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Blue Is The Warmest Color (#110 of 20)

Golden Globe 2014 Winner Predictions: Who Will and Who Should Triumph at Sunday’s Ceremony

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Golden Globe 2014 Winner Predictions: Who Will and Who Should Triumph at Sunday’s Ceremony
Golden Globe 2014 Winner Predictions: Who Will and Who Should Triumph at Sunday’s Ceremony

Believe it or not, we know exactly what’s going to happen at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. Since there are no actual musicals competing in the Comedy/Musical category this year, the talent will have to pick up the slack. Co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will kick off the night with a dance number to the tune of 30 Rock’s theme music, since guests might fear they’re in the wrong place if they don’t hear it during the ceremony. Alfonso Cuarón will strap drunken revelers to their seats before turning the ballroom into a zero-G environment, only to have Michael Douglas tickle the ivories in midair as Liberace. And, to wrap things up, Emma Thompson will serenade Meryl Streep with a feministic, shade-throwing rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Or maybe not. But herein is who will, and who should, win in each category.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Actress

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

Saving Mr. Banks telegraphs Emma Thompson’s date with Oscar. When her character, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, first meets Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), the mogul of magic walks past a wall of Oscar statuettes—golden idols nearly within Thompson’s grasp. And when Travers finally hits the premiere of the film she reluctantly greenlit, she’s decked out, as seen above, like she’s bound for the Academy’s red carpet (though, admittedly, it’s good this film takes place in the days before “Who are you wearing?” as it seems the answer could be “Bed Bath & Beyond”). In short, this is my way of saying that Thompson, a woman who’s flawlessly navigated the campaign circuit, is in. Could Meryl Streep’s Thompson tribute at the National Board of Review Awards, which some saw as underhandedly self-serving, have affected the Brit’s chances? I don’t think so. If anything, the last few days have galvanized my suspicion that August: Osage County’s Streep, the vulnerable hopeful alongside the category’s other predicted locks (Thompson, Gravity’s Sandra Bullock, Philomena’s Judi Dench, and Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett), is out.

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.

Oscar Prospects American Hustle, David O. Russell’s Thick Slice of Voter-Friendly Trash

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Oscar Prospects: American Hustle, David O. Russell’s Thick Slice of Voter-Friendly Trash
Oscar Prospects: American Hustle, David O. Russell’s Thick Slice of Voter-Friendly Trash

I think the scene that finally secured American Hustle a place on my Top 10 list was the one in which conman Irving’s (Christian Bale) wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), goes on and on about her fingernail topcoat at a dinner. Chatting up Dolly (Elizabeth Röhm), the wife of soon-to-be-swindled Camden mayor Carmine (Jeremy Renner), Rosalyn raves about the topcoat’s contradictory virtues, saying it’s “sweet and sour, rotten and delicious—like flowers, but with garbage.” She “can’t get enough of it.” To watch this scene is to witness David O. Russell not only reclaim his former, gonzo glory, but wholeheartedly own the superficial tackiness of his vision. Sure, this is a film about countless layers of fakery, and the notion of a topcoat—a mask—being both vile and alluring has definite thematic implications. But American Hustle, marvelously, isn’t hung up on such sobering ideas. The topcoat speech is more a megaphone announcement of tone, and of a director finally ditching the safety net of Oscar pandering, which he used to entrance voters with the falsely offbeat The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. And still, he’s going to net those votes nonetheless, as there’s just enough delicious here to make the rotten palatable for traditionalists.

Box Office Rap The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and the Fantasy-Entertainment Complex

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Box Office Rap: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and the Fantasy-Entertainment Complex
Box Office Rap: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and the Fantasy-Entertainment Complex

Confession: I don’t like The Lord of the Rings films. All of them. Well, at least the first three, as I skipped The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey because of my disdain for its predecessors, and needless to say, I’ll be skipping The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as well. Of course, millions of others will not be skipping the film this weekend, as it tries to land somewhere in the $80-90 million range, matching the previous film’s performance. For me, director Peter Jackson’s initial trilogy operates on bloated runtimes meant to appease fanboy OCD, including Jackson’s own. The apex of contemporary pop-cultural obsession-as-sickness is no better embodied than by these films, which edify young moviegoers to view film culture as narrative/character/imaginary playtime rather than a mindful and serious medium for artistic expression.

However, rather than further lambast The Hobbit, Jackson, and Warner Bros. for their transparent, masturbatory decisions to turn one novel into three films for means of tripling profits, of more importance this week is examining how critics are responding to The Desolation of Smaug, and the sorts of qualities being sought after in their evaluations of Jackson’s latest. The film currently boasts a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 75%—a full 10% higher than the first installment, though the middling reviews did not negatively affect its box office, as The Unexpected Journey had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any films in the entire franchise. Critic proof, like most franchises, but it nevertheless remains the critic’s role to instruct attentive filmgoers to the qualities worthy of contemplation.

Oscar Prospects Saving Mr. Banks, the Winning Heavyweight That Probably Won’t Win Anything

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Oscar Prospects: Saving Mr. Banks, the Winning Heavyweight That Probably Won’t Win Anything
Oscar Prospects: Saving Mr. Banks, the Winning Heavyweight That Probably Won’t Win Anything

If I had to bet which 2013 Oscar contender would score the most nominations without a single win, I’d go for Saving Mr. Banks, a movie so gosh-darn disarming you might just strain your cheeks from watching it, but one that doesn’t quite fit into the apparent fabric of this year’s awards race. Watching this film, which recounts the rocky relationship between Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and smiley juggernaut Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who’d adapt Travers’s work for the screen, you feel, aptly enough, as if you’re on a theme park ride, soaking up the glee while knowing your joy is highly controlled by precise mechanics. You also feel that this baldly manipulative, yet nevertheless adorable, origin flick has all the trappings of a Best Picture frontrunner—one from some stage in history, at least.