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Best of 2014: Movies

With Oscar season upon us, I’ve caught up on about all the movies I want to see this year. This list was difficult for me, because there are a few shockers that I didn’t think would make the cut. There were many movies this year that let me down, but just as many that surprised me. There’s quite a mix of indie and blockbuster here, as well.

First, some honorable mentions that unfortunately didn’t make the cut:

American Sniper

Begin Again

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Into the Woods

Neighbors

Nightcrawler

Unbroken

And without further ado, here’s my official top ten:

10. The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game Movie New Pic (2)

While British biopics are plentiful this year, The Imitation Game stands out. Telling the story of Alan Turing, a mathematician brought in to crack the Nazi code at Bletchley Park, The Imitation Game honors his legacy as it should be. Benedict Cumberbatch gives the performance of his career as Turing. Morten Tyldum keeps the pace afloat, as it’s a tense and calculated film, but also a beautiful and uplifting one.

9. Obvious Child

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Female-led dramedies tend to get lumped into two categories: Lena Dunham, or mumblecore, but every once in a while a movie breaks through and puts all of those tropes through the wringer. Obvious Child is that movie. Full of wit and raw emotion, Obvious Child is a story of relationships; those that go bad, but also those that flourish. As comedienne Donna finds herself at a crossroads when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, we find ourselves not just along for the ride, but right there next to her.

8. Whiplash

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A completely different kind of music drama, Whiplash is the little indie that could. Courtesy of newcomer Damien Chazelle, Whiplash touches on themes of passion and the pursuit of excellence, and features a tight script and great music. But most of all, Whiplash gives us JK Simmons as drum instructor Fletcher, who pushes Andrew (Miles Teller) to his limits. He’s terrifying, and Fletcher is the best villain of the year. It’s a role that came late in Simmons’s career, but one that solidifies him as a great force.

7. Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan’s best film to date, Interstellar is one of the most ambitious films I’ve ever seen. But Nolan pulls it off, delivering sweeping sequences and jaw-dropping space imagery that will blow you away. It’s no Gravity, but Interstellar is something different. A deep and personal drama that just happens to be set in space. The stakes are high, and knockout performances from McConaughey and Chastain keep it afloat, leading up to a finale that will leave heads scratching and viewers hungry for more.

6. Boyhood

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I went back and forth on Boyhood multiple times after seeing it, but I’ve finally seen the light: Boyhood is an astounding achievement that will go down as one of the best movies of the 21st century. Directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood was shot in 12 year intervals, as we see Mason’s development from boy to man. It’s risky, to be sure, but the beauty of Boyhood lies not in its “plot,” but rather in little moments. Little moments between father and son, between brother and sister, that add up to mean something more. It’s something beautiful.

5. Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

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The best action film of the year, Edge of Tomorrow is just straight fun. But this never comes at the expense of the story, which is both razor-sharp and exciting. Newly minted sci-fi star Tom Cruise pairs brilliantly with Emily Blunt, and the two are the most unlikely duo of the year. With breathtaking action sequences and great visuals, Edge of Tomorrow is new old-fashioned fun.

4. A Most Violent Year

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An excellent crime drama, JC Chandor’s third film is as bleak as they come. Taking place in the most violent year in New York history, A Most Violent Year tells the tale of a struggling businessman Abel and his wife Anna as they navigate the dark world of entrepreneurialism. Gripping performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain keep the crime drama always entertaining, and the film creeps up on you in a way unlike any other. Every sequence is calculated, every frame telling a tale. It’s masterful and smart filmmaking.

3. Wild

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Based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Wild is the journey of Strayed to recover after her mother’s death, and rediscover herself. What could have been a one-note story like Eat, Pray, Love, Wild is exhilarating filmmaking courtesy of director Jean-Marc Vallee. Told in fragments, Wild zeroes deep into Strayed’s psyche, and we get a personal and deep tale of redemption and forgiveness. Reese Witherspoon gives the performance of her career, as she dives deep into what made Strayed tick. A faithful adaptation of the novel, Wild is just as exciting as it is moving.

2. Birdman

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From Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Birdman is one of the most original movies I’ve seen all year. The story of Riggan Thompson, who stages a comeback in the form of a broadway musical, touches on themes of redemption and family, but most prominently, Birdman is affecting and  intimate. Michael Keaton delivers an outstanding performance as the main role, and Edward Norton and Emma Stone provide excellent support. Comically bleak and often times laugh out loud hilarious, Birdman is cinematic perfection.

1. Gone Girl

GONE GIRL, from left: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, 2014. ph: Merrick Morton/TM & copyright ©20th

A mainstream hit with intelligent plotting and intrigue around every corner, Gone Girl is a miracle. Director David Fincher keeps you on your toes for the entire 150 minutes, and surprises and twists abound. But it never feels cheap. Gone Girl is the product of smart screenwriting from Fincher and book author Gillian Flynn, who wisely adapted her novel. Couple the excellent screenplay with amazing cinematography, score, and performances from Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, and we have a new classic on our hands.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Other

 

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Non-Stop

Non-Stop is about as generic as they come, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this well-crafted and thrilling action movie.

MV5BOTI3NzcxMjkzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDY0NTQ0MDE@._V1_SX214_Non-Stop brings nothing new to the action-thriller genre. It is about as standard as they come, but Liam Neeson commands the film with intensity and urgency that keeps it from ever getting boring.

Non-Stop has a simple premise, yet it keeps the audience guessing throughout. One look at the poster and you’ll know what to expect. From the beginning, you’re wondering who is sending air marshall Bill (Liam Neeson) these text messages threatening to kill someone every 20 minutes. This interesting premise gives the film the liberty to do what it wants with the plot. You won’t guess what happens, because there are so many twists and turns. While at times very unbelievable, Non-Stop is still really enjoyable.

This is due in part to Liam Neeson, the recent king of action movies. Dubbed “Taken on a Plane,” Non-Stop is better than his recent films, and he takes command of the role and keeps audiences invested. Supporting roles from Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, Argo’s Scoot McNairy, House of Cards’s Corey Stoll, and 12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o only makes you miss them in their most well-known roles. None of them are really standouts, not even Lupita. But since Neeson is the star of the show, you won’t mind.

Like I said, Non-Stop is nothing new. A decent thriller with some twists and turns that keeps it from getting boring. Some laughable emotional background gives at least some dimension to Neeson’s character, but by the end it just feels like a cop-out, typical of recent thrillers. But the action and suspense is first-rate. The final act in particular is especially thrilling, with plane parts flying everywhere and suspense building until the end. A smart thriller that keeps you guessing, Non-Stop shouldn’t be passed over, but just don’t expect anything special.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Movie Reviews

 

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Joey’s Official Oscars Predictions

With the Oscars in 10 days, I thought I’d give you my official list of who I think should win next Sunday. I’ve also included who I think will win, as oftentimes that answer is different. Without further ado, here are my official predictions for next Sunday’s winners.

Best Picture

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave12-Years-A-Slave__140101173929

Should Win: Gravity

Could Win: American Hustle

This has been one of the tightest Best Picture races in years, but 12 Years a Slave has been sweeping up awards right and left. While at a time it seemed like American Hustle could take top prize, it seems like it will have to settle for some acting awards. I still think Gravity deserves Best Picture, as it has changed cinema forever, but I’ll still settle for 12 Years a Slave winning the top prize.

Best Actor

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey

Could Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio

While Chiwetel Ejiofor seemed like the clear winner in the past months, McConaughey surprised by winning the Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. He seems the most likely to win the award, but I wouldn’t count out Ejiofor or DiCaprio for that matter.

Best Actress

Will Win: Cate Blanchetteblue-jasmine-2

Should Win: Cate Blanchette

Could Win: Sandra Bullock, Amy Adams

Blanchette practically has the award on lock at this point. She has been all the talk lately, but she may have the advantage for being in the earliest film. While Bullock and Adams are fresh in voters’ minds, Blanchette sticks out for giving one of the best performances of her career.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Jared Leto

Should Win: Jared Leto

Could Win: Michael Fassbender, Barkhad Abdi

Like Blanchette before him, Jared Leto seems almost guaranteed the award at this point. His fantastic transformation for Dallas Buyers Club puts him in a league ahead of the others. I still wouldn’t count out Barkhad Abdi, who has the best story (humble cab driver) and was a dominant force in Captain Phillips, but Leto seems like the clear winner here.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o

Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Could Win: June Squibb

One of the most polarizing categories, Supporting Actress is still a toss-up at this point. While Lawrence took home the Globe, Nyong’o has been sweeping up awards right and left. While she is not as prominently present in the film as her costars, she is still a great actress, but Lawrence was one of the best parts of American Hustle. Winning back-to-back might seem cheap, but she definitely deserves it.

Best Director

Will Win: Alfonso CuaronAlfonso-Cuaron-Sandra-Bullock-George-Clooney-Gravity-set

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Could Win: Steve McQueen

Cuaron. Hands down.

 

 

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Her

Should Win: American Hustleher-fp-0835

Could Win: Nebraska

While I was not a fan of Her, it seems like this is the category in which the film will be recognized, if any. American Hustle, though, deserves the prize, for being a unique and well-made dramedy that had me on edge at times.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Could Win: Captain Phillips, Philomena

12 Years a Slave should take this award for being a faithful adaptation of the John Ridley novel. I wouldn’t count Captain Phillips or Philomena out of this race just yet, though. Philomena has been gaining some ground lately, and Captain Phillips is an excellent adaptation of the Richard Phillips’ book.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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2014 Academy Award Nominations

BEST PICTURE

“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Frozen”
“The Wind Rises”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Grandmaster”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Nebraska”
“Prisoners”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Michael Wilkinson, “American Hustle”
William Chang Suk Ping, “The Grandmaster”
Catherine Martin, “The Great Gatsby”
Michael O’Connor, “The Invisible Woman”
Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“The Act of Killing”Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“Cutie and the Boxer” Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
“Dirty Wars” Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
“The Square” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
“20 Feet from Stardom” Nominees to be determined

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

“CaveDigger” Jeffrey Karoff
“Facing Fear” Jason Cohen
“Karama Has No Walls” Sara Ishaq
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” Edgar Barens

BEST FILM EDITING

“American Hustle” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” Joe Walker

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium
“The Great Beauty” Italy
“The Hunt” Denmark
“The Missing Picture” Cambodia
“Omar” Palestine

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Dallas Buyers Club” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

John Williams, “The Book Thief”
Steven Price, “Gravity”
William Butler and Owen Pallett, “Her”
Alexandre Desplat, “Philomena”
Thomas Newman, “Saving Mr. Banks”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her”
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

“American Hustle”
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

“Gravity”
Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“The Great Gatsby”
Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn

“Her”
Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena

“12 Years a Slave”
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Feral” Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
“Get a Horse!” Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
“Mr. Hublot” Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
“Possessions” Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom” Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” Esteban Crespo
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)” Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
“Helium” Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
“The Voorman Problem” Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

BEST SOUND EDITING

“All Is Lost” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” Wylie Stateman

BEST SOUND MIXING

“Captain Phillips” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Gravity” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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Oscars 2014 – Best Supporting Actress Predictions

Shoe-Ins

  • Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle: An Academy and fan favorite, Lawrence is all the talk right now with hit films coming right and left. Expect a nomination and possible win from her, but there are many contenders in this crowded category.
  • Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler: Her return to acting has been praised, and Winfrey gave a great performance in the summer biopic. With enough supporters, she could pull off a win.
  • June Squibb – Nebraska: Squibb has received universal praise alongside Dern, and her performance provided some great comic relief for the dramedy film. Could they both pull off a win?

Most Likelys

  • Julia Roberts – August: Osage County: While Streep has received all the praise, Roberts also seems locked for a nomination. We’ll see once the film is released to mainstream audiences this Christmas.
  • Lupita Nyong’o: 12 Years a Slave: Though a relatively unknown, Nyong’o gave a great emotional performance in the McQueen film, but the other actors might outshine her.
  • Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station: The early year festival hit received universal praise, especially Spencer as a grieving mother. Though the film’s buzz has worn off a bit since its release, the The Help fan favorite could pull off a nomination.
  • Margo Martindale – August: Osage County: Though the ensemble film has a crowded cast, Martindale might be the breakout star.
  • Naomie Harris – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: An Oscar nomination could be just what the Skyfall star needs to propel her to national Hollywood attention, but the film seems too focused on Mandela to get her any recognition.

Possiblys

  • Scarlett Johannson – Her: The Golden Globe favorite has had a hard time at the Oscars in the past, but she does not even appear on screen, as the voice of the operating system in Spike Jonze’s strange sci-fi.
  • Amy Adams – Her: Also from the Jonze sci-fi drama, Adams seems more likely open for a nomination than Johannson’s voice.
  • Carey Mulligan – Inside Llewyn Davis: The British sweetheart has received Academy attention in the past, but the race seems too crowded for her to breakout amongst Isaac’s great performance.
  • Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine: The Woody Allen indie seems poised for screenplay wins and a win for Blanchett, but Hawkins could turn that around with a nomination.

My Personal Wild Card

  • Kristen Wiig – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: I’m going out on a limb here and presenting Wiig as a candidate. The former SNL star has broken out of that bubble with Bridesmaids, but her latest film directed by Ben Stiller has not received good press.
 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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Oscars 2014 – Best Actor Predictions

Shoe-Ins

  • Bruce Dern – Nebraska: The veteran actor has already received a lot of praise since the film’s premiere at Cannes. Right now he seems like the one to beat.
  • Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips: If you read my review, you know I loved Hanks’s performance in the action-thriller. Given Hanks’s past Oscar history, a nomination seems on lock for him.
  • Robert Reford – All is Lost: Another lost at sea story, Redford commands the film as the sole actor, and, while I haven’t seen the film, it’s been called the performance of his career.
  • Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis: His first big role, Isaac has already received huge praise for the Coen brothers’ indie flick.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave: While I wasn’t huge on the film, Ejiofor’s performance was one of the highlights, and it seems like the last open slot might go to him.

Most Likelys

  • Christian Bale – American Hustle: While the film hasn’t been released yet, Bale seems like the star of the show, but he might not be much of a threat against the front runners.
  • Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club: McConaughey’s performance has been universally praised, but he hasn’t received much Academy attention in the past.
  • Joaquin Phoenix – Her: The operating system love story has been praised for its story and directing, and Phoenix seems likely for a nomination, but the top five is very crowded at this point.

Possiblys

  • Idris Elba – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: Elba has had quite a year, and his role in the Mandela biopic seems like the boost he needs to achieve Academy level attention.
  • Forest Whitaker – Lee Daniels’ The Butler: While Winfrey’s performance has received the most attention, I’m not counting out Whitaker, who also gave one of his best performances.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street: The fan favorite, for sure, DiCaprio has had bad luck at the Oscars in the past. Scorsese’s film might do the trick, but still might leave him empty handed.

My Personal Wild Card

  • Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station: While the film’s buzz has worn off quite a bit, Jordan gives a heartbreaking performance in the drama based on a true story.
 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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Oscars 2014 – Best Picture Predictions

With Oscar season rapidly approaching, I thought I’d give my two cents on what I think the frontrunners are for Best Picture. With the film festivals mostly over, the majority of films that have a shot have all been finished and screened. My picks represent my opinions as well as what other critics have said about the upcoming films this winter that I have not seen yet. That said, here are my choices:

Shoe-Ins

  • Gravity: This year’s “Life of Pi,” Gravity is a visual spectacle that should definitely sweep the visual effects categories. Expect a nomination for Sandra Bullock as well. The question is, will the Academy break out of their anti-science fiction film bubble and recognize Gravity as the game changer that it is?
  • Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks almost has the Best Actor win on lock here, but Greengrass’s previous films have stumbled at the Oscars in the past. Possibly an Adapted Screenplay and Director nomination could push Phillips to the front of the pack.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis: The Coen brothers indie film has made a splash at festivals this fall, garnering universal praise. They’re an Academy favorite, and with a few acting nominations possible, Llewyn Davis could have a shot at the title.
  • American Hustle: David O. Russell’s films have been past Academy hits, and hot off of Silver Linings Playbook, the director should make some noise once Hustle finally hits theaters.
  • August: Osage County: With an enormous ensemble cast and many Academy favorites, this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ award-winning play could become a sleeper hit this Christmas. With favorites like Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, expect Osage County to pick up a couple of acting nominations as well.
  • Nebraska: Alexander Payne’s black and white dramedy should play well with the older crowd. Bruce Dern made a splash Cannes, pushing him to the spotlight for Best Actor. Nebraska looks like it has a shot at the title, but we’ll have to see how it plays upon its release.

Most Likelys

  • 12 Years a Slave: Steve McQueen’s first mainstream hit, 12 Years a Slave will be this year’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild:” Does very well critically, gains a few acting nominations, but ultimately falls behind amidst the fan favorites.
  • Blue Jasmine: Cate Blanchette seems poised to win Best Actress, but Woody Allen films have been difficult to break into the mainstream in the past.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color: The Palme d’Or winner has been causing quite a bit of controversy, but it looks to be this year’s “Amour,” and might have a chance at a Best Picture nom.
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto seem locked for acting noms, but its unknown director and limited release might hinder its big breakout.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: The Walt Disney tale of the Mary Poppins writer looks to be a crowd-pleaser, but that might keep it from breaking in the top categories. A nomination for Hanks or Thompson seems likely, though.
  • Rush: The Ron Howard Formula One drama was a critical success, and could net a few acting nominations, but Howard’s films have received mixed Academy attention in the past.

Possiblys

  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Scorsese’s crime drama had some release date issues, and its long run time could lure audiences away. But with a cast featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, we’ll have to wait and see once the film hits theaters on Christmas Day.
  • Her: The Spike Jones drom-com has received critical acclaim thus far, but its interesting premise could turn some voters off. But the star-studded cast seems ready to make some noise in the acting nominations.
  • Fruitvale Station: The early summer sleeper, Fruitvale Station should make a splash with its leading man, but hasn’t received much of a push to the front of the pack.
  • All is Lost: The Robert Redford-helmed hit could break out thanks to what’s been called a phenomenal performance by Redford, but its unknown director and lack of any other actors might hurt its performance this spring.
  • Lee Daniels’ The Butler: The crowd pleaser of the summer has received some negative controversy for its portrayal of certain presidents, but both Whitaker and Winfrey are likely front-runners in the acting race.
  • Enough Said: Gandolfini’s last film could net him a nomination, but the Nicole Holofcener comedy might be pushed aside due to its comedy premise.
  • Labor Day: The Jason Reitman drama might be a last-minute hit with its direction and acting, but with its late release date and lack of marketing, it might fall aside for the bigger guns.
  • Philomena: The British comedy made some noise when it premiered last month, and Dench’s performance might net her a nomination, but once again the lack of attention and support surrounding the film could hurt it.

Long-Shots

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: The Ben Stiller-directed vehicle has audience’s attention, but critics received it negatively when it premiered at the New York Film Festival last month.
  • Frances Ha: The Netherlands dramedy played well with critics in its limited release, but the foreign film most likely won’t break into American viewer’s list of favorites.
  • The Book Thief: The adaptation of the popular novel hasn’t been making much noise since its release, and it doesn’t seem to be playing for the big awards.
  • Before Midnight: The Linklater finale to the acclaimed trilogy might capture a screenplay nomination, but his films have received mixed Academy support in the past.
 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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