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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Oscar Night Hustle: 10 tricks to winning your Oscars Pool

Oscar predictions Academy Award 2014

10 Tips to hustle your Oscars pool — and win

1. Win the Best Director category
Go with whoever won the Director’s Guild of America award. Those winners have matched 58 times in the past 65 years.

2. Win the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category
The Academy has to choose between the work done on the prestigious Dallas Buyers Club, the critically panned Lone Ranger and the lowbrow Bad Grandpa.
The last two are the most showy, but if you look to the past you can see that Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean makeup lost to both The Lord of the Rings (2004) and La Vie en Rose (2007). Lesson learned: go with the prestigious film, not the Jackass.

3. Win the Best Sound Editing category
No need to vote for the prestige film here. The loudest movie takes Best Sound Editing, period. Speed, Pearl Harbor and Bourne Ultimatum have all won Oscars, for real.

4. Win the Best Foreign Language Film category
The foreign film that was playing at the Angelika Dallas during the month of the Oscars has won Best Foreign Language Film for eight of the past nine years.

5. Win the Visual Effects category
Historically, a Best Visual Effects nominee that also has a Best Picture nomination will always win. This is bad news for The Hobbit. Also noteworthy, for seven of the past 10 VES Awards, the winner for Outstanding VFX has gone on to win the Visual Effects Oscar.

6. Win the Best Costume category
Period movies have won Best Costume for 19 of the past 21 years. Exceptions were Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dracula and Alice in Wonderland. Last year, Anna Karenina won even though it was not even nominated for Best Picture.

7. Win the show’s-running-time tiebreaker.
In 2002, the show ran four hours and 23 minutes. Whew! But just like its ratings, the show has been getting smaller ever since (except for last year’s much maligned show).

Here are the timings on the past five years:
2008: 3 hours, 21 minutes
2009: 3 hours, 30 minutes
2010: 3 hours, 37 minutes
2011: 3 hours, 15 minutes
2012: 3 hours, 14 minutes
2013: 3 hours, 35 minutes

8. Win Best Documentary and Best Short Subject
Forget how folks have won for the past few decades in these categories. Beginning in 2013, ALL members of the Academy (not just category peers) can pick the winners of:
Best Documentary Feature
Best Animated Short Subject
Best Live Action Short Subject
That means everyone from actors to musicians will have a say instead of just documentarians. For Best Animated Short Subject, vote on something with a cute animal or, for Documentary, maybe one that speaks to struggling actors, just saying.

9. Win the Best Actor categories
The SAG voters are all actors and are the largest block of voters for the Academy Award. Choose the SAG winners and you’re guaranteed three out of four (and likely four out of four).

10. Win the Best Picture category
Go with the SAG winner, right? Not so fast, American Hustle. The movie that wins Best Cast (not Best Picture) at the SAG Awards has just a 52.1 percent chance of winning the corresponding Oscar for Best Picture.

Turns out, The Producers Guild of America most consistently predicts Oscar Night success in the Best Picture category. This year, the Producers Guild of America chose both 12 Years a Slave and Gravity in a tied win. Oh. Oh.

Will there be a tie? Well, Gravity has three problems. Not only is a big award for that film going to the director, but only two films in the last 57 years have won best picture without a Best Screenplay nomination, the most recent being Titanic (1997). And lastly, people respect 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but not many love them. Good news for American Hustle, it’s a three-horse race.
So darn, only nine tips out of 10 will give you a solid hustle on your ballot. 
Go with your gut for Best Picture — and good luck!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lone Survivor

Based on the title alone, any viewer will already know how this will end; but I'll bet you'll be surprised by the beginning.

 Based on the true story and The New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor tells the heroic tale of Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative in Afghanistan. Faced with an impossible moral decision, the SEALs are ambushed in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Based on the title alone, any viewer will already know how this will end. But getting there is hell. The fun, rollercoaster kind. Beginning with an opening real-life montage of the SEAL’s training process and continuing with relentless intensity to tell the story, you won’t be bored with this nail-biter. Peter Berg is not sparing with the intensely realistic violence — nor is he subtle with the heavy-handed message about men going to war.

Simply put: If you’re looking for a true action movie during awards season, this one is a winner.

Award potential: Shut out of nominations for Oscar Best Picture, Best Screenplay and most of thetechnical awards except for Best Sound. If anything upsets Gravity for Best Sound, it will be this film.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Wish the WInter Olympics were more exciting? Here are 5 golden films to rent instead.

Olympics 2012

Bored with the Winter Olympics? Here are some flicks that are not only some pretty solid films (sorry American Anthem) but also capture the Olympic spirit (sorry Munich).

Chariots of Fire (1981)
Racing, in slo-mo, to the top of the list is the film that won four Oscars, including Best Picture. Worth another visit just to hear the somehow-timeless, electronic score by Vangelis. 

Miracle (2004)
Miracle gives me goose bumps every time. The story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team, of course, who took home gold medals after defeating the seemingly invincible Soviet Union team. And no, it doesn’t matter if you know how it ends. 

Blades of Glory (2007)
The comedic team of Will Ferrell and Jon “Napolean Dynomite” Heder are somehow not that much sillier than actual Olympic synchronized swimming or curling, but the duo find comic Gold in Olympic ice dancing.

Without Limits (1998) Based on the life of Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine. This version has a slight edge over the Jared Leto one.

The Jesse Owens Story (1984) Biopic of the most profoundly successful athlete at the pre-WWII Summer Olympics of 1936.