Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nomination Predictions 2013

I'm demented with fever and fatigue, so forgive the lack of commentary, but here are my best guesses and, in some cases, my willfully reckless counter-intuitions regarding tomorrow's Oscar nominations:

Picture: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, The Wolf of Wall Street
runners-up: Philomena, Her

Director: Coens (Llewyn), Cuaron (Gravity), Greengrass (Captain), McQueen (12 Years), Russell (Hustle)
runners-up: Payne, Scorsese, Vallée, Jonze

Actress: Adams (Hustle), Blanchett (Jasmine), Bullock (Gravity), Dench (Philomena), Thompson (Banks)
runners-up: Streep, Exarchopoulos
toyed with: dropping Bullock for Streep, but couldn't commit

Actor: Dern (Nebraska), DiCaprio (Wolf), Ejiofor (12 Years), Isaac (Llewyn), McConaughey (Dallas)
runners-up: Hanks, Redford
toyed with: being less optimistic about Isaac, but I can't help it
how 'bout that: Bale (Hustle)

Supporting Actress: Hawkins (Jasmine), Lawrence (Hustle), Nyong'o (12 Years), Squibb (Nebraska), Winfrey (Butler)
runners-up: Roberts

Supporting Actor: Abdi (Captain), Brühl (Rush), Cooper (Hustle), Fassbender (12 Years), Leto (Dallas)
runners-up: Gandolfini, Hill, Forte
toyed with: promoting my beloved Gandolfini, but I don't want to jinx it

Original Screenplay: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska
runners-up: Blue Jasmine, Enough Said

Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave, Before Midnight, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Captain Phillips, Philomena
runners-up: August: Osage County, The Wolf of Wall Street

Foreign Film: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Grandmaster (Hong Kong), The Great Beauty (Italy), The Hunt (Denmark), Omar (Palestine)
runners-up: The Notebook, Two Lives, The Missing Picture, Iron Picker

Animated Feature: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises
runners-up: Monsters University

Documentary: Blackfish, Dirty Wars, God Loves Uganda, The Square, Stories We Tell
runners-up: Which Way..., The Act of Killing, 20 Feet from Stardom, Tim's Vermeer
how 'bout that: Cutie and the Boxer

Cinematography: 12 Years a Slave !!!, The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners
runners-up: Nebraska, The Great Beauty, Captain Phillips, The Great Gatsby

Film Editing: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Rush, The Wolf of Wall Street
runners-up: 12 Years a Slave
toyed with: including the obvious front-runner, but I suspect Slave will stumble in a few races
how 'bout that: Dallas Buyers Club

Production Design: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
runners-up: The Invisible Woman, The Grandmaster, Inside Llewyn Davis
how 'bout that: Her

Costume Design: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, Saving Mr. Banks
runners-up: The Lone Ranger, The Grandmaster, The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis

Makeup & Hairstyling: American Hustle !!!, Dallas Buyers Club, The Lone Ranger
runners-up: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Great Gatsby

Original Score: 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, The Book Thief, Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks
runners-up: Captain Phillips, Philomena, The Great Gatsby, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
how 'bout that: Her

Original Song: "Let It Go" (Frozen), "The Moon Song" (Her), "Ordinary Love" (Mandela), "So You Know What It's Like" (Short Term 12), "Young and Beautiful" (Gatsby)
runners-up: "Amen" (All Is Lost), "In the Middle of the Night" (Butler), "Sweeter Than Fiction" (One Chance), "Last Mile Home" (Osage), "My Lord Sunshine (Sunrise)" (12 Years), "Atlas" (Hunger Games), "Stay Alive" (Mitty), "Rise Up" (Epic)
how 'bout that: "Alone Yet Not Alone" (Alone), "Happy" (Despicable)

Sound Mixing: 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Rush
runners-up: Frozen, Inside Llewyn Davis, All Is Lost, World War Z, The Wolf of Wall Street, Iron Man 3, The Hobbit
how 'bout that: Lone Survivor

Sound Editing: All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Lone Survivor, Rush
runners-up: World War Z, Iron Man 3, The Hobbit, 12 Years a Slave, The Great Gatsby

Visual Effects: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness
runners-up: The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, World War Z

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My "Team Experience Awards" Ballot

The Oscar nominations drop this Thursday morning, and people are almost as excited about those as they are about the Team Experience Awards, for which all the regular contributors to Nathaniel R's cinephiliac smorgasbord The Film Experience have been polled for their ranked favorites in 18 categories. The industrious and debonair Amir Soltani, whose tastes I can never pigeonhole and whose recommendations I always take seriously, has crunched all the numbers into a winner's list, which ought to go live on Tuesday night. But we've also been invited (read: encouraged) to post our individual ballots on our own sites.

I'm sort of going to do that. Bear in mind what many of you will already know: awards ballots are often unreliable as pure indicators of a voter's taste, distorted either by lingering indecisions, bothersome omissions in viewing, or a tactic of suppressing total outliers in favor of promoting your favorite underdogs among more probable contenders. I suppressed my urge to vote the latter way, even when a Best Picture vote for Southwest is a strategic waste that a Bling Ring or Touch of Sin might have parlayed to better advantage. Still, I'm noodling a bit with my finalized acting ballots and with my actual Top Ten of 2013 (though maybe you noticed that Top Tens for 2012 are now posted??).  So, in those cases and a couple others I have decided to post my drafted longlists of contenders, keeping you in slightly longer suspense about my definitive favorites.

I'm under contract to post a series of Best of 2013 features for another site, so I can't get lost in my usual wormhole of unfulfilled promises, if that's any consolation. None of this is to say that I'm perfectly confident I didn't blow something major in one of the other categories. In fact, I'm sure I'd have generated different rankings and even different films on different days. But this is more or less what I submitted, culled from the best lists I could find of films that opened commercially in the U.S. during 2013. Thanks to Amir for some clarifications as far as release dates, and to Mike D'Angelo for his wonderfully comprehensive index of movies that played commercially in New York City.

1. At Berkeley
2. The Act of Killing
3. The Missing Picture
4. Brave Miss World
5. Leviathan
(with apologies to close sixth-placer Let the Fire Burn)

1. Gravity
2. The Great Gatsby
3. World War Z
4. Post Tenebras Lux
5. Man of Steel
(with Oblivion the only other film I seriously weighed)

(an alphabetical longlist)
-. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
-. F. Murray Abraham, Inside Llewyn Davis
-. Alec Baldwin, Blue Jasmine
-. Alfredo Castro, No
-. David Dastmalchian, Prisoners
-. James Franco, Spring Breakers
-. James Gandolfini, Enough Said
-. Sean Gilder, The Selfish Giant
-. John Henshaw, The Angels' Share
-. Peter Kazungu, Paradise: Love
-. Stacy Keach, Nebraska
-. Yiftach Klein, Fill the Void
-. Fran Kranz, Much Ado About Nothing
-. Lance LeGault, Prince Avalanche
-. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
-. Joseph Lorenz, Paradise: Hope
-. Louis CK, American Hustle
-. Ben Mendelsohn, The Place Beyond the Pines
-. David Oyelowo, Lee Daniels' The Butler
-. Gary Skjoldmose Porter, A Hijacking
-. Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Live-Blogging the 2013 Golden Globes

10:00 Good night, everybody!  Fey and Poehler called their ceremony "the beautiful mess they hoped it would be."  It didn't feel that beautiful to me, and I'm curious if it's quite what they wanted; they sure do make themselves scarce as the ceremonies wear on.  On top of what I just wrote, I'm most happy for Alfonso Cuarón, Spike Jonze, Amy Adams, and the Frozen filmmakers. And, sight unseen, for Cranston, Wright, Moss, and Poehler.

9:59 A barely-awake Johnny Depp did what needed to be done and bestowed upon 12 Years a Slave its rightful prize.  I know I just said how much I love another nominee and how much I like a third one (Philomena and Rush feel like non-entities, especially the latter, and not only in awards terms.) Still, Slave feels to me like their unambiguous superior, even if you're treating creative achievement separately from thematic and contextual importance.  I'm delighted for the team who got to accept the top prize, and thank goodness for Onstage MVP Sarah Paulson, feeding a nervous McQueen some necessary names, particularly Sean Bobbitt's and Dede Gardner's.

But I mentioned Atonement before, and as befell that so-called front-runner after the Globes, I'm worried that 12 Years comes out of the evening feeling like a loser even though it won.  Oh, well. Makes the Oscar predicting game more interesting, I guess!  And the prize will still sit on the right mantel.

I'm Rooting For: 12 Years a Slave, but Gravity is nearly as superb. Captain Phillips, while not on the same level as those two, is an easy contender to feel good about.
I'm Predicting: 12 Years a Slave, in an Atonement-esque situation of taking the top prize even after looking quite weak all night.

9:53 Anyway (sorry, for the see-sawing), I really liked Dallas Buyers Club and haven't felt too persuaded by any of the recent takedowns and ideological critiques of its standpoint and historical revisionism.  But McConaughey and Leto have made it harder tonight to feel settled in my affection for the film, through their discomfiting representations of the movie and of themselves. Again, they weren't awful, exactly. But they whiffed on the opportunity to be more ambassadorial for the film, or to reassure anyone who feels uneasy with their involvements and perspectives, or the politics of the film. Didn't help that neither said "AIDS," "HIV," or anything less euphemistic than "all the Rayons"; I'm sure they spoke from the heart, but they seemed a little trapped in the kinds of cautious euphemisms and silences that their characters explicitly suffered under.

9:52 Okay, so Blanchett.  I mean, don't get me wrong, she was totally poised and everything, and took inspiration from the HFPA and blended Comedy and Drama in a barely distinguishable combo.  That was cool, but also made me a little dizzy; I might have preferred a speech that was more obviously silly or sincere.  Anyway, it was definitely a post-vodka, late-in-the-evening toss-off.  We have more to look forward to from future speeches.  But she did say that Dianne Wiest was her all-time inspiration as an actress, and that is Everything.  Please, newspaper editors, make that your headline.

9:50 Matthew McConaughey's speech isn't landing that well, partly because of McConaughey'isms, and partly because he's pitching it a little too hard.  And he's sounding a little... unreconstructed.  The 12 Years a Slave table is having an awfully hard time not looking dismayed by their total shutout so far.

I'm Rooting For: McConaughey, but much like Wilson Phillips, you won't see me cry (cry... cry...) if Ejiofor or maybe Redford pops up there.
I'm Predicting: And I'm thinking Redford might. I was thinking that even before 12 Years started striking out all night.

9:46 Cate extemporizes quite well. Pretty well.  Honestly, it gets a little weird at times.  But hold on, before I can say more.

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