2014 Oscar Predictions

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The big day is almost upon us – the 2014 Academy Award ceremony airs this Sunday. It seemed so far away, but a chaotic and stressful February has mostly flown by. One of the casualties of this rough month has been my annual Oscar death race. I had been looking forward to trying to see as many of the nominees as possible like previous years, but a whole host of outside circumstances made that nearly impossible this year. I had seen all the major award nominees before they were announced, so I’m still in better shape than most of the country, but I’m still disappointed. I wouldn’t have been able to see all the nominees anyway, since two of the animated films haven’t gone to wide release yet, so that is some small solace.  I’ll hopefully bounce back next year to chase after obscure foreign films, but I just didn’t have it in me this year.

That won’t stop me from making some predictions, however; even in the years where I have seen more of the nominees, I usually wind up guessing. On some things, my tastes and the majority (or plurality) of the Academy are simpatico; on others, we differ quite a bit. What I think will win and what I want to win are sometimes two very different ideas. Who knows – this could be the year that my accuracy actually increases because I don’t have to take my personal feeling into account for some categories.

So without any further ado – here are my predictions for the 2014 Oscars:

Best Picture:

12 Years a Slave

This is an extremely close race this year and there are several of the 9 nominated film that I could see possibly walking away with a trophy. For me, I think it’s probably down to 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle and while Hustle was my favorite film of the year, I think that the importance of 12 Years a Slave will ultimately give it the edge. I’m guessing that voters will be more inclined to pick the more serious film. I don’t think that Nebraska, Captain Philips, Philomena of Her have any real chance, but a win for Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street or Dallas Buyers Club isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

 

Actor in a Leading Role:

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

I was torn on this one – I’d like to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally pick up a win, but Oscar voters love a physically transformative performance and that gives the clear edge to McConaughey. I’d like to think that Chiwetel Ejiofor is in the conversation as well, but I haven’t heard a lot of buzz to indicate that. This would be a great capper on what has turned out to be the Year of McConaughey. Bruce Dern and Christian Bale were also great, but I don’t think that they’ll be factors.

 

 

Actress in a Leading Role:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

I’m pretty sure that this is Blanchett’s award to lose; she’s done quite well at the earlier awards shows and she really gave an outstanding performance. I think Amy Adams is the best shot for an upset, but unless Blanchett did something awful to a lot of Academy voters, she appears to be a lock to win. Meryl Streep always makes things interesting, but I didn’t think her performance in August: Osage County was one of her best.

 

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Leto’s performance was one of my favorite things that I saw this year, so I’ll be thrilled to see him win. He completely disappeared into his portrayal of Rayon and brought a sensitivity and fragility to that role that was essential for the movie to work. I kind of like the idea of “Academy Award Winner Jonah Hill” appearing on posters for movies like 22 Jump Street, but I don’t think that is going to happen.

 

Actress in a Supporting Role

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

I hate to go against my girl Jennifer Lawrence, but I think that Lupita Nyong’o will ultimately walk away with this one. She had the more challenging role and really nailed it; you can’t think about that movie without thinking about her Patsey. 12 Years a Slave was her film debut, which may hurt her with Oscar voters, but in the end I think she’ll ultimately walk away the winner.

 

Animated Feature Film

Frozen

I was going to go out on a limb here and name The Wind Rises (a film that I haven’t actually seen from acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki), but I don’t think that will be any competition for the Disney machine. I quite enjoyed Frozen and it’s a nice throwback to the classic Disney movies of the 90s. And let’s be honest – there is no stopping “Let It Go.”

 

Cinematography

Gravity

Few films were as visually stunning this year as Gravity and I think that the voters will reward the cinematographer for that achievement. I liked the black and white landscape of Nebraska, but the Midwest is no competition for the wonder of outer space.

 

Costume Design

American Hustle

I loved so many things about American Hustle, but the clothes were at the top of my list. I have a soft spot for 1970s couture, so I was in heaven while watching this film. It would have been easy to get caught up in 70s kitsch, but the costume designer showed enough restraint that the characters didn’t become caricatures.

 

Directing

Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

The sheer magnitude of what he was able to pull off with all the special effects will surely win Cuarón Best Director. I had my issues with Gravity, but I think that Academy voters will be so awe-inspired by what he put up on the big screen that I don’t think the other directors have much of a chance.

 

Documentary Feature

20 Feet from Stardom

I predict that the change in the voting this year for documentaries (now open to all Academy voters) will result in a win for the more crowd pleasing 20 Feet from Stardom over some of the more depressing films that are in contention for Best Documentary. I really liked 20 Feet, so I have no issue with the win should it happen; I thought it was an interesting look at the world of being a back-up singer. And any movie that featured Bruce Springsteen gets my vote.

 

Documentary Short Subject

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

This is a total guess as I’ve seen none of these nominees and there usually isn’t a lot of news on the frontrunners in this category.  The woman profiled in The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life just died, so it would be nice to see that film win.

 

Film Editing

Gravity

I think that Gravity is going to win most of the visual awards. Just a hunch.

 

Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

This is how you know I really dropped the ball this year – usually I’ve seen at least half of the foreign language films and this year I’ve seen nada. But I’ve heard good things about The Broken Circle Breakdown, so it gets my vote.

 

Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club

I think this wins by default because I think most Academy voters would have a tough time voting for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa or The Lone Ranger.

 

Music – Original Score

Her

I liked a lot of things about Her, but the music in particular stood out to me which is saying something as I am usually pretty oblivious to that stuff. I don’t know if John Williams being in this race will have any bearing – he’s a known quality – but I hope he isn’t a factor. I did notice the music in The Book Thief, but mostly because I found it schmaltzy and cloying.

 

Music – Original Song

“Let It Go”

Case closed

 

Production Design

Gravity

Just going with the trend.

 

Short Film – Animated

Get a Horse!

I honestly didn’t really like this short, but it brings back Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse so I think that will be enough for people to get all nostalgic.

 

Short Film – Live Action

The Voorman Problem

I liked this title the best of the options.

 

Sound Editing

Gravity

In space, no one may be able to hear you scream, but you can sure hear things colliding with one another.

 

Sound Mixing

Gravity

Sure – why not?

 

Visual Effects

Gravity

 

Writing – Adapted Screenplay

The Wolf of Wall Street

I don’t know if this will actually win, but I’m reading the book The Wolf of Wall Street and Terence Winter deserves the award. That book is not very well written. At all. Jordan Belfort might know a lot of ways to hustle people out of money, but he has a very limited knowledge of adjectives.

 

Writing – Original Screenplay

Her

Not everyone loved this movie, but I think people can agree that it is a pretty unique story idea. I don’t know if that will be enough to get Her the win, but it is certainly the most non-traditional nominee.

 

What are your Oscar predictions? Let us know who you think will be a big winner on Sunday – and watch Monday for my love blog of the Oscars ceremony.

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Holding Out For A Hero

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This weekend it was announced that for some inexplicable reason, NBC is resurrecting their show Heroes for a 13 episode miniseries in 2015.

This is a terrible idea, but one that is totally in keeping with the current decision making over at the peacock. While the network struggles to remain relevant, their main strategy seems to be recycling things from the past. The supposed savior this year was Michael J. Fox, until the network realized that nostalgia for an actor can only take you so far when they are in a crappy TV show. The lesson that NBC took away from the failure of The Michael J. Fox Show (and, to a lesser degree Sean Saves the World) was not that recycling sitcom stars from the past was a bad idea, but that they simply didn’t go back far enough. NBC is now working with Bill Cosby in developing a new family comedy. I guess their reasoning is if it worked in 1984, it will work now.

The irony is, this logic doesn’t apply to Heroes, a show that clearly didn’t work all that well even when it was originally on. I was fully on board for the first season of the show and thought that they had an original and interesting show on their hands, until they completely choked in the execution of the finale. The entire first season was building to an epic showdown and what we got was an anticlimactic mess and a clear understanding that there were no real stakes in the series because they seemed unwilling to kill characters off. While the special effects for the rest of the season had been adequate, the big fight scene looked like it was being done on a sound stage built to resemble New York City. I don’t remember much of the details of the finale – other than the world and the rules that they carefully constructed all season suddenly didn’t matter – but I vividly remember turning to my friends when it ended and all of us looking very disappointed. I only lasted a few additional episodes into season 2 before I bailed; I no longer cared about saving the cheerleader or the fate of Hiro. The show had just lost its way and I heard it didn’t get better until it slumped toward cancellation. I actually don’t remember anyone that I knew who was still actively engaged in the show in its final episodes; people may have been watching, but more out of habit than any real interest.

And this is the show that NBC has decided to revive.

Now, to be fair, I think that Heroes pulled in some decent ratings for the duration of its run; they dipped from what they had been, but for NBC it was still pulling in some respectable numbers. But the fact that the network continues to retread old ideas in an attempt to find a ratings hit does not inspire a lot of confidence. To me, these are desparate moves by a desperate network; I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that NBC has secretly been begging the Friends cast to reunite and backing up the Brink’s truck to offer the cast ungodly amounts of money.

If NBC is really committed to this idea of dusting off old shows for a reboot, I have some ideas for other projects to consider. I would much rather see a new version of these shows than more episodes of Heroes.

Silver Spoons (1982-86)

 

Admittedly, I haven’t re-watched this show since I was a kid, but it has always held a soft spot in my heart because Ricky Schroder was my first crush. Plus who wouldn’t dream of living in that house with all the arcade video games and that train that ran throughout the house. They may have to update the technology a bit – kids today might not be too impressed with Pac Man and Donkey Kong – but I’d be curious enough about this that I’d tune in for a few episodes. I have no idea what the premise would be – Ricky Stratton now has kids of his own? – but I’m guessing that Alfonso Ribeiro is available.

NewsRadio (1995-99)

 

I always enjoyed NewsRadio, though the show never really recovered from the untimely death of Phil Hartman. He wasn’t necessarily the star of the show, but he was its anchor and the show lost its way a bit after he died. This wasn’t a particularly popular show on NBC, but I think that would give them more leeway in a reboot (though the show did have some hardcore fans that would need to be placated). This was always one of the better workplace comedies because it had interesting characters and a good ensemble cast. Keep the dynamics and move the location to a TV station if you want to make it more current, but I still think it would work.

 

Golden Girls (1985-92)

 

It is amazing the amount of goodwill that women my age have about a show that featured women over 50, especially since when the show originally aired, we were barely teenagers. On paper, that makes absolutely no sense, but poll any group of women in their thirties and I guarantee that they loved this show and watch re-runs. I watched the show every Saturday night, though in retrospect probably half the jokes went over my head. It was only upon revisiting the show as an adult that I realized all the innuendo in Golden Girls. This show also has a cult following in the gay community; the LOGO network used to air old episodes every Friday night. So there is a built in fan base for this show. Throw in Betty White as the Sophia character and this is a home run. I would totally watch the hell out of that show.

My Two Dads (1987-90)

 

OK – this was a terrible show; even as a kid I knew that this wasn’t good television. I mean, the central premise of the show is that the mother got pregnant and didn’t know who the father was, which does not exactly scream family sitcom (in retrospect, that was kind of risqué for the 80s). The only good that really came out of My Two Dads was the introduction of the world to a young Giovanni Ribisi. I doubt anyone really remembers this show anyway, so I say that NBC recycles the name and the vague recognition that it would have with some people and make this a show about a family headed up by two gay men (as long as one of them isn’t Sean Hayes – unless the other dad is Eric McCormack, to double down on the recycling). It would be old and new at the same time.

What old shows would you like NBC to consider rebooting? Are you more excited about the resurrection of Heroes than I am? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

Trailer Alert – Silicon Valley

Unfortunately, I think blog posts are going to be few and far between this week – work has been incredibly stressful and I have lots of errands and things to do after work, which means that by the time I get home all I really want to do is go to bed. It’s so bad that I have 4 episodes of The Tonight Show sitting on my DVR; I’ve NEVER been that far behind when it comes to my pal Jimmy Fallon. But that is the current state of Heather’s world (both the blog and in reality).

Things should hopefully calm down in the next week, but I didn’t want to leave you completely hanging for the week. So today I wanted to highlight the trailer for the new HBO series, Silicon Valley, from the brain of Mike Judge.

 

Now, I know very little about computer programming (despite the fact that my mother was one before I was born), but I am really looking forward to this show. It stars several comedians that I really like; I’ve been a fan of Martin Starr from back when he was on Freaks and Geeks and I always get a kick out of T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani. I am more familiar with Miller and Nanjiani from the podcast world – both are frequent guests on one of my favorite pods, Doug Loves Movies – though some of you may recognize Miller from Yogi Bear and from the recent series of “Lazy Phone” Motorola commercials:

 

I’m hoping that their hilarity on podcasts and doing standup will translate to a successful show. Starr is always solid in whatever he is in, so that gives me hope. I also like Zack Woods, who was underutilized on The Office.

While I like the majority of the cast, I am primarily excited about this program because it comes from Mike Judge. Judge is the man that brought us Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Office Space and Idiocracy and I think he is generally underrated. I have long been a fan of King of the Hill and Office Space and while Idiocracy isn’t a perfect movie, I appreciate what it was trying to say. I even enjoyed Beavis and Butthead back in the day, though I have no idea how those episodes would hold up over time. Judge has a background in Silicon Valley and he does cultural satire better than most, so I think Silicon Valley has a legitimate chance to be a really funny and great show. Office Space has gotten me through plenty of rough weeks at the office, so I’m hoping that he’ll have the same success with another workplace based comedy. My only real concern is that I absolutely hated his 2009 movie Extract; I’m hoping that is the one anomaly on his resume. The above trailer at least gives me reason to be cautiously optimistic. The network has given it a prime time slot; Silicon Valley will premiere April 6th, following the season premieres of Game of Thrones and Veep. If it doesn’t work after that lead in, then it just won’t work.

Are there any new show debuting that you are looking forward to? What returning show are you most anxiouos to have back in your life? Let us know by sounding off in the comments below.