Winning…or not

We’re having a contest at work to predict the winners of this Academy Awards, and I’m almost sorry I haven’t seen any of the movies yet.

Correction: I saw “Frozen” and it was pretty darn good. I think it should win for best picture this year, but at the very least, maybe it will win for Best Animated Picture.

Since I had no idea what the nominated pictures were about, I thought I would find out.

The nominees for Best Picture are: American Hustle, Nebraska , Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her.

Nebraska-This movie is about Woody Grant, a man whose life has not gone exactly the he had planned. He lost his business years ago and is nearing the end of his life. Will Forte,of Saturday Night Live fame, plays his son, David.

American Hustle– this movie is loosely based on the ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence. All three are nominated for an Academy Award.

Captain Phillips-The film is based on the true story of 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse.

Dallas Buyers Club-It is Dallas, 1985 and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic electrician and rodeo cowboy, is diagnosed with AIDS. Without medication, he is given 30 days to live.

Ron meets Rayon (Jared Leto), an HIV-positive transgender woman, whom he doesn’t much care for.  Running out of options, Ron drives to a Mexican hospital to get more AZT, which have helped alleviate his symptoms.

He brings the drug back to the states to sell it to others with HIV. Ron begins to show compassion towards homosexuals as time passes, and making money becomes less of a concern. Peptide T gets increasingly difficult to acquire, and in 1987 he files a lawsuit against the FDA. The judge is understanding, but lacks the legal tools to do anything. Ron died of AIDS in 1992, seven years later than doctors predicted.

Philomena– Philomena (Judi Dench) becomes pregnant in 1951 after meeting a man at fair and is sent by her father to Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea in Ireland. After giving birth to a son, she is forced to work in their laundry for four years to pay off the cost of her stay. Without telling her, the nuns adopted her son out and wouldn’t tell her to whom.

Journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan)is writing a book on Russian history. He is approached by Philomena’s daughter and she suggests that he write a story about her mother, who was forced to give up her son. He finally decides to write the story and meets with Philomena, where he hears her heart-breaking tale.

12 Years a Slave12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free negro who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery.

He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release. After being enslaved for 12 years, Northup is restored to freedom and returned to his family.

Solomon tried to bring the man responsible to justice but could never get a conviction.

Wolf of Wall Street-Directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie is based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) narrates the film showing his monstrous success with his firm complete with ribaldry at work, a sumptuous home on the Gold Coast of Long Island and a trophy wife who is a former model. He then flashes back to 1987, where he began a low-level job at an established Wall Street firm.

Like many American dreams, Jordan works hard to succeed, only to fall on hard times because of the economy. But something happens that turns the course of his destiny and soon Jordan is living the good life, due to his Wall Street success.

In the end, Jordan is caught in a web of lies and deceit and left holding the bag.

Gravity-The film is set during a fictitious Space Shuttle mission. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer. She is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is commanding his final expedition.

During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Mission Control in Houston warns the team about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite, which has caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of space debris. Mission Control orders that the shuttle begin re-entry immediately. Communications with Mission Control are soon lost and the two are on their own.

The rest  of the movie is spent with Bullock and Clooney contemplating life and death and trying desperately to make it back home.

Her– The movie is set in the year 2025. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely, introverted man, writes personal love letters for people who have a difficult time expressing their feelings. Unhappy with his own life and the impending divorce from his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore buys a talking operating system with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides he wants the OS to have a female identity, and she (Scarlett Johansson) names herself “Samantha”.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but it didn’t end the way I expected it to. Truthfully, I didn’t have any idea how the whole thing would pan out. A love triangle with a machine. Who would have thought?

This is the 89th year for the Academy Awards and though I don’t remember every single one,  I do my best to watch them. It was a monumental event when I was a kid. I would sit in front of the TV and watch the actors parade on stage to receive their awards. How cool it would be, I thought, to be the one at the podium announcing the nominees for the Best Picture:

And the winner is…. Well, your guess is as good as mine. We’ll have to wait until March 2.

The other nominees are:

Actress in a Leading Role-Amy Adams, for American Hustle, Judi Dench for Philomena, Meryl Streep for August: Osage County, Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine.

I have not heard much about Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen is the director), and though he is a great actor, he doesn’t seem much like a great guy, in light of recent events. Still, my pick is for Actress in a Leading Role is Cate Blachett.

Supporting Actress; Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Julia Robert for August: Osage county, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, June Squibb, Nebraska, LupitaNyong’o, 12 years a Slave

My pick is Lupita Nyong’o. I don’t know her, but she has won several other awards.

Actor in a Leading Role- Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo Di Caprio, Wolf of Wall Street,  Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers’ Club.

My pick is Matthew McConaughey. Yeah, he’s cute, but he’s also a great actor, in my opinion.

Supporting Actor Nominees: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cook for American Hustle, Jonah Hill for Wolf of Wall Street, Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave, Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

My pick is Jared Leto. I like Jonah Hill and he probably deserves an Oscar, but Leto plays a transgender woman and that’s gotta be tough for any actor.

Best animated film nominees includeDespicable Me 2, Frozen, The Croods, Ernest & Celestine, The Wind Rises.

I made my pick earlier in my blog-Frozen. I laughed, I cried, I swooned. I laughed some more. A Happy Ending for all.

However, Despicable Me 2 deserves a shout out. I actually got into the story of the Evil Spy-turned-Daddy, who falls in love.