Tag Archives: Oscars

My Predictions For The 2016 Academy Awards

DISCLAIMER: There was an incomplete post like this yesterday. The reason was I was editing from my smartphone and intended to update the draft, not publish the blog. It published anyways. This blog here is my complete blog for Oscar predictions.

Chocolate Oscar

The Academy Awards are here. I’ve seen enough movies to make up 82 of the nominations this year. It was quite the year with lots to offer and a lot of things that appeared guaranteed weren’t. So without further ado, let’s get on with the predictions:

BEST PICTURE WRAP-UP

You all saw my three summaries of all nine nominees. Doing shorter summaries were better for me this year. Maybe next year I won’t be so busy or have as many ailments. So here goes for predicting the winner:

-Arrival-  This is the first movie about aliens to be nominated for an Oscar. A very smart film that was loaded with buzz when it first came out. However its awards excitement faded over time as did its Best Picture chances.

-Fences- I like it when I see a celebrated play brought to the big screen. Especially around Oscar time. I felt it was done excellently. However it is up in this category against meatier competition. This is one category I think Fences won’t win.

-Hacksaw Ridge- Very rarely does a pro-religion movie have a chance for Best Picture. Hacksaw Ridge is the pro-religion film in the past 15 years most deserving of a nomination. However it does have some formulaic elements that come up every now and then and it has better chances in the technical categories instead of Best Picture.

-Hell Or High Water-  This year’s ‘summer survivor.’ Those like me who missed out on it during the summer missed out on a gem. A crime story that’s funny and entertaining, but smart too. However I’m not too optimistic in its Oscar chances here.

-Hidden Figures- This movie started with very little Oscar buzz at first but it increased as rapport from the film–from both critics and audience alike– grew. It seems like it doesn’t have good chances to win Best Picture but it could pull a surprise. A very slim chance of that but it is likely.

-La La Land- What can I say? People have been embracing it in droves. Why? Because people just really like a good musical? Because of its feel? Because it reminds one of the charm of old Hollywood? Whatever it is, it’s made it the frontrunner that looks hard to beat. That’s why it’s my Will Win pick. the biggest reason why I hope it win is because last year I said: “One more Best Picture winner that fails to gross $100 million and I’m done Oscarwatching.” I don’t know what made me carry on even after Spotlight won– and it didn’t even make $50 million— but La La Land makes me glad I did.

-Lion- I’m no expert in Oscar trivia but I think this is the first Australian film to be nominated for Best Picture, and a deserving nominee. It’s won over everyone I know who has seen it. It may have had better Best Picture chances in another year.

-Manchester By The Sea- This is a film that was loaded with buzz at the beginning of the Oscar race and looked to be the one film that could beat out La La Land. The buzz faded over time, despite how great the film was. May have an outside chance but not too likely.

-Moonlight- This is one film that proves that less is more. Less dialogue, more of a feel of what’s happening. Less showy characters, more knowing who the characters are. Less singing and dancing, more feel for the music in the film. This is the surprise of the Oscar race that was able to let it speak for itself. I know it faces a hell of a fight against La La Land to win Best Picture but I give this my Should Win pick.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Should Win – Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Will Win – Damien Chazelle, La La Land

I felt that Moonlight is the better picture and Jenkins did an excellent job of directing but I know this is the year of La La Land and it’s Damien Chazelle’s to take.

BEST ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Denzel Washington, Fences

These past two years saw the rise of the #OscarsSoWhite outcry. This year there are seven non-white acting nominees. Denzel may have won twice before but his performance as Troy Maxson has been getting loads of buzz and even surprised favorite Casey Affleck at the SAG Awards. The only way I can see Casey winning instead of Denzel is if the Academy doesn’t want to make this his third Oscar, and it is a possibility.

BEST ACTRESS:

Should Win – Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Will Win – Emma Stone, La La Land

Some are saying that Isabelle Huppert looks to be the biggest threat to Emma Stone’s win. It is a possibility but I think Casey Affleck beating out Denzel appears more likely. It’s Emma’s to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Mahershala Ali may have only been seen in the first part of Moonlight but there was something about his performance of Juan that stood out like no other supporting performance this year. Was it Juan’s charisma? Was it his silent coolness? Whatever it is, it’s what made Mahershala stand out this year among all the supporting actor performances.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Should Win and Will Win – Viola Davis, Fences

What can I say? If there’s anyone who can steal the show from Denzel, it’s Viola Davis. She reminded us very well that Fences wasn’t just about Troy Maxson. It was about Rose too.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Should Win – Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water

Will Win – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea

A lot of people are expecting Damien Chazelle to do it again here but I feel that Kenneth Lonergan will take it for one of the best scripts of the year. It was a film that cuts deep and doesn’t water down.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Should Win and Will Win – Barry Jenkins and Terell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

It all started with a short story by McCraney, then Jenkins developed a screenplay, and now it’s one of the best of the year. No stopping it.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

Should Win: Kubo And The Two Strings

Will Win: Zootopia

Kubo was the best at taking your imagination away this year. However in comparison to frontrunner Zootopia, it isn’t really all that family friendly and that I believe is where it will hurt it. Zootopia was without a doubt this year’s crowd charmer. Besides this is the one category Disney wants to take year after year.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Will Win: La La Land

Let’s face it. Any movie that shows off the classic areas in Los Angeles and even meshes it into the present will win this category.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: Madeline Fontaine, Jackie

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Will Win: O. J. Simpson: Made In America

BEST FILM EDITING:

Will Win: Tom Cross, La La Land

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Will Win: The Salesman (Iran)

Salesman director Asghar Farhadi has been the subject of news as it was believed Donald Trump’s travel ban could prevent him from attending the Oscars. Whatever the situation, he boycotted the Oscars in protest of Trump’s policies.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

Will Win: A Man Called Ove

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

I’m sure we’ve all been waiting for the longest time for a musical of original composition. Especially the Academy.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Should Win: ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’, La La Land

Will Win: ‘City Of Stars’, La La Land

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Will Win: La La Land

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: The Jungle Book

I think the reason why Star Wars lost this category last year is because having the best digital effects of the year is expected for a Star Wars movie. That’s where The Jungle Book has the edge for this year.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

Will Win: Joe’s Helmet

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

I did this for the first time last year. I want to do it again this year.:

  • Moonlight wins Best Picture
  • Casey Affleck wins Best Actor for Manchester By The Sea
  • Kubo And The Two Strings wins Best Animated Feature
  • Arrival wins Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Greig Fraser wins Best Cinematography for Lion.

And there you have it. My predictions for Hollywood’s night of nights. Let’s see how Jimmy Kimmel does as host this time.

My Predictions For The 2016 Academy Award Nominees

Chocolate Oscar

I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I normally have. You may have noticed I didn’t post predictions for the Golden Globes this year. Heck, I’ve even delayed publishing my review of Doctor Strange! It’s not just about my busy schedule but my lack of hits to my blog in 2016: the least since 2011. However since I’ve been getting more hits to my blog this January, it gives me the energy to publish my next blog.

Of course I wouldn’t miss out on predicting the Oscar nominations. I have been paying attention to the race and seen some of the heavily favored films. The race looks exciting and it’s hard to tell who will win. La La Land looks like the best bet but there have been surprises before, like Spotlight trouncing The Revenant last year. And speaking of last year, I believe the #OscarsSoWhite row has paid off as the Academy has seen a lot of diversity in this year’s new inductees, which I will reflect on in a blog in a week or two, and there appears to be four or five non-white actors heavily favored to be nominated. Cheryl Boone Isaacs even said she’ll have the Academy lead by example.

Anyways without further ado, I have my predictions. To start off, here are my predictions for the nominations on Tuesday:

BEST PICTURE

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell Or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Sully

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Garth Davis, Lion
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

BEST ACTOR

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Viggo Mortenson, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  •  Emily Blunt, The Girl On The Train
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  •  Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Yorgos Lanthimos and Efyhimis Filipou, The Lobster
  • Paul Laverty, I, Daniel Blake
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Jeff Nichols, Loving

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Luke Davies, Lion
  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
  • Barry Jenkins And Terell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
  • Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
  • August Wilson, Fences

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Finding Dory
  • Kubo And The Two Strings
  • Moana
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Greg Fraser, Lion
  • James Laxton, Moonlight
  • Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
  • Linus Sandgren, La La Land
  • Bradford Young, Arrival

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Consolata Boyle, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
  • Mary Zophres, Hail Caesar!
  • Mary Zophres, La La Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Life, Animated
  • OJ: Made In America
  • Tower
  • Weiner

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Julian Clarke, Deadpool
  • Tom Cross, La La Land
  • John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Jennifer Lame, Manchester By The Sea
  • Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • It’s Only The End Of The World (Canada)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Tanna (Australia)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Nicholas Britwell, Moonlight
  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
  • Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
  • John Williams, The BFG
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrel Williams and Benjamin Walfisch, Hidden Figures

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’, Trolls
  • ‘City Of Stars’, La La Land
  • ‘Faith’, Sing
  • ‘Heathens’, Suicide Squad
  • ‘How Far I’ll Go’, Moana

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Hail Caesar!
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Arrival
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Rogue One

Those are my predictions for nominations. I also include predictions for possible upsetters for my main predictions. They could upset some of my favorites and get nominated instead. Without further ado, here is my list for the most likely upsetters:

BEST PICTURE

  • Loving
  • Deadpool
  • Elle

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTOR

  • Tom Hanks, Sully
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving

BEST ACTRESS

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Eric Heisserer, Arrival
  • Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • My Life As a Zucchini
  • Miss Hokusai

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson, The Dressmaker
  • Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • 13th

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Joe Walker, Arrival
  • Jake Roberts, Hell Or High Water

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Abel Korzeniowski, Nocturnal Animals

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  •  ‘Try Everything’, Zootopia
  •  ‘Just Like Fire’, Alice Through Looking Glass

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Arrival
  • Jackie

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

  • Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

So did my predictions come true? Which of my upsetter predictions caused the biggest shocker? Or which nominations from left-field happened? We’ll find out Tuesdayj morning.

2015 Oscars: The Buzz And The Biz

Best Picture 2015

This year’s Best Picture nominees brought in the most box office gold since 2012 but the winner…

Once again, it’s my annual look at this year’s top Academy Awards contenders and how they fared at the Box Office. This was something that once again had to wait until one month after the end of the Oscars to get the full picture. Boy did they have a lot to tell. Once again, all credits for my research to Box Office Mojo.

Before I get into explaining the box office results, I’ll let you all in that Awards Daily showed an interesting graph. It showed how not even $500,000 was spent on a For Your Consideration ad for a Golden Globe win but a win brought in megamillions. It also showed how millions are spent on For Your Consideration ads for the Oscar but the box office draw isn’t even half of what one gets from a Golden Globe win. Something to think about. Especially as we all read on.

When the nominations were announced, two of the eight Best Picture nominees–Mad Max:Fury Road and The Martian— had already grossed over $100 million. That wasn’t the case last year when none of them passed that mark on ‘Nomination Day.’ And that was the Thursday just before American Sniper had its wide release. Actually the eight-set of Best Picture nominees turned in an average of over $75 million. Very impressive.

The film that definitely had its biggest boost since its Best Picture nomination was The Revenant. Between Nomination Day and Awards day, it grossed $116.5 million. A significant boost also came to Room which only grossed $5.2 million before the nominations but $8.2 million between Nomination Day and Awards Day. Films like Spotlight, The Big Short and Brooklyn didn’t double their grosses after their nominations like The Revenant and Room did but their Oscar nominations did give them a good added boost. The Big Short received an additional 423.9 million: more than 50% more than before its nominations. Brooklyn also showed a bigger-than-50% increase in its box office results after their nominations. Spotlight also had an increase but it was just slightly over $10 million.

The only three movies that didn’t see a significant boost after their Oscar nominations were Mad Max: Fury Road, Bridge of Spies and The Martian because they had already neared completion of their box office run with their totals as impressive as they would get. Actually Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t re-released after its Oscar nominations.

Now Awards Day came and three of the eight Best Picture winners had grossed over $100 million. However the Best Picture winner was a film that was one of the lowest-grossing of the eight nominees: Spotlight. It didn’t even have $40 million grossed by Awards Night. Ever since it’s only grossed an additional $5.2 million and it’s highly unlikely it will hit $50 million. This makes it the second year in a row the Best Picture winner failed to gross $50 million and the third year in a row it fails to gross $100 million. This is a bit of a surprise since I said to myself months earlier: “One more Best Picture winner that fails to gross $100 million and I’m done with Oscar tracking.”

Actually those were temporary feeling as despite Spotlight‘s low gross, it was a film that gave something to admire. However it does point some interesting stats. This will make it the fourth Best Picture winner of the 2010’s that didn’t gross $100 million and there’s still four more years left. The naughts, the decade before the 2010’s, only had three that failed to do so as did the 90’s. You’d figure that the title of Best Picture Winner’ would be a draw to the box office but now it appears less than ever. This shows an interesting detail about how the Academy is in terms of voting for Best Picture. In the past, it was almost always a Hollywood picture. Then things changed with the 1996 Oscars when Jerry Maguire was the only one of the five Best Picture nominees done by a major Hollywood studio to receive a Best Picture nomination. All of the other four nominees including winner The English Patient were independent films.

Since then, the independent films have been winning the Academy over. This has led to a bigger gap than ever between blockbuster films and critical darlings. It has definitely become evident over these last ten years. It’s a bit of a downer for me because I’d really like to see good cinema do well at the box office deep down inside. However it’s becoming more fact. I read an article from Awards Daily which talked about how independent films and films of critical renown don’t so well nowadays at the box office. In the past, you had the movie box office which gave a first run and second run of movies before it even hit video. Now we have such a wide variety of media methods like Netflix and Shomi. It seems like if you want to bring people to the movies, you have to have what it takes to do it. Moviegoers are now choosier as they can decide whether a movie is worth seeing in a cinema or worth waiting for it on Netflix. That would often mean big special effects and often theatre things like showing them in 3D or AVX or in D-Box seats. You mostly won’t get that with the films that win the biggest critical renown. That could have a lot to do with the Best Picture winner constantly grossing lower and lower. For the record, the last Best Picture winner that grossed $100 million+ is 2012’s Argo.

The box office may not have been friendly to Spotlight but it was friendly to the eight Best Picture winners as a whole. The eight have grossed a combined total of $803.8 million– just over $100 million per film for the first time since 2012– an all of them have grossed over $10 million. Spotlight wasn’t the only nominee to bag some extra money after the Oscars. The Revenant took an extra $11.4 million, The Big Short gained an extra $1.6 million, Brooklyn grossed an extra $1.5 million and Room grabbed an extra $1.2 million. Overall The Revenant and Room were the two with the biggest boosts from the Oscar buzz.

The box office results of this year’s nominees told a lot about moviegoers and their choices this year. The winner told lots about the Academy and how they’ve changed as far as voting for Best Picture. Next year should tell more.

My 2015 Academy Award Predictions

Chocolate Oscar

No kidding there was a lot of news about this year’s Oscar nominees from the lack of diversity and the boycotts and AMPAS reform that followed to how this being one of the most unpredictable years as far as Best Picture is concerned. Despite the protests, Chris Rock will still host the Oscars.

As for me, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees. This makes it the fifteenth year in a row I’ve seen them all before the awards night. It almost would have been my last as I was losing faith in the Academy as the last two Best Picture winners failed to gross $100 million both individually and combined. For the record, 2012’s Argo is the last Best Picture winner with a gross of higher than $100 million. However that could change with The Revenant being a strong favorite.

Collectively I have seen enough films and shorts to make up 86 of this year’s nominees. It’s a shame there won’t be any more members at large because I think I’d make a better Oscar voter. Anyways here are my predictions for this year’s Oscar winners. Note that the bigger categories will get the focus as well as my prediction. Only in few smaller categories will I elaborate. Also you will receive links to my reviews.

Best Picture 2015

BEST PICTURE SUMMARY

This year’s eight Best Picture nominees are quite different. Some have a lot of similarities but there are some surprises. Who would’ve though a Mad Max movie would be one of the nominees? Or even The Big Short would be a heavy favorite? Anyways here’s my summary with the titles hyperlinked to my review:

-The Big Short –  My favorite of the Best Picture nominees and my Should Win pick. I admire it for it being unconventional and making sense of something very technical. However I feel it may come up a bit short to my prediction for the winner.

-Bridge Of Spies –  I feel this is the most underrated movie of the whole Best Picture race. It did a great job in capturing the eerie feel of the Cold War and even the political tension behind it. Too bad it finds itself out of contention for the win because it is deserving of it.

-Brooklyn – It’s easy to think Brooklyn has all the bait of what would win the Academy over. However this was a tightly competitive year. Plus the Academy will always surprise you about what it thinks ids the best.

-Mad Max: Fury Road –  Very rarely does a science fiction movie have a chance at winning Best Picture. This film surprised everyone about how good a sci-fi story can go. A deserving winner, but the competition was tight and also I don’t think the Academy will make it Best Picture.

-The Martian –  Space stories have been winning over the Academy more often lately. Two years ago, it was Gravity.Now The Martian. A good choice for a nominee but I think there were too many parts that were a bit cornball.

-The Revenant –  It may have a lot of buzz but it doesn’t completely guarantee it will win Best Picture. The Revenant may have won the Golden Globe and BAFTA but Spotlight won the Critics Choice award and The Big Short won the Producers Guild. The buzz however is too hard to ignore and I feel that The Revenant Will Win Best Picture. Anyways I find it refreshing having a movie that made over $100 million win Best Picture, especially after Birdman’s poor gross.

-Room – One of two Canada/Ireland entries for Best Picture. Very well-acted and well-written but I don’t think a movie about two young people abducted makes for a Best Picture winner. It deserves respect for making this scenario watchable on screen but not enough to make it a winner.

-Spotlight –  This is this year’s critical darling. It has a lot to offer with a great ensemble of acting, an excellently-written story and well-directed. It has what it takes to win Best Picture. However I feel its November release has hurt its chances for the win. It still has some good chances to win but it faces rivalry against later releases like The Revenant and The Big Short.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant – This last while has been the emergence of Inarritu. He first burst onto the scene in 2000 with Amores Perros. He received his first Best Director nomination for Babel. Last year, he won for Birdman. This time around he directs an epic thriller and he succeeds excellently at it. Also it pays off at the box office this time.

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant – Everybody’s saying “Leo should win it.” It’s easy to see why. He’s done a lot of great performances. Plus winning the Oscar could be the case of career culmination for him. It’s too easy to declare career culmination for his anticipated Oscar win. However you have to see The Revenant for yourself to see why. It involved a lot of physical acting as well as a lot of acting moments involving no speaking at all. You can easily see why he’s a deserving winner.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win – Brie Larson – Room – Often enough winning an acting Oscar is often a case of career culmination. Other times it can be that case where you’re lucky to have that role of a lifetime. This is the case for Brie Larson. She was mostly unknown and her biggest work up to then was acting in Trainwreck. However her turn as Joy Newsome as a woman braking free from her kidnapping and struggling to live life in what should be freedom is that role of a lifetime.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win – Mark Rylance – Bridge Of Spies – I’ll only base my decision on the supporting performances I’ve seen. Mark was excellent as he had to embody the character of a frail 50 year-old man from head to toe. Not only that but give him a unique charm that’s able to steal the show away from Tom Hanks.

-Will Win – Sylvester Stallone – Creed – I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone. In fact I can easily see why the Golden Raspberry awards like to give him accolades. However if there’s one role in which he knows how to do right, it’s Rocky Balboa. I believe with this being possibly the last movie of the Rocky saga, Stallone will win it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win – Rooney Mara – Carol – I have to say of all the supporting actress performances I’ve seen, I’m most impressed with Rooney Mara. She played a young woman who was insecure with herself and just learning about herself until Carol helps her to understand herself and not be afraid to love.

-Will Win – Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl – I admit I have not seen The Danish Girl. However Alicia’s performance has already generated a ton of buzz. It seems like a no-brainer she’ll win. Some are already touting her as the biggest thing out of Scandinavia since Liv Ullmann. We’ll see.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win – Matt Charman, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – Bridge Of Spies – I liked Bridge Of Spies and how it captured the time of fear and paranoia of the Cold War. This was a unique collaboration of Spielberg and the Coen brothers. I thought Bridge Of Spies was one of the smartest films this year.

-Will Win – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight – Spotlight is one film that has gotten a lot of renown for its story of trying to bring a story to the presses. It’s a deserving winner as it is a story that will keep you interested and intrigued from star to finish. At the same time, it makes a film about sexual abuse by the clergy actually watchable.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win & Will Win- Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short – All I can say is the script was full of energy. It defied convention and at the same time made sense out of a confusing topic which only those inside the banking world can fully understand. A deserving winner here.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win & Will Win- What can I say? Inside Out is the animated movie of the year. It’s very much the case that when Disney/Pixar releases an original film, it’s bound to be the class of the field in terms of animated films. Heck, the script was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay so how can you rival that?

Here are the rest of the categories. I will only predict who Will Win. As well as give some notes if I feel so.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

-Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

-Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Amy

BEST FILM EDITING:

-Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

-Son Of Saul – Hungary

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

-The Revenant

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

-Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

-“Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting Ground

As far as songs go, that’s the biggest talk about Til It Happens To You and Lady Gaga winning the Oscar. I’m cool with it. As long as she doesn’t wear a meat dress.

BEST SOUND MIXING:

The Revenant

BEST SOUND EDITING:

-Mad Max: Fury Road

Actually I will have my final prediction in this category Saturday evening as that’s when we’ll know the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild winner.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

-Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It seemed like a no-brainer to predict Star Wars to win that category. However it’s not to say it didn’t have it rivals. Accolades have also been given to the effects of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

-Chau: Beyond The Lines

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

This is something new for me. I’m picking the five most likely upsets of the evening, especially those that will go against my own predictions:

  • The Big Short to win Best Picture
  • Mark Rylance wins Best Supporting Actor for Bridge Of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road win Best Visual Effects
  • Mustang (from France) wins Best Foreign Language Film
  • Sandy Powell wins Best Costume Design for Cinderella

And there you have it. My predictions for Hollywood’s night of nights. You might only care about who wears what but see who wins on Sunday the 28th. Even attend a party. You might win prizes.

Reviews Of Other Nominated Movies Viewed:

-Joy

-Ex Machina

-Straight Outta Compton

-Anomalisa

-Boy And The World

-Cinderella

Oscars 2015 Shorts Review: Best Live-Action Short Film

Cinema

The Oscar-nominated short films were back in theatres again. However this year I only had the chances to see the live-action one day and the animated another. I have no problem writing separate reviews for both. So here’s my take on the live-action shorts:

Ave Maria (Palestine/France/Germany): dirs. Eric Dupont and Basil Khalil – Five nuns pray at a convent in a ‘war-zone’ area of Palestine. Then they hear what sounds like an explosive car crash. One tries to help despite the fact they are under a vow of silence. What happened was a car driven by Jewish residents accidentally crashed into the Virgin Mary statue. They try to help but there are conflicts with the nuns’ vows of silence and the family’s strict adherence to the Sabbath and with kosherisms. Not to mention they don’t want to be noticed by Arab residents in the area.

The film does focus on the religious tensions in Palestine but in a humorous way. All of this takes place in the area of the convent. However it’s funny how something as little as a car crash and people trying to seek out help can lead to such religious conflicts. That may have been the least of problems in Palestine but even then it just shows the humor of the whole situation and of how in the end it’s all about doing the right thing. I feel the film’s mix of humor while conveying a social message is why I predict it Will Win the Oscar.

Shok (Kosovo/UK): dir. Jamie Donoughue – A car driving on a Kosovo road stops at an abandoned child’s bicycle. But why would a grown male from the car leave the car to look at the bicycle? And why would he ride it soon after?

The answer flashes back to the mid-90’s. Two Kosovar Albanian boys Petrit and Oki are the closest of friends. They frequently go to school riding on the bicycle Oki bought after a year of selling almonds. Petrit wants a bike of his own but feels he can get it by selling drugs and rolling papers to Serbian soldiers who’ve taken over the area. He feels it could also prevent them invading their village despite news stories of other areas of Kosovo being invaded. He even tells Oki he’s safe with him.

However Petrit’s promise and ‘business’ is put under heavy question during one of his ‘deals’ as a Serbian soldier wants Oki’s bicycle. It’s not the lost bicycle Oki’s angry about but the fact Petrit is willing to do something dangerous and dishonest for money and it threatens their friendship. They reconcile after Petrit is willing to take an assault from a soldier after Albanian books are found in Oki’s bag and Petrit claims them as his own. Unfortunately the invasion of their village eventually comes and with it the tragic end of the friendship of Oki and Petrit.

Of all five shorts, this is the one that still stayed with me long after I left the theatre. This is a story based on true events. I easily remember the war in the Balkans, especially the bloodshed in Bosnia, back in the 90’s. It dominated the news that decade. The war in Kosovo just years after the war in Bosnia ended was another example of the tyranny and I remember that as well. It does leave you feeling it was unfair of what happened to Oki. He was the smart one. He was the one who kept Petrit’s head on straight. But he was the one killed. Also that end scene where we see a grown-up Petrit still haunted by the war more that fifteen years later reminds you that war still haunts even as time passes and even if Kosovo did get its independence. My cousin once said: “No country’s freedom came without some amount of bloodshed.” True, but the bloodshed still leaves people with a trauma not even independence can solve. That’s why I pick Shok to be my Should Win pick.

Eveything Will Be Okay (Austria/Germany): dir. Patrick Vollrath – The film starts on a simple note. A man named Michael goes to see his daughter Lea for visitation. His ex-wife and new boyfriend don’t have a problem with that at all so we think it will just be a fun day of the two of them without incident. It starts on a fun note as he buys her a big Playmobil toy and promises to taker her to the fair afterwards. However things get a bit suspicious as the two go to a photo booth where he gets Lea to have a photo of her own and takes to a passport office for rush processing. Things get even fishier when Michael sells his car and they take a cab to the airport. Soon we get what’s going on. It’s a miracle the flight to Dubai was cancelled but they have a replacement flight the next morning. Despite Lea wanting to go home, Michael is insistent on taking her and for her to cooperate. It’s by the luck of Lea making a phone call to her mother overnight that they’re able to prevent an abduction from happening. But not without a struggle.

This is a film of a scenario that happens all too often. A broken marriage and children caught in the middle even to the point of them being abducted. This is something that happens all over the world. However the story is not just about the child caught in the middle but the parent who’s hurting and feels that the child is being taken away from him. The film leaves you wondering if Michael suffers from a mental illness or if he’s just a hurting person. It leaves you feeling that way of a lot of parents from failed marriages. Is that why they abduct their children? The film also leaves you relieved that the flight was cancelled and that Lea was able to make that phone call to her mother in the early morning. Not as many children are as lucky.

The best quality of the film is that it helps the audience live the moment. We don’t know what’s really happening at first but we soon get a better understanding of what’s happening as time goes on. Even as they go to the fair and ride the bumper cars, we still can’t take our mind off of what we suspect will happen. And as time moves on, what we suspect is exactly what’s happening. In addition that scene which we think is the end where the police, Lea’s mother and the hotel personnel try to stop the heist ends up being a scene where a new conflict begins. Michael still struggle to hang onto Lea. That’s another quality of the film where right where we think it’s all over, it’s not and a new struggle begins. On top of that the film’s story is shown without any musical score which adds to the intensity of the drama.

This is a film of a story of an incident that happens all too often in our world. The film’s best qualities are the story unfolding quietly as time unfolds and the unexpected twists in the drama.

-Stutterer (UK/Ireland): dirs. Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage – Greenwood, a twentysomething London male with a stutter finds life difficult. His stutter is so severe, it causes problems when calling customer service. He has a job as a typographer but his social life is limited to him with his father. Often he fakes himself as death to try and avoid conversation. His thoughts however are perfectly coherent.

Despite his social flaws and his speech problem, he has developed an online relationship with a woman named Ellie. That works excellently and they keep the relationship going for six months despite never meeting face to face. However the day comes when Ellie would like to meet Greenwood for the first time. He’s in a crisis of what to do and abandons her at first but agrees to do so the next day despite being nervous as hell. The ending will surprise you.

This is a charming story. It takes you into the person’s feelings as well as their insecurities. You learn of Greenwood’s stutter and of what he’s really thinking and easily see the barriers he has to face. You learn about Greenwood the person and hope that in the end he does win Ellie. The ending will delight you. Very clever short film.

 –Day One (USA): dir. Henry Hughes – Feda is a young woman just hired by the U.S. Army to act as interpreter. She’s in her 30’s and admits to her colleague who also speaks Arabic that she’s never been married and has no children. Her operation on Day One involves dealing with an enemy bomb maker the army is about to arrest. The operation involves a lot more. It also involves bring his fatherless niece to safety. It also involves dealing with his wife who’s about to give birth.

As if trying to deliver the baby isn’t stressful enough, there’s the fact the baby’s hand is hanging out. The doctor tests for a pulse from the baby and assumes there isn’t one. Feda is given orders to cut the deceased baby’s limbs so that the mother doesn’t bleed to death. Even before Feda attempts the first cut, she notices the hand move. The baby’s alive. There is a sigh of relief but there’s the new stress of making sure the baby’s born right and the mother not bleeding to death. The film ends on a sad but hopeful note.

Just like Everything Will Be Okay, it captures the drama of the moment and allows the audience to capture the intensity as the events are slowly unfolding. The various twists and turns in the story also adds to the continuous drama. The happy ending we all hope for doesn’t happen but it does end with a moment of hope, especially for Feda.

In conclusion, I feel Shok should win the Oscar because of how it’s a story that stays with you long after you leave the theatre. It was creative and it told a story that will touch you deep down inside. I still remember hearing a couple of people in tears after Oki was shot. However I don’t know if the Academy will pick a short that’s all too serious. I think they might want to go for a story leading more to the humorous side. I think Ave Maria with its mix of humor and social awareness will take the Oscar. I think the Academy would prefer a film like that.

And there are my thoughts for this year’s five nominees in the category of Best Live Action Short Film. Winners to be decided on the big night. Also click here for my reviews of the animated shorts.

My 2014 Academy Awards Predictions

Chocolate Oscar

After five and a half weeks of promos and buzz, all the winners will be decided…and 90% of us will only be paying attention to who wears what. Even 2005 winner Reese Witherspoon who’s nominated again this year will admit it: “It’s funny that it all becomes about clothes. It’s bizarre. You work your butt off and then you win an award and it’s all about your dress. You can’t get away from it.”

Nevertheless there are lots of us who care who wins what as an ABC commercial for the Oscars used the tagline: “It’s where stars become legends.” Even with the awards cementing cinematic immortality, there are also those of us curious about the Best Picture winner or who will win the most awards or even which hugely-nominated film will be the most shunned.

Whatever the situation, I’m sure you will be entertained with the Oscars. Neil Patrick Harris will host for the first time. We’ll see how he scores as host. We’ll also see what the show has in store for performances and tributes. And us cinemaphiles and Oscarphiles who pay close attention to what many consider to be ‘the biggest horserace outside of the Presidential election.’ Me, I continued my ‘relaxed’ approach again this year where I paid attention to the major award winners and calmly went out to see all the Best Picture nominees. It paid off again this year as I was able to do it with less stress. This makes it the fourteenth year in a row I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees before the awards.

Now enough about my watching. Most of you will want to know about my predictions. This year I saw enough films and shorts that make up 86 of this year’s 121 total nominations. I’ll bet that’s more than most actual members of the Academy. Maybe I should become an AMPAS member simply because of that! Until then, here are my predictions for the winners for Sunday starting with a Best Picture rundown:

BEST PICTURE:

For this, I will give a brief review of the nominees one by one. As I said earlier, if you click on the titles you’ll get my full reviews:

  • American Sniper – This movie is one that went beyond a lot of people’s expectations. Including mine. Also it presented a very provocative message which Academy members usually like. However its late buzz in the year could hurt its chances for Best Picture. I don’t think it’s as pumped or as awarded as many of the other movies to win Best Picture here. Even though I wouldn’t mind at all if it did.
  • Birdman – It seems like this Best Picture race has been two at the top: Boyhood and Birdman. Now Birdman appears to be a clever but eccentric film. However you will start to understand Birdman if you understand the career of Michael Keaton. This could have you guessing. Although I feel Boyhood will win Best Picture, I feel Birdman has the best chances of being the Most Likely Upsetter. It looks like this year’s Best Picture race may end up being as too close to call as last year’s.
  • Boyhood – Boyhood is a major accomplishment. Not only for what it accomplished cinematically but also for those that saw it. It had a certain charm to it that was common in a lot of independent films from the late-80’s early 90’s. I was reminded of that charm when I saw a replay of Mystic Pizza. The charm I’m talking about is not because it introduced the world to a 21 year-old Julia Roberts. The charm was the film and its characters had hopes, dreams and heartaches that were similar to ours. That’s the charm: films that were pieces of us. That charm was also very present in Linklater’s Dazed And Confused from 1993. They were teens from 1976 with similar desires and dreams and typical teen ordeals that were pieces of us. And we see that charm again in Boyhood as watching Mason Jr’s boyhood was almost like watching my own boyhood in a lot of ways. And that is why this film and American Sniper are the two movies that blew me away the most this year. That’s why Boyhood is my Should Win pick and my Will Win pick.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – What can I say? This is Was Anderson’s masterpiece. For years he’s given us quirky comedies that have charmed us. This time The Grand Budapest Hotel is not only his masterpiece but also the comedic masterpiece of the year. Even though Birdman is close on its heels, this made the better comedy. However I don’t think it will win Best Picture. Comedies rarely do. In fact of the fourteen Best Picture winners in this century, only two were a comedy or musical. And even if this would be the year for a third one, I think the Academy will take kinder to Birdman.
  • The Imitation Game – This film also has a lot for the making of a Best Picture winner. Top notch acting, directing and writing makes for a winner here. Even the box office draw is neither a help nor a hindrance. However it’s been made obvious that there are two movies that reign supreme this Oscar race and unfortunately The Imitation Game is one of those that’s so close but so far.
  • SelmaSelma has made more news for its snub of supporting nominations that it has for how good the film itself is. Many have used this opportunity to talk about how the Academy is full of ‘white men’ and tried passing it off as the reason for its snubs but an Entertainment Weekly article told what really happened. Ava DuVernay was late in submitting all those For Your Consideration DVDs to the various guild members and members of the Academy. Thus the huge snub-out. Having only a single Best Song nomination will definitely put its Best Picture chances to rest.
  • The Theory Of Everything – This would normally be considered a Best Picture contender. It has two of the best acting performances of the year and one heavily favored to win Best Actor. However I feel that the lack of directing accolades for this movie will hurt its chances.
  • Whiplash – This has to be the film from nowhere that did. And this is only Damien Chazelle’s second feature-length film. For those who like jazz music, this will entertain you. Those who’ve never taken a fine arts course or have never been involved with showbiz will end up hating Fletcher. But I believe it is the part of Fletcher that made this movie a surprise hit. However it is lacking the juice to be a top contender for Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood – What can I say? Do you know of anybody else that has done a film that films its characters over twelve consecutive years? This was a huge gamble and it paid off big time into one of the best movies of the year if not the very best. I will admit Dazed and Confused is still my favorite Richard Linklater movie but Boyhood is his triumph. An experimental piece that payed off big time!

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory Of Everything – A lot of people criticize the Academy for giving Oscars to performances of people with disabilities. Hey, it takes a lot of study and a lot of body preparation in order to achieve a completely believable performance. However Eddie went beyond imitating a famous person or portraying a person with a debilitating illness. He gave Stephen human emotions in many scenes even when he said nothing or was talking with his talking machine. He went above and beyond what I expected.

-Will Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman – Rarely do comedic performances win Best Actor. This performance was different. This was deep and reminded you just how uncomfortable life as an actor is, especially as a former A-lister who’s constantly reminded of the role from 20 years ago that made them a superstar. Also this was completely different from the Michael Keaton I’ve always known and seen. So that performance really grabbed me.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice – What can I say? Julianne Moore has the actress performance of the year. It wasn’t about portraying a woman with Alzheimer’s and showing her deteriorate over time but also the character of Alice Howland that made the film as well. It was so full of dimension, it blew me away.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash – Sure, you will find Fletcher dislikable even to the point you want to punch him yourself but I heard from an interview with an anonymous Academy voter: “There are many people in Hollywood that would model themselves after him.” Scary thought but just reminds you of what showbiz is like. Simmons was so dead-on in his role, I’d be hard-pressed to find an equal this year. Heck, he could have even been the lead actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood – There’s just no other competition this year. Sure, she ages 12 years like Ellar, Ethan and Lorelei but the neat thing about her role is that sometimes you think the movie could be more about her than Mason Jr. It’s easy to think that. Plus as she ages, she grows as a person too just like Mason Jr.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo – Birdman – Yes, Birdman was quirky and even eccentric but so is my Will Win pick. Nevertheless I think it was great to conceive a script that follows characters around and fits within a time frame of just about 48 hours.

-Will Win: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson has always been known for creating some delightfully eccentric, or eccentrically delightful, films that charm us in the end. You could rightfully call The Grand Budapest Hotel his masterpiece.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win: Jason Hall – American Sniper – I admit it. Ever since I saw American Sniper, I was blown away. Nevertheless this is an excellent script as it not only tells the story of all that happened but really gives a good perspective on Chris Kyle.

-Will Win: Graham Moore – The Imitation Game – Deserving in its own right. It took the biography of Alan Turing and turned it into a story told by Turing to all of us just as he was facing his downfall. Just the first line “Are you paying attention?” will have us paying attention.

Just One More:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win: Big Hero 6With The LEGO Movie inexplicably snubbed from that category, there’s already one clear favorite as seen below. However I preferred Big Hero 6 because it added more to the fantasy element of animated films and plus it was a lot more fun and creative in its animation.

-Will Win: How To Train Your Dragon 2- Thanks to the snub of The LEGO Movie, this film is now the heavy favorite. Rare case that the first film didn’t win in this category but the sequel has way better chances. Nevertheless this is a rare case where a sequel to an animated movie didn’t lose its charm. It makes for a deserving winner. However upsets are possible. Not just from Big Hero 6 but also from The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya.

Here are some of my predictions for the other categories. In these, here’s who I think Will Win:

BEST ART DIRECTION:

– The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

-Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

-Milena Canonero – The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Citizen Four

BEST FILM EDITING:

-Sandra Adair – Boyhood

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Ida – Poland

Some of you may wonder I’m not adding a Should Win prediction in this category this year. Simple, because I haven’t seen a single one of the nominees. Yeah, first year since 2008 that has been the case.

BEST MAKEUP:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

-Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

-“Glory” – Selma

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Birdman

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Birdman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Interstellar

BEST ANIMATED SHORT:

Click Here For Predictions

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:

Click Here For Predictions

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

And there you have it. My predictions for Sunday’s Oscars. It’s not easy predicting even after all these fifteen years of paying close attention to the Oscar race in both nominees and winners. The more I get a better understanding of the Academy over time, the more I’m still left confused. Anyways winners to be decided there and then. Let’s hope the wins go to the right movies. Also let’s hope Neil delivers a great rookie performance that will make him be in demand for future Oscar shows.

Oh yeah, here’s a bonus:

Other Nominated Movies I’ve Reviewed:

Wild

Foxcatcher

The LEGO Movie

Gone Girl

Unbroken

Into The Woods

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Oscars 2013: And The Winner Is…

Like my chocolate Oscar? Find out who wins the real ones Sunday.

Like my chocolate Oscar?
Find out who wins the real ones Sunday.

Yep, the Oscars will be given out this Sunday. Those of you who were offended by Seth MacFarlane’s hosting last year, it’s your fault. You should know Seth is known for his envelope-pushing humor as demonstrated over the years in The Family Guy, American Dad and Ted. And he wasn’t going to soften anything for the Oscars. That’s his style.

Anyways enough of last year. This year will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. She’s an entertainer most can trust and she even proved herself a good Oscar host seven years ago.

Once again, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees. This makes it the thirteenth year in a row in which I’ve done such. And I’m ready again to make my predictions for who Should Win and Will Win. Also all the Best Picture nominees as well as some of the other predictions will feature links to my full reviews of the movie. Anyways here I go:

BEST PICTURE:

For this, I will give a brief review of the nominees one by one. As I said earlier, if you click on the titles you’ll get my full reviews:

  •  American Hustle– It seems as though these past two years, there’s been at least one film the critics just love but I can’t understand why all the rage. Last year was Django Unchained. This year it’s American Hustle. It’s because it does not make a lot of sense what this movie is to be about. No real focus. Or if there is, it doesn’t make it clear to us.
  • Captain Phillips– This is the most underrated movie of the nine nominees. The best quality is that it takes a no-nonsense approach and makes one think that these moments are actually happening. The terrorists were very believable. The doctors and armed forces were very believable in their roles. And Tom Hanks was excellent. It was a shame he wasn’t nominated for Best Actor.
  • Dallas Buyers Club– This is the best of the indie films. Matthew McConaughey and Jaret Leto do great character acting in a story that will not only keep one intrigued but also have one thinking about a topic that’s still present today: a drug system slow to approve. Deserving of a Best Picture nomination but lacking aspects for the win.
  • Gravity-This was thrilling and entertaining from start to finish. It featured excellent acting from Sandra Bullock and a lot of qualities in both filmmaking and visual effects seen before. It has finished behind Twelve Years A Slave at major awards shows. However I’m well-convinced that it could win it here, especially with all the directing awards Alfonso Cuaron has won. That’s why this is my Will Win pick.
  • Her-This is an odd movie that manages to charm and actually make sense. However it doesn’t look Best Picture-worthy against the main favorites of this year. Not that it matters too much to Spike.
  • Nebraska-This is my sentimental favorite. This is another winner from Alexander Payne. However it’s up against other movies with bigger buzz and a bigger box office draw. We shouldn’t forget that sometimes a low box office performance can decrease a film’s Oscar buzz.
  • Philomena-This is an very good story with very good acting. Even the story doesn’t come out as harsh as one would anticipate at the beginning. However this doesn’t appear to be Best Picture-worthy. Not while there are other nominated films with more muscle and more juice.
  • Twelve Years A Slave-I thought it was excellent and astonishing for its brutally truthful depiction of slavery. It has a lot of human elements in the film too. That’s why this is my Should Win pick. It has won loads of Best Picture accolades but I think it may stop short at the Oscars because of Gravity‘s Best Director boost. That’s one key ingredient that helps for the win of Best Picture.
  • The Wolf Of Wall Street-Once again, Scorsese shells out a film that’s sure to create an impact and has all the making of a Best Picture nominee. However the film is too over-the-top to deserve the Oscar win. There are times in which I wonder if some scenes were included in for the sake of shock value.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win: Steve McQueen – Twelve Years A Slave – I hope in the future, Steve includes his middle name or middle initial in the credits to differentiate himself from the Steve McQueen. Anyways if I were a member of the Academy, he’d get my vote for his unflinching and brutal portrayal of slavery during the 18th century. I also give him the credit for making this film a human story as well.

-Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity – Cuaron has received most of the directing accolades this year and rightly so. Firstly because he directs a film that intensely focuses on a single character, rarely taking its eyes off her. Secondly, because he directs a film that’s intended to flawlessly look like a trip in space. He works the simulation to a tee. I didn’t notice a technical glitch at all. It completely convinced me Ryan and Matt were in space.

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win: Bruce Dern – Nebraska – This was a tough call between him and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Twelve Years A Slave but I went with Bruce. Firstly because he played a character whom many moviegoers would feel for. Secondly because portraying an elderly man with memory loss and senility takes a lot of physical acting effort on its part. Bruce was believable from start to finish.

-Will Win: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club – I may feel that Bruce Dern and Chiwetel were the best leading male performances of the year but McConaughey is not undeserving of the Oscar. He portrayed an excellent role that was challenging in terms of both character acting and physical acting. he also had to lose a lot of weight for that role too. Great job.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win:  Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine Okay I know I’m making my call just a day after finally seeing Blue Jasmine but I wanted to find out what all the buzz is about and it got my answer. Cate played an excellent character whom will make us want to laugh at, look down upon, but also feel for them in the end. That was a complicated deal that Cate pulled off.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win:  Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club – I know his performance has been all the rage with the awards juries. And rightly so. His performance was complicated as he had to play a transsexual character that was both comical and tragic. Not only did he succeed in that, he also succeeded  in stealing the movie from Matthew McConaughey at times. Great job.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – Twelve Years A Slave – Oddly enough, she’s not the only big screen debut performance to get nominated. Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips is the other. Lupita succeeds in giving the audience a character one can feel sympathy for without guilt. You can see the torture, both physical and mental, in her.

-Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle – Jennifer Lawrence has quite the resume stacked up at the tender age of 23. Already she’s been nominated by the Academy three times including one from last year that won Best Actress. It’s a tight race between her and Lupita but I think she’ll win. Even though I want Lupita to win, I don’t think Jennifer’s undeserving. Playing that ‘Wife Of A Thousand Leagues’ was quite the character.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win: Bob Nelson – Nebraska – This was a stronger year for original scripts than last year. I took a liking to this script of all the original script nominees. Firstly because it has all the makings for a cheesy movie but it becomes a work of excellence instead. Secondly because it succeeds in having the audience feel for the protagonist. I was very impressed.

-Will Win: Spike Jonze – Her – Spike is usually known for offbeat films with eccentric scripts thanks tho the likes of Charlie Kaufman. Here Spike does one of his own. It does have an unusual story line but it is one that oddly makes sense and even offers a glimpse into the future. I just hope people don’t end up dating computerized personas.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win & Will Win:  John Ridley – Twelve Years A Slave – The original scripts may have had the competitive edge this year but the adapted screenplays were also very strong.  The best of the bunch was the script from Twelve Years A Slave. It was excellent for its intensity and brutal truthfulness about slavery.

Just Three More:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win and Will Win: Frozen – Okay, I admit this is the only nominee in the Animated Feature category I’ve seen. I still consider it a remarkable film with funny characters, charming songs and mesmerizing animation. And to think it’s still in the Box Office Top 10 just 14 weeks after its original release! Talk about a phenomenon.

Bonus Prediction:  Since we’re on the topic of Frozen, I predict the song Let It Go to win the Best Original Song category. I can’t think of another song this year, or even in the past five years for that matter, that has been as catchy.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

-Should Win and Will Win: The Great Beauty (Italy) – Okay I admit that just like Frozen, this is the only nominee in this category I’ve seen. Nevertheless it is a great intimate story with intriguing characters and awesome cinematography. I was very impressed when I saw it Tuesday night. Hard to find a movie that will challenge it.

Here are some of my predictions for the other categories. In these, I will only predict who I think Will Win:

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Catherine Martin & Beverly Dunn – The Great Gatsby

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Patricia Norris – Twelve Years A Slave

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

20 Feet From Stardom

BEST FILM EDITING:

Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger – Gravity

BEST MAKEUP:

Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Steven Price – Gravity

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Gravity

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Gravity

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Gravity

BEST ANIMATED SHORT and BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:

Click Here For Predictions

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:

Prison Terminal: The Last Days Of Private Jack Hall

And there you have it. My predictions for Sunday’s Oscars. Winners to be decided there and then. Let’s hope the wins go to the right movies. Also let’s hope Ellen delivers another winning show.

Oh yeah, here’s a bonus:

Other Nominated Movies I’ve Reviewed:

Saving Mr. Banks

Before Midnight

Star Trek Into Darkness

Iron Man 3

Oscars 2011 Shorts Review

Now one would wonder why on earth would one want to see a reel of short films. First reason: They’re all nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film or Best Animated Short Film. Second reason: a lot of winners of this category would go on to direct bigger and better things. Peter Cattaneo directed the Oscar nominated short Dear Rosie years before his big break with The Full Monty. Taylor Hackford won this category for Teenage Father 25 years before he directed the Oscar-nominated Ray. Most recently, Brutish director Andrea Arnold won seven years ago for Wasp and has gone on to direct two renowned British features: Red Road and Fish Tank.

Now 2011 has a crop of nominees for the categories of Best Animated Short Film and Best Live Action Short Film. I will review each and give my picks for what I feel should win and will win:

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

Pentecost – dir. Peter MacDonald and Eimear O’Kane -Interesting story about a boy–Damian– who’s a lousy altar boy and is punished by having no football for three months. He has the opportunity to redeem himself with a mass led by the Archbishop. Sure enough it’s in time for when Liverpool is playing the European Cup. Even the priest gives quite a pep talk to all participating in the mass. Will Damian do it right? A big surprise at the end!

Raju – dir. Max Zahle and Stefan Gieren-This is an excellent story about a German couple who adopt a boy from India only to lose him and find a dirty secret along the way. The story brings up the same moral dilemma Gone Baby Gone brings up. This is of a situation that could be quite real: an orphanage that gives away kidnapped children. The story will leave you wondering what side to choose and the ending will surprise you.

The Shore – dir. Terry George and Orrlagh George-The story is of two boyhood friends. One, Paddy,  stayed in Belfast, lost his arm and continues life as an illegal crab hunter. Another, Joe, moved to the US but returns to Belfast after being away for years. He wants to come and visit again and make peace with Paddy years after Paddy took his girlfriend, and married her. The story is as humorous as it is touching and it provides for a happy ending. I pick this as my Should Win pick.

Time Freak – dir. Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey-There have been lots of stories about time travel but none as weird as this. A guy invents a time machine only to go back a few days into the past to correct things he’s done. And he does it again and again until he gets it right. Bizarre is right!

 –Tuba Atlantic – dir. Hallvar Witzo-A man has six days to live. A young woman is to be is death angel and help him before he dies. It won’t be easy because he’s quite eccentric: he hunts with a machine gun and fishes with dynamite. Then she learns he has a horn that can send a signal across the Atlantic. He hopes to use it to send a message to his brother whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years. She wants to be a successful death angel and he’s her third chance. It makes for a touching story with a surprise ending. I predict this for the Will Win in this category.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Dimanche/Sunday – dir. Patrick Doyon/NFB of Canada – This is a charming 2D animation story that is coarsely drawn and has hardly any dialogue but tells a lot. It’s about a boy and the town he lives in and the places he visits. Not spectacular but charming and entertaining. One of two Canadian entries in this category this year.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – dir. William Joyce and Brandon Oldenberg- Morris Lessmore had everything fly by him in a windstorm. Then one day he sees a young woman flying with books instead of baloons, and that changes everything for him forever. Impressive use of 3D animation. Good use of music and of the animated story. I predict this Will Win the animated feature category.

La Luna – dir. Enrico Casarosa – Interesting that Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 didn’t get a single nomination but this short that was played before Cars 2 did. While most of Disney/Pixar’s shorts feature a story done without dialogue, this story is mostly in the types of mumbling. As expected from Disney/Pixar, top notch animation and a very unique story about being able to touch the moon and its glitter.

A Morning Stroll – dir. Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe-Features a chicken’s stroll down a New York neighborhood in 1959, 2009 and 2059. In 1959, people say “How do you do?” don’t get too peeved if you bump into them and the chicken’s able to make it there safely. 2009 and people are too into Starbucks coffee and iPhone using. A bump into someone causes a big coffee spill and a chicken entering into a house is perfect moment for your iPhone video camera. Once again, the chicken makes it there safely. 2059 and New York is filled with zombies. The chicken makes it home but not after a big zombie chase. This was a good mix of 2D and 3D animation with a creative image of the future.

Wild Life – dir. Wendy Tilbe and Amanda Forbis- A British émigré tries to make his home in a small town in Alberta. While everyone else is either a cowboy or made themselves a villager, he continues to be an Englishman. Interesting and humorous. Plus me knowing Prairie life helped the sort to appeal to me. Both the dialogue from him and the villagers add to the humor of the story. The animation was excellent not just as 2D but as painting animation. The painting animation was its best quality and it makes it stand out from the five nominees. I pick this as my Should Win pick.

And there you have it. The nominated shorts for the 2011 Oscars. Stay tuned to find out the winners. Stay tuned to find out which directors move on to bigger and better things.

Oscars 2010: The Buzz And The Biz

Okay, you all heard my ramblings about my views of the Best Picture nominees. They all ranged from blockbuster hits to arthouse films. The question is how did they do businesswise? For that I had to check at one of my favorite sites, Box Office Mojo:

-as of this year, we have five movies that have grossed over $100 million, same as last year. Unlike last year, there are two additional movies that have grossed over $80 million as compared to only one additional from last year.

-There is no mammoth record-breaking hit movie like Avatar from last year. That explains in part why last year’s Best Picture nominee average is $170 million while this year’s currently stands at $130.8 million.

-Last year’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, was only the eighth-highest grossing Best Picture nominee from last year and the lowest grossing Best Picture winner since 1960’s The Apartment. This does not appear to be the case this year as the heavy Favorites for Best Picture have all grossed $88 million at the very least.

The post-nomination total gross of the ten Best Picture nominees of this year is almost 10% that of the combined pre-nomination gross; equal to that of last year. However seven of the ten nominees are still in theatres and have not finished grossing in.

-Of the five Best Picture nominees from last year that grossed over $100 million, all of them passed the $100 million mark before the nominations were announced. This year only three had grosses of $100 million before nominations. Black Swan and The King’s Speech surpassed the $100 million mark after their nominations.

-Last year none of the Best Picture nominees was able to get even half of their pre-nomination gross after the nominations. This year, The King’s Speech and 127 Hours grossed $58 million and $11.3 million respectively before nomination day. After the nominations, they grossed and additional $46.7 million and $6.2 million respectively. It’s even possible that both movies could double their pre-nomination gross upon Oscar success.

-This is the fourth year in a row a movie from Focus Features has been nominated for Best Picture. This is also the third year in a row a movie from The Weinstein Company has been nominated for Best Picture. This is also the third year in a row Paramount has a Best Picture nominee.

That’s what I’ve notices from the nominated movies since being nominted. I’m sure there will be more noticeable biz after the Oscars are decided on Sunday. Box Office Mojo also keeps tabs on that too each year. In the meantime, stay tuned!

 WEBPAGES CITED:

“OSCAR:Full Chart of Noms and Grosses” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2011. Box Office Mojo. Owned by  IMDB.com. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/oscar/chart/?view=allcategories&yr=2010&p=.htm>

“OSCAR: Best Picture Breakdown” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2011. Box Office Mojo. Owned by  IMDB.com. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/oscar/chart/?view=&yr=2010&p=.htm&gt;

2010 Oscars Best Picture nominee: The King’s Speech

Whew! I never thought I could do reviews of all ten Best Picture nominees. Belive me that it was not easy. Anyways I will end my reviews of the nominees with the heavy frontrunner of this year’s Oscars: The King’s Speech.

The story of King George VI and his speech to England at the start of World War II is the subject of the movie The King’s Speech. What we see throughout the movie is how George had to overcome his stammering to make this speech to all of England. We also see the making of an unlikely friendship.

We start off in 1925 as Prince Albert is to make a speech in Wembley Stadium at the close of the British Empire Exhibition. The speech is to be broadcast to all the nations of the British Commonwealth. He stammers, much to the displeasure of the crowd.

After having no success with the therapists he had seen, his wife the Duchess recommends an Australian emigre Lionel Logue. Albert is surprised at Lionel putting on acting shows for his children. His therapy methods also appear unorthodox. He requests to Albert that they greet each other by their Christian names, a breach of Royal etiquette, and even calls him ‘Bertie’. Lionel also has him say a Hamlet soliloquy while listening to a Mozart record while Lionel records his voice. Albert believes he stammered throughout and quits in frustration. Lionel gives him the record as a keepsake. Years later, Albert listens to the record and is surprised to hear he never stammered.

Albert returns to Logue and resumes therapy. Part of the therapy also includes Albert explaining his past. We learn of his strict father, discomfort of his left-handedness, a nanny who humiliated him in front of his parents, and the death of his younger brother. We also learn his family encouraged mockery of his impediment. As the lessons continue, Alert and Logue develop a friendship. Then Albert’s father, King George V dies. Albert’s brother is heir to the throne and is crowned Edward VIII but Albert is unhappy he plans to marry an American socialite. Edward accuses Albert of wanting to usurp the throne and uses his speech therapy as grounds for suspicion. During the argument, Albert’s stammer returns, as does Edward’s childhood taunt of “B-B-Bertie.” As Albert returns to Lionel following the incident, Lionel makes a joke only to cause Albert to accuse him of treason and mocks Lionel of his humble origins and failed acting career.

Edward does eventually abdicate the throne and Albert is poised to be crowned King George VI. He visits Lionel and apologizes. At coronation preparation, George insists that Lionel be seated in the King’s box. As the Archbishop of Canterbury questions Logue’s qualifications, this prompts another confrontation between the two as Lionel tells of how he treated traumatized soldiers from World War I. Another time, Lionel sits on the throne promoting another confrontation as George criticizes his alleged disrespect to Royal relics, only to have it be a confidence builder for George. The coronation goes well and Lionel compliments George on his speech.

The pressures of World War II start looming as Britain is to go to war against Germany. George has to give a speech to the whole country and Lionel is summoned again. The two go through Lionel’s unorthodox preparations including singing and swearing before going into the studio. Lionel accompanies George in the studio and tells him to go about as if he was talking just to Lionel. As George delivers his speech, Lionel coaches him through every moment. At the end of the speech, George is congratulated by everyone and enters the public balcony as he appears to a cheering crowd.

The movie is more than about overcoming a speech impediment. It’s about a friendship few knew about, and would only be revealed after the men’s deaths. It also includes some surprise facts as well. Just before George makes his speech to the nation, he walks alongside Winston Churchill who tells him “I had a speech impediment myself.” It’s a surprising fact that the two men that gave Britain its most encouraging speeches during World War II had to overcome speech impediments.

 Another thing this film notes is the monarchy’s strictness on order and values. This played into effect how Edward had to abdicate from the throne for marrying a woman who was twice divorced. This comes into important factor now as there will be a royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this year. Queen Elizabeth is 84 and still on the throne after almost 60 years. She shows no sign of giving it to Prince Charles. Many believe his divorce from Lady Diana Spencer may have something to do with this.

The acting was top notch. Colin Firth definitely gave one of the best acting performances of the year. Playing George with a speech impediment was a huge challenge and he did an excellent job. Helena Bonham Carter was also top notch as the Duchess Elizabeth. Geoffrey Rush was a good scene stealer as Lionel Logue. Guy Pearce and Michael Gambon had small amounts of screen time with their parts but made the most of it.

Director Tom Hooper definitely has to have made his best feature film ever. This is actually his third feature film and is more experienced at directing television. Seeing The King’s Speech, you wouldn’t notice it. David Seidler also did a good job of writing, coming from decades of research. A stammerer as a child, Seidler was inspired by how George VI overcame stammering. The set design and costuming was done to a tee. The music from Alexander Desplat fit the movie well. This was an excellently packaged and very well-produced film.

The big talk is how it will win the Best Picture Oscar, especially since it’s promoted by The Weinstein Company. It has already won the Producer’s Guild, BAFTA, as well as many major guild awards and its twelve total nominations is already making it a heavy favorite. Also if anyone can remember Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar heydays when he ran Miramax, you’d know he knows how to win Academy votes like no other studio exec. His new film company The Weinstein Company, founded not even six years ago, has already amassed two Best Picture nominees in the past two years with The Reader and Inglourious Basterds. It would not surprise me if The King’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture. Personally I feel The King’s Speech is deserving of its nominations including Best Picture, but I feel it does not deserve the Best Picture win.  If I had my own ballot, I would vote for The Social Network as it excellent acting, top directing and was excellently-written. That’s my call. However I’m not a registered member of the Academy so I’ll have to wait until then to have my say.

Even though The King’s Speech is not the best movie of the year, it is one of the best and deserves its Oscar acclaim. Even though I feel The Social Network deserves to win Best Picture, I would not be disappointed if The King’s Speech wins. It is deserving with its own merits.