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Oscar Voting Begins Friday – Dear Academy, hear my plea


It is once again time for our For Your Consideration post to the members of the Academy.  Online voting begins December 27th. The Academy has fortified its methods this year, making it easier for members to vote.

This is your chance to make the best case for contenders you think might not otherwise get recognized.   I am going to make my case right now for one contender in each major category.  These are contenders I feel passionately about. I’m going to skip Best Actress because it is my hope that all five of the leading contenders — Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and the frontrunner, Cate Blanchett are all nominated because they fucking deserve it.

But other than that, here we go. Dear Academy, hear my plea!

Best Picture
#2 JC Chandor’s All is Lost.  The spirit of cinema is about reinventing it year after year. How can do that when there is nothing new under the sun? You do i thy taking a leap of faith.  Chandor could have done anything after he gained an Oscar nod and notoriety for Margin Call. He could have easily failed upwards by selling out, by doing what most young talented up and coming directors in Hollywood do – they go for the big paycheck. But he did the opposite. He made a moving meditation, a cinematic poem about life. Our time here is so limited.  Life is an endurance test, as are most things worthwhile – love, parenting, artistic ambition. All is Lost gives you an hour and a half of silent contemplation, watching Robert Redford do what’s necessary to survive.  It will stay with me long after this year has come to a close. It deserves to be named as one of the year’s best.

Best Director
Martin Scorsese for the Wolf of Wall Street – it’s not for everyone. It is weird and wild and deliberately offensive. It is also bravura filmmaking of the first order.  It is absolutely deserving of being recognized, as the AFI and Critics Choice and HFPA already have done.  At 71 years old, Martin Scorsese should be slowing down, mellowing out and losing his fire. He has proven what a schooled director can REALLY do. It’s astonishing.  In many ways movie are never about the darker aspects of human nature. They are about idealized versions of ourselves.  Scorsese will always stand out for his refusal to adhere to something that easy. His films are about cockroaches. They are about failures, damaged souls, flawed antiheroes. Those stories are worth telling too, especially when you have his ability to really go there.

Best Actor
Robert Redford, All is Lost. Really, SAG? What can you say about actors who don’t acknowledge something as difficult and splendid as Redford’s vulnerable performance?  Who would have thought that Redford would need a push by the year’s end and yet, with the lack of a SAG nod that is exactly what he needs.  It isn’t as though any of the five are expendable. The actors this year could fill ten slots easily and still have many more deserving names.  But extraordinary is extraordinary. Here’s to hoping the Academy’s actors are more on the ball.

Best Actress
Skipping (but if I had to pick an FYC it would be Brie Larson for Short Term 12)

Best Supporting Actor
Will Forte in Nebraska – it is a subtle performance, no doubt, and he’s not a popular Hollywood actor, and he certainly doesn’t have a lot of the buzz right now – but Bruce Dern works so closely with Forte throughout in such a meaningful way Forte deserves as much recognition right alongside Dern.  For such a funny guy he managed to play the straight man remarkably well. Matthew McConaughey had a great year – but he was at his absolute best in Mud.  He would be a great choice for a double nominee this year with two completely opposite characters, and then when you add in his turn in Wolf of Wall Street – another impressive year from the actor.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams in Her. Poor Amy Adams – upstaged by Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, then upstaged by Scarlett Johansson in Her.  Adams is so effortlessly good in everything she does that her brilliance is often taken for granted. As good as she is in American Hustle she’s equally good, if not better, in Her, where she downplays the quirky, lonely, filmmaking friend of Joaquin Phoenix. Okay, so it’s a long shot. Of those who actually DO have a shot at a nod, Sarah Paulson in 12 Years a Slave is relentless in her monstrous portrayal as the plantation owner’s wife. She is every bit as good at being vile as Michael Fassbender and yet she gets none of the recognition.

Original Screenplay
It seems like this whole category is a For Your Consideration.  While the Coens seem destined to be honored in this category, David O. Russell, too.  Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station would be a great choice, as would Nicole Holofcener for Enough Said.  But my FYC here is very long shot, Austin Bunn and John Krokidas for Kill Your Darlings. This little known snippet out of the immortalized life of the beat poets tells the rather scandalous story of murder and homophobia on the streets of upper Manhattan. It took ten whole years to finish this screenplay. It is challenging, meticulous, funny and brilliant. It doesn’t have a chance in hell at a nomination but oh how cool if it did.  I really hate how films often get dismissed overall, even when there are elements to them that are noteworthy and in this case, it’s the writing. The writing. The writing.  Kill Your Darlings is a film worthy of paying homage to Ginsburg and Kerouac.

Adapted Screenplay
I have to go with Daniel Destin Crettin for Short Term 12.  It would be maybe the first Nicholl winning screenplay to win. It was made as a short first so that might make it qualified for adapted. But it could go into original and the FYC would still stand.  What a young promising talent he is, also having directed the film.  Its star, Brie Larson, gives one of the best performances of the year but the big standout here is, again, the writing.  But if it does go original, Terence Winter would be my FYC for Wolf of Wall Street – every writer this year could go to school on this script – structure, dialogue, humor – it has it all.  Uncompromising, brilliant, unforgettable…

All is Lost by Alex Ebert — just unbelievably good.
Her by Arcade Fire – again, wow.

Blackfish.  Blackfish.  Blackfish. Blackfish. Blackfish. Blackfish. Blackfish. Blackfish. The lives of whales depend on it. Our humanity depends on it.

The Croods! Frozen gets a lot of attention for being about women but The Croods is too – and not only that it offers up a healthy body image for young girls who will never be a size zero.

Thelma Schoonmaker — and that is all.

Art Direction

Frank G. DeMarco, Peter Zuccarini, All is Lost 

All is Lost

Sound Editing
All is Lost

Your turn!