What If Lisa Marie Picked The Oscar Nominees…


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced this week, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

You can check out my picks for 2010 by clicking here.

My picks for 2011 can be found here.

And, finally, here are my picks for 2012.

Best Picture

Best Picture

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Before Midnight

Blue Is The Warmest Color

Frances Ha

Fruitvale Station

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Spring Breakers

Upstream Color

Shane+Carruth+Upstream+Color+Portraits+2013+DRHrpQS3Qacx

Best Director

Noah Baumbach for Frances Ha

Shane Carruth for Upstream Color

Spike Jonze for Her

Harmony Korine for Spring Breakers

David O. Russell for American Hustle

new-wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-is-the-wealthiest-stockbroker-in-the-world

Best Actor

Bruce Dern in Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

Dennis Quaid in At Any Price

This-one-is-good

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue Is The Warmest Color

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color

00290065-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_00000065-06d3-0000-0000-000000000000_20130903202205_Chandler

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips

Kyle Chandler in The Spectacular Now

Bradley Cooper in American Hustle

James Franco in Spring Breakers

Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

1380134395_Lawrence

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle

Eva Mendes in The Place Beyond The Pines

Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave

Léa Seydoux in Blue Is The Warmest Color

Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station

Her

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle

Blue Jasmine

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Upstream Color

Before-Midnight

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years A Slave

Before Midnight

Blue Is The Warmest Color

The Spectacular Now

The Wolf of Wall Street

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:49:52

Best Animated Feature

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest and Celestine

Frozen

Monsters University

STORIES-WE-TELL---SP-with-Super8cam-flatsc.JPG

Best Documentary Feature

20 Feet From Stardom

The Armstrong Lie

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Stories We Tell

Tim’s Vermeer

Blue-is-the-Warmest-Color

Best Foreign Language Film

(Please note that I do things differently for this category than the Academy.   For this award, I am nominating the best foreign language films to be released in the United States in 2013.)

Beyond the Hills

Blue Is The Warmest Color

No

Renoir

White Elephant

The Great Gatsby1

Best Production Design

12 Years A Slave

Gravity

The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Spring Breakers

Best Cinematography

Frances Ha

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Spring Breakers

Upstream Color

American Hustle

Best Costume Design

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

The Copperhead

The Great Gatsby

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Upstream Color

Best Film Editing

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Gravity

Her

Upstream Color

American Hustle 2

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Warm Bodies

Maniac

Best Original Score

Gravity

Her

Maniac

Trance

Upstream Color

The Great Gatsby2

Best Original Song

“Let it Go” from Frozen

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” from The Great Gatsby

“Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

“The Moon Song” from Her

“I See Fire” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

“Atlas” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis

“So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

“Becomes The Color” from Stoker

“Here It Comes” from Trance

Iron Man 3

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost

Iron Man 3

Pacific Rim

Rush

Upstream Color

Pacific Rim

Best Sound Mixing

All Is Lost

Iron Man 3

Pacific Rim

Rush

Upstream Color

Gravity

Best Visual Effects

Gravity

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Iron Man 3

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Pacific Rim

List of Films By Number of Nominations:

9 Nominations — Upstream Color

8 Nominations — American Hustle

7 Nominations — 12 Years A Slave, Her

5 Nominations — Blue Is The Warmest Color

4 Nominations — Frances Ha, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Inside Llewyn Davis, Spring Breakers

3 Nominations — Before Midnight, Dallas Buyers Club, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim

2 Nominations — All Is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Frozen, Fruitvale Station, Nebraska, Oz The Great and Powerful, Rush, The Spectacular Now, Trance, The Wolf of Wall Street

1 Nominations — 20 Feet From Stardom, The Armstrong Lie, At Any Price, Beyond The Hills, Captain Phillips, The Copperhead, The Counselor, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Maniac, Monsters University, No, The Place Beyond The Pines, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Renoir, Short Term 12, Stoker, Stories We Tell, Tim’s Vermeer, Warm Bodies, White Elephant

List of Films By Number of Oscars Won

3 Oscars — American Hustle, Upstream Color

2 Oscars — The Great Gatsby

1 Oscar — Before Midnight, Blue is The Warmest Color, Frances Ha, Frozen, Gravity, Her, Iron Man 3, Maniac, Pacific Rim, The Spectacular Now, Spring Breakers, Stories We Tell, The Wolf of Wall Street

Lisa Marie Picks The Best 26 Films of 2013


UpstreamColor_KrisJeffEscalator_3000x1277

2o13 was an unusually good year in film.  While there was never any doubt what my number one film would be, it took me considerably longer to narrow down my other favorites to just 25 movies.

Also complicating matters is that a film that I’m very much looking forward to, Spike Jonze’s Her, is not going to be opening here until next weekend.  Because I haven’t seen it, I could not consider it for this list.  If, after I do see it, I feel that it belongs in the top 26, I will add it.

(Update: I have since seen Her and I have modified my original list. — LMB, 1/1o/14)

You may be asking, “Why 26 films?”  Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers, that’s why.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Upstream Color
  2. American Hustle
  3. Frances Ha
  4. Her
  5. Before Midnight
  6. Blue Is The Warmest Color
  7. Spring Breakers
  8. 12 Years A Slave
  9. Fruitvale Station
  10. Inside Llewyn Davis
  11. The Wolf of Wall Street
  12. Warm Bodies
  13. The Counselor 
  14. Gravity
  15. Blue Jasmine
  16. The Spectacular Now
  17. Much Ado About Nothing
  18. Dallas Buyers Club
  19. The Conjuring
  20. Drinking Buddies
  21. Iron Man 3
  22. Nebraska
  23. The Place Beyond The Pines
  24. At Any Price
  25. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  26. All Is Lost
  27. The Iceman
  28. Frozen

Upstream Color

(Now that you’ve seen my favorites of 2013, check out my picks for 2010, 2011, and 2012!)

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2013
  3. Semtex Skittle’s 2013: The Year in Video Games
  4. 20 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2013
  5. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  6. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  8. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  9. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

The New York Film Critics Online Honor 12 Years A Slave


12 Years A Slave didn’t just win Boston today.  It was also named best picture of the year by the New York Film Critics Online.

Personally, I’m hoping that next year, sites like AwardsDaily, AwardsWatch, Goldderby, and others will join together to form the Online Oscar Precursors Watchers Association and they’ll give out awards to the various critical groups.  For example, they could hand out awards for the Best Jump On The Bandwagon, Best Out-Of-Nowhere winner, or the Honorary Award For The Award That Was Most Obviously Determined By A Desire To Tick People Off.

But, until that happens, here’s are the New York Film Critics Online’s pick for the best of 2013:

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave”

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”)

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze (“Her”)

BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”)

BEST MUSIC
“Inside Llewyn Davis”

BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR
Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“The Act of Killing”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Wind Rises”

BEST ENSEMBLE
“American Hustle”

12 Years A Slave Wins In Boston


The Boston Society Of Film Critics voted earlier today and 12 Years A Slave — which, so far, has been underperforming with the critics’ groups — swept the awards.  The Wolf of Wall Street came in second for most of the major awards.

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave”
Runner-up: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST DIRECTOR
Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”)
Runner-up: Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)
Runner-up: Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)
Runner-up: Judi Dench (“Philomena”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
James Gandolfini (“Enough Said”)
Runner-ups:
Barkhad Abdi (“Capt. Phillips”) and Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) tie for second.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
June Squibb (“Nebraska”)
Runner-up:
Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”)
Runner-up:
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Wadjda”
Runner-up: “Blue Is the Warmest Color”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“The Act of Killing,” Josh Oppenheimer
Runner-ups:
“Blackfish,” “Leviathan,” “At Berkeley,” “Crash Reel,” “20 Feet from Stardom ”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Wind Rises,” Hayao Miyazaki
Runner-up:
“Frozen”

BEST NEW FILMMAKER
Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”)
Runner-up: Josh Oppenheimer (“Act of Killing”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”)
Runner-up:
Phillippe Le Sourd (“The Grandmaster”)

BEST EDITING
Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill (“Rush”)
Runner-up: Thelma Schoonmaker (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)

BEST USE OF MUSIC IN A FILM
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Runner-up: “Nebraska”

The National Board of Review Falls For Her


The National Board of Review announced their picks for the best films and performance of 2013 earlier today and the results are a bit … unexpected.

For best picture, they picked Spike Jonze’s Her, a film that has not exactly been seen as being an Oscar front-runner.  Meanwhile, the two presumptive frontrunners — 12 Years A Slave and Gravity — had to make due with just being mentioned in the NBR’s Top Ten list.  Also, it’s interesting to note that the NBR totally snubbed American Hustle which, just yesterday, was named best film of the year by the NYCC.

Despite the impression that one might get from a lot of breathless film bloggers (like me, to cite just one example), winning a critic’s prize does not automatically translate into Academy recognition.  It’ll be interesting to see if the acclaimed but reportedly offbeat Her manages to turn the NBR prize into Oscar momentum.

BEST PICTURE
“Her”

BEST DIRECTOR
Spike Jonze, “Her”

BEST ACTOR
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

BEST ACTRESS
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will Forte, “Nebraska”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Joel and Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST ENSEMBLE
“Prisoners”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Wind Rises”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 
“The Past”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Stories We Tell”

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Career collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCES
Adele Exarchopoulos, “#Blue is the Warmest Colo#r”
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”

DEBUT DIRECTOR
Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station”

CREATIVE INNOVATION IN FILMMAKING 
“Gravity”

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
“Wadjda”

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“12 Years a Slave”
“Fruitvale Station”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Lone Survivor”
“Nebraska”
“Prisoners”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Beyond the Hills”
“Gloria”
“The Grandmaster”
“A Hijacking”
“The Hunt”

BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“20 Feet from Stardom”
“The Act of Killing”
“After Tiller”
“Casting By”
“The Square”

BEST INDEPENDENT FILMS (alphabetical)
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“In a World…”
“Mother of George”
“Much Ado About Nothing”
“Mud”
“The Place Beyond the Pines”
“Short Term 12”
“Sightseers”
“The Spectacular Now”

The NYFCC Honors American Hustle


Oscar season has begun!  This afternoon, The New York Films Critics Circle announced their picks for the best of 2013.  Fortunately, I had the office to myself so I was able to follow along online.  Here are the winners and a few random thoughts:

BEST PICTURE
“American Hustle”

(This is something of a surprise, no?  Most award watchers were expecting 12 Years a Slave to pretty much sweep all of the critics’ awards.  It will be interesting to see if American Hustle does with the other critic groups but, for now, it seems like American Hustle has taken a major step forward to scoring a best picture nomination.)

BEST DIRECTOR
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

(This was much more expected.)

BEST ACTOR
Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

(Ditto.  I recently saw All Is Lost.  It’s interesting to note that Redford has only a few more lines than Jean Dujardin in The Artist.)

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

(Deserved and expected.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers’ Club”

(I haven’t seen this one yet but I hope to soon.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

(I was kind of surprised how angry some people on twitter got over Lawrence’s victory.  However, from my own personal experience, being intelligent, talented, and pretty really brings out the haters..)

BEST SCREENPLAY
“American Hustle”

(A lot of people on twitter were upset over this.  I haven’t seen American Hustle yet so I can’t judge.)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

(This was the award that managed to tick off thousands of Gravity fans.  Don’t get me wrong — I liked Gravity.  But some of the pro-Gravity people actually make the pro-Avatar people look calm and collected.)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
“The Wind Rises”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Blue is the Warmest Color”

(I agree.)

BEST NON-FICTION FEATURE
“Stories We Tell”

(I agree.)

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“Fruitvale Station”

(And, for a third time, I agree.)

One final note — unlike the Academy, in which a simple majority determines the winner, the NYFCC awards were determined by consensus and, as a result, several of the categories apparently required multiple ballots before a winner was agreed upon.  As such, some of the winners listed above are definitely compromise picks.

Myself, I still have to see a lot of the potential Oscar nominees — including 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, and Dallas Buyers Club.  However, for now, my favorite film of 2013 remains Upstream Color.

Here Are The Winners of the 2013 Gotham Awards


Inside-Llewyn-Davis(1)

The Gotham Awards were awarded earlier tonight.  Here are the winners:

X = Winner

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave”
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
“Before Midnight”
X – “Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Upstream Color”

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis”
X – Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford in “All Is Lost”
Isaiah Washington in “Blue Caprice”

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”
Scarlett Johansson in “Don Jon”
X – Brie Larson in “Short Term 12”
Amy Seimetz in “Upstream Color”
Shailene Woodley in “The Spectacular Now”

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings
Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight
X – Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station”
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
Robin Weigert in “Concussion”

BEST BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
X – Ryan Coogler for “Fruitvale Station”
Adam Leon for “Gimme the Loot”
Alexandre Moors for “Blue Caprice”
Stacie Passon for “Concussion”
Amy Seimetz for “Sun Don’t Shine”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
X – “The Act of Killing”
“The Crash Reel”
“First Cousin Once Removed”
“Let the Fire Burn”
“Our Nixon”

The Gothams themselves are not considered to be that strong of a precursor to the Oscars.  However, 12 Years A Slave has been so widely perceived as being such a lock for Best Picture that any time it loses to another film, it’s going to be noticed.

It’s The 2014 Independent Spirit Nominations!


46-frances-ha

The nominees for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards were announced earlier today.  While the Spirit noms aren’t exactly the most accurate of Oscar precursors (and the rules of Indie Spirit Awards are pretty much specifically designed to honor the type of low-budget films that are often ignored by the Academy), more than a few of the Spirit nominees are usually remembered when the Oscar nominations are announced.

The winners will be announced, by Patton Oswalt, on March 1st.

Myself, I’m just happy to see Frances Ha and Upstream Color’s Shane Carruth nominated.

Best Feature:
“12 Years a Slave”
“All Is Lost”
“Frances Ha”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Nebraska”

Best Director:
Shane Carruth, “Upstream Color”
J.C. Chandor, “All is Lost”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Jeff Nichols, “Mud”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Best Screenplay:
Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater, “Before Midnight”
Nicole Holofcener, “Enough Said”
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, “The Spectacular Now”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Female Lead:
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
Gaby Hoffman, “Crystal Fairy”
Brie Larson, “Short Term 12″
Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”

Best Male Lead:
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

Best Supporting Female:
Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Yolonda Ross, “Go for Sisters”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Best Supporting Male:
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Will Forte, “Nebraska”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Keith Stanfield, “Short Term 12”

Best First Feature:
“Blue Caprice”
“Concussion”
“Fruitvale Station”
“Una Noche”
“Wadjda”

Best First Screenplay:
“In a World,” Lake Bell
“Don Jon,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt
“Nebraska,” Bob Nelson
“Afternoon Delight,” Jill Soloway
“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” Michael Starrbury

John Cassavetes Award:
“Computer Chess”
“Crystal Fairy”
“Museum Hours”
“Pit Stop”
“This Is Martin Bonner”

Best Cinematography:
Sean Bobbit, “12 Years a Slave”
Benoit Debie, “Spring Breakers”
Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Frank G. DeMarco, “All Is Lost”
Matthias Grunsky, “Computer Chess”

Best Editing:
Shane Carruth & David Lowery, “Upstream Color”
Jem Cohen & Marc Vives, “Museum Hours”
Jennifer Lame, “Frances Ha”
Cindy Lee, “Una Noche”
Nat Sanders, “Short Term 12”

Best Documentary:
“20 Feet From Stardom”
“After Tiller”
“Gideon’s Army”
“The Act of Killing”
“The Square”

Best International Film:
“A Touch of Sin”
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”
“Gloria”
“The Great Beauty”
“The Hunt”

Robert Altman Award (given to a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)
“Mud”

Piaget Producers Award:
Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnston
Jacob Jaffke
Andrea Roa
Frederick Thornton

Someone to Watch Award:
“My Sister’s Quinceanera,” Aaron Douglas Johnston
“Newlyweeds,” Shake King
“The Foxy Merkins,” Madeline Olnek

Truer Than Fiction Award:
“A River Changes Course,” Kalvanee Mam
“Let the Fire Burn,” Jason Osder
“Manakamana,” Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez

The Oscar Season Begins With The Gotham Nominations!


UpstreamColor_KrisJeffEscalator_3000x1277

Can you guess what my favorite time of year is?

If you guessed November, you’re right!  My birthday is on November 9th, our own Dazzling Erin’s birthday is on November 24th, and then Arleigh’s birthday is on November 27th!  November is a big month here at the Shattered Lens.

My second favorite time of year?  October, of course!  How can you go wrong with so much horror?

And then, of course, my third favorite time of year is December because that’s when I get most of my presents.

Along with being my favorite three months of the year, another thing that all three of those months have in common is that they comprise what is known as Oscar Season.  Oscar Season is the period of time when the majority of the Best Picture contenders are released and all of the critic groups give out their awards in the hope of influencing the Academy’s nominations.  I love movies and I love awards so how can I not love Oscar Season?

Well, I’m happy to say that Oscar Season officially began earlier today when the nominations for the 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced.  The Gotham nominations aren’t exactly the best precursor of what’s going to be nominated in January but, nonetheless, they usually manage to include at least a few legitimate contenders.

This year, for example, Oscar front-runner 12 Years A Slave managed to collect the most Gotham nominations.  Personally, I’m just happy to see that my favorite film of 2013, Upstream Color, collected two nominations.

The Gothams will be awarded on December 2nd.

Here are the nominations:

Best Feature

12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, producers. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

David Lowery, director; Tony Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Amy Kaufman, Cassian Elwes, producers (IFC Films)

Before Midnight

Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Sara Woodhatch, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Inside Llewyn Davis

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)

Upstream Color

Shane Carruth, director; Shane Carruth, Casey Gooden, Ben LeClair, producers. (erbp)

 

Best Documentary

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)

The Crash Reel

Lucy Walker, director; Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker, producers (HBO Documentary Films)

First Cousin Once Removed

Alan Berliner, director and producer (HBO Documentary Films)

Let the Fire Burn

Jason Osder, director and producer (Zeitgeist Films)

Our Nixon

Penny Lane, director; Brian L. Frye, Penny Lane, producers (Cinedigm and CNN Films)

 

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)

Adam Leon for Gimme the Loot (Sundance Selects)

Alexandre Moors for Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)

Stacie Passon for Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)

Amy Seimetz for Sun Don’t Shine (Factory 25)

 

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)

Robert Redford in All Is Lost (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)

Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)

 

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)

Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon (Relativity Media)

Brie Larson in Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)

Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color (erbp)

Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now (A24)

 

Breakthrough Actor

Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics)

Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight (The Film Arcade and Cinedigm)

Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)

Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Robin Weigert in Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)

5-17-13-Upstream-Color

Film Review: Fruitvale Station (dir by Ryan Coogler)


On January 1st, 2009, a young man named Oscar Grant was executed in Oakland, California.  Grant was returning home from celebrating the New Year’s in San Francisco when he and several other young black man were pulled off a train by the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police.  According to the police, Grant had been involved in a fight on the train.  In a moment that was recorded by several cell phones (and later broadcast across the world), Grant was shot in the back by a BART policeman.  According to the police, Grant had been resisting arrest and his executioner had meant to use his taser but had grabbed his gun by mistake.

The death of Oscar Grant made the news even down here in Texas and I can still remember discussing it with my friends.  As a bunch of good, white liberals (and yes, believe it or not, I was once a little bit liberal, though even back then I was, at heart, more of a civil libertarian than anything else), we were all properly outraged by what happened.  At one point, I declared that this proved that police hide behind the power of their tasers.  We all agreed that it was a terrible thing that had happened and that the cop involved needed to be held responsible.

Only recently did I realize that, even as fashionably outraged as me and my friend were and even though we did feel that this was a classic case of police overreactions, we also automatically assumed that the cop was telling the truth when he said that he meant to grab for his taser.  For all of our righteous indignation, we — as a bunch of white people who had spent most of our time living in white neighborhoods and white towns — still had a hard time accepting the idea that a white police officer had intentionally executed a black man.  As outraged as we were, we were assumed that we were angry about an aberration.  As such, we assumed that the shooter would be held responsible and we went on with our comfortably sheltered lives.  Needless to say, we were incredibly naive.  While the death of Oscar Grant made national news, it made far less news when the man who shot him was eventually sentenced to only two years in prison.  (He was paroled after 8 months.)

I’ve been thinking about Oscar Grant (and the way that my friends and I initially reacted to the news reports of his death) ever since I saw Fruitvale Station, a devastating independent film that also marks the directorial debut of Ryan Coogler.

Starting in the early morning hours and ending in the first hours of 2009, Fruitvale Station follows Oscar Grant (played, in an award-worthy performance by Michael B. Jordan) as he lives the final day of his life.  In between doing such every day things as buying a birthday card for his mother (played, in a luminous performance, by the great Octavia Spencer) and picking up his daughter from daycare, Oscar worries about how he’s going to pay his rent and struggles against the temptation to return to his former life of dealing drugs.

While we watch the film knowing what Oscar doesn’t — that this is the last day of his life — the film itself manages to be a lot more than just a recreation of a tragic event.  There’s a vibrancy and sense of hope to the scenes where Oscar drives through Oakland or hangs out with his family.  That vibrancy makes the film’s inevitable conclusion all the more powerful and devastating.

As for the actual shooting, Fruitvale Station leaves it to the audience to decide whether Oscar was intentionally executed or if he was shot by a cop who thought he was holding a taser.  As the cop who shot Oscar, Chad Michael Murray is only on-screen for a split second.  As the other cop on the scene, Kevin Durand (who played Martin Keamy on Lost) shouts and bullies as only Kevin Durand can do.  If the film leaves it ambiguous about whether or not Oscar was intentionally shot, it’s not ambiguous about the fact that Oscar was killed because, as a black man, he was automatically viewed as being a potential threat by the white police officers.  Whether the intention was to tase him or to shoot him, the ultimate goal was to reassert the authority of the police.

As Fruitvale Station makes clear, the shooting was both an individual tragedy and a piece of the larger tragedy that’s still being played out across this country.   The film’s triumph is that it makes Oscar Grant into both a compelling individual and a powerful symbol of the struggle that many Americans face as they try to survive under a system that’s been designed to keep them down.

So, have you seen Fruitvale Station?  If you haven’t, you need to.  It’s one of the best films of 2013.