Producers Guild and Writers Guild Nominations, Inside Llewyn Davis takes a double blow

PGA Awards 2013Producers Guild Nominations

  • 12 Years A Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Producers: Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner
  • American Hustle (Columbia Pictures) Producers: Megan Ellison, Jon Gordon, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
  • Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
  • Captain Phillips (Columbia Pictures) Producers: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
  • Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) Producers: Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
  • Gravity (Warner Bros. Pictures) Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
  • Her (Warner Bros. Pictures) Producers: Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay
  • Nebraska (Paramount Pictures) Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
  • Saving Mr. Banks (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) Producers: Ian Collie, Alison Owen, Philip Steuer
  • Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount Pictures) Producers: Riza Aziz, Emma Koskoff, Joey McFarland

Analysis:  The PGA uses the same voting system that the Oscars have adopted in the past couple of years so we can assume that the majority of these nominees with translate to the big show.  The major exclusion here is the Coen Bros’s melancholy folk film Inside Llewyn Davis.  After being critically heralded and receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the BFCA awards, it seems that the Coen flick is not playing as strongly with the guilds.  The most surprisingly inclusions are Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, which has not been getting much attention outside of Cate Blanchett’s performance.  Could this indicate more love for a film which has only been expected to score nominations in Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay?  I’d say it’s too little, too late.  However, the big story is the dominance of Dallas Buyers Club during these guild awards and it chocks up another one after the SAG nominated it for Best Ensemble a few weeks back.  Most people were expecting the film to only score nominations for Best Actor and Supporting Actor, but it seems like the film is generating more love overall.  I do not understand the appeal for this film outside of Matthew McConaughey’s, admittedly, fantastic performance.  The other performances seem like caricatures and the writing is laughable at times.  This is destined to get nominated now and be the yearly film that doesn’t generate any real emotion from me outside of a simple “meh.”

Prediction: Many pundits are predicting Gravity since it was an incredibly difficult production, revolutionized technology for visual effects and cinematography, and made a shit ton of money.  However, I think that the winner will be 12 Years A Slave as McQueen’s film continues its long march to winning the big prize on Oscar night as well. The last time the PGA prize did not correspond with the Best Picture Oscar was back in 2006 when Little Miss Sunshine took the PGA prize, but Scorsese’s The Departed triumphed at the Oscars.  I do not think we will have differing opinions again this year.

WGA 2013Writers Guild Nominations

ORIGINAL SCREEPLAY

  • American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures
  • Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
  • Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features
  • Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
  • Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures

Analysis:  As we saw the previous day at the Producers Guild Awards, it seems that Inside Llewyn Davis is not going to play as strongly with the guilds as it has with critics. This one is particularly disconcerting because the Coens are renowned for their screenwriting talents and you would have thought their peers would have went from them if anyone did.  I am utterly baffled at the love for Dallas Buyers Club recently, but this is the cherry on top.  The script was hands down the weakest aspect of the film and I cannot get the image of Jennifer Garner angrily hitting a wall with a hammer out of my mind.  Seriously, why the hell is she even in the movie for?!  Hopefully, the Academy will come to the Coens rescue and stop this madness.

Prediction:  American Hustle.  I think the recent revival of David O. Russell’s career these past few years and the overwhelming love his new film is generating is going to translate to a win here and probably at the Oscars.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company
  • Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics
  • Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Seaby Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
  • Lone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures

Analysis:  The nominees here were all to be expected with the bizarre exception of Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor.  The Writers Guild always nominates a film that is wildly out there and has no real prospects during the season simply because their eligibly rules are so strict that they leave out major contenders and need to fill the space.  Since probable Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not eligible and neither were critical favorites like Short Term 12 and Blue is the Warmest Color, it seems that Berg’s film made it in because of a lack of contenders. 

Prediction:  This award could go anywhere since the most probable Oscar winner, 12 Years A Slave, was not eligible for a nomination.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they will reward the talky indie Before Midnight since it will be a reward for the series overall and its three writers who have created a love story that the thirtysomething crowd clearly adores.  However, they could go with The Wolf of Wall Street if they want to reward Terence Winter who has been a mainstay on the television writing scene with The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire.

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

  • Dirty Wars, Written by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker; Sundance Selects
  • Herblock – The Black & The White, Written by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens; The Stevens Company
  • No Place on Earth, Written by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin; Magnolia Pictures
  • Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Written by Alex Gibney; Focus Features

Analysis: I am not too familiar with many of the nominees here outside of Sarah Polly’s film about her real life family.

Prediction: A winner of many of this year’s Best Documentary prizes and directed by a standout young director/writer/actress, this will be an easy prize for Sarah Polley and her film Stories We Tell, which is about her actual family and their hidden secrets.

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

inside llewyn davis 1

The Coen Bros deliver one of the finest films about artistic frustration and disappointment in this study of a pre-Dylan Greenwich Village folk musician who cannot seem to get his personal and professional lives on track.  The filmmaking duo has become synonymous for developing protagonists who are simple-minded, yet greedy people who feel that they are entitled to something they did not earn, like Jerry Lundegaard’s poorly planned ransom scheme in Fargo or Llewelyn Moss’s discovery of coveted drug money in No Country for Old Men.  In this film, even though Llewyn Davis is not an idiot and he works hard as hell to earn the fame and respect that he feels he deserves, it is yet again, like the protagonists before him, all a pipe dream and all for naught.

That is the toughest realization about the Coen’s latest film because, from the audience’s perspective, we know Llewyn is a charming and talented songwriter and has the will to succeed, and yet the world says no.  Oscar Isaac is absolutely magnificent as Llewyn and he performs all of his own singing in the film.  Outside of the beautiful musician we see on stage, Isaac portrays the title character as being quite full of himself.  You can sense his bitterness when he sees his friends Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan) are drawing larger crowds and a good-natured musician (Stark Sands) tells him that he scored a deal with an important music producer.  One of the heartbreaking things about Llewyn is that he is his own worst enemy and his jealousy, pride, and refusal to adapt are the reasons why he is always broke and couch surfing from apartment to apartment each night.  He thrives off the generosity of his friends, some of whom still put up with him and others who are getting tired of his shtick, and yet he still feels that he’ll find success if he can just get out of the Gaslight Cafe and find a real gig.

During the latter half of the film, Llewyn unexpectedly joins a car pool to Chicago with two strangers, the silent poet Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) and the offensive jazz musician Roland Turner (John Goodman).  The road trip reveals some previously undisclosed secrets of the film and eventually leads to the climatic scene of the film in Chicago.  However, my main issue with this section was that I had no idea why Llewyn, a man with hardly a dime to his name, had agreed to go on this trip with these two characters and to split the gas bill for the trip out there.  I do not recall anyone discussing the possibilities that awaited Llewyn in the Windy City and, until I realized why he had come all this way, I thought that the Coen’s had thrown this section of the film together just to have extend Llewyn’s odyssey and have him meet a few new wild characters.  Once we realize why Llewyn has come this far then the road trip immediately starts to make sense and represents his one last hurrah at trying to make it big.  On the road trip back to New York, an absolutely revelatory decision-making scene takes place that will touch a nerve with anyone who has had a split second chance to face the past and couldn’t.  The look of future regret is painted all over Llewyn’s face and we hope, for his sake, that he can channel this into his music.

The film has a very stark, yet beautiful aesthetic and the wintery city streets and Beat-style cafes of 1961 Greenwich Village are completely realized through the production design and cinematography.  The Gaslight Cafe is the center of the musical sequences in the film.  With its dingy bar and tables, the piercing stage light through an almost complete darkness from the rest of the cafe, and the string of right off the bus New York newbies signify that this basement cafe is going to be an important starting point for the birth of the generation’s folk scene.  Designer Jess Gonchor has truly created a world that feels like it is on the brink of change, but has not yet been influenced by Swinging London or modern art.  You can see the hints of early-Mad Men playing a part in the design of the film as New York is finally moving from Eisenhower-America towards a more modern, but young style.  Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel who is famous for his very colorful palettes and sweeping camerawork on the French films Amélie and A Very Long Engagement does a complete 180 as this film primarily uses stark whites and dark blacks and browns.  These new color palettes perfectly display the winter season in New York while also complementing Llewyn’s increasingly frustrated and sullen mood.

And finally, there is the cat and that oddly cyclical beginning/ending.  I have to agree with all of the theories that Llewyn and the cat represent the same person.  From that early subway scene where we see subway stations whizzing by and only see the cat’s face in the reflection to the coincidental timing of when he hits the cat with the car after the decision on the road trip back to New York.  By making the decision that Llewyn ultimately makes in that split second on the road he could be denying himself any sort of purpose in life.  Just like when he does not take the royalties for performing during the song “Please Mr. Kennedy” with Jim and when he refuses to perform as a backup for someone that has lead singer potential, Llewyn is constantly keeping himself from succeeding and from finding purpose.  I believe that hitting the cat on the road represents all of the times we have see Llewyn keep himself from a simple, but admirable life because of his own pride.  The movie begins and ends during the same gig at the Gaslight Cafe and each time he is beaten up by the shady husband of a wife he heckled the night before.  Has Llewyn learned anything at all?  Do the revelations from Jean and the doctor mean anything to him or are they fleeting emotions that he’ll end up disregarding in a few months?  On his trip out to Chicago he contemplates graffiti on a bathroom stall door that says, “What are you doing?”  He doesn’t know what he’s doing or where he’s going and for a man that lives day by day I don’t think he’ll even remember that graffiti in a few weeks.  At the end, Llewyn sees a young Bob Dylan playing at the Gaslight Cafe and I believe this is a sign that, at least for him, things are only going to get harder and he’s nowhere near prepared.

Grade: A-

2013 Broadcast Film Critics Association Nominations!

12 years a slave 1

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

I’d say that this list will transfer, for the most part, over to the Oscars.  However, we have not had 10-nominee Best Picture lineup since the Oscars revised their system so we can assume that someone is going to be left off here.  I’d say the two most vulnerable contenders are Dallas Buyers Club and Saving Mr. Banks.  The former scored an unexpected ensemble nomination at the Screen Actors Guild last week when no one was considering it for this category.  Saving Mr. Banks, however, had the exact opposite scenario happen.  Everyone thought it would be one of the prime Best Picture nominees, but totally missed out at SAG and the Golden Globes outside of the predicable Emma Thompson nomination.  Will both films be left off Oscar’s list and be replaced by one of the two of the other SAG ensemble nominees, Lee Daniels’ The Butler or August: Osage County?  I’d say that the winner here is probably going to be a battle between 12 Years A Slave and Gravity, but I am giving the edge to the former at this present time.  McQueen’s film is the leader in the nomination tally here (not counting all of the Action/Comedy/etc categories, or else American Hustle ties it) with 13 nominations, including being nominated in all of the major categories outside of Supporting Actress.  I’d say 12 Years A Slave is currently in the frontrunner position at the Oscars as well, even if  Cuarón is taking most of the Director statuettes.  

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze – Her
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell – American Hustle
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

I believe that Cuarón, McQueen, and Russell are on their way to Oscar nominations.  While Scorsese definitely needed this nomination, it does not seem that The Wolf of Wall Street is as loved as many had hoped (or has not been seen) so I think outside of Picture, Screenplay, and a few technical nods, it is going to be tough for this film to make it’s mark elsewhere.  I believe Jonze, Greengrass, and Nebraska‘s Alexander Payne are going to be fighting for those last two spots.  This will most likely go to Cuarón since he has been cleaning up on the awards circuit the past few weeks.

Best Actor
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost

This may be the nail in the coffin for Leo after he was also snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild.  He still has a chance because I don’t believe Bale is going to make it to the Oscars, but the other 5 contenders seem to be locked and loaded even if Redford and Hanks seem vulnerable.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

YES BRIE LARSON!  Whew.  I’m ecstatic that she has been recognized by a major group that is not limited in their choices of who to nominate (i.e. the Spirit Awards and Gothams only nominate independent films).  Short Term 12 is one of the most honest films of the year and hinges on her performance.  Unfortunately, I think she is the weakest link here and the other 5 women are probably on their way to nominations.  Hopefully we will see someone else fall out so that Larson could squeak in.  I believe this will be one of the many major prizes that Cate Blanchett wins this season for her shattering work in Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s fusion of A Streetcar Named Desire and the white-collar Bernie Madoff scandal.

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Barkhad Abdi and Daniel Bruhl seemed dead in the water last week after being dissed by most of the regional critic groups along with their films.  However, they both scored nominations from the Globes, SAG, and now here and look like major contenders along with Leto and Fassbender.  I believe the final spot will be a fight between Gandolfini (if they want to go sentimental) and Cooper (if American Hustle really takes off).  It looks like the Jonah Hill prediction is not coming to fruition in the slightest.  As with the rest of the season, this looks like Jared Leto’s to lose at this point.

Best Supporting Actress
Scarlett Johansson – Her
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler

This is probably going to be the shortlist after Scarlett Johansson is taken out of the mix.  I don’t think the Academy is going to go for a vocal-only performance and, while I haven’t seen the film yet, I would agree with them.  It may be an inspired choice, but the fact remains that one of the greatest aspects of film acting are the performer’s gestures and the way they use their faces to convey their emotions, even if they are playing a computer.  I’d say that this will be a fight between Lupita and JLaw she she did not win their prize last year for Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Young Actor/Actress
Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game
Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color
Liam James – The Way Way Back
Sophie Nelisse – The Book Thief
Tye Sheridan – Mud

The only film that I have had a chance to see here is Mud and Sheridan was very good in it.  I think Exarchopoulos has this one in the bag based off of critical adoration.

Best Acting Ensemble
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Nebraska
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

The same nominees that SAG announced last week with the inclusion of The Wolf of Wall Street as well.  They will either go with most likely Best Picture winner of 12 Years A Slave or with American Hustle since the cast is so star-laden.

Best Original Screenplay
Eric Singer and David O. Russell – American Hustle
Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Spike Jonze – Her
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
Bob Nelson – Nebraska

This looks like the list that Oscar will go with unless they attach to Saving Mr. Banks in a bigger way than these awards bodies have been.  I’d say this is down for Jonze’s Her and Russell’s American Hustle if they feel that either writer has been snubbed for too long.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Tracy Letts – August: Osage County
Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight
Billy Ray – Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope – Philomena
John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street

I’d say this is a done deal for 12 Years A Slave.  The film is the Best Picture frontrunner, has won the majority of the Adapted Screenplay prizes at the regional critic awards, and clearly has the “important” factor.  I’d say they could go with The Wolf of Wall Street if they respect Terence Winter’s television work or Before Midnight if the critics rally for this film that they clearly love.  I’d say that Captain Phillips or August: Osage County have the biggest chance to get the shaft come Oscar time.

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael – Nebraska
Roger Deakins – Prisoners
Sean Bobbitt – 12 Years a Slave

This list is my predicted list of contenders for the Cinematography Oscar even if many people think Nebraska is going to be left by the wayside.  I thought that the black-and-white stark photography was brilliant and really set the scene for the slowness of the Midwest.  While these films all look beautiful, there is not much competition outside of these contenders.  Her could make a showing if they go for the contemporary-style.

Best Art Direction
Andy Nicholson (Production Designer), Rosie Goodwin (Set Decorator) – Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Designer), Beverley Dunn (Set Decorator) – The Great Gatsby
K.K. Barrett (Production Designer), Gene Serdena (Set Decorator) – Her
Dan Hennah (Production Designer), Ra Vincent (Set Decorator) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer), Alice Baker (Set Decorator) – 12 Years a Slave

The two that feel the most unstable right now are two of the prime Best Picture contenders, Gravity and Her.  The former has a very minimal set even if the interior and exterior of the spacecraft sets play an important part in the film.  I believe that the cinematography and the visual effects will be a more attractive choice come nomination morning.  In regards to the latter film, the Oscars very rarely go for contemporary films in this category.  I have a feeling that they will go with two very dissimilar 1960’s set films with Saving Mr. Banks and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Best Film Editing
Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers – American Hustle
Christopher Rouse – Captain Phillips
Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger – Gravity
Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill – Rush
Joe Walker – 12 Years a Slave
Thelma Schoonmaker – The Wolf of Wall Street

I’d say that this will be our list and that the last spot will be a fight between Rush (if the Golden Globes nominations are any indicator) and The Wolf of Wall Street (if the Thelma Schoonmaker name makes an impact).  I’d say the win is between Gravity and Captain Phillips.  They will go with Gravity if they really go for the film an give it a slew of awardage, but Captain Phillips could make it’s mark here if they just want to throw it a bone somewhere.

Best Costume Design
Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle
Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby
Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Daniel Orlandi – Saving Mr. Banks
Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave

I’d say that this is a pretty accurate list when we are trying to figure out the Oscar nominations in this category.  I don’t think The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is going to make a showing and it will probably replaced by either Inside Llewyn Davis or The Invisible Woman, a costume-heavy but overlooked film that this category typically embraces.

Best Makeup
American Hustle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Rush
12 Years a Slave

As we know from the recent Best Makeup & Hairstyling shortlist, the only film here that has a chance to make a showing at the Oscars is American Hustle.  However, I think that they will go with either 12 Years A Slave or The Hobbit sequel here.

Best Visual Effects
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Star Trek into Darkness

This looks like a solid list and we all know who will be the winner come Oscar night..

Best Animated Film
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Frozen
Monsters University
The Wind Rises

This could be the final list if they decide to go with mostly American, high box office films.  The one film that could make a shot for a nomination outside of this crew is the French film Ernest & Celestine, but that’s only if they decide to drop either The Croods or Despicable Me 2.  This will be a fight between Frozen and Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises.

Best Action Film
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Iron Man 3
Lone Survivor
Rush
Star Trek into Darkness

They’ll either go with people’s choice of The Hunger Games or the Ron Howard sports drama Rush.  But seriously, where the hell is Gravity?  It is nominated in Sci-Fi/Horror Film, but Sandra Bullock is nominated for Best Action Actress?  I… I don’t know.

Best Actor in an Action Film
Henry Cavill – Man of Steel
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man 3
Brad Pitt – World War Z
Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor

What is this category?  What are any of these?  Why are the split up into such weird categories and a nomination tally that is not symmetrical with the rest of the categories?  I guess I’ll go with RDJ again.

Best Actress in an Action Film
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Gwyneth Paltrow – Iron Man 3

Same thing as the previous few categories, this is all so pointless.  They’re just starfucking at this point to get the actors to show up at the show.  This is Bullock’s to lose.

Best Comedy Film
American Hustle
Enough Said
The Heat
This Is the End
The Way Way Back
The World’s End

A decent list of comedy film this year, but yet again if these are such important films for them then why didn’t they include them in the Best Picture category.  Should that category just be called Best Drama Film?  Why did The Wolf of Wall Street get nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor in a Comedy, but not for Best Comedy Film?  This all makes no goddamn sense.  I guess this will probably be American Hustle by default.

Best Actor in a Comedy Film
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Simon Pegg – The World’s End
Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back

This will be a race between Bale and DiCaprio, but since Bale was nominated in the Best Actor category I guess he needs to be seen as the frontrunner here.

Best Actress in a Comedy Film
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Sandra Bullock – The Heat
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Enough Said
Melissa McCarthy – The Heat

Oh, please give something to Greta Gerwig.  Frances Ha was so beautiful and realistic even if it was overly quirky and hip at times.  I guess this will go to Amy Adams since the film is the frontrunner in these Comedy categories.

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film
The Conjuring
Gravity
Star Trek into Darkness
World War Z

So this is obviously going to Gravity, but still… why wasn’t it nominated for Best Action Film if Bullock was nominated for Actress there?

Best Foreign Language Film
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past
Wadjda

This will most likely be Blue is the Warmest Color‘s award even if that award cannot translate over to Oscar.  If they do decide to go with an Oscar contender, it will have to be considered Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda.

Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing
Blackfish
Stories We Tell
Tim’s Vermeer
20 Feet from Stardom

This will most likely go to one of the critical favorites in the documentary category, which are The Act of Killing or Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell.  Blackfish still has to be considered a contender based off its box office and the hoopla surrounding it.

Best Song
“Atlas” – Coldplay – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
“Happy” – Pharrell Williams – Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” – Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Frozen
“Ordinary Love” – U2 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Please Mr. Kennedy” – Justin Timberlake/Oscar Isaac/Adam Driver – Inside Llewyn Davis
“Young and Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey – The Great Gatsby

I’d say that this will go to the Inside Llewyn Davis track even though it is not eligible at the Oscars.  It has been getting a lot of notice from critics and is considered one of the best songs in the film, but the issues are that it is an adapted song from numerous folk songs during the 1960’s.  The Oscar favorite right now is the song from Frozen so the critics may just follow that route here too.

Best Score
Steven Price – Gravity
Arcade Fire – Her
Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks
Hans Zimmer – 12 Years a Slave

Why are there only 4 nominees here when there are 6 in almost every other category? This will probably go to 12 Years A Slave and eventually make its way to an Oscar win as well, but if people really rally behind Gravity outside of the direction, visual effects, and cinematography then this could be a great race.

Spike Jonze’s Her Surprises at the National Board of Review

Her film

Best Film: Her
Best Director: Spike Jonze- Her
Her, Spike Jonze’s futuristic techy-romance, storms out of nowhere and takes the top two awards at a critics group that is historically conservative in their picks.  The award is a big boost for the film especially considering that the NBR Best Picture winner has not missed out on the Oscar shortlist since 2000’s Quills.  The film could do well in the coming weeks, most notably at this weekend’s session with the Los Angeles critics.

Best Actor: Bruce Dern- Nebraska
I’m very happy that Dern is hitting some of the critics awards early before a Redford sweep starts to evolve.  Hopefully this race will remain a competition.

Best Actress: Emma Thompson- Saving Mr. Banks
Emma Thompson also prevents Blanchett from starting her own sweep- one that I would not be totally against- by winning her first award of the year.  I haven’t seen Thompson in this yet, but I get the feeling that it’ll be a fun role and I think she is Blanchett’s main competition.

Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte- Nebraska
The NBR has a habit of awarding an actor who was not previously considered a contender in the race.  Amy Ryan for 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and Woody Harrelson for 2009’s The Messenger are examples of the NBR kickstarting an actor on their road to a nomination.  Sometimes, however, we are then deceived into thinking their choice really is a contender and we incorrectly predict a contender like Matthew McConaughey in last year’s Magic Mike.  What’s Forte gonna be this season?

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer- Fruitvale Station
She definitely needed this boost and I think she has a very strong change now that we know she’s still on the critical map.  A few more awards like this and I think we could lock her up for a nomination, which will probably be the only one for Fruitvale at the Oscars.

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen- Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter- The Wolf of Wall Street
The screenplay categories were dominated by well known writers of both film and television.  The NBR gave the original screenplay prize to the Brothers Coen for their  Greenwich Village folk film and adapted screenplay to Boardwalk Empire and Sopranos writer/producer Terence Winter for the balls-to-the-wall Wall Street comedy.  While both films have a chance to enter the screenplay race at the Oscars, the NBR is not the most reliable source in this category.

Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises
Miyazaki’s film takes it’s second Animated film prize of the season and it is one of the only crossovers from yesterday’s NYFCC awards. Maybe the Oscars will also choose the Japanese anime master’s last film over the Disney musical Frozen?

Breakthrough Performance: Michael B. Jordan- Fruitvale Station
Breakthrough Performance: Adele Exarchopoulos- Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler- Fruitvale Station
These three awards are probably going to be copied and pasted for the rest of the critic portion of this season. I have not seen the French film yet, but I would love if Brie Larson could rack up a few more awards this season for the brilliant and subtle Short Term 12.

Best Ensemble: Prisoners
I still think that American Hustle will be the major contender in this category throughout the critics stage.  Outside of a few small hits throughout the season, I don’t think Prisoners will make much of an impact on the race overall.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Past
One step at a time.  While the NBR stepped out of their comfort zone by rewarding Her, they were not ready to acknowledge the erotic French lesbian drama outside of the Breakthrough Actress award.

Best Documentary: Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley wins again for the personal documentary about her family and the film now has to be seen as a major player in the Documentary race. We know they already liked her well enough to nominate her in the totally stacked Adapted Screenplay category in 2007 for Away From Her.

William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.
Spotlight Award: Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Wadjda
Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award: Gravity

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
12 Years a Slave
Fruitvale Station
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Nebraska
Prisoners
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wolf of Wall Street

Every year, the NBR opts to list a few bizarre choices in their Top Ten list that will have their Oscar season begin and end that day.  This year we say hello and goodbye to Lone Survivor and The Secret Life of Mitty (with the exception of a few potential technical noms, that is).  We did a double take once we saw the lack of love for yesterday’s big winner American Hustle and a film that seemingly would be right up their alley, Captain Phillips.  Other than a surprising, but deserving showing for Prisoners and Fruitvale Station showing up here and not in the Top Ten indie films, everything else was normal.

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Beyond the Hills
Gloria
The Grandmaster
A Hijacking
The Hunt

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Casting By
The Square

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Dallas Buyers Club
In a World…
Mother of George
Much Ado About Nothing
Mud
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
Sightseers
The Spectacular Now

Very happy for Short Term 12 and for them remembering The Place Beyond the Pines from the beginning of the year.  I cannot understand the love that The Spectacular Now has gotten from bloggers and critics groups alike.  The relationship between the two leads felt fabricated and the film needed an actor who could carry the film since Sutter is in almost every scene.  I would have much rather seen the over-hip, but much more realistic and funny Frances Ha show up here.

New York Does the Hustle

american hustle 1

The 78 year old New York Film Critics Circle were the first critics group of the season to chime in with their yearly winners.  The information was released on Twitter and throughout the blogosphere during approximately a 5-hour long session as each winner was announced as they won.  Best Pictures frontrunners 12 Years A Slave and Gravity failed to make an opening blow on their competition outside of 12 Years A Slave‘s Best Director win for Steve McQueen.  No, the big winner of the first Best Picture critics award of the year goes to David O. Russell’s con man caper American Hustle, which also took home the Screenplay and Supporting Actress awards.  Will this be a trend early in the season ala last year’s Zero Dark Thirty or will this just be a flash in the pan for the crime drama?  Most pundits thought that McQueen’s biographical slave drama would take the critics by storm, but, after a loss here and at the Gotham Awards last night, it looks like the season may be less predictable than we thought.

Best Picture: American Hustle

Russell’s film makes a huge mark on the race even thought it has not been released yet or reviewed by the critical community at large.  Does the team for 12 Years A Slave have a reason to be worried or are the critics just trying to spread the wealth before heaving the awards on the film?

Best Director: Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave

The only showing for 12 Years A Slave today, but it’s an important award that nobody is going to argue with.  McQueen proved that he was a visual master on both Hunger and Shame and he continues his success with this heartrending film that shows he has not lost his cinematic eye even if the film is more conventional than his previous efforts.

Best Actor: Robert Redford- All is Lost

Robert Redford starts the race with a win here and this will certainly not be the last in the plethora of awardage he will receive this year, even if I think the film is more of a showcase for the director J.C. Chandor than it is for Redford.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine 

This should be the first in a long line of Best Actress prizes that Blanchett will win this season.  The performance is an absolute powerhouse and outshines anything else that I’ve seen this season.

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto- Dallas Buyer’s Club

Jared Leto takes home his first prize here.  I think that he will score a few more throughout the season, but I don’t think this will translate into a win once Golden Globes, SAG, and the Oscars come around.  While the performance is very good, I don’t think he had that bit of oomph to really make this something special.  Also, the Oscars usually vie for older actors or villains in this category.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence wins here over the current Oscar favorite Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave.  After winning last year for Best Actress, I don’t think Lawrence can carry this to another major award this year.  But the world sure does love her..

Best Screenplay: American Hustle

From what I am told, the script is flashy and fun, but lacks that sense of importance.  Especially considering this award encompasses both Original and Adapted screenplays, it is hard to think that this film beat 12 Years A Slave or the Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis.

Best Foreign FilmBlue is the Warmest Color

No surprise here.  The film seems destined to win all of the Foreign Film awards of the season, up until the Oscars where it is not eligible because France did not submit it for consideration.

Best Animated Film: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises

Miyazaki wins his third award in this category after 2002’s Spirited Away and 2005’s Howl’s Moving Castle for what is being called his final film.  Will his reputation lead him to a win at the Oscars or will there be too much of a challenge from Disney’s princess musical Frozen?

Best Non Fiction Film: Stories We Tell

Sarah Polly, actress and director of Away From Her, takes the award here beating out The Act of Killing, 20 Feet From Stardom, and Blackfish.

Best First Film: Fruitvale Station

Yet again, no surprise here.  This will be the first of many for Ryan Coogler.

Best Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel- Inside Llewyn Davis

This is somewhat of a surprise considering everyone feels that Gravity will sweep this category throughout the season.  The film was very beautiful, but I’m still skeptical of films that are mostly CGI winning over more traditional work.  Regardless, the Coen’s film gets a boost here even though I thought the New York critics may latch onto the film since revolves around the city’s music scene in the 1960’s.

Best Special Award: Frederick Wiseman, documentary filmmaker since 1967’s The Titicut Follies and this year’s acclaimed film At Berkeley.

Good day, fellow film lovers!

This is my first entry for a blog that will be discussing all things film and, specifically, the Academy Awards.  I have been following the Academy Award ceremony since I was twelve years old and my love of this ritualistic, yearly event supersedes my own day of birth.  They have helped me discover films that I would never have come across as a bored adolescent.  As my friends ran off to to the next Transformers film and my parents settled in for a night of romantic comedies and Steven Segal films, I discovered the timeless classics on Turner Classic Movies.  I’ve pressured friends and ex-girlfriends to accompany me Philadelphia’s Ritz Five to see some of the foreign films that were not expanding over to South Jersey.  I have followed the same select few film/Oscar blogs since I was a freshman in high school and they have opened me up to worlds previously unknown.  

These cinematic musings comes to you from Joey Dunn.  I am a recent college graduate of Rutgers University-Camden where I studied English literature and film studies.  I live outside of Philadelphia in beautiful suburban South Jersey.  I plan to focus this blog on film reviews and Oscar predictions with the occasional sidetrack into the art of video games and television.  Eventually, I hope to recruit some fellow obsessive compulsive film enthusiasts to provide different perspectives.  I believe it is safe to say that escapism plays a large part in my love of all things entertainment and the movie theaters of this world are my haven.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the show!