It’s that time of the year again

Aubrey Malone profiles the Oscar contenders

Who will win the Oscars on March 2? It’s always an enjoyable guessing game, a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest, but unfortunately in both cases the wrong people often get the honours, and for similar reasons – favouritism, block voting, gladhanding, networking, politics and so on. And of course our old friend, m-o-n-e-y.

One of the favourites for Best Film is Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.  But is this not a rather obvious dissection of the old ‘greed is good’ credo enshrined in films like Wall Street itself? One could even charge Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, another contender for Best Film, of this.

McQueen’s film, no matter how powerful it was, didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about the brutal realities of slavery – and he also laid on the violence a bit too much. But the film could sweep the boards.

Films about controversial themes like AIDS traditionally tend to do well at Oscar time so Dallas Buyers Club must also be fancied. Matthew McConaughey might get Best Actor for this if Chiwetel Ejiofor (picturd) doesn’t pip him for 12 Years a Slave or Leonardio DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street.

My own preference would be for Bruce Dern who was so achingly moving in Nebraska but it would be a David and Goliath achievement for him to beat these blockbusters.

In the Best Actress category I can’t see Meryl Streep winning yet again (she’s up for August Osage County) or Sandra Bullock, another past winner, for Gravity.

Philomena has received a lot of praise (even though it used ‘artistic license’ in its ambition to demonise the nuns) but Judi Dench has to be seen as another long shot for this.

I’d like to see Cate Blanchett (pictured) winning for Blue Jasmine. I wonder if the recent reiteration of child abuse claims against Woody Allen, the film’s director, could come against her. If so, Amy Adams could steal up on the blind side for American Hustle.

I’d love to see Barkhad Abdi win Best Supporting Actor for Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks (pictured), surprisingly, didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for this film. But Abdi, is outside the Hollywood loop so they may give it to Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street instead. Or will Michael Fassbender, a previous ‘bridesmaid’ get the sympathy vote for 12 Years a Slave?

Jared Leto is another contender, for Dallas Buyers Club. If he doesn’t win Best Director for this he might get the lesser award as a consolation prize.

The Best Supporting Actress category is one of the most interesting this year. The most deserving contender is probably Lupito Nyong’o  for 12 Years a Slave but neither would I grudge it to June Squibb for Nebraska.

Julia Roberts is also a serious contender (for August Osage County) but, as with Woody Allen, one wonders if the recent revelations about her so-called “nasty” character by her younger sister (before her tragic suicide) could hurt her chances.

These things shouldn’t matter but they do. Oscars aren’t always about quality but rather extraneous factors like previous nominations, the age of the contender, his/her standing with the at times feudal ‘colony’ of Hollywood and a host of other considerations.

Show business is often more ‘business’ than ‘show’ when Tinseltown pats itself on the back for its (dubious) genius at this time every year. But that still won’t stop us watching the annual media circus, will it?