(*homocinematically inclined)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Men on Film: If We Picked the Oscars 2013

Borrowing a page from Siskel and Ebert back in the good ol' days, Movie Dearest's very own Men on Film — Chris Carpenter and Kirby Holt — are presenting our own version of "If We Picked the Oscars"! These aren't predictions, but what movies, actors, directors, et al that we would vote for if we were members of the Academy. We're also chiming in with our picks for the "egregiously overlooked" non-nominees as well as the "Worst Nominations of the Year", plus: Oscar Trivia!

So without further ado, the envelope please...

The nominees for Best Picture are: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.
And our winners would be:
CC: Out of all the Best Picture candidates, I most enjoyed the smart, sexy and zesty American Hustle and in any other year would probably vote for it. 12 Years a Slave though demands my vote as well as all Academy members’ votes, I feel, for its necessarily painful yet purgative and maybe even redemptive depiction of the darkest chapter in our nation’s history.
KH: No other film last year (actually, for many years) has been as viscerally powerful as the majestic, awe-inspiring Gravity. Emotionally draining and edge-of-your-seat thrilling, the box office sensation and instant classic is a filmmaking triumph on all levels (in other words, expect to see me name it a lot in the categories to follow).
Egregiously Overlooked: Prisoners.

The nominees for Best Actor are: Christian Bale in American Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club.
And our winners would be:
CC: This is for me the strongest category this year, even if I wasn’t enamored by Dern’s turn in Nebraska. The other nominees turned in exceptional, risk-taking performances but none so much as Matthew McConaughey as a real-life straight Texan battling AIDS and his own homophobia in the riveting Dallas Buyers Club. His weight loss, though striking and much discussed, was the least of McConaughey’s dramatic achievements here. He’d get my vote.
KH: Surmounting a factually-questionable script, Matthew McConaughey is near unrecognizable, not just as his character (a desperate, dying man stubbornly hanging on to his life), but as the erstwhile Hollywood hunk of rom com fame.
Egregiously Overlooked: Terence Stamp in Unfinished Song.

The nominees for Best Actress are: Amy Adams in American Hustle, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Judi Dench in Philomena and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County.
And our winners would be:
CC: Cate Blanchett will be a deserved winner for her wrenching turn as a self-delusional southern belle in Blue Jasmine but I would be inclined to vote for Amy Adams, who shows her vast range as an actress in American Hustle. Whether hilarious, hostile, seductive, vulnerable, at the top of her con woman character’s game or on the losing end, Adams impresses more in 135 minutes than in all her previous films combined (with the exception of displaying her musical chops in Enchanted).
KH: Although it's hard to ignore Sandra Bullock's career best work, Cate Blanchett's role of a lifetime — a woman literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown — demands she get her inevitable (yet inarguably wholly-deserved) lead actress prize.
Egregiously Overlooked: Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks.
Oscar Trivia: Meryl Streep continues her reign as the most nominated actor in Oscar history with this, her 18th nomination. 

The nominees for Best Supporting Actor are: Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper in American Hustle, Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club.
And our winners would be:
CC: No discussion or, I feel, justification needed: Jared Leto, revelatory as Dallas Buyers Club’s unforgettable, heartbreaking Rayon.
KH: Jared Leto brings a tender humanity to his haunted, haunting performance as one of society's lost souls who just can't escape her own demons.
Egregiously Overlooked: Hugh Jackman in Prisoners.
Oscar Trivia: As opposed to last year, when each of the nominees in this category was a previous winner, this year's batch is comprised of actors all awaiting their first win.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are: Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts in August: Osage County and June Squibb in Nebraska.
And our winners would be:
CC: Like most of America, I loves me some J. Law and would vote for her neglected housewife with claws in American Hustle… if she hadn’t won the Best Actress Oscar just last year. But as I ponder the nominees in this category, I feel inclined to vote for Sally Hawkins, who did exceptional work as the less privileged but more resilient of the two sisters in Blue Jasmine.
KH: Heartbreakingly raw, newcomer Lupita Nyong'o quietly but powerfully stands out in the otherwise all-star cast of 12 Years a Slave.
Egregiously Overlooked: Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

The nominees for Best Director are: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, David O. Russell for American Hustle and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.
And our winners would be:
CC: I could be inclined to vote for David O. Russell’s terrific work on American Hustle but ultimately must go for Alfonso Cuarón’s technically and visually groundbreaking direction of Gravity, which still wisely kept the focus on Sandra Bullock’s very human reluctant cosmonaut.
KH: Alfonso Cuarón brilliantly crafted something truly unique: an intimate epic.
Egregiously Overlooked: Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips.
Oscar Trivia: History will be made in this category if either of the front-runners wins: Cuarón would be the first Latino winner, while McQueen would be the first black winner.

The nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.
And our winners would be:
CC: John Ridley brings Solomon Northup’s long-forgotten memoir 12 Years a Slave to frighteningly vivid life.
KH: Although I found the florid period language off-putting at times, there's no denying the harrowing potency of 12 Years a Slave.
Egregiously Overlooked: Blue is the Warmest Color.

The nominees for Best Original Screenplay are: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and Nebraska.
And our winners would be:
CC: Written somewhat like an updated, racier version of Oscar winner The Sting, American Hustle is endlessly entertaining yet has some timely things to say about integrity, trust and survival.
KH: Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen's best, most finely-layered script for some time. (Scandal, what scandal?)
Egregiously Overlooked: Gravity.
Oscar Trivia: With 16 nominations in this category, Woody Allen is the most nominated screenwriter in Oscar history. 

The nominees for Best Cinematography are: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and Prisoners.
And our winners would be:
CC: Gravity made one feel they were floating in space right alongside Sandra Bullock and George Clooney thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki’s breathtaking 3D achievement.
KH: Emmanuel Lubezki, previously nominated for such films as Children of Men and The Tree of Life, is long past due for the gold, and his stellar work on Gravity will finally bring it home for him.
Egregiously Overlooked: 12 Years a Slave.

The nominees for Best Production Design are: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her and 12 Years a Slave.
And our winners would be:
CC: There is much to appreciate in Baz Luhrmann’s underrated adaptation of The Great Gatsby but Catherine Martin’s gorgeous sets are obviously and deservedly award-worthy.
KH: The title character's sprawling, party-filled mansion was practically a character itself in the gloriously gaudy The Great Gatsby.
Egregiously Overlooked: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The nominees for Best Costume Design are: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman and 12 Years a Slave.
And our winners would be:
CC: American Hustle took me right back to the late 1970’s thanks in large part to its characters’ groovy attire.
KH: Catherine Martin's frenzied flapper frocks and dapper dan duds were sartorial triumphs in The Great Gatsby.
Egregiously Overlooked: Oz the Great and Powerful.
Oscar Trivia: Catherine Martin previously won in these two categories for Moulin Rouge!, also directed by her husband Baz Luhrmann.  

The nominees for Best Original Score are: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena and Saving Mr. Banks.
And our winners would be:
CC: Alexandre Desplat’s resonant score was for me one of the few award-worthy aspects of Philomena.
KH: Relative newcomer Steven Price shows great promise with his atmospheric, evocative Gravity music.
Egregiously Overlooked: 12 Years a Slave.
Oscar Trivia: With 49 Oscar nominations, including this year's The Book Thief, John Williams is the second most-nominated person in Academy Award history, after Walt Disney (ironically, a character in competing film Saving Mr. Banks).

The nominees for Best Original Song are: "Happy" from Despicable Me 2, "Let It Go" from Frozen, "The Moon Song" from Her and "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
And our winners would be:
CC: All of the nominees in this category are worthy, even the later disqualified “Alone Yet Not Alone,” and I love Pharrell Williams’ catchy “Happy” despite its rather repetitive refrain. But Frozen’s “Let It Go” is truly masterful and signals a great crossover from theatre to film for married composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon).
KH: Not since "Hakuna Matata" has a toon tune broken out as big as "Let It Go"... see all the YouTube covers and parodies to prove it. A stirring "coming out" anthem (think about it) with show-stopping vocals by Idina Menzel that has us in "can't wait" mode for her live performance on Oscar night.
Egregiously Overlooked: "Love is an Open Door" from Frozen.
Oscar Trivia: With three Tonys, two Emmys and a Grammy already, Robert Lopez is poised to be the newest (and youngest) EGOT.

The nominees for Best Film Editing are: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.
And our winners would be:
CC: Captain Phillips was one of the most intense films of the year, second only to Gravity, largely due to its superior editing.
KH: I won't be defying Gravity of this one.
Egregiously Overlooked: Prisoners.

The nominees for Best Sound Mixing are: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis and Lone Survivor.
And our winners would be:
CC: I would vote for the cosmic orchestration of heavenly and earthly sounds employed in Gravity.
KH: We all know that in space, no one can hear you scream, so all we did and did not hear in Gravity is thanks to the expert sound crew.
Egregiously Overlooked: Frozen.

The nominees for Best Sound Editing are: All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Lone Survivor.
And our winners would be:
CC: I’m inclined to go with All is Lost because it is the only nomination this otherwise under-appreciated drama received.
KH: Got to go with Gravity again.
Egregiously Overlooked: Evil Dead.

The nominees for Best Visual Effects are: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness.
And our winners would be:
CC: As much as I admire the villainous dragon Smaug and many of the effects in The Hobbit chapter 2, I gotta go with the spectacular Gravity.
KH: From Méliès' A Trip to the Moon to Kubrick's 2001 to the Star Wars saga, there has been a long history of cinematic space spectacles; you can now add Gravity to that list of watershed events in visual effects.
Egregiously Overlooked: Man of Steel.

The nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling are: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger.
And our winners would be:
CC: While my vote is deserved, I would have to vote here for Dallas Buyers Club no matter what since I haven’t seen the other nominees...
KH: ... but I have (thanks, Makeup Branch; and while I have your attention, how about upping the nominees to five already?). Frankly, the makeup in DBC is a bit too subtle, so I'm left with the one of the two Johnny's. I'll go with Depp's Old Tonto in Lone Ranger over Knoxville's saggy scrotum in Bad Grandpa.
Egregiously Overlooked: American Hustle.

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Célestine, Frozen and The Wind Rises.
And our winners would be:
CC: While I wasn’t as enamored of it as many, Frozen would get my vote since it is the most visually ravishing and tuneful candidate.
KH: Well, count me among those completely enamored with Frozen, the only computer animation from the Mouse House to match their traditional classics such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.
Egregiously Overlooked: Monsters University.
Oscar Trivia: A Frozen victory would, amazingly, be the first win for a Disney-made film in this category.

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Great Beauty (Italy), The Hunt (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia) and Omar (Palestine).
And our winners would be:
CC/KH: We'd have to vote for The Hunt in this category since the other foreign nominees have somehow eluded us.
Egregiously Overlooked: Blue is the Warmest Color.

The nominees for Best Documentary Feature are: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square and 20 Feet from Stardom.
And our winners would be:
CC: I was most impressed by the you-are-there immediacy of The Square, which chronicles first-hand the recent “Egyptian spring” uprisings.
KH: I'd be tempted to cast my vote for the vibrant 20 Feet from Stardom in the hopes that more entertaining, less somber nonfiction films would get some more love in this category in the future. Come on, Doc Branch, lighten up!
Egregiously Overlooked: God Loves Uganda.

The nominees for Best Documentary Short are: CaveDigger, Facing Fear, Karama Has No Walls, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life and Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.
And our winners would be:
CC: Facing Fear, a powerfully moving depiction of the accidental reunion of and eventual reconciliation between a gay man and the former neo-Nazi skinhead who beat him nearly to death decades earlier.
KH: It's a (somewhat indelicate) cliché that Holocaust stories always win in the documentary categories. Nevertheless, the uplifting The Lady in Number 6 stands out for me.

The nominees for Best Animated Short are: Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr. Hublot, Possessions and Room on the Broom.
And our winners would be:
CC: Disney’s stylistic mash-up Get a Horse! is a clever and very funny delight.
KH: In a year that includes an anime fable (Possessions), a hand drawn allegory (Feral) and the seemingly requisite annual steampunk entry (Mr. Hublot), it is nevertheless the most widely-seen (thanks to a theatrical pairing with Frozen) nominee, the entertainingly retro Get a Horse! that gets my vote.
Oscar Trivia: Although Walt Disney won a special Academy Award for the creation of Mickey in 1934, a cartoon starring the iconic mouse has never won an Oscar.

The nominees for Best Live Action Short are: Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Helium, Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) and The Voorman Problem.
And our winners would be:
CC: The unbearably but deliciously intense Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), in which a mother and her children hide out from their abusive husband and father.
KH: It's a very strong field this year, yet I'm a sucker for bittersweet tales like the lovely, winsome Helium, which would easily get my vote.

And now for our own special category of dishonorable mention, the Worst Nomination of the Year:
CC: In a performance that is borderline camp, Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep embarrassingly chews the scenery in August: Osage County.
KH: U2's Mandela them "Ordinary Love" is just that: ordinary. I'd take the nominated-yet-not nominated "Alone Yet Not Alone" any day over this irrelevant mediocrity.

And so the final march to Oscar glory begins. Tune in to the Big Show, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, on ABC this Sunday to see who wins, as well as which nominees are rocking the best (and worst) gowns, most attractive escorts and most heartfelt acceptance speeches.

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