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Hammerle on ... 'American Hustle' leads favorites for 2014 Oscars

Robert Hammerle
February 12, 2014
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bob hammerle movie reviewsThe Oscars take place March 2, so it’s time to humiliate myself and make predictions. Then again, what would cause you to place your money on the opinion of a criminal defense lawyer for God’s sake? My idol has always been Atticus Finch, and didn’t his innocent client get convicted in “To Kill a Mockingbird?”

BEST PICTURE – “American Hustle”

Simply stated, director David O. Russell had the rug pulled out from underneath him last year when his brilliant “Silver Linings Playbook” was ignored, and I can’t see them doing that to him two years in a row. Yes, “12 Years a Slave,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Gravity” are equally deserving, and no one would applaud more enthusiastically if “Nebraska” or “Philomena” won. Yet my instincts tell me that it has to go to Russell’s film.

BEST ACTOR – Chiwetel Ejiofor

This comes down to Matthew McConaughey’s performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” and Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave.” His gigantic performance should always remind you of what slavery was really like despite the loveable Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). The British-born son of Nigerian parents deserves this, and what a fine moment it would be.

BEST ACTRESS – Cate Blanchett

Though Ms. Blanchett’s character in “Blue Jasmine” was nearly as unlikeable as Leonardo DiCaprio’s loathsome character in “The Wolf of Wall Street, she made you reach the point where you almost cared for her, and I’ve got to think she will grab the prize. But don’t count out Amy Adams, who is lurking in the shadows with “American Hustle.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Jared Leto

This prize belongs to Leto. His only real competition is Barkhad Abdi, the beleaguered pirate in “Captain Phillips.” However, I think Leto’s portrayal of a dying transvestite in “Dallas Buyers Club” wins hands down.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – June Squibb

This award comes down to either Lupita Nyong’o for her heartbreaking performance in “12 Years a Slave” or Squibb as Bruce Dern’s ornery 84-year-old wife with an attitude in “Nebraska.” I really wish it could be a tie, but give it to Squibb.

BEST DIRECTOR – David O. Russell

Here’s to you, Russell. Again, you can’t leave him standing at the door for two spectacular works two years in a row.

ANIMATED FEATURE – “Frozen”

This one was as easy to pick as Leto for Best Supporting Actor.

FILM EDITING – “American Hustle”

I really don’t have the expertise to make a meaningful selection in this category, but history has tended to show that the Best Picture winner also wins the Oscar for film editing.

CINEMATOGRAPHY – “Gravity”

There is only one winner in this category, and it begins several awards for this spectacularly visual film.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – “20 Feet from Stardom”

A great story about backup singers told with provocative thoughts from Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and others. The backup singers in this sterling film deserve to be seen at the front of the stage. (Please ignore the sad fact that I haven’t seen the other nominees!)

COSTUME DESIGN – “American Hustle”

Our boys looked good in this film, but no one will ever forget the gowns worn by Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING – “Dallas Buyers Club”

Did you see the makeup and hairstyling done to Leto in his captivating performance? I did, and I would guess that even some of those adamant in their opposition to same-sex marriage secretly found him attractive.

VISUAL EFFECTS – “Gravity”

This is really a contest between “Gravity” and “The Hobbit: Deosolation of Smaug.” While it wouldn’t disappoint me at all to see “The Hobbit” win, the stunning visual effects in “Gravity” dealt with a reflection of reality, not fantasy. Alfonso Cuaron’s group deserves this Oscar.

ORIGINAL SCORE – “Gravity”

Whether it out-muscles “American Hustle” for the Best Picture Oscar, it has to be the favorite to take home the prize in this category.

ORIGINAL SONG – “Let It Go” from “Frozen”

This also should be a no-brainer.

PRODUCTION DESIGN – “Gravity”

The strength of this film is found in its visuals, and that has to begin with this category.

SOUND EDITING and SOUND MIXING – “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug”

Given the legitimate appeal of “Gravity,” I’m clearly going out on a limb here. However, I remember that director Peter Jackson’s team won in these two categories when they remade “King Kong” (2005). Let history repeat itself.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – “Her”

Though I still believe that its mistreatment of women made it a mistake to nominate “Her” for best picture, it clearly stands out in this category. Spike Jonze has written a unique script. Though Bob Nelson is right there with the incredibly engaging “Nebraska,” I think Jonze’s creative ingenuity carries the day despite its weaknesses.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – “12 Years a Slave”

The emotional effect and historical significance of “12 Years a Slave” can’t possibly be ignored.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM – “Get a Horse!”

Though the films in this category won’t reach Indianapolis until after my deadline, I’m going out on a limb and picking Disney’s very funny tale about Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they battle Pegleg Pete. If you’ve seen “Frozen,” you’ve already seen this inspired animated film as a lead-in.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM - Not here by deadline.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT - Not here at all!

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - ?

While Indianapolis has once again all but ignored foreign films, my biggest disappointment is that neither “Instructions Not Included” from Mexico and “Wajda” from Saudi Arabia are nominees. Maybe their homelands failed to submit them as potential nominations, but they remain extraordinary films that all of you should see. As noted in my earlier reviews, “Instructions Not Included” was the highest grossing Mexican film in the history of this country, and “Wajda” was the first film to be directed by a female Saudi director.

Regardless of who wins in this Oscar race, please remember to see “The Way, Way Back” and “Short Term 12.” To the extent that it matters, they remain two of my favorite films of 2013.•

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Robert Hammerle
practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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