Oscar History: 2014

Six years ago in Oscar history began an impressive two year run for filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Birdman emerging as the big winner of the evening. The film took Best Picture and Director over its major competitor – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This was a ceremony in which the largest category did have some suspense. Birdman took the prize over the aforementioned Boyhood and six other pics: American Sniper (the year’s top grosser), The Grand Budapest Hotel (marking Wes Anderson’s first and only Picture nominee), The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. 

In this blogger’s perfect world, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler would have been recognized. It was my favorite movie of that year so get used to seeing it pop up in this post. Other notable selections from 2014 left on the cutting room floor: David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. 

Mr. Miller did have the notable distinction of being nominated for Best Director despite his work not showing up in Best Picture (very rare these days). As mentioned, Inarritu took the gold over Miller as well as Linklater, Anderson, and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Gilroy, Fincher, and Joon-ho might have warranted consideration in my view as well as Chazelle’s bravura debut in Whiplash. 

One could argue that Nightcrawler isn’t your prototypical Picture contender. However, Jake Gyllenhaal being left out of the five Actor contenders stands as one of the noteworthy snubs in recent history. It was Eddie Redmayne emerging victorious for The Theory of Everything over his closest competitor Michael Keaton (Birdman). Other nominees: the three C’s of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, picking up his third nomination in a row), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).

There is a voluminous list of solid performances beyond just Gyllenhaal’s that were left wanting. It includes Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), David Oyelowo (Selma), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).

In Best Actress, Julianne Moore triumphed for Still Alice after four previous nominations without a win. She took the honor over Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Moore’s selection was one of the easiest to project as she’d been a sturdy frontrunner all season.

Looking back, how about Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow? Its action genre trappings probably prevented consideration, but she might have made my quintet. Amy Adams won the Golden Globe for Actress in Musical/Comedy, but missed here.

Another easy (and absolutely deserved) winner was J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash over Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).

I will yet again mention Nightcrawler as I might have considered Riz Ahmed. There’s also Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice.

Boyhood nabbed its major race victory in Supporting Actress with Patricia Arquette. Other nominees were Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and the always in contention Meryl Streep for Into the Woods.

As for others, I’ll start with (surprise) Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Others include both Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent in addition to Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice).

My Oscar History will continue soon with 2015 as Mr. Inarritu will dominate the director race yet again while the Academy chose to spotlight something in Best Picture!

2014: The Year of Michael Keaton

Concluding my series of six performers who had a memorable 2014 on the big screen, we finish with Michael Keaton. The 63 year old actor has had many career highlights in his over three decades of stardom. He was Batman, for goodness sake! He was Beetlejuice! There was well regarded dramatic work in Clean and Sober and My Life. His team up with Quentin Tarantino in Jackie Brown and Steven Soderbergh in Out of Sight (playing the same part too). A creepy tenant in Pacific Heights. Comedies such as Mr. Mom and Multiplicity, among others.

For the last few years, Keaton has mostly been relegated to supporting roles in some high profile material and some indies. And he doesn’t make this list because of his work in this spring’s Robocop remake or video game adaptation Need for Speed (which are two examples of the kind of material that seemed a little beneath him).

No, Keaton is here because of Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s acclaimed comedy/drama. This picture marked a career comeback that rivaled that of Travolta in Pulp Fiction and Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. This is the role of a lifetime for Mr. Keaton and there stands a very solid chance that he’ll hear his name called in an ultra competitive Best Actor race at the Academy Awards.

The Birdman love will almost certainly mean roles will be available for Keaton that perhaps haven’t been in recent years. Next year, he’ll appear alongside Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, a drama which focuses on the Massachusetts Catholic sex scandals of recent history. It comes from Thomas McCarthy, the respected indie director of The Station Agent and The Visitor. With Inarritu’s rediscovery of Keaton’s great talent, there’s probably a lot of fine directors who’ll be calling up his services in the near future.

For my post on The Year of Shailene Woodley, click here:


For my post on The Year of Kevin Hart, click here:


For my post on The Year of Scarlett Johannson, click here:


For my post on The Year of Chris Pratt, click here:


For my post on The Year of Angelina Jolie, click here:


2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s Picks for Early January

And we’re off with my next to last round of Oscar predictions before they’re announced on Thursday, January 16th. The plan is to do my final predictions, most likely either on Sunday the 12th or Monday the 13th. These new picks reflect changes in four of the six top categories. Let’s get to it shall we?


I’ve stayed consistent with predicting that nine movies will get nominated. The change here is that I’m including Dallas Buyer’s Club for the first time as I believe it’s gotten enough precursor momentum to get in. That means I had to take something out and Saving Mr. Banks has been dropped. As I see it, the race is still a battle between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity for the win with American Hustle as a possible spoiler.


American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyer’s Club



Inside Llewyn Davis


12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street


One change here: I believe the polarizing reaction to The Wolf of Wall Street might leave Martin Scorsese out in this competitive category. So he’s out and Spike Jonze, riding a wave of momentum for Her, is in. Like Picture, this race should come down to Slave‘s Steve McQueen and Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron for the victory with yet again Hustle‘s Russell as possible spoiler.


Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Spike Jonze, Her

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle


This is seriously such a loaded category. In any other year, I’d be predicting Christian Bale in American Hustle, Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler or Joaquin Phoenix in Her. None of them make the cut. Conventional wisdom is that this is a six man race and only five make the cut. Last round of predictions, I had Tom Hanks’ work in Captain Phillips left out, but now he’s back in. This came down to a decision between whether to leave out Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street or Robert Redford in All is Lost. For the first time in my predictions, it’s Redford that I’ve got drawing the short straw. I believe Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern, or Matthew McConaughey could win.


Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club


Prediction wise, this category has remained the most stable and I have no changes this round either. As for who will win, Cate Blanchett is emerging as the clear favorite though Sandra Bullock has a shot.


Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks


This is likely the most unpredictable category that is capable of producing a surprise and my new picks reflect that. Jared Leto is the frontrunner to win and Michael Fassbender appears a lock for nomination. After that, all bets are off. I’m taking out Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street and Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks. I’m keeping in my Bradley Cooper for American Hustle prediction. Additions to my list: Daniel Bruhl, who’s picked up momentum for his role in Rush. As for the fifth slot, it could have been Hanks, Hill, the late James Gandolfini in Enough Said, Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, or Harrison Ford in 42. Like I said, I believe a real surprise nomination could surface here and that’s why I’m picking former SNL alum Will Forte in Nebraska.


Daniel Bruhl, Rush

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Will Forte, Nebraska

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club


Like the lead actress race, I’ve got no changes to report here either. This should still come down to Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence for the win.


Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

I’ll be back with last round of nomination picks soon enough!

Box Office Predictions: January 3-5

The new year at the box office will be rung in with a pretty sturdy horror franchise in the form of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, opening Friday. Unless it greatly doesn’t match expectations, the fifth entry in the series should open atop the charts with the rest being filled by holiday leftovers. You can find my detailed prediction post on The Marked Ones here:


Christmas holdovers usually fall in the 30s to low 40s during the first weekend of the next year and I expect we’ll see that occur here. My predictions reflect Disney’s Frozen having one of the lower declines which should allow it to remain at #2 while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug should end its three-week reign at number one and fall to third. I expect American Hustle and Anchorman 2 to round out the top five. This means Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street should drop out of the top five in its second weekend. While it had a healthy debut (grossing $34 million over five days), audiences were polarized by it, evidenced by its weak C Cinemascore average.

And with that, my predictions for the top six at the box office during weekend #1 of 2014:

1. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Predicted Gross: $26.8 million

2. Frozen

Predicted Gross: $19 million (representing a drop of 33%)

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Predicted Gross: $16.2 million (representing a drop of 44%)

4. American Hustle

Predicted Gross: $13.1 million (representing a drop of 33%)

5. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Predicted Gross: $12.5 million (representing a drop of 38%)

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

Predicted Gross: $11 million (representing a drop of 41%)

This would be a great time to remind you of the website www.boxofficeace.com – where you can make your own predictions on the opening weekends of new box office entries. This week would be a fantastic time to start (only takes a sec to set up profile) because the competition begins anew with 2014 rolling in. On the site, you can compete against me and see if you can make box office predictions better than yours truly.

And there you have it! Check by Saturday for early updates on the blog’s Facebook page and Sunday with final results!