Oscar picks: Supporting Roles

This should be fairly straightforward. Besides my husband thinks I should write shorter posts. How’s this, dear?

Actor in a Supporting Role

It’s a fairly green field.

The nominees

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips). Too green, and too raw.

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle). He seems to be doing the same drill as in his Oscar-nominated role for 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook.

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave). Who? Oh him. Steve McQueen’s pet actor. This is the third full-length feature McQueen has directed and Fassbender has starred in all three. Problem is: He’s not Jared Leto.

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). I’m rooting for him (this is his second nomination as sidekick). But he’s not Jared Leto enough, either.

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). BINGO. Works for me.

My prediction & pick: Jared Leto

Here is a glimpse of Leto as the frontman for the band 30 Seconds to Mars. All of their music videos are produced like mini-movies. He is dreamy and, guess what? Apparently not  transgender.

Actress in a supporting role

Three of the five gals are new to the Oscar pool, while this is Julia Roberts’ fourth nomination (she won once for her leading role in “Erin Brockovich”) and Jennifer Lawrence’s third nod (she also won a leading role Oscar, last year for “Silver Linings Playbook”). I’m canceling both veterans out. It’s a race among newbies.

The nominees

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine). She is my one curveball. I like her, I really like her …  I kinda like her better than Cate Blanchett, and I might be crazy enough to pick her. Anyone nominated can win, right? (I have to say I didn’t even realize she was British until I saw she narrated the animated short nominee “Room on the Broom.” That makes her doubly good.)

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). Love her work and her acceptance speeches, but not this time, chica.

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). Smart money is on her, but no betting.

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County). Could happen. But I like living dangerously, at least in one catty category.

June Squibb (Nebraska). Her performance was a bit cultish. And every time I see her I think of Janet Yellen.

Sally-Hawkins

My pick: Sally Hawkins

My prediction: Lupita Nyong’o

Moonlighting at the movies

Best Actress Academy Award

Best Actress Academy Award (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

My second job each February: cramming on all of the Oscar-nominated movies. And I mean ALL of the nominees, not just the Best Picture category.

Fios On Demand and the Hulus and Netflixes of the world make it easier to be an expert. I have never been as close to a total sweep as I am this second.

But I’m running out of time.

Some flicks shall remain beyond reach. Among the doc shorts, “God Is the Bigger Elvis” is tied up in some copyright loop. Nyah-nyah, I won’t root for it, then. GO, “Barber of Birmingham”!

And now that our girls are grown, I am gleefully skipping all of the animated features. (Unless someone wants to rent me a kid?)

I can’t, and have no desire to, see the third “Transformers” flick, because I don’t have 3-D capabilities at home and it won’t play any other way. A convenient excuse. And “Real Steel“? Please, no. It’s “The Champ” with robots. Let’s just say it won’t — can’t possibly — win.

Cannot find three of the five nominated full-length documentaries, nor four of the five foreign films, although “Bullhead” is coming soon to a theater near me, West End Cinema in D.C. Not soon enough. Pity — shame — I didn’t go out to the arthouse cinema more in 2011. The import I did see, “A Separation,” has to be the most important. It remains my favorite film experience of the year, with “The Descendants” a close second.

Of all the Oscar-touched films I can see … ye gads, I still have eight left, and we are four days (and four nights) away from the Oscar gala.

Still need to squeeze in:

  • Midnight in Paris” — a must, nominated for Best Picture and Original Screenplay;
  • “W.E.” — which was brought back by a very thoughtful and hip theater in Shirlington, nominated for costume design;
  • “Drive,” for sound editing — and my work pal Jon Briggs’ top pick for everything (I believe it’s the only one he saw);
  • Both sets of live-action shorts and animated shorts, playing at the local cinema arthouse. They collectively count as two movies, in my scheme;
  • The final “Harry Potter” installment  — I have missed the last three, but who cares, read all the books;
  • “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I am tempted to skip this one, except I secretly hope it pays homage to the original, which I saw in theaters 44 years ago and whose final twist gave me my first lesson of how movies can power light bulbs in the dark (i.e. spark imaginations).
  • “Margin Call,” which actually looks good. Original screenplay and adapted screenplay have always been among my pet categories.

My picks so far? To be fair, I can review only those categories for which I have seen every nominee. Starting with perhaps the toughest call, and the earliest in the program:

Best Supporting Actress

MY PREDICTION: The smart money is on Octavia Spencer of “The Help.” For me, though, her character Disneyfied the movie. The anachronistic, undignifed prank sank it. Sure, I laughed and cried, but it was pure manipulation. Should we vote for someone simply because her character was written well — with sass and sell, ah, so memorable for American audiences? She did a fine job — all the nominees did. Janet McTeer‘s pathos, Melissa McCarthy’s mirth, B. Bejos’ mime. Yet …

MY PICK: Jessica Chastain. A win for her would still help “The Help,” but she was no caricature, having to invent a woman both comic and complicated. She also deserves the bump for enduring the hack job that was “The Tree of Life.”

Cinematography

MY PREDICTION & PICK: “Hugo” and “War Horse” are probably close contenders but, because they could win in other categories, this Oscar goes to the misunderstood (for good reason) “The Tree of Life.” Mind-blowing cinematography is all this psychotropic tripe has going for it, besides such winning performances as those of Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt and the kid playing young Jack — oh, and sadistic dinosaurs, exploding frogs and lots and lots of foliage.

To be continued … gotta watch more movies.