Screened Out – You Can’t Spell “Oscar” without “Scar”

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 6

Welcome, again, to Gay Lent this one being a fairly painful holy season. It was such an amazing year for film that several great movies and performances got snubbed.

Even Meryl Streep thought Emma Thompson (pictured) should be nominated for Saving Mr. Banks.

Even Meryl Streep thought Emma Thompson (pictured) should be nominated for Saving Mr. Banks.

The most noticeable lack of nominations goes to Saving Mr. Banks, with amazing performances by Tom Hanks and especially Emma Thompson. Though most critics loved it, a choice few found the film about the making of the movie Mary Poppins to be the Disney Studios waxing poetic about its founder and his creation. However, everyone thought Thompson was a shoe-in for a nomination.

Hanks also missed a nomination for his wonderful turn in Captain Phillips. Voters ignored Robert Redford in All is Lost. James Gandolfini did not get a posthumous nom for Enough Said, even though entertainment almost always honors their dead. So, is Hollywood royalty out? Perhaps so, because Oprah Winfrey was ignored for The Butler (proving she may not have all the pull everyone always thought she had; maybe she didn’t get Obama elected after all.) Many other great films, performers and directors got the shaft, too. Joaquin Phoenix was sweet and subtle in the polarizing film Her. It also breaks my heart that Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer didn’t get nominated for their gripping acting in tiny Fruitvale Station. Finally, Will Forte was left out in the cold in Nebraska. Which, again, means the competition was fierce this year. Let’s look at the scars and stars, the nominations and my picks for winners. Also, feel free to post your best guesses in the comments:

Best Actor

It's a tragedy that Michael B. Jordan didn't get nominated for Fruitvale Station; the likely winner is Matthew McConaughey for his amazing portrayal in Dallas Buyers Clue.

It’s a tragedy that Michael B. Jordan (left) didn’t get nominated for Fruitvale Station; the likely winner is Matthew McConaughey for his amazing portrayal in Dallas Buyers Club.

American Hustle has garnered several nominations, including Christian Bale’s as lead; that’s all he should expect. Bruce Dern was also great in minuscule Nebraska, and Leonardo DiCaprio make the three hours of The Wolf of Wall Street almost worth it. Who Should Win: Without Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station, I’d pick either Chiwetel Ejiofor for the grueling 12 Years a Slave or Matthew McConaughey for his gaunt, HIV-positive redneck in Dallas Buyers Club. Who Will Win: McConaughey was amazing, and he’s already won everything else.

Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett's crazed socialite in Blue Jasmine may get her the Oscar.

Cate Blanchett’s crazed socialite in Blue Jasmine may get her the Oscar.

Emma Thompson deserved a nomination, but she’d never win against some of these others.  Though nominated, Adams also won’t win for American Hustle. Even legendary Meryl Streep, – who gets a nomination every time she performs – isn’t likely to take home gold this year for the tepidly reviewed August: Osage County. That’s because we have Judi Dench giving her heart to Philomena and Sandra Bullock providing emotional depth to technical Gravity. Who Should Win:  Cate Blanchett as the crazed maven fallen from wealth in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is astounding. Who Will Win: Give the gold to Blanchett.

Best Supporting Actor

Many people feel Tom Hanks should be nominated for Saving Mr. Banks, and Will Forte was snubbed for Nebraska. Most prognosticators agree Jared Leto has already won the prize for Dallas Buyers Club.

Many people feel Tom Hanks (left) should be nominated for Saving Mr. Banks, and Will Forte was snubbed for Nebraska (center). Most prognosticators agree Jared Leto has already won the prize for Dallas Buyers Club.

Every so often, certain categories are given. The three capable actors and one not-so-capable actor who are never going to win are Bradley Cooper in American Hustle, Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave and then there’s Jonah Hill (who now has two nominations in his bio) for Wolf of Wall Street. They can comfort themselves by saying that just being nominated is reward enough. (Though I’d rather have seen Hanks get nominated for Saving Mr. Banks or Forte get recognition for Nebraska over Hill; the Academy didn’t ask my opinion…) Who Should Win: in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto totally owns transgender Rayon as she diminishes from AIDS; the performance and transformation are mesmerizing. Who Will Win: Just engrave Let’s name on the statue already.

Best Supporting Actress:

Some believe Oprah Winfrey's turn in The Butler (left) deserved a nod. Lupita Nyong'o will likely take home gold for her stoic portrayal in 12 Years a Slave.

Some believe Oprah Winfrey’s turn in The Butler (left) deserved a nod. Lupita Nyong’o will likely take home gold for her stoic portrayal in 12 Years a Slave.

I actually loved all these performances (even better than Oprah’s turn in The Butler). However, I’d be hard-pressed to give the award to Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine or Julia Roberts for August: Osage County. This is only true because June Squibb is delightful as the crass midwestern housewife in Nebraska, Lupita Nyong’o is painfully committed to 12 Years a Slave, and Jennifer Lawrence steals American Hustle from all the other actors, including Robert DeNiro. Who Should Win: I will always remember Jennifer Lawrence’s character in American Hustle. Who Will Win: Nyong’o.

Best Director:

Spike Jonze's brilliant Her (left) frustrated people too much for a nom; Alfonso Cuarón will win for his techinical work in Gravity.

Spike Jonze’s brilliant Her (left) frustrated people too much for a nom; Alfonso Cuarn will win for his techinical work in Gravity.

Spike Jonze was ignored for his touchy, excellent film Her. Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese is not going to win for his overlong direction of The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s also difficult to see that the director had to work hard in Alexander Payne’s quaint Nebraska. Steve McQueen should get some recognition for 12 Years a Slave, but he’s up against some stiff competition. I just don’t think David O. Russell’s American Hustle was as tight as he could’ve made it, but Hollywood seems to love this film. Who Should Win: For his technical innovation, I’d give it to the brilliant Alfonso Cuarn for Gravity. Who Will Win: The Director’s Guild gave it to Cuarn.

Best Picture:

Gravity is likely to win Best Picture.

Gravity is likely to win Best Picture.

Smaller films don’t ever win this top prize when SAG actors and producers are looking to sponsor larger movies that encourage more paychecks sorry, Nebraska, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, and Captain Phillips. The Wolf of Wall Street is too flawed (read: long) to win. It’s between the technical brilliance of Gravity, the 70s style of American Hustle, and the excruciating history of 12 Years a Slave. Who Should Win: I’ve been rooting for Gravity since I saw it, but I also loved the dark, ugly 12 Years a Slave. These two films tied for top prize with the Producer’s Guild of America; this is the first time this has happened in the organization’s 25-year history. That means with American Hustle taking the Screen Actor’s Guild Award that this is actually a tight three-way race. Who Will Win: I’m going to assume the Director’s Guild got it right and will throw their votes behind Gravity for the win.

Stephen Miller’s picks for the top films of 2013

By : Stephen J Miller
Comments: 0

StephenMillerHeadshot_560873495When it comes to film, almost every “Best of the Year List” is a little incomplete. Because of the release schedule, some great films, ones that are eligible for the upcoming awards season, aren’t included in critics’ lists. This is because all films haven’t screened locally yet, or it’s hard to get advance copies.

However, I can send you to the cinema, to Netflick, to Amazon, or to your Redbox (or whatever way you choose) with some solid recommendations. So, although this may not be a complete list of 2013, it can give you ideas of how to fill up your Christmas vacation:

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Screened Out – Gravity

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 0

Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Utterly mind-blowing: Gravity is one of those rare films that grants two huge wishes: it gives us an experience we’ve never had before, and it makes us feel deeply. Most flicks – even great ones – can only achieve either one goal.

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