Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oscar Best Actress Predictions (2016)

Best Actress is usually one of the easiest categories to predict the nominees.  The sad reason for this general fact is that there are fewer films with viable lead actress contenders year after year, but that is not the case this year.

I am excited that their appears to be only three locks in this category this year, and there are two spots that could go to anyone.  We could have an actress who is a double nominee if voters change placement.  This is a rare club, and the last two women to attain this were Julianne Moore in 2002 for Far from Heaven, and The Hours, and Cate Blanchett in 2007 for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I'm Not There. 8 women have done this, so this is a rare club.  4 of those women won trophies those years.  3 of the women won in Supporting, and Holly Hunt for The Piano was the only person to win in Lead.  The last time one of the female double nominees won was in 1993, that was Hunter.

Only three men have been double nominees in one year, and of course all of them won their respective years.

Will Alicia Vikander be a double nominee?  I hope so; she is fantastic.


Three of the five women in this category were nominated the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, they were: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock in Gravity, and Judi Dench in Philomena.  Emma Thompson was another person who was nominated at all of the shows, but was snubbed at the Oscars.  Saving Mr. Banks did not get a lot of attention, and Thompson seemed to be one of the only things people paid attention to this year.

The fourth and fifth slots went to Amy Adams for American Hustle who showed up at the Globes and BAFTA, but not SAG.  I blame the late release. Streep was nominated at the Globes and SAG, but snubbed at BAFTA,   I predicted all five because I knew there would be lots of Hustle support, and knew they would not snub Streep in a campy over the top performance.


This year had four women who showed up at the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, they were: Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, and Reese Witherspoon in Wild.

Jennifer Anniston was nominated at the Globes and SAG, while Amy Adams was nominated at the Globes and BAFTA in that fifth spot.  Last year I predicted they would ride the Aniston train, but I should have gone with my hunch for the well respected Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night.


This year there are three locks for nominations: Brie Larson in Room, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, and Cate Blanchett in Carol.  All three of them have shown up in the Lead Actress category at the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA.

SAG threw a huge wrench in this year's predictions picking Helen Mirren for The Woman in Gold and Sarah Silverman for I Smile Back.  I do not think either have any chance of being nominated at the Oscars.  BAFTA put Maggie Smith for The Lady in the Van in fifth; she has a stronger chance than Mirren and Silverman, but I think this is a Brits voting for Brits vote.

BAFTA nominated Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl in lead, the same thing happened at the Globes, she was stuck in her pre-determined supporting category at SAG, so she showed at all three places.  I have Vikander in supporting for Ex Machina, and I think she will be the twelfth performer to get double nominations in one year. This hunch comes from support across the board for this performance.

So who gets the fifth spot?  Jennifer Lawrence being snubbed at SAG and BAFTA could a sign that they are not going to name check her like older respected actresses.  Charlize Theron in Mad Max scored a nomination at Critics Choice, but it does not seem like a film they would honor with an acting nomination.  Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years also made a showing at the Critics Choice, and I could see her getting a nomination too.  So I am going to throw a dart in the air like Globe voters and....

My Predictions
1-Brie Larson-Room
2-Saoirse Ronan-Brooklyn
3-Cate Blanchett-Carol
4-Alicia Vikander-The Danish Girl
5-Jennifer Lawrence-Joy

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oscar Best Director Predictions (2016)

The Director's Guild Award nominations were released today, and I am proud to say that I predicted all five nominees this year.  I am particularly proud of myself for seeing switching out Todd Haynes for Adam McKay (I would have preferred Haynes).  This is not the final say in who goes on to be nominated at the Oscars this Thursday.


Throughout the 2013 Oscar season there were four men who showed up at the Globes, BAFTA, and DGA: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, David O. Russell for American Hustle, and Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips.  These four men appeared to be locks for nominations, I predicted all four of them, but Greengrass was left at the Oscars.  BAFTA nominated Phillips for nine awards, while the Oscars nominated the film for 6.  Hanks and Greengrass being excluded at the Oscars is still baffling.

The Globes fifth person was Alexander Payne for Nebraska, but did not score a nomination at BAFTA or the DGA.  The fifth person at the DGA, and BAFTA was Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street who I had in fifth for my predictions that year.  I am surprised Payne made it in over Greengrass because Phillips feels more like a directorial achievement than Nebraska.


Throughout the 2014 Oscar season there were 3 contenders who showed up at every award show: Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Alejandro G. Inaritu for Birdman, and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Golden Globes picked the two best fourth and fifth spots David Fincher for Gone Girl, and Ava DuVernay for Selma. BAFTA picked Damien Chazelle for Whiplash, and James Marsh for The Theory of Everything.  DGA picked Morten Tyldum for Imitation Game, and Clint Eastwood for American Sniper.  Of these six different director's only Tyldum went on to be nominated at the Oscars.

The fifth spot went to Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher; he had no precursor nominations, much like Bradley Cooper in Best Actor last year.  When predicting last year I went with Chazelle and DuVernay in my fourth and fifth spots.  I assumed the love for Whiplash, especially at BAFTA helped, and was hopeful DuVernay would make history.  I should have put Tyldum in fifth.


Will Todd Haynes be the director to bump someone out with support from the Globes and BAFTA? It's possible, but who?  Does Carol a small intimate film win out over George Miller's direction for Mad Max like in 2013.

Haynes has a strong chance at nomination, and I would put Steven Spielberg in this category too. Both of these men showed up at BAFTA.  Haynes is ranked higher for me, but never underestimate Spielberg.

Could someone pull a Bennett Miller this year? If so who? F. Gary Gray from Straight Outta Compton could be this person, his film has lots of Guild support, and seems well liked, but he is not a previous Oscar nominee like Miller; he was nominated for Capote, and directed Best Picture nominee Moneryball.

If someone is the surprise nominee, I think Grey is a good bet, but I could also see Ryan Coogler getting a nomination for Creed, that film surged at the right time with Oscar voting, and could be a bigger contender than we expect.

The one thing I am hesitant about this year, is that DGA and the Oscars have only matched 3 times since 2000, 2002, 2005, and 2009.  Is this the year it happens again, or do they miss the mark on one or two people?  This may change but I am thinking the smaller body of voting directors pick Haynes for Carol over Miller, both deserve to make the cut.

My Predictions 
1-Ridley Scott-The Martian 
2-Adam McKay-The Big Short 
3-Alejandro G. Inaritu-The Revenant
4-Tom McCarthy-Spotlight
5-Todd Haynes-Carol

Monday, January 11, 2016

Oscar Best Supporting Actor Predictions (2016)

This year's Supporting Actor Oscar category has at least ten strong contenders, the most I have seen since I started following the Oscars back in 1995 (happy twenty year anniversary to me).

I will be honest, these predictions are more of a complete shot in the dark. There may be one, or two people who are safe for a nomination.

I think the best part of this category is that most of the contenders are genuine supporting characters in their film, or part of an ensemble, which puts no one in a true lead position.


This was the year only two men were nominated at the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, but we knew someone else was going to win the Oscar. Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave and Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips (won BAFTA) were the two men who were nominated for all three awards prior to the Oscars. Jared Leto miss out at BAFTA, which snubbed Dallas Buyers' Club completely but he won the Globe and SAG.

Bradley Cooper appeared to be another obvious choice for his turn in another David O. Russell film, but he was snubbed at SAG.  SAG went with posthumous nomination for James Gandolfini in Enough Said.  American Hustle love was strong, so it was easy to predict Bradley Cooper would be along for the ride.

Gandolfini never appeared to be a serious contender, but Daniel Bruhl in Rush was nominated at the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA  should have been a nominee based on statistics.  I had him in my fifth spot.  The big surprise was that Jonah Hill who had no other nominations for The Wolf of Wall Street earned his second Oscar nomination.

In a year like this there could be another actor who has not been nominated for anything who could sneak into a spot.


Last year was an easier year to predict, the Globes and SAG each nominated the same five men. Carell was nominated in supporting at BAFTA, and replaced Robert DuVall in The Judge.

I predicted a Carell Oscar nomination in Supporting thinking The Judge did not have the support, never underestimate the veteran factor, especially with someone like DuVall.


This year there are two men who have been nominated at the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, they are Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, and Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation.  I think these two are safe bets, but would rank Rylance higher because Elba may Beasts lone nomination.

Christian Bale technically has nominations at all three too, but his Globe nomination was in the Lead Actor in a Comedy category, I think he is a safe bet, and would rank him third.

The next two spots are anyone's guess, so here is where it gets tougher.SAG and the Globes went for Michael Shannon in 99 Homes (SAG is all that matters here).  This would logically make him a strong guess for a spot; he did score a nomination back in 2008 for Revolutionary Road.  I am not sold on this one.

Paul Dano in Love and Mercy got a Globe nomination, which means the least. Sylvester Stallone has received only a Globe nomination, and he won, but he was a no show at SAG, and BAFTA.  Stallone showing on Thursday is a possibility, much like Christoph Waltz, in Django Unchained, but Waltz got a BAFTA nomination and won that year.  Since none of the Globe voters, vote in the Oscars that seems telling.

Jacob Trembley in Room got the remaining SAG spot, which has more weight, and is possible, Mark Ruffalo and Benicio Del Torro took up the fourth and fifth spots at BAFTA. Could Michael Keaton or Tom Hardy be this year's Jonah Hill?  Bet you never thought you would hear that sentence.

Rylance, Elba, and Bale are the strong bets, appear to be the safest.  I think Shannon is out, his nomination at SAG is helpful, but not enough.  Jacob Trembley showing up at SAG was a pleasant surprise, and he is amazing in the film; he has a strong chance at a nomination.

I think the Oscars and BAFTA may line up exactly, which bodes well for Ruffalo but that has never happened in this category. Of the two other men nominated at BAFTA,  I think Mark Ruffalo has the stronger chance, Spotlight will likely have support, and at least one acting nomination. Del Torro only has BAFTA, but the support for this film has consistently increased.  Could Sicario be this year's Nightcrawler, a film we overestimate because of Guild support?

Yesterday I had del Torro, but I think he will be like Rene Russo snubbed.  I think the fourth spot goes to Ruffalo; he is well liked, and the fifth spot will go to Stallone, but it has nothing to do with his Globe win.

My Predictions
1-Mark Rylance-Bridge of Spies
2-Idris Elba-Beasts of No Nation
3-Christian Bale-The Big Short
4-Mark Ruffalo-Spotlight
5-Sylvester Stallone-Creed 

Oscar Predictions Best Supporting Actress (2016)

This may be the most open category, because of "category fraud."  This happens from time to time, but this year it leaves a lot of question marks on the table.  The Golden Globes categorized Rooney Mara in Carol, and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl in lead, they did at least one smart thing this year.  Both are being campaigned in supporting.

I think if you put the true supporting actresses in this category, you would have some great nominees, like Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy, Joan Allen in Room or even Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, two of these actually have the potential to happen.

Bear in mind over the last two years this category has remained consistent across the board, but this year is a whole different game here.


In 2013 there were six different contenders throughout the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA: Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, Lupita N'yongo in 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, June Squibb in Nebraska, and Oprah in The Butler.

Oprah was the predicted winner for a long time, by many, but The Butler never found its footing; she was nominated at SAG, and BAFTA, but missed out on the Oscar nomination to one of the other five. This was an easier year to predict, although I believe I had Hawkins getting snubbed.  In the end I should have predicted her because Blue Jasmine has more love, it received three nominations.


Last year was a bit tougher, especially since Laura Dern's nomination came out of no precursor attention, besides maybe a few smaller critics groups. There were three consistent nominees at the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, they were: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (eventual Oscar winner), Keira Knightly for The Imitation Game (yawn), and Emma Stone for Birdman.

These three performers were set in stone, they were all part of strong Best Picture contenders, so predicting them made sense. Meryl Streep missed out at BAFTA, but the Oscars rarely miss a chance to nominate her, and her singing was better than Mamma Mia! so she was a good bet.

The fifth nominees was a tough call, Jessica Chastain made scored a nomination the Globes for A Most Violent Year, Naomi Watts got a SAG nomination for St. Vincent (still do not understand why it was not for Birdman), and Rene Russo got a BAFTA nomination for Nightcrawler.

My prediction for the fifth spot was Russo, it seemed like Gylenhaal was getting into lead actor, and maybe Nightcrawler would show up in Best Picture because of the guild support.  Enter Laura Dern's surprise nomination.  Dern has a lot of respect, and it should have been in more predictions.  The Oscars do admire people, and this should be something to pay attention to this Thursday, and when making your predictions.


So what happens this year?  So far the most consistent nominee in this specific category is Kate Winslet, and I actually had her placed number one to get a nomination before her Globe win (I swear); she is one of the few locks in this category.

Alicia Vikander is going to get a nomination in this category; she was nominated at Globes and BAFTA for Ex Machina, and for The Danish Girl at SAG.  I think Vikander will be a double nominee like at the Globes and BAFTA; she will show in supporting for Ex Machina at the Oscars.

I think Rooney Mara is in third, the only group to place her in lead, is the Globes; she was nominated in supporting at SAG, and BAFTA, that is telling.  I think she will show up here.

I have Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight in fourth; she showed up at the Globes and BAFTA, although she did not know show up at SAG.  I do not think voters saw the film in enough time, or she would have shown up.

The fifth spot is a toss up.  Leading the pack in this toss up spot is Helen Mirren, she was nominated at the Globes, and SAG, but snubbed at BAFTA. I was a bit shocked a Brit like Mirren was snubbed here, especially since Cranston showed up, so she is vulnerable.  I am ranking her highest, on name and prestige factor alone.  After Mirren comes Rachel McAdams, who was nominated at SAG, so she still has a shot.  This fifth spot could also be a Laura Dern, oh wow, nomination, like last year.  If that is the case I could see Joan Allen from Room; she has three previous Oscar nominations, watch out for her!

My Predictions
1-Kate Winslet-Steve Jobs
2-Alicia Vikander-Ex Machina (or The Danish Girl but that is a cheat)
3-Rooney Mara-Carol
4-Jennifer Jason Leigh-The Hateful Eight
5-Helen Mirren-Trumbo

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Transphobia at the Golden Globes (Who Cares What People Wear)

I like jokes, I am sometimes politically incorrect, and irreverent, I try to strike a balance.While many will highlight who wore it best, who won, or who gave the best speech, I am going to dive into something a little bit different, transphobia.

I know comedy is irreverent too, especially Ricky Gervais style of comedy, I love the UK version of The Office, which is the only funny thing he has done, sorry Derek was absolute garbage.  Gervais had some excellent jokes about the pay gap for men and women, they were tongue and cheek, and he pointed out something in a clever way.

Every joke he told about trans folk just went blue, they were cheap shots about Caitlyn Jenner going through a lot of changes, or a joke about the fact that she identified as woman, and her driving skills.  I watched with a group of friends, and we all have a pretty open mind to humor, especially with identity politics.  I think the problem, or the transphobia in his jokes, and the jokes I have seen in other award show play wrong and awkward because the folks telling the joke don't get what Trans means.

Right after the Caitlyn Jenner jokes, Gervais moved into talking about Jeffrey Tambor and his role on Transparent, mostly wondering about his appearance, and the clothes he wears in the show, and talking about whether he tucks his balls back.  Tambor was not impressed, based on his facial expressions, and neither was I.  Gervais was trying to get him to crack a smile, but his face was proving that Gervais was trying too hard to be funny, with something that was not, and just proved himself less talented.

Gervais threw out one of two jokes about Eddie Redmayne who starred in The Danish Girl, which delves into the world transgender pioneer Lili Elbe.  When he announced Redmayne to present the award he called him "the actress taking Hollywood by storm" then interrupted himself and said "it's a dude?"

One of the problems is that Gervais wants to pretend that he is "edgy."  To quote Louis Vertel "Ricky Gervais is as edgy as your friend who laughs at his own Cards Against Humanity plays." Not only did the winners of this show feel like the voters threw things at a dart board. The jokes from Gervais, especially about the transgender community felt the same way.

I do not identify as Trans, and my pronouns are he/his/him so I am speaking from a place of privlege, about a story that is not my own, but it is my goal to be an ally, and I want to challenge folks to think about this show, and the delivery of these jokes. Does making a joke about someone changing their gender or as most comedians put it "chopping off their balls" make you laugh?

Why do people think these jokes are topical? In the book "Whipping Girl Julia Serano states this transphobia stems from "oppositional sexism", the belief that male and female are "rigid, mutually exclusive categories, each possessing a unique and nonoverlapping set of attributes, aptitudes, abilities, and desires." Serano contrasts "oppositional sexism with "traditional sexism", the belief that males and masculinity are superior to females and femininity. Furthermore, she writes that transphobia is fueled by insecurities people have about gender and gender norms."

Do I think Gervais is thinking about any of this when writing his jokes? Hard no.  I do not think he is smart enough. I am sure we will get many male comedians, and maybe some women after this talking about how the PC police were after Gervais.  The problem is these comments lead to fear, hatred, and misunderstanding of a community.  Gervais was tacky not edgy, and I can say that with certainty, time to grow up, and try a new shtick

Oscar Predictions Best Lead Actor (2016)

This year Best Actor seems to have three safe bets, and like within every other category, four or five other contenders jockeying for those fourth and fifth positions.  Many pundits/bloggers/critics are citing this as the weakest Best Actor competition in years.  This diminishes a lot of performances which are not being considered as major contenders like Christopher Abbott in James White, Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, and many more.

In the last two years BAFTA and SAG have never matched perfectly with the Lead Actor Oscar category.


This was probably the most competitive Best Actor race, I have seen in the 10s, in regard to viable nominees, the winner eventually became an easy prediction.

When predicting these awards two years ago there were six very strong candidates, all of them showed up at the Globes, only McConaughey missed out at BAFTA, and DiCaprio missed out at SAG, because of the film's later release.

The locks for this race were Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers' Club, Bruce Dern for Nebraska and Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. When predicting I had Tom Hanks ranked fourth, and DiCaprio ranked fifth (yes I have an archive on this).  Christian Bale in American Hustle ended up bumping Hanks, the stronger love for American Hustle (which went on to lose all of its Oscar nominations) in the acting branch helped secure his nomination over Hanks.


There were 3 men who showed up consistently the Globes (which really do not matter), BAFTA, and SAG.  They were Eddie Redmayne (who won the Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and the Oscar) Michael Keaton (who won the Globe), and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The person everyone underestimated, namely because of category confusion was Steve Carell; he was nominated at the Globes, and SAG in lead, and at BAFTA in supporting.  His nomination made a ton of sense, the film also did well on nomination day.

Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated the Globes, BAFTA, and SAG; he seemed like a lock, but he was bumped by the late breaking strength of Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.  Cooper was predicted by some, but not many, especially since he received an Oscar nomination with no other precursor.


Are there any late breaking phenomena like American Sniper? That would be Star Wars, but there is no potential acting nomination here.  Michael B. Jordan could be that person, but Creed has done what American Sniper did at the Guilds, and BAFTA, so I think he is out.  The person who could fit this mold is Steve Carell in The Big Short.  While Carell does have a Globe nomination, he has not shown up anywhere else.  The Big Short has a ton of love, and is showing up everywhere, including doing well at SAG, and fantastic at BAFTA. 

Is there anyone like Bale in American Hustle, who can push out a Tom Hanks? Namely is there an actor in a film the actors love and honor it with four acting nominations, or at least more than two?  I think if Michael Keaton had bumped up to lead this would be him, possibly, but there are no films which will recieve more than two Oscar nominations this year.

So who are the locks this year? Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant, Bryan Cranston in Trumbo, and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.  These three are locked into place.

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs, seems like an obvious lock for that fourth spot; he is nominated the Globes, SAG, and BAFTA.  The one problem I have with this nomination is that it feels like the film does not have the love or attention you would expect, including missing out on SAG ensemble.  At the moment, and statistically he makes the most sense to get a nomination

Matt Damon would seem be fifth, he is the front runner for the Globes, although, I think they may pick Bale or Carell.  Damon and The Martian were snubbed by SAG, I was not shocked by the ensemble snub, but I was surprised Damon did not make the cut; Depp made it in over him. Damon's misfortune changed at BAFTA, he made their Best Actor list while The Martian was snubbed in Best Picture, this shows his performance has support.  I also think The Martian will be a top tier contender this year, and like Gravity (Bullock) he will be rewarded with a nomination.

On the movie star front Johnny Depp for Black Mass, and Will Smith for Concussion are on many lists to make the cut.  I think the one problem is their films have no other support, besides these two performances.  Black Mass may show up in Best Make-Up, but nowhere else.  Most of the time when a movie star shows up here their films get one or two more nominations including a screenplay nomination, like Denzel in Flight, which reieved a Best Original Screenplay nomination.  There are only a few performances that get a lone nomination like Demian Bichir for A Better Life (2011), but those are rare, which I think rules out Smith.  Depp has an outside shot in sixth or seventh.

I think in the end Damon and Carell are my final picks for spots four and five.  I think The Martian and The Big Short will have enough support to boost up their likely nominations.  I think Fassbender is a strong threat.

My Predictions
1-Leonardo DiCaprio-The Revenant
2-Bryan Cranston-Trumbo
3-Eddie Redmayne-The Danish Girl
4-Matt Damon-The Martian 
5-Michael Fassbender-Steve Jobs

Update: Carell is the 6th man here, the spoiler, but the Oscar voters do not pay attention to box office (never have) and Steve Jobs is just the kind of film they like. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oscar Predictions Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay 2016

Even the screenplay categories are tough to predict this year, and it's tough to use the Writer's Guild Awards as a bench mark because they disqualify so many potential contenders.  Let's use BAFTA as a benchmark, with statistics.

If you look at the Original Screenplay from BAFTA last year, every nominee recieved an Oscar nomination, although Whiplash competed in Adapted at the Oscars.  Foxcatcher replaced it in the Original Screenplay category, which makes sense since Dan Futterman has been nominated previously for Capote, with Benntt Miller.

The year before three films matched: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, and Nebraska. Gravity, and Inside Llewyn Davis mad the cut at BAFTA, they were replaced at the Oscars by Her and Dallas Buyers Club, two films which did poorly at BAFTA,  Her went on to win the Oscar, and was a Best Picture nominee. Dallas Buyers Club made out like a bandit with nominations, the most shocking was an editing nomination.

In an unpredictable year, these statistic could mean nothing, but there are tea leaves in place, and those center on broader support.  BAFTA can be helpful, but a trend you will see is that there are some films that Americans just like better or vice versa.

How helpful is this year's WGA? Not very, too many films were deemed ineligible in Original Screenplay, including: The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, Ex Machina, and Son of Saul.  The nominees are: Bridge of Spies, Sicario, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton, and Trainwreck.

All five of those films have a shot at being nominated in Original Screenplay, two years ago the WGA matched all five nominees in Original Screenplay exactly, but last year the eventual winner (Birdman) was not eligible at the WGA. So where does this leave predictors?

Spotlight appears to be the only lock.  I think Bridge of Spies falls second and is the next safest bet, it was nominated at BAFTA, and WGA, it also has the Coens attached as screen writers.  While some will argue this did not help Inside Llewyn Davis, the difference is there is broader support for Spies. I think The Hateful Eight runs third, the film does not have broad support, outside of consistently being nominated in screenplay categories, voters love Tarantino here; he has two wins.

After this there are four films which could fill the next spots, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Sicario, and Straight Outta Compton.  I just do not see Trainwreck happening, sadly.

I am ranking Inside Out fourth, no animated film has been nominated her since Toy Story 3, but I think this film has enough love to make this happen.  Pete Doctor also three other Oscar nominations in screen writing for Toy Story, Wall-E, and Up.

I think fifth place is between Ex Machina, and Sicario.   Ex Machina feels like a film the writers branch the Academy will vote for, while Sicario feels like a film that will get more technical nominations.  My hunch is pushing me toward Ex Machina, and I am sticking with that hunch.

My Original Screenplay Predictions
2-Bridge of Spies
3-The Hateful Eight
4-Inside Out
5-Ex Machina

Adapted Screenplay is usually pretty easy, but there are always some curve balls, and snubs that just do not make sense, like Gone Girl being snubbed at the Oscars last year.  The placement of Whiplash was one of things that caused the Gone Girl snub.

Two years ago, four of the films matched at BAFTA, Behind the Candleabra (which aired on HBO in the States) showed up at BAFTA, and Before Midnight replaced it at the Oscars. 12 Years a Slave and Philomena were not eligible at PGA this year

Last year 3 of the BAFTA nominees in this category went on to be nominated at the Oscars (in this category): American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything.  Only two of those films of those films were nominated at WGA, Theory was ineligible.

Gone Girl was nominated at BAFTA, and WGA, which had middling guild support, which could be a bad sign for Carol, because the films seem to have similar support, they are very different films though, which changes the game.

The biggest lock is in fact a film with a "big" title, The Big Short, which will most likely win this category at the Oscars.  Predicting the next 4 is tough, and beyond explanation, just more about gut.  I just changed my number five pick (swapping it with Brooklyn) because Trumbo has a lot of support, and it's a film about screen writers being black listed in Hollywood, it seems too obvious.  The next films in line would be: Brooklyn. Anamolisa , and The Martian.

My Adapted Screenplay Predictions
1-The Big Short
3-Steve Jobs

Friday, January 8, 2016

Oscar Predictions Best Picture 2016

Last year critics/bloggers/"experts" all remarked how hard it was to predict winners, this is the Jaws year of predicting the Oscar nominees, only a bigger boat will not help.  You may need Professor Xavier from the X-Men. I wonder if he could create a cerebro model to find Oscar voters?

I love to be right about predicting the Oscars, but this year I am going to just go out on a ledge with a lot of categories, and see where I fall.  This year I will be breaking down my predictions, day by day, with different categories.  I will be starting with Best Picture, and my predictions in order are:

Best Picture
1-The Big Short
3-The Martian
4-Bridge of Spies 
5-The Revenant
6-Mad Max: Fury Road
8-Straight Outta Compton

The Big Short is the front runner at the moment, 2 SAG nominations, and strong support from many of the guilds (DGA to happen Tuesday), and did a lot better at BAFTA than I expected, including a Director nomination for Adam McKay, which bumped out Tom McCarthy.

Spotlight has under performed in many ways, no acting nominations at SAG, no ACE  nomination even with the categories being split between Drama and Comedy, and a poor showing at BAFTA.  The film still seems to have a lot of respect and admiration, and is a solid lock.

The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and Mad Max, all fall in the same category for me, broad support across the guilds and at BAFTA.  I think these four are near locks.

Carol jumped from 9 to 7 on my list, being one of the most nominated films at the BAFTAs helps, it also got key nominations in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. I think this film has a lot of love, and enough passion to make the cut.

Straight Outta Compton and Sicario are the films which have surprised many, and shown up at guilds time and time again.  Both made the PGA list, which is huge.  I think there is broad enough support to include these two films in a top ten list

Room is a guess, the film just seems to have a lot of admiration, and seems to speak to this audience.  I think  Trumbo, Brooklyn, and The Force Awakens, are next in line (in that order).  

In the end we do not know how many films will be nominated for Best Picture, since the number can vary between 5 and 10 in a given year.  Last year there were only 8 nominees, there have typically been 9.  I think since this is a crazy year with a variety of passion for different films, this will be a year with nine nominees again.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Best Television Shows of 2015

So many lists will rank their "Best of..." but I will not be doing that with my television list.  I will be listing some best episodes, but other than that I will be staying away from that here.

2015 had some of the best television, with the landscape changing coming up with 10 was tough, so this may be one or two longer.

The Americans (F/X)-Season Three

The Americans, Better Call Saul, Blackish, Broad City, Empire, Game of Thrones, Jane the Virgin, The Jinx, Justified, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This F/X drama has built up the perfect amount of tension each year.  In season three you got to see Elizabeth (Keri Russell) at her most vulnerable which was a nice evolution for her character.  The problem with this evolution for both Elizabeth and Phillip (Matthew Rhys) is the the more humanity that seeps into them the tougher it is for them to carry out their missions as Soviet spies.  With each season this becomes more and more complicated, and throughout season three you find these two more together than ever, but challenged by how this impacts their job.

For some reason this show has been criminally neglected by Emmy voters, minus Margo Martindale being nominated in Guest Actress. Season three was the best season in my opinion. Best Episode of the season: "Stingers"

Broad City (Comedy Central)-Season Two

The Americans, Better Call Saul, Blackish, Broad City, Empire, Game of Thrones, Jane the Virgin, The Jinx, Justified, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtBroad City is my favorite comedy on this list, no show makes me laugh the way this show does, and that is in large part to the two creative minds behind this genius show, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.  Glazer and and Jacobson, star in, and write most of the episodes for the series, which tells one of the best stories about young white women in New York City (I could easily imagine Ilana saying that too-the white women part).

Whether the two are wondering down St. Marks for a birthday dinner, or Abbi is hanging out with a drunk Kelly Ripa, or Ilana is trying to buy fake handbags with her mom this shows of outlandish nature has one key point, friendship.  No show of television conveys the brilliance and beauty of what it means to be a friend like Broad City.  Best Episodes of Season: "Hashtag FOMO", and "St. Marks"

Fargo (F/X)-Season Two

Season two of Fargo takes viewers back in the past before the events of the first season, but to events referenced in the first season by Lou Solverson.  Fargo tackles the tone of 1979 with perfection, throwing in a campaign stop from Ronald Reagan, and the eventual birth of corporate crime into the mix, but it's build up surrounding these different events that makes this second season a huge success.

One of the intertesting differences between season one and season two is that Noah Hawley was given sole writing credit in every episode of season one, but season has a few credited writers in the mix, this did not change anything about the show, I was still on the edge of my seat.

The shows writing goes a little bit bigger, but keeps the sardonic, and witty tone, the one element added a little bit more is that gives off some strong emotional heft that makes you connect with these characters in many different ways.  This ensemble like season one is fantastic and hits every note out the park.  Best Episodes of Season: The Gift of the Magi, and The Castle 

Jane the Virgin (CW)-Season One & Two

The Americans, Better Call Saul, Blackish, Broad City, Empire, Game of Thrones, Jane the Virgin, The Jinx, Justified, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I love this show, I do not think there is a show on television that wears it's heart on it's sleeve in the same way.  The show tackles motherhood, family and relationships with depth and levity.  Showrunner Jennie Urman (one of the few female show runners on television) uses the absurdity of the Telenovela structure while grounding  her characters with a humanity that most shows never achieve.  This is tight rope few could walk.

One of the main reasons for the success of this show is its cast from Gina Rodriguez (Jane) who nails what it means to be a young mom, to Jaime Camill (Rogelio) whose constant use of his celebrity status and Twitter hashtag usage makes me chuckle with glee.  

This show tackles the motherhood, within the Latino/Hispanic community in a way that no show has every done.  Sure Hilda in Ugly Betty was an amazing example of this, but Jane the Virgin has created a generational relate able show that is a great shining beacon in this realm.  Best Episodes of Season: "Chapter Twelve"and "Chapter Twenty-Two"

Jessica Jones (Netflix)-Season One

There have been a lot "super-hero" shows on television, and a few have actually stepped up to plate, and been amazing creating worlds.  Agent Carter was carried by the perfection of Hayley Atwell's performance.  Daredevil on Netflix finally got the character right, the dark tone, just worked.  There is only one show making this list for me, and that is Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones stands out for a couple reasons, the first is the brilliant performance of Krysten Ritter, which rises above many lead performances I have seen this past year.  In the performance vein David Tenenant helped create the strongest villain in the Marvel cannon, and while there is not much competition there his performance as mind manipulating Kilgrave is terrifying.

Jones had one of the best subtext throughout the series, which connected the relationship Jessica and Kilgrave, and that centered around consent on a deeper metaphorical level.  The show goes there, forces you to think outside the normal super hero box.  Jessica is also not a traditional "super hero" so you get to delve into what does having powers entail? There is no simple answer.  Best Episodes of Season: "AKA Sin Bin" and "AKA Smile"

Making a Murderer (Netflix)

I am glad I waited to make my list, so I could add this show to the mix.  I am not going to say much about this series, because I do not want to spoil the experience, but this show keeps you on the edge of your seat and thinking with every episode. No matter what your personal beliefs are, this show calls into the question how power, privilege, wealth (or lack of it) influence the way things get handled in our countries Justice system.

Master of None (Netflix)-Season One  

Without ranking, this may be what I would rank as "best" on my list.  Master Of None was created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, and follows Dev a struggling actor.  You follow Dev through the ups and downs of dating, dealing with cultural expectations from his family, and from casting directors as he tries to find success in every aspect of his life.

If None were an NBC sitcom it would be riddled with formulaic, stereotypical representations of what it means to be Indian, or what they think it means to be Indian.  Ansari changes the game with this sitcom, and delves deep into the way representation shapes interpretation on many levels. 

Each episode has a different tone/theme, the larger being the rom-com aspect with Noel Wells, which is handled better than any other relationship in television this season.  Yet the style of most of the episodes is individual, and has the filmic look and feel of Louie. The show's writing is quippy, sarcastic, and also tugs on the heart strings, which is a rare combination, but this show succeeds in many ways.  Best Episodes: "Parents "Indians of TV" and "Mornings" 

Mr. Robot (USA)-Season One 

This was another show that I did watch until later in the year, rather than when it aired. It started slow (for me) but I was intrigued by Rami Malek as Elliot; he has a magnetism in his performance which pulled me further and further into the rabbit hole of cyber hacking/terrorism.

As the show evolves and forms this world, there is an evolving energy, which is self-contained, something rare for a show like this, you feel an intimacy with the characters, even in a world that is meant to feel cold an isolating, especially through the perspective of Elliot.  This show makes the list because it blends some intriguing tropes, and has the creativity to delve deep into one of the most interesting topics of our time.

The Leftovers (HBO)-Season Two 

I almost gave up on this show, but towards the end of season one this show did a nice turn around.  There was an aura of improvement, namely from the performances from Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, and Christopher Eccleston.  With the tragic ending of season two, you become ready for a new beginning, but the story takes many dark and twisted turns.

The season opens with a new family in Miracle, a town where no one was taken, and the first episode is brilliant because you build great connections with these folks including the incomparable Regina King. At the end of the episode Kevin and Nora are revealed to be their neighbors, and the roller coaster of emotions which venture more into the supernatural begin.

Season two is ruled by mind blowing performances from the four actors mentioned above, but add in Ann Dowd, Amy Brennemen, and Liv Tyler (yes Live Tyler) and you have one of the most complex emotional seasons of television. Best Episodes: "International Assassin" & "Lens"

Looking (HBO)-Season Two 

HBO only has two shows on this list, which is pretty great, but they have done an appalling job at nurturing programming, letting go of shows like Getting On, Enlightened, Hello, Ladies, and the show at the center of this blurb Looking.  I have many thoughts on HBO, but this is meant to celebrate the brilliant second season of Looking.

Show runner/creator Andrew Haigh who is responsible for the best about gay men, Weekend, dove deep in this subject matter of the everyday life of the modern gay man.  Many yawned at the first, season, but like The Leftovers this show evolved into one of the most touching and sometimes funny (thank Doris) shows on television.

Whether you are gay or straight, you can see yourself in one of these characters, the neurotic Patrick, or loving and hopeful Richie.  Haigh has created some of the authentic, and vulnerable characters to grace television; he knows how to delve into the complexities of sex better than anyone.  Best Episodes: "Looking for Plot" and "Looking for Home"

Transparent (Amazon)-Season Two

Season two delves deeper into Maura and her story, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be part of a larger family, and finding yourself in the legacy of your family.  Jill Solloway has taken this show to the next level in many ways; she explores these characters in microscopic ways that pushes boundaries in allowing them to understand themselves,

My favorite thing about Transparent is that each of their characters "follows their truth" and through the writing and the performances you eventually see this journey is not always east, in fact it brings pain, anguish, often self-doubt.  My favorite episode explore what it means to be a woman, and how folks define what the definition means, and how it means different things to different people.  In this episode Maura is seeking community, but what seems to be a safe space, may not be. One of the bravest episodes exploring the complexity of being a feminist.

There are times when you hate these characters, but the subtext about each of these people is they are in transition, trying to find their true identity, and aren't we all trying to find that?  This constant transition does not ease the pain when a relationship ends, or there is awkward tension between two people, but it clings to key point of show's focus. life is an evolution, and it's all about finding yourself. Best Episodes "Kina Hora" and "Man of the Land"

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)-Season One 

The Americans, Better Call Saul, Blackish, Broad City, Empire, Game of Thrones, Jane the Virgin, The Jinx, Justified, Louie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Just plain fun, I am not sure there is another show on this list, or on television, which makes me smile the way Kimmy Schmidt felt.  I love the world Tina Fey has created here, it's a rag tag ensemble led by the wonderful Ellie Kemper.  Tituss Burgess is the comedic MVP of 2015; he sold every moment of his character, I know "Pinot Noir" is the favorite, but I love when he sings Boyz II Men at the Korean man's funeral.

Tina Fey and her writing team do a fantastic job turning real life situations, blending the absurd, and making them funny. The show is one I have already watched three times in less than a year, namely because I love this world, and feel at home inside.  Best Episodes: "Kimmy goes Outside" "Kimmy goes on a Date"

Returning to Blogging!

I have not written in a while, separating my emotions from the politics of anything film and television related has been a challenge.  The biggest frustration I have had is the band wagon hate, see the recent reaction for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am by no means a fan boy, I grew up on the films, and they meant a great deal to me.  I get people not liking a film, it's how I felt about The Hateful Eight this year. I think my perspective is that I am open to dialogue about why I liked The Force Awakens, or  did not The Hateful Eight, while some just are openly rude in their perspective.

My greatest inspiration for blogging is Sasha Stone; she has passion, and when she writes about movies their is such professionalism whether she likes them or not. I also appreciate that she lends her voice to talking about representation (or often the lack of representation) of diversity in film in front of of the camera, and behind the scenes.  Sasha has so much passion for her work, and I long to replicate this with my own work.

I have often wondered if my voice mattered.  Am I just another regular person with a blog? The answer to both of those questions is Yes, and the result is writing a little bit more and more each week, about different experiences I have, for me, as an outlet.  If others happen to read them, and agree and disagree, I am reaching an audience, and that is fine by me.

I am going to write about the best television and film of 2015 (for me), but I am also going to continue to lend my voice to talking about representation in film, television, and other media like comic books.  I want to make my voice singular, and meaningful.  Last night Carol ignited my passion, and it's time to return to writing more!