Oscar Picks 2014

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Every year, the Oscar nominations come out early one January morning. Pundits talk about who got snubbed, which movies got the most nominations, etc. People spend weeks reading tea leaves and seeing which nominees best schmooze the voters. About a week before the ceremony, you start to see articles giving odds on who will win. And that’s just not how I work.

Rather, I like to see the nominations, take a few hours to digest everything, and that make my picks that day. As I recently reminded my family via email, this strategy tends to pay off in my prognostication: I’m not sure a lot of people thought that Adrien Brody would win Best Actor for his work in “The Pianist” the morning the nominations were read. Also, as soon as I read about Baffleck’s snub last year for Best Director, I knew “Argo” would get all kinds of sympathy votes and ultimately would win best picture. Now, let’s be honest: my picks aren’t always right, but I’d say they’re more right than wrong. And, anyway, at least I can say these were my own views, rather than having been affected by any number of pundits over the next few weeks. One other note: I’ve seen a large amount of these movies (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Her, Dallas Buyers Club), and even a few that ultimately weren’t nominated (Prisoners, All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis), so I feel like I’m making these picks with confidence.

So: let’s break down the 2014 Oscar race by category. My choices and explanations are in bold:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave (At the end of the day, this is the best movie of the year. and Hollywood loves a story like this. It also got nominated for best director and best editing, which are good bellweathers of Best Picture success. And because Wolf of Wall Street will siphon votes from American Hustle, and none of the other ones are good enough, this should win. My dark horse would be Gravity.)

Other Nominees: American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club Gravity Her Nebraska Philomena The Wolf of Wall Street

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Best Actor:  Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) (I know people will say McConaughey because he won the Golden Globe, and Bruce Dern as a life-time appreciation award. Leo was very good in Wolf, but he was mostly just screaming. And Christian Bale was good, but unless people suddenly fall in love with that movie, I think Ejiafor is the one to beat. I may regret it later, but I think people will ultimately realize his was the best performance. also I think McConaughey turned people off with his Golden Globes speech. though I still love him. all right, all right, all right. One other thing to note: This was a LOADED category. Could have easily seen Michael B. Jordan, Tom Hanks, Joaquin Phoenix, and Robert Redford also get nominations.)

Other Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle) Bruce Dern (Nebraska) Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street) Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) (probably the closest thing to a lock among the acting nominees. I really did love Amy Adams’s performance, though if there were one take-away from that movie with regards to her role, it would be that she never wore a bra. “And the award for best side-boob goes to Amy Adams” would make for a more entertaining telecast.)

Other Nominees: Amy Adams (American Hustle) Sandra Bullock (Gravity) Judi Dench (Philomena) Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) (also a safe bet – if he weren’t in it, I’d say that Fassbender had a decent chance. Bradley Cooper was hilarious but this is not the year he gets the Oscar unless everyone all of a sudden loooooves American Hustle)

Other Nominees:  Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)

Could Jordan Catalano walk away with an Oscar?

Could Jordan Catalano walk away with an Oscar?

Best Supporting Actress: June Squibb (Nebraska) (supporting actor/actress races are always funny, like when Alan Arkin beat Eddie Murphy a few years ago. Everyone thinks this is J-Law’s to lose, but since she just won last year, I’d say academy will give June Squibb the nod. Julia Roberts wasn’t even the best supporting actress in this movie [Margo Martindale was], and no one else resonated. Hawkins/Nyong’o are just happy to be nominated)

Other Nominees: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) (for the effects alone, he deserves a huge award. this will be the way to give Gravity props for the incredible experience it is without actually addressing the thin script)

Other Nominees: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street David O. Russell (American Hustle)  Alexander Payne (Nebraska) Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena) (real-life adaptation that’s ripped from the headlines, but not overly saccharine like that first scene in Captain Phillips, not filled with f-bombs like Wolf of Wall Street, and not crazy depressing like 12 years a slave, which would be my 2nd choice. happy for Julie Delpy and Ethan hawke, since I love those movies, but this was weakest of the three)

Other Nominees: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) 
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater (Before Midnight) Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street) Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze (Her) (academy loves quirky original screenplays like adaptation, juno, etc. and this perfectly fits that)

Other Nominees: David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle) Bob Nelson (Nebraska)  Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club) Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)

Best Foreign Film Denmark, The Hunt (stars Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Hannibal on the NBC series, it’s about a teacher accused of molestation)

Other Nominees: Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown Italy, The Great Beauty Palestine, Omar Cambodia, The Missing Picture

Best Documentary Feature: Dirty Wars (because I know nothing about any of these. I thought that one about SeaWorld would’ve been nominated)

Other Nominees: 20 Feet from Stardom The Act of Killing The Square Cutie and the Boxer

Best Animated Feature The Wind Rises (from famous Japanese director Mizayaki. the only other choice here would be Frozen)

Other Nominees: Frozen Despicable Me 2 The Croods Ernest & Celestine

Film Editing: Gravity (really seems to be a movie that will be rewarded in technical categories)

Other Nominees: American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club  12 Years a Slave

Best Song: The Moon Song” (Her) (it’s actually just a good song, though wouldn’t be shocked if Ordinary Love won b/c Bono)

“Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone) “Happy” (Despicable Me 2) “Let It Go” (Frozen) “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Original Score: Steven Price (Gravity) (because I don’t think any of these other ones are that much better. could see Saving Mr. Banks winning as a token award for that movie)

Other Nominees: John Williams (The Book Thief) Alexandre Desplat (Philomena) Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks) William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her)

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) (this is the one i’m surest of – the cinematography/effects of that movie were incredible)

Other Nominees: Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster) Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis) Roger Deakins (Prisoners) Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Costume Design: American Hustle (for Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale’s outfits alone, let alone the above-mentioned Amy Adams dresses)

Other Nominees: The Grandmaster The Great Gatsby The Invisible Woman 12 Years A Slave

Makeup and Hairstyling: The Lone Ranger (HOW DID BRADLEY COOPER’S HAIRSTYLIST NOT GET NOMINATED. THIS IS ROBBERY)

Other Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

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Production Design: 12 Years a Slave (capturing the pre-Civil War south)

Other Nominees: American Hustle Gravity The Great Gatsby Her

Sound Editing: Gravity (I think it will win a ton of technical awards)

Other Nominees: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Lone Survivor

Sound Mixing: Gravity (see above)

Other Nominees: Captain Phillips The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Lone Survivor Inside Llewyn Davis

Visual Effects: Gravity (again)

Other Nominees: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Iron Man 3 The Lone Ranger Star Trek Into Darkness

Short Film, Live Action Helium (this is the only one I can pronounce)

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) The Voorman Problem

Short Film, Animated Room on the Broom (I like rhymes)

Other Nominees: Feral Get a Horse! Mr. Hublot Possessions

Documentary Short Subject The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (why not)

Other Nominees: Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

So….let’s see how I do on Oscar night. And feel free to tell me how wrong I am on all of these in the comments below.

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