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My 86th Oscars Ballot   Leave a comment

final ballot

Disclaimer: I am not an actual Oscar voter. Besides, it is prohibited as per Academy’s rules to release your ballot. 🙂

Anyway, five more days before the big night, and the voting for the Oscars were already closed. As we just wait for that moment until that envelopes are opened, some races are still up in the air. What wins Best Foreign Language Film? Is Jennifer Lawrence a 2x winner by Sunday or Lupita Nyong’o takes one home? And which between American Hustle, Gravity,and 12 Years a Slave will join the elite Best Picture winner list.

But before any of that, let’s veer away from predicting first and choose your favorites from this year’s list. Granted that if you have an Oscar ballot in front of you, how would you pick the winners? Personally speaking, picking the winners is a combination of many factors: spreading the wealth, favorite actor/actress, category fraud, favorite film, and lastly, the one you think is actually the best. So I’ll be sharing with you my picks from this year’s bunch in 21 different categories.

BEST PICTURE: Her

Since this is preferential voting, you can see my detailed rankings and explanations here, but if it was like the old way of counting the most ballots, I’d totally give this Spike Jonze film my vote. It’s just on an altogether different film watching experience for me.

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

I have my issues with Gravity as a film, but it’s nothing compared to the achievement and input that Cuaron put into this masterpiece of his. It’s such a towering directorial experience that elicits awe and respect not only from his peers but also from the voting public.

Complete rankings: Cuaron | Scorsese | McQueen | Russell | Payne

BEST ACTOR: Leonardo di Caprio, Wolf of Wall Street

Annoying fanboys aside, di Caprio gives a performance that doesn’t only match his acting skills but also puts his God given charisma as a part of his portrayal. He went balls to the wall with this one, and it’s only a dream to see the Academy reward this type of acting.

Complete rankings: Di Caprio | Ejiofor | Bale | Dern | McConaughey

BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Say what you want about Woody Allen, but roles to women in their 40s rarely appear as truthful and naked as this one. In Jasmine, Blanchett makes good use of her usually awkward histrionic acting by playing a character that suits both her physicality and acting style.

Complete rankings: Blanchett | Streep | Adams | Bullock | Dench

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

I am so-so with Dallas as a whole, but Leto is one of the most exciting factors about this film. His performance might have been shed with the thick make up and the women clothes, but there’s a scene midway where he strips all of that and there lies his character, different from what he looks like, but still pulling off the same amount of gravitas.

Complete rankings: Leto | Abdi | Cooper | Hill | Fassbender

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Truth be told, Julia Roberts gives the best performance from this line up, but I can’t at her category frauding her way in here. Plus she’s an Oscar winner already, and it’s not necessary to give her double Oscars. Thus, I’m giving my vote to Sally Hawkins who held her own against a dominating Blanchett.

Complete rankings: Hawkins | Roberts | Lawrence | Nyong’o | Squibb

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Jonze, Her

The only one I think that came close is Inside Llewyn Davis, but I don’t think AMPAS knows that film exists so yeah. Plus, Her, manages to bring its audience in a world where only few others can do.

Complete rankings: Her | American Hustle | Nebraska | Blue Jasmine | Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

Well this is the only place to reward this beautiful film. Plus points because the words never lost their spark even after a rewatch months since its premiere.

Complete rankings: Before Midnight | Wolf of Wall Street | Philomena | 12 Years a Slave | Captain Phillips

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty

It’s one contemplative film that gave justice to what it showed to its audience. Great Beauty might be boring for some, but I think it totally lives up to its title.

Complete rankings: The Great Beauty | Omar | The Hunt | The Broken Circle Breakdown | n/s: The Missing Picture

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Ernest & Celestine

This animated film totally swept me off my feet. It’s just one of those surprising movie watching moments where I was smiling and was pleasantly surprised after.

Complete rankings: Ernest & Celestine | Frozen | The Croods | Despicable Me 2 | n/s: The Wind Rises

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing

Riveting. That’s what it is. One of the best parts of watching documentaries in general doesn’t solely rely on how it leaves an impact on you, but how it took you there. The Act of Killing achieves both of that, and it deserves my vote.

Complete rankings: The Act of Killing | The Square | 20 Feet From Stardom | Cutie and the Boxer | Dirty Wars

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Her

I just love how it introduces a world of its own not only with the story but with the visuals as well. It’s a whole city on its own, and its production design doesn’t sound as forced or as showy as the other contenders.

Complete rankings: Her | American Hustle | The Great Gatsby | 12 Years a Slave | Gravity

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity

The first fifteen minutes of the film should seal this Oscar already. Plus, Emmanuel Lubezki is fucking overdue for his work. Like really. He should have gotten one years ago, but better late than ever.

Complete rankings: Gravity | Inside Llewyn Davis | The Grandmaster | Prisoners | Nebraska

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: American Hustle

I totally digged the whole 70s environment that this film showcased, thanks to a lot of factors including the showy costume design by Michael Wilkinson.

Complete rankings:  American Hustle | The Great Gatsby | 12 Years a Slave | The Grandmaster | The Invisible Woman

BEST FILM EDITING: Captain Phillips

Sure it’s the showiest editing from the whole bunch, but the last thirty minutes screams editing, and while you alreayd know what’s gonna happen, it still lived up to its intense delivery.

Complete rankings: Captain Phillips | Gravity | American Hustle | 12 Years a Slave | Dallas Buyers Club

BEST HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

American Hustle should have won this in a cakewalk, but hey it wasn’t even nominated. Dallas will be winning this, but I’m all for the craziness that will ensue if Jackass ends up as an Oscar winning film. Besides, it really has intricate make up transformation.

Complete rankings: Bad Grandpa | Dallas Buyers Club | Lone Ranger

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Her

Oscar winner Arcade Fire! Well it’s not gonna happen, but I would have loved that to happen.

Complete rankings: Her | Philomena | Saving Mr. Banks | The Book Thief | Gravity

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: The Moon Song (Her)

This is a wasted opportunity to reward Alone Yet Not Alone. I still can’t forgive you Academy for giving up the chance to give the global spotlight to an old paraplegic woman to hear this epic song for all the world to hear. God bless good sis Joni. Anyway, my vote goes to The Moon Song.  Such a lovely lullaby.

Complete rankings: The Moon Song | Happy | Let It Go | Ordinary Love

BEST SOUND EDITING: Captain Phillips
BEST SOUND MIXING: Gravity

Gave them one vote apiece for the technical achievements (particularly the sound) contributed to an enjoyable time at the movies. Won’t even bother to rank them.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity

Like really. This is as easy as ABC. Great company though. And RIP Pacific Rim’s deserved Oscar nod here.

Complete rankings: Gravity | Star Trek Into Darkness | Iron Man 3 | The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug | The Lone Ranger

There you have it! What would your votes look like? And how many of these will match the actual Oscar winners (doubt it will be a lot, but I hope even half would happen)? Post your choices as well!

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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Posted February 26, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

Tagged with , ,

86th Academy Awards: Best Picture Rankings   Leave a comment

best pic 2014

Now that I’ve finally seen this year’s line up, it’s time to do the obligatory rankings of the Best Picture nominees. Last year, Michael Haneke’s Amour is my top pick while Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables is my least favorite of batch 2011. Now with nine nominees again, this is how my Best Picture ballot will look like from least to best.

09. PHILOMENA
Director: Stephen Frears

An old woman’s 50-year journey to find her son taken from her when she was serving in a convent, Philomena is probably a film that’s easy to dispose. It’s one that’s safe and straightforward and funny and predictable even channeling all of that at once. Yet one can find himself easily falling to all of it. Call it the charm I guess. It’s not a film for serious movie critics (nor those who consider themselves as such) since it’s sappy and plays by the book. The screenplay and the whole film suffers from some tonal inconsistencies, but the main issue I had with this one is it’s reluctance to tackle topics (like that of one’s atonement, the issue of sexuality and religion, forgiveness and redemption) that were present, yet sacrificed for laughing device or some witty one liners. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of things that worked here. Judi Dench, despite being physically miscast (those close up shots of her convinced no one that she’s only 65 years old), tugs your heart and makes you root for her in this journey. Even Steve Coogan worked an effective relationship with Dench here, and their banters made this less painful. This is one movie that works more effectively to a certain audience (obviously not me), but I can’t deny the appeal that it has. I do think that this will be one of the films that will be forgotten in five years tho. 2.5/5

08. DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

A biopic dealing with an AIDS patient set in the mid-80s screams “OMG serious!”, and indeed it is. However, it took me quite some time to settle in with the whole film, as I’m no fan of this straight from the awards bait book approach. The whole approach was so safe and monotonous, and I wonder how it would have fared if it would have dug deeper given this interesting topic. What elevates the film though are the fearless performances of its two leads. Matthew McConaughey, whose filmography the last two years puts most actors to shame, is really undeniable here. The commitment goes further than the weight loss, and he deserves all these nominations he received for this. Jared Leto, on the other hand, lives and breathes Rayon. One can accuse his character of being baity, but it is his quieter scenes that inhibits how fantastic he is in this film. The chemistry between these two leads is what makes this whole thing better; otherwise, it’s just a decent but serviceable output. 3/5

07. NEBRASKA
Director: Alexander Payne

Let me start off by saying that Sideways is my top film of the 2000s and that Election is there near the top of my 90s lists, so Payne will always have a place in my film loving heart because of those two. With that said, he comes back this year to take us all on a road trip all the way to Montana, Nebraska to join an aging father with his son to claim the million dollars that he won from a sweepstakes raffle (that’s what he said!). I really don’t know what to make of this film. On one hand, it’s nice to see a father-son dynamic that is complex and heartwarming. I believed every minute that was shown of Woody and David’s interactions. The old man’s insistence and the son’s reluctance but that he still gave way for his father’s dreams to happen. I also happen to like both Bruce Dern and Will Forte in here. But everything else seemed like it was taken out of the sitcom context. Every delivery and every punch line was dictated that it sounded at times robotic and forced. There’s rarely anything left to discover with all the other characters (especially those in Nebraska) once they’re done spewing their lines. The only sane person in it is Kate Grant, but even June Squibb (who was a fucking hoot! That cemetery scene I tell you is damn hilarious) whose delivery is right on the spot sometimes succumbs to this character weakness. To be fair though, Payne managed to introduced the place of Nebraska as a character quite well (miles better than what he did to Hawaii in The Descendants), but this whole film feels like a cop out. I’m aware that it’s difficult to follow your most critically praised work, but this isn’t even a follow up. I fear that we’ve seen the best in Payne already because Nebraska is such a lazy offering. If anything though, I guess my main take from this is that it’s better than his weakest output to date, The Descendants, so I hope his next one follows an upward trajectory. 3/5

06. 12 YEARS A SLAVE
Director: Steve McQueen

Compelling. That pretty sums up this two hour plus journey of Solomon Northup as he clings to his survival (not in uncontrollable situations from the seas nor in space) but for freedom as he was abducted and forced into slavery during the pre-Civil War. Director Steve McQueen first two features were mostly cold and while those attract human responses, I don’t think he mellowed down the way he did here in this film. It was a tough pill to swallow not only in terms of the violence portrayed but the fact that you know it really happened. Probably something about the raw storytelling as you all see the horrors of what these slaves have to put through. I have to say though that I wish McQueen lessened more of the lingering shots of Ejiofor’s face, since I think they already did a mighty fine impression of the horrible situation he’s been into. Speaking of which, Chiwetel Ejiofor is aces here. His performance stands out in a sea of “me, me me” performances this past movie year. As the main anchor of this film, he was able to convey the big scenes but maybe even moreso effective in his quieter ones. I find the online reaction to Lupita Nyong’o’s performance a bit too much. She was really good here, but it’s not as relevatory as what I was probably expecting. The same can be said about Michael Fassbender who is one inch closer from being a caricature here, though his commitment to the role is commendable. A lot has been talking about Brad Pitt’s character here, and it’s hard to go against it since it really has happened and his character do exist. I’d probably say that I understand the commotion over his character’s inclusion, but it’s a situation that no one from the film people can really do control. I particularly like the costume design of the film; all these little details actually worked for me. I also didn’t see the point of the opening scene, but that’s just me nitpicking. 12 Years a Slave is a competent effort from Steve McQueen that will surely give you an emotional one two punch. 4/5

05. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
Director: Paul Greengrass

Reminds me a lot of Zero Dark Thirty last year, Paul Greengrass is really a master of all these blockbuster thrillers no? He knows the perfect balance of satisfying the commercial audience while providing topnotch effort into it. It’s pretty much a straight by the book suspenseful output, but I love how Greengrass paid too much details into it. The characters weren’t simply black and white, and I appreciated that we got a glimpse of the Somali pirates prior to the attack. Sharply edited and boasting of great technical achievements, this is as intense as one can get. If I have to nitpick though, they could have trimmed down the last act by at least ten minutes. Like Zero Dark Thirty last year, it is lovely to watch but went a bit longer since you know what’s gonna happen. Tom Hanks was sensational here, and his last 30 minutes or so sealed the deal for a pretty low key performance at the start of the film. He was on fire this, and he should have been nominated for the Oscar. Barkhad Abdi was great as well considering this is his debut film performance. This is an adventurous, thrilling, and engaging time at the movies. 4/5

04. AMERICAN HUSTLE
Director: David O. Russell

So… this was really fun. The movie opens with the disclaimer that “Some of this actually happened”, and that pretty much signals how crazy this is gonna be. Sure the plot could have been tighter, and I won’t take it against you if you didn’t like it that much because of that, but then there’s the characters to root for! In a year where the critics basically liked everything (and I mean everything except Diana), it’s nice that a film lives and breathes through its characters. J.Law was a hoot and Russell continues to give roles that are more mature for her age, yet she nails them with her wit and delivery. The same happens for Bradley Cooper who’s sporting a perm (which I called The Cooperm) here. Srsly you have to watch out for his Louis CK impersonations in the end. It’s tough for lead star Christian Bale to stand out in a sea of over the top big characters, but I felt that he held his own and is just as deserving as the others. Jeremy Renner got the shortest part here, but I thoroughly enjoyed his turn as well. He counterbalances the craziness of the other characters. But this film’s MVP is definitely Amy Adams. It’s like she broke out of her shell once again and showed another facet of her as an actress. It says a lot that her two best performances (this and 2005’s Junebug) are characters on different ends of the stick, and yet she ‘s both fantastic in them. I think this is my favorite of Russell’s last three Oscar efforts as I felt that he finally pins the atmosphere of his story smoothly (a big part goes to the film’s awesome soundtrack). There’s a lot that I liked about the film and is definitely one of 2013’s best offerings. 4/5

03. GRAVITY
Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Gravity is certainly one of the most memorable and best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Having the pleasure of watching it in IMAX makes it all the while better. And it just delivered. All these intricate details that took Cuaron years to finish is all worth it. It was captivating to watch and it is one that the experience will speak for itself. Watching it in the small screen though reminded me of the issues I have (which I assumed would be compensated by the marvelous movie making experience) which is the weak screenplay. I know it’s best to shut up since it’s a film whose themes are more contemplative in nature, but in this particular instance, the continuous and repetitive misfortunes she had were tiring as well. But hey, that’s just me. Aside from that and the overpowering (re: deafening) score, it is an adventurous film watching experience that deserves all the love it receives (albeit too much hyperbolic love). Oh and Sandra Bullock carried this in a career best performance. That scene of her barking while crying? That’s golden for someone of her caliber.  I’d always be in love with Children of Men and will consider it as Cuaron’s finest still. 4/5

02. WOLF OF WALL STREET
Director: Martin Scorsese

2013 was known as the year of survival movies — thanks to Captain Phillips and Robert Redford in the middle of the sea or Sandra Bullock stuck in space. But that wasn’t the only recurring theme of last year. There’s also the notion of the American dream as shown in films like Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” up to Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.” Martin Scorsese tackles the same niche though it is more biographical in nature by focusing on the story infamous Wall Street figure Jordan Belfort. The less said about the story of the film or of Belfort’s life is probably better to maximize your enjoyment of the film. Running at exactly 183 minutes, Scorsese’s latest entry did have some length issues in it, though it’s the other way around. It was clear that there’s lots of parts that were botched up from the movie, and it would have been more compact had it been given a longer running time. But those three hours we got were clearly the most energetic and entertaining for this year. As opposed to a lot of other comedic films this year, this did not suffer from any tonal shift and was focused in its approach. Sure the drugs and the sex and the nudity might overwhelm you, but it did not forget to incorporate its commentary. Marty, at 71, seems like he still has a lifetime ahead of him with the way he injects energy into this film. Leonardo di Caprio, now more known (at least in the online community) as the man who badly wants that Oscar, gives his career best performance here. 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. Jonah Hill, though more reactionary, was the perfect buddy to di Caprio and they share a natural chemistry. Heck even Matthew McConaughey’s five minute role was put into maximum use here. I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve seen a new star born via Margot Robbie. She played this role with so much sass that it’s more impressive that she held his own to Leo. The film’s way of depicting a society that is willing to swallow and inhibit a man’s success despite knowing that it wasn’t the best road to success is indeed chilling. This is the type of picture that’s more enjoyable to watch on the big screen and the most entertaining time I had at this movies this year.  4.5/5

01. HER
Director: Spike Jonze

I guess I’ll begin by warning you that a lot of what you’ll read might be pure hyperbole since I really loved this film. Love it because it’s one that strikes a personal connection with me. It was funny, sad, and heartfelt, sometimes prompting all these emotions at the same time. Spike Jonze has this really intriguing approach of building a world and sucking you in it. It’s a world that is just so creative and imaginative and as Joaquin Phoenix’ Theodore falls into this scenario, it’s one that he was optimistic about, but when it hits him and he starts to entertain the notion that this might not be forever, it’s really devastating. I’ve always been a sucker for characters that deal with loneliness and desolation and how they live their lives from there and rebuild relationships, and this was it. And boy was this really great to look at. It’s not as if Jonze just introduced a world, he lets us feel it more by giving us this visual spectacle to look at. The production design, and the cinematography go hand in hand here. Don’t you just love the color palette they used? I’m living for Joaquin Phoenix’ costumes too, and if I can only dibs my way to use it as the perfect Halloween costume. Speaking of, Phoenix was marvelous here. I love him in The Master, but this is a totally different platform and he made this work. Scarlett Johansson, despite no physical appearance, managed to flesh out a living character. And Amy Adams is probably having her career best year between this and American Hustle. The rest of the ensemble were really good too from Rooney Mara to Olivia Wilde and Chris Pratt. I also like how it’s some sort a statement to this current age of modern technology and how despite all these advancements in these innovating times, the raw physical connection has its way of sticking it out. “Her” struck a very intimate personal place in my life, and not only do I think that this will be my favorite film of the year, it’s also one that I think will be one of my all time favorites.  5/5

Whew that was overwhelming. Anyway, have you sen all best Picture contenders this year? What are your favorites? And yes, Inside Llewyn Davis was robbed, but more than that, how would you rank this year’s batch?

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

 

86th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   Leave a comment

And it all comes down to this. After months and months of predicting and waiting and criticizing 2013’s offerings, the nominations will finally be revealed tomorrow. Tomorrow’s 5 AM will definitely be the most alive Hollywood will ever be for the whole year as AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Chris Hemsworth announce the 86th Academy Award nominations. Here’s who I think will be adding “2013 Oscar nominee” label under their names in all 21 different categories.

BEST PICTURE
• American Hustle
• Captain Phillips
• Dallas Buyers Club
• Gravity
• Her
• Nebraska
• Saving Mr. Banks
• 12 Years a Slave
• Wolf of Wall Street

10th (but not predicted): Philomena

For this year, four films are what I consider really safe already: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and Captain Phillips are surely the top four contenders at this point and they’ll easily get nominated. Since there are five films minimum that will be nominated in this category, I’d go with Nebraska as the fifth film in contention. After all, Alexander Payne’s last two efforts were Best Picture nominees, and About Schmidt would have definitely made it under this season. Then we have the next three in line: Spike Jonze’s Her, Jean Marc-Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, and Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. Dallas has overperformed in terms of guild support getting in at SAG, PGA, and WGA, so the support for the film is actually there. Her is the critics film this season, and while I still can see a scenario where it misses (yes, especially if the Academy voters aren’t fond of the film’s topic), but I’ll still include it here. Wolf of Wall Street started slow but is currently peaking after its BAFTA performance, so I don’t think the voters will resist this Marty film. Now with eight contenders in tow, I still think we’d get one of those middlebrow films that gets in despite not reaching the intentional awards buzz. This year, we have three: Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, and Blue Jasmine. Typically, Best Actor or Actress frontrunners carry their film towards a Best Picture nomination (The Blind Side, The Reader) but Jasmine, despite PGA and WGA nods, is too weak of a film to be carried. That leaves me with Philomena, who scored GG + BAFTA Best Picture nods in a Harvey Weinstein film, or Saving Mr. Banks, who got in PGA and lots of tech guilds support. While both can get in (since it’s a field that will nominate up to ten films), I’d go with Banks to fill that ninth spot.

BEST DIRECTOR
• Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity
• Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips
• Spike Jonze, “Her
• Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave
• David O. Russell, “American Hustle

SPOILER: Martin Scorsese, “Wolf of Wall Street

This category can be limited down to seven names fighting for five spots. After the Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow debacle last year, I don’t think anyone is actually safe? Or maybe they’d go the different route this year and be safe with their nods? Anyway, of course there’s the three frontrunners now: Alfonso Cuaron, Steve McQueen, and David O. Russell. All three are the most likely to survive the shock snub this year. In fourth place is Paul Greengrass. While he was able to nab all precursors (like the other three before him), the last three years all featured directors who nabbed all precursors only to miss the actual Oscar Directing nom. It’s true that Greengrass is the likeliest of the group to be snubbed, but I think Phillips has gathered enough fans to survive this. The last spot is a toss up between Alexander Payne who’s quite the Academy’s type of tea, Martin Scorsese who got BAFTA + DGA nods in his favor, and Spike Jonze. I went with Jonze in the end since it seems that there’s always a room for the auteur type of direction from this club, and he seems to fit that bill.

BEST ACTOR
• Bruce Dern, “Nebraska
• Leonardo di Caprio, “Wolf of Wall Street
• Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave
• Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips
• Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club

SPOILER: Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

On the outside, this list is likely set in stone now. Chiwetel Ejiofor, unexpectedly, is not the strong frontrunner we all assumed he will be, but he is still the flagbearer of the 12 Years a Slave team and has the British bloc behind him to get that nod. After his Golden Globe win and an impressive two year career turn around, it now pays off for Matthew McConaughey as he’ll finally hear his name with an “Oscar nominee” attached before it. If luck is on his way, he can even spin a narrative to take the golden man all the way. Since his Cast Away nomination 13 years ago, Tom Hanks hasn’t been invited as a nominee again, but between Banks and Phillips, he’ll surely get that sixth Best Actor nod this year. Bruce Dern is likely to be the receiver of the “veteran slot” in this category. Between his comeback narrative, Nebraska being a BP nominee, and Jack Nicholson campaigning for him, his follow up acting nod 35 years after his first is a done deal now. As for that last spot, it seems like momentum is on Leonardo di Caprio’s side now. After years of failed Oscar chances, it’s fitting that he comes back with his career best performance. However, I won’t still be surprised if he misses as it seems like it’s the story of his miserable awards life. While I’m predicting di Caprio, I won’t be surprised if Christian Bales completes the Hustle four nods in four acting categories achievement this year, or Robert Redford miraculously appears in for his All is Lost one man show (though that movie seems dead now).

BEST ACTRESS
• Amy Adams, “American Hustle
• Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
• Sandra Bullock, “Gravity
• Judi Dench, “Philomena
• Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks

SPOILER: Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County

While they can ship the actual Oscar over at Cate Blanchett’s doorstep already, they still need to complete the line up of who will be clapping for her as she walks her way to the podium. Sandra Bullock is sure to be one of them and is probably the closest to an alternative (ironically, a very distant one though) for her one woman show in Gravity. Then for her first successful entry in Lead, Golden Globe winner Amy Adams is also in contention. While she seems to be the toast in this batch, her current BAFTA nod and Globe win in this BP frontrunner makes it a done deal for her to receive her fifth nod (and first in lead) in nine years. As for the remaining two spots, we have Dame Judi Dench in this heartbreaking true to life story of Philomena. She has Harvey in her corner this time which resulted to five or her six Oscar nominations. Now make that six out of seven I guess. And while Emma Thompson is looking for her first nod in 18 years as P.L Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, this category is notorious the last three years for Oscar winning contenders sweeping precursor nods only to miss the actual Oscar nod (Tilda Swinton, Helen Mirren, and Marion Cotillard), so there’s still a chance for Meryl Streep to get in her 18th nod here. After all, it’s hard to bet against Meryl Streep in a baity role in a film backed by Harvey Weinstein. But I guess I’ll still stick with Thompson here for that last slot.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips
• Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle
• Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave
• Jonah Hill, “Wolf of Wall Street
• Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club

SPOILER: James Gandolfini, “Enough Said

In what seemed as an open Oscar race at the start of the precursor season, it all evaporated quickly when three men picked up all precursor nods (Barkhad Abdi, Daniel Brühl, Michael Fassbender) while two of them picked three out of four (Jared Leto, Bradley Cooper). The consensus seems to be those five men will be the final list of nominees, and there’s a big chance that will actually happen. But I’m only going with Abdi, Fassbender, Cooper, and Leto in my predictions. Rush seems to be a very dead film now with no support, and Brühl can be that contender who gets lost in the shuffle. Also, this category is ripe for an upset for a contender that did not get any precursor nod but surprises come Oscar morning. With that I’m currently predicting  Jonah Hill, a previous nominee, who’s the second lead in a film that is peaking at the right time. It also doesn’t hurt that his is a character that this category loves. If not Jonah Hill, then a posthumous nod for Enough Said‘s James Gandolfini. Sure, he only got SAG and BAFTA nods for the said performance, but that combination of precursor usually takes first time nominees in this category all the way to an Oscar nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine
• Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle
• Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave
• Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County
• Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler

SPOILER: June Squibb, “Nebraska

Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o are the two lock contenders in this category. No matter what combination ends up as the Oscar nominees, those two names will have no problems getting nods this year. All the other contenders are on the same boat. Julia Roberts received all precursors needed but it seems like August: Osage County is not resonating well with voters, and though this is her first shot at an Oscar comeback since her 2000 win, there’s still a chance she will miss if voters did not respond to their film altogether. Oprah is actually in a strong position now, thanks to her BAFTA nod. After all, her only miss was for the populist Golden Globes who dismissed her film altogether. She got in at SAG, BFCA, and surprisingly at BAFTA so it’s likely we’ll see her in the final nomination list. Then there’s June Squibb, whose role in Nebraska is what this category is tailored for, but between being an unknown veteran and that Payne underperforming statistic every time he has a contending film, I went with Sally Hawkins as the final nominee though. Her surprising Globe nod over Oprah, and finally breaking through at BAFTA indicates good coattail nod for her. Blanchett might not carry Jasmine all the way to a Best Picture nod, but she can certainly bring Hawkins a to the party with a nod for her.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Eric Singer, David O. Russell, “American Hustle
• Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine
• Spike Jonze, “Her
• Ethan Coen, Joel Coen “Inside Llewyn Davis
• Bob Nelson, “Nebraska

SPOILER: Melissa Wallic, Craig Bortern, “Dallas Buyers Club”

While this seems to be the consensus five, there’s a potential for so many films to penetrate this field instead. There’s Gravity who can carry a Screenplay nod to it especially if AMPAS really loved the film. Enough Said can also make a case since Nicole Holocefner is in a much better position way back from her 2010 Please Give debut. Then the duo of Saving Mr. Banks is writing about a film that is about making a film so I can see it getting some passionate votes as well. Even the dead Frutivale Station can still score a nod here if they want to reward the film as a whole since Ryan Coogler is both the director and writer of the film. Then there’s the WGA nominated pair of Dallas Buyers Club who kicked the Coens butt out of that WGA nod. But in the end, I guess I’m sticking with the combination of American Hustle/Blue Jasmine/Her/Inside Llewyn Davis/Nebraska as the nominees.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight
• Billy Ray, “Captain Phillips
• Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope, “Philomena
• John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave
• Terence Winter, “Wolf of Wall Street

If Original Screenplay still offers a wild variety of feasible nominees, this one seems set in stone already. I won’t even offer an alternative because this five seems like the final line up and there’s not even a strong contender that will pose as a threat here.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
• The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
• The Great Beauty  (Italy)
• The Hunt  (Denmark)
• The Notebook (Hungary)
• Omar (Palestine)

SPOILER: The Grandmaster (Hong Kong)

With no Wadjda, The Past, and Gloria here, the field looks emptier and more open to surprise nods. Outside of The Hunt and The Great Beauty, I’m going with The Broken Circle Breakdown and The Notebook which seems to be this committee’s cups of tea. The last slot I’m giving to Omar over The Grandmaster since I think the former is a film that will resonate more to the voters while the latter is prone to just impressing them with the visuals.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
• The Croods
• Ernest & Celestine
• Frozen
• Monsters University
• The Wind Rises

SPOLER: Despicable Me 2

I keep going back and forth between Despicable Me 2 and The Croods for that final slot, but I still can foresee a scenario where both gets in while Ernest & Celestine or Monsters University misses. While this category loves animated feature films, last year’s line up shows that they can go all American production as well if they have five films that they like.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• The Act of Killing
• Blackfish
• The Square
• Stories We Tell
• 20 Feet From Stardom

SPOILER: Tim’s Vermeer

The documentary feature category is such a big “no idea” so the clue is throw in some frontrunners (meaning which critics awarded) and then include some odd balls in between. In the event that Tim’s make it, I expect it will be at the expense of The Square. Who knows? Maybe God Loves Uganda can still pull off a surprise here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Gravity
• Inside Llewyn Davis
• Nebraska
• Prisoners
• 12 Years a Slave

SPOILER: The Grandmaster

The cinematographers guild took a cop out and nominated seven films instead, and one can make a case for each of the seven films to get nominated. On The Grandmaster‘s side, foreign films nominated by them always makes the cut though what gives the pause is that it is a field of seven and not a field of five. I also foresee an all or nothing scenario for it meaning it gets in both at Foreign Language Film and here or zilch.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• American Hustle
• The Great Gatsby
• The Invisible Woman
• Saving Mr. Banks
• 12 Years a Slave

SPOILER: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I’m not confident with The Invisible Woman here truth be told, but this is one guild that embraces flop Oscar bait films as long as they’re from period pieces. Not only do they nominate them (W.E, Anonymous), they even give wins to some of them (Marie Antoinette, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Young Victoria). Other than that, they can also go gaga over Catching Fire or go contemporary every now and then and nominate Blue Jasmine here.

BEST EDITING
• American Hustle
• Captain Phillips
• Gravity
• 12 Years a Slave
• Wolf of Wall Street

SPOILER: Rush

The duo of Rush actually makes sense since they got in even for Howard’s lesser fare Oscar outputs such as Cinederella Man (over Brokeback Mountain(!) in 2005), so you can choose any of the five above to miss and pick Rush instead.

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• American Hustle
• Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
• Lone Ranger

SPOILER: Dallas Buyers Club

With the addition of Hairstyling here, I’m pretty sure they’ll emphasize the fact that they give it as equal importance as that of Make-Up which leads me with my American Hustle prediction. I don’t know which way they’d go with Make-Up if they’ll prefer the natural looking ones (which bodes well for Dallas Buyers Club) or the heavy showy ones (which then benefits Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters). Eitherway, we’re off to some snubs in this category.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• The Book Thief
• Gravity
• Philomena
• Saving Mr. Banks
• 12 Years a Slave

SPOILER: All is Lost

After Alex Ebert’s win at the Globes this year (in addition to his BAFTA nod), it seems like not all is lost yet for All is Lost (sorry terrible pun) to make a case for a nomination. But in that case, I guess I’ll stick with mostly old fashioned picks and baitier picks to be chosen by the Oscars and go with the five above.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
I See Fire (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug)
• Let It Go (Frozen)
The Moon Song (Her)
• Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
• So You Know What It Feels Like (Short Term 12)

SPOILER: Young and Beautiful (The Great Gatsby)

The only reason I’m not predicting Lana del Rey here is so I won’t jinx her nomination tomorrow and I’d rather risk my prediction to see her getting a nod. After all, this category is such a wasteland the past few years and is in dire need of an overhaul. As a matter of fact, I’m not convinced that The Moon Song will be nominated but I’m just filling up random songs here.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• American Hustle
• Gravity
• The Great Gatsby
• Saving Mr. Banks
• 12 Years a Slave

SPOILER: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

If The Hobbit really finds its way here, then expect Banks to miss the list, though I think the back and forth worlds of P.L. Travers is something that the Academy eats up. Maybe they even think that they built a Disneyland just for this film. But there’s also a chance of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire making it here especially if they go gaga over the film and shower it with a lot of technical nominations (Costumes, Make Up are also probable). Even Her is likely at this point.

BEST SOUND EDITING
• Captain Phillips
• Frozen
• Gravity
• Iron Man 3
• Lone Survivor

SPOILER: All is Lost

I do not know how dead All is Lost at the moment, but I can see it bumping off any of the three nods above except for Captain Phillips and Gravity. Even Rush has a chance to spoil here and the other sound category.

BEST SOUND MIXING
• Captain Phillips
• Gravity
• Inside Llewyn Davis
• Lone Survivor
• 12 Years a Slave

SPOILER: Rush

Like what I posted above, Rush can still be resurrected by the sound guild here and get both Sound nominations. They’re also fond of animated films, so that’s good for Frozen‘s chances.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• Gravity
• The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
• Iron Man 3
• Pacific Rim
• Star Trek: Into Darkness

SPOILER: Lone Ranger

The visual effects guild nominated the same five films but they rarely do yield the same results so expect the populist World War Z or Lone Ranger to make it in. I have no idea who to bump out though that’s why I’m sticking with the five above.

NOMINATION TALLY:
12  
12 Years a Slave
10 –  American HustleGravity
8 –  Captain Phillips
5 –  Saving Mr. Banks, Wolf of Wall Street
4 –  Her, Nebraska
3 –  Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Frozen, Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena
2 –  The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Lone Survivor
–  
August: Osage County, Before Midnight, The Book Thief, The Croods, Ernest & Celestine, The Invisible Woman, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, The Lone Ranger, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,  Monsters University, Prisoners, Short Term 12, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Wind Rises

Happy Oscar nomination day tomorrow! I’m personally rooting for Emma Thompson, anything Her, Lana del Rey, James Gandolfini, and Margot Robbie (no chance but she’s my current favorite) the most, but I’m sure they’ll bring in the crazy. Just less of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and more of Tree of Life and Amour please.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

86th Oscars Predictions: December Edition   Leave a comment

With the Globe and SAG nods already announced, and three of the four major critics already revealing their choices, here’s the state of the race (and the last one prior to noms on January).

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lead actor

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FLF

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86th Oscars Predictions: November Edition   Leave a comment

Okay one more month before we get to see the precursors. Sorry there’s no write up this month, since I’ll soon be updating for December, and this is a pretty stagnant month in terms of premieres and shake ups. Anyway, post your comments and questions below if you have anything. 🙂

PS: Best Actress is so effin boring there’s no changes at all for this month.

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supp actor

supp actress

original screenplay

adapted screenplay

foreign language film

86th Oscars Predictions: October Edition   Leave a comment

Here we go! October batch, as we get closer and closer to the precursors season. Also, Wolf of Wall Street is still in a deadline to meet for this year, and no such announcement was formally made that it will transfer to 2014. Until then, I’d just include it here yet. Plus, screenplay categories and foreign language film!

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best supp actor

 

best supporting actress

 

original screenplay

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foreign language film

 

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

86th Oscars Predictions: September Edition   7 comments

Now we’re getting closer to the Oscar precursor season especially since Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals are all over. They all solidified some films’ and performances chances. Here’s the state of the race for this month:

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