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Seen all nine and I'm feelin' fine.
I cannot recall ever having been so prepared for Oscar night, at least not in the era of having between five and 46 nominees for Best Picture. Now, I won't be so presumptuous as to suggest that I possess some form of prognosticative power or knowledge of film that you do not, I'm just sayin', this year, in the absence of the late, great Roger Ebert, there's Richard Roeper and then there's me.
Actually, to quote Jeremy Piven in Season 5 of "Entourage," F**k Richard Roeper!
(Yo, Roepey, I'm just playin', homey; you know you my man. Speaking of which, holla at me, boy, I still wanna talk to you about that "Gossip Girl" finale. Can you believe it was Dan the whole time? I mean, Dan! Still blows my mind. Anyway, stop by the crib tonight and watch the 86th Academy Awards with me, and bring Piven if he's back in town. I still wanna apologize to him in person for that crack I made on Twitter about mercury in the craft-service-table sushi. Piven, you wanna hug it out? Let's hug it out, bitch.)
We still talking about Oscar-nominated movies here? Yes, we are. OK, let's get to it. Here are the official 2014 Whiskey Picks, which this year include both my official predictions as well as who would win if I had my druthers in the major categories.
- Official pick: "Gravity." Don't listen to the backlash. This year's Best Pic field was packed with outstanding films, and while it's a tight race with the classy, empathetic "12 Years a Slave," Alfonso Cuaron's space odyssey is that extremely rare movie you can actually feel advancing film by a decade as you watch it for the first time. (Plus it was f**king awesome.)
- If I had my druthers: "Her." This is the most original film in years, but beyond being the quirky new curiosity-of-the-month a la "Lars and the Real Girl," culturally, it's exactly the right film for exactly the right time in this age of our handheld devices doubling as social lives.
- Official pick: Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years a Slave." It truly is a masterful performance that keeps itself tastefully reined in even when it would be perfectly justifiable to just explode into a flurry of fury and maudlin sentiment.
- If I had my druthers: Matthew McConaughey for "Dallas Buyers Club." I am obsessed with the whole McConaissance thing as this pretty-boy-slash-serious-actor-turned-pretty-boy-paycheck-collector-for-some-of-the-most-indefensible-romcom-trash-of-all-time not only renews his thespian ghetto pass, but rocks an unprecedented string of top-notch performances, any one of which would've weaseled this studly chest-shaver back into my heart -- and in the span of only a year -- including "Mud," "Magic Mike" and "Dallas Buyers Club," and last but not least his 5-minute cameo in "The Wolf of Wall Street " for which I would've nominated him for Best Supporting Actor.
- Official pick: Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyers Club." Trust me, there's no one else in this field. The sometime Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman is both king and queen of this category for his eminently sympathetic portrayal of a sweet, brave, transgender man suffering from both HIV and drug addiction. It's a singular performance and I have nothing but superlatives and hyperbole with which to describe it.
- If I had my druthers: Jared Leto would win for "Dallas Buyers Club" any day of the week and twice on Sunday (which is today).
- Official pick: Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine." Woody Allen's refreshingly least-Woody-Allenish effort in years is a tour de force for the Aussie actress as a disgraced Ponzi-scam mob wife struggling to keep a hold on reality. (And mostly losing.)
- If I had my druthers: Judi Dench for "Philomena." This was a wonderful little film with limited Oscar potential, but Dench managed to make me deeply invested in someone so unflinchingly faithful that she could endure horrible injustices inflicted upon her by her church but still never lose optimism that the world is essentially good. (Seriously, Jude, you practically dared me to love this character.)
- Official pick: Lupita Nyong'o for "12 Years a Slave." You will feel her suffering every moment she is on screen. And she will make you hate humankind for this unspeakable part of its history. And possibly yourself. (In a constructive, introspective way.)
- If I had my druthers: Did I mention Lupita Nyong'o's turn in "12 Years a Slave" is so good it could make you hate yourself?
- Official pick: Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity" For such a big effects-heavy production, this film orbits around a remarkably intimate human story. There are great big-budget-extravaganza directors and great adult-drama directors, but it's rare to succeed at both -- and downright unique to do so in the same movie.
- If I had my druthers: I'd remain firmly planted with "Gravity"'s Alfonso Cuaron.
- "Frozen." This newer-fangled category is sorta bulls**t. If you release a major animated film in a given year, there are only so many of those, so you have like a 50/50 shot of snagging a nomination. And if you're Pixar or Disney (or both simultaneously, as if often the case) it's as certain as Los Angeles (luhh you guhl!) flipping its collective wig when it rains. Seriously, "The Croods"? "Despicable Me 2"? C'mon man.
- If I had my druthers: Anything but the big American studios' releases, worthy as "Frozen" may be, which in this case is either "Ernest & Celestine" or "The Wind Rises."
- Official pick: "Dirty Wars." The Nation's national-security correspondent was tired of consuming the Pentagon-controlled message from a secure location far from where the United States' War on Terror was being fought, so dude sacrificed any claim to personal safety and ventured out into these extremely dangerous zones to get the real story of what was going on. What he found should outrage every American who doesn't reflexively espouse the philosophy of "kill 'em all and let gawwwd sort 'em out" with regard to our activities in the Middle East. (It won't, of course. But it should.)
- If I had my druthers: "Cutie and the Boxer," a delightful, life-affirming, fly-on-the-wall peek into the lives of a New York City artist couple who make the struggle to live to create, and to create to live, an art form unto itself.
- CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Gravity"
- COSTUME DESIGN: "12 Years a Slave"
- DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
- FILM EDITING: "Gravity"
- FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "The Hunt"
- MAKEUP AND HAIR: "Dallas Buyers Club"
- ORIGINAL SCORE: "Gravity"
- ORIGINAL SONG: "Let it Go" from "Frozen"
- PRODUCTION DESIGN: "Gravity"
- ANIMATED SHORT: "Mr. Hublot"
- LIVE ACTION SHORT: "Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)"
- SOUND EDITING: "Gravity"
- VISUAL EFFECTS: "Gravity"
- ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "12 Years a Slave"
- ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "Her"