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I feel like I'm in an unusually good position to comment on the Academy Awards this year, since I've seen every film nominated for a major award except for August: Osage County, which just doesn't seem like my cup of tea. (And man, has it been a great fall and winter for movies, after one of the worst summers ever.) Not that my predictions will be correct, since this is all a matter of taste. But here are my best guesses at the likely winners, plus the votes I would cast in the major categories.

Best Picture
Will win: Either 12 Years A Slave or American Hustle
I'd vote for: Probably Gravity, though I'd be tempted to vote for Nebraska

Best Actor
Will win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer Club
I'd vote for: Matthew McConaughey … it was an fully realized and totally nuanced performance.

Best Actress
Will win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
I'd vote for: Judi Dench for Philomena

Best Supporting Actor
Will win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
I'd vote for: Jared Leto … another astonishing performance in an exceptional film.

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
I'd vote for: Probably June Squibb for Nebraska, but I have no issue with a Nyong'o win.

Best Director
Will win: Alfonso Cuaron, for Gravity
I'd vote for: Alfonso Cuaron

Best Original Screenplay
Will win: American Hustle
I'd vote for: Her or Nebraska or Dallas Buyers Club (I can't make up my mind … I just hope they don;t give the award to Blue Jasmine)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will win: 12 Years A Slave
I'd vote for: Philomena

MNB will have a recap on Monday…




It won't be winning any awards, but I also want to pass along my opinion of 3 Days To Kill the new entrant in the "middle aged, world-weary guy finds himself in a foreign city having to beat up and kill people for a good cause genre, starring Kevin Costner in the role that normally would be played these days by Liam Neeson. (He played the same kind of role in only slightly different movies such as Taken, Taken 2, and "Unknown.)

Costner plays a CIA killer-for-hire who finds himself in Paris with dual responsibilities - he has to kill a dangerous terrorist while simultaneously having to reconnect with the teenaged daughter he's lost touch with because of the demands of his job. The clock is ticking on both … and I think it is fair to say that the movie is pretty ludicrous. And, as it happens, lots of fun, mostly because Costner brings movie star charm and charisma to the role.

I can best explain my reaction to the movie this way: There is a semi-elaborate set piece in the film in which Costner, on a bicycle, has to take out two enormous SUVs and a bunch of bodyguards, while kidnapping a terrorist's bookkeeper. Watching the whole thing unfold from a nearby bus is a small boy who, when it is over, claps his hands in delight.

I sort of felt like that boy.

And I'll probably feel much the same way tomorrow night when I go to see Non-Stop, an airplane-in-jeopardy thriller starring … you guessed it … Liam Neeson.

Can't wait.

(One of the reasons I think I like these movies is that from time to time, while sitting around the dinner table, my kids have advanced the theory that, in fact, I am an assassin. They can't imagine that being the "Content Guy" is a real job, plus I travel a lot by myself, and they suggest that while I may say that I'm in Chicago, who is to say that I'm not actually in Paris killing terrorists? This is not the case, of course, though I admire their imaginations and appreciate their belief in my non-existent abilities. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it…)




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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