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Lee Daniels' The Butler (#110 of 23)

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling

With countless headlines devoted to Bruce Broughton’s nominated-yet-not-nominated Original Song, and Dylan Farrow’s steadfast assault on Blue Jasmine’s nods for Actress and Original Screenplay, this year’s Makeup and Hairstyling category is hardly Oscar’s most scandalous. If you ask me, though, it’s easily the most repellant of all 24 lineups, and one of the more shameful nominee crops in recent Academy history. I suppose Peter Jackson’s furry Middle-earthians can’t get lauded every time out, and it’s probably best that this voting branch didn’t recognize American Hustle, thus fanning the flames of the hater-coined moniker Explosion at the Wig Factory. But, hell, even The Butler’s quasi-campy, half-baked prosthetics would have been a step up from what made the shortlist here: the waxed and bewigged transformation of Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, Johnny Depp’s repurposing of a white artist’s vision of a Native American in The Lone Ranger, and Johnny Knoxville’s dangly ears and Stretch Armstrong scrotum in Bad Grandpa. Since the bulk of Leto’s agonizing acceptance-speech torrent has involved vain, ignorant chatter about his physical travails, odds are his movie, the “prestigious” comer to boot, has this win in the bag. And while it’s plausible that voters may kick back and overlook The Lone Ranger’s senseless racial appropriation, the film that could and should dig a spur into Dallas Buyers Club’s lead is Jackass’s latest, which, despite its myriad flaws, boasts a mean team of faux-appendage appliers.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture

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Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture

We come to it at last. By now, even the most casual Oscar-watcher should know that the big three bound for the Academy’s top race are Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, and David O. Russell’s American Hustle. The first two have become defining films of the moment for technical and cultural reasons, and the third has bewitched every major awards body, if only for its unabashed bigness and its throng of can’t-look-away performances. With minimal reservation, I’ll also slap the label of “lock” on Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, two films that have been showered with adoration this season, and are poised to surge forward in crucial categories (in addition to multiple acting bids, look for the former to land that all-important Editing nod, and the latter to be recognized for its Original Screenplay). And while The Wolf of Wall Street is spreading audiences apart like the legs of its subject’s demeaned conquests, perhaps no film this year has prompted more impassioned discussion. Being directed by Martin Scorsese helps; being a white-hot, unavoidable, shouting-match-starting phenomenon cements a slot for what was already an insta-contender.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Actor

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Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Actor
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Actor

While basking (or is it wallowing?) in the afterglow of last night’s Golden Globes, which hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler admitted was—and I’m paraphrasing—the mess they hoped it would be, it’s tempting to discuss potential Oscar ripple effects for the winners, like cocksure Matthew McConaughey, who, in preaching his glee in reaping the benefits of Dallas Buyers Club’s serial shelving, implied he might be akin to the Southern-fried pricks he’s recently been playing. But Oscar nomination ballots have already been submitted, and despite news outlets’ annual insistence that the Globes are an Oscar indicator, the Hollywood Foreign Press has nothing to do with the Academy. Still, if there’s any prescience to be taken away from last night’s proceedings, it’s that the industry at large isn’t afraid of the big, bad Wolf of Wall Street, and that McConaughey’s fellow Best Actor victor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s been charmingly campaigning arm in arm with Martin Scorsese, is a bona fide threat this year. It seemed virtually impossible that All Is Lost star Robert Redford would go from presumed frontrunner to the season’s biggest snubbee, but after being passed over by both BAFTA and SAG, the living legend may indeed be out, with DiCaprio stepping in to fill the void.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actress

When the Weinstein Company ultimately, and perhaps inevitably, retracted its decision to have August: Osage County star Meryl Streep campaign in the Supporting Actress category, it proved to be great news for Streep’s co-star Julia Roberts. Indeed, even August writer Tracy Letts claims Roberts’s part is a leading role, but debating category fraud is as futile as hoping Armond White won’t taint a New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony, and given the competition, Roberts never would have landed a Best Actress nod anyway. But with Streep bumped into leading contention, Roberts seems to have become a Supporting Actress lock, not only because she steals the show with her bitiest turn since the one that won her an Oscar, but because she’s part of a smaller crowd in which she simply can’t be overlooked by her adoring peers. Some see Roberts as the wild card; I see her as an industry-beloved shoo-in.

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

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The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013
The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

What were the common threads among the finest film posters of 2013? Mustaches. Sunglasses. Font that boldly monopolizes the center of the design. And plenty of pink. A great movie poster can do a great many things, but it’s most important attribute is always the reminder that there are more ways to enticingly sell a film than with famous faces. Virtually every genre (and budget level) is covered in this roster of 2013’s best, proving that great marketing in this industry is by no means exclusive to one type or size of film. And though an ethical issue had a pivotal effect on the final results, it couldn’t tarnish a collection of vastly diverse aesthetic triumphs, which helped to richly enhance the cinema-going year.

The Worst Movie Posters of 2013

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The Worst Movie Posters of 2013
The Worst Movie Posters of 2013

Movie poster design probably isn’t as lost an art as many claim it to be, but every year, countless audience-insulting ads arrive to support the theories of the doomsday crowd. Granted, there are plenty of tossed-together one-sheets out there that are easy targets for criticism, but none ticked off this poster lover like the doozies included here. From glaring dependence on star power to the dreaded sliver formula, these design snafus are the ones that made you want to pull a Banksy at the multiplex, whipping out your Krylon can and doing a little defacing, if only to counteract the woes of daft commercialism.

Macklemore, Warped Queer Advocacy, and Why Dallas Buyers Club is One of the Year’s Worst Films

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Macklemore, Warped Queer Advocacy, and Why <em>Dallas Buyers Club</em> is One of the Year’s Worst Films
Macklemore, Warped Queer Advocacy, and Why <em>Dallas Buyers Club</em> is One of the Year’s Worst Films

A few months back, I was driving out of New York, and Macklemore’s “Same Love” came on the radio. It was the rare Top 40 track with markedly gay-themed lyrics that had nothing to do with Lady Gaga. And it was rap. I’ll freely confess that music is my weak spot as a popular-media journalist, and I’ll admit that I jumped to some serious stereotyping conclusions when I heard the song. Though it didn’t have, from what I’ve gathered, Frank Ocean’s cool poetic stylings, I instantly assumed “Same Love” was by Ocean, because, ya know, he’s the most popular queer rapper. Perhaps the lyrics marked some hypothetical experiment—an instance of a (mostly) out artist using words like “if I was gay” to reimagine the experiences of growing up closeted (or questioning) through the eyes of a contrived straight person. Regardless of what this knee-jerk reading might say about my inability to discern one rapper’s musicality from another’s, it all felt, well, nice: Here was a queer artist with an explicitly gay-themed song that, while not even particularly catchy, was getting major play on a major radio station. Inevitably, I quickly learned that my Frank Ocean song wasn’t by Frank Ocean at all, but by a white, straight rapper who was ostensibly sticking up for me and his gay uncles. To crudely summarize a swirl of conflicted feelings, suddenly the song wasn’t so nice, and, definitely, wasn’t so cool.