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I'd Like to Thank the Academy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Well, this was a surprise. Five nominations for The Wolf of Wall Street? Apparently members of the Academy have been merely conditioned into heaping accolades onto a film just by virtue of it having Martin Scorsese as a director. Leonardo DiCaprio gets a nod but not Tom Hanks? What kind of topsy-turvy world is this? I only saw one of the five foreign language films nominated this year (to date, anyway) -- The Great Beauty, which I just didn't get -- and the one foreign language film I most expected to be nominated (Blue is the Warmest Color) got snubbed. Maybe because its graphic lesbian sex scenes went on so long it could bore even straight men.

So. Gravity and American Hustle tie for the most nominations this year, at ten each. I'm wary of American Hustle, I must say. It could become this year's Shakespeare in Love or Crash -- overtaking far superior films just by virtue of its populism. I don't know why I put so much emotional investment into the Oscars (unless it's a byproduct of the Gay Gene?). These people are all idiots.

But, I'm an optimist! Maybe I speak to soon. Let's get started . . .

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Up until the Golden Globes, I would have said Chiwetel Ejiofor. I think the race is tight between those two, and right now I'm thinking Matthew McConaughey will barely edge past.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My vote goes to Ejiofor. Carrying the best film of the year is no easy task.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I'm so resentful of all of The Wolf of Wall Street's nominations that I want to say Leonardo DiCaprio, but you know what? That guy was by far the best part of that movie. So no, my definitive "no" vote goes to Christian Bale i this race. He's an exemplary actor who didn't come close to matching his best work in American Hustle.

Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Amy Adams is the only person in this race who has never won an Oscar before, which often gives an edge, but I don't think she'll take this prize. It really comes down to Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, I think. I can't say this with any authority at all but I'm going to call it for Judi.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Judi Dench gets my vote, anyway. She's done a lot of great work but has never been better than she was in Philomena.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Well, okay, this is unusual. I really want to say "Amy Adams!" even though I love her, but all these undeserved nominations are turning me on American Hustle. But let's get real -- a nomination was in the bag for Meryl Streep, but for this particular film? No.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Philips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Well, it sure as shit won't be Barkhad Abdi. For that guy, the chauffeur who was nabbed to be in Captain Philips, the nomination is the prize. And hopefully some orthodontics. No, no -- it's going to be Jared Leto.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Among this group? Jared Leto, no question. Michael Fassbender wouldn't be a bad choice either, however.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I rather like Jonah Hill, to be honest with you, but in this context? Seriously, fuck Jonah Hill.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I honestly think it's going to be Lupita Nyong’o.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Lupita Nyong’o is so much better than everyone else on this list it's almost laughable. And that's saying something, because these are all actually talented actors.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: That said, come on -- Julia Roberts? For that part? Academy voters were scraping the bottom of the barrel there.

Animated Feature Film

The Croods, Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2, Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Ernest & Celestine, Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
Frozen, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: You know, I couldn't tell you. I've only seen one of these movies, and only heard of three of them. I think it'll come down to Despicable Me 2 or Frozen, since this race often seems to be influenced by box office. I'm inclined to say Frozen has the edge, but really, what do I know?
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Well, Frozen was good, but not great. And I didn't see any of the others. I'll just be honest and tell you I really don't care.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I don't feel strongly one way or the other, although I can tell you I'd never vote for any anime movie.

Production Design

American Hustle, Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration)
Gravity, Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)
The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration)
Her, K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)
12 Years a Slave, Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration)

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If we judge by movies that practically shout from the screen, "Look at this authentically created environment!" (whether or not it's really authentic), then American Hustle is the winner.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My vote goes to 12 Years a Slave.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: This may be a surprise given my vast love of Gravity, but I don't see the sense in awarding for production design when almost all of the production is CGI.


The Grandmaster, Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska, Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners, Roger A. Deakins

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Now this is where Gravity blows the competition out of the water. Or into the water, I guess.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'll give you one guess!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I loved Prisoners -- it was quite the pleasant (if disturbing) surprise -- but I can't say it was for the cinematography.

Costume Design

American Hustle, Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster, William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman, Michael O’Connor
12 Years a Slave, Patricia Norris

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: My answer here is the same as for Production Design, and even more so: American Hustle forces you to "admire" its costuming. And Academy voters are easily manipulated.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: This is a tough one for two reasons. First, okay, maybe I'm easily manipulated too: I kind of think American Hustle's costumes were great too, and they were certainly more fun than those in 12 Years a Slave. Second, I haven't seen two of these movies.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: The Great Gatsby annoyed me enough to keep me from wanting to reward it with anything. Even though, okay, the costumes might have been the best thing about it.


David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This could change in the net month and a half, but I think Alfonso Cuarón has the best chance of this right now.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And my vote also goes to Alfonso Cuarón, because what he accomplished with Gravity is stunning in more ways than in any of the other movies.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Enough with Martin Scorsese already!

Film Editing

American Hustle, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Philips, Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club, John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
12 Years a Slave, Joe Walker

WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: These are all good movies, but none of them have the level of satisfaction in pacing that Gravity does. Given the concept, ninety minutes is perfect -- and a relief after that much tension.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: You know what? American Hustle is a little too pleased with its own mode of storytelling. I do not think anyone should throw a bone to that.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Bad Grandpa, Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger, Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: What a joke! Dallas Buyers Club, obviously.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Uh . . . what a joke! Dallas Buyers Club, obviously.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: The Lone Ranger? Are you kidding me? Someone paints Johnny Depp's face in a billboard-friendly pattern and the movie gets an Oscar nomination? I will maintain that that movie is not as bad as people make it out to be, but it's not Oscar-caliber on any level.

Music (Original Score)

The Book Thief, John Williams
Gravity, Steven Price
Her, William Butler and Owen Pallett
Philomena, Alexandre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks, Thomas Newman

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think Gravity is likely to get this.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And Gravity should get it. This movie is largely made by its sound editing, and that means it includes both the realistic silences as well as the score.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I think even Academy voters know there's no sense in giving any Oscar wins to Saving Mr. Banks.

Music (Original Song)

"Alone Yet Not Alone," from Alone Not Yet Alone, music by Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Dennis Spiegel
"Happy," from Despicable Me 2, Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
"Let It Go," from Frozen, Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
"The Moon Song," from Her, Music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze
"Ordinary Love," from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, music by Paul Hewson, Dan Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, a.k.a. U2; lyrics by Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This may be the one instance where Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom gets an Oscar -- for its only nomination. They won the Golden Globe, after all, and Mandela himself just died. These are at least somewhat influencing factors.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Well, I just went to YouYube to hear all these songs, and you know what? I actually like the Pharell Williams song the best. It even has a kind of wonderful video. "Happy" it is!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Honestly that "Alone Yet Not Alone" song is a little schlocky for my taste.

Visual Effects

Gravity, Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger, Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If Gravity wins just one award (and it better win more!), it'll be this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I mean, really. Did they even need to include other nominees? Gravity, Gravity, a thousand times Gravity.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Peter Jackson sure went down a wrong road from where he was ten years ago. I'd sooner vote for Iron Man 3 than The Hobbit on this, and that's saying something.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Philips, Written by Billy Ray
Philomena, Written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave, Written by John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street, Written by Terence Winter

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If a tragedy occurs and 12 Years a Slave gets snubbed elsewhere, it'll at least get this award.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: As excellent as 12 Years a Slave was, however, I would give this award to Before Midnight, a movie made amazing by its script above all else.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: The Wolf of Wall Street? Get real.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Her, Written by Spike Jonze
Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is a tough one, actually. Oh, who am I kidding? American Hustle will probably get it.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Among these five? Her wins out in my book. It has an oddball beauty all its own, and it's thanks to the script.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: All of the other movies on this list are better than American Hustle.

Best motion picture of the year

American Husle, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Captain Philips, Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
Dallas Buyers Club, Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
Her, Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
Nebraska, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
Philomena, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
12 Years a Slave, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
The Wolf of Wall Street, Nominees to be determined

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Until this week I would have said 12 Years a Slave with confidence, but there's something to be said for the idea of splitting the "social consciousness" vote between Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave -- giving American Hustle the edge. But, come on! Let's try and not let that happen.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Let's set aside what was the best movie of the year, even though I maintain that 12 Years a Slave was the best movie of the year. To my mind, it's very clear that it was the best movie among these nine.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Seriously, The Wolf of Wall Street should not even have been nominated.

(Nominations for foreign language film, documentary feature, documentary short, animated short, live action short, sound editing, and sound mixing were also announced, but I don't know enough about them to make any worthwhile observations.)

The 86th Academy Awards telecast will air on ABC Sunday, March 2 at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.


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