Thursday, February 27, 2014

My 2014 Oscar Selections

This BlogPost is another tradition which I have been religiously following since 2011 and love following all the Oscar-nominated & other critically acclaimed movies which fail to get the Oscar nod…this year was another spectacularly awesome year when it came to Hollywood and Global movies in general! Loads of awesome movies and some real bad duds too but then they even out things and for us Movie Freaks a definite part of our watching list for sure…

And this year again I had watched almost all the Oscar nominated movies before the nominations came out; the ones I missed out were due to lack of their prints available on the internet or they didn’t release here in Kuwait! So different than pre-Kuwait days when I used to watch Oscar-winning movies some 4-5 years after winning!

This year had another additional award which I followed – “Best Documentary – Feature” and watched all the 5 nominated documentaries and 2 others which missed the cut…would be discussing them later in detail!

And now some Money Facts & Figures from Oscar 2013:

1. At the time of the Academy Award nomination announcement on January 16, 2014, the combined gross of the nine Best Picture nominees at the American and Canadian box offices was $645 million, with an average of $72 million per film.

2. Only one of the nine Best Picture nominees was among the top ten releases in box office receipts when the Academy revealed the nominations.[26] Gravity was the highest-grossing film among the Best Picture nominees. Captain Phillips was the second-highest-grossing film with $105.5 million; this was followed by American Hustle ($105.4 million), The Wolf of Wall Street ($80.7 million), 12 Years a Slave ($39 million), Philomena ($22.3 million), Dallas Buyers Club ($16.8 million), Her ($9.9 million), and finally, Nebraska ($8.5 million).

3. Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 47 nominations went to 14 films on the list. Only Frozen (3rd), Despicable Me 2 (4th), Gravity (7th), The Croods (14th) Captain Phillips (29th), American Hustle (30th), and The Wolf of Wall Street (42nd) were nominated for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, or any of the directing, acting, or screenwriting awards. The other top 50 box office hits that earned nominations were Iron Man 3 (2nd), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (8th), Star Trek Into Darkness (11th), Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (31st), The Lone Ranger (38th), and Saving Mr. Banks (49th).

And now some snippets and fun facts:

1. Martin Scorsese's controversially debauched The Wolf of Wall Street is purportedly the film with the most uses of the word "f--k" (allegedly delivered 522 times) to be in the running for Oscar glory.

2. Woody Allen is Oscar's most-nominated screenwriter, earning his 16th for Blue Jasmine. All have been in the original screenplay category. He is also the category's top winner, with three trophies (Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Midnight in Paris).

3. Bruce Dern's Best Actor nomination, at the age of 77, makes him the second-oldest nominee in that category, behind 79-year-old Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story)

4. Megan Ellison received two nominations for Best Picture (American Hustle and Her), making her the first woman and the third person overall (after Francis Ford Coppola in 1975 and Scott Rudin in 2011) to be nominated twice in the same year in this category

5. With three nominations for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the Middle-earth franchise collected its 36th Oscar nomination, the most for any film series in history

6. At 23, Jennifer Lawrence is the youngest person ever to earn a trio of Oscar nominations: for Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook (she won best actress) and American Hustle.

7. June Squibb's Best Supporting Actress nomination (Nebraska), at the age of 84, makes her the third-oldest nominee in that category, behind 87-year-old Gloria Stuart (Titanic) and 85-year-old Ruby Dee (American Gangster)

8. Meryl Streep adds another notch to her belt as Oscar's most-nominated performer ever. Her best actress nod for August: Osage County marks the 18th time she's up for an Academy Award (her three actual wins came for The Iron Lady, Sophie's Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer).

9. Though he didn't snag a best-director nod for Dallas Buyers Club, Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée is still an Oscar contender. He shares in the movie's film-editing nomination under the pseudonym John Mac McMurphy.

10. Hollywood icon Robert Redford may have won a directing Oscar (for Ordinary People) and a lifetime achievement honour (in 2002), but he's never earned a trophy for acting (he was nominated once, for The Sting). Some have cited his lack of a nomination for the seafaring drama All is Lost a snub.

11. David O. Russell and his recent acting collaborators are on a roll. For two years in a row now, his films (Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) have earned nods in each of the four acting categories.

12. 2013 Oscar nominees Amy Adams (The Master, supporting actress), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, lead actor) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, lead actress winner) are all back again in 2014 for their work in American Hustle, but they've all swapped categories (lead actress for Adams and supporting turns for Cooper and Lawrence).

13. When you factor in The Fighter, David O. Russell has nabbed three best director nominations in just four years. It puts him in the company of Hollywood heavyweights such as Frank Capra, John Huston, Billy Wilder and Clint Eastwood.

14. Some actors (or perhaps their advisors) are really good at choosing roles: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and George Clooney have each starred in more than four best-picture contenders.

15. Jackass Presents: Bad Grampa and The Lone Ranger can now forever be described as Oscar nominees (both earned nods in the makeup and hairstyle category).

16. John Williams received his 44th nomination for Best Original Score, passing the late Alfred Newman to become the category's record holder. The composer – who has won five times – has 49 overall nominations, the most for a living person and second only to Walt Disney

17. Nearly every film receiving acting nominations garnered at least two such nominations; only Captain Philips, Gravity, and Philomena received just one acting nomination each. In addition, August: Osage County was the only film to receive acting nominations to not get a nomination in any other field.

And now the shocks, snubs & surprises:

1. "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which was at one time thought to be a sure-fire Academy favorite, didn’t get a single nomination.

2. Another upset was “Saving Mr. Banks,” which at one point had been tipped by some not just as a surefire Best Picture nominee, but even a possible winner.

3. “Inside Llewyn Davis” - Not getting any major category nomination; At least it got two nominations, for Cinematography and Sound Mixing, although that’s the same number as critical and commercial disaster “The Lone Ranger.”

4. Paul Greengrass & Spike Jonze not getting the Best Director nominations - strange, sad but true!

5. Tom Hanks - There was a point at which it seemed that, Hanks would come away with two Oscar nominations this year, with both his performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr Banks” but he missed out on both!

6. Emma Thompson - Another shock when she didn't get the "expected" nod for “Saving Mr Banks”

7. Daniel Brühl & James Gandolfini - Both missed out on getting the "Best Supporting Actor" nods for "Rush" and "Enough Said" respectively which was the most unfair decision IMHO...

8. “Monsters University” - It missed out on the Best Animated Feature nod in a relatively weak year for the category

9. “Stories We Tell” & “Blackfish” - Both these documentary features definitely deserved nominations and were strong enough to make the cut but sadly didn't...

10. Christian Bale, Jonah Hill and Sally Hawkins getting the nods in their categories which seem so grossly over-rated and clearly undeserving IMHO...

And now all the nominations, my predictions and my choices! I have also posted some of my reviews as well…

                                              Best Picture
Just having some fun with this category....all these posters are fun/spoof posters of the original ones and inspired by the theme/story of the movies!

American Hustle

The 2014 Oscar Mania started with this and quite an auspicious start it was! I found all the superlative reviews a little too much after watching it and definitely would call it a bit "over-rated"! No doubt the acting performances are superb! Bale in his con-avatar, Lawrence in her mad-bitchy persona and Adams getting out of her routine comfort zone and giving an awesome performance! The only letdown for me was Cooper who couldn't match up to the other 3 leads except in that scene in which he copies his boss which was a breath-taking scene! It is a definitely a very well made movie and entertaining too but I didn't find it spectacular like all the reviews out there! Another special spectacle of the movie was the OST which is way too awesome and adds to the thrill element throughout with cleverly placed songs! And one thing is for sure, Jennifer Lawrence is definitely the Meryl Streep of this generation as she keeps setting new acting benchmarks! I loved her performance! I am damn sure this movie would be a frontrunner for many awards this season...My rating 3.5/5...

Captain Phillips

Wrote a BlogPost on this special movie which I was lucky enough to enjoy on the big screen -

Dallas Buyers Club

This one is a Biographical Drama Film about a true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient who began smuggling unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms and has one of my top favourite actors - Matthew McConaughey in the lead role! He has done such a brilliant job of playing the HIV-affected patient and running this supposedly illegal club challenging the FDA and Police head-on! He infact lost 23 kgs to play the role of a terminally ill patient! Jared Leto has also done a stupendous job of playing the transvestite AIDS patient and definitely deserves all the accolades he is receiving for his performance! The film moves at a brisk pace and you never get time to blink too! Matthew's performance is raw, rugged, funny, ferocious and so committed! And yes it has his signature swagger written all over it too! This just can't be missed! My rating 4.5/5...


Gravity is just not a mere's a phenomenal experience which is gonna last a lifetime! 90 minutes of sheer cinematic magic unfolds on the screen and the viewer never even blinks! It is so captivating, surreal, exciting and engaging all rolled into one! There is the fighter Sandra Bullock who is simply brilliant in her performance and to match her is the ever so awesome George Clooney whose motivational skills can match the best of the best! This is a movie which is well worth the extraordinary hype & buzz it has created and just can't be missed! It is an overwhelming experience with magnificent cinematography (All awards confirmed), engaging background score, restrained acting performances and incredible Direction! And yeah then there is the Sunrise on the River Ganges....HELL YEAH....Hope it releases in IMAX here and I would watch it rating 5/5....


Starring one of my favourite actors Joaquin Phoenix and the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson's husky voice this is a wonderful movie with an amazing concept! The film centers on a man who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system (OS) with a female voice and personality...Joaquin in his unique and quirky acting style has done an amazing job as always and plays out the expressions and apprehensions of a man in love brilliantly! A very different sort of a love story and one which would be lapped up by all....this is a delightfully entertaining movie and highly rating 4.5/5...


This one is a comedy-drama film starring Bruce Dern, June Squibb and Will Forte and directed by the highly talented Alexander Payne who has made some real awesome movies in the past - About Schmidt, Sideways & The Descendants amongst others...and this one is an awesome road-trip movie about an old man who's convinced he's won a million dollar price and his son who grudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings! They go to the Father's hometown and get back to his old friends & relatives and tackle their sudden interest in him due to the big prize! The movie is shot in Black & White and the landscapes featured are spectacularly awesome! It is a haunting, seemingly dark, desolate study about relationships and very entertaining & beautiful to boot! Bruce Dern is simply awesome in his role and June Squibb who plays his wife is wonderful as well...this is a must-watch movie and would be loved by rating 4/5...


One of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2013 and luckily I got to watch it on a big screen...this is about the true story of an old retired nun Philomena Lee's 50-year-long search for her son and her challenges and predicaments about her son conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States 50 years earlier...She meets Sixsmith (Coogan), an ot of job BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son and travels to the US...This one is an heartbreaking, entertaining, engaging, fast-paced and a humbling watch which would compel you to relate to the sorrows of poor Philomena...Judi Dench is as always brilliant in her performance and Coogan (also the co-writer) has done a marvellous job as well...this is a must watch for all movie rating 4/5...

12 Years a Slave

Another Biographical Drama film based on the 12 years slavery life of Solomon Northup, a free negro who was kidnapped and then sold into slavery and about his grim challenges, mental-physical trauma & torture and how his life gets into an abyss where he struggles for 12 long years! This is directed by the brilliant Steve McQueen who has made 2 awesome movies in the past - Hunger & Shame and he has done a kick-ass job once again! The movie is devastating, tragic, overpowering, dark and yet shows the unlimited power of the human spirit and how it can survive against all odds! the movie isn't easy to watch in some of the torture scenes infact! One of the reviews nails it "The violence is starkly pictured by McQueen, lingering on black skin torn apart to reveal milky white flesh and, of course, red blood"! Chiwetel Ejiofor has been unanimously hailed for his superlative performance and no doubt it is great but for me the best performance is given by the young Kenyan girl Lupita Nyong'o who has made the best possible debut! She definitely deserves all the Best Supporting Actress awards this year without doubt! watch this for an intense and cinematic experience! Highly rating 4.5/5...

The Wolf of Wall Street

For me this was not a spectacular movie; it felt too stretched all the way through and just didn’t excite, entertained or wowed me the way other Scorsese movies have! LDC was also over-the-top at times! And inspite of all those F words it wasn’t an awesome movie for me!!!

And now my say:

Will win: 12 Years a Slave
Could win: American Hustle

MY CHOICE: Gravity

                                               Best Director

American Hustle (David O. Russell)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Scorsese tried his best with his 3-hours long (very long) magnum opus TWOWS but Mcqueen wins the cake in my books with his superb tale about the dark years of Slavery...

Will win: Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Could win: Direct Fight between these two; don’t think there would be a party spoiler!

MY CHOICE: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

                              Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Sorry folks...LDC not winning this year either!!!

Will win: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Could win: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street

MY CHOICE: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

                              Best Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

One might say I am biased towards Streep but her performance in OOC was par excellence and she is the winner in my books!

Will win: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Could win: Judi Dench for Philomena

MY CHOICE: Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

                              Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

This is one of those years where there is a clear winner in all the books available and Leto is the one! for his superb performance of a transvestite AIDS patient!

Will win: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Could win: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips – The Dark Horse Debutant 

MY CHOICE: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

                       Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

The Campus Placement Girl from Yale's debut performance was by far the best performance of the year; I hope she gets that trophy and not JeLaw for her over-rated average performance!

Will win: Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle

MY CHOICE: Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave

                                     Best Animated Feature

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Frozen was a big screen 3D spectacle and is a clear winner in all the books!

Will win: Frozen
Could win: No Competition!


                          Best Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

The clear favourite this year is TGB but my sureshot favourite is the Hunt for it's intensity, brutal portrayal of the truth and superb acting performances!

Will win: The Great Beauty
Could win: The Broken Circle Breakdown


                        Best Documentary – Feature

The Act of Killing
20 Feet from Stardom
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square

A documentary should document the events and present it in a real yet not too boring manner and The Square clearly did all this and more! it portrays and documents of the January 2011 Egypt uprising in the best possible and very informative way and is my winner for this category!

Will win: The Act of Killing
Could win: 20 Feet from Stardom  

MY CHOICE: The Square

                              Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

Mr. Jonze...take a bow...your innovative and interesting screenplay is the clear winner for me! such a simple story and yet to poignant and captivating!

Will win: Spike Jonze for Her
Could win: Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine

MY CHOICE: Spike Jonze for Her

And now for the most endearing Video of this made on the Oscar Theme; this one is so damn funny, cute and entertaining that everybody got to watch this and get wowed by these super-talented wonder kids! Loved every bit of it!

2014 so far has been a slow year wrt movies due to the arrival of our son Abhay but hopefully I would be manage to catch up once he grows up a bit! These days the most important & critical priority for me is spending time with him than watching movies but then the passion takes over at times!

Thanks to Wikipedia for providing me with almost all the inputs for this Blog Post; just can’t thank Wiki enough – it is almost a lifeline!

It was great discussing movies with my biggest inspiration Rohit Sharma; my 2 new FB friends – Mohaneesh Thapar & Nafees Ahmed who clearly possess much more knowledge than me and it is always a pleasure discussing movies with the 3 of them!

And yeah 1MinuteMovieReview – our Movie Community on Facebook which is a brilliant place to discuss movies across languages and genres! You can join it at

And last but not the least to my partner-in-rhyme Bandita Thakur who watched all these brilliant movies with me on the big screen & at home and discussed all of them with me! It is such a pleasure to have those Movie Discussions with her!

So till the time we meet again……..

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!


Rohit Sharma said...

Bus Kar Pagle - rulayega kya :)
Hugs man!

This was one of the most awaited post for sure and guess what ;) - you wont believe but I just picked up two names from the amazing article. Gosh! How did I miss those two documentary's is beyond me - but will get them tonight and niptao them by the weekend.
This year has been a great year for movies - no two things about it bro.
The kind of movies made and seen - appreciated is simply awesome. Its great indeed by the way movie business is going.
Saw some real real good ones this year and the best part is that we didnt miss a single movie which was mentioned anywhere in Academy and watching the LIVE Award Functions is going to be super fun.
Hats off to you and your passion for movies man. I wish I had the talent to write the way you have covered it all - but then I think - I am gonna share your article on my blog ;) ofcourse with your due permission.
Superbly written.
keep up the good job - I may or may not agree on some (i.e. TWOWS) but thats part of life.

Cheers to life.

PS: You surprised / shocked and just made my day by mentioning my name on the elite list yaara.

nadeem khan said...

hahaha.. nicely done bro! Although LDC not getting an Oscar keeps my faith alive in Oscars. Call me an Anti-LDC Yes I am one! :P

Idiot_love said...

LDC is amir khan of Hollywood....and Nikki lauda deserve an award...he didn't even nominated.... Strange....

Madhukar said...

Very well written bhai, we may differ in our views but that takes nothing way from your articulation skill. Bravo and keep it up.

Che Guevara on the Road said...

Avneesh Mehta:

Just finished reading it and was about to comment. Probably not what I should be doing at work but couldn't resist! Great list, despite disagreeing on a few things thoroughly enjoyed reading through the whole list, especially the first two sections made it stand out from many other such articles out there!

Fenil Seta said...

Awesome post buddy...always a pleasure to read your pre-Oscar write-up! I hope LDC wins...and I wish Tom Hanks was nominated for Captain Phillips...