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2014 Oscars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Final update: Leto all the way baby.

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

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

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

Final update: Cuaron all the way.

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



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


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


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


Best Achievement in Cinematography
Nominees:
Gravity because yeah.



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


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


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



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

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

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


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



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



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



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



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


Best Documentary, Short Subject
Nominees:
Yeah right.


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


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