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January is movie season. This is when all of the major awards shows celebrating achievement in film for the previous year start to take place and the nominations for the Oscar’s, the grand daddy of all awards shows, come out. This past Sunday we had the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards. The SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards take place this Sat. January 18th. (will be televised on TNT) The Director Guild of America (DGA’s) Awards happen on Sat, January 25th. And finally the Oscars take place on March 2nd live from Los Angeles and will air on ABC.  That night will end the festival season for movies. Today, the 2014 Oscar nominations came out, and some of the noiminees have been favorites all year, while some were surprises and other people unfortunately will have to wait until next year. 2013 was a very strong year for the film industry, so let’s break down who got in and who is out to bring home Oscar gold on March 2nd.

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BEST PICTURE

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

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Nine films made this years Best Picture category. And I can’t say I am against any of these nine films being nominated. Ever since the Academy raised the amount of films that could be nominated for Best Picture there has been some issues with films not making the cut. I am sure the decision was a difficult one for members of the Academy to make, but they seemed to get it right this time. This list of films is filled with standout performances and were directed by some of the Academy’s favorites, and I have to assume that is why certain films got the nod over others. American Hustle, Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and The Wolf of Wall Street were pretty much locks for this category. All were critically acclaimed and have been at the front of conversation amongst movie goers and critics since their releases. Her has been gaining alot of steam since it’s limited release in LA and New York weeks ago. Nebraska has the Alexander Payne factor working for it. Payne is an Academy darling. He has been nominated for both of his previous films. (Sideways, The Descendents) Dallas Buyers Club is riding a wave of steam right now. It is the feel good movie in the bunch and due to the strong buzz behind Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s performances, has found it’s way into the big boy category. Philomena is a Stephen Frears picture and he is another Academy favorite. This film is a surprise selection for me. I though this was probably the last film selected to the group. It beat out Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniels The Butler, two strong films that probably suffered from their early release dates more than anything else. It also beat out Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and Richard Linkleter’s Before Midnight. The Cohen brothers, who are also loved by the academy were also left out for Inside Llewyn Davis. It will be interesting to see which film will be crowned Best Picture. There are alot of very good films nominated.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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

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This was a tough category. 2013 was a great year for males in film. There were alot of noteworthy performances by many actors this year and not all could make it into the final 5. McConaughey just won the Golden Globe for his performance, so you knew his name was going to get on the list. Same applied to Leo who also won a Golden Globe. Although The Wolf of Wall Street has taken it’s fair share of criticsm of late, you can’t knock Dicaprio’s performance. He was outstanding in this film. Ejiofor is also a clear lock for this category. His performance as Solomon Northup was tremendous and showcased this actor’s range. I was pretty shocked to not see Tom Hanks nominated for Captain Phillips. He has been a lock at most critics awards nominations prior to the Oscars. Also was surprised that  Joaquin Phoenix was left out for his tender performance in Her. Michael B. Jordan, who was phenomenal in Fruitvale Station propbably suffered from the film’s early release date and the fact that he is a relative newcomer in the world of acting, so his best days may have yet to come.. His name will be mentioned in the future if he continues to snag roles that let him showcase his dramatic ability like this film did.  Forest Whitaker didn’t get any love for playing the title character in Lee Daniel’s The Butler. Studios need to know when to release their big dawgs. The Weinstein Company messed up with this one, and was also a reason why Whitakeer didn’t get a nod for his role in the historical fiction drama. And newcomer Oscar Issac from Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t strike the right tune with enough Academy voters to get his name on the short list. The final nomination went to Bruce Dern for his memorable turn in Nebraska. The Academy does like to highligh veterans who give excellent performances. I’m not sure how many films Dern will make from here on out, because he has been around for quite awhile, however he may have the perfect swan song as the Academy thought his work was well deserved of a nomination.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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

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This is also going to be a dog fight. Not too many surprises in this category but it’s going to be tough. Expect Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett to duke it out for Oscar gold with this one. It will be interesting to see what kind of push the Weinstein’s give Judi Dench, who is well deserved for this role. Bullock’s name has cooled down in the press lately as a viable winner for this award. Although Gravity  was a great movie, it’s not one that is known for the strong performance of Bullock but more for the power of outerspace and how scary the unknown really is. Plus it’s a special effects gem. Expect Gravity to clean up in the technical categories. Meryl is always a dark horse every year. This is what her nine millionth nomination? But the buzz behind this movie isn’t on the same level as some of her competition, so I don’t expect her to win. Two notable names that were left out of this race, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Emma Thompson. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was excellent in Enough Said, and proved that she could be the lead in major film.  Emma Thompson was also denied a chance for Oscar with her performance in Saving Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks was a nice return to the silver screen for Thompson. She has been giving us good performances for years. It’s good to see her back in major roles on screen.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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

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Pretty solid crew of dudes were nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Jared Leto leads that pact for his spectacular work as a transgendered woman in Dallas Buyers Club. Michael Fassbender was beyond believable as a vicious slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. Bradley Cooper continues the sweep of American Hustle acting nominations. To not nominate him and give the rest of the cast glory would have been a major sin. He was very good in his role for sure. But I’m pretty sure he’s not winning. And Abdi is a brand newcomer to acting, but what an incredible job that was in Captain Phillips. It was great to see him nominated. The final slot went to Jonah Hill, who in the past couple of years has seen serious Oscar recognition as a dramatic actor. He received a nod for Moneyball and now has his second for The Wolf of Wall Street. His nomination knocked a couple of noteworthy contenders out the box. Tom Hanks was denied again, but this time for his turn as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. This was a big year for Hanks with or without the noms. But it is sad to not see him recognized for one of his strong performances this year. The late great James Gandolphini was also denied an Oscar for his strong performance in Enough Said. I thought the Academy may have recognized him not only for his grreat work in that film but his career as an actor overall.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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

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Will J Law continue her reign of victory over the Academy. She picked up her first Oscar last year for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, and she’s rumored to be the front runner for American Hustle in the supporting actress category. She does have some very tough comeptiton lined up against her. Hawkins was superb in Blue Jasmine. Julia Roberts always does good work, and her performance in August: Osage County let everyone know that she still has it. Newcomer Nyong’o was great in 12 Years a Slave but that movie hasn’t been picking up the acting awards at some of these other award shows that it should. Maybe the Academy will get it right and give it a couple of acting statues that this tremendous film definitely deserves. June Squibb has been on most critics ballots all year for her performance in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.  I was surprised to not see Oprah Winfrey’s name on this list for her strong turn in Lee Daniels The Butler. She played Gloria Gaines, the wife of lead character Cecil Gaines with poise, pride, and integrity.

BEST DIRECTOR

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

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This is another very tough category. All of these films are very good and the direction was on point in every last one. O’Russell has been here before for The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. Though he may have done his best work yet with American Hustle. He is now one of the go to directors that Hollywood stars want to work with. Curan made Gravity exciting and different, and a thrillride. He is a master with the camera. Payne brings gritty stories about America to the screen. He touches on the dysfunction of family and not many people do it better than he does. McQueen made the issue of slavery very relevant again in a raw, intimidating, non-comforting way in 12 Years a Slave. That movie was tough to watch and Steve McQueen made you feel every ounce of pain that went through Solomon Northup’s body. He truly made a remarkable film. And who displays excess better than Marty. No one. This time, one of America’s most famous gritty director’s shows off his funny bone, and makes a docudrama that is as much of a comedy as any Scorsese film every has been. Although he makes you hate Jordan Belfort, the viewer enjoy’s going on that wild and crazy ride with him. Many notable names were left off this list. No nomination this year for the Cohen Brothers with their folk music oddessy, Inside Llewyn Davis. A similar blow was dealt to Spike Jonze and his extremely entertaining sc-fi love story Her. This was a huge shock because not only did the film get a Best Picture nom, but Jonze was nominated for Best Original Screenplay as well. No love for Lee Daniels for his historical fiction drama about an African American bulter who served for countless presidents in Lee Daniels The Butler. Paul Greengrass was left out for Captain Phillips and Stephen Frears was off the list for Philomena. Only five can sit at the dinner table. Who do you like to take home the gold?

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Overall, 2013 was a great year in movies. The Academy doesn’t always get it right, but they were pretty darn close with this year’s nominees. Being able to have a healthy conversation on who got nominated and who didn’t shows how great of a year 2013 really was for movies. There are a lot of movies that made us think, talk, laugh, and cry this year and luckily the Academy is appreciating a lot of them with these nominations. You got over a month and a half left to hit your local cineplex and check out these great films. Make sure that you do and let us know if the Academy got it right with their selections.

 

 

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