9. Philomena -- this is the first Stephen Frears movie that I've disliked. It's Stephen Daldry territory.
8. Dallas Buyers Club -- the more time I sit with it, the less I like it. It's a very swift movie with some terrific acting.
7. Captain Phillips -- it's not that it's the best Paul Greengrass film, but rather the best that a Paul Greengrass film can be. It's a riveting headline.
6. American Hustle -- the micro are in a war with the macro in David O. Russell's lastest. Every scene is of interest. Hell, every scene is a movie! And it ends up exhausting more than building.
5. Gravity -- not sure if I've written much about this one. Gravity desperately needed a different actress so we could know how seriously (or rather not) to take the ridiculous character arc. There is an artistry to the compositions that I can't not respond to with awe.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street -- the shortest three hour film I've ever seen. Incredibly funny in parts. Never quite finds much of anything to say beyond showing us the circus.
3. Nebraska -- coming off of The Descendants, which I found loathsome, I'm shocked at how much of his condescensions remains (yes, remains) in Nebraska, and yet the film still totally works.
2. Her -- I can't shake the feeling that I really want the Charlie Kaufman version, the one that dives into some sharper insights and is less flattering to the viewer. But such a gorgeous, humane vision!
1. 12 Years a Slave -- not the best film of the year, but this should win. I have some problems with it but the more I revisit it, they don't matter. What this film is doing is incredible.
5. David O. Russell, American Hustle -- well, that's a sharp turn for me from last year. He's still my favorite guy at work.
4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska -- the stuff that works is the best film he's ever made. The stuff that doesn't is par for the course with this guy.
3. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street -- you know that old adage "Feels like the work of a younger man"? That.
2. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity -- I can't begrudge his victory.
1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave -- ...it's just that what McQueen does is so much more.
5. Christian Bale, American Hustle -- American Hustle Handicap #1: Bale is fun, but too mookish for the romanticism the film needs.
4. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club -- the chiefest virtue is how idiosyncratic this performance feels, how in line it is with McConaughey's surge of character actordom.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street -- More than The Departed (which is a better performance), this feels like the performance of Adult Leo's career. Which is to say Leo doesn't go deep. I wish all Can I Has Oscar?s were this much fun.
2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska -- Performance of Career vs. Limitations of the Role.
1. Chiwetel Ejiofer, 12 Years a Slave -- by necessity of script, Solomon is rendered a bit passive in creation. At all points in the film, he is both POV character and active participant.
I will not watch Meryl Streep in August, Osage County.
4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity -- wrong actress for the part.
3. Judi Dench, Philomena -- wrong actress for the part.
2. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine -- most ridiculous part of the year.
1. Amy Adams, American Hustle -- only credible choice. For the past few years, Amy Adams has underplayed her performances so that there's a touching, wounded edge linking her characters.
Best Supporting Actor
5. - 2. Barkhad Abdi, Michael Fassbender, Jonah Hill, & Jard Leto
No idea yet.
1. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle -- when American Hustle is good it feels like the movie of the year. That movie is the one that Bradley Cooper is in.
Best Supporting Actress
I will not watch Julia Roberts in August, Osage County.
4. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle -- it all comes down to whether or not you value American Hustle the whole vs. American Hustle the parts. I think she's a hoot that drags down the rest of the film.
3. June Squibb, Nebraska -- starts as the most wretched of creations: foul-mouthed granny. Finds notes of honesty within said foul-mouthed granny.
2. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine -- the performance of the film is still a woman written by Woody Allen.
1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave -- those Jared Leto/Lupita Nyong'o dating rumors are interesting because the internet doesn't know what to do with either one of them.
Best Original Screenplay
5. Blue Jasmine -- there are some dumb ideas in this script.
4. Dallas Buyers Club -- convinces me of McConaughey's Oscar win.
3. American Hustle -- I want to sit David O. Russell down and make him basically erase Jennifer Lawrence's character from the script and see what we get instead.
2. Her -- the weakest part of a beautiful film.
1. Nebraska -- very quietly the most beautifully written film of the bunch.
Best Adapted Screenplay
5. Philomena -- overly reverential about its main character; is about nothing. When Steve Coogan brings out "The Real Philomena" at the Golden Globes? Feels like that moment throughout the entire film.
4. Captain Phillips -- what can you say when the best line in the script wasn't written?
3. The Wolf of Wall Street -- funny story, I read this script two years ago. Looked nothing like this.
2. 12 Years a Slave -- the weakest aspect of the film. The third act needed some work. But beautiful language and one of the most gripping films of the year.
1. Before Midnight -- man, is there really no way this can't win?! Balls...
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver