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Oscar Picks 2014

The past year was another great year at the movies. We had fun blockbusters like “Fast and Furious 6” and “Iron Man 3” as well as more serious fare like “Prisoners” and “Captain Phillips.” Not to mention quirky indie movies like “Frances Ha”.oscars 2014

Here are my picks for the top 6 awards. And in case you question my judgment, I won the Oscar Pool last year, and have gotten close a couple of times in previous years too. I am an avid movie fan, even taking a few movie vacations where I go to the movies every day that I am off. So here are my predictions:

Predicting a winner is as much about politics, as it is about the performances. Has someone won before? Have they never won before? Are they likable? Do they (or the movie) make too much money? So here are my predictions:

Best Picture

The nominees are: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Oddsmakers are claiming this is  3-picture race: American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. After seeing American Hustle, I beg to differ. That movie is too slight… and has gotten as much attention as it has based on the likability of the cast and respect for the director. The serious contenders are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. I would like 12 Years a Slave to win, but due to its difficult subject matter, I think it will be Gravity instead.
Final pick: Gravity

Best Actress

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

Amy Adams is the only one who has been nominated, but never won. So who’s time will it be this year? Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock lead the pack. It will be the second Oscar for both. Meryl Streep has won 3 times before, so she is out — no way will she win a 4th time. That would be a record. Based on the Academy’s love for Woody Allen and his movies at the Oscars, I would pick Cate.
Final pick: Cate Blanchett

Best Actor

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

Christian Bale is out, he won fairly recently. Leonardo has never won, and is overdue to win, but not this year. Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughhey are the rest of the nominees. Bruce Dern is probably happy just to be back on Hollywood’s radar. That leaves Chiwetel and Matthew. Based on his physical transformation, and his recent string of good performances, I think it is McConaughey’s time.
Final pick: Matthew McConaughey

Best Supporting Actress

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

This is always the most difficult one to predict. You have newcomers against seasoned veterans. Early awards have gone to Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, but I wouldn’t count out Julia Roberts — she hasn’t been this good in years. Jennfier Lawrence has won too recently to be considered.
Final pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees are: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Final pick: Oddmakers have been favoring Jared Leto for his heart breaking turn as a transgendered AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. But I wouldn’t rule out Fassbender or Abdi either. Both were crucial to their movies.
Final pick: Jared Leto

Best Director

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

Final pick: Scorsese is definitely out, he has won before and The Wolf of Wall Street was divisive. David O. Russell is well liked by his actors, as they keep coming back to work with him. But the movie is slight compared to his previous films. Payne has had his time in the sun before too, so he is out also. That leaves Cuarón and McQueen. For technical merit, I think it will be Cuarón.
Final pick: Alfonso Cuarón

So enjoy the show, and let me know if you did well in any Oscar Pools. I will see you at the movies.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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Fall-Winter Entertainment Wrap-up

So what movies and CDs have I enjoyed the last few months? Read on…

Movies

We’re the MillersWe're the Millers
A very funny, raunchy comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis. They play the fake parents of 2 kids, who are traveling across the Mexican border into the US with a Winnebago filled with drugs. Echoes of National Lampoon’s Vacation movie for me, and that’s a good thing. Grade: B+

Battle of the Year
Josh Holloway plays an alcoholic has-been picked to coach a hip-hop B-Boy dance troupe as they prepare for battle in the “Battle of the Year” in France. If you like the “Step Up” movies,  and “America’s Best Dance Crew” then this movie is for you. Some great dance sequences, and entertaining personalities from the crew. Grade: B-

Prisoners
Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Melissa Leo lead an all-star cast in this engrossing drama. The story is very much of-this-moment… centering on the kidnapping of 2 little girls and the investigation of the crime. Jackman plays one of the dads who takes the law into his own hands and begins to torture one of the suspects. Grade: A-

Gravity
Sandra Bullock leads the cast for this movie, that centers on a scientist adrift in space and fighting to survive. Faced with incredible hardships, we will fight for our lives. The visuals are stunning, and the movie is definitely award-worthy. George Clooney also stars in a supporting role. Grade: A-

12 Years a Slave
Director Steve McQueen has bought Solomon Northup’s true story to the screen. Solomon was a free black man living in New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Very disturbing at times, this is a story I had never heard before. Fantastic performances all around including Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mr. Northup. Grade: A

Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks returns to form in the title role. This is the story of a freighter that is highjacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. We know how the story is going to end up, but it is still filled with tension and suspense Grade: A-

Frozen
Disney’s latest animated movie, is based on a story by Hans Christen Anderson. It is the story of 2 sisters of a royal family, one of who is afflicted with special powers that cause her to freeze everything she touches. With the voice talents of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel as the sisters, with catchy songs by the husband and wife team of Robert Lopez and Kristen-Anderson Lopez. Grade: A

Thor: The Dark World
This is the first appearance of Thor, since “The Avengers.” A lot of the time is spent on his home planet of Asgard. The movie never really took flight for me. It picks up when Loki arrives, but not much. Grade: C

The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio in the true-life tale of Wall Street stock broker Jordan Belfort. I would subtitle this lifestyles of the rich, decadent and criminal. This guy lived the high life — sex, drugs and money. And he was a god to those he worked with. Grade: B+

CDs

Katy Perry — Prism
Katy’s first CD since ‘Teenage Dream” brings us a more reflective Katy, but without forgetting her knack of creating perfect pop gems. Highlights include: Roar, Dark Horse, and Unconditional Love. Grade: A-

Kelly Clarkson — Wrapped in Red
Kelly’s first holiday CD has something for everyone. New songs as well as Christmas classics. Some of it sounds very retro to me. Highlights include: Run Run Rudolph and My Favorite Things. Grade: B-

Keith Urban — Fuse
Keith’s music has been getting more and more pop as his career has gone on. He still is one of my favorites, even if it doesn’t match his earlier work. Highlights include: Little Bit of Everything, and We Were Us (Duet with Miranda Lambert). Grade: B

The Music of Nashville — Season 2, Vol. 1
Season 2 of the hit show has had it’s share of drama: affairs, shootings and record co. politics. We get the hit songs from the leads as well as a few of the supporting players too. Highlights include: What If I Was Willing and Trouble Is. Grade: B+

So what have you been watching and listening to this winter? I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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