|Aspen Film Creative Director Laura Thielen|
Join the Oscar buzz! One of the hottest parties of the year, Aspen Film hosts its annual benefit at the Caribou Club on Sunday, March 2, at 5 p.m (get tickets here). Walk the red carpet, dine in style, and watch a live broadcast of the 86th annual Academy Awards. Dress to impress; black tie optional.
My pick is 12 Years a Slave, though Gravity or American Hustle could sneak in. 12 Years is a stunning accomplishment. A difficult story executed with brilliance and restrained eloquence. Every note of the production serves the story and theme. It's like a beautifully composed piece of music, engaging the audience in a powerful way but leaving you room to reflect.
If the trend is any indication, the Oscar will probably go to Gravity. Alfonso Cuaron has taken several pages out of James Cameron's book and been campaigning since August. While this film deserves recognition for its technical achievements, as it's beautiful, I'd love to see the honor go to Steve McQueen (12 Years) or Alexander Payne (Nebraska) for their masterful, pitch-perfect direction. For me, their films are much stronger and more compelling.
This category is an embarrassment of riches! So much so that Robert Redford, Forest Whitaker, and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) didn't even make it in the nomination door. So hard to pick. Matthew McConaughey gives an amazing performance. I'd love to see him win. But I'll be equally thrilled if Chiwetal Ejiofor (12 Years) or Bruce Dern (Nebraska) take the little gold man. All of them reached deep to give their characters resonant humanity.
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine is Thielen's pick for Best Actress.
For me, it was called last August when Blue Jasmine was released. Cate Blanchett gives an unbelievably fierce and fragile performance that deserves recognition. She knocks it out of the park. Amy Adams (American Hustle) is my close second-- another full-throttle role that shows how magnificent she is.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
I hope Jared Leto wins for Dallas Buyers Club. Funny, street wise, courageous and ultimately tragic, at a certain moment his Rayon stops being a character and becomes something more, a potent reminder of all the friends lost in the bewildering early days of AIDS. This season I've heard a lot of people say they "don't need another slavery or AIDS movie." Leto's performance speaks to why we do.
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club gets Thielen's vote for best supporting actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This year's nominees feature a wonderfully eclectic group of memorable performances. I'd love to see Lupita Nyong'o win for 12 Years a Slave. How she manages her character's fragility and strength is amazing. The fear is always palpable but held in control, and then a frightening outburst. The way she conveys that tension and horror of her situation is exhausting, heartbreaking. She brings Patsey alive.