Why we shouldn’t be surprised by Moonlight’s victory

February 28, 2017

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Listen, I am still shocked to the bone, but like everything that I can’t make sense with, I do my best to really analyze the situation and give myself some reasons why whatever was surprising really shouldn’t have been all along. So here we go…

The lack of SAG Best Ensemble nomination. This is a stat that goes all the way back to 1995 when Braveheart became a very rare instance to not receive a SAG Best Ensemble nomination but ended up winning Best Picture anyway. Of course, we all thought that La La Land was going to break that spell, but at the end of the night, the SAG Ensemble nomination seems to be quite a telling factor in awards season. Looking back at recent Oscar history, movies certainly in contention for Best Picture such as Gravity and The Revenant got bit by the lack of SAG Ensemble as well. Needless to say, you better snag a SAG nom in order to win Best Picture!

The La La Land backlash was real, but effectively quiet. Listen, I talked about it with my friends, critics talked about it, we have to face it that everyone talked about it. Was La La Land really deserving of making history throughout the awards season? It had ridiculously high standards since the Golden Globes being the only film to sweep the movie categories. And then receiving a record-tying 14 nominations, it just looked like La La Land was a too strong of a force to stop. So what about the rest of The Academy who didn’t love La La Land? The murmur grew larger and there seemed to be a consensus at what film was in the #2 spot: Moonlight. I’m guessing that a lot of people who didn’t want La La Land to win voted for Moonlight. And let’s face it, was La La Land really one of the greatest films in history? Can you really compare it to the likes of Titanic, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, All About Eve, and Ben-Hur? Apparently, a lot of people didn’t think so.

I guess this is a good time to bring up the preferential ballot that took over the Best Picture voting in 2009. By the preferential ballot, Best Picture winners seem to go to safer, more universally-liked films when up against a more daring and polarizing film. The King’s Speech won over The Social Network; The Artist over The Help; Argo over Lincoln; and Spotlight over The Big Short and The Revenant. If I were to guess, I would guess that La La Land had more #1 votes than Moonlight did, but taking the votes for additional rounds, the support for the bottom films ended up in Moonlight’s favor in the long-run. So what films were at the bottom? And did the voters who supported those films really have so much love for Moonlight to place it in as their #2?

Reaction to #OscarsSoWhite. The last two years there hasn’t been an acting nominee of color, sparking controversy and outrage among Hollywood and the world who tunes into movies and entertainment. Now I’m not saying that Moonlight doesn’t deserve the Best Picture win, but let’s say that the reaction to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite caused more people than usual to vote for a progressive, challenging and important film such as Moonlight. Is that how this huge upset happened?

Finally, maybe La La Land wasn’t as loved as people thought. Aside from the backlash, there is a simple possible explanation that Academy voters didn’t think that La La Land was great, but instead just very good. And as for all of those nominations, La La Land was simply very darn good in every detailed aspect, but as the film lost category-after-category, it was evident that it wasn’t as loved as we might have speculated. Out of 14 nominations, La La Land only won 6 Oscars. It won the most awards that night, but lost out on big awards such as Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Lead Actor, and Best Editing. It even lost out on both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, the latter an award that usually goes to musicals. For those who watched, it took about 2 hours into the telecast for La La Land to win its first award. Being completely objective, this should’ve have been huge red flags indicating that La La Land would not win Best Picture. Finally, there have been splits between Best Director and Best Picture for four of the last five years now. So when Damien Chazelle won Best Director, it should have seemed likely that La La Land would lose Best Picture.

Does this answer all the questions? Most definitely not, but it does allow me to try and understand what could be considered the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history.

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Final Oscar Predictions

February 21, 2017

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The 89th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, February 26, 2017. Here are my final predictions:

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Leading the year with 14 nominations (also tying the record for most nominations of all-time), La La Land is the Best Picture to beat. It’s beloved by practically everyone and has been winning every precursor leading up to the Oscars. Is there any chance it will lose? Not likely, though there is still some love out there for Moonlight, and lots of technical love for Arrival (both Moonlight and Arrival have the second-most Oscar nominations with 8). There is also a lot of momentum in the Hidden Figures camp. Needless to say, if La La Land loses, it will certainly be up there with the biggest upsets in Best Picture history. I’m not counting on an upset here.

Prediction: La La Land

Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

This might be the most interesting race of the Oscars. Casey Affleck was the clear frontrunner throughout most of awards season, but then SAG gives their award to Denzel Washington. And while it would be nice if the Oscars only looked at the acting performances in this category, the truth is that the extracurricular things count just as much. This is where Denzel has the clear edge. If the Oscars really want to put #OscarsSoWhite behind them, this would be a very strong message to have Denzel beat out Casey Affleck. On the other end, Affleck is still feeling the negativity from his alleged sexual harassment from 2010’s filming of I’m Still Here. Meanwhile, we can’t forget about Ryan Gosling completely because there is a sense that a lot of voters might just check off every box next to La La Land. If that’s the case, then Gosling could find himself up on stage as the winner. This might be the toughest pick of the night.

Prediction: Denzel Washington

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

This is one of the more competitive Best Actress races in a while. It looks as though Emma Stone is the clear frontrunner, but she is certainly receiving a good amount of heat leading up to Sunday. Mainly from Isabelle Huppert, who won the Golden Globes Drama Actress award, which really catapulted her into the conversation. Sure, the Academy loves to reward the young, popular actress such as Brie Larson (last year) and Jennifer Lawrence, but the Academy also loves to reward the deserving, veteran actress such as Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet. The main problem is that there is an overpowering amount of love for La La Land and I’m not sure how many people have actually seen Elle (only 1 nomination).

Prediction: Emma Stone

Actor in Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

There isn’t much to comment on here than Mahershala Ali is the favorite, with Dev Patel in a distant second place.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

This is a slam dunk category for those filling out their Oscar pools. Do not bet against Viola Davis. My only comment here is that Davis could have really been nominated (and possibly have won) in the Best Lead Actress category. How is this allowed? There has to be some kind of criteria that separates Lead and Supporting.

Prediction: Viola Davis

Best Director

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

With the Moonlight win at the SAG awards, it’s the clear frontrunner here. Sure, that was for the Original Screenplay category (I still don’t know how that worked out), but that should give it more of a reason it will win here (because it beat out Manchester and La La Land). If there is any upset potential, it should be from Hidden Figures that has been gaining plenty of momentum throughout the awards season.

Prediction: Moonlight

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

This is one of the categories where La La Land is actually an underdog to win. Manchester by the Sea is the favorite here for two reasons. First, (imo) it’s the better screenplay and Kenneth Lonergan deserves this award. But second, musicals never win this category. The prime example here is West Side Story, who won 10 of its 11 nominations. The only category they lost was the Screenplay category. Can La La Land break this mold and win over Manchester by the Sea?

Prediction: Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

Prediction: La La Land

Best Costume Design

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

While it’s not a lock, La La Land has found its way to the frontrunner spot in this category, but there is some love for Jackie to win. Jackie is your more traditional period piece that usually goes on to win Best Costume, but it’s hard to go against La La Land here.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Film Editing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

Best Production Design

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

There are a lot of people saying how Arrival should win this award. While I do agree with them, I don’t think that it’s going to stand a chance against the La La Land train on Sunday.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Score

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

Prediction: La La Land

Best Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

“City Of Stars” from La La Land

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Can Lin-Manuel Miranda win the EGOT? Don’t count on it.

Prediction: City of Stars from La La Land

Best Sound Editing

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Prediction: La La Land

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Prediction: The Jungle Book

Animated Feature Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Prediction: Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

Prediction: The Salesman


The Race for Best Picture (87th Academy Awards)

February 11, 2015

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Let’s cut right to the chase, this year’s Oscar award for Best Picture is between two films: Boyhood and Birdman. Which film has the edge? That’s what I’m going to try to figure out during this post. Bear with me folks.

For Boyhood, it was the critics’ darling of 2014, collecting A LOT of accolades from critic circles. Here are a handful:

Best Film from:
– Austin Film Critics Association
– Boston Society of Film Critics
– Chicago Film Critics Association
– Critics’ Choice Movie Awards
– Detriot Film Critics Society
– Georgia Film Critics Association
– Houston Film Ciritcs Society
– Iowa Film Critics
– London Film Critics’ Circle
– Los Angeles Film Critics Association
– New York Film Critics Circle
– Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
– San Francisco Film Critics Circle
– Toronto Film Critics Association
– Vancouver Film Critics Circle
– Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association

So what’s the problem? Well for one, The Academy who vote on the Oscars aren’t critics. They’re people in the film industry and a lot of them either 1. don’t have the same taste as critics or 2. simply don’t like movie critics. Now with all the support from the critics to Boyhood, who can the industry back for Best Picture? How about a film with a distaste for critics… Birdman!

This is no major spoiler, but in Birdman, Riggan Thomson is looked down upon by a very influential theater critic because she can never see Thomson as anything else other than his super-hero days. He uses this to fuel his passion and enthusiasm to push his play to a greater level, but with extreme consequences. So basically, Hollywood can overcome the evil critics and produce incredible pieces of art, no matter what you did in the past. Is it a coincidence that Birdman has been receiving the love from the Guilds, made up of people in the film industry?

Birdman has won the top awards from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America. It’s obvious that Hollywood is standing behind Birdman, but let’s make this even more interesting. Two other award ceremonies that are seen as precursors to the Oscars are The Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). Is it coincidence that Birdman lost Best Picture at each ceremony, and instead Boyhood won because those are two awards not voted by members of Hollywood?

While all of this speculation is fun, it’s time to crunch some numbers. First, I’m going to be concentrating on 2007-present. Here are the Best Picture winners since then:

Best Picture:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – ???

Now let’s look at the SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

SAG Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Inglorious Basterds
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Help
2012 – Argo
2013 – American Hustle
2014 – Birdman

In the last seven years, four films that won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble went on to win Best Picture. It’s not a great award to predict who will win Best Picture, but it’s noteworthy because the SAG is the guild with the most members in The Academy. So if it’s a coin toss and it’s down to the wire, it’s likely that the majority of the SAG votes Birdman and therefore you’ll know who will win.

How about the Directors Guild of America…

DGA Winners:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ben Affleck, Argo
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

During the last seven years, the movies with the DGA winner have won six times. The only time they didn’t line up was last year when Alfonso Cuaron with Gravity won, even though 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. But isn’t it true that typically, if you win Best Director at the Oscars, you’ll win Best Picture? Let’s take a look…

Academy Award for Best Director:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ang Lee, Life of Pi
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – ???

It looks like they matched up nice and tidily up until 2012, then it’s been chaos ever since. Ang Lee won the strange year where Ben Affleck won the DGA but wasn’t even nominated for Best Director (then Argo wins Best Picture). Last year it was a tight race between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity throughout, and they ended up splitting the Best Picture/Best Director categories. Can the same thing happen again this year to make it three in a row? It’s very possible.

Let’s look at the Producers Guild of America…

PGA Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/Gravity
2014 – Birdman

Here’s one that looks like a sure thing. Since 2007, EVERY movie that has won the PGA award has gone on to win Best Picture. Its only slight blemish is that last year the vote resulted in a tie between the obvious two front-runners in 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. But this year in another very tight race, Birdman came out victorious. Is that a sign pointing at Birdman, or is this a Hollywood statement from the industry?

With the guilds out of the way, let’s look at the Golden Globes:

Golden Globe Winners (Drama/Comedy):

2007 – Atonement/Sweeney Todd
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2009 – Avatar/The Hangover
2010 – The Social Network/The Kids Are All Right
2011 – The Descendants/The Artist
2012 – Argo/Les Miserables
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/American Hustle
2014 – Boyhood/The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Globes used to be a joke. When movies like The Hangover wins a so-called “prestigious” award, everyone starts scratching their heads. But recently, the Globes have been quite spot on in predicting the Best Picture winners. The Artist, Argo, and 12 Years a Slave won the big award at the Globes. This year, Boyhood won Best Drama and Birdman lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel. So what’s the deal? Did you know that the Globes are voted by the HFPA, a group of journalists from around the world. That’s right, no one from Hollywood. So without a Globes win for Birdman, can it become the first film in four years to win Best Picture?

Continuing to stay clear from Hollywood, let’s take a glance at the recent BAFTA winners:

BAFTA Winners:

2007 – Atonement
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – Boyhood

Since 2008, the films that won Best Picture have also won the Best Film award at the BAFTAs. And as you can see, Boyhood won the big prize at the BAFTAs this year. Will the streak continue?

Last, but not least, let’s take a peak at the Academy Award for Best Editing. Throughout the years, there has been a direct link with this category and what film is considered a true front-runner for Best Picture. Just take a look…

Academy Award for Best Editing:

2000 – Gladiator (nominated)
2001 – A Beautiful Mind (nominated)
2002 – Chicago (won)
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (won)
2004 – Million Dollar Baby (nominated)
2005 – Crash (won)
2006 – The Departed (won)
2007 – No Country for Old Men (nominated)
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (won)
2009 – The Hurt Locker (won)
2010 – The King’s Speech (nominated)
2011 – The Artist (nominated)
2012 – Argo (won)
2013 – 12 Years a Slave (nominated)
2014 – ??? Boyhood (nominated), Birdman (not nominated)

As you can see, every single movie that has won Best Picture since 2000 has been at least nominated for the Best Editing category. You have to go back all the way to 1980 to name a film that won Best Picture without receiving a Best Editing nomination (Ordinary People). That’s just whacky! But to be fair, Birdman’s fluid style doesn’t give much to the editors, though there are plenty of editing tricks throughout the film. So how glaring is this omission?

So what does this all mean? When there is a really tight race for Best Picture, like we have this year, plenty of patterns and logic will be broken. Will Boyhood defy all logic that you need to win the guild awards to win Best Picture? Will Birdman be the first film since 1980 to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination? We’ll find out soon!


Best Picture Breakdown (87th Academy Awards)

January 10, 2015

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I’ve been slacking a bit this year during the awards season but I’ll try to make up with it from this point on. This year is quite unique in the sense that it seems like it’s a wide open race for Best Picture. At this point last year we knew that Gravity and 12 Years a Slave would be favorites. The year before we knew Lincoln would be a favorite, with Argo’s momentum pushing violently towards the top. But this year? Not only isn’t there a real favorite but there are so many films that have a legitimate shot at receiving a Best Picture nomination. I would guess that there are usually about 12 or so films that have a real chance at a Best Picture nod, but this year? I counted 18.

That’s not saying that there are certainly films that are more likely to receive a nod than others. So let’s start out with our first tier films that are locks to receive a nomination.

First Tier:

best-pic-firsttier

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Imitation Game

These are the cream of the crop during this year’s awards season. They all have the support from the SAG, the Golden Globes and plenty of critic circles. Simply put, there is no doubt that these films will be nominated for Best Picture, but at the same time there isn’t a clear front-runner from these three.

Second Tier:

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– The Grand Budapest Hotel
– The Theory of Everything

These two films in the second tier are practically locked to receive a nomination for Best Picture. The Theory of Everything always felt like a Best Picture nomination with its moving story and its incredible Oscar-worthy performances from the two leads, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The Grand Budapest Hotel always had the quality to be a Best Picture nominee, but I was always skeptical because it was by the quirky Wes Anderson and because it was released so early on in the year that I thought it would be quickly forgotten. Thankfully it hasn’t and has been receiving a ton of support through awards season. Look for these films to be nominated, but don’t expect either to win unless it upsets during the Guild awards.

Third Tier:

– Whiplash
– Foxcatcher
– Selma
– Into the Woods

This is when the movies get tricky. In this third tier, I find that these films have a good chance at rounding out the Best Picture nominees, but I’m not overly confident about my picks. I loved Whiplash, but aside from JK Simmons receiving attention the film isn’t quite doing enough to lock down a nomination (I blame Sony Pictures Classics for backing Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner over Whiplash). As for Foxcatcher, it’s getting attention for its actors but not really for the movie as a whole. Selma has been receiving great reviews, but it’s the epitome of the difference of opinion between the critics and the Academy. And Into the Woods is close, but missing out on that SAG Ensemble nod really is hurting its chances.

Fourth Tier:

– Gone Girl
– Nightcrawler
– Unbroken
– American Sniper

All of the films here in the fourth tier have a chance to be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s an uphill battle. Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, and American Sniper all got boosts from the PGA nominees, but still don’t have enough momentum yet to be considered Best Picture material. As for Unbroken, it’s on very thin ice at this point but I’m not willing to completely give up on it yet.

Fifth Tier:

– Interstellar
– Wild
– Mr. Turner
– A Most Violent Year
– Inherent Vice

Interstellar was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Will that be enough? There usually is one sci-fi film that gets nominated, including Nolan’s Inception in 2010. Wild has been great for Reese Witherspoon and even for Adapted Screenplay, but remember when Into the Wild didn’t receive an expected Best Picture/Best Director nod? Wild could have the same fate. As for Mr. Turner, A Most Violent Year, and Inherent Vice, all are films from very talented directors but haven’t been as well-received from the Academy as they expected.


Predictions: The 86th Academy Awards

February 25, 2014

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We’re just a couple days away from the 86th Academy Awards! Are you excited?! Well you should be! Ellen is hosting, so you should expect some clean but entertaining humor throughout the night since she’s always a pleasure. On top of that, this is arguably one of the most unpredictable years, especially for big awards such as Best Picture and Best Lead Actor. In this post, I’m going to attempt to predict who WILL win while my buddy, Mike, will give his take on who SHOULD win. Let’s go!

Best Picture

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: This might be the toughest match-up of the entire night, but hey you get to save the best for last! This is a race between three movies: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. Each of them have reasons why they will win, which I have explored in previous posts. When it comes down to it, I just have to go with my gut. My gut is saying that there is a pretty decent chance that American Hustle can go through the entire night without winning an award. The record is held by The Turning Point (1977) and The Color Purple (1985) for having 11 nominations each, but laying a goose egg. American Hustle is nominated for 10 awards and has the best chance at winning Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Costume Design. I do feel like Lawrence will win her second Oscar though, beating out Nyong’o, so that takes care of the shut out.

As for Gravity and its 10 nominations, it’s set to win the most awards of the night, there’s no question about that. It should win most of the technical categories, along with Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron. The question is, if over 60% of the time the Best Picture and Best Director lines up, then why isn’t Gravity a heavy favorite to win Best Picture? Frankly, I have no idea. 12 Years a Slave seems to have that “important” factor, the one movie that everyone thinks SHOULD win. If you’re going to take the Oscars seriously, you’ll most likely vote for 12 Years a Slave. But for Gravity, the one thing it has going is how it’s generally liked by everyone. It’s not the difficult and violent picture that 12 Years a Slave is, and it’s much deeper and inspiring than the loose and fun American Hustle. If Gravity can rack up a good number of #2 and #3 votes during the preferential voting, then Gravity will take the big award.

But my prediction has to go with 12 Years a Slave, no matter how many awards Gravity wins throughout the night. It has good momentum going into the weekend and has the every-so-important PGA award (though Gravity also won). And when it comes down to it, 12 Years a Slave is the most emotional film of the Best Picture nominees. Sure, it’s a smaller film but it connects with the audience more than Gravity or American Hustle. You can almost make a connection to when The Hurt Locker beat Avatar. Avatar and Gravity are both 3-D heavy movies, and for one, the Academy might not be ready to reward a 3-D film yet. But more importantly, The Hurt Locker and 12 Years a Slave are familiar with its story-telling. Both films were considered “important” and “emotional”, both didn’t gross that much money compared to their Goliath rivals, and The Hurt Locker made history with Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman director ever to win. If 12 Years a Slave wins, it will consist of the first African American producers, actors, screenwriter, and director to win. I think everyone is aware of this and I feel like this isn’t going to be a situation like Brokeback Mountain where the Academy shied away from a tough subject matter. I feel that The Academy is ready to reward such a monumental film.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Mike: So after I made all my picks to the categories leading up to Best Picture, you’ll see that I clearly think Gravity should win. Gravity was just a superior film. You could say the acting was a bit weak in comparison to other nominees, and I might be inclined to agree with you, but that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Gravity was superior in almost every other category. To have a film that exceeds expectations at every turn, well some could say that’s “not of this Earth.” I loved Gravity because it is a film I will surely watch over and over again. I really hope it wins the Oscar, but if it doesn’t, it still won the Oscar in my heart.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Director

David O. Russell – American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Alexander Payne – Nebraska
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: It’s hard not to pick Alfonso Cuaron here, especially since he’s won so many awards leading up to the Oscars. How do you not appreciate the brilliance that Gravity is, from a directorial standpoint? Could anyone else made such a fascinating and beautiful movie?

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Mike: Marty! for the win!!!!! Lets face it, Marty Scorsese is the MAN! Plain and simple. I wasn’t sure based off the previews and a three hour run-time that I wanted to even see The Wolf of Wall Street. But I did see it, and it was awesome! It was not only hilarious and incredibly well acted, but the pace of the film was spectacular. I left the theater and only felt like I was in there for 45 minutes! If that is saying something, then it’s good directing.  He knew how to pace the story and how to get the perfect performances out of his actors. Wolf was just a fun ride to watch. They should call him Marty Oscor-sese

Should Win: Martin Scorsese

Best Actor

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Rob: Aside from the Best Picture race, this might be the closest category and one with a lot of upset potential. The whole year, McConaughey has been sweeping up the awards for Best Actor, including the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards (which DiCaprio wasn’t nominated). Meanwhile, Chiwetel Ejiofor has been the critics’ darling, winning the majority of their awards for his powerful performance. But here’s the twist! Leonardo DiCaprio has taken the scene by storm, offering an even bigger possible surprise come March 2. DiCaprio has been floating under the radar all season long because of the late release date for The Wolf of Wall Street. But by now, everyone has seen the Scorsese masterpiece. There is certainly a lot of love for Leo in The Academy and he’s definitely due for an Oscar. But is there a hotter actor than McConaughey at the moment? All three men are deserving for this award, but which one will take it?

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I think Leo should win for Best Actor. Why you ask? Leo is possibly the only true movie star left in Hollywood. Plus, the man gives an incredible performance in Scorsese’s film. Just when I thought he couldn’t get any better, he goes and knocks it out of the park. His performance led us into the mind of a money-hungry individual who will stop at nothing to preserve himself. He was giving us a class in masters acting.

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress

Amy Adams – American Hustle
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Rob: There’s no contest here.

Will Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Mike: I think Meryl Streep should win. Because its Meryl freaking Streep! She was great in August: Osage county who plays a character you hate and yet somehow can relate to. Another home run performance from the master herself. That’s all I have to say about that.

Should Win: Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Rob: There’s not much to write about this category. While there are some great performances nominated, Jared Leto is a lock to win.

Will win: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I think anyone BUT Jared Leto should win. I know Leto will end up winning this category and I think he did a great job in Dallas Buyers Club. But I think every other single nominee did a better acting job than he did. Abdi did an amazing job as a pirate in Captain Phillips. Bradley Cooper was awesome in American Hustle. You really believed he was naive and power hungry throughout the film. Michael Fassbender was scary good in 12 Years a Slave. He is almost too convincing as a slave owner. And as for Jonah Hill… if you would have told me 3 years ago that Jonah Hill would be a two-time Oscar nominee, I woulds slapped you in the face and laughed. But damn can that kid bring it. He was awesome in Wolf of Wall Street and I think he edges out the rest of the competition.

Should Win: Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska

Rob: We have quite a race in this category between Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence. Nyong’o is the new kid on the block since 12 Years a Slave is her first film, while it’s safe to say that Jennifer Lawrence has been the most popular actress for the past few years. Lawrence won the Golden Globes, but Nyong’o won the SAG award. This is practically a coin flip if you ask me. If 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, it should win a few other big awards such as this one. But then again, like I said earlier this might be American Hustle’s best chance at winning an Oscar. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see Jennifer Lawrence trip up the stairs to the podium again?

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Mike: I think Lupita Nyong’o should win for Best Supporting Actress. She nailed her part in 12 Years a Slave and I felt horrible for her character and what she had to go through, especially having a slave owner like Fassbender who was using her in the wort ways possible. Her performance was haunting and will not be easily forgotten for years to come.

Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Nebraska

Rob: This will be David O. Russell’s third nomination for a screenplay category, but he’s up against the slight favorite, Spike Jonze for his screenplay for Her. This is Jonze’s first nomination for a screenplay, but he has a lot of support from the WGA. All signs are pointing at Jonze to win his first Oscar since he’s already won the Golden Globes for Best Screenplay and the WGA. Russell is certainly a spoiler possibility since there is still plenty of support for American Hustle, but I think Jonze will and should win.

Will Win: Her (Spike Jonze)

Mike: Possibly my favorite category every year, I think Her should win this category. The writing in this film was simply awesome. It’s full of down to earth crude humor, including phone sex, plus talking computers, and yet still managed to be incredibly moving and emotional. If that isn’t great writing then I don’t know what is. Jonze took a traditional story and re-imagined it with something that has been done to death, yet this still take seemed fresh and fascinating. It also did a great job of capturing a feel of where we are going to be very soon in society. This is awesome times ten.

Should Win: Her (Spike Jonze)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: This is John Ridley’s to win for 12 Years a Slave. Ridley has been nominated once before for co-writing Three Kings with David O. Russell, but this is his year to shine.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Mike: Wolf of Wall Street should win for Best Adapted Screenplay. This was one of the funniest films of the year, and I don’t think there is a single joke in the film. That’s quite an accomplishment that takes good writing. There were also some really good monologues for both DiCaprio and McConaughey, and just a general tone with words that was fun to listen to. Also lets not forget to mention it had the most uses of the F word, ever. That sounds like an Oscar to me!

Should Win: The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Score

The Book Thief
Gravity
Her
Philomena
Saving Mr. Banks

Rob: Gravity is favorite to win this category, like it is with most of the technical categories. Though there is a slight road block in its way in the shape and form of the rock star power of William Butler (Arcade Fire). Butler and Owen Pallett scored Her, a film that is certaily beloved by many, which means it could make a serious push to try to win at least one award (though I still think its best chance is for Best Original Screenplay). Also, the legend that is John Williams is nominated for his work on The Book Thief. This is his 49th nomination!

Will Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win here, in my opinion. A small part of the reason I’m picking Gravity is because none of the other nominees really jumped out at me. Where is American Hustle’s nomination? Or even The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? Both of those films had really cool original scores. Anyway, Gravity had a very different feel to the score. There were a lot of violins and it really felt kind of mechanical, which blended really well with the visuals of the film.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Original Song

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” from Frozen
“The Moon Song” from Her
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Alone, Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone

Rob: Frozen’s “Let It Go” is certainly the favorite, and it definitely deserves the award, but just like the Best Score category there is an obstacle in its way… the star power of U2 will try and upset the front-runner. U2’s “Ordinary Love” in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom won the Golden Globes award for Best Original Song, in the year that the great Nelson Mandela passed away. While I’m sticking with my gut, there is a strong stench of upset all over this.

Will Win: “Let It Go”

Mike: “Let It Go” from Frozen should win here.This movie was just a massive hit and that has a lot to do with the songs, with “Let It Go” as the stand-out selection. It’s being touted as the best animated film in a long time, and I’d have to agree with that. Also, it helps having a Broadway veteran belt out this powerful girl-power tune.

Should Win: “Let It Go”

Best Film Editing

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
12 Years a Slave

Rob: This one is a two-way race between Gravity and Captain Phillips. In Captain Phillips’ corner, Christopher Rouse has worked with director Paul Greengrass before. Rouse has won an Oscar for The Bourne Ultimatum, and also received a nod for United 93. Greengrass and Rouse are known for their very quick cuts and fast editing to enhance suspense and tension in a frantic way. Meanwhile, Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger edited Gravity. Cuaron has been nominated once before for Children of Men. What really has made my mind is how this award tends to go towards thrillers. Past winners include Argo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Slumdog Millionaire. Captain Phillips fits into this group of films more than Gravity does.

Will Win: Captain Phillips

Mike: OK, by now its going to seem as if i am very bias toward this movie, but again I think Gravity should win. My reasoning for this is while watching the movie I wasn’t aware of the “cuts” during the film. It seemed seamless. The transitions just weren’t noticeable, and when you watch a film that is a rare occurrence. Plus, to really make all the action in space feel believable, that includes plenty of editing tricks. Overall, Gravity has accomplished movie magic unlike any movie before.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

Rob: Once again, Gravity is the heavy favorite here. Emmanuel Lubezki is a great cinematographer and his work in Gravity is simply stunning. He’s been nominated five times before for films such as The Tree of Life and Children of Men, but has yet to win. You can say that he’s over-due.

Spoiler Alert: Roger Deakins is nominated for his work in Prisoners. This is Deakin’s 11th nomination for Best Cinematography and he has yet to win! Will The Academy finally award Deakins the award that has eluded him for two decades? Some of his works include The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, and Skyfall. Honestly, if Deakins steals this one from Gravity, I wouldn’t be upset.

Will Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win for Best Cinematography. First of all, it’s a tragedy that The Wolf of Wall Street was snubbed from this category! But Gravity is a visually awesome film, you just cannot deny that. The wide shots of Earth, fixed in with the backgrounds of space really makes for some great eye candy that the cinematography had to imagine on his own while filming. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been. So my pick goes to Gravity.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Visual Effects

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

Rob: I’m not sure if there isn’t a more sure bet than this category. Gravity will certainly win this award.

Win Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win this award, hands down! This was a film that made me feel like I was in outer space. Not that I was watching people in space, but that I was actually floating around myself! This is just a masterfully orchestrated visual landscape between space and Earth that left my brain gasping for oxygen. Beautiful!

Should Win: Gravity

Best Sound Editing

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing

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

Rob: These awards should be towards the beginning of the telecast and when when Gravity will start racking up the awards. Being nominated for all 7 technical categories, there’s no doubt that Gravity was an amazing visual and special effects masterpiece. It shouldn’t have any problem winning these, especially when one movie usually ends up winning both awards, such as impressive technical films like Inception and Hugo.

Will Win: Gravity/Gravity

Mike: Let me preface both of these categories by saying it is next to impossible to identify how well thse jobs are done when watching a film in theaters. That being said, I think Gravity should win for Sound Editing because there were so many different elements of sound that needed to be keenly edited in order to sound realistic. Whether it was the breathing of Sandra Bullock or the jet thrusters on George Clooney, these sounds were very specific to the environment they were in.

Also, Gravity should win for Best Sound Mixing. They were able to combine all the different sounds so smoothly. It made for an acoustically believable film.

Should Win: Gravity/Gravity

Best Costume Design

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman

Rob: Period films usually win this award, so it looks like it’s going to be American Hustle vs. The Great Gatsby here. It’s really tough not to pick The Great Gatsby for both categories, especially since Catherine Martin is a past winner. But then again, there’s Patricia Norris (12 Years a Slave) who is a six-time Oscar nominee seeking her first golden statue. While American Hustle has a better chance upsetting than 12 Years a Slave does, I think Martin will win Best Costume Design.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Mike: American Hustle should win Best Costume Design. The film did a great job of re-creating the period and the costumes really  made me feel like they were in the ’80s. If I could pick a close second it would be 12 Years a Slave, because they also did a great job re-creating the period.

Should Win: American Hustle

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Rob: I can’t see Dallas Buyers Club losing this category, unless voters feel that the actors did most of the work by losing weight. I guess there’s a chance that Bad Grandpa can pull off the upset, but honestly, I can’t predict anyone else than DBC here.

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I really feel like The Lone Ranger should win here. My simple reason is because there was the most amount of work to be done in this film. You have two versions of Johnny Depp’s Tonto, and both required a lot of makeup and hairstyling. It was a really well done job and I think better than the other nominees.

Should Win: The Lone Ranger

Best Production Design

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her

Rob: Let’s face it, Best Production Design has rarely gone to the winner of Best Picture. So it’s almost safe to say we can simply rule out 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity right from the get-go. In the past 10 years, six winners have been period pieces (Lincoln, Hugo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Pan’s Labyrinth, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Aviator). Of the past four years, three of the winners have been quite colorful and” cartoonish” (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Hugo). Also, Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby) has already won two Oscars for her work on Moulin Rouge!, another Baz Luhrmann film. I think it’s pretty safe to say The Great Gatsby will win this award.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Mike: I think The Great Gatsby should win. With art deco inspirations, it created almost a cartoon version of the 1920’s era. I felt every detail, from hair, makeup, costume, sets, and especially color throughout the film. There must’ve been a lot of work that went into the production and to me it’s the best.

Should Win: The Great Gatsby

Best Animated Feature

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Rob: Frozen was one of the biggest films of the year, that cannot be disputed. It’s strange not to have a Pixar film nominated, but this is Disney’s chance to pounce (when it should’ve won last year as well for Wreck-It Ralph). There’s a slight spoiler alert in The Wind Rises, supposedly Hayao Miyazaki’s last film.

Will Win: Frozen

All right, well those are my picks. There were some categories that I didn’t focus on, but my picks are:

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6
Best Live Action Short: The Voorman Problem
Best Animated Short: Get a Horse!

Anyway, let’s see how the ceremony goes on March 2. Hopefully I get at least 17 predictions correct. Will it be a complete Gravity sweep, including Best Picture? Will 12 Years a Slave win the most Oscars of the night, taking Best Pic, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress? Will American Hustle shock everyone and win its major categories?

Only time will tell.


12 Years a Slave for Best Picture?

February 23, 2014

12-years-a-slave-pic2

While there is no clear front-runner for Best Picture, it’s safe to say that 12 Years a Slave is certainly in the mix. In fact, many people have the film in the front of the pack, but that’s just a matter of opinion… or is it?

Out of the three favorites (12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle), it seems like everyone is pointing at 12 Years a Slave as the movie that SHOULD win. It’s an important film that tackles issues in such a brutally honest way, you simply cannot ignore it. It’s a powerhouse of emotion, packed with great performances and incredible direction.

It will make history if it wins at The Academy Awards. 12 Years a Slave will be the first film, directed, written by, and starring black filmmakers and actors to win. McQueen already become the first black producer to win the Producers Guild, while John Ridley is the first black screenwriter to win the Scripter.

12 Years a Slave has already won the Producers Guild’s top honors, Best Picture at the BAFTAs, Best Drama Film at the Golden Globes, the USC Scripter for Best Adapted Screenplay, plus about a dozen critic group awards. It seems to be reaching out to critics and voting committee members.

In 85 years, there have only been 23 times the Best Picture winner didn’t match up with the Best Director winner. That’s just 27%, and a reason why many are skeptical to pick 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture (since is seems like Alfonso Cuaron is a lock for Best Director). But the memory of a Best Picture/Director split is still fresh in our minds from last year when Argo won for Best Picture while Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated. But that’s the first time in seven years a split has happened. The last time a split happened to a director that was nominated was in 2006 when Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain, but Crash pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history by winning Best Picture.

While no one will consider it an upset if 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, it still has plenty of obstacles to climb. Is The Academy willing to award such a monumental award to 12 Years a Slave? Has enough members even seen the film to rank it high on their ballots? But sometimes, The Academy does like making history. Just think about 2009 when The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow took down Goliath that was Avatar. A hard-hitting war movie making history for being the first female director to win Best Director, beating out the 3-D monster Avatar that grossed over $700 million. Does it sound familiar?

Can 12 Years a Slave make history against the 3-D heavy Gravity that has grossed almost $300 million, good enough for sixth best of 2013? Can Steve McQueen upset for Best Director? It’s nominated for 9 awards, second-most only to its competitors American Hustle and Gravity, but 12 Years a Slave is lined up for a special night come March 2.

Hey, it can happen.


Gravity for Best Picture?

February 12, 2014

After discussing how American Hustle has a good chance of winning Best Picture, I figure why not explain the other front-runners as well?

gravity-pic2

Gravity, just like American Hustle, leads the pack with 10 nominations. But unlike American Hustle who is receiving all the attention for the major awards it received nominations for, Gravity is heavily nominated for the technical categories. In fact, Gravity is only the fifth film in Oscar history to receive nominations in all seven technical categories, which includes: editing, cinematography, score, production design, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects. The other films to achieve this feat were Titanic, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Hugo, and Life of Pi.

Without a doubt, Gravity was a visual masterpiece and whether or not Gravity wins Best Picture, it’s hard to imagine it not walking away with the most Oscars at the end of the night. But here’s another statistic to keep in mind: In Oscar history, only 31 films have won Best Picture without being nominated for Best Cinematography. That’s only 36%. Why do I mention this? Well, only Gravity and Nebraska received a nomination for Best Cinematography and Best Picture.

Want another? In Oscar history, 62 times has the Best Director winner matched the Best Picture winner. That’s 73%. Of course, this is assuming that Alfonso Cuaron is going to win Best Director. He’s certainly the front-runner, but who knows what’s going to happen this year.

But I think the most important reason why Gravity has a great shot at winning Best Picture is this: most people simply really liked Gravity. With Best Picture being decided by a preferential ballot, that means it’s just as important to receive #2 and #3 ranked votes than it is to receive #1 votes. So the front-runners are: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. All of them will rack up a bunch of #1 votes, but this is where I believe Gravity could take it. Some feel that American Hustle isn’t really that great of a movie, and we all know how challenging a film 12 Years a Slave is. That means this could bump them back to #6 or #7 rankings on a lot of voters’ ballots. So if Gravity can snatch those #2 and #3 votes, it’ll win.

Is Gravity a one-trick pony? Or will it end up sweeping the technical awards plus Best Director and Best Picture? I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it wins 8 or 9 Oscars on March 2.

Hey, it can happen.


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