86th Annual Academy Awards

With my most recent page focused on the topic of “Awards Season”, I have considered it worthwhile to post my own comments in regards to the upcoming Academy Awards.  This is merely the opinion of one man, and they are not to be read as predictions.  I have merely selected those films which I think should win, not those that shall win.  This was a fantastic year for film, and there were, therefore, no shortage of “snubs.”  I should make some preliminary comments: the Academy is primarily American, and these awards are undoubtedly ethnocentric.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  So, while foreign films do indeed have a category of their own, and while these foreign films do indeed get the occasional nomination in other categories—including “Best Picture” every now and again—I am not putting up a fight that we should take the Academy Awards ceremony away from its home.  I am the first to assert that the world as a whole produces better films in cooperation as opposed to the narrow scope of Hollywood, which casual movie-goers too-often consider as the only true factory of film.  However, I will not try, in this blog post in particular, to fight against a solid, respectable tradition.  So, there there are two foreign films that make the “Best Picture” race, at the expense of a couple very popular American films (sorry), but for the most part, the ethnocentrism is maintained.  Critics who decry American films get annoying, after all.  It’s not like we can’t make a good movie ourselves.  We often make the best movie in a given year.  Granted, it takes 100 movies to make one good one.  But that’s beside the point.  Besides, think of all the jobs we’re creating.

KEY:  My pick for winner is in boldface.  The asterisks (*) mark those who shouldn’t have been nominated in my opinion and should rather have been replaced with those that were “snubbed.”  The “snubbed” category refers only to those films that should have been nominated, not those that could have been or those that barely missed the cut (there are three exceptions here…you’ll see them in the “Best Picture”, “Makeup and Hairstyling”, and “Original Song” categories).  I include various notes to explain my more controversial picks.  You will notice that some “snubs” were so egregious that even the person or film who should have won it all was not even nominated (“Makeup and Hairstyling”, “Original Song”, and “Foreign Language Film.”)  I watched all the movies that were, and might have been, nominated, with the exception of a few that I refused to watch based on sexual content or lack of personal appeal.  These movies were Blue is the Warmest Color, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  I also could not get to most of the short films, as most of them are accessible only in certain windows of time. Other than that, my opinions should be considered pretty valid.

Best Picture:

  1. American Hustle
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Dallas Buyers Club*
  4. 12 Years a Slave
  5. Nebraska
  6. Her*
  7. Philomena*
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street*
  9. Gravity
  10. Snubbed: Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn Davis, Wadjda, The Hunt, Saving Mr. Banks, Mud
  11. Notes: here you will notice that there is one more “snub” than films with an asterisk.  This is because the Academy has nominated ten films before, and they should have just nominated ten again.  So, there’s a free-bee.  If I could, I would extend the race to fifteen to save Captain Phillips, Philomena, and Her—as well as include The Great Beauty and Frances Habut that’s probably asking too much.
  12. Notes #2Inside Llewyn Davis was my second-favorite movie of the year, and you will come to see that it should have been nominated for seven awards, instead of only the two for which it has actually been nominated.
  13. Notes #3: Having just won the BAFTA award for Best Film, 12 Years a Slave is now the frontrunner for the Oscar.  The last 5 BAFTA winners have also won the Academy Award.  Atonement was the last one to not predict the Oscar properly, way back in 2008, when No Country for Old Men actually won the Oscar.  Despite this, I still hold my opinion strong and firm: Gravity was the best movie of the year.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  1. Christian Bale—American Hustle*
  2. Chiwetel Ejiafor—12 Years a Slave
  3. Bruce Dern—Nebraska
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio—The Wolf of Wall Street*
  5. Matthew McConaughey—Dallas Buyers Club
  6. Snubbed: Tom Hanks—Captain Phillips, Mads Mikkelsen—The Hunt
  7. Notes: You’ll see me as a Wolf of Wall Street hater.  That’s fine.  It’s mostly due to the fact that I never saw Wolf.  But, I have a very hard time thinking that DiCaprio did a better job than Tom Hanks did in Captain Phillips.  He definitely did better than Christian Bale in American Hustle with his versatile performance mixing bravery, fear, shock, and love was spectacular.  Bale, I think, got the nod automatically because he was in a David O. Russell film, and they always sweep acting nominations.
  8. Notes #2: I think most people would rather have nominated Robert Redford for his performance in All is Lost considering the fact that it’s very difficult to gauge performances in foreign films because of the language barrier, but if one performance really deserves to be recognized, it is Mads Mikkelsen’s performance in The Hunt.  Giving nominations to foreign acting performances is rare, considering the aforementioned ethnocentrism of the Academy, but if they could give a not only a nod, but an Oscar statuette, to Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful, they can afford a nomination to the Danish actor.  

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  1. Amy Adams—American Hustle*
  2. Cate Blanchett—Blue Jasmine
  3. Judi Dench—Philomena
  4. Sandra Bullock—Gravity
  5. Meryl Streep–August: Orange County*
  6. Snubbed: Emma Thompson—Saving Mr. Banks, Greta Gerwig–Frances Ha
  7. Notes: Much like Scorsese’s directing nod, Streep got in on reputation.  The proof lies in the fact that Emma Thompson did a better job than she did in Saving Mr. Banks.  This year was stacked with fantastic female performances, and so everyone knew someone (or some-two) would have to go.  Most thought it would be Streep at the beginning of the year.  Turns out it was P.L. Travers.  Also, I don’t think Amy Adams did as good a job as Greta Gerwig.  Having an alliterating full name with the first name Garbo may be quite intimidating for a young actress, but I’ve got to say that Frances Ha was one of the funniest and purest movies made last year.  She was the cornerstone. (Actually, it was made in 2012, but Academy rules state that a movie is eligible according to its Los Angeles release date; which, in this case, was 2013).

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  1. Michael Fassbender—12 Years a Slave
  2. Jonah Hill—The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Bradley Cooper—American Hustle
  4. Barkhad Abdi—Captain Phillips*
  5. Jared Leto—Dallas Buyers Club
  6. Snubbed: Daniel Brühl—Rush
  7. Notes: It’s sad that Rush didn’t get any Oscar praise, much like other deserving films like Frances Ha, The Spectacular Now, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, and Fruitvale Station.  But, 2013 was one of the best years the movie industry has had in a long time, and so someone had to go.  Meanwhile, the superb but over-nominated Captain Phillips was voted in on the wrong acting category.  Abdi’s pirate did not impress to the same degree as Hanks’ ship’s captain.  But, maybe I missed something somewhere.  He just won the BAFTA award for his performance.
  8. Notes #2: Jared Leto gets nominated for boldness.  Definitely a brave and controversial performance.  And he did a fantastic job.  However, he didn’t actually perform great when it came to line delivery or acting deftness.  The only real impressive section is those final moments where Rayon (Leto’s character) gets the money from his dad and then is rushed to the hospital.  Those moments aside, there was very little special going on.  The nod is more because of the significance of his character than because of his performance of that character; and that is not worthy of a win in my book.  Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender played a role that has been performed in various forms for years now, and he gave it a very pertinent and fresh turn.  What is mostly likely going to happen is that Dallas Buyers Club will win in the “Supporting” category while 12 Years a Slave will win in the “Lead” category.  It should be switched.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  1. Sally Hawkins—Blue Jasmine
  2. Jennifer Lawrence—American Hustle
  3. June Squibb—Nebraska
  4. Julia Roberts—August: Osage County
  5. Lupita Nyong’o—12 Years a Slave*
  6. Snubbed: Oprah Winfrey—Lee Daniels’ The Butler
  7. Notes: A lot of people said Oprah was snubbed.  I kind of agree, because in watching 12 Years a Slave I can’t help but notice that Lupita Nyong’o’s character didn’t do a whole lot.  Watching her get whipped on that post by Chiwetel Ojiafor was as emotionally difficult to watch as anything you’ll ever see, but the potency of the scene came from the fact the camera was focused on Ojiafor’s body; Nyong’o was completely off-screen.  I would love to give her the nod because of the sweet and haunting hug she gave Ojiafor toward movie’s end, but I can’t deny Oprah’s screen-time or passion.  Elsewhere, Jennifer Lawrence further cements her position atop my list of favorite up-and-comers, and further proved she can do absolutely anything in front of a movie camera.  June Squibb gave the most riotous performance of 2013, and could very well give Lawrence a run for her money.  She’s certainly my runner-up.

Directing:

  1. David O. Russell—American Hustle
  2. Steve McQueen—12 Years a Slave
  3. Martin Scorsese—The Wolf of Wall Street*
  4. Alfonso Cuarón—Gravity
  5. Alexander Payne—Nebraska
  6. Snubbed: Paul Greengrass—Captain Phillips
  7. Notes: Martin Scorsese, like Meryl Streep, got in on reputation, and if I am to believe what I read online (The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the few nominated movies I did not see this year for personal reasons), he did nothing new in Wolf when one considers his other fast-paced, exhibitionist epics like Casino and Goodfellas.
  8. Notes #2: Oh, how I wish we could nominate six!  Paul Greengrass, I had thought, did the best work he ever did in The Bourne Ultimatum, but he outdid himself in Captain Phillips.  And sure, Spike Jonze owes a lot to his cinematographers, but he was the boss of his film, and Her was quite good.  Since I can only put in five, though, I’ll have to pick Greengrass.
  9. Notes #3: David O. Russell is the best “actors’ director” in American film and American Hustle took montage and stylization to a level he didn’t even attempt to reach in Silver Linings Playbook or The Fighter.  I give the win to Cuarón because Gravity was a film like nothing I have EVERseen before.  It even made my Top-200 list.  Cuarón was so intimately involved in every aspect of production, from screenplay all the way to special effects, that he can’t be called anything but an auteur of the highest order for this stunning analysis of human isolation and potential.

Animated Feature Film:

  1. Despicable Me 2
  2. The Croods
  3. Frozen
  4. The Wind Rises
  5. Ernest & Celestine
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: Probably the most overrated movie of the year was Frozen.  It will probably win, but I would sooner give the award to any of the four other candidates.  The sweetest of all the films is Ernest & Celestine, it also has the most unique animation and is the most fitting for children.  It is also French, and so the voice-overs and narrations are far more beautiful.  The English dub has such brilliant actors as Forest Whitaker, William H. Macy and the legendary Lauren Bacall.

Cinematography:

  1. Philippe Le Sourde—The Grandmaster*
  2. Emmanuel Lubezki—Gravity
  3. Bruno Delbonnel—Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Phedon Papamichael—Nebraska
  5. Roger A. Deakins—Prisoners*
  6. Snubbed: Hoyte van Hoytema—Her, Sam Levy–Frances Ha
  7. Notes: those shots of the futuristic L.A. skyline, the use of lights through the windows of these glassy skyscrapers, the interesting shots in the forests, and the intimate use of close-ups echo some of the finest cinematographic masterpieces of the last fifty years.  To snub Her, therefore, is a mistake.  Despite this, the race really comes down to Papamichael’s work in Nebraska and Lubezki’s work in Gravity.  I originally intended to give the award to Nebraska, since Gravity had too much CGI to be considered for an award based on camera work, but my mind changed when I watched a documentary on Gravity‘s production.  There was way more to the camera work than meets the eye.
  8. Notes #2: Frances Ha, like Nebraska, does superb work with a stationary camera filming in black and white.  Shots are not framed as brilliantly as in Nebraska, but they are still great.  I prefer it to The Grandmaster, in that the camera work in the The Grandmaster can get a little claustrophobic; though it is undeniably good stylistically.  Again, the Academy seems to favor complexity over simplicity, and you can read more about that in the “Film Editing” section.

Costume Design

  1. Michael Wilkinson—American Hustle
  2. William Chan Suk Ping—The Grandmaster
  3. Catherine Martin—The Great Gatsby
  4. Michael O’Connor—The Invisible Woman*
  5. Patricia Norris—12 Years a Slave
  6. Snubbed: Richard Taylor & Anne Maskery—The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  7. Notes: I have a big problem with giving awards to period pieces like 12 Years a Slave and The Invisible Woman.  I really don’t care about accuracy or practicality in a film so long as a director or writer doesn’t base their film on accuracy and practicality.  When they make that claim, it gets problematic, because once they make something inaccurate or impractical they have failed and the movie unravels.  American Hustle was based on 1970s fashion, yes, but it was meant to be stylized.  The other two filmshowever, who are probable favorites, brought nothing special.

Documentary Picture

  1. The Act of Killing
  2. Cutie and the Boxer*
  3. Dirty Wars
  4. The Square
  5. 20 Feet from Stardom
  6. Snubbed: Stories We Tell
  7. Notes: most of the social media wave in support of Stories We Tell is led by that unofficial group of feminists who are still upset at the lack of female representation in the directing and documenting categories.  I think Stories deserves to be on because it was better than Cutie and the Boxer.  That’s all.

Documentary Short Subject

  1. CaveDigger
  2. Facing Fear
  3. Karama Has No Walls
  4. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  5. Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: Short films must either be stylistically significant or thematically powerful to win this award.  It’s for reason of the latter that The Lady in Number 6 will win this year.  This is a short piece on the life of Aliza Sommer-Herst, the oldest living Holocaust survivor, including her own perceptions on how to maintain optimism through music.  Good luck to the other parties, if you ask me.

Film Editing

  1. Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten—American Hustle 
  2. Christopher Rouse—Captain Phillips
  3. John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa—Dallas Buyers Club
  4. Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger—Gravity*
  5. Joe Walker—12 Years a Slave
  6. Snubbed: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen—Inside Llewyn Davis
  7. Notes: it has become the current trend in the Academy to award those films with the most complex film editing, much like the cinematography award.  Were I to follow the trend, Gravity or Captain Phillips would be forerunners; Phillips will probably win.  I however, am a great fan of montage theory, and I still bemoan the fact that it has been ignored in recent cinematographic criticism.  American Hustle gets my vote for its deft management of montage, despite the fact that it is far less complex or technical than the editing in other nominees.

Foreign Language Film

  1. The Broken Circle Breakdown
  2. The Great Beauty
  3. The Hunt
  4. The Missing Picture*
  5. Omar*
  6. Snubbed: Wadjda, Metro Manila
  7. Notes: Since Palme d’Or-winner Blue is the Warmest Color didn’t make the final nominations list, this is really anybody’s game.  Wadjda was the most sweet and innocent, and also the most nostalgic with its parallels with such classics as Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and de Sica’s The Bicycle Thief.  Furthermore, it is an historic film, since it is the first film ever made from Saudi Arabia.  Yet, it was passed over for Omar, which was similarly youthful, but lacked the sentimentality and simplicity of its fellow Middle-Eastern contender.  The Hunt is by far the most haunting and disturbing, despite its simpleness, and could be a favorite.  Most likely, the winner will be The Great Beauty, which was a fantastic film in all respects; but I can’t give the film the award because it held so much in common with Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Antonioni’s La Notte.  This wouldn’t be too much of a problem (after all, I praised Wadjda for its similarities to old Italian classics), but, being an intentional homage to such Italian classics, it didn’t seem to live up to its stylistic and narrative ambitions.  Plus, my opinion on morality in films has been stated analytically already, and there were scenes in The Great Beauty that I’m afraid created quite the aversion for me.  That being said, I wouldn’t be upset if The Great Beauty won.  There were sequences in that movie that I thought were among some of the most beautiful ever made, which is saying something.  If you don’t believe me, try to run down the sequence—toward the beginning of the film—where an English-language song plays over a scene of the main character as he watches a group of probably fictional children run through short hedges in a convent garden with a sweet nursemaid from his chic balcony.  Quite beautiful.

Makeup and Hairstyling:

  1. Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews—Dallas Buyers Club
  2. Stephen Prouty—Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  3. Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny—The Lone Ranger
  4. Snubbed: Peter King and Tami Lane—The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Kathrine Gordon—American Hustle
  5. Notes: I’m not sure why this category only has three nominees.  Why not just make it a five-nominee race like every other category?  Then, American Hustle can win the award it deserves.

Original Score

  1. John Williams—The Book Thief
  2. Stephen Price—Gravity
  3. William Butler and Owen Pallett—Her*
  4. Alexandre Desplat—Philomena
  5. Thomas Newman—Saving Mr. Banks
  6. Snubbed: Hans Zimmer—12 Years a Slave
  7. Notes: this is a very tough one; it ultimately depends on whether or not you’re looking for traditional types of score—with their melodies and polyphonies–or the contemporary type of score that is more experimental and mood-driven.  If you are looking for the former, Williams’ The Book Thief is probably the best bet, if you’re looking for the latter, it has to go to Her (and, I’ve got to say its pretty cool that the guys from Arcade Fire have got this nomination after being snubbed last year in the “Original Song” Category for their work in The Hunger Games; I feel bad for saying they should be replaced with Hans Zimmer’s 12 Years a Slave).  However, Gravity is the best score of the year in that it does both—it ties beautiful, lasting melodies with a musical form that parallels the action of the film perfectly.  This is important, because it contributes to the film medium itself; it does not merely accompany the film medium in a Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk.
  8. Notes #2: In case you were wondering, this is Williams’ 49th Academy Award nomination.  He’s the second-most nominated person in the history of the Academy, behind Walt Disney himself, who had 59 nominations.  Can Williams squeeze out ten more?  He’s 81 years old, so probably not.

Production Design

  1. Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler—American Hustle*
  2. Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, and Joanne Woollard—Gravity*
  3. Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn—The Great Gatsby
  4. K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena—Her
  5. Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker—12 Years a Slave
  6. Snubbed: Dan Hennah and Ra Vincent—The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Larry Dias and Phillip Messina—The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  7. Notes: no film impressed me as much as Her in regards to the world it created this last year.  Gatsby was a little too over-the-top and the two snubbed candidates were not terribly original considering the fact we’ve seen their predecessors already.

Original Song

  1. Pharrell Williams—“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
  2. Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—“Let it Go” from Frozen
  3. Karen O. and Spike Jonze—“The Moon Song” from Her
  4. Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen—“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  5. Snubbed: Ed Sheeran—“I See Fire” from The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel—“Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone, T-Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver—“Please, Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis
  6. Notes: Ed Sheeran’s great song, “I See Fire” was snubbed initially, but there is no need to replace one of the nominated films, since the obscure “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the Christian film Alone Yet Not Alone was stripped of its nomination after violating lobbying rules.  However, I hope that the backlash from that incident will allow the song to be reinstated, since it was better than the songs from Frozen and Despicable Me 2 by a long margin.  Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please, Mr. Kennedy” I think deserves a nod, but it doesn’t qualify under Academy rules because it wasn’t “original” enough.  Why?  Because it was inspired by several folk songs of the 1960s that included the phrase “Please, Mr. Kennedy, please don’t send me…” (fill in the blank).  The ineligibility is not unlike that to which Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame was subjected after his score for There Will Be Blood was snubbed in 2008.

Animated Short Film

  1. Feral
  2. Get a Horse!
  3. Mr. Hublot
  4. Possessions
  5. Room on the Broom
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: A lot of these are not available online to view and I have not been able to find any other means whereby I can see them.  I have, however, seen sections of all of them; focusing on plots, themes, and illustration styles.  Feral is by far the most engrossing animation style and tells a story that I find very thought-provoking.

Live Action Short Film

  1. Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
  2. Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  3. Helium
  4. Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) 
  5. The Voorman Problem
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: I haven’t been able to watch any of these films, but I’m willing to venture a guess that The Voorman Problem will win because of the familiar faces.

Sound Editing

  1. Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns—All is Lost*
  2. Oliver Tarney—Captain Phillips
  3. Glenn Freemantle—Gravity
  4. Brent Burge and Chris Ward—The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
  5. Wylie Stateman—Lone Survivor
  6. Snubbed: Skip Lievsay and Igor Nikolic—Inside Llewyn Davis
  7. Notes: I’m not much for technical awards, and so I’m not terribly qualified to give my say on the matter.  Despite that, I have my reasons for giving Gravity all three of the technical awards.  Considering it was marketed as a technical achievement, and considering how well-received it was, the popular endorsement seems to already have been given.  Furthermore, I am greatly attracted to the concept of sound in Gravity.  From the outset, the film cites the phenomena of sound as an important premise in the film’s thematic conception.  While I’m not exactly sure what the differences between sound mixing and sound editing are (my technical ineptitude has already been noted), it is undeniable that Gravity‘s intimate relationship with sound brings something to the table that none of the other nominees do.

Sound Mixing

  1. Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro—Captain Phillips
  2. Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro—Gravity
  3. Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson—The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
  4. Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland—Inside Llewyn Davis
  5. Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow—Lone Survivor
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: see my notes on sound editing.

Visual Effects

  1. Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould—Gravity
  2. Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds—The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
  3. Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick—Iron Man 3*
  4. Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier—The Lone Ranger
  5. Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton—Star Trek: Into Darkness
  6. Snubbed: John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Shane Mahan, John Rosengrant, and Cay Pinney—Pacific Rim
  7. Notes: I’m not sure why Pacific Rim lost to these others.  It was a great exhibition of computer generated imagery and animation.  Regardless, Gravity should win.  None of the movies that dominated this year’s CGI campaign really gave us realistic images; in other words, the CGI was obvious in all of them.  Gravity went beyond mere CGI technology, however.  It also featured visual effects using camera angles and unique motions—like the good old days—that the other movies did not utilize.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  1. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke—Before Midnight
  2. Billy Ray—Captain Phillips
  3. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope—Philomena
  4. John Ridley—12 Years a Slave
  5. Terence Winter—The Wolf of Wall Street
  6. Snubbed: None
  7. Notes: my reasons for giving the award to Before Midnight are the same as my reasons for giving the award for original screenplay to Blue Jasmine.  For me, the writing categories are given to an exhibition of character, wit, and mastery of language.  Blue Jasmine and Before Midnight both carry that perfect script that has so much depth amid so much simplicity.  They are both cut from the same stock of writing style—a style that I am a big fan of, as one can tell.  Both of these are long-shots really, as the Academy doesn’t have exactly the same writing preferences as I do.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  1. Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell—American Hustle
  2. Woody Allen—Blue Jasmine
  3. Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack—Dallas Buyers Club*
  4. Spike Jonze—Her
  5. Bob Nelson—Nebraska
  6. Snubbed: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen—Inside Llewyn Davis
  7. Notes: see the notes for adapted screenplay.
  8. Notes #2: This is Woody Allen’s 24th Academy Award nomination between his Best Picture, Writing, Directing, and Acting considerations, which now puts him firmly in the number 10 spot on the list of the top ten all-time nomination leaders.  I have already mentioned the top two, Walt Disney (59) and John Williams (49).  Spots three through nine are rounded out by Alfred Newman the composer with 43 (he wrote the score for How the West was Won and All About Eve, among many others), Cedric Gibbons for art and production design with 38 (he was one of the 36 founding members of the Academy and actually designed the original Oscar statuette; he worked on such films as An American in Paris and National Velvet), Edith Head for costume design with 35 (she did work in Sabrina, Roman Holiday, The Ten Commandments, and All About Eve), Edwin B. Willis for art and production design with 32 (he did a lot of work with Cedric Gibbons), Lyle R. Wheeler for art direction with 29 (including work on Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, and All About Eve), songwriter Sammy Cahn with 26 (he wrote such classics as Frank Sinatra’s “All the Way” and “High Hopes”, and “Call Me Irresponsible”), and Sam Comer for set direction with 26 as well (he did work on Sunset Boulevard and Vertigo).  Allen’s got a really good shot at making it higher on the list before he quits the film business, so long as the backlash from the Farrow kids getting older and getting on MSNBC doesn’t beat him first.

In conclusion, this will be an interesting award season.  I am quite interested to see who gets the final awards.  If the Academy chooses to agree with me, which they probably won’t, Gravity should win the most awards—including the “Best Picture” award—with seven total (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects).  Other notables include American Hustle with 4 awards (Actress in a Supporting Role, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Film Editing), and Blue Jasmine with 2 awards (Actress in a Leading Role and Writing [Original Screenplay]).  I’ll obviously be wrong about American Hustle and the “Makeup and Hairstyling” award, as well as Inside Llewyn Davis with the “Original Song” award and Wadjda with the “Foreign Language Film” award, but that is an unfortunate result of opinion.  Other than that, though, we’ll see if I’m right.  It’ll be fun.

There is a lot of vitality to these upcoming Academy Awards, and it is very difficult to make predictions.  One prediction that I guarantee will come to pass, however: Peter O’Toole will receive a heartfelt applaud from the audience during the “In memoriam” section, and people will realize just how big a hole he left in the world of cinema.

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6 thoughts on “86th Annual Academy Awards

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