2014 Academy Award Nominations Breakdown


Oh what a year it has been, a fact cemented this morning with the announcement of 121 Oscar nominations. Noticeably absent were a host of Academy kings and queens like Tom Hanks, who was originally looking at two potential nominations and would up with none, and Hank’s Saving Mr. Banks co-star Emma Thompson, who became a runner-up to the five ladies who secured Best Actress noms. Missing out on the expected nominations, Saving Mr Banks is definitely the biggest snubbed film as it failed to secure even one nom while it almost looked like a frontrunner at one point.

For best picture, I nailed seven of the nominations but left out Philomena, which edged out Inside Llewyn Davis and Banks. Alexander Payne took a spot in the Best Director category that many expected to head towards Paul Greengrass. The absence of both Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Robert Redford (All is Lost) opened up spots for Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street). And while my predictions suffered for not including either, all in all, I’m really happy with those switches as I believe Bale and DiCaprio put in two of the best performances of the year.

A couple pleasant surprises include Jonah Hill‘s Best Supporting Actor nomination and Her scooping up a few extra awards with Best Original Song and Production Design.

Amongst those films noticeable absent across the board are Inside Llewyn Davis, which only scored two nominations (Best Sound Mixing and Best Cinematography), and The Butler which didn’t see a single nom. It seems like Dallas Buyers Club got some last minute wind beneath its wings to edge out Davis in just about every category I had it positioned for nomination.

But the biggest snubs seem to come from 12 Years a Slave, which still managed nine nominations. Most notably Hans Zimmer was passed up for his score and Sean Bobbitt who served as DP on 12 Years and was thought to be a sure contender in the cinematographer field both left empty handed. Alex Ebert, who just won a Golden Globe for his All is Lost score, was also surprisingly passed up. And though I’m not shocked, it was disappointed to not see Lana Del Rey‘s stunning “Young and Beautiful” left out of the Best Original Song category.

Leading the scoreboard, both Gravity and American Hustle each have ten nominations and stunningly director David O. Russell continues his streak of just crushing it and garnishing his actors nominations in all four categories. As if he wasn’t already an actor’s dream director, he’s become so adept at scoring noms for his performers now that any future performer in an O. Russell film is essentially assured a nomination. And while American Hustle suddenly looks like the one to beat, Gravity is still poised to strike down competition in all the technical fields.

Taking Hustle and Gravity‘s domination into account, 2014 certainly signals a mood shift for the inherently old-timey Academy. More than ever, this set of nominations is a populist collection, leaning heavily towards mass approval and away from the eclectic little indies that the mainstream doesn’t often stray into. What will this mean when award times come? Most likely a bent towards the breezy, the easy, and those that don’t wallow in the muds of slavery.



So let’s get down to the actual nominations. Without a doubt, we’re in store for an interesting season.
I’ve highlighted those that I predicted in green.

American Hustle
12 Years a Slave
Saving Mr Banks
The Butler
Captain Phillips

Steve McQueen
Alfonso Cuaron
David O. Russell
Martin Scorsese
Alexander Payne

Chiwetel Ejifor
Christian Bale
Bruce Dern
Matthew McConaughey
Leonardo DiCaprio

Cate Blanchett
Amy Adams
Sandra Bullock
Judi Dench
Meryl Streep

Jared Leto
Bradley Cooper
Michael Fassbender
Barkhad Abdi
Jonah Hill

Lupita Nyong’o
June Squibb
Julia Roberts
Jennifer Lawrence
Sally Hawkins

12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
American Hustle
Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club
Blue Jasmine
American Hustle

12 Years a Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips

The Hunt
The Missing Picture
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty

The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis

12 Years a Slave
The Great Gatsby
American Hustle

Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor
Inside Llewyn Davis

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Michael Wilkinson “American Hustle”
William Chang Suk Ping “The Grandmaster”
Michael O’Connor “The Invisible Woman”
Catherine Martin “The Great Gatsby”
Patricia Norris “12 Years a Slave”

William Butler and Owen Pallett “Her”
Steven Price “Gravity”
Thomas Newman “Saving Mr Banks”
Alexandre Desplat “Philomena”
John Williams “The Book Thief”

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty War
The Square
20 Feet From Stardom

Despicable Me 2
Ernest and Celestine
The Croods
The Wind Rises

Iron Man 3
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Star Trek into Darkness
The Lone Ranger

Bad Grandpa
Dallas Buyers Club
The Lone Ranger

“Let it Go” – Frozen
“Happy” – Despicable Me 2
“The Moon Son” – Her
“Alone Yet Not Alone” – Alone Yet Not Alone
“Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


For their nominations, certain actors, directors have already spoken out in gratitude.

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
“I’m really chuffed with the Oscar nomination especially being recognised alongside such great actors.  It’s a real honor.”
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
“I’m extraordinarily happy for all the cast and crew of our 12 Years a Slave family.  This has been an amazing ride, and to receive nine nominations from the Academy is testament to all of the hard work.  And for that I am truly grateful.”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
“At no point during filming, in the sweltering heat of New Orleans, did any of us ever foresee the journey this film would take us all on. Steve McQueen created an entire family to tell one man’s tale and I am delighted that so many of this family have also been recognized today. I am hugely grateful to the Academy for this great honour, and, of course, to Solomon Northup for sharing his story through his breathtaking book.”
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
“It feels very special, but I just really appreciate how people have responded to Solomon Northup’s story and his life.  I’m just so happy for the whole crew and cast who brought Solomon’s memoir to the screen.  It’s been a great year for film, and for people to consider 12 Years a Slave to be among the best is more humbling than you can imagine.”

Amy Adams, American Hustle
“I’m very honored to be nominated alongside such inspiring actresses. Congratulations to the cast and crew of American Hustle and Her, two films that I’m incredibly proud to be a part of.”
David O. Russell, American Hustle
“First of all, I want to congratulate all of the nominees from all of the films. We are all blessed to be in this business, telling stories. In American Hustle, we tried to create characters and a world that the audience would find romantic and moving and real. I am so thrilled for my partners – my actors, my producers, Eric Singer, and the craftspeople from the film – who were honored today. They gave it their all; they poured their passion into the movie and I am truly thankful to them.”
Dana Brunetti, Captain Phillips
“We’re so incredibly proud of this film and the team we assembled both in front of and behind the camera. Simply put, we could not have done it without the enormous talent of Paul and Tom.  It was an honor to be able to tell the heroic story of Captain Richard Phillips and the US Navy SEALS who rescued him.” –
Michael DeLuca, Captain Phillips
We are grateful to the Academy for the recognition and for the privilege of being included in an amazing field of movies this year. It’s all a testament to Paul Greengrass’ artistry and Tom Hanks’ craft and commitment.
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
“I am truly honored to have been nominated by the Academy this morning.
This has been a life changing experience for me.  I would like to congratulate all of the nominees this morning, especially the team from Captain Phillips who were recognized.  My performance is a testament to the vision of our incredible director Paul Greengrass, and our other Captain
— the generous, amazing, and inspiring Tom Hanks.”


Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter



The Infamous Top Ten of 2013

The time of year has come to compile the infamous top ten list, summing up the best of the best from throughout the year. And while I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been piecing one together over the past three months, it is still an act of brain wracking and constant change that is in part requisite and in part cathartic. For most of us, the top ten list is the Everest of the movie year. And so, from the 150+ movies I’ve seen in 2013, narrowing it all down to ten is no cake walk but the process of distilling down to a minute selection is a great opportunity to revisit and reflect on some of the greats of the year.

Striking the right balance between “favorite films” and “quality films” is as crucial a factor in the construction of this list as taking into account how likely I’ll be to enjoy this film down the line. Sufficed to say, it’s more than just recounting the grades that I’ve handed out throughout the year and jamming them into a linear position.

All five of the films which I seated with an A+ made the list but, strangely enough, not one film I granted an A to had what it takes to really cross enough into the “favorite” category. More than anything, this list is comprised of the films that I enjoyed the most, have affected me most strongly, that I have reflected on again and again, and see myself watching over and over again. But to make sure that I acknowledge those lingering on the precipice I’m also going to get into the runner-ups that didn’t quite push the envelope quite far enough.

For every victor that made its way into this highly subjective top ten list there is that barrage of those that didn’t quite make the cut; those that flirted with the top ten and got left on the editing floor.

I’ve included two of these close call lists and have detailed them in no particular order: Honorable Mentions; more genre movies who I want to tip my hat to as they were all movies I thoroughly enjoyed at the theater; and Outskirts; those that were just on the tipping point of the TT but just didn’t have the oomph to push them into them over the cuff.

Honorable Mentions:

The World’s End
This is the End


All is Lost
The Hunt
The Conjuring
Laurence Anyways
Captain Phillips
What Maisie Knew
Fruitvale Station
Frances Ha
Only God Forgives

With that out of the way, join me on page two to count down the first five of the Infamous Top Ten List…


I figure I needed to shake things up somewhere down the line and why not start early and throw a tie in to throw people off? It’s been many months since I watched both of these coming of ages gems and, after much figuring, tweaking, and re-figuring, I found acknowledging one without the other was somewhat disingenuous to what I’m trying to accomplish with this list. So I went with the ol’ cop-out tie. Both took razor sharp looks at youth in society, both saw surprising, great performances from their young stars, and the direction of each meant the exposure of directors surging with storytelling prowess and emotional honesty. Aside from being a really honest teen drama, The Spectacular Now had the type of heart that made it stand out through the year.

“Dodging the stuffy trappings of many coming-of-age tales by reworking their stereotypes to its benefit, The Spectacular Now eclipses expectation. Instead of avoiding clichés entirely, Ponsoldt uses them to his advantage. And while the framework for the genre has clearly already been established, it rarely results in something this good and all around meaningful. It joins the ranks of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Superbad as timeless films about the difficulty of transition and the promise of human connection while carving out enough of a name for itself to be remembered years down the line.” Full review here.

And while The Spectacular Now challenged us to look at high school sagas in a way that recognizes the dormant maturity and incumbent stress of our schooling years, Short Term 12 looked at a group of under-appreciated social workers, who like trashmen, take the leftovers of society’s unwanted, misplaced, and abandoned children and how difficult running an underfunded facility like Short Term 12 is for these criminally under-supported caretakers.

“Thanks to a charged-up level of emotional maturity, the film tackles difficult issues with careful footing – immediately establishing a reverent tone, dipped with charm and laced with smiles. The psychological trauma uncovered within the character’s brick-walled hearts is likewise handled with tender precision. Each reaction the film garnishes is no accident. Every bit has its place, a building block towards a grand scheme that ultimately delivers a big pay-off for those willing to engage in the bumps along the road.” Full review here.

Both were staggering achievements that most likely won’t be find footing in many other Top Ten lists so I’m glad that I can include them both amongst mine. Going forward though, I promise, no more ties.


Another criminally underrated film of 2013, Out of the Furnace is certainly no walk in the park and I could have my arm twisted to say that it’s the darkest entry on this list (many of you will probably cry heretic but just roll with me here.) Bleak and unblinking, Scott Cooper‘s follow-up to the overrated Jeff Bridge‘s drama Crazy Heart cuts to the bone of issues bubbling over in America and did it without spoonfeeding them down your throat. Stir that in with a career best performance from Christian Bale, an unforgettable villain courtesy of Woody Harrelson and the best scene involving a hot dog of all time and Out of the Furnace earns its place on this man’s list.

Out of the Furnace is not the movie you expect, it’s not quite the movie you think you want, and it’s certainly not a movie you’ll see coming, but it is one of the best movies of 2013. Petering along a solemn road of America as industrialized hellhole, the jet-black tone and snail’s pace cadence of the film may prove too overbearing for some but those willing to dive into the mire will find a film overflowing with themes of chaotic grace, personal sacrifice, ego death, spiritual deterioration, and unbounded duty. Many similarities to early Kurosawa samurai films and Drive – which itself is largely plotted like a samurai film – emerge and make the film rich with subtext, even though unearthing that subtext is a bit of a harrowing chore.” Full review here.



Keeping in line with movies that harness the allure of the darkly comic, Nebraska hangs tight with its mix of banal humor and caustic sentimentality. Bruce Dern‘s Woody is as iconic and memorable a character as 2013 has seen and his strange blend of cluelessness and strong moral foundation seed just the right type of fundamental irony to reap rich comedy and drama from. But beneath the black humor of Nebraska is a nagging sense of urgency – this is a film that, no matter how small the scope may seem, is monumentally characteristic of society at large. Themes of economy, family, and destiny give the film purpose and secure it amongst the top shelf of 2013.

Nebraska starts with the old school painted mountains of the Paramount logo, a veiled reminder of the golden days of the USA, and jumps into an austere black-and-white landscape of Montana as Bruce Dern‘s Woody Grant stumbles down the snowy strip of government manicured grass between some train tracks and a largely vacant highway. Convinced he has won a million dollar prize, Woody’s intent on claiming his winnings in Nebraska even if that means walking the entire eight hundred mile trip on foot. A reminder of how off the tracks his life has veered, Woody sees his not-too-good-to-be-true grand prize as a means to a life he never had – a golden ticket to meaningfulness and utility long lost.” Full review here



As much as I wanted to fall head over heels for Gravity, I did have some standing flaws with its narrative. But those weren’t quite enough to overshadow just how marvelous a technical achievement Gravity truly is. Looking over 2013’s films that really wowed me, it’s impossible to not place this in the forefront. The fact that I saw it twice in the course of a week alone is enough to substantiate my ranking of this film amongst the best of the best, narrative issues aside. While it lacked the intellectual oomph and metaphorical undercurrents I was crossing my fingers for, the visual palette that Alfonso Cuarón played with here is easily the year’s best and some of the most impressive and immerse camerawork of all time.

“Gravity is pure entertainment done right and it’s achieved with transcendent technical mastery. Seamlessly blending nail-biting moments of suspense with quiet character moments in the vacuum of space, Cuarón has achieved a rare technical feat that sometimes overwhelms its lingering emotional subplot. But more than anything, it is a staggering success and one that will be appreciated by all. Cuarón has definitely chartered a new course here, setting the effects bar higher still than films like Inception or Avatar. Gravity is simply a game changer.” Full review here.


Gloomy and moody, the unorthodox folk tour that is the Coen Bros’ latest is brimming with character. The kind of character you get from years of chopping wood or wrestling with your bigger, older brother. Somberly akin to having someone you respect tell you that they’re disappointed in you, Inside Llewyn Davis hurts you in your soul. For all the missed connections, biffed relationships, and hidden betrayals, this attractively repulsive film couldn’t hew closer to the reality of trying out life as a struggling artist. Gone is the glamor of pop stars, gone is the envy. All we’re left with is a man and his music and the harsh reality of a winter’s chill. True, biting, and brimming with great music, Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coens at their most artistic and oddly emotional. 

“Inside Llewyn Davis is a mood piece if there ever was any, rich with soulful folk ballads, colorful characters, and stripped of the usual framework that we call a story. As a microcosm of an era and a subculture, Davis, with his caustic demeanor, is the last man you would expect to lead a story. But for all his many faults, he lives and breathes folk music. His battered existence is the stuff straight from a hokum Bob Dylan lyric. What better subject for a film about a music genre that has by and large represented lost souls and losing investments than a gruff man fading from relevance before he was ever close to it in the first place?” Full review here



However dour the premise of this movie may seem – a man dying of AIDS – it strikes an amazing balance of showcasing the triumph of the human spirit in the face of blistering adversity. Career topping performances from Matthew McCougnahey and Jared Leto shouldered by sensitive and enthusiastic, but never melodramatic, direction from Jean-Marc Vallée made Dallas Buyers Club more than just a story of darkness but rather one of hope. Like the first man on the moon, our greatest accomplishments are found in making the impossible possible and this is the story of Ron Woodroof. Although Woodroof didn’t find a cure, his efforts, and the efforts of many like him, changed both FDA policies and the social stigma revolving around HIV. The movie soars because instead of trying to milk the waterworks, Vallée is acutely aware of his grasp over his audience and prefers to mine for real drama. The result is this nearly perfect film.

“As a piece of cultural import, Dallas Buyers Club works so well because it is just as poignant look at drug administration as corporate bully and the monumental failings of the U.S. health care system today as it was then. Just look at the similar origin story of Walter White in Breaking Bad – another tale of a man with a clinical death sentence forced to function outside the law to pay for treatment – to upend parallels between the 80s and now. We may have waged unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet the U.S. government continues to wage an invisible war on the sick with their defunct health care policies. Canadian Vallée wrangles the issue close and holds it up to the camera. “Is this acceptable America?” he asks. Of course not. And yet, around and around we go.” Full review here



Ok so maybe there’s a bit of a masochistic trend surfacing here but I promise, not everything on this list will be so dark and depressing. Even with all the flack 12 Years a Slave has caught over the course of the last year, with many calling it historical torture porn, I fall squarely on the side of the supporters as this is an undeniably excellent film. For all the harshness that found its way into 12 Years, the battle for one’s humanity and the inimitable sense of gritty purpose make this not only a powerful biopic but a fully engaging, gripping watch. Stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender offer a pair of captivating performances, and bolstered by rugged direction from Steve McQueen, are unafraid to stare down American slavery without bending. It’s a hard film to recommend and a difficult film to love but it is clearly one of the most unforgettable and powerful films to grace the screen in 2013, delivering a gut punch to your sense of justice and, likewise, soul.

“Director Steve McQueen is a particular type of dark visionary. Employing patience and human degradation as a litmus test of how much we can emotionally bear, McQueen peels back all the curtains of our collective American history, revealing the inky black turmoil stirring in the human soul. But torture is no new game for McQueen. In his first film, Hunger, McQueen explored a prison-bound hunger strike but his craft was not yet refined, too raw, cold, and indulgent to raise the welt he was hoping for. In Shame, he arm wrestled sex addiction out of romanticized glamor and into a pit of emptiness and human despair. Although fantastic acting and gruesome body horror prevailed, it continued the same dour tendencies that make his films so hard to sit through. In his third go around, he’s perfected his art, making a film that’s both impossible to watch and impossible to look away from.” Full review here.



Here we go, a fun one! Martin Scorsese is as dynamic a director as ever with The Wolf of Wall Street and the result is a three-hour romp through the bowels of drugs, sex, and bankrolls. Featuring two of the best performances of the year in Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, Wolf is pure adult entertainment at the theater, unlike anything else this year – and any other year in recent history – had to offer. Underscored with an electric current courtesy of the Leo-Scorsese super-duo, this jet black comedy sets a fire early on and lets the conflagration rise rapid and without bound. Although I was tempted with the idea of this being my number one pick, I pulled it out to the third spot because it lacked the emotional impact that the two finalists left with me. Nevertheless, Wolf is easily the most fun film of the year.

Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street is a bombastic raunchfest spilling over with feverish humor, held in place by vibrant direction from Martin Scorsese and unhinged performances from its gifted cast. Sprawling and episodic, this “greed is great” epic is not only the funniest movie of the year, not only has one of the most outstanding performances in recent history, and not only is one of the most explicit films to hit the theaters under the guise of an R-rating, but, like icing on the proverbial cake, it offers a colossally poignant and timely cultural deconstruction of the financial institutions on which our country depends. And though it runs for exactly three hours, I’d watch this strung-out saga again in a second. A messy masterpiece on all fronts, The Wolf of Wall Street is a towering achievement.” Full review here.

2. HER


Even if Her was a short film made up entirely of that one scene in which Theodore and Sam consummate their new found feelings for one another, enveloped in blackness, bound by some ethereally indescribable and yet palpable bond, I would still applaud with a lump in my throat. There’s magic to Her that escapes even the most veteran of filmmakers so to see it come from Spike Jonze first effort as a writer/director is even more impressive and showstopping. Joaquin Phoenix‘s romance with Scarlett Johansson‘s AI Sam is easily the most complex, intriguing, and affecting relationship of the year. The fact that she isn’t human is hardly something of note come the end of the film. She just…is. And however much it may seem like it’s about the near-future, Her is really about the now; a warning sign of things to come and an invitation into the unknown.

“Anchored with a cast this talented putting their all into each and every scene, Her is lightning in a bottle. Instead of feeling like this future world is strange, it feels entirely practical, slightly scary yet peculiarity hopeful. And however weird the concept of falling in love with an operating system seems, when we’re in heat of the moment, it never feels weird. It just feels right.” Full review here.



I saw Before Midnight twice and both times were probably my most emotionally engaging experiences at the theater this year. I can’t deny it, I just am in love with this film. Technically a second sequel, Before Midnight drops the naive musings of twentysomethings found in Before Sunrise, reaches higher than the ennui and disappointment of the thirties oozing in Before Sunset, offering a deeply philosophical and meditative look at life as an ebbing flow of ups and downs that’s superior to its ilk. A metaphorical extension of the Chinese notion of ying and yang, Before‘s central couple, Jesse and Celine, are encapsulations of masculinity and femininity, completely embodying archetypes of what it means to be each and then transcending them. But more than anything, Before Midnight is a snapshot of life on earth as a wanderer; a constant explorer of uncharted territory. Not everything has a silver lining like not every relationship is built to last. But, beneath everything, is this need for self-reflection; a right to muse about life and our place in it. There’s no saying where we’re going next and no measure of which decisions have gotten us to where we are today. In life, things just are and all we can do is roll with the punches. Before Midnight rolls hard and it rolls deep and is a movie I would happily recommend to anyone willing to think, feel, explore, philosophize, and love.

“There’s therapeutic nihilism in Celine’s rough-hewn outlook on love and the world and Delpy embraces this character with a blanket of understanding. Even when Celine is being admittedly crazy, she sticks to her guns like a nagging coon, unable to help herself. Blanketed behind five-o-clock shadowed grit, Jesse is equally at fault for their relationship woes as his cock-eyed grin and boyish reflections don’t fill his quota for being a daddy. As a pair, Delpy and Hawke are solid gold.” Full review here.

And with that, my personal chapter on 2013 is closed. Over the next few weeks, look for articles on the Worst 10 Movies of 2013 and the Silver Screen Riot Awards in which I’ll look at the best performances, directing, cinematography, etc. of the year.


Golden Globes Nominations Stick to the Usual Suspects

What a crazy two months it has been, as the majority of the Golden Globes film nominees were released in the last sixth of this year. 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle earned seven nods each, leading the pack of award season favorites. Interestingly, the competition for best film has been essentially cut in half, since the Globes consider Her, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska comedies, which seems a bit odd, even though they are lighter dramas.

Of the two categories, the comedy one looks to be much more competitive, honestly. While Gravity, Captain Phillips, Philomena, and Rush were all exceptionally solid films, they are second tier to the likes of 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club (which is curiously absent). The actor nods are in the same boat, as the competitive pool has been divided into two separate categories.

The complete list of nominees below with predictions in red.

Best Picture, Drama

“12 Years a Slave”

“Captain Phillips”




Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

“American Hustle”


“Inside Llewyn Davis”


“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”

Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”


Best Actor, Drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Idris Elba, “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom”

Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”


Best Actress, Drama

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”


Best Actor, Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”


Best Actress, Musical or Comedy

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”

Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”


Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”

Daniel Brühl, “Rush”

Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”


Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”


Best Animated Feature Film

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”



Foreign Language Film

“Blue Is the Warmest Color”

“The Great Beauty”

“The Hunt”

“The Past”

“The Wind Rises”


Best Screenplay

“12 Years a Slave”

“American Hustle”





Best Original Song

“Atlas,” performed by Coldplay — “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

“Let It Go,” performed by Idina Menzel — “Frozen”

“Ordinary Day,” performed by U2 — “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom”

“Please Mr. Kennedy,” performed by Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver — “Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Sweeter Than Fiction,” performed by Taylor Swift — “One Chance”


Best Original Score

Alex Ebert, “All Is Lost”

Alex Heffes, “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom”

Steven Price, “Gravity”

John Williams, “The Book Thief”

Hans Zimmer, “12 Years a Slave”




Best Television Series, Drama

“Breaking Bad”

“Downton Abbey”

“The Good Wife”

“House of Cards”

“Masters of Sex”


Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical

“The Big Bang Theory”

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”


“Modern Family”

“Parks and Recreation”


Best Miniseries or Television Movie

“American Horror Story: Coven”

“Behind the Candelabra”

“Dancing on the Edge”

“Top of the Lake”

“White Queen”


Best Actor, Television Drama

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”

Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex”

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

James Spader, “The Blacklist


Best Actress, Television Drama

Juliana Margulies, “The Good Wife”

Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”

Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is the New Black”

Kerry Washington, “Scandal”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”


Best Actor, Television Comedy or Musical

Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Michael J. Fox, “The Michael J. Fox Show”

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Andy Samberg, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”


Best Actress, Television Comedy or Musical

Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl”

Lena Dunham, “Girls”

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”


Best Actor, Television Movie or Mini-Series

Matt Damon, “Behind the Candelabra”

Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Dancing on the Edge”

Idris Elba, “Luthor”

Al Pacino, “Phil Specter”


Best Actress, Television Movie or Mini-Series

Helena Bonham Carter, “Burton and Taylor”

Rebecca Ferguson, “White Queen”

Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Helen Mirren, “Phil Specter”

Elisabeth Moss, “Top of the Lake”


Best Supporting Actor

Josh Charles, “The Good Wife”

Rob Lowe, “Behind the Candelabra”

Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”

Corey Stoll, “House of Cards”

Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”


Best Supporting Actress

Jacqueline Bisset, “Dancing on the Edge”

Janet McTeer, “White Queen”

Hayden Panettiere, “Nashville”

Monica Potter, “Parenthood”

Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter


Talking With Bob Nelson of NEBRASKA

Continuing a tradition of excellence, Nebraska is Alexander Payne‘s seventh film in 22 years and has all the earmarks of a Payne project. But behind the landmarks that we’ve come to expect from an Alexander Payne film is a script boiling from the page courtesy of Seattle native Bob Nelson. Perfectly blending melancholy drama and high comedy, Nelson writes Nebraska from his life experiences, here seen through the lens of a middle class family trying to rediscover their pride on a Midwest road trip. Using his own family as a diving point for this unassuming host of characters, Nelson has an understanding of Middle America unlike most. His childhood in Seattle was punctured by frequent trips to the dusty plains of Nebraska, giving him an acute portrait of the land’s mysterious ethos. Both an insider and an outsider, he’s able to find the humor in the tragedy and the tragedy in the humor.


I talked with Bob about how he came to work on Nebraska, his recent Independent Spirit Award nomination, what he was doing over at Pixar, and some of his favorite movies, working with Alexander Payne and the creative process. Read what he had to say below:


I found Nebraska deeply, deeply funny and a lot of that came out of this idea of banality as humor. What is it about these unassuming Midwesterns that’s so illusively amusing? 


Bob Nelson: I grew up in the Seattle area but my family’s from the area of Nebraska where we shot. Going back on trips when I was a kid, those uncles and aunts you see in the movie are very similar to my relatives. They were all great people and the thing about them is they were also very funny with a dark sense of very wry humor. I inherited some of that from them and relied on that when I went to Almost Live, this show on Seattle I was on. When I was writing this, especially when I was starting out when I’d never written a screenplay before, I fell back on the comedy segment and came up with most of those first before I added the dramatic scenes. A lot of that came from that Midwest lowkey sense of humor.

This being your first screenwriting experience, what was it like rolling with the punches as various changes were inevitably made to your script? Did you ever feel like someone had taken your baby and was raising it in a hostile environment or did you feel that the people who you handed it over to really foster its growth in the long process as it was changing and growing into a film?

BN: I had an experience that few get to have in Hollywood because the only person in charge of the script after I wrote it was really Alexander Payne, who’s one of our best directors and one of the best writers. He’s even won a couple of Oscars for his screenwriting. To have your script go to someone like that, you usually don’t worry. I think my script was a little softer and he toughened it up and really made it into an Alexander Payne movie, which is something that I’ve always enjoyed watching. I was thrilled and very lucky. He came up with some of the scenes in there. The Mount Rushmore scene is his. He changed the professions of the brothers to give them a little bit of a rivalry and a story arc. That was the kind of thing he did. He also came up with some lines in almost every scene that elevated it. I’m very lucky and I know that will never happen again so I’m enjoying it for now.

Even though it does sound like you had a great first experience, it’s no secret that it took forever. Payne was working on Election back on 1999 when you finished the script. Was that at all disillusioning for you or was it just part and parcel of the system?

BN: Well sometimes it just takes a long time to get movies made. Ten years is longer than most but all of that came down to Alexander and when he was ready to shoot this. He told us in 2003, About Schmidt was about to come out and he was going to shoot Sideways in the fall and Nebraska will not be the other movie after that because I don’t want to do two movies in a row that are roadtrip movies. And he kept his promise. We didn’t know, and he probably didn’t know, that it would take seven years to live up to his commitment but we were the movie after that. He kept his word and all during that time he would reassure us that he was still planning on making Nebraska. That’s really all we needed. There was a worry that he would pick up the script and re-read it and go, “What was I thinking?” and drop out of the project. But he kept telling us, “I just read it again, I’m still onboard” so we didn’t worry too much.

As I’m sure you’re aware, you’ve just been nominated for Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards so, first of all congratulations.

BN: Thank you

…and in my humble opinion you’re in a pretty good position to take it home, but I don’t want to jinx you or anything. Is that something that you saw coming or did that take you by surprise?

BN: A lot of names have been bandied about in the last few days and my name was one of them so it’s not a total surprise but still, you never know. It is the Independent Spirit Awards, and we had a small budget by studio standards with 13 million, but they also like to pay attention to movies made for one or two million dollars. So it is great. I think Nebraska ended up with six nominations.

Yeah, right behind 12 Years a Slave with seven.

BN: I didn’t see that coming. That’s great. Bruce and June and Alexander is all great but I’m really thrilled for Will Forte because I thought that he’d been overlooked in this process. These reviews coming out lately are finally catching onto the fact that he played a role that didn’t have a lot of the showiness to it but he played it faithfully and gave us exactly what we needed for David in the story.

Let’s talk about the performances a little bit. Is Woody a character based on anyone is particular or more of an amalgamate of worn-out Midwesterns that you’ve seen or researched?

BN: Woody started with my Dad. As I wrote it and as it was played, he’s much more cranky than my Dad was but that was all for dramatic purposes. But the kernel of it was my father and some of the things he had gone through. Some things are from real life. My Dad was a mechanic, he did have his air compressor stolen, he served in WWII and he was shot down and didn’t talk about – his kids didn’t know about it for many years. Many things like that started with my Dad. Some of the other characters also didn’t end up being the people they were based on necessarily but just by starting with them and taking it from there helped to shape the characters while giving the movie an authentic feel that people watching could relate to.

How closely did Bruce Dern hem to your original vision of Woody?

BN: Very close. He even kind of looks like my dad. When I was watching it the first time, it was almost too much. He’s the perfect guy to be playing Woody.

When you were writing this, did you have any actors in mind as you were writing the screenplay for Woody, Kate, David, and Ross?

BN: The only one that I had in mind, and I wasn’t necessarily thinking that I could get him if the movie was even made in the first place, was Robert Duvall because he’s one of my favorite actors and he’s one of the actors working who looks the most like my dad. I did kind of imagine him in the role.

So you’re working on various scripts spread over various studios, can you tell me a little more about any of the projects that you’re most excited about right now?

BN: Well I have some at the studios but that really is development hell for many reasons. You work on these things and you rewrite them and you don’t know what stage it’s at or even if it’ll ever get made. I did take a break from that in the last couple years. The first script that I’ve taken out has Joel McHale of Almost Live and he stars in it. That is called The Tribe. We hooked up with the producers of Juno, a company called Mr. Mud, which is John Malkovich’s production company, and right now we’re trying to raise the money to produce that one.

I also saw from the press notes that you spent six months over at Pixar as a writer in residence? Can you talk about what you were doing over there and what projects you might have worked on?

BN: It was a script called Newt. I haven’t really kept in touch with them. I was the second writer on the project and they usually go through a few writers. I don’t know if that will ever get made because I haven’t heard any more about it.

I’ve heard on a number of occasions that being part of Pixar’s creative team is kind of ideal. Was that similar to your experience there or do you have a different opinion?

BN: It’s very supportive. You have a lot of help. When you’re writing a Pixar script, it’s not just you coming up with the ideas, the director is usually also a writer and they have storyboard artists, usually half a dozen at any one time working on it, and they came up with not only visual ideas but story ideas. It really is very intense but it’s fun because you’re working with really good people. You sit around the table and you can work on one scene for a week trying to get it exactly right. Then you storyboard it and show it to all those geniuses at Pixar, the brain trust they call it, and then you go back to the room and sit around while they give their feedback. It’s quite painstaking but that’s why they make good movies. It’s a two year process for each one.

So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about your own connection to the movies. Can you name a few of your favorite films of all time?

BN: Well there’s quite a few. If you narrow it down, a lot of people in my age really started out with To Kill a Mockingbird, which was adapted by Horton Foote for the screen. He also did Tender Mercies and The Trip to Bountiful and if you watch those movies, you’ll see a lot of Nebraska. So Horton Foote was always an inspiration. I also grew up watching Billy Wilder movies. I love The Apartment, it’s almost perfect in its structure and its mix of comedy and drama. Later, Harold and Maude. What they all have in common is the ability to have a drama with quite a bit of humor. Those kind of movies. I grew up with The Graduate and Dr. Strangelove. Month Python and Woody Allen came into play. In the last ten years, Little Miss Sunshine. Things like that.

So what have been a few favorites of yours this year?

BN: Well of course I liked the new Woody Allen ‘Blue Jasmine’. This year I’ve been so busy that even though I’m at film festivals, I get so busy that I don’t get to see movies. It’s all about publicity. So I haven’t seen a lot. I did see Before Midnight and I’m really looking forward to the new Coen Brothers movie because they’re a big influence on me. I haven’t got to see 12 Years a Slave or Gravity yet but I do want to see those on the big screen rather than screeners. It’s been a great year for movies.

Was there a  particular turning point in your career where you said, “I want to write Hollywood movies?” or was it just a natural change?

BN: I always had at the back of my mind that I’d love to write a screen play but I never had the idea that I thought was worthy. I talked to a friend in LA who was working in television and he was trying to help me get a job down there and he said, “Besides writing another Simpsons and Everybody Loves Raymond, they like to read screenplays as well to see if you can develop characters.” I had this one little kernel of an idea that I’d heard about with people showing up at sweepstakes offices to claim their prize. That actually happens in real life. For a long time, I thought that might make a screenplay but I never figured it out. When he told me that, I finally took the time to sit down and try to figure out a story around that.

How long did it take you to write Nebraska?

BN: I jumped in and wrote 20 quick pages and then realized I didn’t know what I was doing so I had to step back and educate myself about the structure of movies. I watched a lot of movies and read a lot of screenplays. Once I started writing it again, it took a few months and then did a lot of polishing. Before I showed it to anybody, probably a year.

Was Nebraska always the name of it or was it ever called anything else?

BN: It was. I called it Nebraska because I thought people in Hollywood would remember that name over something generic like The Day After Tomorrow or something that they’d forget. There was no other reason really. I couldn’t think of any other title that I thought would stick in people’s minds. But when people think of Nebraska, they think of the state. Alexander Payne the whole time he had it said he was gonna change the title but when it came down to it, he said, “I can’t think of anything better” so we called it Nebraska after all. Originally, he didn’t want to stick it with that label because he also doesn’t necessarily want to be known as the Nebraska director. He went to California and Hawaii to get away from that. He finally just said, “Let’s call it Nebraska.”

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter


Independent Spirit Award Nominations Topped by 12 YEARS A SLAVE AND NEBRASKA

Exclusively set aside for films made for under $20 million, the Independent Spirit Awards seeks to award the best of the best of films made on a shoestring budget. Even the original ISA statues themselves were made up of a glass pyramid encasing a shoestring – a paper-thin but elegant metaphor for the process of making independent movies.

This year’s nominees stir some of the strongest Oscar contenders in with a host of new coming talent. Leading the pack, 12 Years a Slave received seven nominations over a number of categories. Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska trailed closely with six nominations for his satirical look at a Midwest father and son on a roadtrip.

While a number of the nominees here will make their way into the Oscar contest come next March, many films with bigger budgets will edge out some of the competition seen here. For instance, 12 Years a Slave will certainly go on to make huge waves in this year’s Oscars whereas it’s closest competitor here, Nebraska, will have trouble getting the same attention.

Nominees are all below with my predicted winner highlighted in red.

Best Feature

12 Years a Slave: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
All Is Lost: Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb
Frances Ha: Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lila Yacoub
Inside Llewyn Davis: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Nebraska: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa

Best Director

Shane Carruth “Upstream Color”
J.C. Chandor “All Is Lost”
Steve McQueen “12 Years a Slave”
Jeff Nichols “Mud”
Alexander Payne “Nebraska”

Best Screenplay

Woody Allen “Blue Jasmine”
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater “Before Midnight”
Nicole Holofcener “Enough Said”
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber “The Spectacular Now”
John Ridley “12 Years a Slave”

Best First Feature

Blue Caprice – Alexandre Moors, Kim Jackson, Brian O’Carroll, Isen Robbins, Will Rowbotham, Ron Simons, Aimee Schoof, Stephen Tedeschi
Concussion – Stacie Passon, Rose Troche
Fruitvale Station – Ryan Coogler, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Una Noche – Lucy Mulloy, Sandy Pérez Aguila, Maite Artieda, Daniel Mulloy, Yunior Santiago
Wadjda – Haifaa Al Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul

Best First Screenplay

Lake Bell “In A World”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt “Don Jon”
Bob NelsonNebraska
Jill SolowayAfternoon Delight”
Michael StarrburyThe Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

John Cassavetes Award – (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.) 

Computer Chess – Andrew Bujalski, Houston King & Alex Lipschultz
Crystal Fairy – Sebastiàn Silva, Juan de Dios Larraín & Pablo Larraín
Museum Hours – Jem Cohen, Paolo Calamita & Gabriele Kranzelbinder
Pit Stop – Yen Tan, David Lowery, Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston, Eric Steele, Kelly Williams
This is Martin Bonner – Chad Hartigan, Cherie Saulter

Best Female Lead

Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine”
Julie Delpy “Before Midnight”
Gaby Hoffmann “Crystal Fairy”
Brie Larson “Short Term 12”
Shailene Woodley “The Spectacular Now”

Best Male Lead

Bruce DernNebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor12 Years a Slave”
Oscar Isaac “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Michael B. JordanFruitvale Station”
Matthew McConaugheyDallas Buyers Club”
Robert RedfordAll Is Lost”

Best Supporting Actress

Melonie Diaz “Fruitvale Station”
Sally Hawkins “Blue Jasmine”
Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave”
Yolonda Ross “Go For Sisters”
June Squibb “Nebraska”

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Fassbender “12 Years a Slave”
Will Forte “Nebraska”
James Gandolfini “Enough Said”
Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club”
Keith Stanfield “Short Term 12”

Best Cinematography

Sean Bobbitt “12 Years a Slave”
Benoit Debie “Spring Breakers”
Bruno Delbonnel “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Frank G. DeMarco “All Is Lost”
Matthias Grunsky “Computer Chess”

Best Editing

Shane Carruth & David Lowery “Upstream Color”
Jem Cohen & Marc Vives “Museum Hours”
Jennifer Lame “Frances Ha”
Cindy Lee “Una Noche”
Nat Sanders “Short Term 12”

Best Documentary

20 Feet From Stardom – Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen & Caitrin Rogers
After Tiller – Martha Shane & Lana Wilson
Gideon’s Army – Dawn Porter, Julie Goldman
The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer,  Joram Ten Brink, Christine Cynn, Anne Köhncke, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Michael Uwemedimo
The Square – Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer

Best International Film

A Touch of Sin (China) – Jia Zhang-Ke
Blue is the Warmest Color (France) -Abdellatif Kechiche
Gloria (Chile) – Sebastián Lelio
The Great Beauty
(Italy) – Paolo Sorrentino
The Hunt (Denmark) – Thomas Vinterberg

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter


Out in Theaters: NEBRASKA

Directed by Alexander Payne
Starring Will Forte, Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, Mary Louise Wilson, Kevin Kunkel
Adventure, Drama
115 Mins
starts with the old school painted mountains of the Paramount logo, a veiled reminder of the golden days of the USA, and jumps into an austere black-and-white landscape of Montana as Bruce Dern‘s Woody Grant stumbles down the snowy strip of government manicured grass between some train tracks and a largely vacant highway. Convinced he has won a million dollar prize, Woody’s intent on claiming his winnings in Nebraska even if that means walking the entire eight hundred mile trip on foot. A reminder of how off the tracks his life has veered, Woody sees his not-too-good-to-be-true grand prize as a means to a life he never had – a golden ticket to meaningfulness and utility long lost.

Reinvention is not that simple though, a fact illustration by the simple reality that Woody’s prize is very clearly a scam – the stuff of Mega Sweepstakes mailing centers intent on pawning off China-made trinkets or magazine subscriptions. His family knows the truth of this hollow sham and treats his bullheaded demand to head southeast as a warning sign that he might be more than ready for a retirement home but Woody remains steadfast in his plans for great fortune.

Not ready to admit that his dad may have one too many screws loose, David (Will Forte) knows that there is nothing to come from Woody’s scam of a prize slip and yet agrees to take his grumbling father to Nebraska as a sort of last hurrah, a goodbye bonding road trip – a final way to spend some time with his seemingly fading pops. Along the way, they stop off at Rushmore where the cantankerous Woody hysterically riffs on America’s great monument (“It doesn’t look finished to me”) before then misplacing his teeth along, yet another, set of railroad tracks. Buzzing along towards impending disappointment, the camera eyes static horizon shots, with endless stretches of bleak farmland serving as visual commentary of the washed up wasteland that industry America has become. It’s left in its place a black-and-white relic of the once prosperous plains.

In these bowels of middle America, Alexander Payne finds sidesplitting humor in banality. Scenes of awkward family tension are as side-splittingly funny as watching people on their deathbeds count their many losses is tragic. Seeing how dreams wither and disappointment sets so deep in your bones it becomes indistinguishable from your DNA may prove too heavy a task for those seeking a sunshine and smiles kind of ride. No matter how jet-black the comedy and how biting the drama, it’s the careful balance of the two that makes Payne’s admittedly glum work shine so bright. Searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Woody, and by extension Payne, sees tomorrow as an unwritten page.

Woody is a man of principles, no matter how skewed they may be and how stubbornly he sticks by them. He drinks too much and is a champion of his own independence (even though at this rate he will most like be on a Depends regiment in the next few years) but it’s clear that he is not a man who can live on his own. Enter wife Kate Grant. The realist ying to Woody’s eternally confused and tragically hopefully yang, June Squibb‘s Kate is the foundation for both Woody as a character and Dern as a performer. Without her blunt tell-em-as-it-is attitude, his blundering air-headed status would lack grounding.

Surly and confused as he may seem, Woody is more than meets the eye though, a fact that David learns when they visit Woody’s hometown. As people catch wind of Woody’s “good fortune” and flock to him looking for handouts, we see the real Woody as he welcomes family and friends coming out of the woodwork to beg like smiling buzzards. And as Woody claims his 15 minutes of fame, we also begin to realize that for all of his knuckle-headed nincompoopery, he’s a man who gives without regard, all brought to life by Dern’s hilarious and heartbreaking performance.

For this leading role, Dern is poised for some serious recognition. Even if he misses an Oscar shot (2013 has quickly become an extremely crowded year for Best Actor), he’s secure in nabbing nominations for the Indie Spirit Awards, Emmys and the like. There are few that would disagree that he’s earned it. And although her role isn’t as immediately noticeable as Dern’s, June Squibb has us convinced from moment one that she is Kate Grant. Foul-mouthed and sassy as she is heavy-set, she waddles her way to an inevitable showcase of Oscar moments and should be counted amongst those assured a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. For this part, Will Forte too becomes more than just a comedian. Although he’s the rock from which these other performers vault, his own performance is reined in and earnest – the mark of an actor who has matured greatly since his tenure as MacGruber at SNL.

Rolling sharp comedy and painstaking commentary into one is no easy task, but it’s one that Payne has all but mastered. Nebraska may not be as biting and manic as Sideways or as graceful and beautifully filmed as The Descendants but it has a life and energy all of its own, one that, much like Woody, is entirely unpredictable.


Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter


Taking a Second Swing at the 2014 Oscar Predictions

A lot has changed in the weeks since my first Oscar prediction post. A big contender is now out of the running with Monuments Men unexpected move to a 2014 release, while Saving Mr. Banks debuted to soaring reviews, and The Wolf of Wall Street secured its chance in this year’s Oscar after solidifying a Christmas release date.

Although buzz has Gravity and 12 Years a Slave going head-to-head for the title, that conversation is nothing more than preemptive positioning, as there’s just so much more to see before the we start setting things in stone. One thing is for sure though, Gravity’s continued praise and high box office numbers make it a stronger contender than expected and it’s pretty much locked in nominations across the board. Nonetheless, expect it to pull an Inception/Life of Pi manuever and mostly walk away with technical accolades. Although unlikely, a director-picture split could potentially see Alfonso Cuaron taking home his first Oscar but after last year’s Affleck, Argo drama, don’t cross your fingers.

After seeing 12 Years a Slave, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Nebraska, I had to shake up a few categories, first and foremost, the Best Actor category, as I can’t imagine Bruce Dern not seeing some recognition. As for Chiwetel Ejifor‘s lead role in 12 Years, it’s beyond powerful, and he’s very likely to take home the gold. Nipping at his heels, Robert Redford continues to climb the charts for his near silent role in All is Lost and could just end up playing a legacy trump card when it comes voting time.

Another black man playing a role tailor man for the Oscars, Forest Whitaker got pushed out of the top five for now but it wouldn’t be unlikely for him to step back in sooner or later. Perhaps the biggest unknown quality in this category though is Leonardo DiCaprio, who leads Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Criminally undernominated, DiCaprio was pegged for an Oscar for this role early on but now his odds are shakier with the knowledge that Wolf is a nearly three hour long dark comedy. Now that the film will definitely see the light of day in 2013, there’s still a chance he can pull some last minute punches. For once, it’s a rather interesting race for Best Actor with some massive talent pining for those top five spots.

The Best Director category seems pretty firmed up as none of the top five spots managed to budge. Expect further momentum in that category in December when Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, and Inside Llewyn Davis play for a wider audience. For now, it’s a race between McQueen and Cuaron but if American Hustle is the success story that so many people expect, a win for David O. Russell would be more than understandable.

Glancing through the list for now, you’ll notice a bit of a 12 Years a Slave domination. Does that mean I expect 12 Years a Slave to clean up at the Oscars? Not necessarily, but all current momentum does have it as an early frontrunner, making it the one to beat at the moment. Gravity is currently perceived as its biggest competition but that’s little more than hogwash, as Gravity, no matter how well received, just doesn’t stand a chance at the top.

The closet thing we have as a lock for now is Cate Blanchett‘s stronghold on Best Actress. Although Judi Dench will give her a run for her money with her titular role in Philomena, Bullock is assured a nomination, and Streep is never someone to be scoffed at, this category is all but signed, sealed, and delivered for Blanchett.

Best Picture:

1. “12 Years a Slave” (No change)

2. “Gravity” +1
3. “Saving Mr. Banks” +1
4. “American Hustle” -2
5.  “The Wolf of Wall Street” +4
6. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)
7. “Captain Phillips” -2
8. “Nebraska” +4
9. “Dallas Buyers Club” -2
10. “All is Lost” +1

11. “August: Osage County” -1
12. “Rush” +1
13. “Before Midnight” +1
14. “Blue is the Warmest Color” (New)
15. “Prisoners” (New)

Best Director:

1. Steve McQueen “12 Years a Slave” (No change)

2. Alfonso Cuaron “Gravity” (No change)
3. David O. Russell “American Hustle” (No change)
4. John Lee Hancock “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change)
5. The Coen Bros “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)

6. Martin Scorsese “The Wolf of Wall Street” +2
7. Paul Greengrass  “Captain Phillips” -1
8. JC Chandor “All is Lost” +1
9. Alexander Payne “Nebraska” +1
10. Jean-Marc Vallee “Dallas Buyers Club” (New)

Best Actor:

1. Chiwetel Ejifor “12 Years a Slave” +1

2. Robert Redford “All is Lost” +2
3. Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club” -2
4. Tom Hanks  “Captain Phillips” -1
5. Bruce Dern “Nebraska” +3
6. Leonardo DiCaprio “The Wolf of Wall Street” (No change)
7. Forest Whitaker “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” -2
8. Christain Bale “American Hustle” -1
9. Joaquin Phoenix “Her” (No change)
10. Oscar Isaac “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)

Best Actress:


1. Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine” (No change)

2. Judi Dench “Philomena” (No change)
3. Sandra Bullock “Gravity” +1
4. Meryl Streep “August: Osage County” -1
5. Emma Thompson “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change)
6.Amy Adams “American Hustle” (No change)
7. Adèle Exarchopoulos “Blue is the Warmest Color” +2
8. Julie Delpy “Before Midnight” -1
9. Brie Larson “Short Term 12” -1
10. Berenice Bejo “The Past” (No change)

Best Supporting Actor:

1. Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club” (No change)

2. Michael Fassbender “12 Years a Slave” +1
2. Daniel Bruhl “Rush” -1
4. Tom Hanks “Saving Mr. Banks” (No change)
5. Barkhad Abdi “Captain Phillips” +3

6. Bradley Cooper “American Hustle” (No change)
7. Jake Gllyenhaal “Prisoners” (No change)
8. Jonah Hill “The Wolf of Wall Street” (New)
9. John Goodman “Inside Llewyn Davis” -4
10. James Gandolfini “Enough Said” (New)

Best Supporting Actress:

1. Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave” (No change)

2. Oprah Winfrey “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” (No change)
3. June Squibb “Nebraska” +4
4. Julia Roberts “August: Osage County” -1
5. Octavia Spencer “Fruitvale Station” -1

6. Lea Seydoux “Blue is the Warmest Color” (New)
7. Margo Martindale “August: Osage County” -1
8. Melissa Leo “Prisoners” (No change)
9. Jennifer Lawrence “American Hustle” (No change)
10. Carey Mulligan “Inside Llewyn Davis” (No change)

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter