a speechwriter. Neither Philomena nor August: Osage County felt like an exceptional film, which perhaps diminished the achievements of two fine performances, by Judi Dench and Meryl Streep, respectively. This meant that Best Actress went to the most deserving Cate Blanchett, whose role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine -- a sort of updated Blanche Dubois -- was right in her wheelhouse. Michael Fassbender was robbed in the Best Supporting Actor category, but Lupita Nyong'o lit up the evening with her beautiful speech after winning as Best Supporting Actress.
As I predicted, Gravity pretty much swept the technical categories (Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects), cementing its position as "Runner-Up Best Picture" with wins in Cinematography and Directing for Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuarón -- even Best Original Score for Steven Price (which seemed like a possibility to me). The Great Gatsby, a dog of a movie, got some consolation prizes in Costume Design and Production Design, probably more than it deserved. The truly odd Her eked out Best Original Screenplay for Spike Jonze, although its quirky best song -- as performed by Karen O, the best actual live performance of the Oscars show (where Auto-Tune cannot help you, Adela Nazeem) -- was beaten out, most predictably by the song from Frozen, which also -- and again most predictably -- took Best Animated Feature.
The remaining categories were won by Helium (Short Film, Live Action), M. Hublot (Short Film, Animated), The Great Beauty (Foreign Language Film), 20 Feet from Stardom (Documentary Feature), and The Lady in No. 6 (Documentary Short Subject), about the extraordinary Alice Herz-Sommer. As usual, the absence of an award for Best Comedy means that some great movies are left with nothing.