LIVE BLOGGING the 2013 Academy Awards!

2 03 2014

12:00 A.M.  S0 7 Oscars for “Gravity,” 3 for “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2 for “Frozen” and “The Great Gatsby” … and none for “American Hustle.”  The Oscars, so great and so cruel.

12:00 A.M.  Steve McQueen jumping up and down, how joyous!

11:59 P.M.  Seeing Paul Dano on stage makes me angry.

11:59 P.M.  Two years in a row of a split Best Picture/Best Director.  Wow.

11:58 P.M.  Two years too late for “Shame,” but still glad for Steve McQueen.

11:57 P.M.  Brad Pitt, now an Oscar winner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor



11:52 P.M.  I think Woody Allen got more applause than God, yikes.

11:51 P.M.  I see Matthew McConaughey’s mom, the real star of “Bernie!”

Matthew McConaughey


11:47 P.M.  Oh, Cate.  So classy.  And a beautiful dish on “Gravity.”  Muted applause on the mention of Woody Allen, eek.  Thank you so much for calling out Hollywood for not making movies about women and applauding intelligent audiences!

Cate Blanchett




11:29 P.M.  So “American Hustle” has now gone from once-frontrunner to completely blanked … it’s not going to win anything left.  GRR!  This reminds me of back in 2009 when “Up in the Air” lost Best Adapted Screenplay.

11:28 P.M.  Nice, short speech – poor Spike Jonze, he should be less humble!

Her Production Design


12 Years a Slave


11:18 P.M.  What an awesome speech to their daughters.  Here’s to EGOT for Bobby Lopez!

Let It Go


Gravity once more


11:07 P.M.  Also, they handled the Sarah Jones controversy nicely.  Forgot to mention.

11:02 P.M.  Ellen’s selfie broke Obama’s record for most retweets!

10:57 P.M.  Wow, we lost some incredible talent from the film industry this year.  Much of them too soon.

10:53 P.M.  In Memoriam, here come the tears…

10:46 P.M.  Of course, the first person on the Chris Evans-introduced montage is … Captain America.

Gatsby sets


10:42 P.M.  Wonderful outfit change, Ellen.

10:34 P.M.  P!nk?!  What the heck?!


Gravity Score


10:29 P.M.  Two years too late for “The Tree of Life,” but about time Lubezki gets his Oscar!  (P.S. – Great shout-out by Bill Murray to the late Harold Ramis.)

Gravity Cinematography


10:26 P.M.  “Baby, you look like $146 million domestic.”  – Bill Murray, to Amy Adams

10:22 P.M.  Jared Leto giving the pizza to his mom!  Adorable.

10:22 P.M.  Brad Pitt, waiter of the year.

10:16 P.M.  What a beautiful speech by Lupita Nyong’o.  Everyone is so moved, including a teary-eyed Brad Pitt.  BRILLIANT!  Melissa Leo, shame on you.







9:56 P.M.  The tasteful simplicity of U2 and Karen O makes me realize just how tacky Pharrell was.



9:43 P.M.  Seriously, why wouldn’t they show the dang Honorary Oscar winners in the crowd?  Ok, one shot of Angelina Jolie…


9:39 P.M.  Hooray for Darlene Love getting her big moment in the spotlight!  Standing ovation!


9:35 P.M.  I really want to see this short now.  Like, SO badly.



9:24 P.M.  I’m melting, “The Moon Song” is so adorable!



9:18 P.M.  I spent the entire first half of the montage trying to figure out what the song in the montage was … it was the theme song from “Revolutionary Road.”  Ears, why didst thou fail me?

9:16 P.M.  Aww, his son!  Beautiful.




9:04 P.M.  “American Hustle” should win!!!  Why did Harrison Ford sound so bored?!





8:56 P.M.  Ellen to Jonah Hill: “No, I don’t want to see it.”  Dig this running gag.

8:53 P.M.  Time for a commercial break!  This is like watching “The Wolf of Wall Street” – overwhelming.

8:52 P.M.  Ok, Meryl Streep dancing … joyous.

8:51 P.M.  That hat … Pharrell … stop.

8:47 P.M.  Jim Carrey, you scare me.

8:46 P.M.  Ellen’s picture reminds me of her 2007 shenanigans…

8:45 P.M.  Nice of Leto to go shake Jonah Hill’s hand.  And love the shout-out to Ellen.  But best of all is his heartfelt tribute to his mother!  A beautiful speech that gets political but not too touchy.

Jared Leto


8:40 P.M.  “Possibilty #1: ’12 Years a Slave’ wins Best Picture.  Possbility #2: you’re all racists.” – Ellen

8:37 P.M.  “If you [J-Law] wins, I think we should bring you the Oscar!”- Ellen

8:36 P.M.  So jealous of Nicholas Hoult right now…

8:35 P.M.  “One of the nominees is ‘Her,’ and by ‘her,’ I mean Meryl Streep.” – Ellen

8:33 P.M.  “Movies offer us an escape.”  Gulp.  THEY OFFER SO MUCH MORE!

8:32 P.M.  Aww, June Squibb!  Come on, Ellen, that’s kind of mean…

8:30 P.M.  Ellen in pantsuit, called it.

8:23 P.M.  So close!

8:11 P.M.  The fashion winners, because obviously:

Lupita Nyong'o

JLaw red carpet

June Squibb

June Squibb is just too awesome!

8:03 P.M.  And once again, I have mistaken the ending of E!’s program for the start of the ceremony.  Classic!



Best Director

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity
Could win: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: Sarah Polley, “Stories We Tell

The passion project 4 years in the making gives Cuarón an easy win.

Best Picture

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

I go “Gravity” because it’s going to win everything else, it’s never wise to split Best Picure/Director, and I think people might be over-manufacturing the whole need for “12 Years a Slave” to win.  I keep reading that people will not watch it.  So I give the edge to “Gravity.”

And in case you missed the thread running through this post, “Spring Breakers” should be making a huge appearance in these awards if justice had been served this year.

7:54 P.M.  Supporting categories – one easy, one that’s so tight I’m still agonizing about it.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: James Franco, “Spring Breakers”

Leto wins this one easily.  Too bad for Fassbender and Cooper.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Should win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: Emma Watson, “The Bling Ring

I give Nyong’o the edge since J-Law won last year, and “12 Years a Slave” is more of a threat to win Best Picture.  But I honestly don’t know!

7:46 P.M.  Leading actor categories!  The time is coming, I can barely type straight!

6) Blue Jasmine

Best Actress

Will win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Could win: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Should win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Should be nominated: Berenice Bejo, “The Past”

No-brainer.  Maybe Adams surprises, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Amy Adams will win on her next nomination, I bet.

Best Actor

Will win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street
Should win: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska
Should be nominated: Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

McConaughey walks away with this one … alright, alright, alright.

7:40 P.M.  Can’t believe I’m already at the screenplays!!!  Ahhh we’re getting close!

Bale Hustle

Best Original Screenplay

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “Her”
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

I’m hoping that David O. Russell gets his first Oscar win in this category, though Spike Jonze could get his first here too.  The love for “American Hustle” ran deeper than “Her,” so that broke the tie.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: “Philomena
Should win: “Philomena
Should be nominated: “Lone Survivor

The only no-brainer for “12 Years a Slave” of the night.

7:30 P.M.  J.Law just tripped on the red carpet!!! She’s my idol.

7:25 P.M.  Cate Blanchett’s a little out on a limb with that dress, but she still looks stunning.  Anyways, got to crank out more predictions!

Best Film Editing

Will win: “Captain Phillips
Could win: “Gravity
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

Tom Hanks

I think the more traditionally edited “Captain Phillips” prevails here over the minimally edited “Gravity.”  But it could easily sweep the techs.

7:21 P.M.  Ok, finishing out the tech categories … I actually hadn’t even made up my mind before writing this, so here we go!

Best Production Design

Will win: “The Great Gatsby
Could win: “Gravity
Should win: “Her”
Should be nominated: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

I assume the opulence of “The Great Gatsby” wins out here, but I think “Gravity” or “Her” could surprise.

Best Costume Design

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “The Great Gatsby
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Her”

1) American Hustle

This is a bit of a guess.  I love what the threads of “American Hustle” said about the characters, though the more traditionally elaborate work on “The Great Gatsby” or “The Invisible Woman” could easily win.

7:08 P.M.  If only someone foreign had arrived for me to usher in my prediction for Best Foreign Film…

Best Foreign Language Film

Will win: “The Great Beauty
Could win: “The Hunt
Should win: “The Hunt
Should be nominated: “The Past”

9) The Hunt

As much as I’d love to see “The Hunt” happen, 21 months after I first saw it in Cannes, I think the Oscars are going to succumb to the opulence of “The Great Beauty.”  Funny, last year at Cannes it had no buzz upon its premiere…

7:06 P.M.  Jared Leto and June Squibb, officially dating – you heard it first on E!

7:05 P.M.  June Squibb, so adorable!

7:04 P.M.  Now that Naomi Watts has arrived, it seems like a good time to predict Best Hair and Makeup.  (Bit of a non-sequitur, but who cares?)

Best Hair and Makeup

Will win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: “Bad Grandpa”
Should win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Should be nominated: “American Hustle”

I think voters will be too embarrassed to vote for one of the other two nominees.  “Dallas Buyers Club” seemed to have enough love across the board to score here.  Surprisingly, its makeup budget was $250.

7:00 P.M.  Ok, let’s get the “Gravity” awards – I mean, the technical awards – predicted.  P.S. Lupita Nyong’o, you are adorable.

Best Cinematography

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “12 Years a Slave”

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Emmanuel Lubezki will finally get his due, redeeming his snub for “The Tree of Life.”  Maybe next year for Roger Deakins…

Best Visual Effects

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: no one
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “The Great Gatsby


6:51 P.M.   Pharrell Williams … in shorts?!  What?!

Also, Cate Blanchett, why did you have to be so good that I can’t root unequivocally for Amy Adams?!  Ok, more predictions.

Best Animated Film

Will win: “Frozen
Could win: “The Wind Rises”
Should win: abstain
Should be nominated: “Monsters University

Another no-brainer.  Maybe Miyazaki love surprises, but “Frozen” is too big of a hit to deny.

Best Documentary Feature

Will win: “20 Feet from Stardom
Could win: “The Act of Killing
Should win: “The Square”
Should be nominated: “Stories We Tell

Similar to the above category, crowd-pleaser over intellectualism.  Still so bitter that “Stories We Tell” isn’t here.

6:40 P.M.  Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, still one of the more puzzling Hollywood couples.

6:34 P.M.  In keeping with the theme of sound, here are my predictions for the sound categories.

Best Sound Mixing/Editing

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Lone Survivor”
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

I know these categories are separate, but “Gravity” is easily going to win them both.  (For those curious about the difference, sound mixing is the adjustment of sound levels and sound editing is the creation of sound.  At least I think…)

SoundWorks Collection: The Sound of Gravity from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


6:26 P.M.  More music predictions as I hear Pharrell’s “Happy” in the Fiat commercial.

Best Original Score

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Philomena
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

The sonic experience of “Gravity” will probably go for 3-for-3.  Maybe Alexander Desplat finally gets his moment in the sun (much needed since “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“) but the time doesn’t feel right.

6:20 P.M.  So I just mistook Portia Di Rossi for Helen Mirren … yikes.  So how about another prediction?!

Best Original Song

Will win: “Let It Go,” Frozen
Could win: “Happy,” Despicable Me 2
Should win: “The Moon Song,” Her
Should be nominated: “Young and Beautiful,” The Great Gatsby

Mega-hit “Frozen” ought to run away with this category, which has two chart-toppers gunning for Oscar gold.  Though I’d love to see Karen O surprise and earn Spike Jonze his first Oscar.  (Maybe if the newest version was in the film, it would have had a better chance.)

6:14 P.M.  Viola Davis, so classy.  You rock.

5:53 P.M.  Come on, celebs, show up already!

5:41 P.M.  I’m going to go ahead and log my first set of predictions.  Might as well get the ball rolling.

Best Short Film (Live Action/Animated/Documentary)

Will win: “Helium,” “Get a Horse,” “The Lady in Number 6”

I made an effort to go see the shorts this year, but I was thwarted by bad weather.  These are the general consensus across the Internet.

5:38 P.M.  Watching Dave Karger dumb down his Oscar picks for the E! crowd is amusing.

5:30 P.M.  Time to start the Oscars LIVE BLOG!  The red carpet has begun on E!  (I’m a little later than normal this year, my apologies for anyone who was really hoping for extremely early coverage.)

The 2013 Oscar Nominations!

16 01 2014

Best Picture

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

Best Director

  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
  • Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
  • David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
  • Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street

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”

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
  • Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
  • Judi Dench, “Philomena
  • 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”

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”

Best Original Screenplay

  • “American Hustle”
  • Blue Jasmine
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Her”
  • “Nebraska”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Read on for my commentary on the nominations!

Big winners

American Hustle“American Hustle.”  It’s tied for the most nominations of the day with 10, further cementing its status as the one to beat for Best Picture.  It does have to share the title of nominations leader with “Gravity” since it missed out on what I assumed would have been a slam-dunk nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

David O. Russell.  Two years ago, there hadn’t been a movie nominated in all four acting categories since 1981.  Now, David O. Russell has directed two straight movies and two straight casts to achieve that feat … in back-to-back years, no less.  He’s nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director; the man simply has to walk away with something this Oscar night.

“Dallas Buyers Club.”  Kicking the Coens out of Best Original Screenplay was quite a feat, but showing up in Best Editing over “The Wolf of Wall Street” or a film like “Rush?”  That’s a surprising show of strength.

“Nebraska.”  Alexander Payne making it 3-for-3 on Best Director/Best Picture nominations is certainly a feather in his cap.  Showing up in cinematography over “12 Years a Slave” is a surprise as well.

HerJonah Hill and Bradley Cooper.  I’d like to once again point out that if you’d told me four years ago that these two guys would be two-time Oscar nominees today, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Snaps for a remarkable career transition!

Amy Adams.  She stars in two Best Picture nominees and can now celebrate her first Best Actress nomination!  For those of you following at home, that’s five nominations for Adams in nine years.  It took Kate Winslet twelve years to get five nominations.  So a win has to be around the corner, right?

Megan Ellison.  Daughter of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, Megan has put her inheritance to good use by financing tricky projects that would otherwise be a struggle to make.  Today, she was rewarded with two Oscar nominations for “American Hustle” and “Her.”

“Blue Jasmine.”  Sally Hawkins getting a Best Supporting Actress nomination bodes will for Cate Blanchett’s win in Best Actress.  I thought for a second it might have popped up in Best Picture, but it was not to be.

My Best Picture predictions!  My projected lineup turned out to be the Academy’s lineup!  Granted, I found this year relatively easy to forecast.  Getting the number, though, is something that always worries me with the sliding field.

Big losers

Saving Mr. Banks“Saving Mr. Banks.”  Once considered a legitimate threat to win the “sentimental” Best Picture slot, the Disney biopic couldn’t even get a nomination for its leading lady Emma Thompson (who had racked up every necessary precursor to seemingly secure a spot).  In fact, its only mention came in Best Original Score.

“Captain Phillips.”  Not that it was every a real threat to win, but missing out in both Best Actor and Best Director to “The Wolf of Wall Street” means it’s probably not in the top 5.

Tom Hanks.  The two-time Oscar winner had been tipped to be a two-time nominee earlier this year.  Then, his prospects dwindled for “Saving Mr. Banks.”  But today, Hanks struck out with the Academy.  Guess it’s only Meryl Streep who gets nominated for everything.

“All Is Lost.”  A few months ago, people thought this would be a Best Picture contender.  Today, it managed to only net one nomination … in Best Sound Editing.  Robert Redford couldn’t crack the tight Best Actor field, which I did predict.  Sometimes, they aren’t as sentimental towards older actors as they’re made out to be.

“Inside Llewyn Davis.”  Guess the love for the Coen Brothers isn’t as deep as I thought.  I knew a Best Picture nomination wasn’t likely, but no recognition for their fantastic screenplay?  Robbed, I tell you, ROBBED!

Captain Phillips

“The Butler.”  Potential Best Picture spoiler?  Oprah Winfrey a lock for Best Supporting Actress?  WRONG.  Totally blanked.

“Spring Breakers” and “Stories We Tell.”  While my favorite movie of the year was also the most nominated, my #2 and #3 selections did not fare so well.  While the former was not expected to make any showing, Sarah Polley’s bold and brilliant feature should easily have scored a nomination for Best Documentary Feature.  But alas, it was snubbed.

“12 Years a Slave.”  Not a big loser, but not being the nominations leader makes its claim for Best Picture inevitability dubious.  It could have tied “American Hustle” and “Gravity,” but it missed out on what I assumed would have been a slam-dunk: Best Cinematography.

Oscar Moment: Final 2013 Predictions! (Part 2)

15 01 2014

Last night, I had a very stressful dream that involved me missing the official announcement of the Academy Award nominations.  I then scrambled all day to try and watch a video of the presentation to no avail.  So needless to say, I am very ready to find out who’s really in the running for this year’s Oscars!  Now, it’s time to reveal my predictions for the top categories.


  1. American Hustle
  2. Her
  3. Nebraska
  4. Blue Jasmine
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis

_DSC2097.tifThis may be the most stacked that the original category has been in a long, long time.  Usually, it’s adapted that is an embarrassment of riches and original that has a dearth of contenders. Not so much in 2013.

“American Hustle,” being at the forefront of the Oscar race, is probably the one to beat here.  “Her,” however, could steal it in the end.  Jonze’s incredibly original work took the Golden Globe, and it will likely find fans in the writers’ branch.  Then again, they didn’t embrace “The Master” last year … the moment you think you have the Academy pegged, they change.

“Nebraska” seems highly likely as well.  Even though the script was not written by Alexander Payne himself, the 2-time winner of Best Adapted Screenplay, the film still has his fingerprints all over it.  A nomination would still be likely even if the film wasn’t in Best Picture contention.

Blue JasmineAfter there, the race could go a number of ways.  I’m thinking writers’ branch stalwart Woody Allen will show up here for “Blue Jasmine.”  It’s one of his more acclaimed films in years, and Blanchett’s front-runner status in Best Actress has kept the film’s profile high.  Only twice has Allen’s script missed a nomination here when the movie features an Oscar-nominated performance.  He’s been nominated a whopping 15 times, so betting against him seems foolish.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is riding high off praise for its performances and may sail to a Best Picture nomination.  Even without a nod in the top category, I could see it popping up here, like last year when “Flight” displaced “The Master.”  (If you can’t tell, I’m still slightly bitter.)

There’s always a chance for a really left-field choice here, so who knows what could land a nomination?  Could it be Jeff Nichols’ “Mud?”  Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said?”  Oscar contenders likely to be on the outside looking in such as “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Fruitvale Station,” “The Butler,” or maybe even … Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity?”

I’m leaning towards the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” another fantastic showcase of their talents and potentially one of the few chances the film has at recognition.  Though it’s been absent from the guilds, the Coens have always had fans in the Academy.  The writers branch has nominated their work five times, and residual respect ought to bring them through.


  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Captain Phillips
  3. Philomena
  4. Before Midnight
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street

Before MidnightBest Picture nominees generally tend to dominate the field in Adapted, so “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Philomena” have pretty much already punched their ticket.

The category usually recognizes a few more unique adaptations, like a “Borat,” “Children of Men,” or “In the Loop.”  This year, I think that slot goes to “Before Midnight.”  The previous installment in the most unlikely trilogy also received a nomination in Best Adapted Screenplay, and there’s no reason why I don’t think its sequel will repeat.  It’s debatable how “adapted” the story really is as it takes its basis from pre-existing characters, but that won’t work against it.  The unique collaboration between director Richard Linklater and actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke is worth rewarding in and of itself too for its uniqueness.

As for the last spot, I think “The Wolf of Wall Street” takes it even if the film misses out on a Best Picture nomination.  The only other competition is “August: Osage County,” which has proved divisive and controversial.  It’s also more of an actors’ movie, which works against the film when only writers determine its chances at a nomination here.


  1. Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
  2. Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
  3. David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
  4. Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
  5. Spike Jonze, “Her”

GravityLast year, the director’s branch threw everyone for a curve by excluding two former winners (Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper) and omitting the director of the eventual Best Picture winner (Ben Affleck) to include a first-time filmmaker (Benh Zeitlin) and a director working in a foreign language (Michael Haneke).  I don’t think Best Director will have quite as many surprise this year, though.

Alfonso Cuarón seems likely for a nomination, if not the win at this point.  His “Gravity” is an undeniable testament to the skill and expertise of his direction.  Even if the Academy doesn’t want to give their top prize to a science-fiction movie, Cuarón could still take home this prize.  The man has been nominated as an editor and a writer previously, so respect runs deep through the organization.

Steve McQueen and David O. Russell, directors of the respective Best Picture shoo-ins “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle,” should also be safe.  Russell even managed a nomination in Best Director last year for “Silver Linings Playbook” despite being snubbed by the DGA.  He got the guild’s support this year, so he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Paul Greengrass scored a lone Best Director nomination back in 2006 for “United 93” (perhaps the film would have been nominated in a field of more than 5) and seems likely to score another nod with “Captain Phillips.”  His steady direction is crucial to the film’s success, and though it’s out of the hunt for a win, I’d be shocked to see it passed over given the respect for Greengrass and the film.

ScorseseAs for the fifth and final spot in the category, the directors branch could nominate Alexander Payne for “Nebraska,” whose work was recognized by the Golden Globes.  Or they could give DGA nominee Martin Scorsese his first Best Director nomination since finally winning in 2006 for “The Departed.”  I really can’t tell which of these wildly different pieces will strike a chord with the eclectic directors.  My sense is that Payne, twice nominated here for “Sideways” and “The Descendants,” is more likely than Scorsese as “The Wolf of Wall Street” definitely has its detractors.

I’m inclined to think, though, that the directors will opt to give the final spot to Spike Jonze for “Her.”  It’s a film that represents a clear directorial vision and creation.  The movie is quirky and may not play well across the board to the Academy, but I think it should resonate with the directors.  They gave him a Best Director nomination back in 1999 for his directorial debut “Being John Malkovich,” so there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t be feted again.


  1. American Hustle
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. Gravity
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. Nebraska
  6. Her
  7. Dallas Buyers Club
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street
  9. Philomena
  10. Inside Llewyn Davis

NebraskaWell, here, we are.  My final Best Picture predictions.  It’s down to “American Hustle” vs. “12 Years a Slave” vs. “Gravity” for the win; everybody else should just be happy to put “__ Oscar nominations including BEST PICTURE” on their DVD case.  I think “American Hustle” has the edge at the moment, but the upcoming guilds should provide a clearer picture of who is really on top.  After all, it’s those people whose opinions line up most with Academy voters.

“Captain Phillips” and “Nebraska” are also pretty much shoo-ins, collecting pretty much every major nomination necessary to secure a spot here.  (“Nebraska” missed with the DGA, but that’s not the end of the world in an expanded field.)  Again, neither looks like a threat to win here.

Aside from those five, however, it’s anyone’s guess as to how those other spots play out.  Several films have popped up with a blip on the radar, such as “The Butler” (SAG), “August: Osage County” (SAG), “Blue Jasmine” (PGA), “Fruitvale Station” (AFI), and “Rush” (HFPA).  Of these, I think only “Blue Jasmine” has the chance to surprise.  The Producers Guild is a significant voting body, and their nod of support should not be taken lightly.  But “Blue Jasmine” has been so quiet on the circuit otherwise compared to “Midnight in Paris.”  Woody Allen’s respect in the Academy is deep, too, so there’s always an outside chance for one of his movies.

For SAG ensemble nominees “The Butler” and “August: Osage County,” I don’t think their critical shortcomings can be overcome with this nomination.  While the actors may be the biggest component of the Academy, we’ve learned they are not large enough to power otherwise poorly-received films to Best Picture nominations in the era of the expanded field.  SAG ensemble nominees Nine” and “The Best Exotic Margiold Hotel” both faltered in their quest to be recognized in the industry’s top category, and the two aforementioned 2013 nominees will likely fare the same.

“Fruitvale Station” and “Rush” just never really caught fire in awards season, and I doubt that either can gin up the passion to gain the requisite votes for a nomination.

PhilomenaThat leaves us with several repeat offenders.  “Her” was a Golden Globe, BFCA, PGA, WGA, and AFI nominee.  Thought its quirkiness and boldness might not find favor with all Academy voters, it definitely has enough passionate supporters to at least gain a nomination.

“Dallas Buyers Club” was nominated for SAG ensemble along with BFCA, PGA, and WGA nominations.  The film seems to have a broad enough base of support, but there’s always a chance that the supporters aren’t very fervent.  I think it ought to be fine, though.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is very controversial, as I’ve said nearly any time I’ve written about it, but the film seems to have hit its stride just when it counts.  Though it missed entirely with SAG, it’s been nominated by the DGA, PGA, WGA, BFCA, and HFPA.  I think all that support means a nomination is extremely likely, but anything could happen.

I think the Academy might end up with just those eight, which would be a shame given how incredible this year has been for film.  But if they nominate nine, I think “Philomena” would take the next spot.  It’s a sentimental crowd-pleaser right up the Academy’s alley, and it’s British.  There’s a sizable contingency of industry professionals from across the pond that vote for the Oscars, and they’ve been a crucial voting bloc that can often make a contender.  “Philomena” has wide support from BAFTA, HFPA, PGA, and WGA, which I expect means it has the capability of scoring a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Inside Llewyn DavisAnd if they were to nominate ten, the smart money would probably be on PGA, BFCA, and AFI nominee “Saving Mr. Banks.”  The fact that it was not nominated by the Golden Globes and SAG, though, strikes me as odd.  Tom Hanks’ lack of traction in Best Supporting Actor, too, seems a sign of the film’s weakness.  “Philomena” seems to have the market cornered on the heartwarming movie of the year.  Maybe the industry is done with the self-congratulatory streak that powered “The Artist” and “Argo” to Best Picture wins.

Even though it was shockingly snubbed by the PGA and WGA, “Inside Llewyn Davis” was directed by the Coen Brothers.  Their status as Academy darlings simply cannot be understated, particularly after their wins in 2007 for “No Country for Old Men.”  In 2009, their “A Serious Man” managed to sneak into the Best Picture category with relatively little heat.  The next year, their “True Grit” wound up with a whopping 10 nominations, and the Coens displaced Christopher Nolan in Best Director.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” hasn’t been completely dead on the circuit, picking up nominations from HFPA, BFCA, and AFI.  It’s definitely a long shot, but don’t write the film off.  I think if any movie stands poised to stealthily crack the field, it’s this one.

Check back tomorrow morning when the nominees are announced to see how I did in predicting them, along with further commentary on the announcement!

OSCAR MOMENT: Final 2013 Predictions! (Part 1)

14 01 2014

Well, folks, hard to believe that we’ll have a fresh batch of Oscar nominations in less than 2 days. Where has the time gone? Seems like just yesterday that I was posting my first (and, sadly, my only) predictions that included Naomi Watts in the thick of the Best Actress race for “Diana.” But now that all the ballots are in, the jury is still out on how a few of the races will go.

Who is about to have a great wake-up call on Thursday? I sort through the acting races races below.


  1. Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
  3. Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
  4. Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street

Bale HustleThe top 3 seem pretty secure to me.  There’s a slim chance of Hanks falling out simply because this isn’t his first rodeo and voters might want to give their vote to a fresher face.  But aside from frontrunners McConaughey and Ejiofor, very few of the top nominees are new to the game.

Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station,” both gave great breakout performances.  Maybe in a less competitive year, they’d have broken through.  In 2013, I’d be shocked if they could crack this field.  It doesn’t help that neither movie seemed to gain much traction during precursor season.  Past winner Forest Whitaker for “The Butler” and past nominee Robert Redford for “All Is Lost” seem unlikely as well as both of their movies have not been heavily recognized on the circuit.

Christian Bale stands a chance of showing up here, especially after netting nominations from the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and BAFTA awards for his electric work in “American Hustle.”  He’s won once off his only nomination, which feels like a huge injustice for his vast talents.  If there’s enough love for the movie, he could land a spot.  But losing at the Globes, which clearly loved “American Hustle,” indicates that love for his performance may be wide but not very deep.

Bruce Dern has campaigned his tail off for “Nebraska,” and it’s clear that he really wants to win.  The film has found plenty of fans, and it’s hard to see him missing out since he’s responsible for so much of its efficacy.  He’s been nominated by the triple crown of SAG, HFPA (Golden Globes), and BFCA (Critics’ Choice), yet that’s no assurance of an Oscar nomination these days.  It’s not shocking that he didn’t win the Golden Globe since the organization probably wanted the ultra-wattage of Leonardo DiCaprio up on stage.  The Academy goes back-and-forth on being sentimental for veterans of the craft; I don’t think they’ll be able to resist at least a nomination for Dern though.

Leo Wolf

Upon its release, I would have counted Leonardo DiCaprio out of the race for Best Actor.  But he’s been more active than ever speaking up for his movie, and it really pushed “The Wolf of Wall Street” into the conversation.  The late surge of momentum may not be enough to counter his omission from both SAG and BFCA – DiCaprio netted the precursor triple crown for “J. Edgar” but still found no love from the Academy in 2011.  The Globe win, however, gives me the sense that he’ll slide into a nomination.

It would be his first since “Blood Diamond” in 2006 … since then, he’s starred in “Revolutionary Road,” “Shutter Island,” “Inception,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Great Gatsby.”  This might very well be a nomination rewarding that whole string of excellent performances.


  1. Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
  2. Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
  3. Judi Dench, “Philomena
  4. Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks
  5. Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

MerylBlanchett has this all but sealed up now.  It would take a major blunder on-stage for her to lose Best Actress at this point, but we all know that’s not going to happen.  It’s Cate Blanchett – she’s about the classiest actress around.

Bullock, Dench, and Thompson should all coast right in with no problem.  All 3 prior winners have been nominated by SAG, HFPA, and BFCA, and their films all have a sizable base of fans to pull them through.

The last bit of suspense in this category will come on nominations morning as we wait to see if it’s Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County” or Amy Adams for “American Hustle.”  Streep’s case is … well, she’s Meryl Streep.  The Oscars rarely pass up an opportunity to nominate her, but maybe the reflex will not be as strong now that she’s won the third Oscar for “The Iron Lady” two years ago.  She’s hit all the big precursors so far, scoring all the same major nominations as the previously mentioned actresses.  Her film, though, has not been particularly well-received.

Adams HustleAmy Adams is an Academy favorite herself though, racking up an impressive four Best Supporting Actress nominations in the past nine years.  She’s never been recognized as a leading lady, and a nomination here would send the message, “We’re working on getting you that Oscar win one day, Amy, we promise!”  Though she did not land a SAG nomination, she’s been recognized by the BFCA and BAFTA.  Moreover, she beat Meryl Streep for Best Actress at the Golden Globes.

It’s unclear if the Academy will love “American Hustle” as much as the HFPA did.  I feel pretty confident, though, that respect for Adams and the film she commands will overpower the impulse to give Streep her bazillionth nomination.


  1. Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  2. Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
  3. Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
  4. Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
  5. Daniel Brühl, “Rush

AbdiWhile I remain hopeful that Fassbender can pull an upset, this category looks to be all Jared Leto.  He’s been taking everything in his path, and I don’t think that will stop until the Oscar.  For Fassbender, though, he should at least take solace in getting his first nomination without campaigning a bit.  (If he had to work so hard only to be denied recognition for his astounding work in “Shame,” then why bother lobbying anymore?)

Debut performances often fare well at the Oscars, especially in the supporting categories.  22 have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and I suspect that number will rise to 23 this week.  Barkhad Abdi’s first role ever as the lead Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips” has been highly praised and won him recogition from SAG, HFPA, BFCA, and BAFTA.  Especially given the praise that his film has received, I think a snub would be rather inconceivable at this point.

Though he wasn’t nominated by SAG, Bradley Cooper has collected every other key nomination for his work in “American Hustle.”  The film is beloved, and his performance is one of the best parts of the movie – hilarious but also heartily dramatic.  Two years ago, back-to-back Oscar nominations for the guy who was a staple of rom-coms like “Valentine’s Day” might have seemed an absurdity.  Now I see it as a practical inevitability.

Cooper HuslteCooper was passed over by SAG in favor of a posthumous recognition for James Gandolfini in “Enough Said.”  While he was certainly a beloved actor, Gandolfini was more revered for his television work than his film roles.  (“Killing Them Softly” was fantastic, just going to point out once again.)  The SAG nomination committee has plenty of television actors, and that may have accounted for his appearance.  Otherwise, he’s been spotty, picking up a nod from BFCA but not from the HFPA.  “Enough Said” really hasn’t been a big part of the Oscar conversation, and I think that will ultimately cost Gandolfini a slot in this line-up.

The final slot is likely to go to Daniel Bruhl, who I really shouldn’t be doubting as he’s racked up nominations from all significant precursors.  But aside from the Golden Globe Best Picture nomination for “Rush,” the film hasn’t really been lighting up awards season.  Bruhl’s work is solid but seems to draw no fervent support.  I could see him losing a spot to Gandolfini or even a left-field player like Tom Hanks in “Saving Mr. Banks” or Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”  In my wildest dreams, James Franco’s brilliant work in “Spring Breakers” could trump Bruhl.  But I have to predict what seems predictable.


  1. Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
  3. June Squibb, “Nebraska”
  4. Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler
  5. Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

Nyong'oIt’s down to Nyong’o vs. Lawrence for the win here.  Though Lawrence prevailed at the star-powered Golden Globes, I still have my doubts as to whether she can swing back-to-back Oscar wins.  I think this category could also be a way for us to gauge on Oscar night which film will win Best Picture.  Both films are likely to need one acting victory, and Best Supporting Actress is the most probable place to earn it.  (Ejiofor has a shot for Best Actor, and that might pan out for the film.)

I think 84-year-old June Squibb is pretty much locked in for her fantastic performance in “Nebraska.”  She’s had all the requisite nominations leading up to the Oscars, and her film is well-liked too.

The last two slots, however, could go any number of ways.  Sally Hawkins got a Golden Globe nomination for “Blue Jasmine,” and the British contingency that got her a BAFTA nod could break her into the field here.  I have to wonder if “Blue Jasmine” is purely the Cate Blanchett show, however.  Scarlett Johansson’s vocal work in “Her” got her a nomination from the BFCA (it was ineligible at the Globes), but the Academy generally strays away from rewarding unconventional performances like that.  Maybe Sarah Paulson, silent on the trail so far, could shock and give “12 Years a Slave” its second nomination in the category.

RobertsMy guess is that the Academy will stick to some long renowned actresses to fill out the roster.  Oprah Winfrey surprisingly missed with the Golden Globes for “The Butler,” but she’s been touted by the BFCA, SAG, and BAFTA.  Even though the film has lost its buzz after it scored surprisingly well with the SAG, I think the Oscars will still want to give something to one of the few screen performances given by the cultural icon.

I think they’ll also be welcoming back Julia Roberts, who hasn’t been nominated since she won in 2000 for “Erin Brockovich.”  As previously mentioned, “August: Osage County” hasn’t been met with rapturous acclaim.  But it does have the support of the actors, who gave it a coveted Best Ensemble nomination at the SAG Awards.  If anything for the film is recognized, it will be the acting.  And Roberts, who many view as a co-lead, is the most likely to reap the goodwill.

Check back tomorrow to see my predictions for the writing/directing categories as well as the granddaddy of them all … BEST PICTURE!

LIVE BLOGGING the 2013 Golden Globes!

12 01 2014

11:00 P.M.  I’m fine with any awards show where “American Hustle” leads the awards tally with 3 trophies.  2 for “Dallas Buyers Club.”  Every other movie just had one.

10:58 P.M.  So “12 Years a Slave” wins Best Picture and nothing else?  Huh?  Surely it will add Best Adapted Screenplay and a technical award or two at the Oscars (if it can fend off “American Hustle”).  Glad Steve McQueen got to give the speech!


10:51 P.M.  Kicking myself for not having seen “Dallas Buyers Club.”  McConaughey’s acceptance speeches are good.  Definitely going to be this year’s entertainment on the circuit.


10:47 P.M.  That’s right, a standing ovation.  Here’s to Cate Blanchett.


10:45 P.M.  My gosh, Leo.  How many acceptance speeches do you want?

10:40 P.M.  I’m so much more interested in what Megan Ellison, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper are whispering than the producer … but SO elated about this win!


10:35 P.M.  Niki Lauda, the Bill Clinton cameo of the year.

10:28 P.M.  Nice tribute to all the “comedians” in the category by DiCaprio.  Glad this isn’t my Oscar ballot because it would be in shambles…


10:22 P.M. Fantastic Michael Bay dig, Tina! Also, looks like I need to start watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

10:19 P.M. How is “12 Years a Slave” 0/5 so far?!


10:10 P.M. Hearing Diane Keaton sing was magical. Her bleep, not so much…

10:06 P.M. This is an epic montage. I want it – no, I need it.

10:03 P.M. Go Woody Allen!

9:56 P.M. What was Amy Poehler’s bigger win of the night, the Golden Globe or the kiss from Bono? So glad to see her take home the trophy! Another great TV pick for the HFPA.


9:43 P.M. Loving all the Julia Louis-Dreyfus attention tonight.


9:37 P.M. “Muppets Most Wanted” – bravo. Best commercial I’ve seen in a long time.

9:35 P.M. Best Actor Andy Samberg, who woulda thunk it?

9:30 P.M. Must. See. “Her.” And Spike Jonze is adorable. “Hold on, I just started!”


9:28 P.M. Digging the shoes-off and martini-in-hand for Emma Thompson.

9:22 P.M. So I guess now I need to see “Dallas Buyers Club,” but all this waxing talk is … interesting. Although, hey, I finally got one of my picks right!


9:18 P.M. Between Bryan Cranston and Robin Wright, really digging the HFPA’s television selections this year.

9:16 P.M. Amy Poehler is probably the only person in the world that can get that close to Harvey Weinstein…

9:09 P.M. Loving all the “American Hustle” love, HFPA! What a beautiful speech by Amy Adams. I’m now 0/4 but really happy about at least 2 of those.

Amy Adams


9:04 P.M. What is with all these awkward pauses before the speeches start?

8:55 P.M. Diddy Dirty Money is druuuuuuunk. I really shouldn’t have been surprised to see U2 win. I’m now 0/3 tonight, whoops.


8:52 P.M. Alex Ebert’s hair tonight tops Joaquin Phoenix’s. Definitely didn’t see this win coming.


8:48 P.M. Proud to have once walked a red carpet and attended a screening with the real Philomena Lee!


8:43 P.M. Aww, Aaron Paul crying in the background!

8:39 P.M. Finally, Bryan Cranston wins for “Breaking Bad!”

8:36 P.M. Teleprompter fail. Would have been great if Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie had pretended to be Aaron Eckhart and Paula Patton.

8:27 P.M. Go Peggy! Also, with the win for “Behind the Candelabra,” one has to wonder how it would have fared in the Oscar race had it been released in theaters.

8:18 P.M. Jacqueline Bisset totally dominates the play-off music, even after a Melissa Leo-esque bleep out.

8:13 P.M. So will Jennifer Lawrence make it back-to-back Oscar wins? SAG will tell us soon enough.


8:11 P.M. Two in a row for J.Law. She is unstoppable.



8:08 P.M. I can’t even keep up with all the brilliant Tina Fey and Amy Poehler jokes. I’m dying.

8:05 P.M. Julia Louis-Dreyfus turning down Reese Witherspoon’s selfie just made my day.

8:03 P.M. Matt Damon = “basically a garbage person.”


8:01 P.M. Awkward reference to the non-nominated “The Butler.”

7:53 P.M. Final predictions, ahh!

Best Picture – Drama

Will win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: “Gravity”
Should win: “Philomena”

Again, thinking “12 Years a Slave” runs the board. But it could go to “Gravity.”

Best Picture – Musical/Comedy

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “Nebraska”
Should win: “American Hustle”

I feel fairly certain that nomination leader “American Hustle” will win this one easily. But in what might be the most competitive year in this category ever, it’s anyone’s game.

7:49 P.M. Getting close to showtime, folks!

Best Director

Will win: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Should win: David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Could go either way between McQueen and Cuarón. Globes went James Cameron in 2009 for “Avatar,” so perhaps they’ll show a similar proclivity for sci-fi. But I stick with the more traditional pick.

Best Screenplay

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “Her”
Should win: “American Hustle”

No clue here. I think “American Hustle,” “Her,” and “12 Years a Slave” are all possible. Opting for the first of the three just on a hunch.

7:43 P.M. Now, their dramatic counterparts.

Best Actor – Drama

Will win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave”
Should win: Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

Have a gut feeling the Globes are loving the McConaughey redemption vibe. But Ejiofor is in the more beloved film, so who really knows what will happen?

Best Actress – Drama

Will win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Could win: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Should win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine

Probably the only no-brainer of the evening. Blanchett runs away with it.

7:38 P.M. Comedy predictions time!

Best Actor – Comedy

Will win: Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Could win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street
Should win: Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

5 leading men from 5 Best Picture nominees – honestly, all have their claim. I’m sticking with Bale for the likely Best Picture champion, but DiCaprio could easily take this. The Globes love him.

Best Actress – Comedy

Will win: Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Could win: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Should win: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Maybe Adams takes it for the more beloved film, but Meryl has eight Golden Globes. They’re kind of into her.

7:33 P.M. Jessica Chastain channeling “Black Swan” tonight … picture to come later.

7:31 P.M. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler rock! Now you might actually care about these predictions…

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Haven’t seen “Dallas Buyers Club” (I know, that’s bad) but Leto has been collecting nearly every prize so far. Can’t imagine he’s better than the demented Fassbender, though.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Should win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

While she might lack the name recognition, I think Nyong’o’s incredible performance will speak for itself.

7:26 P.M. And some more predictions! Cate Blanchett has just arrived, and I thought she looked great … then they panned down on her dress.


Best Original Song

Will win: Let It Go, “Frozen
Could win: Please Mr. Kennedy, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Should win: Please Mr. Kennedy, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

A typical Disney tune should eke out a victory over some lesser-known contenders.

Best Original Score

Will win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: “Gravity”
Should win: “12 Years a Slave”

Giving the edge to better-known composer Zimmer in a race likely between the two dramatic Best Picture heavyweights.

7:21 P.M. Ok, first predictions.

Best Foreign Film

Will win: “Blue is the Warmest Color”
Could win: “The Hunt
Should win: “The Past”

Only chance for this film to shine. So I’m thinking it will.

Best Animated Film

Will win: Frozen
Could win: Monsters UniversityDespicable Me 2
Should win: Monsters University n/a

One of the weaker years for this category, but box office smash “Frozen” probably has the upper hand here. [UPDATED: So “Monsters University” wasn’t even nominated…]



7:12 P.M. Team “American Hustle” tonight. Go, fight, win!

Nail polish

7:11 P.M. Time to start the annual live blog!

Oscar Moment: 2013 Pre-Fall Festival Predictions

27 08 2013

Well, folks, the time is here to talk about Oscar season.  The Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and suddenly it won’t be taboo to talk about what might be competing for the Academy Awards.

Just to show you how much things change over the course of the fall, last year I predicted “The Master” to win Best Picture at this time – and it wound up not being nominated.  I was close for Best Director and Best Actor, though, ranking Ang Lee and Daniel Day-Lewis my #2 pick in their respective categories.  Jennifer Lawrence was not remotely on my radar, but my projected winner Quvenzhané Wallis did manage to get a nomination!  I got the movie right for Best Supporting Actor, but picked Leonardo DiCaprio instead of Christoph Waltz as the “Django Unchained” cast member to hoist the Oscar.  And I, like everyone else, saw Anne Hathaway’s win coming from the moment the first “Les Misérables” trailer hit the web.

So what will surprise us this year?  And what will disappoint?  Here’s my first draft at a year in Oscar forecasting.

Best Picture

  1. American Hustle (trailer)
  2. 12 Years a Slave (trailer)
  3. Foxcatcher
  4. August: Osage County (trailer)
  5. Gravity (trailer)
  6. The Monuments Men (trailer)
  7. Her (trailer)
  8. Inside Llewyn Davis (trailer)
  9. Labor Day
  10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (trailer)

American HustleThere seems to be no clear frontrunner a la “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” or “War Horse” for 2013.  So I’m just going to gander it’s a dues-paying year.  It seems like David O. Russell, after two straight Best Picture-Best Director nominations for “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” is now on the fast track to win someday.  So why not 2013 with “American Hustle?”  A glitzy period drama that looks to provide action, comedy, and drama looks pretty good on paper to me.

Another film I could see making a charge at the prize is Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave.”  Despite all the talent involved in this film, I think it might still be an underdog given that McQueen’s previous two films have not received a single Oscar nomination.  Then again, Tom Hooper was a relative novice when he directed “The King’s Speech,” and we know how that story ends.

Previous Best Director nominees Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”), George Clooney (“The Monuments Men”), Spike Jonze (“Her”), the Coen Brothers (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), and Jason Reitman (“Labor Day”) all look to get in the Best Picture race.  Based on their pedigree alone, I’m predicting nominations for these five films.  All are sight unseen, save “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which I have seen and can attest is the kind of well-made film that will score with the Academy.

I guess I could include Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” in this clump, since the film’s director is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and editor.  But that film gets a Best Picture nomination, in my mind, because it belongs in a class with “Avatar,” “Hugo,” and “Life of Pi” – technical masterpieces directed by renowned talents.

As for “August: Osage County,” that play is so well-written that it would take a first-class hack job for it not to be a Best Picture nominee.  We’re talking a play that will go next to Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams in the American dramatic literature canon, people.

And to round out the top 10, I picked Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” I’m not entirely sold on it, but it could make a surprise run for Best Picture.  It could also fizzle with awards voters.  Who knows?  Clearly not I.

Best Director

  1. David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
  2. Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
  3. Steve McQueen, “12 Years A Slave”
  4. Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
  5. Spike Jonze, “Her”

FoxcatcherAs I said, I’m projecting Russell to go all the way in 2013.

Past nominee Bennett Miller could give him a run for his money, although he was overlooked for his work on 2011 Best Picture nominee “Moneyball.”  Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron should score their first Best Director nominations (which is a shame).

And since Spike Jonze scored a lone Best Director nomination for “Being John Malkovich” back in 1999, I don’t think it’s out of the question to see him score a second nomination for his work on “Her.”  It certainly appears to be daring … and the director’s branch showed they were willing to go out on a limb last year with nominees Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke.

Best Actor

  1. Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  2. Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”
  3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”
  4. Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  5. Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

McConaugheyBig, baity performances have won out here for the past decade, essentially.  So I’d say the frontrunner has to be Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club.”  His comeback narrative is appealing, and the fact that he lost a ton of weight helps.

That being said, I wouldn’t count out Joaquin Phoenix for “Her.”  If he could get nominated for a polarizing film like “The Master,” perhaps there’s more respect for Phoenix in the Academy than most people recognize.  He’s been nominated three times now, and I think it’s only a matter of time before he wins.

Chiwetel Ejiofor could easily supplant McConaughey as the bait performance to beat here.  A frontrunner will be cemented by the time both films debut at Toronto.

Breakout performer Oscar Isaac ought to score a nod here for “Inside Llewyn Davis.”  I don’t see how he can be overlooked if the movie is a hit with the Academy.

And keep an eye out for Robert Redford here.  He gives an incredible, virtually wordless performance in “All Is Lost” that will not be forgotten.  The Hollywood legend hasn’t been nominated for his acting in over 40 years, and the one Oscar sitting on his mantle is for directing.  Might it be his time in the sun?

Best Actress

  1. Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
  2. Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
  3. Naomi Watts, “Diana”
  4. Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”
  5. Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Amy AdamsPlease, Academy, make this Amy Adams’ year!  She’s been nominated four times already in Best Supporting Actress.  Now that she’s playing with the big girls in Best Actress, maybe it’s just time to give her the darned trophy already.

Woody Allen hasn’t directed a woman to a leading actress win since Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall” – perhaps Cate Blanchett’s turn in “Blue Jasmine” can break the dry spell?  I think she’s a sure bet for a nomination, but another win is unlikely since Blanchett has won in the past decade.

Or maybe it’s Naomi Watts’ turn after coming up short for last year’s “The Impossible.”  If the Academy loves this two-time nominee, an uncanny performance as Princess Diana would be a good time to give it to her.

Kate Winslet has been nominated for six Oscars and has won one.  So why would the love stop now?  In her first notable screen performance since winning for 2008’s “The Reader,” she could rack up nomination number 7 and be well on her way to becoming the Meryl Streep of her generation.

Speaking of Meryl Streep, I could be making a mistake by not including her here.  She would definitely crack my top 5, but I’m hearing that she’ll be campaigned in supporting.  So for now, that fifth slot goes to Emma Thompson for the breezy “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Michael Fassbender, “12 Years A Slave”
  2. Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
  3. Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
  4. Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
  5. Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks”

FassbenderGo big or go home.  After being snubbed for his incredible work in “Shame,” I predict the Academy will right its wrongs and reward Michael Fassbender with an Oscar for “12 Years A Slave.”  I really hope I’m right.

Bradley Cooper, given the villain role in “American Hustle,” could capitalize on a year of goodwill after a nomination from “Silver Linings Playbook.”  He’s probably a safer pick, but I’m not interested in safe at this point.

After last year’s category was dominated by previous winners, I’m going to predict two more first-time nominees in this category: Daniel Bruhl for “Rush,” whose performance has been touted since Cannes, and Steve Carell for “Foxcatcher,” a darker role for the comedic actor.

And then I’ll predict Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks” because that proposition just sounds too good to pass up for Academy voters.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler”
  2. Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
  3. Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”
  4. Cameron Diaz, “The Counselor”
  5. Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

OprahHonestly, this category is such a toss-up at this point, so I’m forced to pick the only person with buzz at the moment: Oprah Winfrey for “The Butler.”  Beyond her, my confidence ends.  If the Weinstein Company had announced what Meryl Streep will be campaigned in, I’d feel confident picking her in whatever category they chose.  Right now, I’m going with supporting.

I thought Octavia Spencer was the best part of “Fruitvale Station,” but her part may be too small or too soon after her win for “The Help.”

Cameron Diaz looks like an intriguing femme fatale in “The Counselor,” but that movie could flop so hardcore that she’s rendered a non-factor this season.  With no festival appearances slated, the film does not appear to be a serious threat for anything.  Diaz has been pretty quiet lately, but let’s not forget she had a string of acclaimed roles from 1998 to 2002 that gave her 4 Golden Globe nominations and 3 SAG Award nominations.

And as for that last slot, I figured I might as well throw in Jennifer Lawrence for “American Hustle.”  Everyone loves J.Law, and I think enough people will like “American Hustle” to give her a victory lap after last year’s win.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. American Hustle
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. Blue Jasmine
  4. Her
  5. Gravity

Inside Llewyn DavisDavid O. Russell is a two-time writing nominee?  Check for “American Hustle.”

The Coen Brothers are five-time writing nominees with two wins?  Check for “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Woody Allen has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay a whopping 15 times, and “Blue Jasmine” does not suck.  Check.

Spike Jonze is an acclaimed original figure in Hollywood?  Check for “Her,” but with some reluctance as “The Master” was snubbed last year for the clichéd “Flight.”

Alfonso Cuaron is a two-time writing nominee, but his latest film “Gravity” might be a lot more impressive on the screen than it is on the page.  Perhaps he will wow us once again and make us regret ever doubting him … so I’ll predict “Gravity” to take the final slot here.  But “Black Swan” missed here, so originality isn’t everything in the Best Original Screenplay category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. 12 Years A Slave
  2. Foxcatcher
  3. The Monuments Men
  4. August: Osage County
  5. Before Midnight

It would be foolish of me not to predict a lot of Best Picture nominees here, which traditionally dominate the Best Adapted Screenplay category.  But don’t count out “Before Midnight,” whose predecessor scored a nomination back in 2004 in this category.  The series, and this installment in particular, has gotten a lot of positive press.  I don’t think the writers will forget about this one.

What do you think?  Who is the one to beat in 2013?  Sound off!