How was your January? Here were my highlights:
1. Merciless class schedule.
2. Literally polar temperatures.
3. Zero movies worth seeing.
Needless to say, it’s been tough to find the motivation to write stuff that I’m not getting a grade on, and even harder to find the time to do so. But this month also saw the announcement of the nominees for the Oscars, aka that award show that is no better than the other ones, yet people care more about.
So, I guess the only thing I can do to keep my blog slipping away into the oblivion of internet space is to write my thoughts on the nominees, having seen (almost) all of the movies in the major categories.
Of course, the Oscar decisions (both who gets nominated and who wins) are completely subjective, not to mention the opinion of a bunch of stuffy old rich people. With this in mind, you may think that agreeing/disagreeing may seem stupid, pointless, or just a way for me to trick people into listening to my thoughts on things…
And you’d be right. Welcome to my blog.
BEST PICTURE: 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity
Who I think will win (and who I want to win): 12 Years a Slave
While this category is far more up-in-the-air than it has been over the last few years, I am still of the opinion that 12 Years A Slave will win the night. Oscar voters have been in the habit of giving it to historical movies, as you can tell from the last few years (Argo, The Artist, The King’s Speech). Throw in the fact that it’s already won a bunch of best picture awards and the numerous comparisons to Schindler’s List, and 12 Years easily has the most going for it in this race.
While the above reasons might be cynical, I also think 12 Years A Slave deserves the award based on it’s craft and effectiveness, though I wouldn’t mind seeing the majority of these films get the award. The only one that would bother me would be American Hustle, as is well documented on this site. Unfortunately, Hustle seems to have become the second big frontrunner, winning Best Musical and Comedy at the Golden Globes (a category which barely describes the movie at all). Hopefully, the white guilt will be strong enough to get 12 Years the recognition it deserves.
Where is Inside Llewyn Davis? The Academy rarely gives the Coen brothers the actual awards, but at the very least they do almost always give them nominations. They even gave A Serious Man a best picture nomination! Critics gushed about Llewyn Davis, so its absence from this list (especially when other ‘small’ movies like Her and Nebraska are here) is one of the biggest and least pleasant surprises of the nominations.
BEST ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Who I think will win: Matthew McConaughey
This is easily the toughest category of the year. As I see it, this race is mainly between McConaughey, Ejiofor, and DiCaprio. While I’d be happy to see any of them take it, I have to go with McConaughey for a few separate reasons. First of all, everyone in Hollywood seems to be rooting for the man since his comeback began in 2012. By voting for him, the Academy would be cementing the ‘McConaissance’ that has gained so much hype over the past year. His success at other award shows seem to further indicate this is his year.
And let’s not forget: The Academy just does not seem to like DiCaprio. While it’s possible he goes on to win because voters feel bad for snubbing him for so long, it’s more likely that the majority of voters are too old to vote for a character as despicable as Jordan Belfort, even if the performance was incredible. It would make far more sense for them to vote for the guy playing the raging homophobe instead.
Ejiofor is just taking his first steps into the Hollywood spotlight, and The Academy typically gives the award to more established nominees rather than breakouts. Also, with 12 Years A Slave already the frontrunner for Best Picture, voters might be more likely to diversify in the acting categories.
I would have to put my personal and worthless vote in for McConaughey. Ejiofor was fantastic, but there’s also the fact that the overwhelming injustice he faces over the course of the movie makes it so much easier to empathize with his situation than in Dallas and Wolf, two movies that through the power of the acting give you reasons to root for and care about deeply flawed human beings that you probably wouldn’t like in real life.
Specifically, the physicality McConaughey brought to the role, as well as the believable arc his character takes (as opposed to DiCaprio’s static character who barely changes at all) puts him over the edge for me.
Again, I am baffled by the Academy’s decision to ignore Inside Llewyn Davis, as Oscar Isaac gave one of the most intimate performances of the year, and was yet another example of an actor allowing the audience to feel deep sympathy for a flawed character. Perhaps they already had too many of those types of roles nominated, or maybe it just solidifies my point that less recognizable faces are more likely to get passed over.
While it may not be surprising that Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t nominated given his outspoken hatred of the Oscars (you and us all, bud), the fact that they still nominated him last year for The Master (a role that in my opinion was no less extroardinary than his Her performance) still makes it feel like a considerable oversight.
Tom Hanks would only technically deserve a nomination for the last quarter of Captain Phillips, but I feel as though it should have happened anyway, especially given what Anne Hathaway pulled off despite how little time she was in Les Miserables. Oh, and I just remembered they snubbed Robert Redford (All is Lost) as well. Jeez, Academy. Come on.
BEST ACTRESS Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Who I think will win: Cate Blanchett
It will be her. Everyone seemed to decide that back when Blue Jasmine came out, before most of the other nominees’ films even released. It also helps that, unlike the actors’ category, the actresses have been pretty unremarkable this year. Of course they had to give a nod to Streep and Bullock, but these seem more obligatory than anything else.
Who I want to win: Judi Dench
I didn’t really think Blanchett’s performance was as earth-shattering as everyone else, but I don’t see any reason to believe she isn’t still the best choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing Dench take it for Philomena above all others, although there is absolutely no chance of that happening.
Okay, I guess there was never really a chance for Brie Larson or Shailene Woodley, was there? They could have at least nominated Margot Robbie for Wolf of Wall Street though. Her breakout performance was pretty spectacular, holding her own in a movie filled with far more established faces.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Who I think will win (and who I want to win): Jared Leto
Jared Leto is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Like McConaughey in that same film, he embodies the role both in personality and in physicality. It’s a bold performance, and while not exactly subtle, it’s exactly the kind of role the Academy votes for. The element of surprise also helps, as Leto has been out of the industry for a while.
Fassbender is the runner-up, but I feel like the Academy wouldn’t risk giving an award to the guy playing the evil slave-owner when they very well might not give an award to the guy playing the slave.
Are you guys ready for a mini-rant? Okay. Bradley Cooper shouldn’t be on this list, just like he shouldn’t have been on last year’s Best Actor list. Two years in a row, David O. Russell has gotten his actors nominations in all four categories, which is both unprecedented and (in my opinion) undeserved.
I don’t understand why people keep voting for Cooper (unless Weinstein really is paying people off), but it is especially glaring in this category, because there are two performances that were by far more deserving: Daniel Bruhl for Rush and Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks. Both of those men brought real-life characters to vivid life, both on the inside and outside.
Hell, even John Goodman’s limited screen time in Inside Llewyn Davis was more worthy. Or McConaughey in Mud. Or James Franco in Spring Breakers. Even Jeremy Renner in the same damn movie. Cooper just acted like Cooper.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita N’yongo (12 Years a Slave), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)
Who I think will win: Jennifer Lawrence
As much as it pains me to say this, things are looking to be in Lawrence’s favor, in my opinion because she seems to be tricking people into thinking she’s the next Streep just because of how likable she is in real life. I found her small performance in American Hustle to be a little forced, and in general would rather any of the other nominees take the award. If the Golden Globes are any indication, however, J-Law has it in the bag.
Who I want to win: June Squibb
I’m pro-Squibb. Nebraska was often a cold and alienating movie, but she brought an unexpected and refreshing sense of humor to the film that was infectious. She easily stole every scene she was in. When recommending the movie to others, Squibb always comes to mind as perhaps the film’s greatest asset.
No. This category was pretty boring.
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Who I think will win (and who I want to win): Alfonso Cuaron
I imagine that this race is between McQueen and Cuaron, but I believe Cuaron will win based on what happened last year: Argo, which like 12 Years a Slave was a frontrunner with a true-story historical plot involving America and a fairly ordinary Hollywood style was the Best Picture winner, but the director Oscar went to Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Like Gravity, Pi was an immersive spectacle film with pioneering special effects, an effective use of 3D, and a survival premise that seemed unfilmable but somehow turned out great.
As David Letterman pointed out in an interview with Spike Jonze, it is kind of strange that Her would get a best picture nomination and a screenwriting nomination, but no directing nomination (especially since, in my mind, Jonze’s direction was far superior to his script). And once more, the Coen brothers are surprisingly absent from the directing list, despite the fact that Inside Llewyn Davis (regardless of what you think of the movie as a whole) was very well-crafted.
And finally, here are my opinions on the rest of the nominees (except the ones I don’t care about, because I don’t care about them). A full list of nominees can be found right over here.
Who I think will win: Spike Jonze (Her)
Who I want to win: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
Notable Snubs: Peter Morgan (Rush), Jeff Nichols (Mud)
Who I think will win: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Who I want to win: Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Who I think will win: Frozen
Who I want to win: Frozen
Notable Snubs: Monsters University (Seriously, they nominated The Croods and Despicable Me 2, but not Monsters U).in
Who I think will win: The Act of Killing
Who I want to win: The Act of Killing
Notable snubs: Stories We Tell
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Who I think will win: Stephen Price (Gravity)
Who I want to win: William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her)
Notable Snubs: Alex Ebert (All is Lost)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Who I think will win: “Let it Go” (Frozen)
Who I want to win: “Let it Go” (Frozen) – as if it would be anything else.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Who I think will win: Gravity
Who I want to win: Gravity
Notable Snubs: Pacific Rim
Who I think will win: Gravity
Who I want to win: Inside Llewyn Davis
Notable Snubs: Rush, Spring Breakers (of course)
BEST FILM EDITING:
Who I think will win: Gravity
Who I want to win: Gravity
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Who I think will win: Gravity
Who I want to win: All is Lost