86th Academy Award Predictions: Year in Advance

The dust from the 85th Academy Awards has barely settled, but I will nonetheless be predicting next year's Oscars.  Sure, most of these predictions will be useless but last year I made it 2 years running that I correctly predicted 4 of the Best Picture nominees (Argo, Django Unchained, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty) in my year in advance predictions.  I also correctly predicted 3 of the 5 supporting actresses.  That's not even including Anne Hathaway, whom I predicted would get nominated in the Lead Actress category being unfamiliar with Les Miserables.  I also predicted 3 of the 5 nominees in the Adapted Screenplay, Animated Feature and Production Design category.  So let's move onto this upcoming year's Oscars:

1. August: Osage County
2. Foxcatcher
3. Fruitvale
4. Gravity
5. The Wolf of Wall Street

1. John Wells, August: Osage County
2. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
3. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
4. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Ridley Scott, The Counselor

1. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Fifth Estate
2. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
3. Michael Fassbender, The Counselor
4. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
5. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

1. Maryl Streep, August: Osage County
2. Naomi Watts, Diana
3. Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco
4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

1. Ewan McGregor, August: Osage County
2. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
4. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
5. Sam Rockwell, The Way, Way Back

1. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County
2. Cameron Diaz, The Counselor
3. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale
4. Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Cate Blanchett, The Monuments Men

1. August: Osage County
2. Before Midnight
3. The Monuments Men
4. Labor Day
5. The Spectacular Now

1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Foxcatcher
3. Blue Jasmine
4. Fruitvale
5. The Way, Way Back

1. Monsters University
2. The Congress
3. Frozen
4. Leo the Lion
5. Turbo

1. We Steal Secrets
2. Manhunt
3. Twenty Feet From Stardom
4. Running From Crazy
5. Blood Brother

1. Child’s Pose (Romania)
2. Attila Marcel (France)
3. The Past (Iran)
4. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear (Canada)
5. An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Slovenia)

1. The Blue Umbrella
2. Irish Folk Furniture
3. I Am Tom Moody

1. Skinningrove

1. The Runaway
2. The Whistle
3. Whiplash
4. The Date
5. Until the Quiet Comes

1. Gravity
2. To the Wonder
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Prisoners

1. The Great Gatsby
2. Great Expectations
3. Diana
4. Grace of Monaco
5. The Butler

1. Gravity
2. Foxcatcher
3. August: Osage County
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. The Counselor

1. Diana
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Grace of Monaco

1. The Monuments Men
2. Foxcatcher
3. Monsters University
4. Oz: The Great and Powerful
5. Gravity

1. Out of the Furnace
2. Frozen
3. Monsters University
4. Out of the Furnace
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

1. The Great Gatsby
2. The Butler
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
4. The Monuments Men
5. Oz: The Great and Powerful

1. Gravity
2. Star Trek Into Darkness
3. Iron Man 3
4. Man of Steel
5. Elysium

1. Gravity
2. Monsters University
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. Elysium

1. Gravity
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Star Trek Into Darkness
4. Iron Man 3
5. Oblivion

85th Academy Awards: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

And another Oscars ceremony is in the books.  I ended up doing pretty well with predicting the Oscars this year (20 for 24).  The ceremony itself was enjoyable.  The winners were decent (although there were very few cases where the best in the category won) although never bad, and Seth MacFarlane was a subpar host.  So without further ado, let's get into some specifics:


-Argo is a very fine winner.  It’s the best winner since The Hurt Locker, and it’s a film from a clearly talented filmmaker.  It was also great to see this film only win 3 awards when Oscars way too often likes to give sweep-like nights to its Best Picture winners.

-Speaking of Argo only winning 3 awards, it was great to see the Academy spread the wealth.  Out of the 9 Best Picture nominees, only Beasts of the Southern Wild didn’t come home with an award.  I was especially happy to see Zero Dark Thirty deservedly win for Best Sound Editing.

-It was also great to see quite a few Oscar “rules” go out the window.  Christoph Waltz won without a SAG nomination.  Argo won without a Best Director nomination.  We even had a tie in Best Sound Editing.

-It was probably one of the biggest locks of the night, but it was still great to see Adele win for one of the best original songs in recent memory, “Skyfall”.

-There were also a lot of great acceptance speeches.  Chris Terrio gave a heartfelt speech.  Anne Hathaway, who has been having trouble giving a good speech the entire season, finally pulled one off.  Jennifer Lawrence gave a typically charming speech.  Daniel Day-Lewis gave a speech worthy of his historic win, and Ben Affleck gave a speech that was just as energetic as the last time he won an Oscar.


-Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were failures in their producing capacity.  Their strategy seemed to be to throw everything at the wall and hope that something sticks.  While there were quite a few segments that were entertaining (the James Bond tribute and the musical tribute to name a few), nothing seemed to mix together (especially their musical-centric presentation with Seth MacFarlane’s shock comedy style).


-I think people get a little too harsh with claims that the Oscars are too prestigious for certain types of jokes, but that disgusting “I Saw You Boobs” song had no business being in this ceremony.

-Also, I don’t want politics mixed into the Oscars when it doesn’t have to be.  Having Michelle Obama present Best Picture just seemed ridiculous especially in an awards season where the government’s involvement in film has already been questioned twice (Bill Clinton showing up at the Golden Globes as a Lincoln campaign tool and the senators demanding Zero Dark Thirty be edited).

List of Demands: 85th Academy Awards

Here are the 3 things I hope to see happen at Sunday's Oscars Ceremony:

1. Jessica Chastain wins Best Actress

Is Chastain's performance in Zero Dark Thirty a performance for the ages? No, but it's the best of the category and it has been a shame to see her Oscar chances slip slowly away 2 years in a row.  Here's hoping she can pull of an upset against Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva.

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wins an Oscar

The 3 Lord of the Rings films are all Oscar winners.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is almost as good as those 3 films and definitely deserves to be a winner too.  Preferably it would be for its production design where once again that team made us believe in Middle-Earth.  However, its best chance for a win is in Best Makeup and Hairstyling.  Les Miserables has to be considered a frontrunner there but The Hobbit can definitely pull off the upset.

3. David O. Russell does not win Best Director or Best Adapted Screenplay

David O. Russell is quickly becoming one of the go-to directors for actors in Hollywood's eyes.  However, I thought O. Russell's handling of the actors in The Fighter almost sank that film.  His directing and writing were also nothing special for Silver Linings Playbook (especially in the cliche driven second half).  Before I continue my rant though let me say Russell's handling of the actors in this film was much better as there was not a bad performance in the cast and he got a career best performance from Bradley Cooper.  However, what really irks me about this guy is this is the second awards season in a row for him where he has begged for an Oscar (and let's please stop acting like Silver Linings Playbook is some important film that has in some way helped America's problems with mental diseases because that is just an awards season-created myth).  Oscars are meant for the best not who wants it the most so hopefully voters vote as such.

Final 85th Academy Award Predictions

All good things must come to an end and one of the most exciting Oscar seasons in history will end this Sunday with the final ceremony.  With so much still up in the air (including a lot of major categories) here are my best guesses as to what will bring home an Oscar (if I don't write commentary for a category it's because the predicted winner is a lock or there hasn't been any change in momentum within the category).


BEST DIRECTOR=David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

With no Ben Affleck, this might be the most interesting category in Academy Award history.  Lee, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg and Michael Haneke all have a chance at winning.  With a fading Spielberg and no immediate need to reward him a third directing Oscar, Lee would seem to be the favorite as he has gotten nominations at all of the major precursors (something his competitors can't claim).  However, Russell has been campaigning like a mad man and the Academy loves his film while Haneke's Amour seems to be picking up steam at the right time.  I think Russell's campaigning turns off enough voters to prevent a win and I think Amour peaked a week or two too early as its already showing chinks in the armor with a loss for Best Original Screenplay to Django Unchained at the BAFTAS.  They are still in the hunt though.

**Update 2/20 9pm** I have been saying all along that Russell is someone to look out for in this category.  I have decided that I might as well put my money where my mouth is.

BEST LEAD ACTOR=Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

BEST LEAD ACTRESS=Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

This is Lawrence vs. Emmanuelle Riva.  Riva seemingly has all the buzz at the moment, but Lawrence has Oscar whisperer Harvey Weinstein in her favor (and she has done just fine with the precursors having won the SAG and Golden Globe).  I think the love for Silver Linings Playbook will push Lawrence over the edge as Riva's Amour can be too tough to watch for some (Remember: despite both films overachieving with nominations, the nominations process favors passion while the winner process favors consensus.  Amour is a film of the former and Silver Linings Playbook is a film of the latter).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR=Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Tommy Lee Jones may have won the SAG but he has faded drastically.  This is a two-horse race between Waltz and Robert De Niro.  Both actors seem to be peaking at the right time, but Waltz has a Golden Globe and BAFTA while De Niro has nothing.  

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS=Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables


Silver Linings Playbook pulled off a surprise by winning BAFTA but Argo quickly recovered with a WGA victory.  With this being one of the very few places where voters can reward the film in addition to Best Picture, Argo has to be considered the favorite.


There has been a lot of talk about Amour quickly gaining favor with the Academy, but the film that is really peaking at the right time is Django Unchained.  It started off by being a box office success (shockingly beating Les Miserables).  It continued on by securing a Best Picture nomination that was not assured at all.  It then won the screenplay award at the Globes against formidable competition like Lincoln, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook.  Then it had a big day at BAFTAs as it won for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.  All of this was done without being considered a major contender.  Now it seems like Harvey Weinstein is putting as much support behind this film as Silver Linings Playbook.  Expect this to be one of the categories where the Django Unchained surge makes itself evident.


With Brave being considered a "disappointment" it seemed like this was Wreck-It Ralph's to lose, but no one is talking about Wreck-It Ralph.  It just doesn't feel like an Oscar winner.  Meanwhile, Brave has quietly won the Golden Globe and BAFTA.





It's the most widely seen of the nominees so this is probably your winner.


This is a 3-horse race between Death of a Shadow, Henry and Curfew.  If voters want to go for a message film they will go for Henry (which is about Alzheimer's).  If voters want to go for a quirky film, like recent winner God of Love, they will go for Curfew.  However, I think they will go for a well made film with a recognizable name or two like last year's winner, The Shore.  That film is Death of a Shadow and being the best of the nominees also doesn't hurt its case.



Anna Karenina won the CDG and the BAFTA so it has positioned itself well against Les Miserables, which may garner some extra support from the strength of its Best Picture nominee status.  That being said Anna Karenina is liked enough (4 nominations in total) to win here.




BEST ORIGINAL SONG="Skyfall", Skyfall


This category is up there with Best Director as the toughest category of the night to predict.  Anna Karenina, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Les Miserables all have a shot at winning this category.  The only hints we have received about where this category is headed are Anna Karenina winning the ADG and Les Miserables winning the BAFTA so I guess it would be best to go with one of those two.



Les Miserables has the most evident sound mixing out of the nominees so expect that to be a major influence on non-Sound Mixer voters on the category.  Life of Pi is a major possibility though.


Now onto what I have in store for the rest of Oscar week.  Friday I will be reviewing the Live Action Short Nominees, Inocente and probably A Royal Affair.  Saturday I will be releasing my List of Demands to Academy voters as well as a roundup of all of the reviews I have done for this year's nominees.  Sunday I will be attending an Oscars party so there will be nothing from me except the occasional tweet.  Monday will be my ceremony recap and next Wednesday will be my first attempt at predicting the 86th Academy Awards (next year's nominees).

30 Rock: Season 7 Review

            Final seasons have a tendency of being bad.  For every good final season, there is one that ends up with no closure because the show got cancelled (too many shows to count end up in this category).  Of course just as bad is when you get a final season of a show that has run so far past its creative capacity that there is nothing left to put in the final season (ala Entourage or the current season of The Office).  While 30 Rock had nothing to worry about with the former (NBC has been dedicated to Tina Fey’s comedy even if the ratings have been terrible), the show really did have to worry about falling into the latter category.  After its second season, 30 Rock has had numerous ups and downs creatively, and it was tough to even think about what we would get out of its final season.  Luckily, Tina Fey and company stepped up their game as we got one of the best final seasons in recent memory as the show deftly combined funny and sweetness.

            The final season of 30 Rock continues the crazy lives of everyone involved with TGS with Tracy Jordan.  Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is desperately trying to start a family with Chris (James Marsden), while Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is trying to figure out what he is missing in his life now that he seemingly has everything.  Meanwhile, at the studio, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy (Tracy Morgan) have found themselves with more control as everyone has their attentions elsewhere.  That of course means trouble is only a few seconds away.  Tina Fey and Robert Carlock continued their duties as co-showrunners while Beth McCarthy-Miller led the directing team for the show.

            Throughout its run, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s writing had a tendency to get a little too crazy for its own good.  All of a sudden the characters would become joke-dropping caricatures without any personality to them.  Luckily, Fey and Carlock honed this tendency in and it seemed like they gave each character an actual arc to work with.  However, there were still more than enough jokes included to make you laugh.  There were still those crazy guest appearances (highlights included Chloe Grace Moretz as Jack Donaghy’s reoccurring nemesis, Octavia Spencer playing herself as a female version of Tracy Jordan, Bryan Cranston as Kenneth’s father-in-law and Will Arnett returning as Jack Donaghy’s other nemesis), all of those funny pop culture references and those episodes that work as parodies of real-life events (“Stride of Pride”, which made fun of Adam Carolla’s real life declaration that women aren’t funny, was a season highlight).  The writers also found a way to give everyone’s arc a sweet ending in the middle of all of the hilarity.

            The cast gave some of their best performances this past season.  Tina Fey was at the top of her game.  It helped that she and her writing team gave her some of the best material of the entire show’s run, but Fey also stepped up her game as an actor (one scene with Tracy Morgan in the series finale will be a series highlight of her acting ability).  Alec Baldwin was his typical great self.  Baldwin may not have gotten the amount of material he normally does but Jack Donaghy has already earned a spot in the television character Hall of Fame.  Even supporting actors like Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer and (especially) Tracy Morgan delivered some of their best performances of the series as the annoying tendencies of their characters were toned down.

            30 Rock delivered a final season that cemented its status as one of the best comedies of its generation.


How to Survive a Plague Review

            It can add a lot to a documentary when its content is presented in an interesting format.  Some of the success of How to Survive a Plague (which is nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar and is, in this person’s opinion, the best documentary of 2012) is due to the format in which it is presented in.  Dealing with events that happened in the 1980s and 1990s, the filmmakers are somehow able to get a wealth of firsthand footage despite the fact that this took place well before the Social Network Age we live in now.  Of course all of this footage is utilized to create a compelling tale of the fight against AIDS.

            How to Survive a Plague follows the grassroots campaign to fight government obstruction in the fight against AIDS as well as the search for a cure.  The film is directed by David France (who is a prominent investigative reporter in New York who is making his directorial debut with this film).

            David France does a fantastic job in presenting a subject matter that is slowly being forgotten as treatment has become better.  With absolutely no cure available, France is able to capture the fear and chaos that erupted as the AIDS breakout began in the 80s.  As someone who was born after the height of the AIDS pandemic, this was all new to me and it was just shocking. 

            While nothing is ultimately able to match these opening scenes, France does a strong job of keeping the momentum of the story going.  As the search for a cure begins, France somehow finds material of different experimental projects going on that is quite intriguing.  This is also mixed with footage of people who are suffering from AIDS.  He finds the perfect amount of this type of footage to fit in because as a viewer you are left shocked but never overwhelmed at the extent that AIDS goes to on the human body.

            The only thing that really works against this film is something that affects many documentaries: it’s runtime.  While there is a lot of material that should have been included in this film, the pacing does suffer a bit in the second half.  It probably would have helped the film if it lost ten minutes or so.

            How to Survive a Plague presents an interesting subject matter in an interesting format.  It is the best documentary of the year and David France and his team should be on stage at the Dolby Theater accepting the Best Documentary Oscar later this month. 


AllTrail's Connecticut Top 10

If you ever want to get into hiking there is no greater app that I could recommend than AllTrails. Due to a large user base, AllTrails has o...

Popular Posts