Oscar Predictions 2014



Well, though I always find it difficult to nail down my Oscar selections pre-nomination day because I feel like I’m somehow cosmically jinxing  potential favorites, I’m taking part in The 2014 Oscar Contest over at Film Actually because…well…it’s just the right thing to do 🙂

This being a contest and all I threw in a few dark horse candidates and left out some bigger names just to keep it interesting.  I don’t necessarily think there will be 10 nominees for Best Picture but ultimately I couldn’t make up my mind on which ones to remove from my list…

I hope there are a few surprises tomorrow morning, though….even if it means I lose a few points in the contest 🙂

Below are my predictions for who will go to bed tomorrow night an Oscar nominee…

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street

Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

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

Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, American Hustle
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger, Gravity
Jeff Buchanan, Eric Zumbrunnen, Her

Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
David O. Russell and Eric Singer, American Hustle
Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska

John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Before Midnight
Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope, Philomena
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Hunt, Denmark
The Grandmaster, Hong Kong
The Great Beauty, Italy
The Notebook, Hungary

Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger Deakins, Prisoners

Adam Stochausen & Alice Baker, 12 Years a Slave
Judy Becker & Heather Loeffler, American Hustle
Catherine Martin & Beverly Dunn, The Great Gatsby
Jess Gonchor & Susan Bode, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael Corenblith & Susan Benjamin, Saving Mr. Banks

Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Lone Survivor

Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
Daniel Orlandi, Saving Mr. Banks
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
Mary Zophres, Inside Llewyn Davis

Alex Ebert, All is Lost
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Steven Price, Gravity
John Williams, The Book Thief
Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave

20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
The Crash Reel
Stories We Tell

The Square

The Croods
Despicable Me 2

Monsters University
The Wind Rises

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Star Trek: Into Darkness

American Hustle
Dallas Buyers Club
The Lone Ranger

“Amen”, All is Lost
“Let It Go”, Frozen
“The Moon Song”, Her
“Ordinary Love”, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Young & Beautiful”, The Great Gatsby

Movie Review ~ The Crash Reel


The Facts

Synopsis: The dramatic story of one unforgettable athlete, Kevin Pearce; one eye-popping sport, snowboarding; and one explosive issue, Traumatic Brain Injury. A comeback story with a difference.  This eye-popping film seamlessly combines twenty years of stunning action footage with new specially-shot verité footage and interviews as it follows U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce and exposes the irresistible but potentially fatal appeal of extreme sports

Stars: Kevin Pearce, Shaun White, Mason Aguirre, Scotty Lago, Jake Burton

Director: Lucy Walker

Rated: NR

Running Length: 108 minutes

TMMM Score: (9/10)

Review: For a guy that was raised on Sunday evening episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos, I was trained at an early age to get a kick out of dogs that seemed to speak, grandmas that couldn’t ride  bicycles, kids that said the darndest things, and a whole range of athletes taking a header in the middle of their time to shine.  I’ll admit that I lived for these moments and for me it was mostly because it was a chance to see these men and women with seemingly superhero strength exhibit the very mortal blunders we couch potatoes regularly face when a patch of ice looms before us.  We fall, we brush ourselves off, and we move on.

The thing is, as I grew older I started to wince more than I chuckled…wondering what happened after the editor cut away to the next laugh-inducing clip.  Did these people really hurt themselves?  If they weren’t wearing a helmet and banged their head was there any permanent damage?  Watching the Winter Olympics every four years and seeing figure skaters, skiers, snowboards, and the like take a tumble I began to regret the evil joy I took in these moments.

So it’s strange that I missed out on The Crash Reel when it was broadcast on HBO earlier in the summer.  I think it’s a case of reading the title and glancing at the poster art and assuming it was an extreme sports documentary where the snow was powder white and the ultimate rush was getting higher and higher in the air with various tricks and stunts.

What The Crash Reel is, though, is a riveting documentary from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker (The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom) about those very moments I was talking about before…the moments after the fall when things aren’t so funny.  Specifically, the film focuses on Kevin Pearce, a world-class snowboarder who was part of a new breed of superstar athlete that pushed the limits of his sport.  That all changed in 2010 when at age 22 he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury during a practice run that sidelined him from his dream of Olympic glory.

Using an amazing amount of footage culled from home movies, professionally shot sequences of Kevin and his friends on the slopes, and Walker’s own unobtrusive camera, The Crash Reel tells a few stories along the way.  Though Kevin’s journey is the through line of the film and his friendship and eventual rivalry with fellow star snowboarder Shaun White is a (thankfully) minor subplot, Walker wisely lets her subjects guide the film. 

When Kevin was injured his family was right there by his side and we watch as they go through their own struggle with the realities of what this injury will mean for Kevin’s future and their aching fear that rises up when he makes it clear his snowboarding days aren’t over.  There’s a lot of honesty here and there are times when the audience starts to feel perhaps a bit too close to the family…and that’s why Walker’s film is so astounding.  She’s put us right there in the middle of things as they’re happening.

A film about overcoming obstacles great and small, there’s a valuable supporting player that has to get a little digital ink and that’s Kevin’s brother David.  The unquestionable emotional core of the very down-to-earth Pearce family, David is helped come to terms with his Down Syndrome through Kevin’s acceptance that his brain injury may have changed his course but hasn’t ended the journey.  A dinner conversation between David and Kevin surrounding this conclusion is perhaps one of the most moving and healing scenes I’ve seen on film in recent memory.

Touching on several other athletes facing similar injuries (some of whom aren’t so lucky as Kevin) there’s a propulsive rhythm to the film that’s aided by slick editing and a harmonious soundtrack.  Kevin, his family, and friends are vibrant and interesting and the message of the film is never timelier now that the Sochi Winter Games are right around the corner.  At the start of the film I grimaced a bit when the footage showed people wiping out…by the end of the film it was almost too much to bear to watch now that we’ve taken this journey with one man and his family and seen the ripple effect one wrong move can have.