Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

Well, with the Oscars finally happening on Sunday, it’s now time for my final look at the nominees, and a look at my final predictions (all nominations listed in order of preference), and whether they’ve changed in the past month.

This year has been a frustrating one, moviewatching-wise, as I haven’t really had as much opportunity to keep up with movies the way I normally would for a variety of personal reasons, both very good and very bad. As a result, you still see a lot of “Haven’t Seens” next to films, some of which I could kick myself for not having seen. It’s been difficult to get into a rhythm, but hopefully, once things slow down on a personal level, I’ll be able to figure this out.

Before we start, here is what my 10 Best and Favorite lists of 2013 look like as we go into the big night. I hope you enjoy!

Brian’s 10 Best Films of 2013
1. “Gravity” (Alfonso Cauron)
2. “Her” (Spike Jonze)
3. “Before Midnight” (Richard Linklater)
4. “Short Term 12” (Destin Daniel Cretton)
5. “Stories We Tell” (Sarah Polley)
6. “Joke” (Nickolas Duarte)
7. “Stoker” (Chan-Wook Park)
8. “12 Years a Slave” (Steve McQueen)
9. “Blackfish” (Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
10. “The Conjuring” (James Wan)

Brian’s 10 Favorite Films of 2013
1. “Pacific Rim” (Guillermo Del Toro)
2. “Before Midnight” (Richard Linklater)
3. “Gravity” (Alfonso Cauron)
4. “Her” (Spike Jonze)
5. “Warm Bodies” (Jonathan Levine)
6. “Joke” (Nickolas Duarte)
7. “Jack the Giant Slayer” (Bryan Singer)
8. “The Conjuring” (James Wan)
9. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Peter Jackson)
10. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Ben Stiller)

Viva la Resistance!

Brian Skutle

Best Picture
“12 Years a Slave”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Captain Phillips”
“American Hustle”
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Nine: “Gravity”; “Her”; “Before Midnight”; “Short Term 12”; “Stories We Tell”; “Stoker”; “12 Years a Slave”; “Blackfish”; “The Conjuring”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “12 Years a Slave”. It’s been one of the most genuinely tightest races in Oscar history for the top prize, but in the end, the historical weight of McQueen’s powerful slavery drama will win out over “Gravity” and “American Hustle.”

Best Director
Alfonso Cauron, “Gravity”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Alfonso Cauron, “Gravity”; Spike Jonze, “Her”; Destin Daniel Cretton, “Short Term 12”; Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”; Chan-Wook Park, “Stoker”

Brian’s Pick: Alfonso Cauron, “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: Alfonso Cauron. With a close Best Picture race, you would think the Best Director award would be up for grabs, but not so much. The Mexican master has had this award in the bag since his visionary adventure hit theatres, and became a global smash, back in October.

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”; Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight”; Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”

Brian’s Pick: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Oscar’s Pick: Matthew McConaughey. The biggest competition in this, and others, of the acting categories was in getting the nomination. For the win, there’s not really much surprise. After the second year of his terrific run of career rehab, McConaughey, in one of the year’s best performances, seals the deal on Oscar night.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”; Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”; Brie Larson, “Short Term 12”; Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”; Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Brian’s Pick: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: Cate Blanchett. Forget the noise brought up about Woody Allen of late– it’s not going to hurt Blanchett in the least in winning her second Oscar, and first in the lead category, in 10 years for her hilarious and heartbreaking performance.

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”; Matthew Goode, “Stoker”; Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”; Nathan Fillion, “Much Ado About Nothing”; James Franco, “Spring Breakers”

Brian’s Pick: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Oscar’s Pick: Jared Leto. This could be a surprise category, and see someone like Hill or Cooper win as representative of their Best Picture movies, but Leto has been the hot hand since the award season started, and deservedly so. I don’t see that changing on Sunday.

Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Scarlett Johansson, “Her”; Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”; Annika Wedderkopp, “The Hunt”; Amy Adams, “Her”; Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”

Brian’s Pick: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Oscar’s Pick: Lupita Nyong’o. This is the acting category I’m least certain of, and I know I’m not alone. Basically, it boils down to whether the SAG win for Nyong’o will translate to a comparable victory from the overlapping Academy voters, or if Lawrence, clearly an Academy favorite, can turn BAFTA and Golden Globe wins into her second Oscar in as many years. Or, maybe Squibb, delightful in Alexander Payne’s road trip comedy, comes in and snatches away from both of them? My gut is telling me to go with Nyong’o, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I’m wrong on that and Lawrence wins, instead.

Best Original Screenplay
“Her” (Spike Jonze)
“Blue Jasmine” (Woody Allen)
“Nebraska” (Bob Nelson)
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack)
“American Hustle” (David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer)

Brian’s Top Five: “Her” (Spike Jonze); “Stoker” (Wentworth Miller); “Blue Jasmine” (Woody Allen); “The Conjuring” (Chad & Carey Hayes); “The Hunt” (Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg)

Brian’s Pick: “Her” (Spike Jonze)

Oscar’s Pick: “American Hustle”. The Writers Guild went with “Her” in this category after it won at the Golden Globes, and believe me, I want to go all in with Jonze’s lovely story here. But this is the fifth nomination for either writing or directing in four years for Russell, who was very much a Hollywood outsider before he rehabilitated his rep with “The Fighter,” and with “Hustle” being tied for the most overall nominations, it gives the Academy a great chance to reward both the filmmaker, and the film itself.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Before Midnight” (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater)
“12 Years a Slave” (John Ridley)
“Philomena” (Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope)
“Captain Phillips” (Billy Ray)
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Terence Winter) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Before Midnight” (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater); “12 Years a Slave” (John Ridley); “Much Ado About Nothing” (Joss Whedon); “The Spectacular Now” (Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber); “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Steven Conrad)

Brian’s Pick: “Before Midnight” (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater)

Oscar’s Pick: “12 Years a Slave”. This could go any number of ways with four Best Picture nominees in the category (and one that should have been), I think “12 Years a Slave” and John Ridley will be standing up on that stage for the brutal, heartfelt work that went into telling Solomon Northup’s story.

Before I get to the music categories, a word. Despite my not having seen a couple of the nominated films, I have been able to listen to all of the nominated scores and songs (or at least excerpts of the scores), so I am able to rank these according to personal preference. -Brian Skutle

Best Original Score
“Gravity” (Stephen Price)
“Her” (William Butler & Owen Pallett)
“The Book Thief” (John Williams) (Haven’t Seen)
“Philomena” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Thomas Newman) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity” (Steven Price); “Her” (William Butler & Owen Pallett); “Stoker” (Clint Mansell & Philip Glass); “The Lone Ranger” (Hans Zimmer); “Oblivion” (M83)

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity” (Stephen Price)

Oscar’s Pick: “Gravity”. If voters really want to spread the wealth around, “Her” is the biggest, potential spoiler for this category, but the collective love of “Gravity” is going to be the deciding factor here, and honestly, you won’t get any complaints out of me.

Best Original Song
“The Moon Song” from “Her” (Karen O & Spike Jonze)
“Let It Go” from “Frozen” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez) (Haven’t Seen)
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (U2) (Haven’t Seen)
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” (Pharrell Williams)

Brian’s Top Four: “The Moon Song” from “Her” (Karen O & Spike Jonze); “Becomes the Color” from “Stoker” (Emily Wells); “I See Fire” from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Ed Sheeran); “Oblivion” from “Oblivion” (Anthony Gonzalez & Susanne Sundfør)

Brian’s Pick: “The Moon Song” from “Her” (Spike Jonze & Karen O)

Oscar’s Pick: “Let It Go”. This category had a long, strange road from the announcement of the nominations to the big night on Sunday. The main thing that happened was the disqualification of the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the Christian film of the same name) after inappropriate campaigning issues came to light. Rather than slot the first runner-up in, they left it at four, and it’s been a wild ride to witness. At this point, any of the choices could possibly win. But my guess is to bet on “Let It Go,” from Disney’s biggest non-Pixar hit in almost two decades.

Best Animated Feature
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine” (Haven’t Seen)
“Frozen” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Wind Rises” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Four: “The Croods”; “Epic”; “Monsters University”; “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2”

Brian’s Pick: “The Croods”

Oscar’s Pick: “Frozen”. Without a Pixar film to go against, look for “Frozen” to be Disney’s first in-house win in this category.

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Hunt” (Denmark)
“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Belgium) (Haven’t Seen)
“The Great Beauty” (Italy) (Haven’t Seen)
“The Missing Picture” (Cambodia) (Haven’t Seen)
“Omar” (Palestine) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Two: “The Hunt”; “The Silence”

Brian’s Pick: “The Hunt” (It’s hard to go with anything else when you’ve only seen one of the nominees.)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Great Beauty”. It’s what a lot of the pundits are predicting.

Best Documentary Feature
“20 Feet From Stardom”
“The Act of Killing”
“The Square”
“Dirty Wars”
“The Cutie and the Boxer”

Brian’s Top Five: “Stories We Tell”; “Blackfish”; “20 Feet From Stardom”; “The Act of Killing”; “56-Up”

Brian’s Pick: “20 Feet From Stardom”

Oscar’s Pick: “20 Feet From Stardom”. “The Act of Killing” was the critical choice, and “The Square” won the PGA documentary prize, but I think the harsh, heartfelt sentiment of “Stardom” will win in the end.

Best Visual Effects
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Star Trek Into Darkness”
“Iron Man 3”
“The Lone Ranger”

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity”; “Pacific Rim”; “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”; “Jack the Giant Slayer”; “Ender’s Game”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Gravity”. One of the closest things to a mortal lock.

Best Sound Mixing
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Captain Phillips”
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (Haven’t Seen)
“Lone Survivor” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity”; “Pacific Rim”; “Rush”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”; “The Conjuring”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Gravity”. Just accept it.

Best Sound Editing
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Captain Phillips”
“All is Lost” (Haven’t Seen)
“Lone Survivor” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity”; “Rush”; “Pacific Rim”; “The Conjuring”; “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Gravity”. The “Gravity” technical sweep continues.

Best Cinematography
“The Grandmaster”
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity”; “The Conjuring”; “12 Years a Slave”; “Pacific Rim”; “Nebraska”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Gravity”. Another easy win for the visually-stunning sci-fi thriller.

Best Film Editing
“Captain Phillips”
“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“Dallas Buyers Club”

Brian’s Top Five: “Gravity”; “Pacific Rim”; “Her”; “Rush”; “Spring Breakers”

Brian’s Pick: “Gravity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Captain Phillips”. Or, as I’m calling it, one of the few times the technically flawless “Gravity” loses Sunday night. It’ll be close, and if “Gravity” does win, expect it to take Best Picture, but I think the crisp, suspenseful editing of “Phillips” will win here.

Best Production Design
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Great Gatsby”
“American Hustle”

Brian’s Top Five: “Rush”; “12 Years a Slave”; “The Great Gatsby”; “American Hustle”; “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

Brian’s Pick: “12 Years a Slave”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Great Gatsby”. Baz Luhrmann’s extravagant excess wins out, but don’t be surprised in the more subdued “12 Years a Slave” sneaks this one out.

Best Makeup & Hair Styling
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
“The Lone Ranger”

Brian’s Top Three: “Dallas Buyers Club”; “American Hustle”; “Warm Bodies”

Brian’s Pick: “Dallas Buyers Club”

Oscar’s Pick: “Dallas Buyers Club”. It’s not the most elaborate choice of the bunch, but it’s the only one that has a Best Picture nod to it’s name. Look for “Buyers Club” to win here.

Best Costume Design
“American Hustle”
“The Great Gatsby”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Grandmaster”
“The Invisible Woman” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”; “American Hustle”; “The Great Gatsby”; “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”; “12 Years a Slave”

Brian’s Pick: “American Hustle”

Oscar’s Pick: “American Hustle”. “The Great Gatsby” won at the Guild awards, but I think “Hustle,” with it’s tied-for-most-nominations status, is going to sneak by and win.

Here are the three awards those most devoted to movies care about. I haven’t seen many of these, so all these are just guesses.

Best Short Film- Live Action
“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
“Avent Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)”
“Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?”
“The Voorman Problem”

Oscar’s Pick: “Helium”

Best Short Film- Animated
“Get a Horse!”
“Mr. Hublot”
“Room on the Broom”

Oscar’s Pick: “Room on the Broom”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”

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