The 2014 Oscars! *contains spoilers*

Tonight is the night! My favorite event of the year is Oscar night. I love fashion and film making, so it’s perfect! I will be live-tweeting the show @thatgingeranna so feel free to join me!

Here is my ballot for this years awards! Cast your own ballot and lets compare!

I had a helluva time picking the Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Picture. I am completely torn between McConaughey and DiCaprio for Best Actor and also believe American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years A Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street are too close to call for best picture. In the end, I chose DiCaprio for best actor, solely (and I realllly mean solely) because of the range of emotions he was able to accurately portray: drama, romance, comedy, anger, etc. I feel McConaughey was more dedicated to his role, prepared for his performance more, and also connected to his audience on a deeper level, but the spectrum of emotions and character evolution wasn’t as fully developed as Leo in The Wolf of Wall Street (IMO).

Now for Best Picture…let me start by saying I did not see Gravity or Nebraska. That obviously disqualifies me from making a completely accurate judgment, so feel free to disregard what I am about to say.

For me, the top four are: The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, American Hustle, and 12 Years A Slave. I loved each of these movies for vastly different reasons. The Wolf of Wall Street was excellent because it was raunchy, suspenseful, and HILARIOUS. I mean, one of the first scenes shows Leo snorting cocaine out of a hooker’s butt crack, yet I still felt bad when Jonah ratted him out to the Feds. How often do you really want to go try Quaaludes after leaving a movie? In true assholes-sometimes-win fashion, this film was able to show how fun it can be to be a criminal, evoking emotions I usually only feel during a good mob movie (I’m lookin’ at you, Goodfellas). The production was also crazy extravagant, but with such big names attached to the project I think the film obviously had an unfair advantage in this sense. This film is also one of those rare cases when I am almost certain the movie was better than the book. Scorsese was able to execute gritty, sexual, and shocking events in a way that conveyed their harsh reality, but also made these extreme scenarios appealing and relateable to an audience-I would imagine that was made even harder by the fact that this is semi-biographical!

Dallas Buyers Club on the other hand, was one of the most emotional movies I’ve ever seen. Although I know a lot of people in the LGBT community were not happy that the main character was a white, male, homophobe, I think, similar to Brokeback Mountain, this movie will have a long lasting, positive influence and will help many straight, healthy people begin working to further their acceptance of homosexuals and those suffering with HIV/AIDS. In the end, shouldn’t that be the real mark of success for any film? Opening peoples’ minds and helping them to experience things they would otherwise be closed off from, albeit from behind a screen, is a difficult task and sometimes offensive characters and other tools have to be used to succeed at that goal. Contrary to The Wolf of Wall Street, I do think this film could have been just as easily adapted into a biographical novel and had the same emotional effect. Let me be clear that this comes down to production and not acting. In no way am I discounting the performances in this film (Leto gets my pick for best supporting actor). I loved everything about this movie and it has been added to my “everyone should watch it” list-which is not the case for the other 3 movies I liked.

12 Years A Slave was similarly emotional for me-obviously. I am beyond shocked, confused, and disappointed that it was not nominated in the categories of cinematography, sound editing, or sound mixing (it would have been my pick for all three). Two of the most powerful and visually arresting scenes that I have ever seen in a movie-when Solomon whips Patsey and the viewer sees the blood and flesh flying away with every draw back of the whip, and when Solomon is reunited with his wife and they show a single tear falling from  his face and rolling onto her shoulder and into her dress-were featured in this film. There were numerous other scenes that were beautifully and poignantly shot. If you’ve read my previous reviews for films you know I am a sucker for films with stimulating color palettes and this film was my absolute favorite in that category! This film was also an adaptation of a historical novel, which really appealed to me. I am a history student, so the summary at the end of the film that explained the disappearance of Solomon Northup from all historical records before his death was extremely intriguing and heartbreaking. This film was beautifully shot, extremely well acted, and emotional. I know that every director has the difficult task of deciding what to cut from a film and what to dedicate the most time to, but I do wish that the director and writers had dedicated more time to showing the relationship between Solomon and his family, prior to his abduction. It was clear in several scenes during his time as a slave that he deeply missed them and they were his motivation for seeking freedom, but the movie did not show the full depth of this connection. There is no real reason that this film shouldn’t be win for best picture, but the extravagance and intensity of The Wolf of Wall Street is a tough competitor.

Lastly, American Hustle. I’ve seen this film 3 times. I LOVED it. I loved the soundtrack, the costumes, the story, the ending, everything. Christian Bale was obviously amazing, and had he not been up against such dynamic characters for Best Actor, I would have chosen him. This movie was romantic and funny which made it such an enjoyable experience every time I watched it. Again, I am a sucker of modern history (specifically political history), so this was another winning movie for me. I was so sad to see it up against The Great Gatsby for Costume Design because that meant I couldn’t pick it, as I had originally intended. I also wish there was an award for best soundtrack and not only original song and score because yet again, I would have picked this film. Bradley Cooper was hilarious and the cast as an ensemble perfectly executed the story. Jeremy Renner was able to really draw the audience in and show a different side to Mayor Carmine Polito, a side which evoked sympathy and really made one ask  if his actions were justifiably criminal. This is the only film of the 4 that I would recommend to every demographic. There was very little sex or violence, but the story was well told and it ended on a positive note. This was my personal favorite overall, despite the positive attributes of the other films.

This is one of those catch-22 situations: I am happy that there were so many good movies this year, but it made for a very difficult task of picking the winning films (I’ve changed my vote for best picture 3 times today, and will probably change it again before the show!

Check out my ballot above to see which films I actually chose for each category!

Do you watch the Oscars? What is your favorite Oscar-winning film of all time?