Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions & Reminiscing on Best Actor/Actress Nominees’ Early Roles

TheOscarsLogoThe film industry’s biggest night is just three days away. Dozens upon dozens of award ceremonies have taken place in the past few months, culminating on Sunday with the Academy Awards! I figured I’ll join in on the fun of predicting who will win the Oscars, split into two categories. The ‘Should Win’ here who I’m championing to win based on what I’ve seen. Nothing scientific here, the winning predictions are based on what I’ve read/heard, other awards up until now, as well as pure gut instincts. So here goes:

Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “Gravity”

Have you checked out the Bloggers Roundtable Post over at Keith’s blog? Thanks Keith for inviting me to take part with my favorite bloggers!

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
Should Win: [Since I haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club] Chiwetel Ejiofor

Will Win: Cate Blanchett
Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Will Win: Jared Leto
Should Win: Michael Fassbender

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Should Win: Sally Hawkins

Will Win: “Her”
Should Win: “Her”

Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “Captain Phillips”

Will Win: “Frozen”
Should Win: “Frozen”

Will Win: “The Square”
Should Win: “The Act of Killing”

Will Win: “The Great Beauty”

Should Win: “The Hunt”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Should Win: “Gravity”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Should Win: “Gravity”

Will Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Should Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”

Reminiscing on Acting Nominees’ Early Roles

Now, I’d like to do something different this year than simply predicting the winners. I was inspired by something I saw a couple of nights ago whilst I was at the gym. ABC always airs interviews with the acting nominees and show clips of their previous films. Well, it made me reminisce on the first time I saw each of the Best Actor/Actress nominees and how I felt about them then. For the purpose of this post, I’m only focusing on the leading category for this post. So allow me to walk down memory lane for a bit.


Amy Adams

AmyAdamsJunebugFirst saw her was in Catch Me If You Can but for some odd reason, I didn’t remember her until much later after I saw the film. She had a small role as a Southern Belle type hospital nurse whom Leo DiCaprio’s character proposed to. But the role that really impressed me was Junebug where she also played a Southerner, a young mother to-be who thinks that her baby would solve her marital strain. It’s a bit of an odd film but I definitely remember her in that, and clearly the Academy did too, as it earned her first of five nominations.

Cate Blanchett

CateBlanchettLOTRIt was her role in the mega blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that made me notice the Aussie thespian. I absolutely loved her voice as she narrated the story. After that I went back to watch her Oscar-nominated role Elizabeth, which to this day I still think she’s far more worthy of the Oscar win than Gwyneth Paltrow was in Shakespeare in Love. I’ve never NOT been impressed by her performance since, I’m constantly in awe of her versatility and chameleonic quality, convincingly speaking whatever accent is required of her. Balancing small films like Little Fish, Veronica Guerin to a big-budget production like The Aviator, she seems to be able to do it all effortlessly. Even in a terrible movie like Indiana Jones 4, she’s still very watchable.

Sandra Bullock

SandraBullockSpeedI might’ve seen Sandra in Working Girl TV series but for some reason I didn’t realize she’s the same girl in Speed! I didn’t recognize her with her big wavy hair, ahah. So I have to say it’s her big break in the hit action flick, which was also Keanu Reeve’s breakthrough role, that made me notice her. I liked her straight away and I’ve always been fond of her since. She might not have Blanchett’s range, but she more than make up for it in congeniality – no surprise that she made two movies bearing that sentiment as it’s so tailor-made for her. I’m one of the few who didn’t mind that she won Best Actress for The Blind Side, but her dramatic chop is stretched even further in Gravity.

Judi Dench

JudiDenchGoldeneyeOne of British finest Dames has had a long career in various stage, TV and film work before she made history as the first female M in the James Bond series. So I first noticed her as Bond’s snarky boss in Goldeneye, who aptly and memorably calls him a ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur.’ Bravo! Only three years later she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in Shakespeare in Love despite being on screen for a mere 8 minutes. The one British monarch role I absolutely love her in was Mrs. Brown where she played an older Queen Victoria who found friendship in her servant Mr. Brown as she was mourning her husband’s death.

Meryl Streep

MerylStreepKramervsKramerAn acting living legend has a staggering 17 Oscar nominations (3 wins), the most of ANY performer of all time. The first time I saw her was in Kramer vs. Kramer when I was a kid, where she won her first Best Actress Oscar. That film was indelible as I remember being quite frightened by the scene where her kid fell in the playground, being carried home by her on-screen husband Dustin Hoffman. I haven’t seen a lot of her work and to be frank, she’s not really a favorite of mine even if she’s always impressive in everything I’ve seen her in. I definitely enjoyed seeing her as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, that’s really a fun role for her where she gets to be this larger-than-life meanie without being cartoonish.



Christian Bale

Bale_MidsummerNightsDreamI honestly can’t remember when I first saw Bale in movies. I know it’s long before he don the cape as the Dark Knight, and it wasn’t his movie big break as a child actor in Empire of the Sun as I saw that after Batman. So it could very well be his small supporting role in Midsummer Night’s Dream as I saw that one on the big screen. It’s interesting to see the ever-so-serious Bale in a Shakespearean fantasy comedy. I barely remember what the whole story was about but I remember how dreamy he was in it, hard to imagine him doing a fluffy role like that, but I think he should just to break things up from all the solemn and dark stuff he does nowadays.

Bruce Dern

BruceDernNebraskaThis is the only time in a long while where I haven’t seen any of the work of an actor prior to the one being nominated. I have heard of him but somehow I just never saw him in anything. I have to rectify that situation at some point as I was quite impressed by his performance in Nebraska. People constantly tell me he’s played great bad guys in his younger days, so I just have to check those out!

Leonardo DiCaprio

LeoDiCaprioGrowingPainsI’m always amazed and in awe at Leo’s career trajectory as I first saw him in one of my favorite series Growing Pains! He was so dorky looking but even then you knew he was special. After that I never saw any of his film roles until Titanic, in which I had a slight crush on Jack Dawson (which teen girl wasn’t?). So of course I saw a bunch of his films after that, even the really obscure one like Total Eclipse as a French poet (sans the French accent) where he even had a gay sex scene with David Thewlis. Leo even did a Western in The Quick & The Dead, though by that point I was already crushing on Russell Crowe who never looked better in a film.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

EjioforChildrenOfMenFirst time I noticed Ejiofor was in Children of Men, though I might’ve seen him in Inside Man as well before that. A year later I saw him in American Gangster, with fellow hunky Brit Idris Elba, both playing Americans on opposite sides of Denzel Washington’s character. I’m so glad he’s now getting more recognition, hopefully it’ll bring more leading roles for Ejiofor, as he obviously has the chops. Interesting that both him and Elba has also played leading roles in Mandela-related films, Ejiofor was the lead in this dramatic gem Endgame.

Matthew McConaughey

McConaugheyWeddingPlannerThe role I first took notice of this Southern hunk happens to be in one of my guilty pleasure rom-com The Wedding Planner opposite J-Lo. I thought he was sooo darn hunky and sweet in that movie. I think I might’ve seen him prior to that on Boys on the Side but I can’t remember what he even looked like in that movie. Funny that he was in a sci-fi movie about dragons with fellow 2014 nominee Christian Bale in Reign of Fire, and back then he got top billing over the lesser known Bale. I skipped a bunch of McConaughey’s movies for a while, I have to admit I wasn’t a fan until I saw him in The Lincoln Lawyer. Nice to see his career renaissance – aptly coined The McConissance – of late, he’s poised to win this Sunday.

Thoughts on my predictions? More importantly, would you share your first cinematic memory with any of the Best Actor/Actress nominees?

57 thoughts on “Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions & Reminiscing on Best Actor/Actress Nominees’ Early Roles

  1. That was a lot of fun! Great post Ruth! We share many of the same predictions. I also loved your flashback to the past movies of the nominees. Great idea. All of our questions will be answered tomorrow!

    Also thanks for linking the Roundtable. Really appreciate your contribution! Now bring on those Oscars!

    1. Thanks Keith! I figure people who aren’t into Oscars can participate by reminiscing on their own fave roles on these actors.

      Hey thank YOU for inviting me to be a part of your awesome new series. Looking forward to more roundtable discussions 😀

    1. Hey thanks Mark! Ha..ha.. well that’s why I didn’t want to just talk about the Oscars but you can always look back at these actors and recall when you first saw them on screen.

  2. Great post, Ruth. I’m so excited for the Oscars! Also shared my predictions today and we’re pretty much in agreement. Loved your twist on the predictions post.

    First time with Amy Adams was also Junebug, Cate Blanchett was Bandits, Sandra Bullock was Miss Congeniality, I don’t remember where or when I saw Judi Dench first, probably a Bond movie, and Meryl Streep I first saw in The Hours or Prime.

    As for the actors, I met Bale in Reign of Fire, which I think was also my first Matt McConaughey. Either that or The Wedding Planner. Dern in Django Unchained or The Great Gatsby, Leo in Titanic and Chiwetel in Children of Men or Love Actually.

    1. Thanks Fernando! Just saw your predictions, yeah we have a lot in common, esp. about Cuaron.

      Thanks for sharing your first time viewing of the actors. I should rewatch Reign of Fire again, who knew they’d both be up for the same Oscar 12 yrs later! I didn’t know Dern was in Django Unchained as well.

  3. Vony

    My first memory of Chiwetel Ejiofor is LOVE ACTUALLY, he acted as Keira Knightley’s husband. Yup, though I am not into chick flick, I actually watch this movie long time ago.. :))

    Bruce Dern.. First time I noticed him was the 1970-s Great Gatsby.. 🙂

    Christian Bale, I remember him the first time, also not from Empire of The Sun, but from a Disney Movie I watched in the 90’s through satelite TV, called The Swing Kids and Treasure Island (with Charlton Heston). I watched Empire of The Sun after I watched both of these movie, in the airplane on the way to Australia. How do I remember that?? I have nooo idea. :))

    As with miss Amy Adams, since I have a little girl who’s into princess, first time I noticed her was when she was in Enchanted.. And after that I got the same song stuck in my head for a while. Do you know she used to play at the Chanhassen Dinner Theather ?

    1. Hi Vony, pa kabar mbak? Oh yeah I remember Chiwetel in LOVE ACTUALLY too, but I think I saw him in Children of Men first. Bale was in a movie called Treasure Island with Charlton Heston??! WOW, I gotta see that. How funny that Bale is now playing Moses as well, that might be a premonition, ahah.

      Oh yeah I knew she used to play at Chanhassen Dinner Theater. I mentioned that here on the blog that she used to perform near my old church Westwood 🙂

      1. Vony

        I am good.. 😉 how about you ? Oh my, I didn’t put two and two together between Heston and Bale.. That’s just a weird coincidence.. If you are familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Heston played as the pirate, Long John Silver, and Bale played as Jim Hawkins the one who found the treasure map..

  4. Great post, Ruth it was fun to read your reflections on the early performances. 😉

    We also agree on many of your will win predictions. I still think Lawrence will take home supporting female, though.

    1. Hi Josh! Just disregard my comment on your blog, somehow I thought you haven’t seen my post 😉 I thought it’d be fun to walk down memory lane a bit to take a break from Oscar, he..he..

      Great review of OMAR btw, still need to see that!

      1. Thank you. Omar has some flaws, but on balance it is very good. I just wish I could see The Missing Picture before the ceremony tomorrow, but it isn’t available anywhere. Oh well.

        As to the memory lane discussion . . . that made for interesting reading. I had forgotten about some of the actors’ roles.

    1. Hey thanks Chris! I might do that w/ the supporting actors, but I haven’t seen some of the directors’ early work so it might not be as fun to read, ahah.

  5. Great idea for an Oscar related post. I remember I was a little late to Fellowship Of the Rings screening and as I was finding my seat the narration voice was simply mesmerizing, later I found out it was Cate Blanchette. The first time I saw Ejiofor is in Serenity. I thought he did a great job and knew he had bright future if he could get some good roles.

    1. Blanchett’s voice is so mesmerizing isn’t it? It’s got such mystical quality about it somehow, I can’t explain it. Oh yeah, Ejiofor was in Serenity… glad to see he’s come a loooong way since then.

  6. Ted S.

    Nice read Ruth, it’s fun going back to these well known actors’ past and look at how their careers have blossomed, some took longer than others.

    I first remember seeing Amy Adams in the American version of The Office, she was in a couple of episodes. I honestly don’t remember which movie I first saw Blanchett in but she always put out great performances in every films she appeared in. I fell in love with Bullock the year before Speed came out in Demolition Man, she’s Stallone’s sidekick in that underrated action/sci-fi/comedy. I also first saw Judy Dench in GoldeEye and thought she’s great as the new M. Don’t remember which film I first saw Streep in, might’ve been Kramer vs. Kramer too or maybe The Deer Hunter.

    I first saw Bale in that Disney’s awful movie Newsies than in Empire of the Sun. He didn’t impress me until years later when he played the dark side of Bruce Wayne in American Psycho and Shaft. I truly believe Nolan cast him as Bruce Wayne/Batman because of those two films, let’s face it Batman is a bit crazy. I think the first film I saw Bruce Dern in was in The Burbs, the Tom Hanks’ suburbs comedy from the late 80s, you should check it out, it’s pretty funny. Yep same here, I saw first saw Leo in Growing Pains, it’s funny that all those actors from the show aren’t even in the business anymore and he became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. I first saw Ejiofor in Love Actually but he didn’t make an impression on me until Children of Men and Redbelt. Well McConaughey will always be David Wooderson to me, his most well liked role from Dazed and Confused. I never thought he’d become a big leading man after that movie.

    1. Hi Ted! Yeah, the career trajectory of these actors are fun to see. Seems like ALL of these leading actors have made it, unlike in previous years where some actors disappeared into oblivion *cough* Tim Hutton *cough*

      Oh I remember Bullock in Demolition Man! That might be before Speed actually, but I had already seen her in that TV show though I didn’t realize it was the same person!

      Ha..ha.. I saw Newsies after I saw him in Batman Begins, crazy how he used to do some lighter stuff before going for mostly dark/grim roles. Oh The Burbs sounds good, I’m definitely up for that one. Yeah, Leo is certainly the most famous actor out of Growing Pains now. I’ve actually never seen Dazed and Confused before, might have to check it out just to see McConaughey!

  7. Tom

    Really cool idea with the reminiscing section here! It’d be tough for me to track down the first place I saw any of these guys and gals, but the one thing we do share in common is the fact that I’ve also never seen Bruce Dern in anything before Nebraska, haha. I have to correct that myself. He was incredible in that film.

    As for the Oscar predictions, man I can’t wait. I have this nagging feeling that all of us are going to be SO wrong in some of our selections, but that’s what makes the day so fun, right? 😀

    1. Hi Tom, nice to see you stop by! I was looking for something different for an Oscar post, thanks to that ABC segment I was inspired 🙂 I want to see Dern’s earlier roles, what an amazing career that man has had.

      Ha..ha.. yeah, I like to post predictions just to see how wrong I’d be 🙂

  8. I think 12 Years a Slave is a predictable choice for the Academy.. I don’t know.. the movie was good but out of the nominations, it was not the one I loved the most. I think others deserve the Best Picture more.

    1. Yeah, it’s predictable though I have a slight feeling it’s somewhat obligatory. It’s not my fave to win either, that’d be either Gravity or Her. I wouldn’t cry foul if Ejiofor win though.

  9. Your picks look top notch. The Awards will be pretty predictable this year. First exposure to Dench was Goldeneye, which I worried about as a Bond fanatic but she turned out great. Bale was Empire of the Sun, Streep in Manhattan, Dern in Hang em’ High, Ejiofor in Love Actually, Adams in Catch Me if You Can, DiCaprio in Gilbert Grape, Blanchette in Elizabeth, Bullock in Demolition Man, McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, and all in their original theatrical releases.

    1. Hi Richard! Top notch? Well I sure hope the ones I champion would win. Hey thanks for letting me know YOUR own memory of seeing these actors for the first time. Very cool that you saw ’em all on the big screen too!

  10. Great preview post Ruth, although as I’ve only seen American Hustle of the nominated films I can’t offer any opinion on your choices. Your cinematic memories of the nominees has had me trawling through the memory banks though. Here’s what I came up with.

    Judi Dench was a staple of British TV when I was a child in the 80s and 90s, before Goldeneye I must have seen her first in As Time Goes By which ran for well over 10 years. Like you I do vaguely remember watching Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer, but A Cry in the Dark is my most definitive first memory of her. Leo DiCaprio was brilliant in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and it’s still my favourite of his performances. I saw Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey for the first time in the same film, A Time to Kill, it actually popped up on British tv again this week which was timely. MM was also memorable playing Chris Cooper’s father (in flashback) in Lone Star the same year.

    Enjoy the show!

    1. Hello Paul! Thanks for sharing your own memory of these nominees. Yeah, Leo was great indeed in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, he seems to have a knack for playing *special* characters with some kind of mental issues, I think Howard Hughes definitely fit into that category as well as the ones he did in Shutter Island. I still need to see A Time to Kill, it’d be interesting to watch that now that both are nominated in the same year. Oh I should check out Lone Star as well.

  11. Some of your predictions are really surprising to me… 😀 I think Her will get original score and holy shit, you should’ve seen Jared Leto, he was amazing in Dallas Buyers Club — as was McConaughey… though I’d just give it to Jonah Hill for Wolf.

    I love the bit about actors’ first roles — and awwww, young Leo!

    1. Hi Elina! I so hope Her will get Original Screenplay, that’s quite an amazing story. I should check out Dallas Buyers Club soon, but even before seeing it, I think McConaughey has it in the can for Best Actor.

  12. That picture of Leo DiCaprio makes me chuckle!

    But I agree, I think 12 Years a Slave will take home Best Picture but I see no reason why the Academy shouldn’t favor the audience favorite – in this case Gravity. I think The Wolf of Wall Street has a shout too, so it’s between those three but the smart money is on 12 Years because it fits the right “best picture” mold with its hard-hitting drama and powerhouse performances.

    As a big Alexander Payne fan I’d love to see Nebraska get Best Screenplay and Best Actor but I fear it’ll miss out in both categories.

    1. Ha..ha.. yeah, he looks so dorky eh? Who knew he’d turn out to be such a heartthrob! I agree w/ what you said about ’12 Years’ having the biggest shot and the important subject matter is a major factor as well.

      I love Nebraska but I’m rooting for Jonze to win Best Original Screenplay though.

            1. Yeah and her speech was great too. I included some clips and lots of pics from the event, Ellen actually ordered pizza during the ceremony which was a hoot!

  13. I didn’t have time to do picks yet, but yours look pretty good to me. I think there is actual suspense this year in some of the categories, and that’s always a good thing 🙂

    1. Hello Paula! Yeah, nice to have a bit of suspense, I think the Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture category would be quite nail-biting, ahah.

  14. Great post and solid predictions, Ruth. I’m still not so sure that 12 Years a Slave will win Best Picture, but it’s a very possible outcome. Go Leo!!

    1. Well I hope it won’t win as I’m rooting for Gravity or Her. I’m not championing for Leo but I won’t cry foul if he won either.

  15. Agree with you on most of these, Ruth. The only ones I have as different are American Hustle winning Best Original Screenplay and The Act of Killing winning Best Documentary. Any thoughts on Best Foreign Film? I’m pulling for The Hunt, though The Great Beauty seems to be the favorite.

    1. Hi Eric! I forgot to put in my two cents for Best Foreign Film! I’ve added that in now, I’m rooting for The Hunt but yeah, I’m afraid Great Beauty would win tonight.

  16. Can’t really argue with your predictions at all Ruth. There’s nothing that really stands out that I’d disagree on. McConaughey is a “should” as well as a “will” in my eyes though, and nice to see you pick Fassbender as a “should”. I really hope he wins tonight.

    Interesting list on where you seen the nominees for the first time. Here’s my first timers:

    Amy Adams: Junebug
    Cate Blanchett: The Talented Mr Ripley
    Sandra Bullock: The Thing Called Love
    Judi Dench: Henry V
    Meryl Streep: Kramer vs Kramer

    Christian Bale: Empire of the Sun
    Bruce Dern: Coming Home
    Leonardo DiCaprio: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
    Chiwetel Ejiofor: Amistad
    Matthew McConaughey: Lone Star

    You’re not the first to admit it, but I can’t believe you’ve never came across Bruce Dern before, Ruth. Such a great and recognisable actor. By the way, he’s also the only actor nominee that Matthew McConaughey hasn’t worked with. Thought I’d share that! Enjoy your night! 😉

    1. Hey Mark! Thanks for sharing your memory w/ these actors. Yeah I definitely need to see more of Dern’s work. I did see him in the original Great Gatsby after Nebraska but it was so boring I turned it off, ahah.

      Great trivia, thank you for that!

  17. Pingback: » The 86th Academy Awards – Our Thoughts Fernby Films

  18. Hey there Ruth! It was nice to read over your Oscars post. I agree with almost all of your predictions. Last night I was correct with all of the should win winners. In the male supporting actor category, I was also cheering for Michael Fassbender to win it. I’m so proud of Lupita’s win. Such an amazing and humble speech! One of the best of the night. It was an amazing year of films once again in 2013, so cheers to more greatness this year!

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