The Annual Oscar Blog (2014 Edition)

presented by j:

everyone who knows us knows that we love movies. and this year, the Oscars fall on my birthday! so here it is…the annual Oscar blog.

read more below.

i like to start off with the under-the-radar categories no one cares about. i just feel so bad for them. especially those poor writers.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

from Bob Nelson’s screenplay Nebraska


American Hustle by Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her by Spike Jonze
Nebraska by Bob Nelson
who will win: Spike Jonze for Her
who could win: Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell for American Hustle
who should be here: Destin Cretton for Short Term 12
who i’d vote for: Spike Jonze for Her
commentary: if you’re going to stick with “original” in the award category, Her wins outright. Short Term 12 would be here if people realized how accurate a movie it is, though a strong case could be made that Ryan Coogler’s script for Fruitvale Station and the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis should be here too.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

From John Ridley’s adaptation of 12 Years a Slave


Before Midnight by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips by Billy Ray
Philomena by Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave by John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street by Terence Winter
who will win: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
who could win: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope for Philomena
who i’d vote for: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
commentary: 12 Years could easily have become sappy in its writing, but John Ridley’s talent keeps it authentic though heartbreaking.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Sandra Bullock being underwater green-screened for Gravity
Nominees
Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Cinema, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into Darkness

who will win: Gravity
who could win: Gravity
who should be here: no one but Gravity
who i’d vote for: Gravity
commentary: Gravity.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Nominees
Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Tolkien, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

who will win: Captain Phillips
who could win: Gravity or Lone Survivor
who i’d vote for: Captain Phillips
commentary: though some would put Gravity as the frontrunner here, looking at the history of this category, Captain Phillips is the type of movie the Academy likes to reward here, but it won’t be a huge surprise if Gravity wins.
BEST SOUND EDITING

Nominees
All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Quality Film-making, Lone Survivor
who will win: Gravity
who could win: Captain Phillips or Lone Survivor
who i’d vote for: Gravity
commentary: it’s impressive Gravity is in this category due to the, well, lack of sound in much of the movie, but that was part of what made the sound editing so distinct and unique.

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
Just Before Losing Everything

Nominees
Aquel No Era (That Wasn’t Me), Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Helium, Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), The Voorman Problem


who will win: Just Before Losing Everything
who could win: That Wasn’t Me
who i’d vote for: Just Before Losing Everything
commentary: thanks to the Angelika, i’ve seen all of these, and it’s an interesting group of nominees. Helium is the sappiest, and Do I Have To Take Care of Everything? was so funny i was in tears at the end of it. but the Academy tends to favor the short film that has the most potential to be a full-length film, and that would lead me to believe either Just Before Losing Everything will be the winner. it tells the tense and edge-of-your-seat story of a woman trying to escape her abusive husband. but That Wasn’t Me also packed in a lot of bang, telling a painfully graphic story of a child soldier and his rescue.
BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
Feral, Room on the Broom, Mr. Hublot, Get a Horse!, Possessions

Nominees
Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Room on the Broom

who will win: Mr. Hublot
who could win: Room on the Broom
who i’d vote for: Mr. Hublot
commentary: another interesting group of nominees, some of these, like Feral and Get a Horse! were made more for artistic reasons than to tell a story, and in this category, story usually wins out, which means either Mr. Hublot or Room on the Broom will win. i go back-and-forth between which one i liked more and will be pleased if either wins.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

the incredible realistic-futuristic design of Her
Nominees
American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her, 12 Years a Slave
who will win: Gravity
who could win: 12 Years a Slave
who i’d vote for: Her
commentary: it’s a big toss-up between Gravity and 12 Years, though there’s a case to be made for American Hustle‘s ability to re-create the 70s so vividly in every scene. i’d love to see Her win, though, for creating a world that really looks like it could be the future. all of these nominees deserve to be here.
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Nominees
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2 by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from Frozen by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from Her by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by U2
who will win: “Let It Go”
who could win: “Happy”
who should be here: “Hang Me” from Inside Llewyn Davis
who i’d vote for: “The Moon Song”
commentary: despite the fact that i love U2, i think “The Moon Song” was artistically the best of this group – though some were surprised that it was nominated at all. “Let It Go” is the favorite, but “Happy” has been gaining momentum, what with it becoming a radio hit on the heels of Pharrell Williams’ recent Grammy wins. and how ANY of the songs from Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t make it in is a great mystery and shame.
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Steven Price, composer of Gravity

Nominees
The Book Thief by John Williams

Gravity by Steven Price
Her by William Butler & Owen Pallett
Philomena by Alexandre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks by Thomas Newman
who will win: Gravity
who could win: Her or Philomena
who should be here: The Wind Rises by Joe Hisaishi or 12 Years a Slave by Hans Zimmer
who i’d vote for: Saving Mr. Banks

commentary: the Academy might choose to go with Her in the same way they awarded the minimalist score for The Social Network a few years back (the main difference being that the score for Her is actually good). but the always excellent Alexandre Desplat has never won, so they might go with Philomena. poor Thomas Newman has been nominated 12 times now and never won, and if Saving Mr. Banks had more nominations as a movie, he’d probably be more likely to win.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Makeup touch-ups on set of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Nominees
Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

who will win: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (sadly)
who could win: Dallas Buyers Club
who should be here: American Hustle or The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
who i’d vote for: Dallas Buyers Club

commentary: their history shows that the Academy loves it when movies make young actors look old, so Bad Grandpa is favored to win. if they decide to go for quality of film, though (and i hope they do), Dallas Buyers Club it is.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Italy’s nominee The Great Beauty
Nominees
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Great Beauty (Italy), The Hunt (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia), Omar (Palestine)
who will win: The Great Beauty
who could win: The Broken Circle Breakdown
who i’d vote for: ?
commentary: i’ve seen none of these yet, but i’ve noticed The Hunt is on Netflix, so i’ll get to it eventually. The Great Beauty seems to be the favored of the lot, and Omar looks like it will be worth watching when it comes to American theaters.
BEST FILM EDITING


Nominees
American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave
who will win: Gravity
who could win: Captain Phillips
who should be here: Fruitvale Station
who i’d vote for: Captain Phillips
commentary: Captain Phillips really does probably feature the best film editing this year, but i won’t be surprised if Gravity wins, nor would i mind too much if it did. 12 Years could slip in here too if the Academy wants to spread the love around more.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

From The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Nominees
CaveDigger, Facing Fear, Karama Has No Walls, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
who will win: The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life
who could win: Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
who i’d vote for: ?
commentary: i haven’t seen any of these as they are notoriously difficult to track down in my part of the world, but based on their descriptions, Lady sounds the most compelling and heart-tugging.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Netflix-produced doc The Square
Nominees
The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet From Stardom
who will win: The Act of Killing
who could win: 20 Feet From Stardom
who i’d vote for: The Square
commentary: 20 Feet From Stardom, a profile of backup singers for famous artists, was an early favorite, but The Act of Killing has dominated other awards groups so far. watch The Square on Netflix.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Some of the many plunging necklines of American Hustle
Nominees
American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years a Slave
who will win: American Hustle
who could win: The Invisible Woman
who i’d vote for: American Hustle
commentary: usually, The Invisible Woman is the type of costume drama that the Academy loves to reward, but i have a feeling they will step a bit out-of-bounds this year and award American Hustle instead, especially since the plethora of costumes in that movie was so much a part of the storytelling.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Emmanuel Lubezki on Gravity set with Sandra Bullock & George Clooney
Nominees
The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

who will win: Gravity
who could win: please…just…Gravity
who should be here: Her
who i’d vote for: Gravity
commentary: Emmanuel Lubezki’s fantastic work on Gravity will be rewarded, and it’ll be a nice make-up award too for when he didn’t win for Tree of Life back in 2011. poor Roger Deakins just can’t catch a break…11 nominations in this category with no win yet, though he should have won for True Grit in 2010.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Concept art from Disney’s Frozen
Nominees
The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises
who will win: Frozen
who could win: The Wind Rises
who should be here: Monsters University
who i’d vote for: The Wind Rises
commentary: as much as i would like to see Hayao Miyazaki win one more Oscar for his final film, the beautiful The Wind Rises, this looks to be Frozen‘s award. and why not? the Walt Disney company has never won in this category since it began in 2001, which seems crazy considering the Disney legacy in animation.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o & Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Nominees
Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita N’yongo in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska
who will win: Lupita N’yongo
who could win: Jennifer Lawrence
who should be here: Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station
who i’d vote for: Lupita N’yongo
commentary: a lot of people are saying Jennifer Lawrence is going to win and maybe “smart” money is on her. but i’m also pretty sure that J-Law herself is voting for Lupita N’yongo and anyone who has seen 12 Years a Slave knows why. her performance as slave woman, Patsy, is one of the rawest, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking performances ever put on screen. and how Octavia Spencer didn’t get a nomination for the perfection she was in Fruitvale Station, i’ll never understand.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
Nominees
Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
who will win: Jared Leto
who could win: Barkhad Abdi
who should be here: Keith Stanfield in Short Term 12 or Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks
who i’d vote for: Barkhad Abdi
commentary: it’s Jared Leto’s for the taking with his incredible work in Dallas Buyers Club – i go back-and-forth on whether i’d vote for him or Barkhad Abdi. there’s always a chance the Academy would award a performance like Abdi’s, though, since it’s a slim chance an actor like him will ever be able to land another nomination-worthy role. i was only slightly surprised Tom Hanks was not nominated for playing Mr. Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.
BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Nominees
Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County
who will win: Cate Blanchett
who could win: Amy Adams
who should be here: Brie Larson for Short Term 12 and Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks
who i’d vote for: Cate Blanchett
commentary: the smart money is actually on Cate Blanchett as she is favored to win. her performance is just “one of those” that deserves to win. if there’s a surprise, it will be Amy Adams, since sometimes the Academy likes to reward the non-winner in a category full of previous winners (ala Kate Winslet’s win in 2007 and Adrien Brody’s win in 2003, though both of those were also very much deserved). i really wish Brie Larson had been recognized for her beautiful work in Short Term 12, but you can’t get everything you want. *sigh* also, Emma Thompson for her fantastic performance in Saving Mr. Banks.

BEST ACTOR

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
Nominees
Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonard DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
who will win: Matthew McConaughey
who could win: Chiwetel Ejiofor
who should be here: Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, duh. or Joaquin Phoenix in Her, though i’m sure he’s relieved he didn’t get nominated this year
who i’d vote for: Matthew McConaughey
commentary: Matthew McConaughey has had quite the year and expect an Oscar to top it off for the Texas native. Tom Hanks’ exclusion here is clearly a case of “someone else will nominate him, so i’ll nominate this guy instead” since it was his best work in 13 years. Chiwetel Ejiofor just won the BAFTA for Best Actor, so maybe he’ll pull an upset for his terrific turn in 12 Years.

BEST DIRECTING
Alfonso Cuarón
Nominees
David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street
who will win: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
who could win: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
who should be here: Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
who i’d vote for: Alfonso Cuarón
commentary: it really is Cuarón’s for the taking regardless of who wins Best Picture. Gravity was the technical achievement of the year and did so without sacrificing story or emotion. it’s possible the Academy gives McQueen an Oscar if they also choose 12 Years for Best Picture, but unlikely. Martin Scorsese is here because he is Martin Scorsese.
BEST PICTURE


Nominees
American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
who will win: 12 Years a Slave
who could win: Gravity
who should be here: Saving Mr. Banks or Inside Llewyn Davis
who i’d vote for: 12 Years a Slave
commentary: i’ve seen 8 of the 9 nominees (i’ve chosen not to see Wolf), and it’s a strong batch of contenders. Gravity could run away with the whole thing – there’s certainly enough love for it to do so. but i still expect 12 Years a Slave to come out the winner even if it doesn’t rack up a whole lot of other awards along the way. it’s just too great of a film to ignore and may just be the Schindler’s List of this era of film-making – plus, it’s about time for Brad Pitt to win an Oscar for something.
my prediction tallies:
American Hustle: Costume Design
Captain Phillips: Sound Mixing
Dallas Buyers Club: Actor, Supporting Actor
Gravity: Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Visual Effects
Her: Original Screenplay
Nebraska: happy to be nominated
Philomena: happy to be nominated
12 Years a Slave: Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay
The Wolf of Wall Street: lucky to be nominated

p.s. i went 19/24 on last year’s Oscars and 18/24 the year before

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