Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First Golden Globe Television Predictions - Comedy and Drama Categories

Best Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Jason Bateman "Arrested Development"
Don Cheadle "House of Lies"
Michael J. Fox "The Michael J. Fox Show"
Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory"
Robin Williams "The Crazy Ones"

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel "New Girl"
Lena Dunham "Girls"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Veep"
Amy Poehler "Parks & Recreation"
Taylor Schilling "Orange is the New Black"

Best Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
House of Cards
Masters of Sex

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston "Breaking Bad"
Jeff Daniels "The Newsroom"
Damian Lewis "Homeland"
Michael Sheen "Masters of Sex"
Kevin Spacey "House of Cards"

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Lizzy Caplan "Masters of Sex"
Claire Danes "Homeland"
Vera Farmiga "Bates Motel"
Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Kerry Washington "Scandal"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

European Film Award (EFA) Tech Winners

A panel of voters this year has determined the tech categories for the European Film Awards, instead of the normal nomination and winner process. The rest of the categories' nominees on November 9th.

European Cinematographer of the Year: Asaf Sudry, "Fill the Void"

European Editor of the Year: Cristiano Travaglioli, "The Great Beauty"

European Production Designer of the Year: Sarah Greenwood, "Anna Karenina"
European Costume Designer of the Year: Paco Delgado, "Blancanieves"

European Composer of the Year: Ennio Morricone, "The Best Offer"
European Sound Designer of the Year: Matz Müller and Erik Mischijew, "Paradise: Faith"

Independent Documentary Association (IDA) Nominations

Some of these doc features and shorts could be Oscar contenders, especially as both have moved to a popular vote. Any precursors that push their press into the conscious of voters helps their cause. Stories We Tell in particular could be a big hit on the circuit this year.

Best Documentary Feature
"The Act of Killing"
"Let the Fire Burn"
"The Square"
"Stories We Tell"

Best Documentary Short
"The Education of Muhammad Hussein"
"The Flogsta Roar"
"Nine to Ninety"
"Vultures of Tibet"

Best Limited Series
"180 Days: A Year Inside An American High School"
"Inside Combat Rescue"
"Inside Man"
"Viewfinder: Latin America"

Best Continuing Series
"Independent Lens"
"Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
"30 for 30"

David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
"Between Land and Sea"
"Ome: Tales from a Vanishing Homeland"
"My Sister Sarah"
"Why We Race"

Humanitas Award
"Anton's Right Here"
"Blood Brother"
"Let the Fire Burn"
"The Square"

Pare Lorentz Award
"A Place at the Table"

ABCNews Videosource Award
"All the President's Men Revisited"
"Free Angela and All Political Prisoners"
"Let the Fire Burn"
"The Trials of Muhammad Ali"
"We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

First Golden Globe Television Predictions: TV Movie/Mini and Supporting Categories

Best Made for Television Movie/Miniseries
American Horror Story: Coven
Behind the Candelabra
Burton and Taylor
Phil Spector
Top of the Lake

Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Matt Damon "Behind the Candelabra"
Michael Douglas "Behind the Candelabra"
Idris Elba "Luther"
Al Pacino "Phil Spector"
Dominic West "Burton and Taylor"

Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Helena Bonham Carter "Burton and Taylor"
Jessica Lange "American Horror Story: Coven"
Laura Linney "The Big C Hereafter"
Elisabeth Moss "Top of the Lake"
Helen Mirren "Phil Spector"

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates "American Horror Story: Coven"
Anna Gunn "Breaking Bad"
Sarah Paulson "American Horror Story: Coven"
Maggie Smith "Downton Abbey"
Sofia Vergara "Modern Family"

Best Supporting Actor
Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Mandy Patinkin "Homeland"
Aaron Paul "Breaking Bad"
Eric Stonestreet "Modern Family"
Jon Voight "Ray Donovan"

Commentary - The supporting categories are always a crap shoot, you never know which way they are going to go. So I am kind of guessing based on previous nominations, star power, and luck. However, the lead categories in the TV Movie/Mini category are a bit easier to pick. We know that Douglas and Damon are probably unstoppable, and Pacino's name alone should be an easy pick. The last two slots are a bit tricky. Idris Elba didn't make it in last year, but this year's crop is a bit thin, so he is definitely a possibility. Unlike the failed Liz and Dick, the British production Burton and Taylor got pretty decent reviews and the names of Dominic West (and Helena Bonham Carter), add some international flavor, and so far it seems that it is the only major addition since summer that is worth anything. On the actress side, there is Carter, the obvious choices of Lange, Mirren, Moss, and Linney. Of course the Globes know how to throw a curveball (which is why I am not spending too much time or energy on the supporting categories), so watch out. Last year, AHS did not make it in, due to lots of competition. But I think this year, Coven will make the cut along with the obvious frontrunner of Behind the Candelabra. Phil Spector has HBO and star power, Top of the Lake has international appeal and the critics on it side, and Burton and Taylor is the new shiny thing to dangle in front of voter's faces. /

New Golden Globes Poll in Sidebar

So this week, after a lot of manuvering on the part of studios, has really shaken up the Globes. August: Osage County is moving to comedy (and from what I hear, Saving Mr. Banks should consider it too), so unfortunately it appears in neither last week's poll or this week. I think it is safe to say that it will probably get nominated. Weinstein + Star Power = Globe nod. So this week make your five (or six) picks for the Best Picture - Drama category, which is shaping up to be one hell of a race.

Friday, October 25, 2013

2014 Daytime Emmys Will Feature Two New Categories

The NATAS, the group responsible for the Daytime Emmys, has continued to try to keep up with the changing times in modern-day television. So this year, the Daytime Emmys will present two new categories:

1) Entertainment News Program - I did not know that there were now categories for shows like Extra and Entertainment Tonight, but now they will be eligible for this new category which will focus on: "programs covering the entertainment industry with a focus on human interest, popular culture and celebrity gossip and interviews." This is actually a large group of shows that have previously been excluded, so it is not a bad addition.

2) New Approaches Drama Series - In order to enter the Daytime Drama Series category you have to have aired at least 35 episodes. So the Daytime Emmys have added a category for newer daytime programs that don't air that many episodes. I don't particularly like the phrase "new approaches", but as more series move to this format, this will be an interesting category to watch.

The full press release is here:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Gotham Independent Film Award Nominees

Always the first out of the gate, The Gothams reward independent films and their stars. This year, some big Oscar contenders like Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years a Slave, and to a lesser extent Before Midnight now get free press for a while as the next major award is over a month away (NBR and NYFCC). This helps with the Oscar campaign, and establishes them as independent projects to look out for (the Indie Spirits will chime in as well), and this is particularly important as every year independent films snag nods with the Academy. Some performers/directors that are in the Oscar hunt such as Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Ryan Coogler, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Matthew McConaughey, Chiwetel Ejiofar, and Oscar Issac, as well as some outside contenders who are hoping to crash the party including Scarlett Johanssen, Dane DeHaan, Brie Larson, and Shailene Woodley. The full list is below, and I'm sure there will be further discussion as the race heats up:

Best Feature
"Ain't Them Bodies Saints"
"Before Midnight"
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
"12 Years a Slave"
"Upstream Color"
Best Documentary

"The Act of Killing"
"The Crash Reel"
"First Cousin Once Removed"
"Let the Fire Burn"
"Our Nixon"

Bingham Ray Award for Breakthrough Director

Ryan Coogler, "Fruitvale Station"
Stacie Passon, "Concussion"
Adam Leon, "Gimme the Loot"
Alexandre Moors, "Blue Caprice"
Amy Seimetz, "Sun Don't Shine"

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"
Oscar Isaac, "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Robert Redford, "All is Lost"
Isaiah Washington, "Blue Caprice"

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
Scarlett Johansson, "Don Jon"
Brie Larson, "Short Term 12"
Amy Seimetz, "Upstream Color"
Shailene Woodley, "The Spectacular Now"

Best Breakthrough Actor

Dane DeHaan, "Kill Your Darlings"
Kathryn Hahn, "Afternoon Delight"
Michael B. Jordan, "Fruitvale Station"
Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
Robin Weigert, "Concussion"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: Updated Golden Globe Predictions

With Wolf of Wall Street staying and Monuments Men moving, August: Osage County is moving to comedy with Philomena moving to drama, and I'm sure as I am typing these predictions another switcheroo will happen and I'll have to update once again. But for now these are the new current ones (In the categories where I was predicting Monuments Men and where the swaps occured).

Best Picture - Drama
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
August: Osage County
The Heat
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Best Actress - Drama
Amy Adams "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock "Gravity"
Judi Dench "Philomena"
Emma Thompson "Saving Mr. Banks"

Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Sandra Bullock "The Heat"
Julie Delpy "Before Midnight"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Enough Said"
Melissa McCarthy "The Heat"
Meryl Streep "August: Osage County"

Best Screenplay
John Ridley "12 Years a Slave"
David O. Russell and David Singer "American Hustle"
Tracey Letts "August: Osage County"
Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine"
Bob Nelson "Nebraska"
Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer "12 Years a Slave"
John Williams "The Book Thief"
Randy Newman "Monsters University"
Steven Price "Gravity"
Thomas Newman "Saving Mr. Banks"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Monuments Men Moving to 2014

Well crap, all of those Globe Predictions and updated Oscar predictions and then this news breaks. I think Clooney really didn't want to go through the Oscar race, and this move kind of confirms that he really meant it. He says the reason was the special effects, but I kind of get the feeling he really didn't want to be in the mix, and instead settle for a date where the movie would have little competition and could be enjoyed without all of the pressure. Either way, everyone needs to update their predictions (I will now do a full update on Globe predictions sometime this week/weekend without The Monuments Men in any category), and look forward to this Oscar race, which has already been exciting.

The Oscar Narrative: First Golden Globe Predictions - General Categories

Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Bruhl "Rush"
Bradley Cooper "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender "12 Years a Slave"
Tom Hanks "Saving Mr. Banks"
Jared Leto "Dallas Buyers Club"

Other Contenders - John Goodman "Inside Llewyn Davis", Jake Gyllenhaal "Prisoners", Barkhad Abdi "Captain Phillips", Matthew McConaughey "Mud", Matthew McConaughey "The Wolf of Wall Street", Jeremy Renner "American Hustle", Chris Cooper "August: Osage County", Ewan McGregor "August: Osage County", Benedict Cumberbatch "August: Osage County", Terrence Howard "Prisoners", David Oyelowo "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Cuba Gooding Jr. "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Josh Brolin "Labor Day", Geoffrey Rush "The Book Thief", Will Forte "Nebraska", George Clooney "Gravity", Javier Bardem "The Counselor", Jean Dujardin "The Monuments Men", Bill Murray "The Monuments Men", John Goodman "The Monuments Men", Andrew Dice Clay "Blue Jasmine"

Best Supporting Actress
Saly Hawkins "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence "American Hustle"
Lupita Nyong'o "12 Years a Slave"
Julia Roberts "August: Osage County"
Oprah Winfrey "Lee Daniel's The Butler"

Other Contenders - June Squibb "Nebraska", Octavia Spencer "Fruitvale Station", Catherine Keener "Captain Phillips", Cate Blanchett "The Monuments Men", Cameron Diaz "The Counselor", Emily Watson "The Book Thief", Amy Adams "Her", Viola Davis "Prisoners", Maria Bello "Prisoners", Melissa Leo "Prisoners", Juliette Lewis "August: Osage County", Rooney Mara "Her", Kristen Wiig "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", Naomie Harris "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", Zoe Saldana "Out of the Furnace", Alfre Woodard "12 Years a Slave", Sarah Paulson "12 Years a Slave", Jennifer Garner "Dallas Buyers Club

Best Director
David O. Russell "American Hustle"
Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine"
Steve McQueen "12 Years a Slave"
Alfonso Cuaron "Gravity"
Alexander Payne "Nebraska"

Other Contenders - George Clooney "The Monuments Men", Paul Greengrass "Captain Phillips", John Wells "August: Osage County", Lee Daniel's "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Martin Scorsese "The Wolf of Wall Street", Joel and Ethan Coen "Inside Llewyn Davis", Stephen Frears "Philomena", Ben Stiller "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", Ryan Coogler "Fruitvale Station", Ron Howard "Rush", Jason Reitman "Labor Day", Paul Feig "The Heat", Richard Linklater "Before Midnight", Peter Jackson "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", Brian Percival "The Book Thief"

Best Screenplay
John Ridley "12 Years a Slave"
David O. Russell and David Singer "American Hustle"
Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine"
George Clooney and Grant Heslov "The Monuments Men"
Bob Nelson "Nebraska"

Other Contenders - Captain Phillips, August: Osage County, Lee Daniel's The Butler, The Wolf of Wall Street, Before Midnight, Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena, Fruitvale Station, Rush, Labor Day, The Book Thief, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Best Foreign Language Film
Blue is the Warmest Color (France)
Gabrielle (Canada)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Past (Iran)
Wadjda (Saudi Arabia)

Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Monster's University

Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer "12 Years a Slave"
John Williams "The Book Thief"
Steven Price "Gravity"
Alexandre Desplat "The Monuments Men"
Thomas Newman "Saving Mr. Banks"

Best Original Song
Not Sure Yet, this race is always a crap shoot until we find out which songs are actually in play.

The Wolf of Wall Street Gets Christmas Day Release Date

While there is still a possibility that Scorsese and Schoonmaker don't get the job done in time, it does look like The Wolf of Wall Street will make the cut this year with a release date on Christmas. I have continued to predict it in Best Picture, just in case, but I had moved it out of almost every other category because I just honestly thought it would be bumped. But now that it is in this race, I have a feeling that it could be big across the board if it does well (which it probably will). So I will start looking again at my predictions which are really starting to tighten up. But for now, these are, once again, my Best Picture predictions:

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Monuments Men
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street

Also look out for the cast, all of which are big names, Thelma and Martin of course, and the technicals because Scorsese films are always well-made. Of course, we will have to wait and see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks Closes London Film Festival

So Saving Mr. Banks, one of the last major pieces to the Oscar puzzle, has officially joined the Oscar race. The reviews are mixed to say the least. Many say that the acting is great, and that it is an entertaining movie, and maybe the feel-good film of the fall. But most critics so far also agree it is a bit pat. Does anyone else remember the same reaction from The Help and The Blind Side, both Best Picture nominees, and Oscar winners for acting? I think most people also agree that it could easily enter the Oscar race (as stated before). In a year of hard movies to watch, survival stories, and dark comedies, I think that Saving Mr. Banks is the kind of movie that Oscar voters will embrace as the alternative. With these kind of reviews, I don't think it will win (and may end up being left out all together), but definitely be on the lookout for it.

Leslie Felperin from The Hollywood Reporter writes:

"Taken strictly on its own terms, Saving Mr. Banks works exceedingly well as mainstream entertainment. At first a classic fish out of water, with her haughty Old World ways when she lands in laid back informal 1961 Hollywood, Mrs. Travers (as she insists she should be called) is gradually won round by Walt and staff. Three men in particular are tasked with coaxing her script approval and trust: writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), composer Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and his lyricist brother Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). The last two really have their work cut out for them given Travers is only mildly less resistant to having songs in the film than she is to animation"

Scott Foundas at Variety, thinks that it will hit big with audiences and Academy voters:

"Thick with affection for Hollywood’s most literal “dream factory” and wry in its depiction of the studio filmmaking process, director John Lee Hancock’s “Sunset Blvd.” lite (which opens Dec. 13 after London and AFI festival berths) should earn far more than tuppence from holiday audiences — and from awards voters who can scarcely resist this sort of mash note to the magic of movies (e.g., “Argo,” “The Artist”)."

Ashley Clark from Indiewire, gave it a B, writing:

"Ultimately, "Saving Mr Banks" is witty, well-crafted and well-performed mainstream entertainment which, perhaps unavoidably, cleaves to a well-worn Disney template stating that all problems - however psychologically deep-rooted - can be overcome. And perhaps we shouldn't be overly surprised at occasional lapses into sentimentality from the director behind triumph-over-adversity films like "The Rookie" and "The Blind Side." But it casts fresh new light on a classic Hollywood story, and is anchored by a fine turn from Thompson. Her blend of steeliness and vulnerability really lingers in the memory."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Golden Globe Poll in Sidebar

Today, I start posting weekly polls for the upcoming Oscar season. So first, we will start with a few weeks of polls about the Globes, then SAG, and eventually the Oscar nominations. So take a few second and pick your top five choices that you think will be nominated for Best Picture - Comedy/Musical at this year's Golden Globe Awards!

The Oscar Narrative: First Golden Globe Predictions - Drama Categories

Best Picture - Drama
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
The Monuments Men

Other Contenders - Lee Daniel's The Butler, The Monuments Men, Saving Mr. Banks, The Wolf of Wall Street, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, Prisoners, Rush

Best Actor - Drama
Christian Bale "American Hustle"
Chiwetel Ejiofor "12 Years a Slave"
Tom Hanks "Captain Phillips"
Matthew McConaughey "Dallas Buyers Club"
Robert Redford "All is Lost"

Other Contenders - Forest Whitaker "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Matt Damon "The Monuments Men", George Clooney "The Monuments Men", Leonardo Dicaprio "The Wolf of Wall Street", Michael B. Jordan "Fruitvale Station", Hugh Jackman "Prisoners", Chris Hemsworth "Rush", Daniel Radcliffe "Kill Your Darlings", Michael Fassbender "The Counselor"

Best Actress - Drama
Amy Adams "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock "Gravity"
Judi Dench "Philomena"
Emma Thompson "Saving Mr. Banks"

Other Contenders - Kate Winslet "Labor Day", Berenice Bejo "The Past", Marion Cotillard "The Immigrant", Carey Mulligan "The Great Gatsby", Brie Larson "Short Term 12", Adele Exarchopoulos "Blue is the Warmest Color"

Commentary - Wow, this race is tight, especially now that Blue Jasmine has joined the mix in drama (where is belongs by the way). Since it was announced that Woody Allen would receive teh Cecille B. DeMille award, I felt that HFPA voters would find room for Blue Jasmine. So I am actually predicting six nominees (a common occurence at the Globes). 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and Captain Phillips are the big hits of the festival circuit. If American Hustle is good, I find it hard to imagine HFPA voters passing up on all of that star power. And then there are the Weinstein choices. The Butler and Fruitvale Station could pick up some nods, but both need a new breeze of buzz in order to get into the top categories here and at the Oscars. I think that August: Osage County will be getting a huge push by Weinstein, and the globes love Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep. I think they will find a slot for it. Then there are the big question marks, The Monuments Men, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Saving Mr. Banks. I know that all three can get in if the reviews are decent, I just don't know who gets left off. This will continue to be a mystery as we get closer to the nomination date. In Best Actor, watch out for Forest Whitaker, Matt Damon, George Clooney, and Leonardo DiCaprio (who is a Globes favorite), but for now I have stuck with the five biggest Oscar contenders in the Drama category (of course excluding Bruce Dern as he will most likely be in comedy). In Best Actress, I feel that there are current six actresses for five slots. If Judi Dench and Philomena go Comedy, then that leaves the remaining five as the nominees with the ever-popular Kate Winslet as the spoiler.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: First Golden Globe Predictions - Comedy/Musical Categories

In mid-October we hit a kind of lull in the Oscar race (as evidenced by my lack of posting the last two days). The festivals are winding down with a few key exceptions, and we are basically treading water, looking at the box office, and waiting for the last few pieces to fall into place before the psychotic month of December. So in the lull, I will finish by Top 100 Television Shows Since 2000, cover the Gotham Awards (Nominees to be announced next week), and take a look at this year' Golden Globes. The Golden Globes have seemingly played a heavier influence in the last several years, especially since the calendar was shortened. It is a highly viewed platform for contenders to practice their speeches, and for tons of positive press. So let's start looking at the Globes.

Best Picture - Musical/Comedy
August: Osage County
The Heat
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Other Contenders - Before Midnight, The Heat, Enough Said, Black Nativity, The Sapphires, Saving Mr. Banks,  Frances Ha, Don Jon, Now You See Me, This is the End, The Bling Ring, About Time, Last Vegas, We're the Millers, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, Red 2, Unfinished Song

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Bruce Dern "Nebraska"
James Gandolfini "Enough Said"
Oscar Isaac "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Joaquin Phoenix "Her"
Ben Stiller "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Other Contenders - Ethan Hawke "Before Midnight", Steve Coogan "Philomena", Will Forte "Nebraska", Will Ferrell "Anchorman: The Legend Continues", Chris O'Dowd "The Sapphires", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "Don Jon", James Franco "Oz the Great and Powerful", Forest Whitaker "Black Nativity", Michael Douglas "Last Vegas", Kevin Kline "Last Vegas", Morgan Freeman "Last Vegas", Robert DeNiro "Last Vegas", Terence Stamp "Unfinished Song"

Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Sandra Bullock "The Heat"
Julie Delpy "Before Midnight"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Enough Said"
Melissa McCarthy "The Heat"
Meryl Streep "August: Osage County"

Other Contenders - Greta Gerwig "Frances Ha", Scarlett Johanssen "Her", Jennifer Aniston "We're the Millers", Kristen Wiig "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", Helen Mirren "Red 2", Emma Watson "The Bling Ring", Angela Bassett "Black Nativity", Jennifer Hudson "Black Nativity"

Commentary - It will be interesting to see where the final placements are for some of these films. Everyone seems solid that Saving Mr. Banks is a Drama, but the trailer promises laugh as well, and it will definitely be funnier than the likes of Before Midnight and Philomena, both of which belong in the Drama category, but will be here most likely instead. Nebraska and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have big names attached to them including Ben Stiller and Alexander Payne, and Inside Llewyn Davis has music and the Coens behind it. Philomena has Weinstein, and The Heat could be the "big, loud comedy" slot this year. Still, these are the top five for the moment. The question is, will they go for the indie comedies (which they usually ignore), like Her, Before Midnight, Frances Ha, and Enough Said? Or will they embrace the bigger, bolder, comedies like The Heat, Anchorman, We're The Millers, Don Jon, This is the End, etc.? Right now I am sticking with the biggest Oscar contenders, and one big comedy, but we all know the Globes will throw curveballs, so I will definitely adjust as the category placements get sorted out. I also wonder about two films that don't look great in terms of quality but have Golden Globe written all over them. Black Nativity is a musical with big-time actors, and Last Vegas has four Golden Globe nominees/winners in it. Don't be shocked if these two get some nods. In Best Actor, I am going with the four leads in the four male-led Best Picture frontrunners, and James Gandolfini, who will most likely campaign as supporting for Oscars, but will most likely go lead here. But look out for the Vegas quartet, Ethan Hawke, Will Ferrell/Forte, and Chris O'Dowd, for the upbeat musically infused The Sapphires (another one the watch out for with Weinstein and music behind it). In Best Actress, Judi Dench is the frontrunner if Philomena remains a comedy. Also Julia Louis-Dreyfus should be an easy choice. Even if Before Midnight isn't big enough or funny enough for Globe voters, Julie Delpy could get into a race that is not as stacked as its male counterpart. Also, The Heat was a huge hit, and nods for Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock would be very Globe-esque. Also watch out for Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johannsen, Emma Watson, and the duo from Black Nativity to potentially crash the party.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Return as Golden Globe Hosts

I am so excited about this, and I'm sure most of you are too. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who rocked the Golden Globes last year, are returning for the 2014 ceremony Oh and then the 2015 ceremony as well, so we now have two years to look forward to the antics and humor of these two awesome actresses and comedians. A lot of people are going to keep pushing them to host the Oscars, and while I would enjoy it, I think that the Golden Globes allows them to be more relaxed and have more jabs without the backlash (like some that MacFarlane got last year for some of his "tasteless" jokes). But we can always hope that someday this pair will grace the stage at the Kodak Theater. For now let's start the countdown the Golden Globes, which are sure to be a good time once again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2014 Emmys: New Shows, New Nominees?

So we are just starting the new television season, and yes, my mind is already thinking about next year's Emmys? Will Breaking Bad repeat? Will Mad Men finally win an acting award? What will replace 30 Rock? But I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the new shows that could make a splash in major categories, particularly the acting ones. It is too early to tell if any of these will still be standing come May, or be worthy of Emmys by that time, but it is nice to look at potential nominees based on initial reviews, the actors themselves, or the themes of the show. So take a look at some quik hits on early potential contenders, and voice in the comments section some of your own picks as well.

1. Orange is the New Black - Will is submit as a Comedy or a Drama? Probably comedy, because it actually has a shot of cracking the top six. I am not as sold as other pundits on the Emmy potential of this show. It got great reviews, and has been a huge pop culture phenomenon, but I wonder if its themes will strike a chord with Emmy voters. We won't know until the nominations are announced, but it is a safe bet to say that it, along with its actors, will be in the conversation throughout the next year or so.

2. Robin Williams and The Crazy Ones - The reviews have been a bit mixed, but I think the show is starting to find its rythmn after several weeks, and a lot of credit goes to the cast. I put Robin Williams up top because he is the most obvious one to look at. The Actor in a Comedy Series category has been weak for years, and Williams is a legend. Even if the show were complete crap, he would probably be the conversation. Plus with David E. Kelley behind him, he will probably have a knock-out episode submission. But I also think that James Wold should be in consideration as well. He was great on Mad Men and Political Animals last year, and his carefree character on this show is a lot of fun. The show itself will probably miss out on the top prize, unless it just soars in the rest of the season. But if it stays the course, it could see some Emmy nominations coming its way.

3. Margo Martindale "The Millers" and Allison Janey "Mom" - Both of these Emmy favorites (along with Beau Bridges as well), have landed big roles in two CBS sitcoms. Unfortunately, neither sitcom so far is really Emmy worthy, although both have the potential to grow into at least decent sitcoms (at least both get a few laughs per episode). But never discount Emmy favorites Margo Martindale and Allison Janey. Both play over-the-top scene stealers, and if either were to get a decent, deeper storyline, they could be at leats in the conversation. Don't discount previous winners, once the Emmys like someone, they tend to stick with them.

4. James Spader "The Blacklist" - Not sure where this show is going, but so far it has been a fun ride. One thing is certain, and that is that James Spader rocks in it. He is a multi-Emmy winner, has great episodes, and can easily see himself among the contenders.

5. Masters of Sex - The title alone may scare off older Emmy voters, but this new series is fantastic, has great reviews, two top-notch performances, and Showtime behind it, which has done well over the last several years. Also, it is probably the best new drama series, and could be the only newcomer that even has a shot at cracking the Drama Series category. It will be tough ride to get there, but it may pick a few key nods along the way.

6. Michael J. Fox "The Michael J. Fox Show" - I didn't particularly like The Michael J. Fox show as a whole, but as it has been said before, the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series is an incredibly weak field, and has been for years now. Michael J. Fox is a solid nominee on a ballot, and even if it is not his best work, it is better than most of the other options.

7. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sleepy Hollow -  I'm not crazy enough to think that either of these shows will nab major nominations, but I think that both of these, which have incredible cinematic production values, will be boons across the Creative Arts categories.

8. Andre Braugher "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" - The show as a whole is actually a lot of fun, and if it survives I would love to see it get some recognition. But I know this for sure: it is never smart to bet against Andre Braugher. He could easily slip into the supporting actor slot on the comedy side, and I guarantee it will be a surprise to most pundits, but it shouldn't be.

9. American Horror Story: Asylum - Finally, this season of American Horror Story looks to be as creepy, over-the-top, and awesome as the previous efforts, and adding in the likes of Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Emma Roberts, and Kathy Bates along with the rest of the already incredible cast is just icing on the cake. Expect it to clean up as always.

Top 100 Television Shows Since 2000: Part IX

20. Family Guy (1999-2013) - It takes a lot for a show to come back after being cancelled. A huge, passionate fanbase must petition to save the show, and the network has to be willing to give something they had deemed a failure a second chance. It is a huge undertaking. So when Family Guy was revived long after it was cancelled, due to DVD sales and reruns on Cartoon Network, you know you are not dealing with an ordinary television show. Since its inception, ordinary has never been a word to describe Family Guy. Its premise of a loving, and sometimes ridiculous and stupid dad, who
lives his life with his wacky family, is not some fresh and inventive premise for a television show, just look at most of the sitcoms of the 1980's and 90's. But Family Guy completely blew convention out of the water from its first frame. It is a completely hilarious satire on politics and pop culture, taking no prisoners with it on its path to destroy everything. Of course I mean that in a good way, as Family Guy's skewering of popular figures and events is what makes it so incredibly offensive, and incredibly brilliant. It is one thing for a show to be balls-out offensive on cable, but Family Guy has the guts to do it week in and week out on a major broadcasting networks, always keeping the FCC, the political Right, and its fans on their toes, because you literally have no idea what is coming next. But what separates Family Guy from any of the other animated programs that have similar premises and approaches? First, its characters are some of the most original, quirky, and outrageous on television, with no show quite matching their notoriety. Second, it is one of the originals. All of the spinoffs, and new creations that have come in the last thirteen years can trace their roots back to the Family Guy. And most importantly, despite all of its ridiculousness, there is, at its center, a lot of heart. That statement may surprise a lot of people, but whether you like it or not, it is true. Family Guy may skewer pop culture, but it is in fact a pop culture phemonenon, that will be remembered as one of the best of this generation.

19. Game of Thrones (2011-2013) - George R.R. Martin's science fiction epics were some of the most involved, in-depth, and character driven novels I had ever read. They are expertly put together, slowly building over their incredible length to inexplicably dramatic final pages. But, to be
completely honest, I was worried about their visual adaptation. There are so many characters, so many tiny details to keep up with, and we all know that adaptations tend to mess with their source material. Luckily for me, and for the cult followers of his novels, the television adaptation of Game of Thrones has not only met the high expectations, but has far exceed anything I could have possibly imagined. Epic in scope, precise in its details, perfectly matching the descriptions and characterizations of its source material (it doesn't hurt that Martin himself wrote some of the screenplays), Game of Thrones is a sprawling fantasy television masterpiece that has surpassed almost all of its predecessors in the genre. Its characters are fully developed, and impeccably acted by a talented cast, many of whom are getting their big break protraying these characters. Martin and the team of talented writers and directors, have perfectly captured the darkness and essence of the brilliant novels, and have created an breathtaking adventure that has the production value of Hollywood's best films, while also being ten times better than most of the dreck that major film studios produce each year. Game of Thrones is not just a great show, but I think it is an important show. It is a sci-fi geek's paradise, but it also has a literary, almost Shakespearean flavor to it, as well as incredible production value that allows it to stretch out beyond its cult following and reach a broader audience. It shows a cult-classic sci-fi/fantasy premise, can lead to a high quality, critically acclaimed, and record-breaking, Emmy-winning show, and one of the best to hit the air in recent memory.

18. The Shield (2002-2008) - Some of the biggest shows on television are cop dramas, or versions of cop dramas. They attract large numbers of fans, and tend to last for years. Over the last thirteen years or so, the best cop drama to hit the airwave was FX's The Shield. Like most cop procedurals, there are twisty cases, and sometimes they get them right, sometimes they don't. So what sets The Shield apart from the rest of the similar shows to his the airwaves since 2000? The Shield was by far the
grittiest, the most balls-out, the best written, and the best acted of anything else in its genre. Led by Emmy winner Michael Chiklis, in the role he was born to play, the cast of talented actors including the likes of CCH Pounder, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Catherine Dent, and plenty of others fully inhabit their roles as cops, finding the deep conviction it takes to dedicate your life, and the moral issues that present themselves, as many of the characters fell into the pits of their jobs that sometimes led them to bend, and many times, break the rules and the codes they swear to. But great actors can only do so much. If they are backed by a really bad script or sloppy direction, a lot of the times they simply can't save it. Luckily, the tense, taut, and absolutely bad-ass storylines always remained thrilling and original, and the gritty direction style perfectly captured the moral dilemmas, and the rough nature of the streets of Los Angeles. I also appreciated The Shield, because it never shied away from the rough moments, it embraced the realistic violence with gusto, and works incredibly hard to deliver full episodes, chocked with content, details, characterizations. Most importantly, The Shield is the kind of show that is simply unforgettable. It stays with you long after you have watched it. The cases, the characters, the shocking violence, all light up the screen and take you into this world like so few shows can accomplish. It is a shame that it never attracted the audience that it deserved, but it is definitely worth a second look.

17. The Colbert Report (2005-2013) - Starting out on The Daily Show, in 2005, Stephen Colbert broke off and took on his own project. Spin-offs are rarely successful or as good as their predecessors, but every once in a while, something comes along that proves the norm wrong. In this
decade, the best example of this is The Colbert Report. Like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report is basically a glorified news program. However, neither are anything like say Fox News, CNN, or the nightly news programs. Instead, they take real facts, real events that are occuring across the world, and turn them into incredibly hilarious variety programs, jabbing political leaders, entertainment icons, with satrical and biting humor, especially if they are conservative, which I particularly enjoy. So what makes The Colbert Report different from its predecessor? Or are they just interchangeable? No they are not, they may have a lot of similarities, but they both have distinctive flavors that make both of them worth watching. In the case of The Colbert Report, the biggest difference is Stephen Colbert himself. Off-screen, Colbert is a poltically active liberal, with a loving family, and roots from South Carolina. But when the cameras turn on, he blazes onto the screen as his ridiculous alter-ego. He suddenly transforms into a hardcore, stalwart conservative, blistering Obama, Pelosi, and the Democratic Party as a whole. Of course, some people might actually think he really is that way. I had a roommate in college, who purposely chose to believe that he really believed those things he said. Yeah, he really did. But of course, what Colbert has done, is take sarcasm, parody, and insult to an entirely new level, in a way that brilliantly, and hilariously makes fun of his political rivals. It is clever, fun, brilliant, and also incredibly well-written, and incredibly intelligent. It is that last point, intelligence, is what separated The Colbert Report above so many other programs, and what makes the comedy so effective.

16. Arrested Development (2003-2006; 2013) - After seven years off the air, Arrested Development did the impossible. It came back! Pairing up with the new techonolgy and medium of Netflix, Arrested Development provided us another chapter in the saga of the Bluth family. The new season got off to a rocky start, but by the end, it reminded us of the old days, once again perfectly capturing the wackiness, the darkness, and the hilarity of one of the best sitcom families of all time. In the mid-2000's we started to see this great change from traditional laugh-track sitcoms, to more mockumentary, more modern style comedies. Two major shows helped usher in that change in full force, leading to the likes of shows like 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family. The
first was of course The Office. It was the ratings boon, and recently wrapped up its long and successful run on NBC. But the other show was Arrested Development. Sure, its ratings were never great, forcing Fox to cancel it in its prime, but even in those few brief original seasons, and in the newest one on Netflix, we couldn't help but realize that we were watching something really special. Arrested Development was in 2003, the freshest, most lively, and most original sitcom to hit the air in a long time. As some of the great 90's sitcoms were starting to fade like Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, and Everybody Loves Raymond, Arrested Development broke new ground on what was to come in the future of television comedy. Its cast including standouts like Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Jason Bateman, Porta de Rossi, David Cross, and my personal favorite, Emmy-winner Tony Hale (I love saying that now) each inhabited their characters with gusto, most of which were both simultaneously beloved, and hated, showcasing deep and fleshed out characters that are simply uncommon, especially in a lot of television comedy shows. The writing was just jaw-dropping good, and it never seem to fall flat. I can't wait to see if the gang will get back together, even if it takes another seven years.

15. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1996-2013) - Okay, so it was definitely a close race, but in the end, I had to go with the original, the one that stared it all, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart beating out The Colbert Report by two spots on the list. Honestly, they probably could have been tied, as their shows are so tied to one another in terms of actual people, style, political leanings, and most importantly, humor. But Jon Stewart, unlike Stephen Colbert, did not create some crazy
character. No, for the last seventeen years (has it really been that long?), Jon Stewart has gone out every night and simply been Jon Stewart, and it, like Colbert' creation, simply works. He became a pioneer in the entertainment buisness. His show was part news, part commentary, and 100% satire. He was unashamed of his liberal roots, and attracted a large group of teenagers, college students, and 20/30 somethings, who usually stayed away from politics, to the political fold in numbers that were unprecedented. A recent study showed that a large, and growing, percentage of Americans, particularly my generation of younger Americans, were getting their actual news from funny variety shows like Colbert and The Daily Show. This number alarmed many serious-minded journalists, who fear declining viewers and readers, and older Americans who felt that they were missing something in the process. If you use these two shows as your only news source, that may be a bit of a stretch. But I think that those numbers show that while The Daily Show is essentially a variety program, with lots of deserved laughs, it is also an intelligent, well-written, and biting commentary program that does tackle today's major issues, in a way that is accessible to a group of individuals who used to simply not care. Apparently, it was also extremely accessible to Emmy voters, as it has won a total of 19 Primetime Emmy Awards, including a streak of ten Best Variety Series trophies in a row. Yes, it was a bit excessive, even for this high quality program, but it proved the reaching power of Stewart and his team, and the incredible impact that have made, and continue to make, on politics, on pop culture, and television.

14. Parenthood (2010-2013) - A lot of people will be surprised to see Parenthood so far up the list. Of course, if you have been following me on The Award Psychic it is probably not as surprising. I have made no qualms about the fact that I absolutely love Parenthood, and think that it is one of the best shows on television, and one of the most underrated and underappreciated. I think it will be one of those shows that gains popularity and notoriety unfortunately after it is gone from the air. So, I am fully admitting that this is a purely personal choice, but I hope that maybe it will spur others who have wanted to watch, but havent, to catch up and finally see why I love this show. So many family
comedies and dramas reach for laughs or for dramatic impact so far that they lose their sense of authenticity. Have you ever watched a show that is supposed to be about everyday families and think: this has never happened to me or my family, and it never will? That is what sets Parenthood apart. It never reaches to far for its natural humor, or for its heart-breaking dramatic moments. It simply tries to display real life. It is incredibly authentic, which is why it is sometimes hard to watch. Because you really can see yourself or your family going through the same upheavels, the same tragedies, and sometimes the same triumphs. It has a huge dose of humanity that is simply missing from television nowadays, making in a welcomed break from the norm and an anomaly in the modern television era. A lot of credit goes to the outstanding cast who have created incredibly well-designed and human characters. The outstanding Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Bonnie Bedalia, Meg Whitman, Craig T. Nelson, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Joy Bryant, and some excellent guest turns from the likes of Jason Ritter and Ray Romano, manage to make their characters believable despite having to split the screentime so much. Each year we wonder whether Parenthood will make it to another season. This year getting a full 22 season was amazing, despite moderate ratings. But I hope that all of you start to tune in on Thursdays and make it a ratings hit. It is one of the few shows currently on primetime television that really deserves it.

13. The Good Wife (2009-2013) - Is is possible that this season of The Good Wife, its fifth, will be its best yet? The first couple episodes, after the explosive season 4 finale promise that whether it's its best season or not, it is going to be one hell of a ride. For the record, The Good Wife is currently the best primetime drama on broadcast television (Parenthood, a close second), and is probably the only one that even comes close to the great dramas of the day that are all on cable networks or PBS. It
definitely has somewhat of a serial aspect to it, throwing in new cases each year that last for one or two episodes. But as the show has gone on, we have seen more and more recurring guest characters and arcs including knock out performances from guest performers such as Carrie Preston, Michael J. Fox, Dylan Baker, Stockard Channing, Anika Noni Rose and Martha Plimpton. These recurring characters allow for contitunity within the storylines, and avoiding too many new cases per season, and the stale stench of most serial law and crime television shows (most of which are currently on CBS along with The Good Wife). But what really separates The Good Wife from other legal enterprises, are the main characters. By the time the episode end, what happens with the cases take a back seat to what has happened to our incredible well-drawn and beloved characters such as Julianna Margulies' Alicia, Archie Panjabi's Kalinda, Chris Noth's Peter, Alan Cummings' Eli, Christine Baranski's Diane, Matt Czuchry's Cary, and Josh Charles' Will. Their personal and professional struggles are fully-fleshed out, and usually reflect themselves impeccably well on the case. And in the last several weeks, I forgot that there are even cases these attorneys are dealing with, because the character drama has been so intriguing, so gripping. Once again, this is probably more of a personal favorite , and some people will complain it is ranked to high. But I dare you to watch The Good Wife, and not get hooked.

12. Mad Men (2007-2013) - I almost could not get through the first couple of episodes of Mad Men. It was so boring and so sexist, that I could not understand what the hell everyone was fawning over. Then I kept going, and going, and now, like most of the sane world, I firmly believe that Mad Men will go down as one of the best television dramas of this decade, maybe even of all time. Mad Men is a show that grows on you. It is not some fast-paced, action filled drama. It doesn't even have the witty cadence of many great shows on television. And yes, at times, it can be easy to understand why some people would consider it "boring". I've been there, so I get it. But if you are like me and had trouble getting past the first few episodes, hang in there, I guarantee you it is worth it. Mad Men is a slick,
impeccably written historical drama that deftly balances its large cast, with intriguing storylines
chocked full of vices such as drugs, sex, and alcohol, but also with complicated, story-driven characters acted by one of the best casts on television. Jon Hamm as Don Draper has been the fearless leader for years now, and he easily carries the lead performance with charisma, subtlety, and, at the right moments, and unbridled ferocity. Over the years other guys such as Vincent Kartheiser, Jared Harris, and John Slattery have added to the color and character of the show. But what I was most impressed by over the years, is how the women ended up holding their own, a welcomed relief after the sexism that almost turned me off. Of course sexism is still present, because it was present in the historical context, but the fierce female actors that grace the television screen on Mad Men have not only met the same level of acting as their male counterparts, but in most cases, exceeded it. January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, and most importantly, the incredible Christina Hendricks are just jaw-dropping week in and week out. Mad Men won the Best Drama Series award at the Emmys four years in a row. The Emmys love a sophisticated show, and Mad Men was right up their alley. Luckily for them, not many people could complain because Mad Men is not just sophisticated, but one hell of a show.

11. Lost (2004-2010) - When the plane crashed in the pilot episode of Lost, I'm sure many of us wondered what exactly was going to happen, and how were they going to sustain a multiple-season show without turning it into Gilligan's Island. But the pilot did enough to capture our interest, as well as introduce us to an incredibly diverse and quirky cast of characters led by some excellent performances from the likes of Michael Emerson, Terry O'Quinn, Evangeline Lily, Matthew Fox, Elizabeth Mitchell, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews, Jorge Garcia, and countless others. And then it is like the show exploded. Throughout its six season run, Lost remained one of the most intense, crazy, and surprising shows on television. You honestly did not know what was coming next,
and the tension was nail-biting, thanks to the efforts of some incredible writing, and some intense and taut direction, all led by the show's fearless creator, J.J. Abrams, who has relaunched the Star Trek empire into new realms, and will soon tackle Star Wars, which I think will lead to excellent results, if history is any indication. But there were so many shows that had all of those elements that made them work in the last decade, what made Lost so different, such a standout among so many standout programs? Lost was a ground-breaking technological achievement, being one of the first shows to bring cinema quality effects, sets, and sound to the small screen. It was the first show with constant adventure, and a huge dose of fantasy, to really crossover to mainstream audiences. And definitely the first of its kind to really hit with Emmy voters beyond the obvious tech categories, even winning Best Drama Series in its first season, a true feat considering the likes of the other major shows to have won the award in the last decade. I also think it really opened up the doors for other major science fiction, adventure, and fantasy shows to make an impact on primetime television including shows like Fringe, Once Upon a Time, and now shows like Marvel's Agents of Shield and Sleepy Hollow. Cable had been delving into this realm for years, but Lost made these types of shows popular and possible on a large scale. I'm sure some will complain that it is not in the top ten (I personally found it a lot less interesting once the hatch was opened), but no matter where any of us would put it, it is still one of the most daring, creative, and best shows to hit the air since 2000.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Best Documentary Short Finalists

This year, the Academy has narrowed down the documentary short films to eight, three to five of which will be this year's nominees.


Facing Fear

Jujitsu-ing Reality

Karama Has No Walls

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall



The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Picture

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Monuments Men
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street

Other Contenders - Lee Daniel's The Butler, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Blue Jasmine, Rush, All is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Fruitvale Station, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Labor Day, The Book Thief, Before Midnight, Lone Survivor, Her, Prisoners, Mud, Philomena, Francs Ha, Monster's University
Commentary - Coming out of the festival circuit, there are three main films that look to be jockeying for the first place position. 12 Years a Slave is the historical drama that voters love, and its reviews are stunning. Captain Phillips is the real-life, thriller, kind of like an Argo, starring Tom Hanks, and featuring Oscar nominated director Paul Greengrass. Gravity could be the first effects-driven film to win Best Picture with its best-of-the-year reviews, and its incredible box office. As it stands now these are the three films to beat. However, there are several films that could be knocking on the door. American Hustle reunites David O. Russell with some of his actors from his two previous Oscar-winning films including Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Robert DeNiro, and Bradley Cooper. The trailer makes it look like something special, and after two successful efforts, he is building a resume that looks like it is eventually on a trajectory to Oscar. This could be his year. Saving Mr. Bank's trailer was a bit too light for me, but apparently the script is fantastic, we already know that Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are bank, and after The Blind Side was a surprise contender, you cannot discount John Lee Hancock. The Monuments Men is the final big project that I think will really join the race. George Clooney wants us to believe that it is not, and its more comedic trailer could suggest an effort a bit too light for the Academy. But that pedigree is hard to ignore, and if the film is good, I think that its tone won't stop it from Oscar glory. So that is six slots. The other ones are complicated at the moment, and really are fluid day to day. I think that Nebraska will hit the hearts of older Academy voters, and they already love Alexander Payne, so consider it a solid pick and a real possibility. The Wolf of Wall Street may not be made in time, but until I hear otherwise, I am not going to bet against a Scorsese film. So what about the last two slots. Fruitvale Station and The Butler had great starts, but need a Weinstein boost soon. Walter Mitty had a lot of rave reviews out of NYFF, but also a lot of bad ones. It could be a huge crowd pleaser, and just the type of feel-good film that could stand out among so many heavier efforts. But it needs to have better reviews when it hits the general consensus public. Rush and Prisoners could get some nice tech nods, and both are crowd-pleasers, but will they have enough buzz for great Oscar glory? I'm not sold at this point. Blue Jasmine and Before Midnight were great early contenders and could play in other categories, but I wonder if they can pop into the top 8, 9, or 10. All is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Labor Day, The Book Thief, Her, and Philomena, are all hovering, waiting to see if one of the bigger contenders fall. I am however going with first, Inside Llewyn Davis. I have heard from so many people that this may not play well with the Academy, so I have left it out. But the reviews continue to be positive, and it continues to play well at the festivals. Plus, the Academy does love the Coens, and especially if some of the unseen contenders falter (or don't make it in time), a Coen Bro film is a safe and familiar pick for them. Finally, despite mixed reviews, I am including August: Osage County. Sure the reviews are mixed, but the Academy's largest branch, the actors will eat this up, and it could end up with several acting nominations. Plus it has Weinstein behind it, and I have a feeling they will be pushing this hard. It needs some better reviews as more people see it, but right now it is definitely in this thing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 American Music Award Nominees

This year's nominees, like every year, represents the most popular names in music. So I was thrilled with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were nominated, because while they are definitely popular, they are also really talented. Of course the likes of Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars got plenty of love, but the biggest snub was of Justin Bieber who usually rules these types of awards. And he was snubbed across the board. I am glad to see that even though they don't have too high of standards, they are not that desperate anymore. Take a look at the list below:

• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
• Bruno Mars
• Rihanna
• Taylor Swift
• Justin Timberlake

• Florida Georgia Line
• Ariana Grande
• Imagine Dragons
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
• Phillip Phillps

• Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly/Cruise
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz/Thrift Shop
• Robin Thicke Featuring Pharrell & T.I./Blurred Lines

• Bruno Mars
• Robin Thicke
• Justin Timberlake

• P!nk
• Rihanna
• Taylor Swift

• Imagine Dragons
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
• One Direction

• One Direction/Take Me Home
• Taylor Swift/Red
• Justin Timberlake/The 20/20 Experience

• Luke Bryan
• Hunter Hayes
• Blake Shelton

• Miranda Lambert
• Taylor Swift
• Carrie Underwood

• The Band Perry
·  Florida Georgia Line
• Lady Antebellum

• Luke Bryan/Crash My Party
• Florida Georgia Line/Here’s To The Good Times
• Taylor Swift/Red

• Jay Z
• Lil Wayne
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

• Jay Z/Magna Carta…Holy Grail
• Kendrick Lamar/good kid, m.A.A.d city
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis/The Heist

• Miguel
• Robin Thicke
• Justin Timberlake

• Ciara
• Alicia Keys
• Rihanna

• Rihanna/Unapologetic
• Robin Thicke/Blurred Lines
• Justin Timberlake/The 20/20 Experience

• Imagine Dragons
• The Lumineers
• Mumford & Sons

• Maroon 5
• Bruno Mars
• P!nk

• Marc Anthony
• Prince Royce
• Romeo Santos

• tobyMac
• Chris Tomlin
• Matthew West

• Avicii
• Daft Punk
• Calvin Harris
• Zedd

• The Great Gatsby: Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film
• Les Miserables
• Pitch Perfect

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Director

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Steve McQueen "12 Years a Slave"
David O. Russell "American Hustle"
Paul Greengrass "Captain Phillips"
Alfonso Cuaron "Gravity"
George Clooney "The Monuments Men"

Other Contenders - Martin Scorsese "The Wolf of Wall Street", Alexander Payne "Nebraska", John Lee Hancock "Saving Mr. Banks", Joel and Ethan Coen "Inside Llewyn Davis",  Ron Howard "Rush" Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine", John Wells "August: Osage County", J.C. Chandor "All is Lost", Lee Daniels "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Jean-Marc Vallee "Dallas Buyers Club", Ben Stiller "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", Jason Reitman "Labor Day", Peter Jackson "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", Ryan Coogler "Fruitvale Station", Stephen Frears "Philomena", Denis Villeneuve "Prisoners", Asghar Farhadi "The Past", Brian Percival "The Book Thief", Richard Linklater "Before Midnight"

Commentary - This year is just stacked. Even if The Wolf of Wall Street doesn't end up being finished in time, there are still so many contenders to sort through (PS if Wolf does get made in time, Scorsese probably moves back in). Some of the names I really think could crack the top five are Alexander Payne, whose Nebraska will probably play well with Academy voters, John Lee Hancock, Ron Howard, Woody Allen, Jason Reitman, John Wells, Lee Daniels, Peter Jackson, Ryan Coogler, Brian Percival, and now Ben Stiller, whose Walter Mitty could be a contender despite initial mixed reviews. So many names, this race will probably remain fluid. There are probably two safe bets going into October. The first is Alfonso Cuaron, whose Gravity is a feat of incredible direction, I find it hard to believe that the directing branch will overlook his work. The other is probably Steve McQueen. 12 Years a Slave enters the race as the Oscar frontrunner, and I think that director will not be far behind. Both are newcomers, but they have the two biggest films of the festival circuit. I also think that Paul Greengrass, a previous nominee, will impress the director's branch, with his realistic and taut thriller Captain Phillips. The film is getting great reviews, and with Tom Hanks in front of the camera doesn't hurt. However, I think it is the most vulnerable of the already seen projects. The last two slots I am filling with unseen contenders based on pedigree. The first is David O. Russell. If he can get nominated last year over the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ben Affleck, then he must be incredibly popular with the directing branch. If American Hustle is as good as I think it is going to be, Russell is surely to be in the conversation. Finally, George Clooney can insist all he wants to that The Monuments Men is not an Oscar film. But it has Oscar bait written all over it. Until I am proved otherwise, I am going to assume it will be a contender to be reckoned with.

Monday, October 7, 2013

76 Films Enter Foreign Language Film Race

This year has beat last years record of 71, with 76 countries submitting films, including a few first timers. Now that we know the list, we can do an official a prediction.

Afghanistan, "Wajma – An Afghan Love Story," Barmak Akram, director
Albania, "Agon," Robert Budina, director
Argentina, "The German Doctor," Lucía Puenzo, director
Australia, "The Rocket," Kim Mordaunt, director
Austria, "The Wall," Julian Pölsler, director
Azerbaijan, "Steppe Man," Shamil Aliyev, director
Bangladesh, "Television," Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director
Belgium, "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Felix van Groeningen, director
Bosnia and Herzegovina, "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Danis Tanovic, director
Brazil, "Neighboring Sounds," Kleber Mendonça Filho, director
Bulgaria, "The Color of the Chameleon," Emil Hristov, director
Cambodia, "The Missing Picture," Rithy Panh, director
Canada, "Gabrielle," Louise Archambault, director
Chad, "GriGris," Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, director
Chile, "Gloria," Sebastián Lelio, director
China, "Back to 1942," Feng Xiaogang, director
Colombia, "La Playa DC," Juan Andrés Arango, director
Croatia, "Halima’s Path," Arsen Anton Ostojic, director
Czech Republic, "The Don Juans," Jiri Menzel, director
Denmark, "The Hunt," Thomas Vinterberg, director
Dominican Republic, "Quien Manda?" Ronni Castillo, director
Ecuador, "The Porcelain Horse," Javier Andrade, director
Egypt, "Winter of Discontent," Ibrahim El Batout, director
Estonia, "Free Range," Veiko Ounpuu, director
Finland, "Disciple," Ulrika Bengts, director
France, "Renoir," Gilles Bourdos, director
Georgia, "In Bloom," Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, directors
Germany, "Two Lives," Georg Maas, director
Greece, "Boy Eating the Bird’s Food," Ektoras Lygizos, director
Hong Kong, "The Grandmaster," Wong Kar-wai, director
Hungary, "The Notebook," Janos Szasz, director
Iceland, "Of Horses and Men," Benedikt Erlingsson, director
India, "The Good Road," Gyan Correa, director
Indonesia, "Sang Kiai," Rako Prijanto, director
Iran, "The Past," Asghar Farhadi, director
Israel, "Bethlehem," Yuval Adler, director
Italy, "The Great Beauty," Paolo Sorrentino, director
Japan, "The Great Passage," Ishii Yuya, director
Kazakhstan, "Shal," Yermek Tursunov, director
Latvia, "Mother, I Love You," Janis Nords, director
Lebanon, "Blind Intersections," Lara Saba, director
Lithuania, "Conversations on Serious Topics," Giedre Beinoriute, director
Luxembourg, "Blind Spot," Christophe Wagner, director
Mexico, "Heli," Amat Escalante, director
Moldova, "All God’s Children," Adrian Popovici, director
Montenegro, "Ace of Spades - Bad Destiny," Drasko Djurovic, director
Morocco, "Horses of God," Nabil Ayouch, director
Nepal, "Soongava: Dance of the Orchids," Subarna Thapa, director
Netherlands, "Borgman," Alex van Warmerdam, director
New Zealand, "White Lies," Dana Rotberg, director
Norway, "I Am Yours," Iram Haq, director
Pakistan, "Zinda Bhaag," Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, directors
Palestine, "Omar," Hany Abu-Assad, director
Peru, "The Cleaner," Adrian Saba, director
Philippines, "Transit," Hannah Espia, director
Poland, "Walesa. Man of Hope," Andrzej Wajda, director
Portugal, "Lines of Wellington," Valeria Sarmiento, director
Romania, "Child’s Pose," Calin Peter Netzer, director
Russia, "Stalingrad," Fedor Bondarchuk, director
Saudi Arabia, "Wadjda," Haifaa Mansour, director
Serbia, "Circles," Srdan Golubovic, director
Singapore, "Ilo Ilo," Anthony Chen, director
Slovak Republic, "My Dog Killer," Mira Fornay, director
Slovenia, "Class Enemy," Rok Bicek, director
South Africa, "Four Corners," Ian Gabriel, director
South Korea, "Juvenile Offender," Kang Yi-kwan, director
Spain, "15 Years Plus a Day," Gracia Querejeta, director
Sweden, "Eat Sleep Die," Gabriela Pichler, director
Switzerland, "More than Honey," Markus Imhoof, director
Taiwan, "Soul," Chung Mong-Hong, director
Thailand, "Countdown" Nattawut Poonpiriya, director
Turkey, "The Butterfly’s Dream," Yilmaz Erdogan, director
Ukraine, "Paradjanov," Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova, directors
United Kingdom, "Metro Manila," Sean Ellis, director
Uruguay, "Anina," Alfredo Soderguit, director
Venezuela, "Breach in the Silence," Luis Alejandro Rodríguez and Andrés Eduardo Rodríguez, directors

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Actor

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Bruce Dern "Nebraska"
Chiwetel Ejiofor "12 Years a Slave"
Tom Hanks "Captain Phillips"
Matthew McConaughey "Dallas Buyers Club"
Robert Redford "All is Lost"

Other Contenders - Christian Bale "American Hustle", Forest Whitaker "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Leonardo DiCaprio "The Wolf of Wall Street", Oscar Isaac "Inside Llewyn Davis", Matt Damon "The Monuments Men", Michael B. Jordan "Fruitvale Station", Joaquin Phoenix "Her", Hugh Jackman "Prisoners", Idris Elba "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", George Clooney "The Monuments Men", Chris Hemsworth "Rush", Ben Stiller "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Commentary - There have been many names for this Best Actor race thrown around in the last several months including tough, rough, brutal, impossible, overcrowded, etc. Make no mistake, these terms are not hyperboles, as this race is probably going to be the most difficult to crack of any of the four acting categories. Right now, I have moved out Christian Bale because he is going to have to outshine not only the stiff competition, but also his incredible cast members. Leonardo DiCaprio's Wolf of Wall Street may be pushed to next year, and Forest Whitaker's performance in The Butler may be too subtle. And what about The Monuments Men? Who gets pushed to lead vs. supporting? That still leaves Michael B. Jordan, Oscar Isaac, Joaquin Phoenix, Hugh Jackman, Ben Stiller, Chris Hemsworth, and Idris Elba, without even cracking my current top five. So let's just put it this way, the next five names better watch their backs. So here we go. 12 Years a Slave has emerged as one of the top contenders for Best Picture, and critics are raving about Chiwetel Ejiofor, which apparently is the film's heart and soul. He has been a notable name in many projects over the last decade or so, and I think that this will be his first big break into the Oscar game. Another newcomer to the Oscar race has been around for decades, and is a underrated legend in the role of his lifetime. I think that Academy voters will embrace Nebraska, as many of them are older and will respond to the storyline, and most importantly, Bruce Dern's apparently heartbreaking performance. Plus, over the last several years, the Academy has responded well to veteran actors who have so-far missed out on glory with wins from the likes of Jeff Bridges and Christopher Plummer. The last two slots, at this moment are going to Oscar-winning legends, who face similar stresses and survival challenges on the high seas. Robert Redford is the only charater of significance in All is Lost (Ironically like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, see Hanks below), and apparently he proves why he has been such a talent all these years. Tom Hanks takes on the role of a real life captain who faced the odds against a Somalian pirate attack. Critics are saying its one of his best performances yet, and that is saying something. Both have been absent from the race for years now, but never doubt the star power of Tom Hanks and Robert Redford, especially when they have the material to back them up.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Gravity

It is hard to go into a movie theater when a film has been hyped up to an great heights by critics. The reviews for Gravity were promising a once in a lifetime experience, and that is hard to live up to. Luckily for me, Gravity not only met my expectations, but blew them completely out of the water, reaching cinematic heights of epic proportions.

The story of Gravity is not incredibly complicated. While working on a space station a cocky, veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski and an unsure medical engineer Ryan Stone (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) are disconnect from their destroyed spaceship, when debris from an exploded Soviet satellite hits them, knocking them into space. Eventually, they are able to latch onto each other and a jet pack gets them to the International Space Station. From there is a fight to see if either of them are going to make it back to Earth in the ultimate struggle for survival.

While on paper, the story sounds like a straightforward survival story, what plays on screen is far more than that. First and foremost, Gravity is a visual spectacle, groundbreaking in its technological scope, and a feast for the eyes. Over the last couple of years, we have seen the technology improve and be implemented in award winning films, starting with Avatar, through Inception, then Hugo, and finally, last year's Life of Pi. This time around, Alfonso Cuaron and his technical team, including the fantastic cinematographer Emmauel Lubezki, create a scenerio on screen that is unlike anything else we have ever seen. From the first shot to the final, it is a beautifully rendered piece, that is so incredibly realistic, you would have thought they actually launched up into the heavens to shoot the film. The sound quality of the film is also amazing. For every loud and intricate moment, such as the scenes of explosion, there are impeccably moving quiet moments, pulled together well by the sound team, and by Steven Price's masterful score.

It is also a masterclass thriller, that keeps you biting your nails all the way through. It is tense, taut, will raise your blood pressure, and even in its quiet moments, you know that potential danger is lurking all around, so the tension never lets up. Cuaron and his editors deserve all the credit for the masterful direction the film takes, which includes almost perfect timing. In particular the moments that build up with such intensity, and then end with a moment of dead silence. It will leave you stunned.

None of the above surprised me. I knew that at the least, it would be fun to look at, and a decent thriller. What I was surprised about is how hard it hit me on a human and emotional level. This film leaves you breathless, and it is not just because of the stunning effects. Gravity also reaches out for your heartstrings. The emotional moments are subtle, and short-lived. A funny quip or story from Clooney's cocky, and comfortable Matt, or the simple look of sheer horror on Sandra Bullock's face, or the sound of a dog barking or a child crying, all come and go with ease, but in the end they add up to something profoundly emotional and effective. That is because Gravity reaches into our souls and plays out on screen some of our worst fears. It also shows how the human spirit can fight for its survival. The transformation of our main protagonist Ryan from the unsure and frightened medical engineer, to the strong and committed hero is an amazing journey. A lot of credit goes to the Cuaron's for their wonderfully tense, taught, yet human script. But most of the credit goes to the incredible Sandra Bullock. I have always liked Bullock, and felt that a lot of the time she gets shafted in terms of the overall quality of her movies. But after seeing Gravity, I am completely sold on her talent. She doesn't have an incredible amount of dialogue, yet still manages to capture the fear and eventually the fight that her character must encounter. It is a breathtaking performance that is deserving of a second Academy Award. Clooney most plays himself, but his carefree and funny Matt is a wonderful foil for Ryan, and he also provides probably one of the most intimate and best scenes of the film.

In the end, Gravity goes so far beyond just being a film. It is first and foremost an experience. You are transported to a world that is frightful and beautiful all at the same time, and just when you think that you have officially left the gravity-filled world, you are reminded that at its heart Gravity is a strong of human struggle. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quiet like Gravity on screen before, and I doubt that any film this year will be able to top the cinematic heights reached by this incredible piece of art.

Grade - A

Oscar Potential - Picture, Director (Cuaron), Actress (Bullock), Supporting Actor (Clooney), Original Screeplay (Cuaron and Cuaron), Production Design, Original Score, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Makeup and Hair Design, and Visual Effects.

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Actress

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Amy Adams "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock "Gravity"
Meryl Streep "August: Osage County"
Emma Thompson "Saving Mr. Banks"

Other Contenders - Judi Dench "Philomena", Kate Winslet "Labor Day", Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Enough Said", Julie Delpy "Before Midnight", Brie Larson "Short Term 12", Greta Gerwig "Frances Ha", Shailene Woodley "The Spectacular Now", Sophie Neliesse "The Book Thief", Adele Exarchopoulos "Blue is the Warmest Color", Berenice Bejo "The Past", Naomi Watts "Diana", Emma Watson "The Bling Ring", Jennifer Hudson "Black Nativity", Jennifer Lawrence "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Commentary - At this point, it looks like a six way race for five spots among Oscar heavyweights. I saw Gravity this afternoon (review to come soon), and I can definitely say that Sandra Bullock will be a huge contender. She is absolutely incredible, and sells the human emotion of the film. Also already on the hot list is Cate Blanchett. She is pitch-perfect in Woody Allen's latest Blue Jasmine, and it also happens to be one of his best films in recent memory. Both are also popular Oscar winners, who have a proven track record. Of course neither has the track record of Meryl Streep, who returns to the race once again with her fire-breathing turn in August: Osage County. We really do need to see how the film plays to a larger group of critics and a larger audience, because the initial reaction was mixed. Although I have a feeling that even if the critics don't rally behind it, the acting branch will. That leaves two slots. A lot of people are predicting Judi Dench who is getting nice reviews for her work in Philomena. I kind of feel that the film is a bit of a lightweight (I am moving it to sixth in screenplay as well), and also feel that she will be the replacement, if some of the other major contenders fall from grace. Some other outside contenders include Kate Winslet in Labor Day, an apparently remarkable performance in a film that is not quite garnering enough buzz. Early contenders like Julie Delpy and Great Gerwig cannot be discounted, and the buzz is rising for Nicole Holofcener's latest Enough Said, especially for its two stars James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But for now, I am once again going out on a limb for two unseen contenders. First is Emma Thompson playing a beloved author opposite Tom Hank's Walt Disney is Saving Mr. Banks. It has been a while since she has been in the Oscar race, but apparently the script is great, and it really is her show to steal. Finally, I think that the dark horse contender here is Amy Adams. She'll most likely be the only nominee of the bunch that has yet to win, and after racking up four nominations in her short, but incredible career, it may finally be her turn. Plus, I think that American Hustle is going to be a hit, and word is her role is a scene-stealer, and a departure from a lot of her previous efforts. Of course, as always, we'll have to wait and see.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jane Fonda to Receive AFI Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Film Institute announced that Jane Fonda will receive this year's AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. I know some people have issues with Fonda, and that is understandable. But in terms of acting, she is definitely one of the best. Her signature roles, ranging from Klute to On Golden Pond were spectacular, as she commands the screen with ferocity and love. This seems to be the cap of a bit of a comeback for Fonda. She is a huge player on HBO's The Newsroom, earning an Emmy nomination, and also having a brief, but memorable role in the hit Lee Daniel's The Butler. So an AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards is just the icing on the cake.

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Bradley Cooper "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender "12 Years a Slave"
James Gandolfini "Enough Said"
Tom Hanks "Saving Mr. Banks"
Jared Leto "Dallas Buyers Club"

Other Contenders - Daniel Bruhl "Rush", John Goodman "Inside Llewyn Davis", Jake Gyllenhaal "Prisoners", Barkhad Abdi "Captain Phillips", Matthew McConaughey "Mud", Matthew McConaughey "The Wolf of Wall Street", Jeremy Renner "American Hustle", Chris Cooper "August: Osage County", Ewan McGregor "August: Osage County", Benedict Cumberbatch "August: Osage County", Terrence Howard "Prisoners", David Oyelowo "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Cuba Gooding Jr. "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Josh Brolin "Labor Day", Geoffrey Rush "The Book Thief", Will Forte "Nebraska", George Clooney "Gravity", Javier Bardem "The Counselor", Jean Dujardin "The Monuments Men", Bill Murray "The Monuments Men", John Goodman "The Monuments Men", Andrew Dice Clay "Blue Jasmine"
Commentary - As other categories are starting to tighten up after the festival rush, this one seems as wide open as ever. Big question marks such as The Monuments Men and The Wolf of Wall Street have deep supporting casts, many of whom have enjoyed Oscar recognition before. For now I am leaving all of them off the list, as well as the supporting guys from August: Osage County. Word is that Cooper and Cumberbatch are good, but the buzz right now seems to be for the women. But I cannot stress enough that all three of those supporting casts, especially in this stacked category, could have an incredible impact on this race, and shift the landscape considerably between now and January. Now on to the present. Coming out of the festival circuit, several major contenders, including Daniel Bruhl, John Goodman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Barkhad Abdi really made a mark on their respective films. However, in such a deep category, I am leaving them off for various reasons including lack of status (Bruhl and Abdi), or for films I'm unsure of in terms of Oscar voters (Goodman and Gyllenhaal), but I expect all of their names to keep popping up. Three other major contenders coming out of the festivals are however garnering enough buzz to make the cut at this point. The first is Michael Fassbender. He has been floating on the outside of an Oscar nomination for several years now, and with this huge project, and apparently another tour-de-force performance, I truly think this will finally be the year he gets into the club. Another is Jared Leto. He had some great performances early on, and then kind of disappeared, only reappearing in news cycles for not such great news. But early word is that he holds his own against sure-fire nominee Matthew McConaughey, and has the flashy, emotional stuff that voters eat up like candy. Finally, I am going out on a bit of a limb with James Gandolfini. Of course there is the obvious reason of sentimentality. He was a veteran television actor that was starting to build a quite impressive film resume before he was gone to soon. I also think that Enough Said is building some nice buzz, and may be the first Nicole Holofcener film to really cross over and hit a broader audience, as well as Oscar voters particularly in this category, screenplay, and even actress. Finally, word is that the chemistry between Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is undeniable. All of these factors could play well. Finally I am putting my bets on two unseen performances. Maybe not the best move, but I am going with it. First is Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's American Hustle. He got his first nod last year, and the film looks great. I expect actors to really eat up the all star cast. Second is Tom Hanks. He is already getting raves for Captain Phillips, but many actors have gotten double nominations, and Tom Hanks + Walt Disney just feels like Oscar.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Jennifer Lawrence "American Hustle"
Margo Martindale "August: Osage County"
Lupita Nyong'o "12 Years a Slave"
Julia Roberts "August: Osage County.
Oprah Winfrey "Lee Daniel's The Butler"

Other Contenders -June Squibb "Nebraska", Octavia Spencer "Fruitvale Station", Catherine Keener "Captain Phillips", Sally Hawkins "Blue Jasmine", Cate Blanchett "The Monuments Men", Cameron Diaz "The Counselor", Emily Watson "The Book Thief", Amy Adams "Her", Viola Davis "Prisoners", Maria Bello "Prisoners", Melissa Leo "Prisoners", Juliette Lewis "August: Osage County", Rooney Mara "Her", Kristen Wiig "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", Naomie Harris "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", Zoe Saldana "Out of the Furnace", Alfre Woodard "12 Years a Slave", Sarah Paulson "12 Years a Slave", Jennifer Garner "Dallas Buyers Club"
Commentary - Will Fruitvale Station bounce back? After dead buzz, this unknown is currently putting Octavia Spencer on the outside looking in, and Sally Hawkins has moved up my list as Sony has announced that Sally Hawkins is getting an Oscar push. But once again, she is still looking in from the outer circle. Finally, I think the one to watch out for is June Squibb, who apaprently is just fantastic in Nebraska, and the buzz is building. First on the list is Oprah Winfrey, who is stunning in Lee Daniel's The Butler, and right now is probably the only sure thing in this category. A lot can change between October and January, but I find it hard to believe she will be bumped. One of the biggest names to hit this race is newcomer Lupita Nyong'o who apparently is just stunning in 12 Years a Slave (which also happens to be the Best Picture frontrunner for the moment). Oscar loves to add some newcomers (like say Quvenzhane Wallis last year), and she is definitely the one to watch for. Another performance getting rave reviews is Margo Martindale in August: Osage County. The role in the original play was baity, and a Tony winner, and apparently Martindale is perfect for the part. There are two problems she could face on her road to her first Oscar nomination. First, is potential internal competition from Roberts. The second is the fact that the film as a whole is probably not going to be beloved. But Martindale is now an Emmy-winning star, and if any branch is going to stand up for the film, it is going to be the actors. Speaking of Roberts, now that she has officially moved to supporting in terms of the campaign, her screen-time and also good reviews will probably put her in the mix as well. Once again, internal competition could hurt both of them, but this category has always been open to rewarding more than one actor per film. In the final slot, I am going out of a limb by predicting a performance no one has seen. But coming fresh off of her monstrous 2012 year, ending with an Oscar win for Silver Linings, Jennifer Lawrence is Hollywood's it-girl. Plus she is re-teaming up with David O. Russell, in a film that looks fantastic. If it, and her performance, live up to the hype, I expect the actors to find a slot for her.