Kenyon hosts an annual pre-Oscar show, The Road to Gold: An Academy Award Preview, Saturday night on Channel 7, 24 hours before ABC broadcasts the festivities. It re-airs Sunday afternoon. He says the 86th edition may spread the wealth among the contenders.
“I think this year is a year where the long held promise of diversity finally flowered a bit,” Kenyon tells Tuned In.
Fruitvale Station and The Butler, films showcasing the plight and positives of African Americans, were shut out of any nominations. But Kenyon says that doesn’t take away from the progress.
“More films that reflect a greater diversity are part of the Oscar discussion this year.”
Leading most lists is 12 Years a Slave, with nine nominations. It’s a sprawling movie based on the true story of a free black man from the north who is captured and fights to regain his freedom, and a top contender to win Best Picture. Kenyon calls it the best film he saw in five years. However, he thinks the brutal depiction of slavery violence could pose a problem.
“It is so unsparing. It is so direct that [it] remains an issue.”
Word of mouth was great, but many avoided the movie. Kenyon says that may have been a problem for Academy voters too.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, you know what you’re getting there,” he says. “It’s tough to get people to see it.”
His advice for people on the fence about viewing the film—see it during the day, “because at night it would be very hard for me to go to sleep after seeing it.”
For those who can get past the realistic imagery, Kenyon says there is a substantial payoff.
“I had a suspension of disbelief in that movie. I really thought that I was back there watching events in that time period,” Kenyon admits. “Brad Pitt actually took me out of the movie. When he showed up I thought it’s a movie.”
For Best Director, Kenyon expects this to be the year for Alfonso Cuaron, a way of recognizing the sci-fi thriller Gravity.
The outer space spectacle clearly was made for the 3D experience and a large movie screen. But the film could be hurt by the majority of voters getting the “take home version.”
“It was not like watching two different movies… but the impact was substantially diminished. If Gravity loses, that’s why. I’m convinced of it.”
Another Oscar favorite is the star-studded American Hustle.
“[It’s] the intersection of a movie that has something to say and a movie that’s really entertaining,” Kenyon says. “That could be the sleeper.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is a five-time Oscar nominee, recognized this time for his work in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. But Kenyon says the film felt like a vehicle to get him the elusive award.
“[It] was three hours of somebody going, ‘Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!’”
Cate Blanchett has won every award leading up to Oscar night, and a surefire favorite to grab the ultimate prize for Blue Jasmine. Kenyon also puts Jared Leto, the transvestite in Dallas Buyers Club, in the “automatic” category.
“If they don’t win, I would call them stunning upsets.”