Oscars 2017

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BEST PICTURE
Okay here’s the order that I’d vote:
Manchester By the Sea – I’ve been pretty set on this as my pick for a while. Initially, I thought it might be too small scale of a film, but as time has gone on, I just can’t get over it. Srsly, damn good screenplay, phenomenal acting, and a near perfect movie.

Hell or High Water – This one’s not gonna happen, but that doesn’t stop me from ranking it high on my own list. The story is so relevant for today, and I was so fully immersed in the setting. Plus another incredible cast.

Hidden Figures – We all love a feel good movie, and even better is a feel good movie with an important story. I want every little girl to see this and understand that they can do anything they want to do. I want to see more stories like this.

La La Land – I wanted to champion this movie. Yeah, it’s kind of an unfair advantage to have such a big production of a film, but the spectacle of it is so well done. The problem for me is that if you take that element out, you’re left with a fairly mediocre movie. It’s looking like it’ll take the win, but I it’s not what I would choose.

Moonlight – I get that this is an important movie, and for that reason, I moved it up the list. I want a movie like this to win. I just wish I enjoyed the movie more than everyone else seems to have.

Lion – This movie was so beautiful, and it gave me so much to think about. Honestly, I was so moved by the story, and I’m glad that it’s getting recognition.

Arrival – So much more than an a scifi. It’s almost too subtle so it doesn’t stand out as much as it should. Still, they got something right in nominating the movie

Fences – Someone asked me how you can tell if someone is a good actor. This movie is the most perfect example

Hacksaw Ridge – Hey I enjoyed this movie, but it’s the last one I’d pick to win. It’s this year’s American Sniper. There’s an audience that it really appeals to, but there’s so many better movies that year.

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Every year there’s a category like this one. Where I’m so torn between two choices that no matter which of them wins, I’m gonna be equally ecstatic and upset. This year, it’s Casey Affleck vs Denzel Washington. Their performances are so opposite, it’s tough to compare. Affleck says so much by saying so little, and Denzel spits out more dialog than the other nominees combined. Affleck’s never won, vs Denzel’s 2, but Denzel would be the first African American to win 3 and to direct himself to a win. I had mostly been leaning towards Affleck, but I saw the Fences trailer again the other day, and it made me want it for Denzel.

It’s hardly worth even talking about the other guys, but I would love to see Ryan Gosling take one of these home sometime. I’m thrilled to see Andrew Garfield earn his first nomination, and I love the attention Viggo Mortensen brings to Captain Fantastic.

The most obvious person missing for me is Joel Edgerton for Loving, but I guess the beautifully understated performance was too understated to get him his first Oscar nomination. Michael Keaton could have made a run for it with The Founder, and I thought Sully might finally break Tom Hanks’ way too long nomination dry spell (srsly, how did he not get on the list for Captain Phillips?). It also would have been cool to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt get his first for Snowden, but I guess people didn’t enjoy that as much as I did.
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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Kind of a strange one this year. No real front runner, and no one that gets me that excited. If I were a voting member of the Academy, I’d go with Isabelle Huppert. For me, that’s just based on the performance itself. Continuing off performance, I think I’d next go with Ruth Negga who in truth is likely in last (or next to last) place. If anyone is a front runner it’s Emma Stone, and I’m inclined to agree with the prediction. The Academy does like to crown young and on fire actresses, and she gets points for the added difficulty of singing and dancing, even if she didn’t wow me as much as the others. Natalie Portman lost some steam as the film didn’t pick up as much recognition as expected. Personally, I move her down the list because she’s already won before. Which brings us to Meryl Streep. We all know I adore her, but she ain’t winning this year. Just breaking her own nomination record.

Missing? Annette Benning! I would have been all about her winning if she had squeezzed in. Similarly, Amy Adams. I wasn’t as wowed by her in Arrival as others, but I am in favor of her finally taking home the gold. She’s the new Leo. Would have been cool for Emily Blunt to get her first for Girl on the Train, but I guess it wasn’t her year yet. Jessica Chastain had potential with Miss Sloane, but the film itself underwhelmed, even if her performance was stellar. Oh and I really would have loved to see Taraji P Hensen for Hidden Figures. She was the heart and soul of that movie.
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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
It’s looking like a lock for Mahershala Ali and I’m okay with that. No one really stands out that much for me. I guess Dev Patel. He was fantastic and it’s nice to see him score his first. Or Jeff Bridges. He has won before, but I’d love to see HOHW take something home. I am really happy that Lucas Hedges made the cut, but I feel that’s his victory right there. No one saw Michael Shannon coming. He is a fave, and it was a happy surprise, but not one that’s gonna translate to gold.
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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Viola Davis hands down. I’d argue that she should have gone lead, and prolly would have won there too, but here it’s not even a contest. If she did clear up the category, I’d love to see Michelle Williams finally win after four nominations. Her role in Manchester was small, but powerful. Naomie Harris really impressed me in Moonlight too. It’s a toss up between Nicole Kidman and Octavia Spencer, but let’s be real, those two aren’t gonna be standing up on stage.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but missing I’d say Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women. The reason I can’t believe it is because she usually annoys me, but she was wonderful here. But it would have really sucked if she made the cut when Annette Benning didn’t make lead. Oh and Janelle Monnae should be here for Hidden Figures.
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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
All signs point to Zootopia, but I love the classic Disney vibe of Moana. The other three I never saw. Also, how awesome would it have been if Sausage Party made the cut.
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CINEMATOGRAPHY
I can’t say I really paid attention to this category this year. My instinct says Arrival. I really haven’t a clue how I’d otherwise rank them.
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COSTUME DESIGN
La La Land
Jackie. No question. Those are some iconic pieces. Then, you can’t oppose the one costumer whose name you actually know, Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts. I also really like Allied, by which I mostly mean I really like Marion Cotillard’s green dress (even if it’s not as beautiful as Keira Knightley’s green dress in Atonement). Then I guess La La Land over Florence Foster Jenkins
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DIRECTING
Damien Chazelle is just over a month older than me, and he’s about to win an Oscar for directing La La Land. That certainly puts life into perspective. Directing a musical is no easy task, and he certainly deserves all the accolades for that. Moonlight is looking like the potential spoiler, but I’m not too optimistic. If something’s gonna spoil, I’d rather Manchester By the Sea, but Arrival has some beautiful work too. And no one is gonna give Mel Gibson an Oscar right now, no matter how well done Hacksaw Ridge was. If you ask me, his spot should have gone to Denzel for directing Fences.
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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
Big surprise, haven’t seen any of these. I did see one doc this year though, Tickled, when I thought was pretty awesome. Woulda been nice to see that make the cut.
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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
Oh look something shiny.
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FILM EDITING
After learning so much about this category when Whiplash won, I totally haven’t paid any attention to it since. I’m gonna guess La La Land did well here since timing cuts to music is a thing. Arrival could also be a good choice in how the timelines are stitched together. Really, I think it’ll go to one of those two, so I’m not even gonna pretend to intelligently comment on the others.
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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
I haven’t seen any of these, but seriously, how did Elle not make the list?
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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
I hate the idea of Suicide Squad winning an Oscar, but you gotta admit the make up is pretty awesome and instantly iconic. Some good stuff in Star Trek Beyond too, and I don’t know anythin about A Man called Ove
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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
I don’t even remember any of the scores from these movies (I often done, unless it’s John Williams). But clearly La La Land has the advantage. My instict says Jackie since it probably fits in nicely with the glamorous movie. Then maybe Moonlight? Then Lion and Passengers just kinda arbitrarily chosen.
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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
As much as I really want Lin-Manuel Miranda to win his EGOT, I have faith he’ll get there someday. I’d have to vote for one of my absolute favorite songs of the year Can’t Stop This Feeling. Besides, as far as LMM’s contributions, I liked “We Know the Way” better than the nominated How Far I’ll Go. But there’s a good chance this’ll go to one of the La La Land songs, in which case I prefer City of Stars over Audition. I just feel it has more potential to be iconic. And then I haven’t even heard that last entry, the one from Sting in a movie I’ve never even heard of. I will say, I was really hoping that “The Great Beyond” from Sausage Party would make the cut. I mean, it’s freaking Alan Menkin (?!)
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PRODUCTION DESIGN
I can’t vote against the Wizarding World, so let’s say Fantastic Beasts. However, I also really loved the old timey Hollywood world created by Hail Caesar, and that’s the one nod this movie (which made my top ten) received. Passengers is great in this category because the entire environment was built for the movie, and it was really cool to look at. La La Land was pretty and colorful. Arrival was a bit too stark and bland for me to appreciate it here.
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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
If I’ve seen any of these, it would have been before another movie, and I don’t remember their names.
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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
I know nothing, Jon Snow.
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SOUND EDITING
I first felt I had a handle on this category when I successfully predicted Hurt Locker over Avatar. Sound Editing is about creating the sound effects, and I could still hear the pebbles clinking right before the first big explosion. So sticking with what I learned, go war movie first, I pick Hacksaw Ridge. Maybe Arrival next since this might be a chance for people to show that movie some love. I feel like Deepwater Horizon had more to work with than Sully. And I don’t really see there being too much going on with La La Land and I figure that’ll get enough recognition elsewhere in the night that it doesn’t need this one.
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SOUND MIXING
The one thing I know about this category, is always bet on the musical. So hi there La La Land. Next, go for the war movie. Hacksaw Ridge has more awards love this year than 13 Hours. Then you go scifi. Rogue One over Arrival
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VISUAL EFFECTS
I don’t know that I really have a strong feeling on this one. In the Oscar Pools that I’ve filled out, I’ve gone for The Jungle Book because it’s a slightly different choice. It’s not the same usual things blowing up or superhuman feats and such. Instead it’s seamlessly integrated animal CGI. Next choice would be Doctor strange. Similarly to how Warcraft did earlier this year, I like how they displayed runes and symbols with their magic. And I just really liked that movie. Then comes Rogue One because Star Wars. Deepwater Horizon had some realistic looking stuff with the whole third act. And I havent seen Kubo.
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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
This is a pretty solid set. I’d want to go with Hidden Figures because I love the movie and it was a story worth telling, but I think as far as screenplays I was most impressed with Fences. I haven’t seen the stage play, but just the fact that they were able to successfully translate the work to the screen is worth recognizing. Next Lion just gives me all the feels, as it was so beautifully written. I’m not as sold on Arrival or Moonlight as others are, but I guess I’d go with Arrival because I did like how the story was structured.
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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
I find it so cool that my top three favorite movies are competing in this category. Except, I’m torn now. From watching it, I declared that I wanted Manchester By the Sea to win this category, and I think I still stand by that. But I loved The Lobster so much, and I love its creativity. However, I think I would credit the direction slightly more than the screenplay. And then Hell or High Water is really strong too. I’d next pick 20th Century Women because it was a beautiful film and had really strong characters. That leaves La La Land, which I’ve said many times, if you take away the spectacle, you get a mediocre movie. As such, I don’t think the screenplay really deserves to be rewarded, especially not when up against those other 4 deserving films.

Oscars 2016

“BEST PICTURE

Even though this category is appearing first, it’s actually the last one I’m writing up. Most years, whether there’s five nominees or 10, the race is really only between 2 with a possible dark horses. But really, between the two, usually one has more of an edge, and then no one is really surprised when the final envelope is opened. This year, however, there are three that definitely aren’t winning. The rest get a little murkier.

I think I’ve finally decided that my pick is Spotlight. I kinda need to rewatch it to regain the fire I had the first time, but this is truly master filmmaking. My thought leaving the theater was that films like this are why I go to the movies, and more specifically, why I chase prestige pictures. It’s won a decent amount of precursor awards, so it’s got as good a shot as any for the win.

After taking home the PGA win, a fairly reliable crystal ball for Oscar night, The Big Short is looking like it could pull an upset. I did enjoy the movie, and I appreciated a lot of the filmmaking skill that went into it, but it doesn’t feel like an Oscar winner to me. True, that’s probably why I was happy for it to get that nomination to begin with, but it’s also why I’m skeptical that it could take it all home.

Seeing as how it got the most nominations, there’s a possibility of Mad Max swooping in for the win (there are some who have predicted as much). You’ll see this as a theme through the rest of this post, but a film of this genre being made of this quality and receiving this recognition is amazing, and I hope that it really elevates the future of action movies.

Right behind Max with nominations comes The Revenant. From the list, this is the best execution of film as art. It’s beautifully done, and highlights the skill of all involved. Those who are drawn to those types of things may be inclined to vote accordingly. Personally, I like a bit more of an entertainment factor in my films, but I do not dispute the quality of this at all.

Speaking of entertainment factor, my favorite movie of the year The Martian also made the list. Besides the director snub factor (I’ll discuss further under director), it did get a lot of nominations and was universally loved. It’s one of those movies that _everybody_ saw, and pretty much everybody loved. Maybe a little atypical for an Academy film, but this is an example of exactly the type of film they wanted to bring into the race when the category got expanded.

And that brings us to the three that we know aren’t winning. Bridge of Spies was good, but in a sort of generic way. I’m still surprised that it made it in, but not really when you consider the Spielberg factor. Brooklyn is a beautiful picturesque film, but does not have enough weight to gain any traction. Room was a surprise entry, and very much a worthy contender (I absolutely loved it), but it really doesn’t stand much of a chance against its larger competitors.
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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Is this finally Leonardo DiCaprio’s year? Survey says: Quite possibly. I’ve said before that as much as I love him as an internet meme, the fact is, the boy is long overdue and his performance in The Revenant is certainly deserving. I mean, c’mon, after all the physical torture he put himself thru to shoot this movie (long cold hours, eating a raw bison liver, the beard), what more does the guy have to do? But he really captured the triumph of the human spirit, as cheesy as that sounds, and delivered a performance that was as emotional as it was physical.

Matt Damon would probably be my next choice, for The Martian. I’m always impressed by solo performances, which his pretty much was. He has the charisma to make you care about him (why else has the world spent billions of dollars trying to rescue Matt Damon?).

Next I would probably place Bryan Cranston and not just to speed his way to having ¾ of his EGOT complete (he would just need a Grammy then). Of course I thought he was brilliant as Walter White, but watching him as Dalton Trumbo, I started to get a grasp on how abundant his talent is. He really dives into what his character is feeling and exudes those emotions so completely and convincingly. Just watch him act about baseball in this MLB promo from some time back. Now see how fully he commits to that and multiply that times the complexity of Trumbo.

That brings us to Michael Fassbender. He’s not several spots down on the list because he wasn’t impressive, I’m just more impressed by the others at this juncture. Still, anchoring an Aaron Sorkin penned film is no easy feat, and he set the pace and kept the film steady. That’s a partnership I could get behind seeing again.

And finally Eddie Redmayme. Yes, fantastic, but I wasn’t quite as wowed as I was with last year’s performance. I think I saw too many similarities in the portrayal. Besides, I don’t see him being the first guy since Tom Hanks to win two in a row.

Who’s missing? Will Smith was the next one in the conversation. He killed it in Concussion, but the guys who made it in killed it harder. Johnny Depp could maybe have snuck in, but I still think the Academy chose the right guys.
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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

All signs seem to point to Brie Larson for Room. I’ve sung her praises before, so I can absolutely get behind this. Her performance in Room is absolutely powerful and dynamic. I could also get behind Saoirse Ronan pulling an upset. Although while I absolutely believe she’ll win one day, I don’t think it’s her day yet.

The rest, eh. Cate Blanchett has a lot of support, but she’s already won twice. It took the Academy nearly three decades to give Meryl #3, so this one ain’t happening (for me at least). Jennifer Lawrence basically got in because she’s an Awards darling. Solid performance, but not her strongest work or the strongest role. Charlotte Rampling’s victory is basically the nomination.

Who’s Missing? Is this the part where I go off about category fraud? Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander are both co-leads in their films (Carol and The Danish Girl), but campaigned for supporting where they’d have a better chance. I can more easily forgive Mara since going lead would put her against her costar, but Vikander has no excuse, especially when she could have potentially picked up a second nod for Ex Machina. But since their slots were opened up, I really wish Charlize Theron would have snuck in for Mad Max.
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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

This was probably the most competitive category this year. And while I should be grateful that my top 3 made it in, I’m mostly bummed that #4 didn’t. I know that when I saw Spotlight, I called Mark Ruffalo winning from one particularly intense scene towards the close of act 2. While he’s absolutely deserving, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that, that prediction was made before seeing Sylvester Stallon in Creed. Oh man, he’s just got all the right narratives for the win. Beloved actor with a long and illustrious career, breathing new life into an old and beloved character, and turning in a surprisingly emotional performance. Tell me you didn’t cry when Rocky found out that *spoiler redacated*. My number three was Tom Hardy, mostly because he’s Tom freakin’ Hardy and deserves to have “Academy Award Nominee” before his name in trailers.

Mark Rylance didn’t really impact me much. I can’t hate, though. He’s a Tony winning Broadway actor, so mad respect there. Christian Bale is the one that could be accused of stealing that last spot. I mean, he was good, and it was a different and understated performance from this chameleon, but this nod felt more like favoritism for a past winner than merit for a stellar performance.

Who’s Missing? – Jacob Tremblay for Room!!! The kid’s performance is devastating, and would be impressive for someone ten times his age. Not to mention the fact that the kid has been owning the Awards circuit. Kid’s got a promising career ahead of him.

Also missing, I hadn’t realized until last week or so that Jeff Daniels has never been nominated. While the two were fairly similar, I think his turns in both The Martian and Steve Jobs were awards worthy. Maybe they cancelled each other out? Maybe they weren’t showy enough. Maybe people are stupid.

I’d also thought that Michael Keaton would make it in for Spotlight, if only to make up for his narrow loss last year. Another Michael, Michael Shannon also got some precursor nominations for 99 Homes. While I love him, I don’t think there was much too different for him from previous roles, so I’m fine sacrificing that one
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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

So many mixed feels about this one. I still think we’ve got some category fraud on our hands, but here’s what we’re left with. I’m really not sure who I’m rooting for, so I think that by default, that has to mean that I go for team Tarantino, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. I typically don’t care too much for Leigh (she always seems high or bored), but she’s never been more alive than as Dasiy Domergue. Alicia Vikander seems to be getting a bunch of the precursor awards, but she should be up here for Ex Machina instead (and up in lead for Danish Girl). I like the idea of Rooney Mara winning, even if I didn’t like Carol, but because she’s just tremendous is everything she does (starting with her Lizbeth Salander). I’m stoked that Rachel McAdams scored the nod (it wasn’t particularly guaranteed), but that’s likely as far as she’s getting this year. Kate Winslet is putting up a bit of a fight for the gold, but I’m opposed only because she’s won before. Then again, someone who puts their Oscar in the guest bathroom for friends to play with is someone I could support earning a second.

Who’s Missing? – There was talk at one point that Joan Allen could squeak in for Room. That would have been very welcome. Everyone talks about how awesome Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are but Allen is right up there with them. Jessica Chastain had a pretty solid year, and I’d have loved to see her here either for Martian or Crimson Peak. Commander or villain, both solid turns from one of the most formidable actresses today.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
It’s so weird to have only seen 2 of these nominees, but this category has been going less and less mainstream. Makes sense because mainstream (with the exception of Pixar) has dropped in quality in recent years. I find myself going to less and less of these each year. Anyways Inside Out has to be the clear winner here. It’s yet another picture perfect picture per Pixar, that’s resonated with audiences young and old, and introduced even more new animation techniques (I’m thinking of the sparkly emotions). I like Shaun the Sheep Movie for it’s use of claymation/stop motion animation. While it was super cute, I found the movie as a whole kinda dull. Not a whole lot was going on to further the plot. I almost went to see Anomalisa the weekend before nominations were announced, but then I decided I didn’t really wanna. The animation looked great, but the trailer bored me. I haven’t even heard of those other 2
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CINEMATOGRAPHY
I know just enough about cintematography to appreciate some of the nominees, but not enough to authoritatively speak to any. Carol and Sicario, I really have nothing to say about. Congrats on the nominations. For Mad Max, I don’t really know any specifics, but just maintaining the pace of the film and the action is a pretty great achievement, so I can see how it’s on this list. The Hateful Eight is notable for it’s use of extra wide 70mm, which is particularly visible in it’s outdoor sweeping shots. Those are then contrasted with the majority of the film taking place within four walls. Not entirely sure what that means in context of this race, but at least I can point out some of it’s characteristics!

The Revenant’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, won the past two years in a row for Gravity and Birdman, both of which actually did teach me something about the craft. Gravity’s effects were mostly pullled off by well choreographed camera motion. Birdman also was fairly choreographed with the long tracking shots. For the Revenant, one of the most notable points is that Lubezki only used natural light (lighting being another factor in cinematography). That also forced some quick shooting and minimal takes, giving similar contraints as Birdman, and creating even more beautiful sweeping shots of the outdoors. The idea of someone winning 3 Oscars in a row for anything seems impossible to me, but seeing as how those films have already achieved the impossible, he could very well do it.
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COSTUME DESIGN

Cinderella is the type of movie this category was created for. The costumes were the one redeeming quality in this otherwise dull film, and I immediately called that it would be on this list, if not the eventual winner. Period costumes tend to win big here too, but we don’t have anything particularly old fashioned. The Danish Girl is probably the closest thing, and indeed the costumes are rather elegant. The Revenant is old time-y, but there’s nothing particularly special, unless we’re talking about the bear skin. I do love that Mad Max was included, to give us something a little different and atypical. And yes, while I didn’t care for Carol I can’t deny the beauty of those outfits.

What’s Missing? – Crimson Peak! The costumes may not have been as hauntingly beautiful as the production design, but they were still gorgeous and worthy of praise. You’d think given the time period and large fancy dresses that it’d have been a shoo-in for this category. Alas.
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DIRECTING

I really want this to go to Mad Max. What Miller did with this film is revolutionary for the action genre. The practical effects, the visuals of the landscape, the meaningful thematic elements, everything was perfection and unheard of for this kind of film. Plus his attention to detail is unreal. He’s said to have a backstory for every character, even some we only see glimpses of.

But speaking of revolutionary, Inarritu has once again turned the industry upside down with The Revenant. An entirely different challenge from his win last year for Birdman, he had to juggle the natural elements and bring out the best in his cast with their minimal dialog. Okay, some of that sort of matches what Miller did.

I also like that McKay was nominated for The Big Short. I love so much of the creativity that was brought in, and most of that comes from a guy who’s best known for comedy. Anyone else would have taken a heavier approach, and it would not have resonated as well.

And then Spotlight was pure perfection, even if it’s not as showy as the other nominees. Room should just be thrilled to have earned the unexpected nomination.

What’s Missing? – Ridley Scott for The Martian! To think that this Hollywood treasure has yet to be nominated for an Academy Award is a travesty. There’s some talk that this omission could have The Martian pull an Argo and win it all, but that seems like a longshot.
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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

I don’t do docs
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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Nope
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FILM EDITING

I’m actually starting to learn a little bit of what this category’s all about, mostly from closely watching last year’s winner Whiplash. My inconsequential vote goes to The Big Short for how it melded together scenes with stock footage and real life newsreals to maintain the playful tone throughout. I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to the other nominees in this area to be able to comment on them.
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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Didn’t catch any this year. It’s rare that I do
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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

I’m kind of split between Mad Max and The Revenant (The 100 Year Old Man doesn’t so much count since I’d never even heard of it, nor do I intend on seeing something just for makeup). I lean more towards Max. There’s some real creativity going on with the look created for the characters, and how distinct various clans are for each other. But The Revenant has some skilled low-tech work at play. DiCaprio was on Ellen I think explaining how it’d take hours to do all the scars, and how the artist used candle wax to simulate frost in his beard. Still, between Furiosa’s dark eyes and Nux’s Chrome mouth, I think I’m team Mad Max.
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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

I’ve seen all these movies, and except for the already iconic Star Wars score, I don’t really remember any of them. I’m in favor of The Hateful Eight because I’m always in favor of anything that involves Tarantino.

What’s Missing? – Inside Out is one of the few movies from this year where I remember the score sticking with me. It had a different quirky sound, which I thought would get it on this list. Alas.
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ORIGINAL SONG

Skipping first to my What’s Missing, “See You Again” from Furious 7. It was a very touching song, whose use in the final scenes as a tribute to Paul Walker brought me to tears. And there’s something very endearing about how often Vin Diesel croaks out this tune on camera.

As far as what’s actually there, as a song, I do kidna like Earned It, but God knows I don’t want to reward that movie. When I played the song after the announcements, I knew I’d heard it somewhere before (that was not the movie). Took me some time and some YouTube-ing but I found it! You’re welcome internet

I haven’t heard Manta Ray or Simple Song #3 and I don’t particularly care to. Writing’s on the Wall is a pretty lame Bond song, and really shouldn’t have been up here. Sam Smith has even admitted he doesn’t enjoy singing it (although he claims that’s because it’s a difficult song to sing, but we all know what’s up). Til it Happens to You isn’t very good as a song (I didn’t think it was particularly melodic), but it represents an important film with an important message. I don’t know if the Academy will be so quick to give the gold to Gaga, but she’s teamed up with the respectable and as-yet-un-awarded Diane Warren, so maybe?
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PRODUCTION DESIGN
I think my pick here is Mad Max. They created such a unique world and no detail was overlooked. It was the type of environment that permeated everything in the film, and the overall style of every element was consistent and looked pretty awesome. I also really like The Martian and it’s juxtaposition of the spacecraft environments with the surface of Mars. I’m not sure how much The Revenant counts since so much of it relied on nature, but they did find absolutely gorgeous natural settings to use. For The Danish Girl I don’t really remember anything too specific, but given the artist background of our main characters, I do recall it being appropriately picturesque. And Bridge of Spies, I don’t remember anything remarkable at all.

What’s missing?Crimson Peak, oh my God, Crimson Peak. That is quite possibly (without thinking about it too hard) my favorite production design ever. The decrepit Gothic style house with the bright red blood-like thick clay dripping down the walls. The contrast of the muted and dark colors with the bright ones was very jarring and unsettling. Absolutely perfect for the film, and beautiful in its own macabre way.
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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
I don’t think I’ve seen any of these
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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
Nope
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SOUND EDITING
I actually know the difference between the two sound categories! Sound Editing is more about the creation of the sounds themselves. So if you think something has convicing sound effects, it’d be here. My gut tells me The Martian since there were definitely a lot of sounds that had to be manufactured, for various explosions and machinery and such. Similarly Star Wars has a lot of the same thing going on. I don’t really have much of an opinion on the others, except Mad Max might also have a leg up here for their technical advances in general.

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SOUND MIXING

Okay so sound editing was about the effects, sound mixing is about the overall sound, striking the right balance between levels. The easy ones to go for here tend to be musicals or at least music heavy. There’s no easy pick this year, so gut instinct says Mad Max. Martian and Star Wars could also fare well for similar reasons to editing.
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VISUAL EFFECTS

I wanna give this to Mad Max on principle for their use of so many practical effects. This is something to be encouraged. Although, Star Wars is said to have utilized a bunch too (BB-8 in particular), and those flowed seamlessly into the CGI. The Martian also did pretty well, nailing some complex situations. And oh Ex Machina was flawless in how they created Ava. The Revenant is really only here cause of the one scene with the bear, but it was also flawless.
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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

I’m guessing the Academy will likely follow the WGA and go with The Big Short, which is very deserving. I’m sure that story was very difficult to adapt, and even though I was still confused by the details, they had very creative ways to minimize that. However, my heart says The Martian. At first it was just because writer Drew Goddard worked with Joss Whedon on Cabin In the Woods. Now that I’ve read the book (Martian, no Cabin), I support him fully. The book has such a unique humor to it that was captured perfectly, along with just enough of the technical stuff.

Don’t know where I’d go next, but I think I’d pick Brooklyn over Room simply because I think adapting your own work is cheating. Without having read their source materials, I still think they were incredible screenplays. Brooklyn is absolutely beautiful and Room says so much with so little. Carol’s last again because I really was just not impressed.

What’s missing I get it that Steve Jobs wasn’t as universally loved as originally expected, but I’m dumbstruck that Sorkin missed out on the writing nod. The man is the best in the business. Another interesting addition, despite it not being part of the awards conversation this year, would have been Stanford Prison Experiment. I thought the screenplay was very solid in it’s pace and structure, and I like that it included actual dialog recorded from the experiment

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
This is the highest category where I’m actually missing one. While I was on the fence for a while, I never did get around to seeing Straight Outta Compton. I went back and forth as to whether or not I’d enjoy it, and now I’m mad at myself (but not enough to shell out twenty bucks for the DVD).

As far as what I did see, Spotlight gets my vote. Brilliant brilliant story telling about some brilliant storytellers themselves. Next I’d put Inside Out. Just so imaginitive and touching. The other two left me moderately unimpressed. Bride of Spies wasn’t particularly memorable, and Ex Machina had such a messy third act, it ruined much of the film for me. Really surprised to even see it here.”

AMC Best Picture Marathon

“My Oscar obsession reached a new peak this year. Besides the traditional 2 day marathons of the year’s best picture nominees, this year AMC theaters offered 24 hour marathons by demand. Right at the wire, Boston reached the minimum signups, making Assembly Row one of 8 theaters offering it. Sure, I’d seen all these movies before, but this is a really good year. Besides, 24 hours locked in a movie theater? That sounds kinda fun to me.

Okay, so maybe the marathon was actually more like 20 hours than 24, but I did spend a full 24 away from my cozy bed. Here’s how the day went. BTW, I’m kinda OCD about multiples of five. You’ll understand what I mean shortly. Oh and I’m writing this while watching the Oscars.

6:50 – Wake up, ten min before my alarm. My normal weekend wake up time has shifted earlier since I’m usually up at 6:00 or 6:30 during the week. I’m not even fighting it any more.

7:10 – Leggo my eggo.

7:15 – Walk the block and a half to my beloved yoga studio. This may be the most walking I do in the day.

7:30 – Yoga class. Getting all nice and stretchy before I go and sit on my butt for 20 hours. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this whole marathon thing. It’s either the best or the worst idea ever.

8:25 – Savasana. Corpse pose. Enjoying some last few deep peaceful breaths before my day gets crazy.

8:45 – Quick shower. I can’t be stinking up the theater.

9:00 – I’d been previously torn between wearing pajama pants or real pants. Compromised with yoga pants

9:05 – Cereal and a tv dinner.

9:10 – Decide the yoga pants might still be pushing it, especially if there’s a chance of grabbing a bite at a nearby restaurant. Pull on some strange knit pants that feel like pajamas but look more socially acceptable, as long as I ignore the elastic ankles.

9:15 – Figure I won’t be dealing with the snow, so I can put on a real pair of Chucks for the first time in weeks

9:20 – Pull up Uber on my phone and try to signal my ride.

9:23 – Uber isn’t finding any cars. Google Maps tells me taking the T will take 45 min, assuming it’s running well. Panic starts. I need to get to the theater early. It’s one thing to be stuck with bad seats for one movie, but I don’t even wanna think about being stuck with bad seats for 8 movies….

9:25 – Use Uber to find me a taxi. It’ll cost more, but I’ll get there on time.

9:40 – Taxi driver takes a couple wrong turns and gets lost. Heartbeat quickens.

9:50 – Finally arrive at the theater. Run inside. Eavesdrop on the employees telling other attendees what the seating deal is. Run into the auditorium. I’ve only been to this theater once before, and the film was in the same room.

9:53 – By some miracle, my favorite row is completely empty. Most attendees have chosen to occupy the front section with the reclining seats. I put my jackets on aisle seats on the front row of the main section, right behind the safety bar/footrest.

9:55 – My movie buddy shows up. Show him our seats. We spend the next five minutes debating how far in to move. Center has a better view, but aisles won’t disturb the potential people who aren’t there. Spoiler alert: we end up having the entire row to ourselves (and the row behind is empty too). We obsesed over nothing, but did end up right in the center afterall.

10:00 – Buddy and I are rushing thru our catch up chatting (we haven’t seen each other in a while). At the same time, I’m frantically posting a FB status to kick things off. Trying to get it all done before the movie starts.

10:05 – Obsessively stare at the schedule on my bowtie lanyard, planning out food breaks and catnaps. Inventory food rations: water bottle, honey bbq cracker chips, 7-11 cheese Danish, 2 packs of peanut butter cracker thingies, 5 granola bars, 1 possible emergency granola bar that lives in my purse, 2-3 fun size Hersheys which I’m only allowed to eat as dessert after a meal.

10:10 – Boyhood starts 10 min late. NBD. Whoever planned this was smart to start the day off with the longest and slowest film. One of two that I am absolutely not allowed to fall asleep thru. Reason this one makes the list is that I first saw it in the summer, so it’s been a while. Also, I don’t really intend to buy the DVD anytime soon, so I should try and pay attention. I actually liked it a bit more this time around, probably because I knew what to expect. The film still lost some of my interest by the time our boy hits high school. He just kinda gets on my nerves, and the vignettes just aren’t as interesting any more. Movie buddy later commented that he thought Ethan Hawke had the best character in the film. I’ve been much said exactly that before, and it still held true this time. I still find the film absolutely beautiful as a work of art, and it was the perfect choice for kickstarting the day.

12:55 – Boyhood ends, and we have the first run thru of what will become routine for the rest of the day. Pick up phone. Check email. Check Facebook notifications. Bathroom run. Fill up water bottle at fountain. Optional snack run (not this time, as I ate the cheese Danish). Check the time on the door, and it’s been updated to show a 1:10 start time instead of 1:05. Good to know.

1:00 – Meet movie buddy at concessions. I hold my hands up alongside my eyes so I don’t see what myriad of options I have available, otherwise I will spend the whole movie anticipating whatever I decided on. Buddy gets nachos. I intend to mooch a few.

1:05 – Refuse to sit down until the film starts. Try to stretch and keep standing as long as I can. Check AMC app on my phone (which I’d only downloaded because they gave me $5 rewards). I have $20 rewards to spend, 10 specifically from the marathon, and 10 awarded for hitting yet another $100 threshold (it does help when my $65 marathon ticket was applied to my account). Decide it will be spent on lunch during the next intermmission.

1:10 – Theory of Everything Starts. Somewhere around the 45 min mark, I doze off for 20 or so. The BluRay is waiting for me at home, and I’ve seen this before, so I let it happen. The film is just as beautiful as I remember it. I study Eddie Redmayne’s performance closely. He starts running up alongside Michael Keaton as my choice for best actor. I really don’t know anymore who I want to win.

3:20 (maybe) – Movie ends. Bathroom. Water. Lunch. Was hoping for a cheeseburger, leaned towards chicken tenders. Instead, I see an offer of nachos or fries with “”the works””. Buddy and I agree to go halfsies on the waffle fries with chili, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. Curiosity leads me to decide on the philly steak sandwich.

3:27 – I notice the desert counter. They have froyo. I begin recalculating my food schedule to accomodate dessert.

3:32 – OMG THESE FRIES ARE AMAZINGGGGGG. I’m in heaven. The cheesesteak, not so much. Oh well, less calories for me if I don’t eat it all, but the fries.

3:40 – Birdman starts. Sort of. Something’s off with the color, and it’s basically strobing.

3:45 – Birdman re-starts. Issue fixed. A lady somewhere behind me didn’t realize that color effect wasn’t part of the movie. True, it’s a weird enough film as it is, wouldn’t be hard to believe. I’d previously pegged it as a nap-able movie. Even though it’s my favorite, I’ve seen it twice, and the BluRay is also waiting for me at home. But once it starts, I’m hooked. I can’t possibly try and nap thru this. I watch Edward Norton’s first scene in a mix of awe at his performance, and sadness that he won’t likely win the statue he so deserves (granted JK Simmons equally deserves it, but we’ll get to him) (Also, as I’m writing this, best supporting actor is being announced and they used the exact clip of Norton in that first scene where I think he best knocks it out of the park). I catch little details I missed the first two times around. I still don’t really know what happens at the end, and I still don’t care. Every few minutes, my focus broke just long enough for me to start thinking about chocolate froyo with rainbow sprinkles.

5:50 – Bathroom. Water. Snacks. Must get the froyo, must get the froyo. Oh hey look they have red velvet cake. Oh now I’m conflicted. I start trying to think when I could fit both in. I was committed to the froyo, so that’s what I’m asking for. While waiting, I look over at the toppings bar and it looks kinda empty. Okay so maybe no sprinkles. I ask for my froyo. And the machine’s down. It doesn’t even take me a second to quickly counter with “”Red velvet cake!””

5:56 – While talking to the cashier who notices our lanyards, we realize we’re not even halfway yet. Oh dear. Cashier cheers us on.

5:57 – Starting to realize that if I didn’t nap during Birdman, it’s gonna be harder to stay awake for Selma, which is at the top of my stay awake list, since I kinda slept thru the middle when I saw it before. I steal a few big gulps of buddy’s coke, hoping the small dose of caffeine will be enough for this usually caffeine free me to stay awake.

6:00 – We start doing the math on the times and realize that as scheduled, there should be an hour break afterwards. I immediately regret the cake. But the schedule’s tracking late, so it’s unclear if the schedule will be adjusted accordingly. We’ll figure it out, but for now I’m enjoying this cake dammit! And oh hey, free posters outside. I grab a couple that I don’t intend to put up, but have people in mind I could give them to. As I write this, I realize I have become my mother.

6:15 – Or somewhere around there. I already forgot how far off we were. Selma starts. Before long, we start getting to scenes that are unfamiliar to me. Oh my God, I missed some very important stuff! I still felt a lot of impact the first time around, but this time I sat there with my hand over my gaping mouth during some really intense and powerful scenes. By the time MLK gave his speech in Montgomery, I had chills. Maybe the theater was cold. I start getting a little sleepy by the third act. Must stay awake. Must stay awake. I realize I’m more sleepy than hungry, and I start fantasizing about napping during the break.

8:25 – Movie lets out. That time I’m sure of. The parade out the door and to various stations begins. We check the door, and the time for American Sniper is saying 9:00. All previous ones had gotten adjusted times posted, so maybe no hour long break? Neither of us feel hungry. We haven’t seen the outside world, but there’s no more light from the windows in the lobby. Facebook tells us there’s snow.

8:35 – I decide to seize the nap! I move all the crap I’ve got on the seat next to me down to the floor, and I raise the armrests on all seats to the right of mine. Using my puffy warm jacket as a pillow, I try to nap, but mostly end up eavesdropping on conversations. I hear someone say something about free coffee for marathon-ers. I contemplate this option. I think there might have been a few min of sleep.

9:05 – People start filing in. What time are we starting at?

9:10 – AMC employee comes in and starts asking trivia questions, giving away prizes for correct answers. Except his first few are super easy and everyone is yelling out answers. Then he asks “”When Emma Stone filmed Birdman, she was in New York on break from filming what movie?”” “”Spiderman!”” half the crowd (mostly the kids in the front section) yells. “”Not quite”” The crowd quickly adjusts to “”The Amazing Spider-Man””. I see him starting to say no, and I put it together quickly first. I yell from my spot further back “”The Amazing Spider-man 2!”” I win an Unbroken dogtag keychain. I think it’s still in my purse. I try feeding my buddy an answer to a later question, not wanting to seem too greedy. He’s oblivious to what I’m doing, and misses out on a Safe Haven BluRay that he would have likely just given his sister. That’s what the guy who knew that when Stephen Hawking typed out “”Daisy Daisy give me your answer do”” he was quoting the song “”Bicycle Built For Two””.

9:20 – American Sniper starts. Between the excitement of trivia (yes, movie trivia gets me very excited, even if most of the questions are stupid simple) and the catnap, I’m feeling energized. I’m ready for this movie and excited to watch it again. I’m so into it, watching with such respect and admiration…And then when Chris Kyle hits his fourth tour, I’m down for the count and doze off until the trumpet music plays thru the start of the end credits. Oops. It’s okay. I still love this movie (I’ll be saying that about most of them, btw) and I know I’ll be getting the BluRay and watching that soon.

11:30 – Movie ends. The door says the next one starts at 11:30. We’ve given up all hope of a schedule. Unsure of what the concession schedule is, I decide to grab my free decaf coffee (not knowing if and how it will affect me) and some chicken sliders with fries. Right as I’m handed my sliders, I hear the other concession guy tell someone they’ll be open until 6 AM. Okay, so I could have waited.

11:50 – Another round of trivia. This time, he’s more strict about hand raising, and I’m less shy about repeat answering. For knowing that Lee Daniels was the original director of Selma I get an Interstellar tee, knowing Meryl Streep has been nominated 19 times got me an Inherent Vice poster, and knowing that Silence of the Lambs was the last film to sweep the big five awards got me a Baymax pin and the awe of most of the auditorium for knowing that off the top of my head so quickly. I resisted the urge to really show off and say that the only others to ever do so were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and It Happened one night.

12:00 – Shouldn’t the movie have started?

12:05 – Someone goes to ask and comes back saying that they thought they had started it

12:10 – Theater goes dark

12:15 – Lights come back up, then The Imitation Game starts, and the lights go back down. Since I’d seen this one twice (once in Nov and again earlier that week when plans to see Jupiter Ascending were thwarted by a leaky auditorium) I decided that I would nap thru the whole thing. I spent the first few minutes debating whether it was worth clearing off the seat again to stretch out. I compromise my just throwing my jacket over my pile o’things instead of moving them. Luckily, my favorite scenes are early on. I watch Turing’s job interview, and I close my eyes but still hear the lunch confusion. From there, I’m pretty much out, except occassionally roused by the sound of gears on the Turing machine turning. It kinda breaks my heart to miss this one, but I had to sacrifice one if I was gonna get thru the night, and I really wanted to stay awake for Whiplash.

2:00 – Run thru the post movie routine yet again. Take a sip of the now cold coffee, and decide it’ll do. I don’t know if it tastes bad because it’s bad coffee, because I’ve never had decaf, or because I’ve lost the taste for it. Doesn’t matter. I chug like half the cup. I really hope I’m making the right decision (spoiler alert: I think so. No caffeine withdrawal headaches today and I did stay awake thru Whiplash as hoped).

2:16 – Post a very incoherent update on Facebook. I’d posted before at the start and at the halfway point, but felt the need to commemorate Whiplash and coffee. And I know this time is right because FB has timestamps. Science!

2:20 – Movie starts. I’m totally jazzed (pun intended after not originally intending). I think this is the single film I’m most excited to rewatch, and it’s just as intense as it was the first time. At key moments, movie buddy would take loud deep breaths in anticipation. I could only answer “”I know right?! AWESOME!”” so many times. I’d recently heard someone describe it as an action movie, and it makes so much sense. I’m an action junkie, and I’ve never gotten the rush from a shoot ’em up that compares to the one I got here. I’d also heard that it was supposed to be a clear frontrunner for Editing, so I paid really close attention to that. I don’t know much about editing, but I feel like I learned a full courseload from this film. Fast paced, but beautifully timed (Michael Bay, take note if you are going to keep insisting on your music video like cuts). Reaction shots, extreme close ups, quick whiplash-inducing pans, so so good.

3:55 – Whiplash ends. The dwindling audience applauds vigorously. Now think about it. We’ve just sat thru 7 movies. No other movie got applause. It’s now 4 AM. You’d think everyone would be passed out. I’d originally been bummed that this was on the schedule so late, fearing I wouldn’t be awake, but I realized it was perfect. Just the jolt of energy to get us thru the rest of the night. C’mon. Almost there.

3:57 – Thankfully I’d decided that I prolly didn’t need to fill my water because that side of the theater has now been blocked off for cleaning. Crew members cheer us on as the bathroom parade begins for the final time.

4:05 – Here we go. Last one. I’m actually feeling pretty good, but since this is my least favorite of the bunch, I’m totally fine with sleeping thru it. I assume the stretched out position. I actually manage to stay awake for a bit, just long enough to appreciate the charm of the film. I have so much respect for Wes Anderson, for how he creates his own special worlds and stays true to his unique style. I just always find his screenplays fall flat. I’m with it until soon after Gustav H and Zero arrive at Tilda Swinton’s place. Before I nod off, I hear rustling across the row. Buddy has copied my strategy and has stretched out across his side. I chuckle as I drift off to sleep. I wake up during the prison break, and watch until Bill Murray’s obligatory appearance.

5:50 – It’s over! I grab my pile o’stuff, realizing that except for the danish, I didn’t eat any of my snack stash. The pile has grown with all the swag I snagged and/or won. The final bathroom parade goes past the cleaning lady who has just finished mopping up the bathroom that had been slowly degrading throughout the day. I feel bad as I see my Chuck print tracks. There’s a larger parade behind me, so at least I’m not the only one messing it up.

6:00 – Get in buddy’s car and fire up the GPS

6:15 – Home!

6:16 – ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Oscars 2015

“That time of year again. As per usual, I have lots of thoughts and I’m not shy about sharing them. These are more about how I’d vote than what I predict (but that’ll be in here a bit too). I’m going in the order the official Oscar website lists the nominees possibly skipping some of the lesser categories. Letsa go!

Best Picture
Ranked roughly in the order I would vote for them.

Birdman – No big secret this was my favorite movie last year. Yet for a little while, I was conflicted between this and Boyhood as best picture. But then I saw Edward Norton comment about how in fifteen years, film students will be picking apart this movie and studying it intensely. I don’t see that same fate for Boyhood. Birdman is simply a perfect film. Every element (screenplay, cast, direction, cinemtography, score) is spot on and a technical achievement in itself. That level of excellence deserves reward.

Boyhood – While it is not the most entertaining of the films, I find it to be the most beautiful as a work of art. The gimmick used is not likely to be replicated again, or at least not to the same effect. Once the fake trailers for things like Boy Meets World and Harry Potter done in the style of Boyhood came along, I did realize that the idea isn’t as rare as it’s made out to be, just the thought of combining it all into one film. I wouldn’t begrudge the film if it wins, because it is worthy of acclaim. I just think Birdman is worthier.

Theory of Everything – As far as traditional Oscar bait films go, this is the one that I would back. This film was beautifully done, expertly acted, and truly inspirational.

Whiplash – As far as personal enjoyment, I would have ranked this one higher. As far as Academy worth, I think the nomination is it’s big win. While the film is incredible and provoked an incredibly visceral response from me, it feels a bit narrow for the big prize.

American Sniper – I’ve never been moved by a film quite like the way this one did. It’s incredibly worthy subject matter, and was treated with the utmost respect. In a weaker year, this could have taken it all.

The Imitation Game – This also fits the traditional Oscar bait decription to a t, and it’s another important film about someone who should be celebrated. For me, it doesn’t stand out as much as the aforementioned films, but that doesn’t make it any less of one.

Selma – Simply put, I just liked the others way better. Yes this is an important film, and yes it’s very well done. It’s just a very strong year with tough competition.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – I enjoyed the first half of this one, and then it fell flat. I love the world that Wes Anderson was able to create, and how picturesque it all is. I just wish the story stood up to its ambitions

Best Actor
Such a tough race this year. All of them deserve very much to be on this list, edging out several other worthy opponents. The battle seems to be mainly between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Going off the performance alone, I’d side with Redmayne. But I like to take in career and Oscar history as well, and Keaton gives the performance of a lifetime and has a long legacy behind him. Also, Redmayne loses points for the role being such obvious Oscar bait, and Keaton gains points for it being my favorite film this year. Next on the list I’d probably place Bradley Cooper. Besides the fact that he’s due soon, this role was completely transformative and unlike anything we’ve seen from him before. He conveyed so much by doing so little. Speaking of transformative, next we’ve got Steve Carrell. At the beginning of the race a few months ago, I was in his corner. I love when actors go way against type and succeed with such flying colors. But by now, I didn’t care for his film as much as I thought I would, and I just thought the others were a little bit stronger. That leaves us at Bennedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he was truly incredible, but I feel he’s eclipsed by his competition. Missing from the list, first I’d say David Oyelowo. I’ll admit I was kind of upset Cooper stole his spot, simply due to the fact that otherwise we’d have a pool full of first timers. Trivia aside, he did give a powerful performance. I’d also like to throw Bill Murray’s name into the ring for St Vincent. If you’ve just seen the trailer, then you have no idea of the depth and range that he gave in that film. Such a treat to watch.

Best Actress
Julianne Moore no question. No only is she overdue (as she’s on nod number 5), her performance was powerful and important. She gave such heart and dignity to her character, it’s truly a must see. Next, I think I’d go with Felicity Jones. Her understated and restrained performance really anchored Theory. Next to such a flashy costar’s performance, she could have faded into the background, but instead she stood her ground and showed the strength of her real life character. From there, I’d say Rosamund Pike. She has the unfair advantage of being in my second most favorite movie of the year (Gone Girl), and I just love the thought that this role was deemed awards worthy. She is such a conniving chameleon and is incredible to watch. Reese Witherspoon is being viewed as the possible upset, but her previous win knocks her down in my ranks. Wild was incredible and unexpected, but I’d choose the other ladies first. Marion Cotillard should just be happy to have made the cut. She gave a masterful performance, as always, but she had her time already. As for who’s missing, some would argue Jennifer Aniston, but something wasn’t quite there for me. Others would say Amy Adams, but Big Eyes was not her strongest, and the next time she is nominated, I’d really like to see it be the one she finally wins. Who I will say I would have liked to see here, longshot as it may have been, is Emily Blunt for Into the Woods. She should start earning some accolades soon, especially after this strong year she had (she OWNED Edge of Tomorrow), and she ruled the Woods kingdom.

Best Supporting Actor
This is the category that most truly breaks my heart. I am beyond torn between Edward Norton and JK Simmons. Norton is my favorite actor, Birdman gave him his best role in years, and he absolutely should have won for American History X some time back. Simmons is a hardworking actor worthy of recognition, playing against type in HIS best role possibly ever. One of these guys will win, and no matter which it is, I’ll be sad for the other. Although it’s looking more like Simmons, but my heart leans more towards Norton. After them Mark Ruffalo would get my vote for Foxcatcher. He’s such a versatile and emotional actor, showing off those skillz yet again. Ethan Hawke would probably come next for me. I lived for his scenes in Boyhood, and like all the other characters, he too grew thru such a great arc over the course of the film. And we all know that Robert Duvall is mostly nominated out of respect for him and his career.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette has been cleaning up here, and she deserves it. She could have even given lead actress a solid run, as Boyhood is as much about her as it is her child. Being able to connect so strongly to the same role intermittently over such a long time takes incredible talent and dedication. I never really cared too much for her as an actress until this film. I adore Emma Stone and was elated she got the nod. And we already know I loved everything about Birdman. Keira Knightly is also deserving of being on this list, but it’s not her year. That day will come. I loved Laura Dern in Wild, and am happy to see her here, but the role feels less substantial than her competition. And then similarly to Mr Duvall, Meryl Streep is mostly just here out of respect. No less deserved, but she’s the last I’d expect to see walk up to that podium.

Animated Feature
How on Earth is Lego movie not on here???!!!!?!!! UGGGGHHHH
I don’t even know what I’m rooting for otherwise. Probably Big Hero 6 but I wouldn’t mind seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 take it. If we’re just talking animation technique and forget the sleepy plot The Boxtrolls excels. I haven’t seen the other two, less mainstream nominees.

Cinematography
I know this dude just won last year, but hands down it’s gotta go to Birdman.

Costume design
I think Maleficent would be a fun win. Colleen Atwood proved why she’s the master with Into the Woods but I’m kinda over her winning so much. Grand Budapest has some fun and quirky designs, or you could go with Mr Turner for your obligatory old time-y period piece. Inherent Vice should just be honored to be here, especially since it’s a tricky time period

Best Director
I think you’ve figured out the pattern by now, so I don’t need to continue gushing over Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman. Richard Linklater also had a difficult job of maintaining coherence over such a long stretch of time. Then there’s Wes Anderson. Actually I may even rank him one higher. Even if I don’t always enjoy his films (the writing has a strange tone to it) he has a very consistent and quirky style. You’d recognize one of his films from a mile away.

Original Score
I have to go with Theory of Everything. It’s the only score I noticed while watching that I did feel enhance the mood. While I can’t remember it now, I could remember upon leaving, and I’m sure I’ll instantly recognize it when I hear it later. I noticed the score for Mr Turner but I _really_ didn’t like it.

Original Song
I’m torn. Last year, as soon as I saw The Lego Movie, I asked if “”Everything is Awesome”” could please win best song. I freaking love that song and still want it to win, but I also absolutely adore “”Lost Stars””. I think Stars is the better stand alone song, and the better linked to it’s film. But Awesome is so much fun and different. Frontrunner seems to be “”Glory”” which is pretty strong too. The other two songs I haven’t heard. Indiewire’s predictions have Glory as Will Win, Awesome as Could Win, and Stars as Should Win. Out of all their predictions, I think that’s the one I most align with.

Production Design
Grand Budapest Hotel looks like a living dollhouse. So bright and toy-like.

Writing
I’d like Whiplash for adapted and Birdman for original. I also wouldn’t mind American Sniper or Nightcrawler for those respective categories.

And that’s all I have to say about that.”

2014 Oscars

“I usually wait to start this write up until the weekend before the big night. By that point, I’ve seen everything I’m gonna see, and predictions are pretty solid as most of the precursor awards have been given. This year, the feels are bubbling up early, and I’m in pretty good shape as far as what’s been watched (only missing one major contender). So I think I’ll change things up and get off to an early start (at least as far as writing) and then will add in updates closer to the day as things shift. Apologies for the inevitable repetitive phrases and adjectives. There are only so many ways to sing praises of some of these guys, and I’ll quickly lose track of what I’ve said when.

Update: I’m adding in a final update to some of the categories tonight right before I post this. I’m not actually rereading what was previously posting, so some of it may prove to be redundant.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
If I don’t line break between each movie, the length of this paragraph will get ridonkulous.

American Hustle – This snuck its way in as a contender late in the game and broke the whole race right open. I think I’d lean towards this being my realistic pick, but I’m not yet sure if that also makes it my prediction. And while I would have preferred a couple of the acting nominations to go a different way, I do like the fact that it managed the difficult feat of nailing all four categories.
Captain Phillips – This was simply a perfectly executed movie. The cast, the story, everything spot on. It might seem a little small scale since the story is so isolated in itself, but I remember walking out of there being truly impressed.
Dallas Buyers Club – This really has emerged as my favorite movie if the year (if I was forced to pick one) and I’m incredibly happy with all the love it’s received. It’s certainly got a strong shot at acting wins (Jared Leto in particular). While I’d love to see it take the big prize, I think – it should just be happy with its nomination.
Gravity – As a lover of scifi, I’m excited about the new possibilities for the genre that will be provided by the technical advances in this film. But scifi aside, it was such a harrowing and suspenseful story, and just all around masterfull executed.
Her – Any movie that’s both entertaining and makes me think about the world a little differently is worthy of a spot on this list. Even if it dragged at times, I just get warm fuzzies thinking about this imaginitive film.
Nebraska – While I am supportive of this film and all the love it’s getting, is this something that I would have been upset about being omitted? Probably not. Still that does not take away from how enjoyable and relatable this film was.
Philomena – She should just be happy to be here. As with others previously listed, loved the love and am happy about the attention it’s getting. But really, the nomination is victory.
12 Years a Slave – I still have some mixed feelings about this one. Yes it was epic and moving, but that was kind of a given. This film is hands down the most Oscar bait-y of the bunch, and I’m usually hesitant to reward that, despite how virtually flawless it may be.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Ah yes. My kind of film. A big sprawling and dark to take home the big prize, but there is no shame in my love for this movie.

Final update – The race closed back up to Gravity vs 12 Years. Personal preference would be Gravity. It’s a game changer for technology AND a moving story whereas 12 Years is too Oscar bait-y. However, for prediction, I’m leaning to 12. It’s more fitting for the Academy, and since I’m expecting Gravity to sweep thru a bunch of the smaller awards, I think balancing out the awards will sway those who want to honor both.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
This one is a toughie for me this year. Going into the nominations, there were 7 strong contenders vying for 5 spots, and I really wanted 6 of them and didn’t know which one I was willing to sacrifice. Watching the announcement, I was keeping a mental tally in my head of who was missing from the list, knowing my heart would be broken in one way or another. I am kind of in shock that it was Tom Hanks who didn’t make the cut. He was phenomenal in Captain Phillips, and while the Academy has regaled him in the past, he was overdue for some love. I’d also wanted to see Robert Redford, even though I didn’t care much for All is Lost. What’s undeniable is that while he won the gold for directing, he hasn’t even been nominated for acting since I’ve been alive, and this role was so demanding and he unique. That said, as far as who did make the cut, I am rather happy. I have a two way tie between Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo Dicaprio for who I want to see take!
this. Dicaprio is simply overdue, and I love the thought of him finally winning for an against type role that he was clearly enjoying. McConaughey scored an overdue first nod, and there aren’t enough good things I could say about his transformitive performance. Next in line I would go with Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sure it’s an Oscar baity role, but he excelled. I dare you to tell me you weren’t moved by him. Bruce Dern I’d kind of just accepted as being an inevitable part of this list. I did love him in Nebraska and thought he was incredible. I may not be as familiar with his past work, but I do recognize that he is a legendary Hollywood veteran who has more than paid his dues. Christian Bale I adore, and any other year would have been thrilled for him, but this year, he was the one I was willing to sacrifice for the others. I’ll admit, my heart sank a bit when he was nominated first because while I knew I’d lose one of my picks for sure, he meant I!
‘d lose two. Oh also, I’d long given up on Michael B Jordan f!
or Fruit
vale Station, but in another life that would have been nice to see.

Final update: I’m really excited by the recent talk of a possible Leo upset, when just a month ago people were saying he should just be happy with the nomination. But I’m also really excited about Matthew winning, especially since that was my favorite performance. Either would make me happy, but I think the Leo push was a lil too late, so I predict Matt.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
7 people vying for 5 spots is tough. 6 people for 5 is gonna hurt no matter who gets cut. It had been speculated to be 4 locks with 2 vying for the last, but I guess we shouldn’t have underestimated the power of Meryl Streep. She was originally considered a shoo-in, but that went shaky when August… wasn’t as well received as expected. I think she’s the best actress on earth, and she delivered another incredible performance unlike any we’d seen before. It was Amy Adams who she was supposedly fighting off, who then managed to squeeze out Emma Thomson. I am okay with sacrificing Thomson to get Adams in here. She had a completely against type role that she knocked out of the park. I’d love to see her not only because I do think it’s been her career best, but also she’s the lone contender without a statue. But word on the street is that this one has Cate Blanchett‘s name on it. From the beginning of the race it’s been thought of as hers. I’ll see!
for myself soon enough. Sandra Bullock had been considered strong competition for a while, and I could get behind that as well. She carried the entire film almost completely by herself. She said so much by saying little, and she brought weight to what could have been a very flimsy blockbustery movie. Judi Dench should just be happy with the nomination as I’m sure she is. Adore her, and she was wonderful, but not up to the same caliber as the other ladies.
Update: Saw Blue Jasmine. Maybe it was overhyped and I already had my favorite, but I just wasn’t that impressed with Blanchett. I was amused at how spot on she did channel Woody Allen’s voice. Solid performance, but I still think Amy had a meatier role and made greater strides in her career.

Final update: I’d still love to see Amy win, but all signs point to Cate.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
In my mind, this was also a case of 7 actors, five spots. Although in reality, it was 3 locks and several possibles, some more likely than others. 4 of them hit the mark, one of which I’m ridiculously excited about. Actually two of them, but the latter was a given, former very much a long shot. The one that didn’t make it was just as long, and while one was unlikely two was pretty near impossible. The excited lock was Jared Leto, who has been a long time favorite of mine (not just because he is the most gorgeous man on earth, when he isn’t sporting that current Jesus scruff). Out of everybody, this performance was simply my favorite. True, it is because I’m quite a hag that I was immediately captivated when we first met Rayon, but his scene with his dad later on just sealed it. My happy long shot was Jonah Hill. I think I mostly covered this in my Wolf of Wall Street write up, but I supported his Moneyball nomination because it was a departure for him.!
I supported his Wolf nomination because he found a way to take his signature style and apply it to a weightier film than his usual fare. The boy worked hard for it too, going on his first audition in 6 years because he was determined to get the part, which he very much rocked. Barkhad Abdi really impressed me in his film debut, holding his own against Tom Hanks. Not only was he intimidating, but we also saw his humanity. A difficult and rare balance even for the most seasoned of actors. Michael Fassbender I’m mostly just happy can now add “”Academy Award nominee”” to his screen credits. For such a charming actor to be completely lost in such an, let’s just said completely anti-charming character, is talent. Bradley Cooper I love, but let’s face it. Hustle was all about the girls. I would have gladly sacrificed him for Daniel Bruhl in Rush. Bruhl’s pigheaded and determined racer just had that much more impact on his film than Cooper did. Tom Ha!
nks could have been a possibility for Saving Mr Banks, but I m!
uch pref
erred my 5 picks.

Final update: Leto all the way baby.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence. While I’m often biased against repeat winners, I want her to take this. She completely stole the movie, not to mention how much fun it is to watch her during awards season and promotional stuff. And I do just wanna hear the awkwardly honest speeches she’s so good at. Lupita Nyong’o, the main competition, was good (no denying that), but I feel it is also an obvious choice. In a way, almost any actress who had that role would see her name up here. No one else could have taken J-Law’s place. Julia Roberts anchored August: Osage County, and I’m glad to see her name up here. I’m also happy for June Squibb in Nebraska. She was just so real in that film, and she also deserves some career recognition. That and I think it’s adorable, the stories I’m hearing about co-star Bruce Dern (her onscreen husband) bringing her along as he schmoozes and campaigns. As of writing this, I still haven’!
t seen Blue Jasmine, but I know Sally Hawkins was a shaky nomination possibility, so I doubt she poses much threat now. Time was when Octavia Spencer was buzzing for Fruitvale Station, but sadly that died out. She would have been very deserving.

Final update: Slightly more people are saying Lupita, but I’d rather say J-Law and be wrong than doubt my homegirl and be wrong, so I’m saying Jennifer Lawrence. Precursor awards balance out. Most people give the edge to Lupita because back to back repeats are rare, and Lawrence has a whole career ahead of her to win more. But I think people love her enough and love her speeches enough to wanna see her at that podium again, at least to give her a chance to walk up there without tripping.

Best Achievement in Directing
The “”experts”” are trying to posit this as a three way race, but really, this is all about Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity. Similar to Ang Lee winning for Life of Pi last year (esp with Affleck inexplicably out of the race), the technological achievements he made were beyond belief. Juggling new technology and delivering such a compelling film deserves to be rewarded. In my mind runner up should be David O Russell because damn can he direct a group of actors. Two years in a row leading his team to acting nominations in all four categories, when the previous time it was done had been over 30 years ago. I think Steve McQueen is only in the conversation because Slave is a picture front runner. Incredible work, but not as impressive as the other guys. Martin Scorsese I feel got the nod out of respect, and rightfully so. I was happy to hear his name called. And Alexander Payne, you’re wonderful, but sorry this ain’t your year.

Final update: Cuaron all the way.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
I’m actually leaning towards Her on this one, even though I thought the plot hit a wall partway through. The reason I like it for this award is because it’s imaginitive and different, and really had an impact on me. It left me thinking about so much in my life, in a way that few movies do. That said, I absolutely would not complain in the unlikely event that Dallas Buyers Club takes it, since I adored everythign about that film. But let’s be real. The nomination was a shock. It ain’t gonna win. Blue Jasmine was very much typical Woody Allen, neurosis and all. Enjoyed it more than some of his others, but still not sold. Nebraska was also a very original work that I could see getting some recognition. Same with American Hustle although that film just rushed by for me in such a way that I didn’t really focus on the screenplay. The cast was far flashier than the words on the page.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Haven’t seen Before Midnight and don’t really care to. But I know that it has a lot of love, particularly on the indie circuit, so on behalf of those supporters, I’m happy to see it on the list. 12 Years a Slave seems to be the front runner, and I can’t complain. Also can’t complain about any nomination that Wolf of Wall Street gets. But if I was a voter, I actually think I’d cast mine for Philomena. I can sense the love and care that Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope put into the screenplay, and I would feel good about myself as a person choosing this. Captain Phillips while an excellent excellent film, seems a bit too straightfoward of a story (even though the suspense was remarkable) for me to consider it here.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
As per usual, I haven’t seen the more obscure (read: not fully mainstream) nominees Ernest & Celestine or The Wind Rises (which I guess isn’t too obscure). But this is all about Frozen. May still come short of Disney’s best in days past, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. The Croods I enjoyed but it wasn’t anything too special. And once you get past the minions in Despicable Me 2 you really don’t have much.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Nominees:
It’s a personal accomplishment when I’ve seen one of the nominees. That didn’t happen this year. My typical one foreign film of the year was Blue Is the Warmest Color, which I knew already wasn’t eligible.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Nominees:
Gravity because yeah.

Best Achievement in Editing
Nominees:
My next goal should prolly be learning how to identify what makes for good editing in a film so I can have a real opinion here.

Best Achievement in Production Design
Nominees:
I loved the design for Her. Just futuristic enough that it was clear we weren’t there yet, but it was attainable. And all of the warm colors contribute to the happy connotations I have with the film. I think that’s what I would vote for. But The Great Gatsby is the type of film this award feeds off of. Such lucsious decadence and absolutely beautiful.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Nominees:
Also the type of category that thrives on films like Great Gatsby but I would throw my support to American Hustle. You remember that Gatsby was pretty, but the actual images of the Hustle costumes stay with you.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Nominees:
Can I just say how amused I am not only that Bad Grandpa is now officially an Academy Award nominated film, but that it’s also a likely winner? Whodda thunk that Johnny Knoxville would ever be remotely associated with Oscar? But in all seriousness, that is some impressive work. Unlike most movies that just need makeup to look good on screen, his old age prosthetics had to be believable up close to unsuspecting “”costars””. Not to mention survive some of his stunts. Also, I’d heard that American Hustle was expected here because of the hairstyling, so it’s curious that it didn’t make it. But I am grateful for the additional and unexpected love for Dallas Buyers Club. Rayon don’t look that good all by herself, y’know!

Final update – Dallas Buyers seems to have stolen frontrunner status after some strategic campainging. They revealed that the entire makeup budget was a mere $250 and highlighted the various states of health they were able to convey. THat and the fact that most of the Academy would not be comfortable voting for somethign with Jackass in the name gives them the edge now. However, I’m gonna be stubborn and stick to my guns. I think Bad Grandpa could still pull it off, if the Academy takes the time to really look at the work.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Nominees:
For me, I tend to favor whichever film’s music I remember instantly (or at least the quickest) after hearing the nominations. I haven’t seen The Book Thief but I can’t for the life of me remember how any of the music for these others goes. I think I arbitrarily choose Saving Mr Banks because I do like Thomas Newman’s work, and if that score did anything to further the magic of Mary Poppins, then I say job well done.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Does anyone even know any of these songs besides Let It Go? Clearly that song is amazing and deserves to win, and I’m really hoping we get to hear Idinza Menzel belt it out on that Oscar stage. It is strange that nothing from Inside Llewyn Davis made the list. I’ve been kinda obsessed with “”Please Mr Kennedy””, but not as obsessed as I was with Let it Go. I later learned that for some strange reason Kennedy was ineligible anyways.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Nominees:
I would love to see Lone Survivor get something, anything and one of these sound categories may be its best chance. But the technical categories are kind of dominated by Gravity. In particular, just the lack of sound in space and how you’d hear vibrations instead of explosions gives it a huge edge.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Nominees:
Okay so for those of you who scratch your heads at the difference between the sound categories, here’s the way I understand it. Editing is more about creating the sound effects. Mixing is how all of the sound (including dialog, music, etc) balances out. That’s why you see some watery movies in this category, because that requires a lot of effects to be created. I think the things I talked about for Gravity are more of the overall sound quality than building out the specific sounds. That said, it could very much win here. But I still want to see something to go Lone Survivor

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Nominees:
Gravity. Game over.

Best Documentary, Feature
Not really my category, but I would have liked to see Blackfish on here. Also surprised that Stories We Tell didn’t make it, given how enthusiastically I’ve heard people talking about it.

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Nominees:
Yeah right.

Best Short Film, Animated
Nominees:
I loved Get a Horse but I don’t think I saw any of the others

Best Short Film, Live Action
Nominees:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live action short nominee.”

Oscars 2013

“That time of year again. The worst part of my movie obsession comes to a thrilling conclusion as Hollywood honors the best films of the past year. Gives me something to talk about for a while. Alrighty, the game today is that I’ll go thru the categories, ranking my picks and talking about them. By picks, I mean what I’d vote for, not necessarily what I think will win. Well, that’s part of the discussion, but the ranks are based on my preference. I’ll go as long as I can stand, meaning once my wrists hurt or my headache comes back or I stop caring about the rest of the categories, I’ll stop. And here we go!

Best Picture
Argo
– I have been team Argo from the first time I saw it. What impresses me most about this movie is the balance between suspense and comedy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mix like that before, and I can’t even pick which side of the film I prefer. Its truly original, and incredible overall.

Silver Linings Playbook – I’m picking this as my second choice mostly thinking of it in terms of being a “”best picture””, not necessarily my next favorite. I dont know, something just told me to put this movie next. I guess it just left me with some rather warm fuzzies. It’s also one of the best ensembles put together in recent years. The first film in over 30 years to score nods in all four acting categories. That’s gotta count for something

Django Unchained – My Tarantino obsession is no secret. I would love to see any film of his get this major recognition, although I really am more than happy with just the nomination. It may not be his best work, but even then it’s much better than the majority of what Hollywood throws out there.

Les Miserables – This movie was truly beautiful. A few years ago, I may have gone with this as my top pick, but now it feels a little too obvious a choice. I like some quirk. But it’s a brilliant adaptation of a fantastic story, backed up by a phenomenal cast.

Zero Dark Thirty – I love dark thrillers, and few have the weight that this one carries. Usually the genre is closer to guilty pleasure territory, but a film like this has real street cred. It’s such an intense and intriguing ride. In a less competitive year, I’d have been more than happy to see it win. Well, I guess that’s why we have The Hurt Locker, yeah?

Life of Pi – Another truly beuatiful film that would have been a shoo-in in another year. This film dazzled me and got me thinking. What seems like such a simple premise turns out to be such a wonderfully moving story. Wow, I can’t believe I wrote something so sappy.

Lincoln – Yes, I know this is one of the top contenders this year. So why did I rank it so far down? Frankly, the movie is too perfect. Everything is top notch, but yet I don’t find it particularly memorable or remarkable. Maybe it’s because the expectations were so high, there was nothing to be surprised by. Or maybe there’s something to be said for appreciating the flaws in a film.

Amour – This movie getting a nomination is a win in and of itself. I can see why it’s struck such a strong chord with some members of the Academy. The fact that I didn’t feel as strongly doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.

Beasts of the Southern Wild – This may be at a disadvantage for me because it’s the only one I saw at home instead of in the theater. That does tend to diminish the experience for me a bit. I’m all in favor of a quirky indie getting some big recognition, but this just didn’t resonate with me.

What’s missing? – Of course, right after the nominations are announced, I have a really long list that now I can’t recall. I had gotten excited about the possibility of Skyfall, so I was a lil sad that it didn’t make the cut. Perks of Being a Wallflower was a big longshot that would have made me very happy. I wasn’t as into Moonrise Kingdom as some others were, but I still sighed a lil when I noticed it didn’t get in either.

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
– There’s just no fighting this one. Had the nominations gone slightly different, I’d have voted elsewhere (we’ll get there). But as much as I like the other actors in general, none of the other nominated performances come close to this one.

Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) – Just taking on this role is worthy of a nomination. He carried a very difficult role with such ease. It’s not an easy role to play, and certainly even more difficult to sing. This man had been long overdue for this sort of thing.

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) – The nomination is enough to make me happy to recognize this actor who’s getting bigger and bigger with each film. Here we see so much more range and depth than we’ve gotten from Cooper before, and I’m excited to see what he does next.

Denzel Washington (Flight) – Such a truly incredible performance that no one’s really talking about. There’s such an intensity about it that’s just heartbreaking to watch.

Joquin Phoenix (The Master) – I’m kinda upset with Phoenix for stealing this slot, especially given his ranting against awards. Sure, it was a good performance, but there are others I liked better who would have been more appreciative of the recognition.

Who’s missing? – John Hawkes. John Hawkes. John Hawkes. That was the first glaring omission that truly upset me. I would have voted for him over DDL for his work in The Sessions. The physicality, the humor, the vulnerability, all of it just floored me. He provided such charm for the film, made it something truly special. I also would have _loved_ to see Jack Black for Bernie, but that was a long shot. Even longer would have been Jake Gyllenhaal for End of Watch. Tom Holland for The Impossible would have also been rather well deserved, as would Richard Gere for Arbitrage or Ben Affleck for Argo.

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain (zero Dark Thirty)
– I was torn about how to rank these first two, but I hafta give it to Ms Chastain. The single moment that wins it for me is when she delivers this one line that should have been in a Tarantino film (I dont wanna spoil it). We see all sides of the emotional spectrum from her, and a fierce tenacity that’s rare for a female role.

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) – The moment I realized I was actually torn about who I wanted to win was when I got excited at Lawrence’s name being called for the Golden Globe. My first thought was “”Wow, she is going to give an amazing acceptance speech”” and she did, and for the few she’s picked up since. I love this girl, and her spastic and clumsy humor is refreshing. She too has an intense role, making herself the strongest character in a movie full of A-listers.

Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) – I’m also torn on the ranking of these next two. But Riva had this realism that really hit me. I started reliving moments from my grandparents’ final years. There was also this physicality to her role that was rather impressive.

Naomi Watts (The Impossible) – Also a breathtaking performance. Part of what lowers it on the list for me is that she does spend a lot of the film incapacitated and out of focus. But for the first half of the film, wow.

Quvenzhané Wallis(Beasts of the Southern Wild) – Impressive when you realize how young this girl was. She certainly proved she’s a force to be reckoned with, but the nomination is plenty for this little one.

Who’s Missing – I really wish more people would have seen Smashed because seeing Mary Elizabeth Winstead on this list would have made me so giddy. Sadly the film never got enough traction. I also thought Helen Mirren could have earned a spot for Hitchcock, but that film wasn’t too well received. There was talk of Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone, but personally, I wasn’t that impressed with it.

Best Supporting Actor

Okay breaking the format a bit for this one. I dont feel as invested in this category because I have a list that’s twice as long of actors I would have liked to have seen here. Part of what leaves me unimpressed by this lot is that all of them have won before. I know you technically should only vote for the nominated performance, but of course, there’s far more factors at play. I guess I’d have to vote for Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, or Alan Arkin for Argo. Actually yeah, Arkin’s more likeable. Him first. Next would be Robert DeNiro for Silver Linings Playbook, even though I dont think he should be rewarded simply for finally making a good movie this century. Then Christoph Waltz. I adore the man, but I would have preferred to see his costar Leonardo Dicaprio take his place. Last we’ve got Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’s a favorite of mine, but I wasn’t as big a fan of this movie.

And as for who’s missing. My God, let’s just list them, in no particular order: Leonardo Dicaprio (Django Unchained), Ewan McGregor (The Impossible), Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike), Ezra Miller (Perks of Being a Wallflower), John Goodman (Argo). There were more, but that’s all I can remember at the moment.

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
– I know everyone’s raving about her “”I Dreamed a Dream”” performance, but seriously, I had chills. I’ve loved this girl for a long time, and really wanted her to win for Rachel Getting Married (I’ll spare you that long rant because it’s pretty detailed). She’s been so sweet and gracious every time she takes the stage to accept an award for this role, so she’s gotta be able to do it one more time.

Helen Hunt (The Sessions) – Maybe not as strong a performance as her costar, John Hawkes, but still a wonderful and unique performance. Brave and corageous are the words that are being thrown around to describe it, and I have to concur.

Amy Adams (The Master) – I’m just biased and think that Amy Adams deserves an Oscar

Sally Field (Lincoln) – I have mixed feelings on this one. Yes it was a fantastic performance, and the bit where she puts down Tommy Lee Jones is worth her mention on this list. However, I still think she was miscast. She certainly was capable of delivering the performance, but she looked out of place. I’d hate to blame it on her age, but that’s what I keep coming back to.

Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) – She was just the most adorable thing ever in this movie, but she didn’t have too much to do. Seems odd that she scored the nod. Didn’t mean to rhyme. Apologies.

Who’s Missing – Samantha Barks (Les Miserables), Ann Dowd (Compliance), and Emma Watson (Perks of Being a Wallflower). I dont think I’d have complained if any of them took any spot on this list (except for Hathaway’s, of course)

Best Director

Ang Lee (Life of Pi) – This movie could have easily crashed and burned, and that’s all anyone would have talked about. But it didn’t. Yet it’s not getting much love for that acheivement. Water, animals, CGI, all very difficult elements to master on their own, and combining them is madness. Lee pulled it off masterfully.

Michael Haneke (Amour) – Really, I’d just love for the guy behind Funny Games to have Best Director on his resume.

David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) – Comedies (even if this one barely counts) don’t often find themselves on this list. But Russell’s nomination is very well deserved.

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) – Okay, before I make my statement, I just want to say that I have nothing but respect for Spielberg, and he is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. However, I feel like most of what he did for Lincoln was just be Spielberg. People want to work with him, so he brought in the best actors and writers and crew. Everyone is already so perfect, that it’s hard to see his contributions to the film.

Ben Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) – Oh that’s nice.

Who’s Missing – BEN AFFLECK! My gut reaction after the nominations was to first be incredibly upset over John Hawkes for actor, but as time went on, I got more and more upset over Affleck for Argo. What likely happened is that people thought he was a sure thing and gave their votes elsewhere. But if that’s what guarantees Argo the win, then I’m fine with that. Also missing, well I’m never gonna pass up a chance to recognize Tarantino. Even if it was a tough year, he always has my support. Katheryn Bigelow was another glaring omission as was Tom Hooper.

Original Screenplay

Format’s out the window for the rest of the post. All of this year’s nominees are incredibly deserving: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom. Edge for me goes to Tarantino by default. I’m really sad that Looper didn’t get on there. It’s not easy to do time travel well, but that film was beyond impressive.

Adapted Screenplay

I’m still on team Argo, but I wouldn’t mind letting this one go to Silver Linings Playbook. I’m mostly just upset that Perks of Being a Wallflower got snubbed. It had longshot potential in many categories, but this was it’s best chance. Alas, it was shut out completely.

Misc

Not too much worth going into detail left. I love Wreck it Ralph for animated, and Anna Karenina for both creatives it’s up for (costumes and production design). I’m kinda psyched that a Bond theme is poised to win song, even though it makes me ridiculously happy to say that Ted is an Academy Award nominated film. Sadly, I won’t be able to watch the show on Sunday, but not too sad because I’ll be arriving in Vegas to go to Eli Roth’s Goretorium for my bday the next day. But this was a really strong year, and I’m excited to see the results”