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ON FILM

Our panelists make annual Oscar picks

By Philip Martin

This article was published February 28, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

The 86th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday night. As is our custom, we’ve assembled some highly invested industry observers and award mavens to help you - yes, you, dear reader - win your Oscar night party pool. (I’ve disqualified myself from picking this year, because I do guessing badly.)

One format change this year: To save valuable space, we’ll be publishing comments and supplemental information supplied by our panelists online at www.blooddirtangels.com. These are all picks to win - not opinions on who should win. That’ll go on the blog. (Except for Karen Martin, who says, “My choices reflect the films I wish and hope will win, not necessarily the films I think will win.”)

This year’s panel:

Levi Agee (LA) - Screengems columnist, filmmaker and programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival; Sam Blair (SB), retired Central High School college counselor, our resident armchair critic and a frequent contributor to our Blood, Dirt & Angels blog; Jennifer Boulden (JB), “writer, interactive marketing strategist, PR person, and incorrigible Oscar geek”; Danny-Joe Crofford (DJC), the marketing and events director of War Memorial Stadium; Dan Lybarger (DL), critic and frequent Movie-Style contributor and “Karl Rove … would-be Nate Silver of movie pundits”; Karen Martin (KM), MovieStyle founder and editor of the Democrat-Gazette’s Sunday Perspective section; Piers Marchant (PM), a critic and frequent MovieStyle contributor; Jonathan Nettles (JN), the film critic for KHTV, who really enjoys it when he’s recognized in public; our copy-desk chief and invaluable font of cinematic history, Joe Riddle (Joe); Movies in the Park founder Blake Rutherford (BR); film director Jay (My Dog Skip, The Water Horse) Russell (JR), formerly of North Little Rock; and Wayne Stengel (WS), a professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, whose book on the critic Pauline Kael is scheduled to be published later this year.

BEST PICTURE American Hustle - Joe

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity - LA, JB, PM, JN, JR, WS

Her - KM

Nebraska

Philomena

12 Years a Slave - SB, DJC, DL, BR

The Wolf of Wall Street

Verdict: Gravity takes half the votes, but 12 Years a Slave seems strong.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Christian Bale (American Hustle)

Bruce Dern (Nebraska) - KM, Joe

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, PM, JN, BR,JR, WS

Verdict: The first of many chalk results. Bet against McConaughey at your own peril.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Amy Adams (American Hustle) - JB

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) - LA, SB, DJC, DL, PM, JN, Joe, BR, JR, WS

Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Judi Dench (Philomena) - KM

Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Verdict: Our panel obviously doesn’t anticipate a Woody Allen backlash.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) - PM

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) - Joe

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, KM, JN, BR, JR

Verdict: Leto walks over everyone.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) - KM, Joe

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, PM, JN, BR, JR, WS

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

June Squibb (Nebraska)

Verdict: It’s surprising that Lawrence didn’t show stronger.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest & Celestine

Frozen - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, JN, Joe, BR, JR, WS

The Wind Rises - KM

Verdict: Disney is just getting around to releasing The Wind Rises this week. So Frozen is a lock. (Piers Marchant abstains in this category because he hasn’t seen all the films.)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd) - PM

Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, JN, BR, JR, WS

Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel) - KM

Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael) - Joe

Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

Verdict: Easy call.

BEST DIRECTOR

American Hustle (David O. Russell) - KM

Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron) - LA, SB, JB, DL, PM, JN, Joe, BR, JR, WS

Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen) - DJC

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Verdict: Steve McQueen seems to have lost his early momentum.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing - LA, DL, Joe, BR

Cutie and the Boxer

Dirty Wars - KM

The Square - JB, DJC, JN, JR

20 Feet From Stardom - SB, WS

Verdict: Pick ’em. (Again Piers Marchant abstains in this category because he hasn’t seen all the films.)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium) - SB, DJC, JN, JR

The Great Beauty (Italy) - JB, BR, WS

The Hunt (Denmark) - LA, DL, KM, PM, Joe

The Missing Picture ( Cambodia)

Omar (Palestine)

Verdict: Pick ’em again. (Piers apparently has seen all of these.)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Gravity - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL, KM, PM, JN, Joe, BR, JR, WS

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Iron Man 3

The Lone Ranger

Star Trek Into Darkness

Verdict: The night’s biggest lock.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke) - PM

Captain Phillips (Billy Ray) - KM

Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope) - JN, JR, WS

12 Years a Slave (John Ridley) - LA, SB, JB, DJC, DL,Joe, BR

The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Verdict: The panel picks 12 Years a Slave. But not definitively.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell) - SB, KM, WS

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)

Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)

Her (Spike Jonze) - LA, JB, DJC, DL, PM, JN, Joe, BR, JR

Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

Verdict: One of the few categories with real suspense.

pmartin@arkansasonline.com

www.blooddirtangels.com

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 02/28/2014

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