Note from CoolPapaE:  My dear friend Steve, aka WeMissE is the only person I know that is a bigger Cinephile than I am.  He spends considerable time each year watching the nominated films with his son, along with keeping his own study of one of the greats in Alfred Hitch-blog.  This year I am fortunate enough to have his perspective to share on the event.

Anyone who knows us personally knows the connection between CoolPapaE and WeMissE is the E.  But I will write more on that later.  For now, enjoy WeMissE’s contemplation on the 2014 Oscars:



Well, it’s Oscar Sunday.  Time for a bunch of wealthy celebrities to gather together for a night of self-congratulatory revelry.  OK, I’m not really that cynical.  I love movies, and I love the Oscars.  Do you want to win your Oscar pool?  Then read on…

Best Picture:  I keep reading and hearing how this is “the tightest Oscar race in years!”  Is it really, or is that just the media’s way of generating suspense/interest/ratings?   “American Hustle” is a very entertaining, well-made film that is forgotten the minute it ends.   “Gravity” is a mind-blowing, technically innovative story about the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.  But the emphasis is on the technical more than the human.  “12 Years a Slave” is a harrowing account of a dark period in one man’s life, during a dark period in our nation’s history.  Is it difficult to watch?  At times, it is brutal.  But it is also by turns  lyrical, reflective, and ultimately redemptive.  It is a film that needed to be made, and is an easy pick to beat the other two frontrunners.

Should win:  “Philomena”  is sweet, touching, funny, unforgettable.  It doesn’t stand a chance.

Will win:  May be a coin toss between “Gravity” and “12 Years”, but my money is on “12 years”.

Best Actor:  Let’s be honest.  Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale have all done better work.  This is a two-man race.  While I loved Chewitel Ejiofor, who really carries “12 Years”, (he is on screen in virtually every scene), it is hard to vote against Matthew McConaughey, who has finally fulfilled the the acting ability he hinted at way back in “Contact.”   McConaughey becomes Ron Woodroof completely.

Should win:  McConaughey

Will win:  McConaughey

Best Actress:  This is one of the absolute locks of the night.  Cate Blanchett has already been anointed as the best actress by every previous awards show, and every media outlet.  She does give a great performance, but it feels like a performance, and her character is not likable in the least.  The only emotion she elicits is pity.   Judy Dench, who has made a career of playing very strong women, gave us a soft, simple, sweet and immensely likable woman in Philomena Lee.  One can’t help but root for her character, and if there were any justice Dench would win the night.  She won’t.

Should win:  Judy Dench

Will win:  Cate Blanchett

Supporting Actor:  Once again, Jared Leto has already been decreed the winner by all, and he does give a fantastic performance here.  It is worth mentioning the incredible job that Michael Fassbender did in “12 Years A Slave”.  Fassbender never ceases to amaze, and you can be sure he will have an Oscar on his mantle by the time his career is over, but it won’t be tonight.

Should win:  Jared Leto

Will win:  Jared Leto

Supporting Actress:  This is a two woman race, between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o.   Lawrence does give the best performance in “American Hustle”;  in a film where everybody is pretending to be someone they are not, she is the only one who exposes her true self, and her performance is the better for it.  What she has going against her is her best actress win last year.  Back-to-back wins are very rare.  Lupita Nyong’o is unforgettable.  And she gets brutally whipped onscreen.  Need I say more?

Should win:  Lupita Nyong’o

Will win”  Lupita Nyong’o

Animated Feature:  Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” is very powerful and has amazing animation, but is has been seen by a very small group of people.  “Frozen” is a movie that all can get behind.

Should win:  Frozen

Will win:  Frozen

Cinematography:  First off, I am shocked that “12 years a Slave” was not nominated in this category.  The lighting in that film was incredible.  A major snub in my opinion.  Of the nominated films, this one belongs to “Gravity”.    Emmanuel Lubezki, who has 6 well-deserved Oscar nominations, will finally get his win tonight.

Should win:  Gravity

Will win:  Gravity

Costume Design:  This is one of the hardest categories to predict.   Period films tend to be favored, but don’t always win.  “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” had great costumes, but I’m going to go with the lavish over the top costumes of “The Great Gatsby”.

Should win:  Gatsby

Will win:  Gatsby

Directing:  A coin toss in this category.  Steve McQueen for “12 Years”  or Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity”?  I think this is another split year, where the academy gives the picture to “12 years a Slave”, and gives the directorial nod to Cuaron.  This truly is a tight race.

Should win:  McQueen

Will win:  Cuaron

Documentary Feature:  The number one rule in the documentary category is:  never vote against a Holocaust film.  There is no Holocaust film this year, but “The Act of Killing”  about the Khmer Rouge killings in Cambodia, is as close as you can get.  “The Square”, about the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt, is the only one that might pull off the upset here.  “Dirty Wars”, about the American governments covert operations, drone strikes, and the murders of innocent civilians, is the film that every American citizen should see.  Of course, it won’t win.

Should win:  Dirty Wars

Will win:  The Act of Killing

Documentary Short:  Remember what I said about Holocaust films?

Should win:  Prison Terminal

Will win:  The Lady in Number 6:  Music Saved My Life

Film Editing:  A very, very tough category to call this year.  I think you could make a stong case for 4 of these 5 films.  My personal choice would be “American Hustle”, but I think “Gravity” will carry the night in the technical categories.

Should win:  American Hustle

Will win:  Gravity

Foreign Language Film:  A caveat:  this is one of two categories where I have not seen all nominated films.  All of the buzz is going to the Italian nominee “The Great Beauty”, with Palestine’s “Omar” trailing.   There is no way the academy will vote for a Palestinian film to win, so I say they will be celebrating in Italy tonight.

Should win:  The Great Beauty

Will win:  The Great Beauty

Makeup and Hairstyling:  Although I think it would be really funny if a Jackass movie won an Oscar, this one belongs to “Dallas Buyers Club”.  Take that one to the bank.

Should win:  Dallas Buyer’s Club

Will win:  Dallas Buyer’s Club

Music, Original Score:  Most of the buzz here seems to be for “Gravity”.  Funnily enough, I saw that movie twice in the theater and remember nothing of the score.  “Her” had a sweet, modern, very fitting score.  The music voting bloc of the academy has been more forward leaning in recent years, giving an award to Trent Reznor for “The Social Network” score, so I’d like to think that “Her” has a chance.

Should win:  Her

Will win:  Gravity

Music, original song:   Is there any doubt?  Let it go, baby.

Should win:  Let It go

Will win:  Let It go

Production Design:   When this category is tougher to handicap, go with the most over-the-top entry, which is “Gatsby”, but don’t be surprised if “Her” pulls out the win.

Should win:  Gatsby

Will win:  Gatsby

Animated Short Film:  If you’ve seen “Frozen” then you’ve seen Disney’s entry in this category “Get A Horse”, which has most of the buzz.  I really enjoyed the UK’s entry “Room on the Broom”, narrated by Simon Pegg, but it’s great story doesn’t make up for it’s unexceptional CGI animation.  Look for “Mr. Hublot” to possibly pull of the upset here.

Should win:  Mr. Hublot

Will win:  Mr. Hublot

Live Action Short Film:  I really enjoyed all five of the entries in this category.  If you haven’t ever watched the short films, this is a good year to give it a try.  (They can all be viewed in one block on itunes and directv for a small price).  My favorite is “Helium”, a sad, sweet film about a young boy with a terminal illness.   But the frontrunner here is Spain’s “Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”.

Should win:  Helium

Will win:  Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing:  I would be shocked if “Gravity” doesn’t carry both of these categories.  Incredibly innovate sound, and a movie where the absence of noise is as important as noise.

Should win both:  Gravity

Will win both:  Gravity

Visual Effects:  While “The Hobbit’s” Smaug was a very impressive creation, this one again belongs to “Gravity”.

Should win:  Gravity

Will win:  Gravity

Writing, adapted screenplay:  My choice in this category is “Philomena”, which is a great expansion and adaptation of the book.  “12 Years a Slave” is the favorite here.

Should win:  Philomena

Will win:  12 Years a Slave

Writing, original screenplay:  Will “American Hustle” get a nod here?  Personally I think Spike Jonze will be recognized for his work on “Her” which is truly original.

Should win:  Her

Will win:  Her

In summation:  Gravity wins the night in total awards, dominating all technical categories.

And I think there is a possibility that “American Hustle”  will go winless.

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