Archive for March 2014

Tit for Tat Film Awards 2013   6 comments

So it will be almost a month from now since we had the Oscars, and all the hoopla has finally died down. But wait, there’s still one more awards group to reveal their choices. It’s the Tit for Tat Film Awards a.k.a Titties. Okay I still haven’t finalized on a name yet, but I’m currently leaning to that. The Titties is my personal award giving group where this time, I shy away from the buzz and the outside factors in choosing my favorite films of the last movie year. After all, film is far too interesting as a tool to simply focus on the prognosticating and the predicting tasks. Anyway, eligibility of films are quite blurry since they depend on the availability. Mostly, I try to follow the standard US eligibility format, though if a film is available earlier than that, then it will easily make the cut for that given year. By the way you can check my 2012 picks here.  Anyway, here are my picks in 23 different categories and I offer a sample commentary after revealing each one of them. 🙂

best ensemble

Given how faulty the screenplay of American Hustle was, its core strength relies on how its actors will sell the story to its audience. And boy did they do that more than enough in the film. It’s almost certain that one will find Hustle’s plot thin, and it’s really true, but one thing director David O. Russell successfully managed to achieve is to write really lively and entertaining characters that were brought to life by this great ensemble.  It is an obvious fact that big cast does not equate to great cast, but for the sheer enjoyment of seeing them spark up in that long dinner scene, the ensemble of August: Osage County deserves a mention as a finalist in this category. Sofia Coppola’s ensemble of youngsters in The Bling Ring might skew as too new save for Emma Watson, but if there’s one aspect of the film that was consistent all throughout, it’s that they were able to maintain the interest with these characters. Speaking of young, another relatively young ensemble was that of Spring BreakersSure you have Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens on the forefront, but nothing about these foursome rang and felt false. Add some James Franco in the mix and you know you hit jackpot. Continuign the Franco connection, This is the End might be too shallow or forced for one’s taste, but one can’t deny that you were really interested with these six main characters. Plus points for some inspired cameo appearances (well basically it’s Emma Watson and Channing Tatum. Oh and the Backstreet Boys). Lastly, Farhadi continues his streak of coming up with great ensembles and Le Passe is no exception. The complications that transpire between the members of this certain family were narrated seamlessly, but it was displayed to greater heights, thanks to this fantastic array of actors.

BRONZE: the cast of Spring Breakers
SILVER: the cast of This Is the End
GOLD: the cast of Le Passe

best first feature

As if it’s not obvious yet, but Joseph Gordon Levitt is one talented guy. He can act, he can sing, he can be cute, and to add, he can direct as well. In Don Jon, his debut feature film which he also wrote and starred in. Gordon-Levitt has showcased his most confident persona on screen yet. And even if the last act was quite messy, it still is an admirable effort. Speaking of writer slash directors, Ryan Coogler’s debut feature Fruitvale Station, was pretty much compelling even if you can see some minor quips here and there. One could have credited that Oscar’s story was the driving force of the film, but Coogler did a more than inspired job of touching the human emotion in the film. Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo was another touching story, and it’s one that’s closer to me because I grew up with a housemaid. More props given to him for totally painting a scenario of late 90s from the costumes and the overall environment of the film. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s collaborative effort on This is the End makes it as one of the year’s funniest and wittiest films. For a film to totally learn how to poke fun at itself and at its characters might not have been the most original concept to tackle, but I like the touches of commentary it provided when it spoke about the humanity’s actions and the heaven and hell notion. Another collaborative effort is between Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. After winning the writing Oscar for The Descendants, they followed it up with this heartwarming piece called The Way Way Back. If there’s one film in here that mixes wit, heart, and making you laugh while saying “aww”, it’s totally this one. Lastly, Haifaa al-Mansour’s historical Saudi Arabian film Wadjda might be about the little girl of the same name, but it’s really interesting to see how parallel the narrative of the director which lead to the first female directed Saudi Arabian film ever.

BRONZE: Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)
SILVER: Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour)
GOLD: Ilo Ilo (Anthony Chen)

best visual effects

Rush might not have been too heavy in terms of visual effects the way the other films nominated here were, but it doesn’t even have to be as grand as those to say that did marvelous visual effects in it. Both The Hunger Games Catching Fire and Oblivion introduced us to worlds of their own, and the CGI played a big part in making us feel as if we’re a part of them whether it’s the Capitol or the Earth 64 years from now. I’ve also a penchant of seeing prominent places being destructed (I’m horrible I know), so I had my annual fix of that, thanks to the wonderful effects of a destroyed Sydney Opera House in Pacific Rim and the aftermath of San Francisco in Star Trek Into DarknessBut really, it’s foolish to talk about visual effects in 2013 without mentioning the film that really defined it all. The work in Gravity is simply breathtaking and so iconic that it will be a benchmark in the succeeding years to come.

BRONZE: Star Trek Into Darkness
SILVER: Pacific Rim
GOLD: Gravity

best sound

It’s basically the year of thrillers and sports flicks. All of Stoker, Spring Breakers, and Inside Llewyn Davis provided commendable sound achievements particularly in the sound mixing department, but it’s hard to battle with this year’s cream of the crop such as the crisp sound as the race cars swiftly competes with one another whether under the rain or battling each other out in Rush. The sound not only of desperation of Sandra Bullock’s character but as we hear every inch of her breath and her panic when she’s alone in Gravity. And lastly, there’s the gun shots, and the motion of the waves in the middle of the ocean highlighted in Captain Phillips.

BRONZE: Captain Phillips
GOLD: Gravity

best original song


One might find Bridegroom‘s last act already too emotional, but wait until you hear the originally composed song by the pair’s close friend Colleen McMahon entitled Beautiful Boy and you’d probably be needing more than a box of tissue. The whole aura of Stoker is filled with airs of mystery and Become the Color perfectly compliments it by adding another layer of mystique. Tall hats aside, Pharrell Williams’s Happy from Despicable Me 2 is the perfect bopping song. It’s too charismatic and catchy that even Meryl Streep can’t help but dance to it when she heard it. I can’t say that I See Fire is a total departure from the previous Lord of the Rings soundtrack, but this Ed Sheeran song is too solemn though not bordering on lullaby sleep inducing one. Her‘s The Moon Song is one of those cases when the song is an integral part of the film and simply not a background song. While I’m usually not a fan of the “music video” montage format in films, the use of this song also sums up the relationship between Theodore and Samantha. Lastly, even if Lana del Rey’s star didn’t shine as bright as it was perceived, it still does not hinder her from coming up with great songs such as this one from The Great Gatsby. Young and Beautiful  was nostalgic, romantic, and sappy, but I think it works the best that way.

BRONZE: “The Moon Song” (from Her)
SILVER: “Young and Beautiful” (from The Great Gatsby)
GOLD: “Become the Color” (from Stoker)

best original score

It’s nice that Alex Ebert has been rewarded with a Golden Globe win for All is Lost‘s score since I think it’s an unrewarded piece of achievement. For a film that does have very minimal dialogue in it, the score becomes the saving grace of the movie and Ebert is up to the challenge. Blancanieves contains a really lively and festive music, one that makes every scene more enjoyable to watch, thanks to its film score composer Alfonso de Villalonga. The less said about Arcade Fire, the better, not because they’re not good, but I don’t think words wold even describe the achievement they did in Her. Speaking of other bands, M83’s ambient synth pop score gave Oblivion a much livelier boost in presenting what the Earth looks like from the future. Cliff Martinez did a one two punch of memorable music this year: the one with Skrillex for Spring Breakers, but his work in Only God Forgives gets my vote as it compliments the visceral visuals of Nicolas Winding Refn. And Clint Mansell makes Stoker a more haunting film than what it already is with his score that’s as intriguing and perplexing as India and her uncle.

BRONZE: Stoker (Clint Mansell)
SILVER: Oblivion (Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese)
GOLD: Her (Arcade Fire)

best make up

In The Act of Killingrecreations of killing scenes were shown in the most convincing manner aided by the film’s effective make up and hairtsyling team. Meanwhile, Tina Fey summed it best when she referred to American Hustle as explosions from the wig factory. The perms! The curls! The tease! It’s too much an enjoyable 70’s extravaganza . Despite the film being shot in black and white , one can totally see in Blancanieves that this Snow White recreation lives up to the fancy world of this fairy tale. The colorful characters in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Catching Fire were given bigger than life personas when translated into the big screen. Plus points for Stanley Tucci’s whiter than white teeth (srsly. They;re so white one can create necklace pendants out of them). The transformation of one’s identity to transgender-ism was shown in intricate yet vulnerable state in Laurence Anywaysthough it simply did not end with Laurence’s character. And to end this, Daniel Bruhl not only acted Niki Lauda, but he totally looked the part as well in Rush, thanks to its make up team.

BRONZE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
SILVER: The Act of Killing
GOLD: Laurence Anyways

best editing


Christopher Rouse brought in the nitty gritty in Captain Phillips and even if I felt the film borders at “Look at me, I’m doing something impressive!”, the film still holds the thrill up to the last minute. Gravity is the least edited film of this bunch, but it still doesn’t shy away from the fact that this marvelous technical achievement in any way possible. Hers shift to Theodore’s life with and away from Samantha is a telling representation of how effective this film is effective in going back and forth with different facets of Theodore’s life without skipping a beat. In Rush, it was a delight to revisit these different race car moments in history, and because of the crisp editing, despite knowing the results already, it still made for one thrilling ride. The shots and clips from real spring break moments were effectively incorporated not only as mere transitions but as a presentation of what the fur girls can possibly enter to in Spring BreakersAnd to cap it off, the suspense built in Stoker was pulled off sharply by Nicolas de Toth.

SILVER: Spring Breakers
GOLD: Captain Phillips

best costume design

Whether it’s the hats, the furry coats, and the tux, American Hustle will be remmebered the most for its plunging dresses. After all, it played a big part in getting to know these larger than life characters. Speaking of, Snow White, the famous German fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, was definitely given justice by intricately coming up with a more culturally specific approach in Blancanieves. Janty Yates’ work in The Counselor another added layer to its already stand out characters. Javier Bardem’s spiky high hair was extremely complimented by his electric blue jeans, and Cameron Diaz’s vixen was shown covered in a leopard print dress. It is through details like this one that makes the costume designer’s work more appreciated. Nothing could have painted the glitz and glamour of the 1920s better than what Catherine Martin did this year in The Great Gatsby. Meanwhile in Laurence Anyways, while it is the personal transformation of Laurence that was the front and center of the film, the bold colors worn by both Laurence and Fred were statements to their feelings and characters as well. And in Stoker, I very much appreciate the modern and stylish clothing of the characters even if they’re not as showy and in your face as the others.

BRONZE: American Hustle
SILVER: Blancanieves
GOLD: Laurence Anyways

best cinematography

Ever been to outer space? Me neither. But thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography in Gravity, it gave us an out of the world glimpse of what it feels like to be there. And boy was it a thrilling ride! Meanwhile, Hoyte van Hoytema used city lights and nightscape in juxtaposing Theodore Twobmly’s feelings and translate it to the screen in HerThe gloomy cinematography used by Bruno Delbonell in Inside Llewyn Davis can be seen as a comparative piece on the bleak future left for Llewyn himself. A span of decades was fittingly inserted in Laurence Anyways with the help of Yves Belenger in showing the progress of a relationship gone awry. Flashing lights combined with a relatively darker palette was  Benoit Debie’s technical achievement in making Spring Breakers set a mood in its scenes. Finally, the colors used in Stoker served not only as transitions (from Nicole Kidman’s hair to big group of hay) but they were seamlessly incorporated, thus making this a visual delight as well.

BRONZE: Laurence Anyways
SILVER: Gravity

art direction

Watching Blancanieves was like turning the pages of a screen sized book as we see the story literally come larger than life. in Camille Claudel 1915, we felt the confinement of Camille as she was locked out of an asylum that made us feel as if we’re trapped in it with her. Speaking of her, Her a futuristic LA was effectively constructed as K.K. Barrett built a world, literally that is, that seems so close but so really is so far away. Anne Pritchet was able to make good use of small spaces whether it’s a bar, a rest house, or a studio in further showcasing the intimacy (and the gradual loss of it) between two people in Laurence AnywaysMeanwhile, in Oblivion, we were treated to a world that is ahead of us and while most of it is heavy CGI, it gave us a glimpse of an environment that we will never be a part of. Finally, I appreciate how vague the timeline is in Stokeraside from the phonebooth, we haven’t seen any means of technological gadget in it. It obviously is from the current time, but I love that small touch of aesthetic there.

SILVER: Camille Claudel 1915
GOLD: Laurence Anyways 

best foreign language film

In choosing the nominees here, I’ve decided to exclude those foreign films that will also be nominated for Best Picture to spread the wealth. Charm seems to be Blancanieves biggest asset. Sure, it looks like a simple re-telling of a prominent fairy tale, but it achieved more than that at the end of the film. It was a visual treat, and it just so happened that this was a silent film. As a matter of fact, I felt that it was too genuine that I did not feel it as gimmicky at all. Camille Claudel 1915 somehow suffers in the part hat focused on Camille’s brother, but it has built enough momentum to use it as a character study of a woman who feels confined in a literal and figurative manner. Oscar Best Foreign Language Film winner is Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, and just like the film’s title, it is indeed the great beauty. Mixing some Malick-esque feels in the visuals and approach, but it’s one that gets better as the screentime goes longer. In The Hunt, excellent storytelling and a powerful performance by Mads Mikkelsen elevate the greatness of the film. it’s one of those uncomfortable movie watching experiences that will probably stand out not because of the experience, but because of the impact it brings to you. Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to A Separation likely suffered because it followed such, (and I know that’s unfair and unfortunate), since on its own Le Passe is a very emotional and haunting film. It’s awkward since it’s the audience who gets to see everything that’s happening, and it feels so helpless to see them connect the pieces together. By the time the last scene happened, I was already bawling.  And lastly, tension was very present in Stranger by the Lake. It’s a tad repetitive, but even that did not bother me since it was like a walking symbol of sex, desire, and obsession.

BRONZE: The Great Beauty
SILVER: Stranger by the Lake
GOLD: Le Passe

animated feature film

I think The Croods as a whole is underrated. It did not rely to gimmicky characters (minions) or the legacy of an original version of where it ended up as a sequel. On its core, it was a simple heartwarming film that appeals to the whole family. The story of Ernest & Celestine is too thin that it wears out easily, but if there’s one thing I like about my animated films is that the intricate and lovely imagery that it paints. Frozen tackles a tale that has been done before, but its charisma lies in having characters that you care about. Plus points for the musical aspect. I mean by now, who still hasn’t heard Let It Go? Ari Folman’s The Congress isn’t 100% an animated film, but if there’s something I admire about it, it’s that it went beyond the norms and used animation as a platform to narrate a story that is haunting and atypical.

BRONZE: Frozen
SILVER: Ernest & Celestine
GOLD: The Congress

best documentary feature

There’s something about the approach did in The Act of Killing that will just leave you speechless. The recreations were too truthful that they still affect you even if you’re aware that they’re just that – mere reprisal; an act. When a film manages to toy with your emotion from grabbing your interest to breaking your heart, you know it has affected you more ways than one, and it simply is one of the best I’ve seen all year. Bridegroom was practically safe in its approach and it might not be as experimental as the others were, but damn if you did not feel anything by the last part. It was one of those documentaries that went straight to the point with its narration, but it still doesn’t fail to tug you. Leviathan‘s biggest achievement is how it brings you to the experience not merely as a spectator but as a part of what’s happening. The opening is mostly dark with just the sounds towering over the whole screen, and it makes you feel that you’re the one in the situation. Musical documentaries have been done so much to death the past few years, but every now and then, you can’t still resist the charm of them, no matter how pedestrian and predictable they were. I was totally invested with This Is Us, and it’s a love letter to all of their fans. Sentiment seems to be the main feeling you’d get from watching Sound City, and it’s one of the few where it’s an educational road trip instead of exposing something to elicit emotions. From Stevie Nicks to Mick Jagger, it was an hour and a half filled of musical tribute and remembering.  And in Stories We Tellthe thing I appreciate the most is how relate-able it is; sure we’re no part of their families but all of us have one and we’re all a part of our own families and the secrets and discoveries that lie within them.

BRONZE: One Direction: This Is Us
SILVER: The Act of Killing
GOLD: Stories We Tell

best breakthrough

Barkhad Abdi‘s role in Captain Phillips can be seen as one-note, but it speaks volumes when you’re also interested with him despite his role as the protagonist. Plus points for hiding his enthusiasm to act opposite Tom Hanks even if he’s dying of giddy inside. Another plus point for coming up with the adlib “I’m the captain now!” which is definitely one of the most prominent movie catchphrases in recent history. Adele Exarchopoulos was simply sensational in Blue is the Warmest Color that it’s hard to believe that this is her debut screen performance. To be fair though, her naive approach worked well in her case in the movie. And despite years in Friday Night Lights, it’s glad to see Michael B. Jordan take the lead spotlight for once.  Comments comparing him to a young Denzel Washington were so apt given how he handled the character of Oscar in Fruitvale Station. In Short Term 12, Brie Larson was on the forefront and I love how her character was devoid of any histrionics. She wasn’t given anything awards baity to do, but that’s what makes it more admirable. She was natural and you cared for her. It was a subtle contrast to all the other acting showdown we’ve seen this year. Koh Jia Ler in Ilo Ilo wasn’t necessarily a big breakthrough performance, but he was able to build as chemistry with Angeli Bayani that by the time he was punished in front of the students, you simply wasn’t watching him but you already cared for him and his character. In Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie proved that she’s just not a pretty face. With most of her scenes requiring her to act with Leonardo di Caprio, she definitely held her own in all of them.

BRONZE: Michael B. Jordan,  Fruitvale Station
SILVER: Brie LarsonShort Term 12
GOLD: Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

best adapted screenplay

The triumvirate of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy did it again – for the third time – in Before Midnight. As if it’s not enough achievement yet how they did Before Sunset, but they followed it up with another one to possibly(?) close the Before series. This one is more vulnerable than ever, as we witness Celine and Jessie in a supposed comforting and assuring place in their lives now where they’re living as a couple already. And just like any other relationships, theirs is not perfect, but it’s generous enough to talk about the imperfections. For Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche was able to show both the freedom and limitations of a relationship whether in lines, symbols, and actions of the characters in it. The Congress is one of the most imaginative films of the year, and its screenplay is one that lets the film to be realistic in acknowledging the issues but adventurous in tackling it. Francis Ozon’s In the House is probably the most enjoyable film I’ve seen that dealt with the complications of writing. It was interesting, at times even intriguing, to take a peek at someone else’s lives by touching the innate human nature of knowing your boundaries limitations. What Destin Cretton achieved in Short Term 12 is to make us care about a group of people that we barely know about. We’ve seen these films from before, but it is subtly written that it avoided its characters from being flat and gave a humanizing appeal. And lastly, Michael Weber has been the go to guy for young love stories that were out of the norm, and like what he did in 500 Days of Summer, his work in The Spectacular Now is an eye opener on how you approach a topic that has been done and injecting a fresh take on it.

BRONZE: Destin Cretton,  Short Term 12
SILVER: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
GOLD: Francois Ozon, In the House

best original screenplay

Just like her previous films, Nicole Holocefner in Enough Said manages to come up with a film that highly registers to the human emotions in a very natural manner. It’s one that lets you pause and makes you appreciate the simple joys of everyday life and one’s relationship on both interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. Noah Baumbach, wh usually has stand out characters who are flat out unlikable (I mean that bitch Margot for instance), changed the beat this time and gave us Frances. Frances is someone who makes up bad decisions, but that doesn’t translate to her being a bad person. If anything, Frances was a lovely character; one you’d root for, and one you’ve definitely shared some characteristics with at a point in your life. It is with Frances’ continuous changing of locations that probably defined and makes her character settled to the audience, and that was what she achieved in Frances Ha. On the outside, what Spike Jonze greatly achieved in Her is to introduce us to a world that seems so far fetched but one that is understandable. More than that, he wrote a story of intimacy between two existent souls that somehow found and connected with each other. With music as a vital component in Inside Llewyn DavisI think it can be compared to a song. What happens to Llewyn is comparable to what happens in a song. There’s a bridge, a chorus, an instrumental and the opening and closing scene represents the same beat that happens at the beginning and end of a given song. Like Frances, Llewyn is one character whose luck was not on his side, but even if he comes off across as annoying, you understand what pushes him to do so. Xavier Dolan wrote a film that spanned a long amount of time, but it did not feel like a chore watching this almost three hour film. You get invested with these characters, and you see both of them transform. Laurence Anyways isn’t a film that dictates you what to feel; instead, it opens you to all these questions and stimulates you even after the credits rolled already. Meanwhile in Le Passeit really is astonishing to think how writer Farhadi has managed to tap out the innermost of the human emotion and showcase a relationship that is far from common but one that ignites reaction from its viewers.

BRONZE: Asghar Farhadi,  Le Passe
SILVER: Xavier Dolan, Laurence Anyways
GOLD: Spike Jonze, Her

best supp actress

We haven’t seen an inch of Scarlett Johansson in Her, but her commanding presence as Samantha is a vital component of the film. It is difficult to build a character by solely using your voice because it will affect the viewers’ experience and imagine that it was the actress talking all the time. But not in Johansson’s case. In Her, it probably worked more as an advantage since it gave a glimpse of how people imagine Samantha. Nicole Kidman was a minor albeit necessary character in Stoker. She wasn’t given much to do, but her presence is needed in the film. This is one of the times where her icy persona contributed to her overall performance. Also, that dialogue to Mia Wasikowska in the dining scene? Nailed it. Oscar nominated for this performance, Jennifer Lawrence was a hit or a miss for others in this. Sure, she was bringing in the same quirks that she gave us as Tiffany, but what makes Rosalyn a far better performance was that it was in sync to the movie aims. And it is such an underrated fact how she was great in her scenes as well that didn’t involve one liners. Her emotions in her dining scene with Jack Huston’s characters opened us up to Rosalyn’s insecurities, and Lawrence effectively showed us that. Lea Seydoux was unfairly missed a lot in these precursor races since she was as good as Adele Exarchopoulos was in Blue is the Warmest Color. Of course the point of view was presented on Adele’s point, but Seydoux was generous and complimentary not to upstage or battle it out with Adele. It was a commendable turn that is unfortunately ignored by a lot. When Harry Potter ended, a lot were worried that Emma Watson would be in that awkward transition as a child star to a teenager, but her two post Potter projects (Perks of Being a Wall Flower and The Bling Ring) show otherwise. In The Bling Ring, she was mostly relegated to a caricature character, but Watson was every inch up for it. And from one teen star to the other, Shailene Woodley was a great supporting presence in the Spectacular Now. It’s not a role that required scenery chewing nor OMG acting, but it was one that required total commitment and Woodley was naturally effortless in it.

BRONZE: Jennifer Lawrence,  American Hustle
SILVER: Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color
GOLD: Scarlett Johansson, Her

best supp actor

Say what you want about his personal persona, but James Franco delivers where it matters. Whether it’s his masturbating monologue in This is the End or his gun blowjob scene in Spring Breakers, his commitment to his performance is always commendable. And in Spring Breakers, he was simply brilliant. Alien was always on the brink of caricature, but Franco avoided him to cross over there. James Gandolfini is one of those reliable character actors, and I guess it’ll be hard to think of him as other than Tony Soprano, but in Enough Said, he was playing an altogether different character. He was charming, witty, and and totally lovable, and it was such a tender performance that you’d definitely warm up to. If anything, with his death, he ended his movie career on a high note in his best film performance. Matthew Goode is probably one of the most good looking actors of his generation, and it is fortunate that he was able to put those to goode (pun intended) use in Stoker.  Giving some Anthony Perkins tease, he was creepily effective in here. He’s one whom you’d easily fall for because of his looks despite the sinister vibes that he emulates. He’s one you’d easily get swept away with because he’s so perfect on the outside. Oscar winner Jared Leto is just a revelation in Dallas Buyers Club. Sure one might consider the whole thing gimmicky, but I bought every single of it. He was phenomenal in the lady clothes, but in his scene where he was wearing male clothes (in front of his father) or the one one where he’s out of any clothing (his Oscar clip) are his finest moments. I’d even dare say that without him on the screen, the film loses its energy. In In the House, Fabrice Luchini plays  the professor who was hooked with one of his student’s writings. He suddenly lose himself to his writings, obsessing about what happens next. It was a performance from an unlikable character that you’d definitely like. After all, it was a representation of one of human’s most uncontrollable feeling: that of gossiping and intruding. He was very natural and it’s one that started out as really funny until you see him get more controlling than ever. And I won’t ever get tired of saying this, but Matthew McConaughey‘s last two years shames most of the actors working in Hollywood. I’m glad he’s choosing better roles now, and while most of those are related to Texas, I can’t blame him especially if that’s where he’s good at. Like in the case of Mud. Playing the title role, McConaughey was captivating and great here. He’s so organic in this performance that I think it’s my favorite from him by a mile.

BRONZE: Jared Leto,  Dallas Buyers Club
SILVER: Matthew Goode, Stoker
GOLD: James Franco, Spring Breakers

best actor

Leonardo di Caprio gives his career best performance in Wolf of Wall Street. It’s one that relies on charisma and he wasn’t running out of it. I like how he just immersed himself and got lost with the character of Belfort that it clearly shows he had so much fun in this role. His physical commitment to it is also commendable with all the demands of the character. Since I’m a long time fan of his works, it’s really a breath of fresh air to finally see Tom Hanks give a performance that is worthy of recognition. Hanks has been phoning it in now for a long time coasting on his name in his project the last few years, so seeing him in Captain Phillips take the command in the film is really exciting. His last thirty minutes in the film is probably some of the best career work he has ever put out, and I hope this trend will continue for him. It’s hard to separate Oscar Isaac from Llewyn Davis now especially after his towering performance in Inside Llewyn Davis. He carried the whole film in his shoulders, and you feel for him all throughout the movie. One might not agree with all of his actions but not once did I feel I should question him for it. It was a restrained performance that you know was just waiting to erupt at one point in the film. It’s hard to stand out in a great ensemble cast, but Ali Mossafa probably is my favorite in Le Passe. His character was the one stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you know he’s aware of it, so he tries as much as possible to overcome it in his actions. It’s easy to like him, though you know he’s no perfect and he contributed to why the situation is there in the first place. Continuing to be one of the most versatile actors of his era, Joaquin Phoenix gives us another character to cherish. Right after last year’s Freddie Quell, he followed it up with Theodore, and not only did Phoenix showed us his versatility as an actor, he showed the sensitive character in his portrayal of a person who was in love with the voice in an operating system. In Her, Phoenix showed us how love can be transcending even if it’s not between two human beings. And with a very intriguing role to tackle, Melvil Poupaud did not back away from the complexities needed by his character whether it’s on a physical or emotional matter. It’s easy to do a cop out and oversell the character of Laurence, but Poupaud made it as truthful and human as possible that you find yourself being concerned with him as the movie progresses.

BRONZE: Leonardo di Caprio  Wolf of Wall Street
SILVER: Melvil Poupaud, Laurence Anyways
GOLD: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

best actress


This category is really great this year that it took me the longest time to decide on my winners here. Anyway let’s begin. If there’s one adjective that I can use to describe Juliette Binoche in Camille Claudel 1915, it’s riveting. She was riveting. Binoche totally plunged herself in Camille’s shoes, and she was heartbreakingly great in the movie. The movie lives and breathes in Camille, and Binoche commanded the screen with her presence. Dare I say it’s one of the best performances of the year of any category. In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett was given a lot to work with yet she nails every single one of all those emotions. It’s one I appreciate a lot from her because it works right up her alley. It’s a character that is histrionic and gives Blanchett a lot of breathing room to portray her. With that said, she was also good in Jasmine’s calmer moments, so that says a lot about her performance here. And how do I even begin with Suzanne Clement? Clement was simply sensational. As Fred, it was such a difficult task for one to give a complete understandable portrayal of this character, but Suzanne defied all of those and turned out one of the best performances I have ever seen. The gamut of emotions she displayed all throughout the movie whether it’s frustration, happiness, contentment, and vulnerability were all spot on. It was simply a wild ride to witness her performance here. Like mentioned in the breakthrough category, Adele Exarchopoulos is simply a revelation in Blue is the Warmest Color. It’s one her naive looks contributed to her character. I love how she just bared herself in this, and I’m not simply referring to her physical nudity. It’s the one where she just opened up all of her to further show the innocence and inquisitive side of Adele. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Brie Larson of Short Term 12. While other characters gave their actors a lot to work on, Larson’s Grace was pretty much low key. But I think that’s what also makes the portrayal work. It stands out in a field of showy characters, as Larson’s one still stood out despite lack of that. And between her role in House of Cards and The Congress, I’m totally digging Robin Wright lately. Playing herself in The Congress, it takes a different kind of guts to sacrifice your career under scrutiny like what was done to her character here. And yet her energy still increased as the film progressed. The abundant emotions in one scene in the film totally left me impressed and she was able to keep the momentum until the end. Really. Such a towering great performance.

BRONZE: Adele Exarchopoulos,  Blue is the Warmest Color
SILVER: Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915
GOLD: Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways

best director


I don’t particularly think that what Abdellatif Kechiche did in Blue is the Warmest Color is particularly and completely original, but what I admire about it is how he had a clear grasp of what he wants to convey in the film. Sure, the long shots, the repetitive actions, the final scene have been done before, but I did not feel like he was imitating, but more of an instance where in that’s what he foresees to happen given the situation. His portrayal of the lust, love, heartbreak, relationship, and innocence is on point that it’s hard to argue with what he’s presenting. In Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron comes up with a defining masterpiece that will always set the standard for directors to come close to in the years to come. Everyone is simply in awe with what he did in the film, and it is obvious why it is such. The whole film was one great directorial achievement. It’s a visual spectacle that will go down in history books. Spike Jonze, on the other hand, showcased the vulnerability of the human soul in Her that despite one’s feelings towards the overall film, it’s hard not to, at least, appreciate his efforts in doing so. Jonze has a knack of introducing us to world we’ve never been to, and Her is definitely another addition to that. Simply for the shifting points of view and the distinct illustration of such, Francois Ozon was every inch the entertainer in In the House and his playfulness was clearly visible. Xavier Dolan (who continues to impress and brings out the envy in me) at 23 years old managed to come up with something as great as Laurence Anyways. As if it’s not captivating yet on where he gets all these inspiration, what I’m particularly in awe with here is how he clearly mixed style with substance without one upstaging the other and instead the two areas complimenting each other resulting to the film. It’s a confident and mature take that clearly lures you in while watching. And say what you want about Harmony Korine as a person, but his direction in Spring Breakers is a fascinating achievement since he’s clearly aware of what he wants to present to his audience which leads to a great movie watching experience.

BRONZE: Xavier Dolan,  Laurence Anyways
SILVER: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
GOLD: Spike Jonze, Her

best picture


And we’ve finally reach the end of the road. The final award of the night is also the most important one: Best Picture. Here’s a breakdown of my six favorite films of the year: Blue is the Warmest Color is such a passionate film. It’s one that showed the journey of a young woman who delved into herself and experienced the feeling of a first relationship, first heartbreak, first sexual experience among other things, and did all of that in a realistic manner. The intensity of the film radiates from the screen to the viewers that it’s so painful to take all of these emotions in, and that’s where the film succeeds. In Her, the intimacy between two existing beings was put into the center and it spoke volumes especially now that we’re living in the modern times where technology is no longer an option, but a necessity. Where does the extent of communicating work? How does it make us connected with other people? With our own self? Her was poignant and devastating and a painful reminder that while there are lots of possibilities out there, not all of them will really work the way we hope they will. Instead of telling a story, Inside Llewyn Davis presents us a song. It’s one love song that while not totally optimistic, gives us a ground of reality that one usually finds himself in. Sometimes it’s really hard to grasp the reality where we live in, but it gives us an option whether to settle for what’s presented to us or continue to be hopeful and wish that we can rise to the occasion. In the House was totally relaxed and intriguing as it taps the inner inquisitive in us. It further blurs the line of actual reality to our perception of such but in a cool and collective manner. It presents the conflict that writers usually encounter: when do we know if intrusive is intrusive enough? If what we’re exposing is still what’s being exposed or what we want to be exposed? The approach of conflict used here is lively and exciting and a delightful movie seeing experience. Laurence Anyways is raw take on a person’s transformation. It’s so magical to see the two main characters transform right in front of you yet it doesn’t feel exploitative and contrived but even view it as honest. It’s an exposition of each and everyone’s uniqueness and how everyone around us (especially those close to us) will be reacting towards it. It didn’t go the preachy route, but what’s impressive is that it acknowledged that it happens. If anything, it makes you feel more submerged in learning and discovering your own identity more which resonated me on a more personal level. Plus that ending is definitely one of my favorites ever. Lastly, Spring Breakers is a brilliant and hilarious celebration of different archetypes. On one hand, it’s another take on the American dream and the validation of youth nowadays to be a part of something wild and exciting to feel and emphasize their freedom. On the other, it’s like a conscious parody since it’s clearly aware of what it’s portraying. This is a hypnotic approach to such a a self serving statement, and the whole Everytime part is one of my year’s favorite scenes.

BRONZE: In the House
SILVER: Laurence Anyways

As a recap, here are the winners of my 2013 Tit for Tat Film Awards:

DIRECTOR: Spike Jonze, Her
LEAD ACTOR: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
LEAD ACTRESS; Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways
SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Franco, Spring Breakers
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Scarlett Johansson, Her
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Francois Ozon, In the House
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: The Congress  (Ari Folman)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM: Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
ART DIRECTION: Laurence Anyways
COSTUME DESIGN: Laurence Anyways
EDITING: Captain Phillips
ORIGINAL SONG: Become the Color (Stoker)
SOUND: Gravity
FIRST FEATURE: Anthony Chen, Ilo Ilo

Whew! That was really long. What a film year! Excited for 2014! What are your favorites from 2013?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted March 25, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Tit for Tat Awards

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15 Best Glee Episodes of the Series   Leave a comment

Admit it. At one point in your life, you’ve been a Gleek. You sing their renditions, followed their fashions styles, and though of throwing a slushie at someone else. Winning Emmys, Golden Globes, and even Grammy nominations, pop culture of the last decade has been hugely influenced by Glee, and despite the show’s continuous battle with relevance nowadays, it already has left its mark in pop culture history. And as the show celebrates its 100th episode this week, we revisit and choose 15 series best episodes the show they have produced in a span of five seasons.

(You can click on the title of the musical moments to lead you to the YouTube clip of such. ;))


01. PILOT (Season 1, Episode 1)
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Written by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan

And it all started with this. Back then, it was a gamble for FOX to lay their cards on a weekly musical show. But this story of misfits and loners who were all combined to form a dying glee club seems to strike a chord with the masses. We were then introduced to the individual stories of the original glee club members in this charming pilot episode.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Don’t Stop Believin” by Rachel, Finn, Mercedes, Kurt, and Tina. In what remains to be the trademark version from the series, the New Directions’ performance of this Journey hit song not only started their glee club experience, but it ended up to a Grammy nomination for the group as well.


02. THE RHODES NOT TAKEN (Season 1, Episode 5)
Directed by: John Scott
Written by: Ian Brennan

The show’s first big guest star happened to be Tony winner Kristen Chenoweth playing April Rhodes, a lost with her life, old colleague of Will Schuester.  Chenoweth’s presence added more prestige and fun to this slowly building buzz show, and it’s one of the best reminders when Glee still manages to incorporate their guest stars properly in the show without being so contrived. After all, this role landed her two consecutive Emmy nods for Guest Actress.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Somebody to Love” by the New Direction. No, it’s not the Justin Bieber song (though they’ve also covered that come the third season). I’m referring to the Queen song that ended this episode. That high note Mercedes hit is a perfect way to end the episode.


03. WHEELS (Season 1, Episode 9)
Directed by: Paris Barclay
Written by: Ryan Murphy

Chosen as one of the five best directed episodes of that particular TV comedy year, Wheels is when things started to show some clear signs in the New Direction. While they did use a storyline that sounded really ridiculous (Quick! Everyone will be on wheelchair this episode!), the whole episode was actually memorable and their Proud Mary in wheels is one of their more creative numbers.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Defying Gravity” by Rachel and Kurt. The show can’t hide its love for Wicked anymore. As if it’s not enough that they had both Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel to guest star in the show’s first season, they even did a diva off of this prominent Broadway staple by showcasing a battling Kurt and Rachel. Jury’s still out, but my vote goes to Miss Berry.


04. SECTIONALS (Season 1, Episode 13)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Brad Falchuk

It’s a fact widely considered that if Glee did not work out, it was originally intended to be a 13-episode one season miniseries. This would have been the show’s supposed final episode. And though it still suffered from overstaying in the long run, we’re just happy to admit that at least this wasn’t the last we’ve seen from them. Oh, and they’ve won Sectionals so that’s new.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Rachel. Count it as her official slash unofficial arrival, Rachel Berry can’t hide the Fanny Brice in her when she opened their Sectionals performance with a solo number of this Babs classic. I actually think it’s the main reason why they won the Sectionals, though as Will Schuester would probably say it “it’s team effort.” Yeah right.


05. DREAM ON (Season 1, Episode 16)
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Brad Falchuk

Dream On has been that rare special episode for Glee standards. For one, it was directed by Joss Whedon, so the episode felt quite different. Add the fact that special guest star Neil Patrick Haris dropped off the tux and his Barney Stinson character to play Bryan Ryan, Will Schuester’s alter ego. This was NPH’s only appearance in the show, and I echo the sentiment that he should have seen more than this time.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Dream On” by Bryan Ryan and Will Schuester. Well what would Neil Patrick Harris be for if he won’t end up stealing the whole episode again. Still his only Emmy acting win, this lung tiring, scream belching Aerosmith classic lives up to the title when handled by these two pros.


06. DUETS (Season 2, Episode 4)
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
Written by: Ian Brennan

After the airing of their first heavy episode Grilled Cheesus the week before, this was the perfect equalizer when Schuester divided them in pairs to come up with duet collaborations. And sure they did deliver! It was one of the most fun episodes of the show, as it’s on of the rare instances where it wasn’t the Rachel, Finn, and Kurt show. Everyone got their fair share of the spotlight, and that ending with the Lady and the Tramp reference is the cherry on top of this sweet episode.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “River Deep, Mountain High” by Mercedes and Santana. This one is a bit tricky since it’s an episode full of unforgettable numbers. Whether it’s the sugary sweet Lucky by Sam and Quinn, the hilariously intended Sing! by Tina and Mike Chang, or the hilariously unintended With You I’m Born Again by Finchel, this episode delivered musically.  It’s a nail biting choice between Kurt and Rachel’s Happy Days Are Here Again, but in the end I have to go with Santana and Mercedes’ take on this Tina Turner classic.


07. THE SUBSTITUTE (Season 2, Episode 7)
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Written by: Ian Brennan

In probably the most relevant she has been since winning the Oscar way back in 1999, Gwyneth Paltrow’s first major TV appearance definitely started with a bang. Playing the substitute glee club teacher Holly Holiday, she brought out the fun in every member of the New Direction. This ended up with Paltrow winning the Emmy for Guest Actress that season and made her reach halfway of the EGOT territory.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Forget You” by Holly Holiday. It’s not even a debate anymore. Paltrow’s take became the clear and child friendly alternate to Cee-Lo Green’s explicitly titled original. The impact of this performance reached new heights and ended up with a duet between the two at the Grammy stage back in 2011.


08. SILLY LOVE SONGS (Season 2, Episode 12)
Directed by: Tate Donovan
Written by: Ian Brennan

Glee has been fond of doing love themed episodes, but none has been sweeter by far than this sophomore season episode. At a stage in the show’s life when it’s starting to meet the critical backlash, this sugary sweet episode was a perfect reminder of how they can still manage to pull it off perfectly. It’s the second episode from the sophomore season that I’ve listed here, and both of them were episodes without Sue Sylvester in it. Probably a clue of what’s wrong with that season?

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Silly Love Songs” by Dalton Warblers. This is one heavy and musicallys tar studded episode as they tackle MJ and Queen. But of course, this ending performance of this Paul McCartney classic just swept us all off our feet.


09. RUMOURS (Season 2, Episode 19)
Directed by: Tim Hunter
Written by: Ian Brennan

By this time, the show has already done a lot of tribute episodes. Whether it’s Britney, Madonna, or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, most of them usually ended  up flat or too much. This one though is where they got it right. Of course it does help that it’s Fleetwood Mac that they’re covering, but at least the connection of the music to the episode felt natural. Plus, it’s the debut episode of Brittany’s “Fondue for Two” segment, so there’s that.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Dreams” by April Rhodes and Will Schuester. Sure Chenoweth can be too much to a lot of people, but in this rare instance where her character was stripped off the theatrics, it’s just a match made in heaven.


10. ASIAN F (Season 3, Episode 3)
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: Ian Brennan

Definitely one of the more underrated episodes of the whole series, Asian F deserves more credit than it actually have. By the third season, it’s like the show has been too tired and has been repetitive with their storylines. So when this episode featured a lot of Harry Shum Jr.’s Mike Chang character, it gave a fresh breath of air to the show. Sure we still got the never ending Rachel and Mercedes feud, but who ever gets tired of the diva off? Definitely not me!

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “It’s All Over” by Mercedes, Will, Mike, Finn, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Quinn, and Tina. The show has done a lot of copycat movie/Broadway performances, but this reprise of the Dreamgirls classic was totally in synch to the struggle of the episode. If only we could have continued it with Mercedes doing And I Am Telling You…


11. YES/NO (Season 3, Episode 10)
Directed by: Eric Stoltz
Written by: Brad Falchuk

Okay so it wasn’t one of the msot perfect episodes the show has ever done, but it’s one that is really memorable. For fans of the series, a proposal from Will to Emma has been so overdue, and this was the right time to do so. And it’s surely as grand as one can get. We’ve seen Will walk in water just to pop the question, and all is well again. Whether it’s a sigh of “finally they’re engaged!” or “finally it’s been three season you know!”, at least it progressed the story of the both of them. Also, Helen Mirren plays as Becky’s inner thoughts. Come on, who doesn’t want a Dame to voice out your thoughts?

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “We Found Love” by New Direction. It’s as lavish and grand as one proposal can get. Jumping off the water, some water acrobatics, and walking on it? It’s too much over the top, but it perfectly suits the Glee environment.


12. GOODBYE (Season 3, Episode 22)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Brad Falchuk

There are some shows that lives and dies with their characters, but you’d realize that it’s time to say goodbye to them. This is one of those shows. After three seasons, it’s pretty weird that we still have this near 30 somethings play high school students, and though Ryan Murphy isn’t really technically aware of the world reality, this is one concern that the show consistently gets. So finally, we’ve come to the end of most of the original New Direction members.  And of course they won’t go without a bang.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Roots Before Branches by Rachel. By now, we’ve already been used to the show stopping group performances every season finale, but this solo effort by Rachel gave us not only her usual dependable vocals, but also a reminder now that most of the original cast will be gone by next season.


13. THE BREAK UP (Season 4, Episode 4)
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: Ryan Murphy

The fourth season have shown more of the newbies and less of the original cast, so when an episode that mostly focused on the latter happened, it sure makes its way to the best of the show list. This episode, probably one of the saddest the show has ever produced, dealt with the break up of three longest couples on the show: Finchel, Klaine, and Britana. And as the episode progresses, it just went from sad to sadder and saddest. Definitely one of the “prepare your tissues” moments of the show.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Give Your Heart a Break” by Rachel and Brody Weston. Yes, it has The Scientist number in the end, but this stripped down version duet of the Demi Lovato pop hit bu Rachel and Brody just hits the high point in the tears department. While Finn was watching them perform, you already know that a break up is about to happen and as the song progresses, it simultaneously starts to crumble and you realize that the relationship is slowly faltering right in front of your eyes. 


14. SHOOTING STAR (Season 4, Episode 18)
Directed by: Bradley Buecker
Written by: Matthew Hodgson

One thing I appreciate the most about earlier Glee is when they incorporate current issues into their weekly story. Like what happened when they dealt with Dave’s homophobia back in the second season. For this particular episode, they took the rampant school shootings angle and featured some of the most intense moments of the show. The end results and the whole episodes weren’t as pleasing as expected, but you gotta give them credit for at least trying. Also, it’s one of the few remaining episodes in the latter seasons where Sue was given something worthy to do.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: “Say” by New Direction. Well as for starters, there weren’t many numbers in this episode, but this closing number easily wins this title.


15. THE QUARTERBACK (Season 5, Episode 3)
Directed by: Brad Falchuk
Written by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan

It’s rare that a show suffers from a  different kind of loss — one that does not involve contracts, salaries, or creative differences. When one of the show’s breakout stars Cory Monteith passed away last year, the show gave a proper send off tribute to him. While in the episode, they discussed the loss of Finn and not the actor himself, you know that all the emotions and sadness from the actors weren’t merely acting. It’s such a shame though that Diana Agron wasn’t present in this episode. The episode, starting with Seasons of Love group number, indicates that this will be a heavy episode but more than anything it was a celebration of one’s life. As a matter of fact, I’d speak for a lot of people when I say that they could have ended the show anymore with this since this episode is basically ending it on a high note.

MEMORABLE MUSICAL MOMENT: Make You Feel My Love” by Rachel. There’s the aforementioned Seasons of Love and there’s Santana’s if I Die Young, but who wasn’t bawling by the time Rachel was already signing this Bob Dylan classic? No one.

There you have it. I’m actually excited for the 100th episode since the original cast will be back and will be re-doing their favorite numbers from the previous seasons. It’s such a bittersweet feeling since they have lost a member of the original cast, but then again,  hope they’ll incorporate Finn somehow in the story. Anyway, how about you? What are your favorite Glee episodes? How about Glee numbers? From those not mentioned above, I have to include Teenage Dream by the Dalton Warblers, the Rumor Has It/Someone Like You mash up, and Mercedes and Rachel’s Take Me or Leave Me as some of my additional favorites. Happy 100th, Gleeks!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

66th Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Predictions: March 2014   4 comments

Oscar season is over! And the next big awards show coming up is the MTV Movie Awards Emmys!!! So it’s time to turn into TV mode again, and see which shows and stars are up for that shiny bald angel. By the way, this year has shown some changes in terms of Emmy nominations like the separation of the TV movies and miniseries (yet again), plus the six acting nominee categories in the long form. For this initial month, I’d be going over 16 categories. And I’d probably add the guest ones later in the year when the ballots are revealed.

Also, True Detective is still unsure whether it will go to Drama or Longform (I say go  to Drama and you’d have two instant wins already!), so I’d be putting it both in my Drama and Longform categories predictions just to cover both bases. Here we go!

drama series

drama actor

drama actress

drama supporting actor

drama supporting actress

comedy series

comedy actor

comedy actress

comedy supporting actor

comedy supp actress

tv movie


movie mini lead actor

movie mini actress

movie mini supp actor

movie mini supp actress

And you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars Predictions: March Edition   Leave a comment

HA! It’s a new season now! Who says it’s too early for Oscars? Well not me. On one hand, the year in advance predictions usually help since you aren’t confused yet with all the precursors and outside factors. On the other hand, this does not usually include the late in the year surprise additions to the race like those of Slumdog MillionaireMillion Dollar Baby, Crazy Heart, and even 12 Years a Slave. I checked my earliest predictions last year, and I’m surprised to learn that I did considerably good predicting four(!) of the Best Actor and Actress nominees, and three Best Supporting Actor nominees and two in their supporting counterparts. That’s quite great actually.

As for this year, here are my early bets on who’ll get nominated in the six major categories. Film descriptions were taken from IMDb while role descriptions were combined from a lot of web sources. LOL. Also, the statistics apply for their certain achievement only like number of Directing nods in the directing category only and acting nods for acting categories only. Of course I’m aware Angelina has two Oscars at home and Ben has two as well.

best picture


lead actor

lead actress

supp actor

supp actress

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

86th Academy Awards Winner Predictions   Leave a comment


So it has finally come to this. After months and months of prognosticating and some crazy stunts (Miranja van Blaricom, NOPRAH!, Alone Yet Not Alone), we’ve finally reached the final destination: Oscar night. This has been such a whirlwind of a season, and with only two days left before the ceremony, trust me when I say this is the most difficult season in a long time. I change my predictions every hour, but I need to come up with a consensus. So whether, it’s slaves, sweepstakes, sex, Sydney, Somalian pirates, Scarlett, Steve Coogan, smuggled drugs, or Sandra, here we go with this year’s batch of my final predictions.

final directing


While Best Picture is still up for grabs, this one is more likely a done deal now. Sweeping all the Directing awards this season (except for that flop Satellite awards), regardless of how Best Picture will end up, Alfonso Cuaron will likely win the gold man on Sunday. Because unlike Ben Affleck, Cuaron is actually nominated. Steve McQueen is probably a distant runner up since it’s another historic win just in case (the first for a black director), but then it’s all moot since Alfonso Cuaron has been previously Oscar nominated many times in the past, so this is just a coronation of some sort. Besides, say what youw ant about Gravity as a film, but the directing is just outstanding.

PREDICTION: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
ALTERNATE: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

final actor


Alright, alright, alright. Sure he missed BAFTA, but who cares? Stars are lined up for him to win the Oscar on Sunday. Matthew McConaughey has the reviews, the Globe, the SAG, and the BFCA under his belt this season. The release of True Detective this season also gave McConaughey the free campaign to solidify his position in this race. The last two years have been very outstanding for this once rom-com mainstay, and his career turnaround is another reason why he’s winning. Add the fact that Dallas Buyers Club over-performed with the nominations which shows solid support from multiple branches. Christian Bale is the token past winner nominee this season, while Bruce Dern, despite his mega heavy campaign, can’t even muster a BFCA or Globe win. Chiwetel Ejiofor could have benefited from his BAFTA win, but the most it can do is position himself as the alternate. His chances really deteriorated with his Globe loss and he almost left empty handed this season. He still has that tiny teeny chance especially to passionate 12 Years a Slave fans who will vote it in all categories. As for Leonardo di Caprio, let’s just say his once runner up dark horse position isn’t even plausible anymore when he can’t even win BAFTA. He can use this as a narrative for his next nomination though. Bottom line is McConaughey is winning this now.

PREDICTION: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
ALTERNATE: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

final actress


Okay literally sweeping even the critics mentions, it’s not even worthy to talk long about it. Meryl thank God you won your third Oscar for Thatcher. Sandy, if you haven’t won for The Blind Side,  I’m pretty sure you’re the one sweeping now, but hey, you’re earning at least 70 million for Gravity so who cares about second Oscar (well Cate does?). Judi, honey, if you can’t even pull off the BAFTA win, then it’s toast now. But I’d love to see you attend the Oscars instead of watching Big Momma House in your hotel. And Amy, dear Amy, just be happy you finally escaped your way of the supporting categories. Congrats, your America’s Favorite Housewife no more. In short, Cate wins. The only thing exciting about it is how she’ll incorporate Woody in her speech (because she better right?).

PREDICTION: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
ALTERNATE: Amy Adams, American Hustle

final supp actor


Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill, thanks for playing. But at least you validated your first Oscar nods and proved you’re no one hit fluke (here’s looking at you Keira Knightley!). Fassy, I don’t if you’re still butthurt by that Shame snub (I feel for you tho), but you’ll never ever win an Oscar if you don’t like to campaign. Even Mo’nique did an anti-campaign campaign back then. Barkhad Abdi won the BAFTA and benefited from Leto’s snub there, but like Ejiofor, all it does is put him in a solid alternate position. In the end, Jared Leto, like his co-star Matthew McConaughey, is unharmed by the BAFTA snub since he has amassed already a long distance in this race. Plus, his role is one that screams Oscar here, and it’s one that Academy still can’t get enough off in terms of rewarding.

PREDICTION: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
ALTERNATE: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

final supp actress


And the hardest acting category to predict this year, this one can really go both way. There’s no real or wrong assessment since both frontrunners are almost on equal levels. But before that. let’s acknowledge the three other ladies. Julia Roberts is dead last here, but if anything. she’s still a winner for picking her fourth career Oscar nomination for the fourth different decade (Steel Magnolias in 89, Pretty Woman in 90,and Erin Brockovich in 2000. She joins the likes of Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton who achieved the same feat. It’s lovely to see Sally Hawkins get nominated, and while she;s great in here, I still consider this as a late sorry for her Happy Go Lucky snub. And god bless June Squibb, that even though she won’t be hearing her name on Sunday, has made a breakthrough for her career at this point in her life. Ultimatelt, it all boils down to Lupita Nyong’o vs. Jennifer Lawrence. On one hand, Lupita is the ingenue that this category loves to reward. She plays a character that is memorable, and she has won the BFCA and SAG award for this performance. She is the new red carpet darling that campaigned her ass off so much. In other open years, this would have been an easy sweep and road to the Oscar. However, one woman stands in the way between her and the Oscar: current Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence. Sure, Lawrence has won just last year and it’s hard to pull off back to back wins, but remember, if anyone in Hollywood can do it, its definitely her. She’s a critical and commercial darling who has achieved a lot in the last two years of her career. Think of Tom Hanks in 93 and 94. It’s not as if she’s sailing her way as well since she won NYFC, NSFC, and both the Globe and BAFTA. As you may know, Globe + BAFTA has been a reliable combo the past few years in open races such as this one (think of Christoph Waltz last year, Meryl Streep in 2011 (against Viola Davis SAG + BFCA, like Lupita’s), Marion Cotillard in 2007, and Nicole Kidman in 2002). Also, as Waltz proved, there is no recent when it comes to follow up acting wins if AMPAS wants to give you one. It is really interesting to note that the two instances that Lupita won the televised awards, American Hustle won the Ensemble category so Lawrence didn’t go home empty handed too. Then in awards shows with no ensemble awards, J.Law beats Lupita. And in her favor, American Hustle is such an actors’ movie picking up nominations in all acting categories, and only two times that a film achieved that without winning at least one (with the last one being in 1950s). Supporting Actress is the only open race and their chance to reward the film with an acting win. Since the BAFTA win, momentum went back with Lawrence, and in this scenario, I’m predicting her to go all the way to the Oscar podium again on Sunday.

PREDICTION: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
ALTERNATE:  Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

final adapted screenplay


This is the only “sure” category that 12 Years a Slave is winning in a cakewalk with no single alternate to push it off. It’s one of those instances where in you know Oscar is going one direction where in all the other precursors went to the others. The only way I see 12YAS losing is if it suddenly went on to become this decade’s The Color Purple. In that case, Philomena’s heart tugging screenplay wins instead. 

PREDICTION: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
ALTERNATE: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena

final original screenplay


The second of the three difficult major categories to predict, this one is between two films: Her and American Hustle. Her has always been the underdog of the season, but it kept on winning the awards from the BFCA, Globe, and even the WGA. So ordinarily, it should be the frontrunner. But then it got snubbed at the BAFTA where American Hustle won the award. The outside factors here is a telling case though since this is the third screenplay nod of David O. Russell for his last three efforts, and while he has amassed lots of acting wins for his actors, he’s still bonkers when it comes to personal wins. After all, Hustle is the most nominated film here, so it indicates a lot of support among many branches and that’s what can catapult it to a win. This is such a close race, but I’m going by a hair with Her since the three times it competed with Hustle, it won them all, and Hustle‘s only win was with a Her-less field. Also, this is the only category where they can reward Her, though like what I said, it’s gonna be a tough race until the end.

PREDICTION: Spike Jonze, Her
ALTERNATE: David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle

final animated feature film


I would have thought for sure that The Wind Rises would have at least posed a challenge here, but with how big Frozen continues to be, it’s clear that it’s one of the locks for Sunday night.

ALTERNATE: The Wind Rises

final documentary


Sure, The Act of Killing might be killing it with the critics mentions, but with the new change of voting pattern here, it’s difficult for a film that is not accessible to everybody to win, and that’s the story of Killing this season. With that said, I think it will be a win for 20 Feet From Stardom for a number of reasons: it’s the accessible film, it’s one that tackles about the industry they belong to, and it’s that uplifting optimistic one that will please a lot of voters. If not it, then expect The Square to hear its name being called by the presenters.

PREDICTION: 20 Feet From Stardom

final foreign language film


Like the documentary category, they changed the voting procedures with this one by letting the whole Academy vote for it regardless if they have seen all nominees or not (unless they, of course, abstain y’know). In the old system, I’m pretty certain that The Broken Circle Breakdown would have won this in a cakewalk. Now I’m still not eliminating its chances per se, but The Great Beauty sweeping precursor awards (like the Globe, BFCA, BAFTA, and even Cesar) is jsut the more buzzed film in this group for me to predict it.

PREDICTION: The Great Beauty
ALTERNATE: The Broken Circle Breakdown

As for the rest of the categories, here’s how I see them going down to:


PREDICTION: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska

 Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby

 Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger, Gravity

 Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

 Steven Price, Gravity
Alexander Desplat, Philomena

 Let It Go (Frozen)
Happy (Despicable Me 2)

 Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn, The Great Gatsby
Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker, 12 Years a Slave

 Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips

 Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro, Gravity
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Captain Phillips

 Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould, Gravity
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon,David Clayton, and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

And I’ll try to predict the shorts categories again!

 The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

The Voorman Problem

 Get a Horse!
Room on the Broom

There you have it! Oh wait…

best pic


And this is the most difficult category of them all. Sure there are nine nominees this year, but there are only three real contenders here. The difficult thing about this scenario is that it’s even harder to predict because of the preferential ballot and what film will benefit which votes. First, as much as people want to dismiss it, American Hustle is still in this race. it did not over-perform on Oscar nomination morning for nothing. This film fits the bill of the recent winners such as The King’s Speech and Argo, a middle of the field consensus pick that was solidly done but mostly is more on the enjoyable side. The difference though is that both King‘s and Argo swept of their precursor years, while Hustle struggled except for the comedy wins and that SAG ensemble victory. However, among the three contenders, it’s the most “consensus” pick that I think will benefit from being ranked in the middle and does not have passionate dislike. Also, Hustle benefits from being well liked by the largest branch in the Academy so to dismiss it is really a false move. Then you have Gravity. It won DGA, tied PGA, and won Best British Film at the BAFTAs. In a normal scenario, it’s a perfect set up for an Oscar Best Picture win. With that said, the nature of the film hurts is because it is being boxed as a sci-fi when it will even pass as a drama. It’s also likely to be the sweeping film come Sunday, so it can translate a more scattered support from most branches paving for a win. And besides, it’s seen as a masterpiece of this generation and one that will likely stand the test of time. And lastly, there’s the curious case of 12 Years a Slave. Its whole narrative this season is that it kept on losing all the awards only to win the last one which happens to be Best Picture. Happened at the Globes, happened at the BAFTAs, heck it even happened at the Satellites. Somehow, people seem to feel that it’s the best film but it’s not the best acted, directed, edited, (insert any technical category here). Sure that’s logical (see Gladiator in 2000), but the scenario is such so weird that this has beent he story of this season. It’s even a struggle to come up with three assured wins for the film unless it’s bound to win Picture and Adapted Screenplay only. Then there are also reports of voters avoiding the film altogether because of how it’s difficult to watch or how the film is uncomfortable at all. But then again, it still pulled off all televised Best Picture wins, so I really don’t know what to make of this one. But I guess in a surprising turn of events, I’m going with Gravity as my pick here. Seems like it will be the film that will benefit the most from the #2 and #3 votes. I mean it tied with 12 Years at the PGA, and won Best British Film at BAFTAs, so it’s only loss is at the Globes. In a close race like this, anything can happen, and I’m predicting Gravity to win by a squeak.

ALTERNATE: 12 Years a Slave

So there you really have it! My current win tally predictions: Gravity (7 wins), Dallas Buyers Club (3 wins), Frozen and American Hustle (2 wins), 12 Years a Slave, 20 Feet From Stardom, Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips, The Great Beauty, The Great Gatsby, Her (1 win each).

So what do you think? Lupita or J.Law? Hustle or Her? Gravity or 12 Years a Slave? Waaah this crazy season!!!

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl