Archive for the ‘Award Season’ Category

I’ve been gone from the blog for a while but tonight is Oscar night and now time like the present to get back into the mix. I have a lot of individual movies to get reviews completed, but, for now, I will just start with the celebration of the best in movies over the past year.

This time around, the Oscars have a bit more diversity than usual. There are 4 films up for best picture that highlight stories about people of color. Similar numbers can be seen in the acting and directing categories. In particular, Moonlight highlights themes of race, sexuality, socio-economic challenges, and family makeup. Hidden Figures takes a lighter approach to focus on accomplishments previously undiscussed.

My one major cirticism, which will also be highlighted below, is that La La Land will likely walk away with at least a few awards, including some of the major categories. While it was an enjoyable film, there were some major flaws in the storytelling and acting that will get overlooked. Gosling and Stone watch their feet when they dance and their singing is good but not great.

On the snub side, there were not any major misses, with the exception of potentially Sully. Tom Hanks usually does not get overlooked, but the actor grouping was a bit crowded. Denzel Washington should have also gotten recognized for his direction of Fences. While I would have liked to see Deadpool at least grab a nomination, it was no surprise to see that the merc with the mouth got silenced.

Let’s get to¬†the predictions (post any agreements or challenges in the comments section):

Best Picture

  • My Prediction:¬†La La Land¬†– As much as I want to recognize the excellence of other films, this feels like¬†The Artist all over again, even though the quality is actually a little lacking. Still, this is Hollywood loving to praise itself.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Moonlight¬†–¬†While I could also toss¬†Fences¬†into the mix for its classic, play-like presentation,¬†Moonlight¬†touches on so many different elements that its complexity is its true strength.
  • Winner: Moonlight

Actor in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Denzel Washington –¬†While he would potentially have been able to sneak in with a directing win if nominated, his performance was compelling.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Casey Affleck – I don’t believe in a win for Affleck, but he could try to steal one for his deeply internal, emotional portrayal of a man struggling with his past failures and current depression.
  • Winner: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Mahershala Ali – He was truly mesmerizing as the drug-dealer with a heart. The way he approached his role, he has proven himself to be a rising star.
  • My Spoiler: n/a
  • Winner: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Actress in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction:¬†Emma Stone – While there are other nominees that could easily prove themselves worthy, Stone’s role in¬†La La Land is almost formulaic in its setup for grabbing the win. It has emotion and switches between lightheartedness and dreaming.
  • My Spoilers:¬†All but Meryl Streep – While Streep is always a phenomenal actress, Negga is gripping, Portman is measured, and Huppert is balanced.
  • Winner: Emma Stone for La La Land

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction:¬†Viola Davis – This category is truly challenging because of how strong all of the actresses were. Davis partners well with Washington to round out the emotions of¬†Fences.
  • My Spoiler:¬†n/a – As strong as everyone was, Davis’s performance was a cut above.
  • Winner: Viola Davis for Fences

Animated Feature Film

  • My Prediction:¬†Zootopia
  • My Spoiler:¬†Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Winner: Zootopia

Cinematography

  • My Prediction:¬†La La Land
  • My Spoiler:¬†Lion
  • Winner: La La Land

Costume Design

  • My Prediction:¬†La La Land¬†
  • My Spoiler:¬†Jackie
  • Winner: Fantastic Beasts and¬†Where to Find Them

Directing

  • My Prediction:¬†Barry Jenkins –¬†Moonlight¬†may not win best picture, but this would be a chance to show support for the thought-provoking and creative film. This would also be the first win for a black director in Oscar history.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Damien Chazelle – This would only happen if the committee believes in the¬†La La Land¬†sweep.
  • Winner: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Documentary (Feature)

  • My Prediction:¬†OJ: Made in America
  • My Spoiler:¬†Life, Animated
  • Winner: OJ: Made in America

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • My Prediction:¬†Joe’s Violin
  • My Spoiler:¬†Extremis
  • Winner: The White Helmets

Film Editing

  • My Prediction:¬†La La Land
  • My Spoiler:¬†Moonlight
  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Foreign Language

  • My Prediction:¬†The Salesman¬†(Iran)
  • My Spoiler:¬†Land of Mine¬†(Denmark)
  • Winner: The Salesman (Iran)

Makeup

  • My Prediction:¬†Star Trek Beyond
  • My Spoiler:¬†Suicide Squad
  • Winner: Suicide Squad

Music (Original Score)

  • My Prediction: Justin Hurwitz¬†for¬†La La Land
  • My Spoiler: Nicholas Britell¬†for¬†Moonlight
  • Winner: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land

Music (Original Song)

  • My Prediction: “How Far I’ll Go” from¬†Moana
  • My Spoiler: “City of Stars” from¬†La La Land
  • Winner: “City of Stars” from La La Land

Production Design

  • My Prediction:¬†La La Land
  • My Spoiler:¬†Arrival
  • Winner: La La Land

Short Film (Animated)

  • My Prediction:¬†Piper
  • My Spoiler: Borrowed Time
  • Winner: Piper

Short Film (Live Action)

  • My Prediction:¬†Ennemis Interieurs
  • My Spoiler:¬†Sing
  • Winner: Sing

Sound Editing

  • My Prediction:¬†Hacksaw Ridge
  • My Spoiler:¬†La La Land
  • Winner: Arrival

Sound Mixing

  • My Prediction:¬†Hacksaw Ridge
  • My Spoiler:¬†La La Land
  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects

  • My Prediction:¬†The Jungle Book
  • My Spoiler:¬†Doctor Strange
  • Winner: The Jungle Book

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†Moonlight
  • My Spoiler:¬†Fences
  • Winner: Moonlight

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†Manchester by the Sea
  • My Spoiler:¬†La La Land
  • Winner: Manchester by the Sea
Percentage Correct: 14/24 = 58.3%
Percentage from 2016: 15/24 = 62.5%
Biggest Winner: La La Land (5) / Moonlight (3)
Other Winners…
Manchester by the Sea (2)
Hacksaw Ridge (2)

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fences
OJ: Made in America
Piper
Sing (Live Action)
Suicide Squad
The Jungle Book
The Salesman
The White Helmets
Zootopia

Oscar Night Recap 2015

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Award Season
Tags:

Oscar night has come and gone. There was a lot of glitz and glamour, but there was actually a lot of political/social messages with a sprinkling of controversy.

First up was the red carpet. I could toss out some random pictures of celebrities on the runway…

lupita-nyongo-oscars-red-carpet-2015 cate-blanchett-oscars-red-carpet-2015 reese-witherspoon-oscars-red-carpet-2015 sophie-hunter-oscars-red-carpet-2015 lady-gaga-oscars-red-carpet-2015 jennifer-hudson-oscars-red-carpet-2015

…but there was something that started prior to the event that changed the tone of the evening and I am compelled to focus more on that than the glamour. #AskHerMore was a campaign that started to challenge the media to possibly ask actresses than more about their dresses and designers. The desired effect was achieved, as there were more questions about actual experiences with their films with the occasional reference to their clothing. While the red carpet is much about the fashion, it was nice to get a little actual substance with the interviews. I would say though that the production of the red carpet still feels too scattered and jumpy that actual substance is still diminished by the self-indulgence of talking about how amazing it is to be there and to see all of the stars appearing.

I will say, though, that I do not know what people saw in Lady Gaga’s outfit. Why the lobster claw gloves? I know you are Gaga, but seriously?

As far as the actual show, there were some good hits and so serious misses. Let’s take a look…

Hit: Neil Patrick Harris РThe opening number with Anna Kendrick and Jack Black was a success! For film lovers, it was the perfect way to open the show (ignoring the odd message by Jack to diss the industry ironically). NPH was graceful, energetic, and clearly into the entire experience.

Miss:¬†Oscar Writing – While NPH’s opening was strong, his comedy throughout the rest missed the mark for the most part. He had good delivery, but the random variations of award categories and attempts to poke fun at some of the celebrities were just not that funny.

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Hit:¬†NPH’s Birdman Bit – Taking the risk to show off in your tight-whiteys on such a large stage is a bold move. While it was funny in¬†Birdman, it did not miss a beat with this Oscar version. To add a little extra to the hilarity, Miles Teller appeared just offstage to allow NPH to also pull in a little¬†Whiplash.

Miss:¬†NPH’s Bits with Octavia Spencer and David Oyelowo – There are some thoughts about NPH’s and the Oscar writer’s attempt to take a jab at some of the disparity of representation of blacks in Hollywood, but both skits really missed the mark. With Octavia, the whole thing just felt awkward. She played along, but the regular check-ins with her felt forced and unnecessary. It felt like it was killing time and testing people’s patience with a poor attempt at the joke. For David, it started out fine until NPH had him read a punchline that took a jab at remaking Annie (possibly with a black actress in the lead role). It was supposed to be sarcastic but came out disrespectful.

25F9226300000578-0-Tears_David_Oyelowo_was_overcome_with_emotion_watching_John_Lege-a-77_1424680765657

Hit:¬†The Music Performances – Starting with “Everything is Awesome” and ending with Lady Gaga’s rendition of hits from¬†The Sound of Music, every note sung into the mic was powerful. Tim McGraw’s performance of “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was a hauntingly beautiful tribute. Jennifer Hudson’s “I Can’t Let Go” made me want to go back and watch “You’re Gonna Love Me” to hear another beautiful performance. Adam Levine and Rita Orr also had strong performances. Then you had Common and John Legend. Eventually winning the Oscar for “Glory,” their performance was strong and moving. It clearly made an impact on the audience.

http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_6mhrbx3g

Miss: MIA in the In Memoriam РWhile the In Memoriam was moving as it happens to be every year, there was a noticeable absence that brewed a storm in the social media universe immediately following the tribute. Where was Joan Rivers? While her connection to the Oscars was more about her Fashion Police coverage, she was an institution to the red carpet and also had a career in acting.

Hit:¬†Political Messages – You have to expect that actors and film industry representatives will use the stage to talk about some important social and political issues. Whether it was Common’s speech about social equality, Patricia Arquette’s impassioned talk of wage equality, or Graham Moore’s “stay weird” message, there were a lot of moving moments. While some of the messages were criticized on social media for their shortsightedness or poor word choice, the messages were still put out there. Also, listen to J.K. Simmons and call your parents!

25F9291C00000578-0-Incredible_Rapper_Common_and_John_brought_the_house_down_with_th-a-72_1424680765403 25F8B35500000578-0-Not_just_for_the_boys_Patricia_Arquette_took_home_Best_Supportin-a-11_1424680762952 25F99DCC00000578-0-Top_acting_honors_Julianne_Moore_won_Best_Actress_for_Still_Alic-a-2_1424680762935 25F9967E00000578-0-Top_acting_honors_Julianne_Moore_won_Best_Actress_for_Still_Alic-a-7_1424680762944Graham-Moore

Miss:¬†#OscarsSoWhite – As much as the Academy wants to represent American culture and the diversity of film, they seem to come up really short. This infographic shows the stats. David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay were left out of the nominations for¬†Selma just because of the promotion circuit shortcomings, and not because of they did not deserve it. At least NPH said it right from the start, “Tonight we honor Hollywood‚Äôs best and whitest, sorry, brightest.”

So what about the actual awards…

25F9F3BB00000578-0-Empty_handed_Although_Birdman_flew_off_with_four_gongs_its_star_-a-41_1424680763721Biggest Winners: The GrandBudapest Hotel and Birdman РThe battle for the Best Picture win was a two-way race between the 12-year epic focusing on the concept of representing real life (Boyhood) versus the self-indulgent Hollywood movie for people who love their industry (Birdman). While Birdman was a great film, it was a surprise that it stole the directing award and clearly labeled that Hollywood loves to embrace stories about itself. As for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson will have to figure something else out to finally get his Best Picture win, but he did tied for the most Oscar wins for the year.

Biggest Losers:¬†Dreamworks, Boyhood, and Selma – While the win for best song was a nice and deserving win, it felt like a consolation prize for the crew from¬†Selma. As mentioned previously, where were the nominations for direction and best actor? Even a nomination without the win would have honored the film better for its achievements.¬†Boyhood was an epic film to produce, but the wins were just not there. Patricia Arquette represented the only win, with the film losing¬†for direction and film editing. As for Dreamworks, ABC and the Academy proved that they prefer Disney/Pixar over all else. The few times that Disney/Pixar has not won Best Animated Feature were nearly all when the studio failed to put out a movie to be nominated. In the past 14 years, Disney/Pixar has won 10 of them.¬†How to Train Your Dragon 2¬†deserved to win over¬†Big Hero 6…or¬†The Lego Movie¬†should have been nominated.

Final Reaction: Creepy McCreeperson РJohn Travolta needs to be banned from interacting with people. Whether it was with Scarlett Johansson or Idina Menzel, his hands were in all the wrong places.

idina menzel john travolta 87th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

What was your favorite moment of the Oscars?

Another year, another set of predictions. For anyone reading this blog at the moment, you may have noticed the high volume of reviews within the past week (particularly the night before the big show). I enjoy using the Oscars as an excuse to watch some of the best that cinema has to offer each year. Without it, I may have missed out on the excellent performance of Julianne Moore in¬†Still Alice¬†or the palpable tension from¬†Whipash. Before getting to the nominees, let’s take a look at the upcoming show.

Ellen did a great job last year, but Neil Patrick Harris is back. No doubt about whether he will take a couple of jabs at one of his projects of the past year,¬†Gone Girl. He may have a thing or two to say about his role in the film or about Ben Affleck’s performance. Otherwise, I see him knocking it out of the park, considering it is not the first award show he has hosted.

There were some serious snubs this year. The first thought that I had was that¬†everything was not awesome¬†because¬†The Lego Movie failed to receive a nomination for animated feature. While¬†How to Train Your Dragon 2¬†was a phenomenal story, there was something about The Lego Movie that stood out. The immediate second issue was with¬†Selma. While it was nominated for 3 awards, including Best Picture, there was a clear absence in the categories for direction and actor. David Oyelowo gave a phenomenal performance as MLK and Ava DuVernay’s absence from the directing category can only be explained by a combination of a tough field and her presence as the newcomer in the area of direction.¬†Snowpiercer¬†may have had a tough time against the more traditional theater releases, but the Netflix film was a strange but enthralling ride through a dystopian future unlike others before it.¬†Only Lovers Left Alive was a truly creative and trippy concept, but the costumes were rather impressive.¬†While¬†Under the Skin¬†may have been a weird film, there was probably a place for a nomination for either Best Picture or Best Actress.

So let’s get to¬†the predictions (post any agreements or challenges in the comments section):

Best Picture

  • My Prediction: Birdman – While this is probably the tightest race of the entire show, the comedy seemed to have an odd momentum that has raged since around the holiday season.
  • My Spoilers:¬†Boyhood – There is a very strong chance that this one can steal it. The film is unlike nearly any other and would be deserving.¬†Whiplash¬†– Although unlikely, the incredible acting and gripping story make this a hard film to ignore.
  • Winner: Birdman

Actor in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Eddie Redmayne – It would be hard for the Academy to ignore this one. His performance as Stephen Hawking was both charming and tragically beautiful.
  • My Spoiler: Michael Keaton – His performance was just so meta, considering that he was basically playing himself.
  • Winner: Eddie Redmayne

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: J.K. Simmons – Who else can take it?
  • My Spoiler: n/a
  • Winner: J.K. Simmons

Actress in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Julianne Moore – As Alice, she made you feel like you were one of the family going through the tragedy with her.
  • My Spoiler: Rosamund Pike – She is the only other actress to truly steal the show for her film.
  • Winner: Julianne Moore

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Patricia Arquette – While overall performances were solid, hers was above the rest.
  • My Spoiler: n/a
  • Winner: Patricia Arquette

Animated Feature Film

  • My Prediction:¬†How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • My Spoiler:¬†The Lego Movie…oh, wait…
  • Winner: Big Hero 6

Cinematography

  • My Prediction:¬†Birdman
  • My Spoiler: Mr. Turner
  • Winner: Birdman

Costume Design

  • My Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel¬†
  • My Spoiler:¬†Into the Woods
  • Winner:¬†The Grand Budapest Hotel

Directing

  • My Prediction: Richard Linklater –¬†Boyhood¬†was just an amazing achievement in filmmaking over the span of 12 years.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√Ī√°rritu –¬†Birdman¬†will be able to fight for more than just Best Picture.
  • Winner:¬†Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√Ī√°rritu

Documentary (Feature)

  • My Prediction: CitizenFour
  • My Spoiler:¬†Virunga
  • Winner: CitizenFour

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • My Prediction:¬†Joanna
  • My Spoiler:¬†The Reaper (La Parka)
  • Winner: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Film Editing

  • My Prediction:¬†Boyhood
  • My Spoiler:¬†Whiplash
  • Winner: Whiplash

Foreign Language

  • My Prediction: Ida¬†(Poland)
  • My Spoiler:¬†Leviathan (Russia)
  • Winner: Ida

Makeup

  • My Prediction:¬†Guardians of the Galaxy
  • My Spoiler:¬†Foxcatcher
  • Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Music (Original Score)

  • My Prediction: Alexandre Desplat for¬†The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My Spoiler:¬†J√≥hann J√≥hannsson for¬†The Theory of Everything
  • Winner: Alexandre¬†Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Music (Original Song)

  • My Prediction: “Glory” from¬†Selma
  • My Spoiler: “Everything is Awesome” from¬†The Lego Movie
  • Winner: “Glory” from Selma

Production Design

  • My Prediction:¬†The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My Spoiler:¬†Mr. Turner
  • Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Short Film (Animated)

  • My Prediction:¬†Feast
  • My Spoiler:¬†The Dam Keeper
  • Winner: Feast

Short Film (Live Action)

  • My Prediction: Parvaneh
  • My Spoiler:¬†Aya
  • Winner: The Phone Call

Sound Editing

  • My Prediction:¬†American Sniper
  • My Spoiler:¬†Birdman
  • Winner: American Sniper

Sound Mixing

  • My Prediction:¬†Whiplash
  • My Spoiler:¬†American Sniper
  • Winner: Whiplash

Visual Effects

  • My Prediction:¬†Interstellar
  • My Spoiler:¬†Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Winner: Interstellar

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†The Imitation Game¬†– Though it is going to be a close one.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Whiplash
  • Winner: The Imitation Game

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†Birdman
  • My Spoiler:¬†The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Winner: Birdman
Percentage Correct: 18/24 – 75%
Percentage from 2014: 21/24 Р87.5%
Biggest Winner: Birdman (4) & The Grand Budapest Hotel (4)
Other Winners:
Whiplash (3)
American Sniper
Big Hero 6
Boyhood
CitizenFour
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Feast
Ida
Interstellar
Selma
Still Alice
The Imitation Game
The Phone Call
The Theory of Everything

In the tradition of the Academy Awards, I have my thoughts regarding the upcoming award show which airs tonight. I admit that these are a little later than usual, but I got sidetracked and was unable to see all of the major films until closer to the awards show. I hope that I have been able to get a good enough sense of the awards this year to make some good predictions.

First of all, I am glad that Ellen Degeneres is hosting again this year. While Billy Crystal gives more of the classic feel for the award show hosts, Ellen projects a bit of that classic element with her own flair and twist. She is light, fun, and hilarious. There is also a great chance that she will dance for this upcoming evening.

Before honoring the nominees and the winners, it is good to pay tribute to the snubs who deserved recognition. The most obvious of the missing films was¬†The Butler. Forest Whitaker provided one of his better performances but was left off of the list, as was the film for Best Picture.¬†Fruitvale Station¬†star Michael B. Johnson also has reason to be a bit upset for being left out of the nominees. Though his contemporary performance seemed out of the pattern of films based on historic true events, he was able to project a hard-hitting, thought-provoking image of a misunderstood man based on his race and class. Idris Elba’s and Naomie Harris’s performances in¬†Mandela were also quite captivating. Since the award committee seems to be against comedic or happy story lines,¬†Saving Mr. Banks¬†and its lead actor Tom Hanks (also for both this film and¬†Captain Philips) were unable to be included. Emma Thompson could easily have been nominated for her role as the guarded creator of¬†Mary Poppins. The indie hit¬†Inside Llewyn Davis and its lead Oscar Isaacs seemed to all short as well, though indie hits are typically consider for Oscar recognition. Though¬†Frozen¬†has a strong chance of winning Best Animated Feature, it is odd that Pixar’s hit¬†Monsters University was left off of the list.

So here are the predictions (post any agreements or challenges in the comments section):

Best Picture

  • My Prediction: 12 Years a Slave – This film has all of the elements that the committee loves: a political/social justice message, excellent acting, dynamic directing, and all the drama anyone could need.
  • My Spoilers: Dallas Buyers Club (Some of the best acting of the year and a gripping story); American Hustle (All-star cast, great acting, and a new favorite director)
  • Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Actor in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Matthew McConaughey – While I was skeptical at first, he gave up a lot to play his role and did so with such tenacity and grit. His character’s transformation was phenomenal.
  • My Spoiler: Chiwetel Ejiofor (Would not be surprised for him to take it); Leonardo DiCaprio (While the fan favorite and a great actor, he was outplayed this year)
  • Winner: Matthew McConaughey

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Jared Leto – Just as compelling as McConaughey, he owned the role at a level that puts him way above his competition.
  • My Spoiler: Barkhad Abdi (Compelling and scary performance of a desperate man); Michael Fassbender (Somewhat scary as well, also held a strong level of intensity)
  • Winner: Jared Leto

Actress in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Cate Blanchett – While I do not agree with her likelihood to walk home with the award, she is somewhat compelling with her breaks from reality and inner monologue.
  • My Spoiler: Judi Dench (Should win for giving an amazingly adorable performance)
  • Winner: Cate Blanchett

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction:¬†Lupita Nyong’o – While Chiwetel may not get the win, Lupita deserves just as much credit for her on-screen, gritty performance.
  • My Spoiler: Jennifer Lawrence (Everyone seems to enjoy an unstable time bomb)
  • Winner: Lupita Nyong’o

Animated Feature Film

  • My Prediction: Frozen – The song alone may give it a win, but it is a warm-hearted story of a set of princesses trying to manage their own individual challenges.
  • My Spoiler: The Wind Rises (Beautiful story that will hardly get its due)
  • Winner: Frozen

Cinematography

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: Nebraska
  • Winner: Gravity

Costume Design

  • My Prediction: The Great Gatsby
  • My Spoiler: American Hustle
  • Winner: The Great Gatsby

Directing

  • My Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron – Directed an artistically beautiful film which captivated with only one significant on-screen performance.
  • My Spoiler: Steve McQueen (The film speaks for itself)
  • Winner: Alfonso Cuaron

Documentary (Feature)

  • My Prediction: 20 Feet from Stardom
  • My Spoiler: The Act of Killing
  • Winner: 20 Feet from Stardom

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • My Prediction:¬†The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • My Spoiler: Facing Fear
  • Winner: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Film Editing

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: Captain Phillips
  • Winner: Gravity

Foreign Language

  • My Prediction: The Great Beauty (Italy)
  • My Spoiler: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
  • Winner: The Great Beauty

Makeup

  • My Prediction: Dallas Buyers Club
  • My Spoiler: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (Few options available…)
  • Winner: Dallas Buyers Club

Music (Original Score)

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: Her
  • Winner: Gravity

Music (Original Song)

  • My Prediction: Let It Go – Frozen
  • My Spoiler: Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; The Moon Song – Her
  • Winner: Let It Go – Frozen

Production Design

  • My Prediction: 12 Years a Slave
  • My Spoiler: The Great Gatsby
  • Winner: The Great Gatsby

Short Film (Animated)

  • My Prediction: Get a Horse!
  • My Spoiler: Room on the Broom
  • Winner: Mr. Hublot

Short Film (Live Action)

  • My Prediction: The Voorman Problem
  • My Spoiler:¬†Pit√§√§k√∂ Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?
  • Winner: Helium

Sound Editing

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: Lone Survivor
  • Winner: Gravity

Sound Mixing

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: Lone Survivor
  • Winner: Gravity

Visual Effects

  • My Prediction: Gravity
  • My Spoiler: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Winner: Gravity

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave – Likely challenging for the most overall wins this season, the story was gripping and terrifying all at the same time.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Billy Ray for Captain Phillips
  • Winner: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • My Prediction:¬†Spike Jonze for Her – This was a wildly inventive story which surprised its viewers. While not a hit with everyone, originality certainly gives is credibility.
  • My Spoiler:¬†Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russel for American Hustle
  • Winner: Spike Jonze for Her
Percentage Correct: 21/24 – 87.5%
Percentage from 2013: 18/24 – 75%
Biggest Winners: Gravity (7)
Other Winners:
  • 12 Years a Slave (3)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (3)
  • Frozen (2)
  • The Great Gatsby (2)
  • 20 Feet from Stardom (1)
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Golden Globes to Oscars

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Award Season
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Looks like I am a bit behind on preparing for the Oscars this year. While I have already gotten out to see 12 Years a Slave, Mandela, and American Hustle, there are a few that I need to get on quickly before I miss my chance.

Predictions will have to wait until I get a chance to sit down and process the potential nominees a little further.

Another year, another Oscars. The Academy made the decision to make a number of changes this year that may or may not have been noticeable. The first, which was a major change, was that the “Academy Awards” label has been dropped from the name. Part of the rebranding of the awards to grab onto a younger audience meant drop the classic/double title. To go with the name change, there was also an attempt to make more youth-relevant choices in the host, presenters and production. While Seth MacFarlane was the host and the more youth-focused talent was on display, so were certain classic elements that kept the award show a little more relevant for an older audience. It would be easy to say that it was a balance, but the long show time and classic elements detracted away from the more youthful attempt.

But I digress…

Oscar night was still a huge success. There were surprises, upsets and memorable moments abound. The red carpet did serve a bit as the prelude to come of the events of the night (and not based off of who was wearing what). The big stars were out and there were some fun interactions that set the stage for the coming entertainment.¬†Quvenzhane Wallis did not have to win anything to still get the attention and respect from the crowd. Jennifer Lawrence was in line to win the category, but she also found an opportunity to playfully take it to Emma Stone to let her know to watch her back. Jamie Foxx brought his daughter and presented himself well as an invested parent. Kristen Stewart showed up with crutches and attempted to balance herself for a few moments to pose for photographers. Numerous actors also hinted at their involvement in the night’s festivities.

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Now to the actual award night. Here are my impressions of the wins and losses for the night at the movies…

Host: Seth MacFarlane

  • Win: During the times when Seth was ad-libbing, he was actually quite funny. He showed a bit more humility when he recognized that a joke may have missed its mark, but the script was also not a complete loss. While the crowd seemed a bit lost, his¬†Sound of Music bit with the Von Trapp family was rather amusing. He also could have easily focused more on his song and dance routines. Another win for Seth was in his presentation with Mark Wahlberg as Ted (less so for the content and more for the avenue of presenting himself as an animated bear). He had a truly gem with the opportunity to do what he does best…animated voices.
  • Loss:¬†It may not be his fault completely, but the writing suffered from being borderline or even totally offensive. It was not a surprise that he would push the line, but the “boobs” song, joke about Chris Brown and Rihanna and mention of Clooney chasing young women were failures in the script. The line about Clooney also destroyed the innocence of Quvenzhane, who was the target of a sexually-charged disaster.¬†His opening also failed to seem cohesive or relevant. Besides the song, he had William Shatner playing his Star Trek role bouncing back and forth from inappropriate jokes to unrelated song and dance.

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  • Final Thoughts:¬†If Seth were to be given another opportunity to host, he could easily take more of a Billy Crystal-like approach with a musical number with puns or quips about the nominees to start the show (though he apparently received some coaching from Crystal prior to the show). He could have even done something more with his vocal work besides Ted and made a better impact. As controversial and negative as some critics were about his performance, there was also a lot of support for his willingness to be controversial and perceived attractiveness (not exactly redeeming qualities for a possible repeat host).

Presenters

  • Win:¬†The Avengers may not have been nominated for anything, but the cast made an appearance to present a pair of awards with a little banter and self-defamation. Jean Dujardin was his fun, simple self and still posted a quick comment and tribute to the grace and majesty of the best actress nominees. As mentioned previously,¬†Mark Wahlberg¬†and¬†Ted¬†presented to a rather receptive crowd, sparking conversation that Ted (rather than Seth MacFarlane himself) should host the next Oscars. To reduce the time needed to present the best picture nominees,¬†Reese Witherspoon,¬†Liam Neeson¬†and¬†Nicole Kidman¬†each highlighted three nominees apiece with brief bios and a quick video montage. The biggest surprise of the night included¬†Jack Nicholson¬†and¬†Michelle Obama. While they may have different political ideologies, they supported the arts with their joint message and Michelle got the chance to make the official announcement.
  • Loss:¬†First up…Melissa McCarthy¬†and¬†Paul Rudd. Attempting to awkwardly exhibit how to do voice acting, they looked confused and completely out of it. As bad as they were, there was worse.¬†Renee Zellweger¬†and¬†Richard Gere¬†appeared to forget how to read and seemed like they did not want to be there. Worst of all was¬†Kristen Stewart. In her appearance with¬†Daniel Radcliffe, she appeared either drugged, drunk or in some way disheveled.

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  • Final Thoughts:¬†There was an opportunity for Meryl Streep to present the Best Actress award to Jennifer Lawrence, but opportunity missed. Regardless, many of the choices were good, but some were clearly not that interested or impressed with the opportunity to be up on stage honoring other actors and moviemakers. The Academy needs to be more aware of who is going to appreciate the opportunity.

Musical Performances

  • Win:¬†The quick and easy answer here was¬†Jennifer Hudson. Although she is amazing in nearly every performance,¬†I’m Telling You¬†is honestly one of her best songs. She brought the house down.¬†Adele¬†also wowed people with¬†Skyfall, although she was also victim of some unbalanced audio during the chorus. The cast from¬†Les Miserables came out for their performance of¬†Suddenly, even with Russell Crowe. Also notable was¬†Nora Jones, out there to sing¬†Everybody Needs a Best Friend.
  • Loss: While the performances themselves were not bad, they missed the mark in terms of capturing a younger audience.¬†Dame Shirley Bassey¬†came onto the stage to sing¬†Goldfinger, which seemed to drag on and could have been replaced by a more modern vocalist and Bond song.¬†Barbara Streisand¬†did a fitting tribute along with the In Memoriam but just seemed to drag out the segment and again disconnect from the younger viewers.¬†Catherine Zeta Jones¬†did an okay performance with¬†All That Jazz¬†but she seemed a little lackluster energy for the first half of the performance.

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  • Final Thoughts:¬†I like the idea of doing a tribute to music in film but shouldn’t that be every year? Music is such an important part of movies and should be celebrated.

Nominees & Winners

  • Win:¬†There were some winners that were expected.¬†Daniel Day-Lewis¬†was the clear frontrunner for Best Actor, but he also caught people off guard with his comedy during his acceptance speech.¬†Jennifer Lawrence¬†tripped going up the stairs to receive her Best Actress award but showed some humility and surprise after walking off stage.¬†Quentin Tarantino¬†was his usual wild and crazy self, which also makes for good television.¬†Sean Fine¬†and¬†Andrea Nix Fine both were able to show their gratitude and promote the support for the arts through the opportunity they were able to provide for the focus of their film. Christoph Waltz¬†snuck one away from¬†Tommy Lee Jones¬†with another gripping performance in a Tarantino film.¬†Ben Affleck may have been snubbed for Best Director but his film still took the biggest prize of the night. And out of the category for best upset,¬†Ang Lee¬†surprised many with both the success of¬†Life of Pi and his win over¬†Spielberg.
  • Loss:¬†On the flip side of the Lee, Spielberg put out the movie everyone hoped and expected him to direct to only fall to disappointment and shock.¬†Life of Pi¬†had a late surge that took out the momentum¬†Lincoln¬†had originally produced (also losing some of that steam to¬†Argo¬†and the Best Picture category). Lincoln¬†did get a bit of revenge when it won for Best Production Design, even though it had been tracking in 4th place behind Life of Pi, Les Miserables and The Hobbit.¬†Not even nominated for any category,¬†Cloud Atlas should have at least been up for Best Makeup, Best Original Song and Best Original Score. Wreck-It Ralph¬†fell victim to Disney’s stranglehold on the animated category, which also took the animated short category.¬†There were a few acceptance speeches that ran long, but that also served as an enjoyable experience with¬†Jaws¬†playing in the background.

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  • Final Thoughts:¬†While the awards may have been spread out, there were too many surprises. Ang Lee did walk away the big winner, even without the Best Picture win. Seth’s song and dance at the end to honor the losers was really a bit of a fail, as it did nothing to consul or entertain people. Zero Dark Thirty and¬†Silver Linings Playbook could have won more categories but there was stiff competition with¬†Lincoln¬†and¬†Life of Pi.¬†There are actually a few challenges with the award’s setup though. There is no suspense for certain categories when you have a film like¬†Amour¬†nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film. There is no way it can be nominated for the biggest category of the night but then lose in its smaller category.

The Oscars were entertaining but I have a few final suggestions for future award shows. Get presenters that care about recognizing other people’s talent. Consider bumping the show up to 6:30pm EST so the show does not run so late (midnight). Avoid the crazy gimmicks to start the show and keep it shorter and simpler. If Seth is going to come back, reconsider how much leeway he gets or reduce the vulgarity. If you are going to keep the 9-10 nominee increase for Best Picture, the same allowance should be made for Best Director (only).

I will be back in the theaters soon, so stay up with the blog and I’ll see you at the movies.

Tonight is Oscar night and things will be a bit different this time around. Seth MacFarlane (who also has a nomination for Best Original Song) will be taking the hosting duties this year. It will be interesting to see how far he goes with some of the jokes and whether he can live up to the previous performances of some of the other Oscar greats. Meanwhile, there will also be a few other questions buzzing around this evening. Will there be any commentary surrounding the significant Oscar snubs of Ben Affleck for Argo or Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty? Will history be made with the young nominee ever? Will Jennifer Lawrence make another comment about beating Meryl?

I will be on the blog tonight updating this posting to keep up with the awards, so look back later to see if my predictions came true.

Best Picture

  • My Prediction: Argo
  • My Spoilers: Lincoln
  • Winner: Argo

Actor in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
  • My Spoiler: Denzel Washington in Flight
  • Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
  • My Spoiler: Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
  • Winner: Christoph Waltz

Actress in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • My Spoiler: Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
  • Winner: Jennifer Lawrence

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction:¬†Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
  • My Spoiler:¬†Helen Hunt for The Sessions
  • Winner: Anne Hathaway

Animated Feature Film

  • My Prediction: Brave
  • My Spoiler: Wreck-It Ralph
  • Winner: Brave

Cinematography

  • My Prediction: Life of Pi
  • My Spoiler: Skyfall
  • Winner: Life of Pi

Costume Design

  • My Prediction: Les Miserables
  • My Spoiler: Anna Karenina
  • Winner: Anna Karenina

Directing

  • My Prediction: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • My Spoiler: Ang Lee for Life of Pi
  • Winner: Ang Lee

Documentary (Feature)

  • My Prediction: Searching for Sugar Man
  • My Spoiler: 5 Broken Cameras
  • Winner: Searching for Sugar Man

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • My Prediction: Open Heart
  • My Spoiler: Inocente
  • Winner: Inocente

Film Editing

  • My Prediction: Argo
  • My Spoiler: Zero Dark Thirty
  • Winner: Argo

Foreign Language

  • My Prediction: Amour (Austria)
  • My Spoiler: A Royal Affair (Denmark)
  • Winner: Amour

Makeup

  • My Prediction: The Hobbit
  • My Spoiler: Les Miserables
  • Winner: Les Miserables

Music (Original Score)

  • My Prediction: Life of Pi
  • My Spoiler: Lincoln
  • Winner: Life of Pi

Music (Original Song)

  • My Prediction: Skyfall (Adele) in Skyfall
  • My Spoiler: Everybody Needs a Best Friend in Ted
  • Winner: Skyfall

Production Design

  • My Prediction: Les Miserables
  • My Spoiler: Life of Pi
  • Winner: Lincoln

Short Film (Animated)

  • My Prediction: Paperman
  • My Spoiler: Heads Over Heels
  • Winner: Paperman

Short Film (Live Action)

  • My Prediction: Curfew
  • My Spoiler: Asad
  • Winner: Curfew

Sound Editing

  • My Prediction: Zero Dark Thirty
  • My Spoiler: Life of Pi
  • Winner: Zero Dark Thirty & Skyfall

Sound Mixing

  • My Prediction: Les Miserables
  • My Spoiler: Skyfall
  • Winner: Les Miserables

Visual Effects

  • My Prediction: Life of Pi
  • My Spoiler: The Hobbit
  • Winner: Life of Pi

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • My Prediction: Chris Terrio for Argo
  • My Spoiler: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Winner: Chris Terrio for Argo

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • My Prediction: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
  • My Spoiler: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
  • Winner: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
Percentage Correct: 18/24 – 75%
Percentage from 2012: 15/24 – 62.5%
Biggest Winners: Life of Pi (4)
Other Winners:
Amour
Anna Karenina
Argo (3)
Brave
Curfew
Django Unchained (2)
Inocente
Les Miserables (3)
Lincoln (2)
Paperman
Searching for Sugar Man
Silver Linings Playbook
Skyfall (2)
Zero Dark Thirty