Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oscars 2014

It's Oscar time, folks! Tomorrow, in fact. The Big Day. Oscar Day!

I like the Oscars. Of all the big events and awards type shows out there, the Oscars and the Superbowl are the only two I watch. They're American High Holidays and I am nothing if not a good American. Ask anyone.

Yes, I know they're just a big dumb spectacle, how could I not? Just like I know they're judged off of no metric of quality and instead are based purely off of behind-the-scenes politics and a voting base that really sees even a quarter of the nominated films. They're worthless. They have no meaning, unless they already conform to your own personal opinion, but still... I like them. They're fun. They're grand. They're this giant industry award show kind of thing, like the ones they have in Vegas every year for Dentists or Advertising people or whatever, but it's for movies stars, so it's kind of like a cross between a Royal Ball and the Laff-a-lympics. What's not to love? It's crazy and obnoxious and kind of embarrassing, but whatever, it is what it is and I like to do the predictions. I'm usually about half right too... or less maybe... whatever. My point is, as you're reading my picks, keep in mind that I'm basically blindfolded and throwing a dart, so who cares, right? 

So anyway, my plan is the same as always: I'm going to take a look at each of the major categories in turn and pick which film I think WILL win and which film I think SHOULD win. See what I'm doing there? I've done it before in previous years. Also, like in previous years, I haven't seen all of the nominations. And much like the gaggle of aging octogenarians that make up the majority of the Academy voting base, this doesn't bother me at all or stop me from rendering judgement whatsoever. I already have opinions on most of the films anyway, so it doesn't really matter. Don't worry, I'll cop to it when it comes up. 

Now with all that said, let's get to it...

The Oscars 2014

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Let's just get this part out of the way... How stupid is it that this is the only category that has nine nominations? It's stupid because it's the only one, and it's stupid because it's just kind of accepted that if a Best Picture nomination does NOT get a corresponding Best Director nomination, then it's not going to win. That doesn't mean that it won't ever happen, but it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, y'know? What a waste of time. Just pick five and fuck off or make them all nine, whichever, but it's one or the other, because the way it is now? Dumb. On the upside, this years' nine Best Picture nominations really do highlight how incredible a year it was for film, right? I mean there are some damn good films up there, a lot of them... maybe not nine, but whatever...

Will Win: American Hustle. I haven't seen it, but it did win the Golden Globe and that's another one of those Hollywood self-fulfilling prophecies and it's also the most... mmmm... easily digestible film, know what I mean?

Should Win: However, the critical consensus is that American Hustle is--like Silver Linings Playbook--a good movie, but not a great movie, and that might work against it. I've heard it from enough places, especially after the Globe win, which could be key, and I've seen enough of David O. Russell's films to believe it too. So who it is that SHOULD win... well, it's such a good year, so fingers crossed... I'd be happy with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, or The Wolf of Wall Street. Any one of those three deserve the acknowledgment. In a year of amazing films, they were extra-amazing.

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

This could actually be the big hitch in American Hustle's giddy-up, the part that keeps the Best Picture Oscar out of it's hands, because I get the distinct feeling that no one in Hollywood really likes David O. Russel. He's a well-known asshole, apparently, BIG time, and it's possible no one will vote for him--and as a result: his film--because of that. I can't say how likely that is or isn't, it's just a feeling. But like I said above, the Oscars are 100% behind-the-scene promotion, created project-narrative, and glad-handing, so this could hurt Russel's chances.

Will Win: But despite that, I think he has a big chance and American Hustle is just about the right amount of light and fun cheese mixed with funny wigs and weird outfits that Hollywood loves, but I'm going to ignore all that and remove Russel from consideration. So... as much as I love Marty and Wolf of Wall street, I don't think this is his year. Wolf of Wall Street was incredible and Marty injected so much life and chutzpah, but... Steve McQueen simply made too amazing of a film and it is definitely up Oscar's alley, they love the deep and the serious too, y'know. But then there's Gravity. Alfonso Cuaron is incredible. Incredible. And so is his film. It's completely tonally different from 12 Years a Slave, of course, but it's epic and amazing and a technical marvel and so, so, so definitely Oscar-ish with it's grand vision of the universe. Y'know, I honestly don't know who will win. I hope it's not Russel, but it might be.

Should Win: Cuaron, McQueen, or Scorsese. It's not that Alexander Payne doesn't deserve it, but he's a distant fifth. It's just his bad luck to have made such a great film in a year of so many great films.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
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

Matthew McConaughey has been winning this award all over the place. Cleaning up. That's always a big teller. And the word on the street really just kind of accepts that it's his year. Plus, not only is he amazing in the role, but he also took a page from the How To Win an Oscar playbook: He Went Full Ugly in the role. Never underestimate the power of a super ugly nose and/or wardrobe. Nothing says ACTING to the slobbering old fools who make up the majority of the Academy voting base more than when an attractive person plays an ugly person. And McConaughey lost a ton of weight for his role. He looked like a skeleton. It's his year, peeps.

Will Win: McConaughey. He went Full Ugly

Should Win: Wooderson, because no matter how old he gets, those freshman girls stay the same age.... yes, they do. Yes, they do.

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Meryl, Meryl, Meryl. Meryle is amazing. She's a giant. Merciless. Unstoppable. If I was an Academy Award nominated actress, I would pray that Meryl wasn't nominated, because she will crush all comers. It doesn't matter how good the others actresses are, and they are all very good, but Meryl is the Godzilla of the Oscars. Atomic Breath, bitches! She will burn them all down. However... while I haven't really heard all that much about August: Osage County, what I have heard says it's absolute shit. Absolute shit. Now, that's never stopped Meryl from being amazing in a role before now, but... maybe this year she's just a place holder, y'know? A big name. A traditional name. Good in the role, but you don't hear much, so I don't expect it to be her year. And then there's poor Cate. She may have too much Woody Allen stink on her right now to pull off a win, despite an incredible performance. It could be Judi's year, of course, she's old and doesn't have a Best Actress Oscar, after all. The liver-spotted old bastards who make up the majority of the Academy voting base do like to do that on occasion. However, it's just as likely that it could go to Amy for the opposite reason: She's young and doesn't have any Oscars at all. New blood! Plus, like I said... they were all great. But...

Will Win: Sandra Bullock. Gravity is a powerhouse film and she is fantastic in it. She's got the buzz, people like her, and she's shown that she has the chops. Sandra Bullock.

Should Win: Sandra is driving the bus, kids.

Best Actor in A Supporting Role
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

Best Supporting Actor is often kind of wonky. It's the against-the-grain award. Barkhad Abdi was great. So was Fassbinder. I'm sure Bradley Cooper was too, he seems to work with with Russel. But despite all three of them being very good, they were just "regular" kind of good, y'know? Excellent performances, but...

Will Win: Jared's got the right role for the Academy and he plays it to the hilt too. He's very good. Plus, he leans great.

Should Win: Jonah Hill was fantastic. Plus, he also went Full Ugly, although not as intensely because he's not normally what someone would generally call "attractive", at least not like Matthew McConaughey. Come on, you know it's true. Besides, doesn't matter, he's super talented and he was great in the role. I'd really like to see him win, but I'm not expecting it.

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

It's gonna be Jennifer Lawrence or Lupita Nyong'o. We all know it. Everyone else go home. Sorry. Julia is just a big name place holder. June was great, but much like the real Nebraska, no one really cares. Sally was good too, but... Woody Allen stink. The post-Globes controversy really seemed to sink Blue Jasmine's chances. This is a good example of how the Oscars are decided. It's not the film so much as the narrative the whole project brings to the wheelchair-bound old farts that make up the majority of the Academy voting base. They sure as shit aren't watching the films, but they are watching the news and gossip shows, dig? But in the end it doesn't matter, because this year it's all coming down to just two women.

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence. I can't really fault her for it, even though she doesn't really deserve it, because... shit, man... it's JLaw. Everybody loves JLaw, man. Everybody. It's JLaw.

Should Win: Lupita Nyong'o. Incredibly talented. Incredibly stylish. Incredibly beautiful. She was amazing in 12 Years a Slave. But y'know... first nominations are sometimes more about showing your willingness to play the game than ever actually being considered. It's not a 100% true, but a lot of times you have to be nominated and not win first, before you get to actually win one. Not always, but usually...

Best Animated Feature Film
The Croods – Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2 – Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Ernest and Celestine – Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Hmmm... You know what? I didn't see any of these except Despicable Me 2 and let me tell you, that one is funny, but it totally doesn't deserve the win. Not at all. I also know a guy who claims The Croods is the best damn thing since sliced bread and hand jobs, but... yeah, no. Ernest and Celestine? Hmmm... y'know, I'm not even going to look that one up and I'm just going to guess that's "The French One". And I'm sorry, but that's gonna have to be a No-Go, France. You're still in Oscar jail after forcing the Artist on us as far as I'm concerned.

Will Win: If I had to guess? The Wind Rises. Miyazaki is a god, after all.

Should Win: From what I hear, Frozen is pretty awesome and really funny. Plus, the music is supposed to be excellent. And I love that they have pretty overtly snuck in a pro-LGBT message and it's pissing off all the dumb shit "Christians" out there. So, I'm rooting for Frozen, unseen.

Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom – Nominees to be determined

I haven't seen The Square, but I have seen the rest of the nominees. Cutie and the Boxer is interesting, but doesn't have much to say really. Dirty Wars is pretty good and so is 20 Feet from Stardom, but when measured against The Act of Killing? Not even in the same league. Nowhere close. The Act of Killing is phenomenal. It's a documentary that will knock you on your ass. Simply amazing. It exposes a horrible open secret of history. It examines its subject thoroughly and in the end, the most incredibly human and powerful moment I've ever seen on film. Simply astounding. Will it win? I really hope so, because it really deserves it. Even better, maybe the best thing it has going for it is that I honestly can't guess which weak-water alternate they would choose in its place. There isn't an artier pick. There isn't a deeper message pick. There isn't one with a better human truth caught on film either. If I had to really choose? 20 Feet form Stardom might be the threat, it's cute and funny and innocuous, but I wouldn't bet on it. Mostly because I don't want to.

Will Win: I'm gonna go with The Act of Killing obviously. It's got the balls and pedigree

Should Win: The Act of Killing. It's got the sauce, the meaning, the insight, and the art. It deserves the recognition.

Best Visual Effects
Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3 – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Let's just be clear on this: Star Trek into Darkness and The Lone Ranger were two of the shittiest, bottom of the barrel, god awful, terrible movies this year. Only Man of Steel is missing in order to make the trifecta of the worst pieces of crap films in 2013. Just bargain basement shit-tastic and embarrassingly expensive for being so terrible. Fuck those films. They should not win anything except a punch in the mouth, fines for wasting so much money, and banned from making movies for a whole year. All that aside and fully aware of what I'm saying, I freely admit that I loved the Hobbit Part 2, but I will also admit that it's not the best film either. Not that it really matters, because even though the effects are great, it's the odd man out here, the middle player from Middle Earth as it were. It just doesn't hold up against the obvious winner. Personally, my heart wants to say that winner is Iron Man 3, because c'mon, but in the end, there's just no way around it...

Will Win: Gravity is amazing to watch.

Should Win: I'd love Iron Man 3, but I'm okay with Gravity too.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray
Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

Before Midnight? Before Midnight? What the fuck? What kind of dumbass would think this was okay? Before Midnight? Come on, man! Jesus... As for the rest? Captain Phillips was really good I really enjoyed it. I didn't see Philomena, but I wanted to.

Will Win: I'm betting it's either 12 Years a Slave or The Wolf of Wall Street. Amazing films start with amazing scripts and both of those films are too amazing, my friends.

Should Win: Either/or and I'm good.

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her – Written by Spike Jonze
Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson

American Hustle? Fart. Blue Jasmine? Woody Allen stink. Nebraska and Dallas Buyers Club? Definite possibilities, but I don't think it's going to happen. Me? I have to go with Her. It comes from a place that just sounds so dumb, right? Guy falls in love with his OS. And it looks so hipstery dumb too, the whole film should have a curlicue mustache and a tall bike, but, really... it's so good, people. It's sweet and touching and insightful and well-thought out. Plus, it's very obviously about Spike Jonze's failed marriage to Sofia Coppola. Just all around good. Damn good, folks. Damn good.

Will Win: I bet American Hustle will get it, because sometimes that shit has to happen at the Oscars

Should Win: Her. Obviously.

So there we go. That's all the awards I'm going to bother prognosticating over, after all... Oscar Sunday is looming. Will you watch? What are you going to eat? I'm planning on Nachos. Also, do you have opinions? Alternate winners? Feel free to let me know.

Plus, there's this, just fyi...

Look at me, look at me, look at me,

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