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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.

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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

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

World Cup 2014: Now That It’s All Over

Netherlands v Spain: 2010 FIFA World Cup FinalOkay, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil ended two weeks ago. After 64 matches over a total of 32 days, the winner of this year’s Cup has been determined and crowned. Meanwhile there were a ton of surprises, delights, disappointments and shocks along the way. With it over, the 32 teams had their experience for another tournament with Germany coming out as the winner.

The German players are of course celebrating with the whole country. All the players however are now taking a break from their international teams and are mostly focusing on the upcoming club play. But the crazy thing about the end of the World Cup is the reminder that the next one is four years away. And the focus shouldn’t begin the year before the World Cup begins but as soon as international team play resumes again, like as early as this September.

Anyways here are my cheers, disappointments and neutrals for this year’s World Cup teams. Also I may offer some unprofessional advise of my own for them for World Cup 2018:

World Cup Winners

CHEERS:

Germany- Germany did it! After 24 years, they found themselves back on top with their fourth World Cup. Germany owes its success to a restructuring of its program following their disappointing Group Stage exit during Euro 2000 with innovative focusing on their youth system. It has obviously paid off, and with a team full of young players. Nine of which including five-time goal scorer Thomas Muller were under the age of 25. Germany has an additional 12 players under 25 that have been called up to represent Germany internationally in the past twelve months. So there’s no doubt that Germany has a future in football.

This comes especially handy as World Cup captain Philip Lahm has announced his retirement from international play and 36 year-old scoring sensation Miroslav Klose has left a big question mark for World Cup 2018. Another recent question mark is coach Joachim Loew announcing his plan to step down as head coach of Germany after Euro 2016. Whatever the situation, it’s going to take the same team unity that gave Germany its success here in Brazil. Yes, they have the Cup now and they should celebrate but the celebrating will have to stop soon and they will have to get their team focus back. Let’s not forget rival countries could be copying Germany’s success method soon to give themselves their own success. Four years may come sooner than you think.

Argentina- Most teams believe you should only truly be happy if you win the World Cup. Argentina may have won it twice before but they should also be happy as this is only their fifth time ever in a World Cup final. The disappointment of not winning the Cup will bite for a while but Argentina and all thirty other teams that didn’t win the Cup will have to focus again. Coach Alejandro Sabella announced the day before the World Cup final he would step down as coach of Argentina. Nothing whether it be of Sabella’s resignation or a successor signed on has been confirmed as of yet. A successor will have to be found in time before international play resumes, with a September 3rd friendly rematch of the World Cup final in Dusseldorf.

The line-up will also be in question. The youngest player of Argentina’s World Cup roster, Marcus Rojo, was 24. Sure veterans like Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Sergio Romero and Angel di Maria look like they may be strong enough to play for World Cup 2018 at ages 30-31 but Argentina will have to look to its younger talent for its future and especially pay close attention to their national age-group teams for potential rising stars if they want to win in Russia.

Netherlands- They didn’t make it to the final this time around. Nevertheless this is a big improvement from a team that in recent World Cups have become to be known as the Dirty Dutch. Back in 2006, their Round of 16 match against Portugal resulted in the most carded game in World Cup history with sixteen yellow and four red cars between the two teams. Then in 2010, the Dutch again made World Cup infamy by helping make the final between Spain to be the most carded World Cup final ever with fourteen yellow cards and one red. Even I considered it the ugliest World Cup final I’ve ever seen. This year, the Dutch did amass eleven yellow cards in total but no red. Also none of their matches resulted in more than six cardings. Quite the difference.

This World Cup they not only had to focus on their play behavior but also on their world ranking. We should remember the Netherlands had a big disappointment in Euro 2012 with losing all their Group Stage games. They did the right thing in hiring Louis van Gaal. However van Gall has since resigned and has brought back Guus Huddink who led them to the 1998 semifinals. We’ll see how that works out in the future.

Colombia- Here in 2014, Colombia finally had its breakthrough with its best ever performance, breaking through to the quarterfinals for the first time. Extra icing on the cake was James Rodriguez being the only player at the Cup to score six goals. Excellent since the team is full of young talent including six players born in the 1990’s. Colombia has a lot of potential to go further in the future but it’s going to take the right guidance and the right team chemistry in the future. However coach Jose Pekermans should now congratulate himself for a job well-done and a Colombian comeback well overdue.

Costa Rica- Hands down Costa Rica was the Cinderella team of the tournament. The World Cup ‘minnows’ that went further than anyone expected. Their Cinderella success however should not be dismissed as luck. They were in the toughest of the eight groups being paired up against past World Cup winners like Uruguay, Italy and England and they came out on top without a loss and leaving the others wondering what went wrong. They followed it up with a Round of 16 win against Greece on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw and even bringing the Netherlands to a scoreless draw in their first-ever quarterfinals before losing on penalty kicks. So a team from a small country in Central America is deserving of nothing short of respect, especially for proving itself a tough adversary to some of the biggest powers in football. The future looks very good since six of the players are under 25. However recent news is that Jorge Pinto has stepped down as head coach. We have yet to see if Costa Rica can take it as far, if not further, with a new coach. Only time will tell.

Belgium- This World Cup is the comeback of Belgium for their first World Cup appearance since 2002 and their best World Cup finish since 1986. Signing on Marc Wilmots, who played for Belgium in three World Cups, as coach in 2012 was the best thing for the team as it helped propel the team to achieve World Cup qualification in 2013 in convincing fashion and go straight wins at the World Cup before falling 0-1 to Argentina in the quarterfinals. There’s no doubt that Wilmots will be kept as coach; he’s actually assigned to stay as coach until 2018. The team also shows promise of continued success as seven members of the World Cup roster are under 25. These next four years will define how further Belgium can take their new-found success. Anything can happen in the next four years but for now, the Red Devils are back!

Chile- Not too many people would consider going as far as the Round of 16 worthy of a ‘cheer’ but Chile deserve it. It’s not just advancing past the Group Stage for the fourth time in their ninth World Cup appearance but also bringing Brazil to a 1-1 draw in the Round of 16 before succumbing to a penalty shoot out. The simple draw showed that Chile is a team competent enough to expose Brazil’s weak spots on a World stage. Chile just keeps on getting better and better. However you can bet they not only want to qualify for the next World Cup but hopefully not meet up with Brazil in the knockout stages. It must be annoying having Brazil bring their World Cup trip to an end after happening all four times they’ve advanced. Chile has a bright future and next year they’re hosting the Copa America. Another chance to improve over time.

Algeria- Another ‘cheer’ for a Round of 16 team has to go to Algeria. After three previous World Cup appearances being eliminated in the Group Stage, it took a 4-2 win against South Korea and a 1-1 draw against Russia to help Algeria advance for the first time ever. Even though they lost to eventual World Cup champions Germany 2-1 in extra time, they gave them a great challenge keeping the game scoreless in regulation time. Algeria along with Nigeria made World Cup history by making this the first World Cup where two African teams advanced past the group stage. The team shows promise for the future as eight players are under 25.  One thing is that Algeria’s coach Vahid Halilhodzic has stepped down since the World Cup and has been replaced by Frenchman Christian Gourcuff who is very experienced in club coaching but will be a national coach for the first time. Only the next four years will tell.

Goal-Line Technology- There were new technologies introduced at this World Cup. The most notable one being one that was a long-time coming: goal-line technology. This came through popular demand as a goal from England in a Round of 16 match against Germany that was shown on countless replays to be a legitimate goal wasn’t counted. For years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was against goal-line technology, believing calls should be done by ‘a man, not a machine.’ At last year’s Confederations Cup, goal-line technology was finally introduced. Here at the World Cup was featured the Goal Control system consisting of fourteen high-speed cameras with seven directed to each of the goals and data sent to an image-processing centre to accurately determine if a goal or not. A watch owned by referees only that vibrated if a legit goal was also part of the technology. It proved to work at it was necessary to declare France’s second goal against Honduras. That you Blatter for finally doing something right!

NEUTRALS:

France- You may feel that a country like France that has won the World Cup in the past should do better than the quarterfinals. That may be true but their finish should be respected as well. If you remember World Cup 2010, France was the team that collapsed the biggest as infighting with the players, federation and the head coach led to the team to just fall apart. France has since rebuilt itself hiring Didier Deschamps, captain of France’s World Cup-winning 1998 team, after Euro 2012 and the results have been successful. France was successful in the group stage winning their group, winning their Round of 16 match against Nigeria 2-0 before losing to eventual champions Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinal. A major factor of France’s comeback is not just with Deschamps’ guidance but with its wealth of young talent. Nine players on the World Cup roster were under 25 and Paul Pogba won the FIFA Young Player award and Raphael Varane an additional nominee. Their future looks bright but the next four years will tell the tale.

Mexico- Up to 1986, the only times Mexico ever made it past the group stage what when they hosted. Since 1994, they’ve made it past the group stage every World Cup they’ve been in including this one.Mexico continued to impress in this World Cup by winning against Croatia and Cameroon as well as bringing Brazil to a scoreless draw. Mexico also gave Netherlands a great play in the Round of 16 and could have tied or possibly won in extra time had that controversial dive from Arjen Robben not happened. Mexico is on the right track with coach Miguel Herrera. A relief since they went through a multitude of coaches before sticking with Herrera just before qualifying for the Cup. The team also appears in good shape with a good amount of young players. However it will take consistent play from them to qualify again and possibly have their best World Cup ever in 2018.

United States- It seems like with every World Cup, it’s another chapter for the American national team. With each passing quadrennial, the US is being taken more and more seriously. Hiring former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann was a huge boost to the team. Even with Landon Donovan being dropped from the 2014 line-up, the US accomplished a lot of feats. Firstly, they became the second consecutive American team to advance past the group stage. Second there’s Clint Dempsey scoring in the first 30 seconds against Ghana: the fasted goal of the 2014 World Cup and the fifth-fastest World Cup goal ever. Third there’s goalkeeper Tim Howard  who made sixteen saves against Belgium, the most ever in a recorded World Cup game. Fourth there’s 19 year-old Julian Green whose goal against Belgium made him the youngest goal-scorer at the 2014 World Cup.

The U.S. shows potential for World Cup 2018. Seven members of this World Cup’s team are under 25 and Klinsmann plans on staying on as coach. However with the World Cup being held in Russia, they have to overcome their ‘Europe Curse.’ It’s a fact that the U.S. has never won a World Cup game held in Europe. It’s very possible that the curse can be broken as they’ve become a lot more competent since Germany in 2006. Russia will be another proving point for the Americans.

Nigeria- None of the African countries here got further than the Round of 16.  Nigeria deserves some acclaim. Firstly because their trip to the Round of 16 made them the first African team to achieve that in a total of three World Cups. Secondly for playing with dignity for their country while the Nigerian Football Federation was under FIFA investigation as many top members are to be prosecuted in Nigeria’s high court which would mean Nigeria’s national teams could be banned from playing. Thirdly for playing in a Round of 16 match against France where the American referee appeared to show favoritism to France possibly resulting in their win 2-0. The ban has been lifted a few days ago and the federation’s membership has not been determined. However this will be questionable how Nigeria’s teams will do in the near future. Hopefully a controversy like this should not appear during international play or even World Cup qualifying as controversies in the past have led to teams being banned from upcoming World Cups.

Bosnia-Hercegovina- Bosnia may have expired in the group stage but they actually have nothing to apologize for. This was their first ever World Cup. Sure they did well in qualifying for their World Cup berth but you should remember Bosnia is a very young team. They’re a team that had to recover from a brutal war that ended in 1995. Bosnia is already very experienced in playing against European teams but they lack experience playing against teams from other continents. In fact they’ve only ever played against 22 non-European teams. Bosnia is a team that will grow in knowledge and experience over time. The World Cup was an excellent learning experience for them and they can only get better over time. Also it’s easy to feel for Bosnia after the disallowed goal by Dzeko which could have been a draw and allowed Bosnia to advance past the group stage. I’m confident they will have their time.

Ecuador- It may not be easy being the only South American team that didn’t advance past the group stage and sure, Ecuador did do it in 2006. Nevertheless Ecuador did deliver a performance worth admiration. Firstly for competing in the honor and memory of their teammate Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez. Secondly for delivering a great effort that included winning against Honduras, bringing France to a scoreless draw and scoring first during their loss to Switzerland. It’s not fair to call Ecuador’s performance in 2014 as the ‘Enner Valencia show,’ despite how great he was. The team itself did an excellent job as a whole. Nevertheless the national team is awaiting a new coach in preparation for the next World Cup and for next year’s Copa America.

Croatia- Ever since Croatia finished third at the 1998 World Cup, they’ve been struggling since to prove they’re no World Cup ‘minnows.’ 2014 was another continuation of the struggle as they only won one game: against Cameroon 4-0. The other games to Brazil and Mexico were both 3-1 losses. However this is the big improvement since 2006 back when they had a single draw and two losses. Croatia will be keeping coach Niko Kovac and the team possesses a lot of good young talent. Also Croatia is familiar on the European circuit but has only played sixteen teams from other continents. Croatia should get better over time.

Brazil: As Host Country- There was huge debate whether Brazil was doing a good job as host country. Construction of venues and infrastructure were behind schedule and of huge concern to FIFA. The expense of $14 billion was also a huge concern and much of the heat was placed on President Dilma Rousseff. However when the World Cup started, it was the party it was hoped to be. Games were very well-attended if not filled to capacity. The FIFA Fan Fests set up in cities’ locations just outside host venues drew huge crowds. Even the final at the Maracana was well-attended despite Brazil not qualifying. The Brazilian tourism authority reported that the Cup generated $15 billion in incoming tourism money which will be used to create 1,000,000 additional jobs.

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

Brazil: As Host Team- I am not going to go into the number of ignominious records Brazil set during their last two games of the World Cup. Enough is enough. We should remember last World Cup’s hosts South Africa failed to advance past the Group Stage. And Germany had a substandard team when it hosted the World Cup back in 2006 but was able to go as far as the semifinals.

Brazil has always had successes throughout the decades. They have also had their ruts over the years but would find a way to shine through over time. To put it subtly, the biggest thing Brazil’s losses proved is that it needs to change its ways to get back on top.  This will require not only an improvement of the national team, whether it being hiring new members or improving members kept on, but also of the whole Brazilian Football system. It’s not to say it can’t be done. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, Brazil had to deal with the fact their best players were offered big money to play for European clubs and that would cause problems in the team unity. Brazil was able to overcome it in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Now it’s dealing with the new situation of young talents taken and trained by those clubs at an early age: an increasingly common and increasingly global practice over the years. This is a new challenge to the Brazilian team. I’m sure there are more challenges ahead like newer training methods and newer talent spotting. I’m confident Brazil will be back on top but it will have to take the right moves to make it happen.

Spain- If you thought Brazil’s big loss was a shocker, how about Spain’s ouster from the Group Stage.  This comes after an impressively stellar record of wins and losses over the four-year period between the two World Cups. Even coach Vicente del Bosque couldn’t answer how a team that consistent can suddenly choke at the World Cup. Whatever the situation, del Bosque has not been dropped as coach. Most of the team from the World Cup are still members of the national team. The team however will have a lot of proving to do in the wake of their debacle. The friendlies start again in September and Euro qualifying will start around that same time. Competing as world champion is one thing but competing after such a humiliation is another. Only time will tell if Spain will come back.

Uruguay- The disappointment shouldn’t come simply because of the insane actions of one man. The disappointment should come upon the struggle to play after. Uruguay is not just Luis Suarez. It’s also Diego Forlan, Diego Lugano and Edinson Cavani. In the meantime, we’ll see what happens to ‘Chewy Louie’ and his ban. Will his ban hurt him as much as many experts predict? We’ll also see how well the national team does as a whole. Oscar Tabarez is going to be staying on as coach. In the meantime, it’s still great to see a comeback form one of the classic greats.

Cameroon- I usually would have at least one good thing to say about every team at the World Cup, even the worst, but not in the case of Cameroon. It finished last amongst the 32 countries and for good reason. It’s not just simply because they’ve really headed downhill since their quarterfinal finish in 1990 but they did it here in very violent fashion. The most noticeable was during their 4-0 loss to Croatia. There was Alex Song elbowing Croatian Mario Mandzukic in the back and getting a red card for it. There was also the infighting of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo. In the end, they lost all three of their games and their only goal came in their last match against Brazil. No doubt if Cameroon want to get their winning form back, they should definitely improve and restructure their team. However there has not yet been any word of whether coach Volker Finke will be kept or dropped. Only time will tell.

Italy- It was a shock at first when Italy, the defending Cup champions, failed to win a game and advance past the Group Stage. It was a shock again this time around when Italy again failed to advance. And this comes two years after Italy made the finals at Euro 2012 and just a year after finishing third at the Confederations Cup. It’s not to say Italy is now fading in terms of their greatness. Mario Balotelli has become the latest new star of the Azzuri. And there are seven total players under 25 on the national team. It’s just a matter of restructuring the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) so that they can bring back Italy’s winning ways. Right now they have to find a new coach as Cesare Prandelli has resigned since the World Cup.

England- It’s interesting Group D was the ‘Group Of Death’ with three powerhouse teams and one ‘minnow’ who surprised them all. However it came as a shock that of all the countries, it was England that would succumb to the pressure biggest. Here in Brazil, England had what could be rightfully called their worst-ever World Cup performance. No question that the English team will have to improve over the years. One surprise is that Roy Hodgson has been kept on as coach. It’s interesting that while some countries that performed poorly have either dropped their coach or had them resign, there are countries like England and Spain that are keeping theirs.

Also there’s another possible factor to England’s poor performance this time around. A friend of mine mentioned that England had a team with a lot of young inexperienced players. That was a good point since England had eight players in their lineup born in the 1990’s and even two under the age of 20. It’s a wonder if they formed their 2014 team with World Cup 2018 in mind. Whatever the situation, the federations and coaches should know that any team formed for any World Cup is expected to deliver during that World Cup and not simply learn for the sake of the next.

Portugal- If any country has had a bigger-than-ever success run in this new century, it’s Portugal. Before the 21st century, it only qualified for the 1966 and 1986 World Cups. Portugal has since qualified for all four World Cups in this century including finishing fourth in 2006. However Portugal found itself back in 2014 where it started  in 2002: conking out in the Group Stage. Sure enough it was thanks to a 4-0 blitzkrieg from Germany. What it is about Portuguese-speaking teams getting a blitzkrieg from Germany this year? Whatever the situation, it was enough for Portugal to miss out on the second Group G berth for the knockout round to the U.S. upon goal differentials. However the big disappointments were not just the play but also the violent conduct of Pepe against Germany’s Thomas Muller and the egotism of Cristiano Ronaldo. Even Ronaldo’s game-winning goal against Ghana came too much too late.

The future of Portugal’s team comes in question as Paulo Bento will be kept on as coach. Also only three players on the World Cup team were under 25. That won’t be good as their star player Cristiano Ronaldo will be 33 come the next World Cup. Portugal has to work on its future if it wants to continue its winning ways.

Russia- You’d figure that after being dropped by England in 2010, Fabio Capello would have it easier coaching Russia to World Cup success, right? Actually not so as Russia not only failed to advanced past the Group Stage but failed to win a game. That was the first time as the Russian Federation that they failed to do so. This is especially frustrating after the critical final game against Algeria who advanced. Russia had to deal with spectators carrying laser pointers which are not allowed at FIFA games. Whatever the situation, Russia really have to train well for 2018 as they will host the next World Cup. Capello has not been dropped as of yet so it may be possible Russia will continue with him. However they will have to make things work. Already Russia had to deal with two Dutch coaches in the six years before hiring Capello. They might even have to rethink the hiring of foreign coaches as Russia have been criticized about the team being moulded ‘Italian style’ not just with Capello but two assistant coaches also from Italy. They also have to focus on their young talent too. Already their World Cup team had seven players under 25. Whatever happens, the world will be watching in 2018.

The Asian Teams- It’s not just that none of the Asian teams were able to make it past the group stage.This World Cup is the first since 1990 where not a single team represented under the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) were able to win a single game.Even Australia, which transferred to Asia’s confederation after being ruled too big for the Oceania Football Confederation, lost all their games. This is not just a case where all four teams need changes in their nation’s federation but the AFC needs revamping too in order to make the Asian countries a challenger on the World football scene again.

Brazil’s Construction Crews- I’m glad I’m writing this after talking to a Brazilian yesterday. The laxed construction works of Brazil is common place mostly because of corrupting and bribery which cause buildings to finish later than they should and also most triple their originally-estimated expense. Here Brazil’s stadiums took up a significant chuck of the $14 billion price tag. That can be blamed for it. Also to blame can be FIFA for placing such demands on Brazil. However Brazil itself can be blamed for the laxed time it took to finish the stadiums. Some were only completed within hours of their first World Cup contest. And the problems didn’t even stop there. There came with the infrastructure around it that was supposed to help not only the stadiums but the cities to make things easier in the future. That proved the opposite for Belo Horizonte as a piece of freeway collapsed just two days before the Mineirazo. Two people were killed and 23 others were injured. And now there’s the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio coming up and construction crews are so behind–IOC representatives are claiming Rio facilities are only 10% completed– the IOC is thinking of moving the Games to another city if preparations don’t improve. Did Brazil’s presidents know what they were in for when they had so many events to host from 2013 to 2016? All I can say is I hope all this construction doesn’t end up making white elephants out of the finished products or else Dilma will have a lot of explaining to do.

Well the next World Cup is four years away. No doubt the 32 teams will be focused on qualifying and hopefully winning the Cup. Teams that did not qualify also have goals and plans of their own. In the meantime, I wish all national football teams best of luck in qualifying and hopefully winning.

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 2012: 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 decided this Sunday again. Seth McFarlane will host for the first time. A bit surprising to have the cartoonist of The Family Guy and director of Ted running the show but we’ll see if it’s sink or swim. Fist time hosting usually is. Just ask David Letterman, James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Once again, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees. This makes it the twelfth 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:

Amour– I sensed Michael Haneke would one day be nominated for Best Director after seeing the White Ribbon. He does it with Amour and rightly so. It’s both haunting and intimate. Intense and delicate. Anyone who watches will not forget it or feel some connection to it. This is the first foreign-language film to be nominated for Best Picture since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. No foreign-language film has ever one Best Picture and I don’t think Amour will be the one to do it. This is the least hyped-up film in the Oscar race and to win awards, there has to be some marketing muscle to both the public and the Academy.

Argo– This is a remarkable movie. This is one thriller of an event that happened 33 years ago and it succeeds in entertaining and thrilling the public. It’s also very smart too because it takes a good look at the political turmoil in Iran at that time. It also puts a face on the hostages who didn’t know what their fate would be. Its combination of comedy, thrills and honest human emotion is why I give Argo my Should Win pick. It does have very good chances of winning even without the Best Director nomination for Ben Affleck but I’ll let you know my Will Win pick later. I predict Argo to be the film most likely to upset my Will Win pick.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild– This is this year’s little picture that could. It was a small low-budget movie shot more than three years ago that finally made its way into the cinemas first through the Sundance film festival and then the box office. It not only drew a decent-sized crowd but amazed everyone who saw it. Great first efforts from Benh Zeitlin in directing and writing and Quyvenzhane Wallis in acting. Despite its accomplishments, I don’t think it will win Best Picture since it’s up against a lot of other films that have a lot more: both in terms of production and in crowd grabbing. Yeah, that’s where the luck for the little film that could stops.

Django Unchained– Is it just me or does Quentin Tarantino seem to be getting quite predictable these days? Not only that but I still stand by my original belief that he seems to be overobsessed with the theme of vengeance. It’s as if three stylized films about revenge isn’t enough. In all frankness, it lacks the dynamite of Pulp Fiction and it’s not as attention-grabbing and mesmerizing as Kill Bill nor does it pull unexpected surprises like Inglourious Basterds. It’s a great Tarantino film but not one of his more legendary. Plus Lincoln’s theme of doing justice to slavery made revenge on slavery look a bit like a joke. And Zero Dark Thirty made Kathryn Bigelow look like a more fearless director than Tarantino. Not this year, Quentin.

Les Miserables– Without a doubt the musical of the year, if not the decade. The decade may be young but this would be too hard to top. Adapting a big-name Broadway musical to the big screen is a very difficult task and Tom Hooper did it. I personally felt that it should be amongst those most contending for Best Picture. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The bigger buzz is for Lincoln and Argo and possibly Life Of Pi. I don’t know about you but I sometimes feel musicals have been somewhat devalued by the Academy in this century. Sure Chicago won Best Picture but director Rob Marshall didn’t have a chance at winning Best Director. Also Dreamgirls wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, which I still feel it should have. And Moulin Rouge earned a Best Picture nod with director Baz Luhrmann snubbed out. And we see it here with Tom Hooper snubbed out. It’s one of the most deserving of the Best Picture win but I don’t think the Academy will do it.

Life Of Pi– Leave it to Ang Lee to direct a masterpiece of a movie that touches us as much as it dazzles us. There were a lot of spellbound moments in this movie. Definitely the best special effects of the year. A lot of good acting including that from young actor Suraj Sharma. And definitely a lot of top direction from Ang Lee. Now some people are hinting that Ang Lee could win Best Director since Spielberg has already won two while Lee’s only one once. It could be possible. As for Best Picture, I don’t know if Life Of Pi has what it takes. Great movie but worthy of the Best Picture Oscar? I’m scratching my head right now.

Lincoln– Okay I’ll probably be the first to admit that I’ve seen better from Spielberg. If you were to compile a list ranking all of Spielberg’s movies, I’m unsure if this would make the Top 5. You too probably know he’s directed more memorable movies. I will say of all of this year’s nominees, this is the one that had the best of the three key elements: acting, directing and writing. This had some of the best acting of the year, Spielberg delivered another excellent directing job and the writing was also excellent. The efforts in recreating the United States during 1865 were no easy feat either especially in terms of set design and costuming. Also like many of Spielberg’s movies in the past, this is a precise look at war during its time. It’s because of all this I pick it as my Will Win pick. Although I am anticipating a surprise from Argo.

Silver Linings Playbook– Okay it’s not an epic recreation like Lincoln or an edge-of-your-seats drama like Argo. It is an excellent movie in terms of how they take a situation most people don’t want to deal with–mental illness– and turn it into a likeable romance. The best qualities had to be the acting. It needed excellent three-dimensional performances from all the main actors to make this work and it did. Very good direction from David O. Russell. It could be a Best Picture contender in any other year. Even I thought it was Best Picture worthy. Just this year there are at least three more movies with more Oscar boost.

Zero Dark ThirtyArgo isn’t the only movie trying to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. So is Zero Dark Thirty. Kathryn Bigelow definitely delivered one of the best directing efforts of the year if not the best. Even I consider her the most fearless director in Hollywood. Even more fearless than Tarantino. However I feel this movie had its best chances of winning Best Picture if Bigelow had a Best Director nomination at the least. I feel because of that snub, its Best Picture chances have sunk. It could still win due to the acting of Jessica Chastain or the scriptwriting of Mark Boal. However I feel it would be a long shot.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: Steven Spielberg– Lincoln– This year has seen a lot of excellent directing efforts from many directors. So many the Academy appeared to have overlooked the efforts of Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained, Kathryn Bigelow in Zero Dark Thirty and Ben Affleck in Argo. Affleck’s is the hardest because his directing in Argo has won him a Golden Globe, Director’s Guild and BAFTA awards. With Affleck, Bigelow and Tarantino snubbed out, there’s no real competition for Spielberg. It’s not to say that Lincoln was not that great of an effort. It still is an excellent effort but I’ve seen better from Spielberg. However the efforts of the other four nominees don’t compare. Ang Lee could win if the Academy doesn’t want to give Spielberg his third Oscar. Nevertheless it doesn’t look too likely.

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis– Lincoln– Ten years ago, Day-Lewis was nominated for Best Actor for playing Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting in Gangs Of New York. Co-star Cameron Diaz said of Daniel: “Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t just simply play the character. He becomes the character.” I guess that’s what makes Daniel Day-Lewis stand out from other actors. You just have to see his performances for yourself: Christy Brown in My Left Foot; Gerry Conlon in In The Name Of The Father; Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting; Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. And now Abraham Lincoln. You just have to see it for yourself. The closest thing to a rival to Day-Lewis is Bradley Cooper who could get it if the Academy doesn’t want to make Day-Lewis a three-time Best Actor winner but I doubt it.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win: Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty– What can I say? You cannot take your eyes off of Maya. She keeps you intrigued in what will happen ext and how she’ll respond. She has a toughness about her despite her tender side being tested at times. Jessica really delivered a one-of-a-kind role that’s hard to match.
-Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook– You can say whatever you want about Jennifer, that she’ll get it because she’s the ‘next big thing.’ Even though I want Jessica Chastain to win, Jennifer Lawrence is very deserving in her own right. I was very impressed in seeing her play a widower much older than her 22 year-old self. It was not just in her emotional acting but her physical acting too. If she wins, I will be content.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master – Okay so I admit I’m one of those countless people that like Philip Seymour Hoffman. One thing I have to say is like Daniel Day-Lewis, he knows how to become the role. As the svengali-like religious leader, he not only possessed the controllingness of the leader but the charisma of one too. I’m sure he knew that such people of great power not only had to possess a controllingness of them but a winsome charisma too. And Hoffman did it. I sensed it right there in my theatre seat.
-Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln– Daniel Day-Lewis may have owned Lincoln but Tommy Lee Jones had to be his biggest challenger in who could command one’s attention and who is best at portraying a historical character. His performance of Thaddeus Stevens could just rival Day-Lewis. There were some parts of Jones’ performance where it suggested right there to me that this could just win the Oscar. And that was even before the first awards of this season were given out.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win: Anne Hathaway– Les Miserables– Some of you may think Anne may get the Oscar because of her fame but that’s just jumping the gun. I saw Les Miz. Right there during that scene where she sang I Dreamed A Dream, I just sat there amazed. I sensed right there that she would win the Oscar. Those of you who saw that scene will know what I’m talking about. The closest rivalry I see for her is Sally Field as Mary Lincoln but it’s Anne Hathaway all the way.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win and Will Win: Mark Boal– Zero Dark Thirty– So Bigelow didn’t get nominated for Best Director. The next big force of the movie has to be her right-hand man Mark Boal. His scriptwriting has a lot to do with Bigelow’s standout directing efforts. It took a smart fearless script about piecing the puzzle together and the woman behind it. That’s why I give Mark my pick for the Best Original Screenplay for this year.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win & Will Win: Chris Terrio– Argo– This was a year where the Adapted Screenplays had an edge over the original ones. Argo’s script had to be the best. It was a script that had to be as smart and well thought-out as it was suspenseful if it wanted to deliver such a story. It was a smart maze of a story without getting too overly confusing. It had its touching moments without getting overly sentimental. That’s why I predict the Argo script to do it. Also a win for the script could boost Argo’s Best Picture chances with Ben Affleck missing his Best Director nomination. We’ll just see.

Just One More:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win and Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph – It’s interesting to see how there are three different contenders for the Oscar since it’s had a habit of being one Disney/Pixar film and every other film. This year’ Disney/Pixar pick Brave has a pair of rivals–Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph— and they were also done by Disney associated companies so this should be a win-win for Disney this year. I give it to Ralph because it was the most create and the most entertaining. Also the images in itself were top notch quality too.

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

BEST ART DIRECTION:
Sarah Greenwood – Anna Karenina
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Claudio Miranda – The Life Of Pi
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Jacqueline Durran – Anna Karenina
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
Searching For Sugar Man
BEST FILM EDITING:
William Goldenberg – Argo
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM:
Amour – Austria
BEST MAKEUP:
The Hobbit
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Mychael Danna – Life Of Pi
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
“Skyfall” – Skyfall
BEST SOUND MIXING:
Les Miserables
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Life Of Pi
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Life Of Pi
BEST ANIMATED SHORT and BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:
Click Here
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Open Heart

Interesting looking over all the categories. Amour is the first foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture in 12 years. There were only four acting nominees being nominated for the first time: the lowest since probably the early 30’s. Usually the supporting acting categories are the most newbie-friendly. Not a single newbie in the supporting acting categories this year and seven of them have already won an Oscar. The Best Actress category had new age records set this very year for both the oldest nominee ever (Riva) and the youngest nominee ever (Wallis). Silver Linings Playbook is only the fourteenth movie in history to earn Oscar nominations in all four acting categories. Interesting how the year after Martin Scorsese makes a family film, Ang Lee makes a family-friendly fantasia that also gets nominated for Best Picture. The Best Original Score nomination of Lincoln extends the record of nominations for movie composer John Williams to fifty-eight. The Best Original Song category had five nominees for the first time in three years.

As for snub-outs, hard to believe The Hunger Games and The Dark Knight Rises weren’t nominated for anything, not even for visual effects. The Dark Knight Rises is now the highest-grossing picture to never receive an Oscar nomination. And with the final Twilight movie being nominated for nothing, the Twilight series becomes the highest-grossing movie series or franchise to never receive a single Oscar nomination. And to think last year you were surprised when Harry Potter became the highest-grossing series or franchise to never win an Oscar out of its twelve nominations. Actually should we be surprised about Twilight’s consistent snub-out? All it was about was hot guys anyways.

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 see if Seth can make the show entertaining without crossing the line.

Oh yeah, here’s a bonus:

Other Nominated Movies I’ve Reviewed

-Moonrise Kingdom
-War Witch (Rebelle)
-Ted
-Snow White And The Huntsman
-Prometheus