Midday Movies: Oscars 2014
The 86th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday and if the winners tend to leave you scratching your head and yelling at the TV then here’s your chance to cast your own vote and choose your own winners.
I have a long standing tradition of being disappointed by the Oscars. In fact, our family had a foam rock that we would throw at the TV any time anything being reported on television bothered us. This poor rock got a lot of use every presidential election by my dad and every Oscar show by me.
Perhaps my first true outrage was Al Pacino losing out for “The Godfather” in 1972. I had the chance to attend the awards in 1978 when I was a teenager and “Star Wars” was nominated. It lost to “Annie Hall” and I was so mad I stomped out of my seat in the last row in the last balcony at the top of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Talk about a long walk!
So if you share any of my frustration about the best film or best performance often losing, then here’s your chance to right those wrongs by voting in the KPBS Oscar Poll. We will announce the winners on Monday March 3 along with the results from the actual Academy Awards. Here are my Cinema Junkie Awards.
First up, Best Picture
Best picture: So the field was expanded from five nominees to 10 a few years ago in the hopes of broadening the pool and getting more diversity. Epic fail. Last year, the larger field neglected to include the popular mainstream films “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” and this year it failed to include the indie hit “Short Term 12.” This year, the best pic nominees are relatively diverse within the category but these nine films dominate all the categories, shutting out other more deserving films in the craft categories. So have at them!
Best actress: Whenever an actress takes off her make-up to look her age — or just bad — that usually makes her a shoe-in for the award (Example: Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” or Charlize Theron in “Monster."). But because Meryl Streep has so many awards, maybe someone like Cate Blanchett, who just gave a kick-ass performance, will win. What do you think?
Best actor: An actor’s body is his tool, so when that tool requires drastic changes (massive weight gain or loss) that gets the Academy’s attention. (See Robert DeNiro in “Raging Bull.”) So maybe Matthew McConaughey (drastic weight loss) or Christian Bale (going bald) are the front-runners. But there’s also the they’re-getting-old-and-this-could-be-our-last-chance vibe going for Bruce Dern, although that sentimentality didn’t work for Peter O’Toole. Leo has the against-type casting going for him and Chiwetel Ejiofor has the politically correct card in his favor.
Best supporting actress: You have last year’s best actress Jennifer Lawrence, and Julia Roberts, another best actress winner, flaunting their gold over a trio of first-timers. Do the newbies have a chance? Or will the past year's supporting ladies take the cake once again?
Best supporting actor: The rules for the best actor category apply again here: Jared Leto gets points for cross-dressing, Jonah Hill goes against-type, Bradley Cooper goes for bad 70s hair and Michael Fassbender dares to be despicable as a slave owner. Perhaps that leaves the field open to newcomer, non-actor Barkhad Abdi.
Best director: Rule is best picture gets the best director award, but not always. The Directors Guild of America winner is often a good predictor of who wins the Oscar but you don’t have to follow any rules, so vote with your heart.
Best animated film: So American animated films are still stuck in the rut of being children’s movies, and many American critics were baffled by Hayao Miyazaki making an animated film out of a biography of airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi. So you have to decide: is the award meant for the best film that happens to be animated or the film displaying the best animation technology?
Best make up and hairstyling: The mere fact that "Bad Grandpa" could take home an Oscar makes this my favorite category. But how the bad hair of "American Hustle" was overlooked is criminal, as is the nomination for "The Lone Ranger." I mean, really?
Best documentary: This category is far more interesting than best picture this year. All the films are excellent and with a diverse range of topics and styles. But you had to be quick to catch them in San Diego theaters. I highly recommend a quick check of what’s streaming and then vote in this classy category.
Best film editing: I need a write-in slot for this. As an editor, these nominees are all fine but not very innovative. The category seems to be driven by what films are long or have the most cuts. I will write-in “Short Term 12,” “Only God Forgives” and “Stories We Tell.” Let’s see what you choose.