Friday, January 31, 2014

Coming Soon: The 7th Annual AFT Awards!


Now that I’ve wrapped coverage of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where I had the opportunity to screen 31 films, I’m excited to be looking back at the year that we just finished. My favorites of 2013 weren’t all that much in line with Oscar picks, but there are certainly going to be some similarities. Last year, I named “Beasts of the Southern Wild” my favorite film, while Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Christoph Waltz were joined by Oscar snubees John Hawkes and Ann Dowd in the acting categories.

The 7th Annual AFT Film Awards, my personal choices for the best in cinema, begin this coming Monday, February 3rd. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on my choices, and to find out who you might have included. After that, it will already be time for Oscar winner predictions, so come back and enjoy plenty of content in the month of February here at Movies With Abe!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sundance with Abe: 52 Tuesdays

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


My final feature film review for Sundance 2014 is for the intriguing "52 Tuesdays," a look at one year of the life of a young woman who finds out her father is becoming a man. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: War Story

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Catherine Keener stars in the lackluster "War Story," a low-key film about a distressed journalist in Italy. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Obvious Child

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Jenny Slate shines in "Obvious Child," a generally entertaining comedy about being young and single in New York City. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Low Down

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


I wasn't too fond of "Low Down," an aesthetically strong story of a father and daughter starring John Hawkes and Elle Fanning. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Whiplash

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


The big Sundance prizewinner was "Whiplash," an involving story about music and drive starring Miles Tiller and J.K. Simmons. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Life Itself

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


One of the strongest films from Sundance is "Life Itself," the informative and entertaining documentary about film critic Roger Ebert. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Camp X-Ray

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Kristen Stewart does a decent job anchoring "Camp X-Ray," a potentially unrealistic but still deeply compelling film. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Infinitely Polar Bear

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Mark Ruffalo is terrific as a father of two young girls in the 1970s with bipolar disorder in the highly enjoyable "Infinitely Polar Bear." Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Ernest and Celestine

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


One of this year's wonderful Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film, "Ernest and Celestine," was screened at Sundance as part of the new Sundance KIDS category. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: God's Pocket

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Actor John Slattery makes his directorial debut with "God's Pocket," a less than interesting and relatively messy drama. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Hits

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


David Cross' directorial debut, "Hits," starts out cleverly, but ultimately gets lost in its own craziness. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Cold in July

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Cold in July" is a strong, deeply involving thriller that is actually several films wrapped into one. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Appropriate Behavior

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Desiree Akhavan is a filmmaker to watch, and in her feature film debut, she plays a Persian bisexual looking for love in New York City. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Difret

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


The Ethiopian film "Difret" is a stirring and important look at culture and consequences in an African country. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Calvary

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I spent 8 days in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I could. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Calvary," the second feature film from director John Michael McDonagh, is far darker than "The Guard," but it's plenty interesting.. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Song One

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Song One" stars Anne Hathway and features some good music and a familiar but solid story. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Rudderless

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Rudderless," William H. Macy's directorial debut, is a very affecting film with a standout lead performance from Billy Crudup. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Happy Christmas

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Happy Christmas," from director Joe Swanberg, is most worthwhile because Anna Kendrick's lead performance. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Locke

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Locke" is a very intriguing film set entirely in a car, featuring a terrific lead performance from Tom Hardy. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Wish I Was Here

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Wish I Was Here" is Zach Braff's highly-anticipated follow-up to "Garden State," which is intriguing but not nearly as strong. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Land Ho!

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.

My favorite movie at Sundance this year was the very entertaining comedy "Land Ho," featuring fantastic performances from Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, and the rest of the cast. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Movie with Abe: Gloria

Gloria
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Released January 24, 2013

When a film bears a character’s first name as its title, it’s obvious that it is, above all else, that person’s story. Whether or not the protagonist is a real person is irrelevant, though their status as a historical figure or political leader often helps to explain without much effort why they are worthy of being the subject of a film. In the case of “Gloria,” Chilean actress Paulina Garcia does her best to argue that middle-aged divorcée Gloria deserves to have her story told. While the film isn’t always enthralling, its central character most certainly is.

Gloria is, put simply, a free spirit. Divorced from the father of her children for over a decade, Gloria goes out each night and laughs, dances, and drinks in the hopes of having an enjoyable evening out. She sings along with music at almost every juncture when it is being played, be it at home, in the car, or out in public. She yearns to see her adult children more, and though she wants to find a new man to share her life with, she is relatively content on her own, and more than capable of taking care of herself.

Gloria’s first meeting with Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) one night begins an occasionally endearing mature love affair that finds Gloria being charmed by a man who seems, at the outset, charming. When he fails to live up to certain acceptable standards of behavior, Gloria is not sure how to respond, since her life is not lived confrontationally. That personality trait makes Gloria a great lead character, though her story isn’t always as competent as her. It follows her life through a series of connected events, but there’s no discernable beginning, middle, or end to her story.

The one thing that is undeniably consistent throughout “Gloria” is the talent of its lead actress. Garcia has been rewarded already be a few film festivals and other organizations for her work, deservedly so. Through large glasses and a nervous smile, Garcia injects life and energy into Gloria and her film, making her a sweet, timid, sympathetic protagonist. The other actors in the film provide able support, but ultimately, “Gloria” is all about the portrayer of the title character and how she manages to create and sustain this marvelously optimistic, soulful woman and make her life feel utterly interesting.

B

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Young Ones

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


There are plenty of good things about "Young Ones," the future-set Western starring Michael Shannon. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: The Better Angels

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"The Better Angels," the story of Abraham Lincoln's childhood, is actually the only film so far at Sundance that I haven't liked at all. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: The Sleepwalker

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Another film from a Norwegian director, "The Sleepwalker" has a strong cast and an intriguing storyline. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Blind

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Continuing the trend of top-notch films from Norway, "Blind" is a terrific and multi-faceted film about truly interesting people. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Frank

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Frank" is an odd, energizing film, with great performances all around and a very involving and entertaining plot. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: Hellion

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Hellion" reminds me of last year's "Mud," a strong, mature drama with excellent child performances at the center and strong adult support, in this case from Aaron Paul. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sudance with Abe: Freedom Summer

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


"Freedom Summer" is a strong, stirring documentary about a particularly monumental chapter in the civil rights struggle in the 1960s. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sundance with Abe: A Most Wanted Man

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Director Anton Corbjin's follow-up to "The American" isn't nearly as even or involving, but "A Most Wanted Man" is somewhat worthwhile.. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: The Double

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Jesse Eisenberg plays two versions of himself in the intriguing but dark "The Double," also starring Mia Wasikowska. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Lilting

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


World Dramatic Cinema Competition entry "Lilting" has its moments, and succeeds most because of its performances and its capacity for and comprehension of loss. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Sundance with Abe: The Green Prince

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


The topic of the documentary "The Green Price," which looks at the son of a Hamas leader who ended up as a spy for the Shin Bet, Israel's security service, is absolutely interesting, but the film wasn't as even or effective as I had hoped. Click here to read the review on Shockya.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Final SAG Winner Predictions


After the disappointment of the Oscar nominations, I would love to see winners in every category tonight that aren’t nominated for Oscars. Truth be told, it’s really just Tom Hanks, who I thinks very much deserves the Best Actor in a Leading Role trophy (though Dern or Ejiofor are fine too). Given that I had predicted Hanks to win the Globe and he didn’t and I already had McConaughey slated to win this award before the Globes even happened, I think that category is mostly sewn up. Blanchett and Leto are solid, and I’m predicting Oprah to take it over Lawrence, though Nyongo easily could too. As for ensemble, a victory for “12 Years a Slave” would all but assure its Best Picture chances, while the likely choice of “American Hustle” will continue building that film’s buzz all the way to the Oscar Best Picture upset I really hope doesn’t happen.

I may or may not tune in to part of the broadcast online before an evening screening at Sundance. Enjoy final predictions below (TV here), and offer your thoughts in the comments!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Christian Bale
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
American Hustle

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sundance with Abe: Day One Press Confrence

I'm delighted to be covering the Sundance Film Festival for the second time this year. I'm in Park City, Utah, seeing as many movies as I can through next Friday. Most of my reviews and other coverage will be going up on Shockya.com, so I'll be posting links to them here.


Enjoy the best moments of the Sundance Day One Press Conference featuring Robert Redford - follow this link to read about it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nominees: Best Picture


My predictions: 7/9, picking “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks” over “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Philomena”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

This Best Picture list is substantially less interesting than last year, but it still does have a few good choices in it. “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” are obviously great, and I’m so excited about “Captain Phillips” and “Her” making it in despite not doing as well in some other categories. “Nebraska” is a good choice too. I don’t mind “Philomena” being here even though it was not one of the best movies of the year, and I suppose I’ll have to be happy to “Dallas Buyers Club” didn’t do better than it did. “The Wolf of Wall Street” made a good comeback, and the category is rounded out by a film everyone but me loved, “American Hustle.” My two predictions that didn’t pan out, “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” netted three technical nominations together, which is pretty unfortunate, while “The Butler” got shut out. In a year like this, where were “Fruitvale Station,” “Mud,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” and so many others? Oh well. SAG is next, and then we’ll revisit all these with winner predictions. I’m already in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, so I’ll be searching for those excellent films that won’t get nominated next year!

My current bet to win: It could be “American Hustle,” but I think 12 Years a Slave is still ahead.

Oscar Nominees: Best Director


My predictions: 3/5, picking Greengrass and Jonze over Payne and Scorsese
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

So this is nothing like last year, where underdogs managed to unseat powerful locks. Instead, we get one Globe choice – Payne – and one DGA choice – Scorsese – which together knock out one of the best directing jobs of the year, Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips.” It’s extremely lamentable, but stings less because the films that beat it out aren’t too bad. “Nebraska” is a fun choice but wouldn’t necessarily be fine, and I suppose there are some elements of the construction of “The Wolf of Wall Street” that make Scorsese worth recognizing. The three locks were just that this year, and Russell, Cuaron, and McQueen will go head-to-head to figure out whose film is most beloved.

My current bet to win: I think Cuaron is going to continue to dominate.

Oscar Nominees: Best Documentary


My predictions: 3/5, picking “Blackfish” and “Stories We Tell” over “Cutie and the Boxer” and “Dirty Wars”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, Twenty Feet from Stardom

Where are “Blackfish” and “Stories We Tell”? Those were two of the best-received documentaries of the year, and they both deserved a place here. I’m surprised about the inclusion of “Dirty Wars,” which I didn’t expect Oscar voters to find compelling. I saw “The Square” last year at Sundance and was somewhat impressed, and I recently screened “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” which wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping, and I’ll offer up a review of that soon. I’m going to watch “The Act of Killing” and “Cutie and the Boxer” soon.

Good news for those who want to be more well-informed about this category: all of these films can be watched at home! “The Act of Killing,” “Dirty Wars,” and “Twenty Feet from Stardom” are all available on DVD. “Cutie and the Boxer” will join them at the beginning of February. And I saw an advertisement in the subway yesterday for “The Square,” which is coming to Netflix Instant Streaming tomorrow. Happy watching!

My current bet to win: My bet is The Act of Killing.

Oscar Nominees: Best Foreign Film


My predictions: 4/5, picking “The Grandmaster” over “Omar”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

I did pretty well in this category despite having only seen two of the films, “The Great Beauty” and “The Hunt.” I’m very excited to see the other three, and I hope I’ll have the opportunity. “The Broken Circle Breakdown” was a hit at Sundance last year, I’ve read interesting things about “The Missing Picture,” and “Omar” is sure to be intriguing as well. More on those as I see them! Congratulations to Cambodia for its first-ever nomination in this category. Also, finalist "The Grandmaster" got two technical nominations but no love here.

My current bet to win: Barring an upset, The Great Beauty.

Oscar Nominees: Best Animated Feature


My predictions: 4/5, picking “Monsters University” over “The Croods”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Oscar voters get to have their cake and eat it too this year. The undeniably best American animated film, “Frozen,” is here. The two foreign films that were truly in the running – “Ernest and Celestine” (which I just saw and highly recommend, review to come) and “The Wind Rises” (which I must see) – both made the cut. Two enormous crowdpleasers, “The Croods” and “Despicable Me 2,” both made it. And they get to stick it to Pixar for producing “Monsters University,” a film that would easily get a spot over those two for me. Overall, this is a more well-rounded list than usual, but I wish “Monsters” would have been on it.

My current bet to win: Still betting on Frozen though one of the foreign entries could take it.

Oscar Nominees: Best Visual Effects


My predictions: 4/5, picking “Elysium” over “The Lone Ranger”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into Darkness

It’s interesting to note that “Gravity” is the only original film among this bunch. That’s not a problem, of course, though I haven’t seen and don’t plan to see the new “Hobbit” or “Lone Ranger” films. The four I thought would make the cut did, and aside from the fact that “The Lone Ranger” is now nominated for two Oscars, I had no preferences about what the fifth film would be. This is the only nomination for “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a film I heartily enjoyed and had expected to see in other technical categories.

My current bet to win: All roads point to Gravity.

Oscar Nominees: Best Makeup and Hairstyling


My predictions: 1/3, picking only “Dallas Buyers Club”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

I suppose it’s fair that this category might honor films that don’t have other noteworthy, awards-level aspects, but the fact that both “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” and “The Lone Ranger” are now Oscar nominees could have been avoided (I haven’t seen either and don’t plan to). I guess the hairstyling part was lost on voters, who could easily have nominated “American Hustle” and “The Great Gatsby” and made a perfectly good field. It would seem to me, then, that the transformative makeup of “Dallas Buyers Club” would be the legitimate frontrunner.

My current bet to win: If it’s not Dallas Buyers Club, we’re in trouble.

Oscar Nominees: Best Sound Editing


My predictions: 3/5, picking “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Rush” over “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Lone Survivor”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lone Survivor

This category looks (or sounds) a whole lot like the Best Sound race, with “Inside Llewyn Davis” swapped out for the similarly-ignored “All is Lost,” which nets its only nomination here. Truth be told, that was probably the strongest aspect of the film. I’m glad to see “Captain Phillips” and “Gravity,” and indifferent about the other two I haven’t seen. Where is “Rush” though?

My current bet to win: I’ll go out on a limb and say All is Lost.

Oscar Nominees: Best Sound


My predictions: 3/5, picking “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “12 Years a Slave” over “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Lone Survivor”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

I haven’t seen two of these films, and I’m perfectly okay with that, since they played only in the sound and visual effects categories, and I’m sure those elements are terrific. “Lone Survivor” at one point was supposed to be a Best Picture contender, but I suppose a high box office haul and these nominations are enough. This is an appropriate place to recognize the mostly-snubbed “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and it’s wonderful to see the sleek Captain Phillips here too. And, of course, we have “Gravity,” which was actually probably more awesome here and in Best Sound Editing than in any race.

My current bet to win: A consolation prize for “Inside Llewyn Davis” or more love for Gravity? The latter, I presume.

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Song


My predictions: 3/5, missing the tunes from “Alone Yet Not Alone” and “Despicable Me 2”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Alone Yet Not Alone), “Happy” (Despicable Me 2), “Let It Go” (Frozen), “The Moon Song” (Her), “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

This year’s most random nominee can be found here: the title track from “Alone Yet Not Alone,” a film religion in the 1750s set for wide release in February that looks truly awful. The song is alright, but hardly worth of a place here. Ditto “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” a fun tune but far from the best cinema has to offer. Where is “The Great Gatsby” and its many songs? I am delighted to see that “The Moon Song” was included, and would have rioted if “Let It Go” was snubbed. After winning the Golden Globe earlier this week, “Ordinary Love” went against the trend and managed not to get snubbed.

My current bet to win: It has to be Let It Go - I just hope it will be!

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Score


My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Philomena” and “Gravity”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

This category left out some seriously good scores, some which should have been here – “Rush” and “12 Years a Slave” – and others that never had as much of a shot, like “Captain Phillips.” I am pleasantly surprised to see “Her” here, which is a fun and worthwhile choice. I haven’t seen “The Book Thief,” but listening to pieces of the score makes me think it’s a decent selection. I wasn’t all that enthralled by either “Philomena” or “Saving Mr. Banks” (earning its only nomination here), but they’re not all that bad. And, of course, the big one here, Gravity, which definitely deserves a spot. Too bad for “All is Lost,” which won the Golden Globe.

My current bet to win: Probably Gravity.

Oscar Nominees: Best Film Editing


My predictions: 4/5, picking “Inside Llewyn Davis” over “Dallas Buyers Club”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave

I’m so glad that “Captain Phillips” made the cut after its harsh snubs for Best Actor and Best Director, and I do think that’s the strongest film in this category. I didn’t find anything remotely noteworthy about the editing of “Dallas Buyers Club,” though I can understand why “American Hustle” is here even though I wouldn’t pick it. As everywhere else, “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” round out this category. It’s surprising not to see “Nebraska” or “The Wolf of Wall Street” here given their Best Director nominations.

My current bet to win: I’ll pick Gravity.

Oscar Nominees: Best Costume Design


My predictions: 3/5, picking “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years a Slave

I should have known that “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks” wouldn’t have made the cut, but not the reasons, but that’s only because I predicted them for Best Picture nominations (which neither scored) and there’s a rule in the Oscar bylaws that this category must honor at least one or two costume-heavy films not considered elsewhere (not actually). Those were “The Grandmaster” and “The Great Gatsby,” both of which earned one other technical nomination, and “The Invisible Woman.” I haven’t seen two of those, and I’m not sure I will before Oscar nomination day. “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” both obviously belong here.

My current bet to win: Let’s say The Great Gatsby.

Oscar Nominees: Best Art Diretcion


My predictions: 3/5, picking “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Rush” over “American Hustle” and “Her”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her, 12 Years Slave

I’m evidently upset that “Rush” isn’t here and perplexed that “Inside Llewyn Davis” didn’t make the cut, but what a great list! I didn’t love “American Hustle” but it certainly looked good, and so did “The Great Gatsby.” “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” need no defense for their inclusions, and how wonderful that “Her” was selected to join them. This is easily one of the most well-rounded and colorful categories.

My current bet to win: I’ll hedge my bets on The Great Gatsby.

Oscar Nominees: Best Cinematography


My predictions: 2/5, picking only “Gravity” and “Inside Llewyn Davis”
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

At least this category is somewhat interesting. “12 Years a Slave” not being here is utterly ridiculous, but I’m more upset about the fact that “Rush,” which I thought would be a lock for its incredible lensing, isn’t just not here but is in fact nowhere to be found in any technical category. This is also one of only two nominations for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” a film that bombed today. “The Grandmaster” netted this and a costume design bid while missing out in the Best Foreign Film race, and this is the only mention for “Prisoners,” which is good since that film didn’t belong anywhere else, if even here. It’s nice to see “Nebraska,” a well-shot film, and, of course, the half-nauseating but so terrifically-filmed “Gravity.”

My current bet to win: Hard to know, but probably Gravity.