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This will be the first year where I’ve seen every movie nominated for best picture, so I thought I’d give my two cents as to who will and should win in some of the major categories. Let’s start with the big guy:
Who Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Who Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
Honorable Mentions: Nebraska, Her
Snubbed: Inside Llewyn Davis, Fruitvale Station
I don’t see the American Hustle engine having enough steam to take the top prize from 12 Years a Slave, the best movie of 2013. What hasn’t been said about this movie already? Widely considered to be the best film made about slavery, some of the biggest gut-punches came not only from the violence, but the utter despair as humans are treated no better than cattle. The scene that stuck with me the most was the woman and her children being auctioned off at Paul Giamatti’s House of Horrors, begging to not be separated from her children to no avail. It’s sometimes hard to praise a film for displaying unbelievable awfulness, but you can’t argue that this film based on its merits is among the best of the year.
A special shout-out goes to Nebraska, a movie I absolutely loved and in a less-crowded year could have taken this award. A great, simple film from a director I don’t really like. The “Cloud Atlas Award for Most Unique Film” goes to the excellent Her. I think its director Spike Jonze was snubbed in the Best Director category, which I’ll get to later, but again in a crowded year it should enjoy getting the nomination.
The other two films that could have easily and justifiably made the list were Llewyn Davis (because John Goodman) and Fruitvale Station, which suffered from having been released way back in the summer (Oscar voters apparently have short-term memories that only extend as far back as three or four months).
Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Who Should Win: Matthew McConaughey
Honorable Mention: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Snubbed: Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”, Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis
If Mac doesn’t say “Alright Alright Alright” the second he gets up on stage to accept his Oscar, I will lose faith in humanity. He’s only helped by being the best thing about the best current TV show, he wins.
It was fun seeing DiCaprio do something we’ve never seen him do before: be funny. An argument can be made that an Oscar would justify years of Leo snubbing, and he is probably the most deserving of an Oscar for overall body of work of all the nominees, but I feel his performance in Wolf was too cartoonish and relatively easy to justify an Oscar.
The Hanks Snub has been argued and dissected, but I understand its reasoning. His big “Oscar” scene was really only the last 7 minutes of the film, and in a crowded year the Academy decided there wasn’t room for him. Nobody saw Oscar Isaac’s “Inside Llewyn Davis,” otherwise he could have easily earned a nomination just for his folk-singing alone.
Who Will Win: Cate Blanchette, “Blue Jasmine”
Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett
Honorable Mention: Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Snubbed: Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
This is the weakest of the big categories. Cate wins by default, as she was very good without being too Oscar-baity (*cough* Meryl Streep). I liked Judi Dench in Philomena, not a great film but she was pleasant and does a better Michael Caine impression than her counterpart Steve Coogan (this joke is for Steel only).
As for the snub …Wait, Julia Roberts was nominated for August: Osage County! Yes, but with more screen time than anyone else in that film, she was the leading actress and hence should have been nominated as Lead and not Supporting. Thanks to the magic of Harvey Weinstein she was thrown into supporting role to make room for her majesty Ms. Streep, which in the end doesn’t matter since neither will win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Who Should Win: Jared Leto
Honorable Mention: Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Snubbed: Will Forte, “Nebraska”
When all is said and done, the 30 Seconds to Mars guy will have more Oscars than Peter O’Toole (Honorary doesn’t count), Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Ralph Fienes, Glenn Close, a ham sandwich, Robert Downey Jr, and Leo DiCaprio … COMBINED. Let that sink in and then come back…
That being said, this is totally deserved for a masterful performance as the cross-dressing Hutch to Mac’s Starsky. My favorite scene of his in Dallas Buyers Club was actually where he attempted to reconcile with his estranged father, without his makeup on and wearing a suit that didn’t fit him right. A well played, understated performance.
Barkhad Abdi should be given recognition since he’s not really even an actor (he’s a limo driver from Minneapolis in real life), but gave weight and went Acting Mano y Mano with Tom Hanks, no small task.
Will Forte, for reasons I can’t understand, was never on anyone’s awards radar for his everyday midwest guy role in Nebraska. I love this movie a ton, and a lot of that credit goes to Forte for a deadpan, and “totally midwest” performance as Bruce Dern’s son, trying one last time to connect with his father before he loses his mind to dementia. Did I mention I loved Nebraska?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Who Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Honorable Mention: Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Snubbed: Scarlett Johansson, “Her”
I want to start by saying I hated Jennifer Lawrence in this movie. Horribly miscast (did you ever buy the 23 year old Kentuckian as a Jersey housewife married to Christian Bale? Me neither). But she’s Jennifer Lawrence so she gets a nomination.
Lupita Nyong’o gave what could be the best overall performance of the year as a plantation slave in despair. I don’t think an unabashed, unquestioned love for Jennifer Lawrence will be enough to take the award from this brilliant, heart-breaking performance.
I’m not crazy about any other nominee, but Sally Hawkins’ scenes with the neurotic Bobby Cannavale in Blue Jasmine were among some of the best parts of that movie.
ScarJo doesn’t make a physical appearance in Her, but her presence is felt more-so than most of the actual characters. It deserved more recognition from an awards body that didn’t know what to do about a voice-only performance.
Who Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Who Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Honorable Mention: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Snubbed: Spike Jonze,”Her”
I normally would argue that the Best Director shouldn’t be separate from the Best Picture. By definition shouldn’t the Best Director have directed the Best Picture? This year is the perfect exception for that rule. Cuarón has won every directing award thrown his way, as he should because what an amazing piece of film making. But when you look at a film as a whole (acting, script, directing, costume design, etc), I feel that 12 Years a Slave is a more complete film overall (granted comparing Gravity to 12 Years a Slave goes beyond apples to oranges) I think the best way to honor an achievement in film-making such as Gravity is to award its director.
Of course it’s hard to argue against Steve McQueen winning here, he did direct the best picture of the year. I think you give the award to Cuarón because nobody else could make Gravity the way he did, whereas I think you could argue that other directors could have achieved the masterpiece of McQueen’s film.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Who Will Win: Her
Who Should Win: Nebraska
Honorable Mention: Blue Jasmine
Snubbed: Inside Llewyn Davis
For the first time, I respectively disagree with what will most likely win. The big money is on American Hustle in this category, but I think that the critics genuinely loved Her and the voters will show it here. It’s the most unique film of the year and all the credit goes to the script.
I personally loved Nebraska and would have given it my vote. The way the characters were written was so Midwest, most notably how the characters valued the length of time it takes to get from one place to another:
”200 miles? I could do that in 2 hours!”
"Really, you’re going to drive a hundred miles an hour?"
Inside Llewyn Davis could have been nominated on the John Goodman dialogue alone, but for whatever reason this film had no momentum going into the voting.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Who Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Who Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
Honorable Mention: The Wolf of Wall Street
Snubbed: August: Osage County
Many thought August: Osage County would get a screenplay nomination, thanks to the dialogue-heavy, Meryl Streep-ness of the film. This category is pretty stacked towards 12 Years a Slave and screenwriter John Ridley. Although rumor has it that Ridley made some off-the cuff remarks during the writer’s strike that didn’t sit well with many in the WGA, I don’t think that’ll have enough momentum to deny him a deserving award.
Big honors to the script for the Wolf of Wall Street, which managed to make a 3 hour finance movie incredibly entertaining the whole way.
BONUS CATEGORY: TOP BILLING FOR “IN MEMORIAM” MONTAGE
Let’s all admit that the best part of the Oscars is when they roll through the dead people. This is mainly due to the fact that there’s always one, “Oh hey I didn’t know that person died!” It’s a pretty awkward ritual, since the audience tends to clap harder for the people they know over those they don’t. They usually reserve the last “featured” spot at the end to the most famous person that died. Here is my pick for 2013’s Top Dead Person:
Who Will Win: Roger Ebert
Who Should Win: Roger Ebert
Honorable Mentions: Peter O’Toole, Shirley Temple, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Film critic Roger Ebert is a legend, and although he never worked directly in the film industry I can’t think of another person who has helped shape it into what it is today. One last thumbs up from Roger as he gets the loudest ovation from the audience.
Peter O’Toole is the next obvious choice, as having been in the game for so long without winning a non-honorary Oscar. The In Memoriam decision-makers may feel the need to at least give him top billing here to make up for it. I tip the scale slightly to Roger just because I think he’s had a greater overall influence than Peter, but this is basically a coin flip.
AND THE REST …
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Short Film - Live Action: The Voorman Problem
Best Short Film - Animated: Get a Horse!
Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Original Song: "Let it Go" from Frozen
Best Original Score: Gravity
Best Make-up & Hairstyle: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Film Editing: Gravity
Best Documentary - Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6
Best Documentary - Feature: 20 Feet from Stardom
Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Blockbuster’s parent company announced today that they’re closing the remainder of their 300 stores around the U.S, in effect marking the end of an era. There was something to be said about renting movies at the video store that the kiddies these days will never understand. Renting a movie was an event, and most importantly you had to choose wisely. For choosing poorly meant you were stuck with a crappy movie for the entire weekend. There was a sense of accomplishment snagging that last VHS copy of Demolition Man off the Sacred Wall of New Releases.
Today, movies are so accessible through Netflix and On Demand that it hardly seems worth the effort to sit down and watch anything. No longer are you stuck with that one movie you picked out (for better or worse), I feel like the home movie watching experience has lost a lot of its sense of occasion with the advent of streaming technology.
The revolution itself may not be televised, but on last night’s edition of the BBC’s Newsnight, viewers may have witnessed the start of one.
Actor-slash-comedian-slash-Messiah Russell Brand, in his capacity as guest editor of the New Statesman’s just-published revolution-themed issue, was invited to explain to Jeremy Paxman why anyone should listen to a man who has never voted in his life.
"I don’t get my authority from this preexisting paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people," Russell responded. "I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity."
And with that, the first shots of Russell’s revolutionary interview were fired.
Over the course of the following ten-or-so minutes, Brand and Paxo volleyed back and forth over subjects ranging from political apathy, to corporate greed, to gorgeous beards.
Throughout the interview, Brand repeatedly dodged Paxman’s efforts to trivialize his message — at one point Paxman literally called Brand a “very trivial man” — until finally, even the entrenched newsman appeared to relent against the rushing tide of Brand’s valid arguments.
After Brand reminded Paxman that he cried after learning that his grandma too had been “fucked over” by aristocrats, the Newsnight host was stunned into silence.
"If we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we?" Brand crescendoed. "Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an ‘actor’? I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it."
I LOVE BAD BITCHES, THAT’S MY FUCKIN’ PROBLEM. #BADBITCHFOLIFE
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker