Come to the Magnolia tonight and see me predict the Oscars

OscarsNow, I am the first to admit that I do not always accurately predict all 24 Oscar categories every year. Take last year — I only got 23 right. You heard me. I have seen virtually every nominated film, and I will be weighing in on the likely winners as part of a panel discussion at the Magnolia Theatre tonight (Monday), starting at 7 p.m. It’s free, and you’re all invited to see me gues…. I mean, predict the outcome of the gay Super Bowl this Sunday. There will even be some trivia and maybe some giveaways…. And come ready to stump me with your trivia questions!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar nomination reward Texans, and there’s even some gay stuff

Boyhood Still7

‘Boyhood’

Two Texas filmmakers — Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater — continue their march to Oscar gold with the Academy Award nominations, which were announced this morning. In addition to their films (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, pictured, respectively), Birdman and the gay-centric Imitation Game were among the major nominees.

Budapest tied Birdman with the top number of noms — nine each — including best picture and director. Boyhood managed the same, with six nominations.

Imitation Game, about the gay English mathematician Alan Turing, received eight nods, including one for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Foxcatcher managed five nominations, including one for Steve Carell playing creepy-gay billionaire John DuPont. Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, the gay couple who used to do porn films, saw Julianne Moore, the star of their film Still Alice, get a best actress nomination. Selma got only two nominations, for best picture and best song. That means Guardians of the Galaxy got more noms that MLK, Jr. Lesbian filmmaker Laura Poitras was shortlisted for her amazing documentary Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden and the NSA.

A full list is below:

PictureBirdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Whiplash.

DirectorAlejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher.

Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game;  Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper.

ActressJulianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night.

Supporting actorJ.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Robert Duvall, The Judge.

Supporting actressPatricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods.

Original screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; Grand Budapest; Nightcrawler; Foxcatcher.

Adaptation screenplay: Imitation GameWhiplash; Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Inherent Vice.

Cinematography: Birdman; Budapest; Unbroken; Mr. Turner; Ida.

Film editing: Boyhood; Imitation; American Sniper; Budapest; Whiplash.

Score: Imitation; Theory; Budapest; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Song: “Glory,” Selma; “Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie; “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights; “Lost Stars,” Begin Again; “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

Sound mixing: Birdman; Sniper; Interstellar; Whiplash; Unbroken.

Sound editingThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Sniper; Birdman; Interstellar; Unbroken.

Production design: Into the Woods; Budapest; Imitation; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Costume design: Grand Budapest; Into the Woods; Maleficent; Inherent Vice; Mr. Turner.

VFX: Guardians of the Galaxy; Interstellar; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Makeup: Guardians; Foxcatcher; Budapest.

Documentary featureCitizenfour; Finding Vivien Meier; Last Days in Vietnam; Virunga; The Salt of the Earth.

Animated feature: Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Song of the Sea; The Tale of Princess Kayuga.

Foreign language filmTangerines; Ida; Leviathan; Timbuktu; Wild Tales.

Live action shortAya; Boogaloo and Graham; Parvaneh; The Phone Call; Butter Lamp.

Animated short: The Bigger Picture; The Dam Keeper; Feat; Me and My Moulton; A Single Life.

Documentary short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1; Joanna; The Reaper; Our Curse; White Earth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Preview: Oscar nominations are tomorrow, and here are my predictions

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Birdman is a hotly fancied contender

The Golden Globes are barely cold (well, they are probably always cold) and it’s already time for the Oscar nominations, which will be announced tomorrow. There are always surprise snubs and inclusions, but if you’re up for an office pool, here’s my educated prediction for the major categories. Just don’t blame me if you lose $5.

Picture. The rules now permit from six to ten nominations, with nine being the usual figure, so here are a list of a dozen films that should make up the final list: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Gone Girl; Whiplash; Unbroken; Foxcatcher; Wild.

Director: Best director will surely be culled from the best picture finalists, so look for some of these directors match their films’ nominations. Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Ava DuVernay, Selma; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; James Marsh, Theory; David Fincher, Gone Girl; Clint Eastwood, American Sniper.

Actor: Once more, a strong year, led by these five (and a few spoilers): Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; David Oyelowo, Selma; plus Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Ralph Fiennes, Budapest.

Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Jennifer Aniston, Cake; plus Emily Blunt, Into the Woods; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; Amy Adams, Big Eyes.

Supporting Actor: A great category, led by: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; with the final spot a toss up for Tom Wilkinson, Selma; Raz Ahmed, Nightcrawler; Robert Duvall, The Judge; and Miyavi, Unbroken.

Supporting Actress: Not a very deep bench, but the likely nominees were all excellent: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods; Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; and Rene Russo, Nightcrawler.

I’ll post the actual nominees here Thursday morning!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Exclusive: Conversation with Jared Leto

Last fall, just as Dallas Buyers Club was being released, I spoke with Jared Leto about the character he played, transgender AIDS patient Rayon, and what the role meant to him. Now that he has won an Oscar, it seems appropriate to revisit it. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Dallas Voice: Before you took on the movie, what did you know about AIDS buyers clubs? Jared Leto: I wasn’t aware of them at all, and I think that’s one of the fascinating things taking a look at a quintessential American story. I think it is a classic American story: A group of people, fighting for what they believe in. There’s a lot to learn there. AIDS has affected so many of us, and it’s time to take a look at this story at a time when healthcare and getting proper access to it [is so important]. I did my research about the buyers clubs, but I wanted to know Matthew’s Ron, too. That made the most sense to me — to know the Ron Matthew created and live in that reality.

How did you prepare for the role?  I started at the very beginning, and the beginning for me was listening. I met with transgender people, and they shared their stories with me — stories about transitioning and stories about telling their parents who they were and are. I learned so much about the physical, the emotional, the ability to overcome great challenges. About having a sense of humor. Some levity is essential.

Dallas2Your best scene, I think, is where you put on men’s clothes to visit your father … I was in character the entire time [we were filming], so when I finally wasn’t wearing women’s clothing — the only day on the entire shoot — that’s when  I felt like I was in drag. I felt very vulnerable. I didn’t have the armor: the heels, the makeup, the wigs. It was a very intense scene. Very emotional, where I am saying goodbye to my father.

Have you ever done anything similar to this?  It was the type of role where you dive in 1,000 percent. This is the first time I played anything remotely close to this kind of character. It was a fascinating journey. [Rayon] was fun and funny, sweet and kind — a huge heart and quick to love and be loved.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar recap: Winners and losers onstage and the red carpet

McConaughey rocked a white dinner jacket.Gravity apparently lacked gravitas last night, for while the special effects extravaganza won the most Oscars — seven in all, including best director for Alfonso Cuaron — best picture went to the slavery biopic 12 Years a Slave, giving Brad Pitt his first Oscar … as a producer. Director-coproducer Steve McQueen also made history as the first black man to win a best picture Oscar. It was a close one — 12 Years and Gravity were my No. 1 and No. 2 film, respectively, of 2013.

This was a weird repeat of last year, when best picture winner Argo took three awards, but not the most awards, with Life of Pi taking, interesting, four of the same Gravity won (director, special effects, score and cinematography). So far, no Oscar for best picture has ever gone to a film released in 3-D or IMAX format.

The other big winner of the night was Dallas Buyers Club, which won three of its six nominations, including best actor to native Texan Matthew McConaughey and best supporting actor to Jared Leto. Cate Blanchett, as predicted, won best actress for the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine. Overall, it was a fairly predictable lineup of winners. (Strangely, five of the best picture nominees, including three nominated for best director, walked away entirely empty-handed.)

But it wasn’t just on the stage but on the red carpet that we saw the winners and losers. Our fashion guy J. Denton Bricker weighs in below with his best- and worst-dressed awards:

Denton’s best dressed:

CATE BLANCHETT

Blanchett, who won the entire awards season on the red carpet

Cate Blanchett — The best actress winner won again for her fashion choices, as she did throughout award season. Her fabulous nude dress adorned with ice/diamonds/crystals looked like something out of Frozen via Giorgio Armani. It was heavy but it looked so light and the chandelier earrings were a perfect balance. The girl worked those snowballs hard.

Lupita Nyong’o — The supporting actress winner wore an amazing yet simple duck-egg-blue dress, with a silver headband to make it looks all the more like a fierce Roman lady. Her acceptance speech was adorable and inspiring.

Charlize Theron — The prior Oscar winner looked divine and polished in a black gown by Dior that accentuates her curves in all the right way. The light straps give the illusion of strapless which give it a needed lightness on top.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE

Jennifer Lawrence, the lady in red.

Jennifer Lawrence — Last year’s best actress is becoming a fall expert as she fell over an orange cone getting out of the car; what a way to make an entrance and of course Ellen teased her about it. She looked gorgeous in bold, strapless red Christian Dior with blown back hair and simple accessories. She also wore a necklace that drapes in the back — she is working that trend.

Kate Hudson — She has laid the foundation for a comeback with this startling beautiful and fabulous, shimmering silver frock. K-Hud is open for business.

Amy Adams — She donned a striking, deep blue ’50s-inspired Gucci Couture gown with tangerine earrings that popped.

Honorable mentions:

Kerry Washington — She glowed in a lavender gown by Jason Woo but her dark lipstick was a bit severe.

Angelina Jolie — She looked voluptuous in a metallic sheer combination form fitting dress that showed the perfect amount of skin.

Anne Hathaway — She dazzled in a sleek in black Gucci with a glittering jeweled top.

Meryl Streep — The Oscar legend wore a forgettable white/black ensemble with a glittering belt but let’s be real, she can wear whatever the hell she wants. She could wear a burlap sack and no one would blink. Meryl is winning.

PENELOPE CRUZ

Cruz-in’ for a bruisin’ in the fashion blogs.

Denton’s worst dressed:

Naomi Watts — She looked crisp and clean in a white dress by Calvin Klein though somehow I can’t help but picture white lint balls all over it.

Julia Roberts — The pretty woman wore an edgy black lace gown that was pretty but just wasn’t memorable.

Sally Hawkins — A nominee this year, she  looked like Diane Keaton from Father of the Bride, which was fine in 1990 but in 2014 looks ridiculous and way too big.

Penelope Cruz — She wore a wrinkled pale pink sheet cinched at the waist by a black bow and she struggled with it on the red carpet.

Lady Gaga — Three words: Gay Chrysler Building.

Jennifer Garner — This just didn’t work. I want to like it because I like her but I just don’t know if four different rows of silver fringe really belong at the Oscars. 

Leto, dressed as a man, was defiantly dapper.The Men:

Jared Leto — He kept it fresh with a white jacket with a wine colored bow tie. I love the ombre of his hair.

Matthew McConaughey — He handsomely coordinated with Leto, also wearing a white jacket but was “dirty but in a good way,” as Ellen quipped.

Joseph Gordon Levitt — He was really dapper in a black form fitting tux complete with bow tie.

Chris Hemsworth — Last but not least, Thor rocked a hot maroon jacket.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

My Oscar picks!

Dallas-buyers-clubMy picks for the Oscar winners — first the likely winner, then the possible spoiler (an * indicates what I would vote for, if someone gave me a ballot).

Watch the Oscars Sunday at 6 p.m. on ABC, with host Ellen DeGeneres.

Picture: *12 Years a Slave; Gravity.

Director: *Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave.

Actor: *Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Bruce Dern, Nebraska.

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; *Judi Dench, Philomena.

Supporting Actor: *Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Barkhad Abdi, Capt. Phillips.

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle (*June Squibb, Nebraska).

Original Screenplay: *Her; American Hustle.

Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave; Capt. Phillips (*Philomena).

Cinematography: *Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis.

Film Editing: *Gravity; Capt Phillips.

Production Design: *The Great Gatsby; Her.

Costume Design: *The Great Gatsby; 12 Years a Slave.

Original Score: *Gravity; Philomena.

Original Song: *“Let It Go,” Frozen; “Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Sound Mixing: Gravity; *Inside Llewyn Davis.

Sound Editing: *Gravity; Capt. Phillips.

Visual Effects: *Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Makeup/Hairstyling: *Dallas Buyers Club.

Foreign Language Film: The Great BeautyThe Hunt (*Omar).

Animated Feature Film: Frozen; *The Wind Rises.

Documentary Feature Film: The Act of Killing; *The Square.

Live Action Short Film: *Helium; That Wasn’t Me.

Animated Short Film: *Room on the Broom; Get a Horse!

Documentary Short Film: The Lady in No. 6; Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Pvt. Jack Hall

(*Facing Fear — about a gay bashing).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEWS: ‘Omar,’ ‘The Wind Rises’

The Oscars are this Sunday, and you have a chance to see two of the nominees beforehand at the Angelika: The Wind Rises (nominated for best animated feature) and Omar (nominated for best foreign language film). Both are worth your time.

THE WIND RISESThe Wind Rises is the latest from Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese anime expert of Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle. To be honest, I’ve always found Miyazaki’s style a bit strained and abstract, not always in good ways. But The Wind Rises may be the culmination of his union of fantasy and realism. Set during the 1930s and ’40s, it tells the true story of Jiro Horikoshi (dubbed in English-language versions by Joseph Gordon-Levitt; it’s also shown with subtitles), an aeronautics engineer who designed Japan’s Zero fighter, the revolutionary long-range aircraft responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. That’s a fact never mentioned in the film, and probably for good reason: Romanticizing the architect of the nastiest assault on America until 9/11 might not play in the heartland, but like Das Boot (the film that showed a sympathetic side to German U-boat inductees), it paints a human portrait of an artist.

Yes, artist, because in Miyazaki’s world, anyone committed to perfection the way Jiro was deserves respect for putting his soul into his work. Jiro, physically incapable of flying himself, lives in the air vicariously through his planes. It makes for a touching portrait of a man who, like Robert Oppenheimer and the folks with the Manhattan Project, did something with passion without regard for what it would ultimately be used for.

The style of the artwork, in traditional anime, is detailed and mostly hand-drawn — a throwback to the pre-Pixar days. After what we know CGI can do, it takes a few minutes to become accustomed to the rich simplicity of the style, but that’s part of the joy in discovering a movie like this.

37Omar (Adam Bakri) is handsome young Palestinian, radicalized by the oppressive occupation by Israelis. When Omar and his friend Tarek plan an attack that kills an Israeli soldier, Omar gets captured and — through the kind of offensive legal trickery that should anger most Westerners (where “I won’t confess” is legally the same as a confession) — he’s conscripted into spying on his friends.

Omar is a political thriller, a cat-and-mouse drama and a love story that balances all of its components masterfully. The scenes of torture are amazingly brutal and even more unjust, the tender moments palpably loving and the twists and turns complex but exciting. Director Hany Abu-Assad, whose 2005 film Paradise Now was also nominated for an Oscar, knows how to stage foot chases like he’s auditioning for a Bourne sequel, but it’s the humanity of the film, and Bakri’s focused, passionate performances, that makes it more than just a genre picture.

Both now playing at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

See me Friday on ‘Good Day’ giving my Oscar predictions

ELLEN DEGENERESAs any good gay knows, Sunday night the Oscars are on ABC, and this year is about as gay as it gets: Ellen DeGeneres hosting, and Dallas Buyers Club a shoo-in for a category or two. So who will win?

Well, you don’t have to wait until Sunday to find you — just tune into Good Day on Ch. 4, KDFW Friday morning between 8:15 and 8:45 a.m. That’s when I’ll be making my triumphant return to the studio (I was the film critic for Good Day for a few years in the 1990s) to make my Oscar predictions.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ scores big with Oscar noms, ‘Gravity,’ ‘Hustle’ lead pack

Dallas6Dallas Buyers Club — which was a cover story for us, because it deals with a momentous time in the history of AIDS in Dallas and the U.S. — scored big at the Oscar nominations announcement this morning, taking six nominations including best picture, best actor Matthew McConaughey and best supporting actor Jared Leto. It is the apparent frontrunner in the acting categories, has an uphill battle for best picture, as Gravity and American Hustle won 10 nominations apiece, and 12 Years a Slave has nine.

McConaughey has momentum, but he’s hardly a lock, with best actor among the most competitive categories in recent years. The four other nominees — Hustle‘s Christian Bale, Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern and The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Leonardo DiCaprio — all turning in career-best performances. That left no room for Robert Redford, Idris Elba, Tom Hanks and many other excellent actors in 2013.

The best actress list was more predictable, with the four sure-things — Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Judi Dench in Philomena and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County — being joined by wild card Amy Adams of American Hustle. This is Adams’ first leading actress nomination but her fifth over all; she has never won and is up against four previous winners.

The five best director nominees all led best picture nominees (Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave, David O. Russell, Hustle; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street; Alexander Payne, Nebraska), which leaves four best picture nominees (Dallas Buyers Club, Capt. Phillips, Her and Philomena) pretty much in the lurch — it’s rare that a film without a director nomination wins best pic. However, the last time it happened was just last year, with Argo, so there’s hope.

There were some notable snubs other than in the best actor category. The documentary God Loves Uganda by gay filmmaker Roger Ross Williams was overlooked, as was the Cannes favorite, the lesbian romance Blue is the Warmest Color.

All the nominees are after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Oscar scorecard: Your cheat sheet

ARGO

‘Argo’ is the unlikely frontrunner for best picture.

For years, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has tried to add some drama to the Oscarcast — hard, since by the time Oscar night rolls around, so many other groups have presented their awards, few surprises remain.

Well, this year, they finally may have achieved their goal — if for the wrong reasons.

With nine films nominated for best picture, but only five nominated for best director, there were bound to be some shut-outs, but the snubs of directors Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Top Hooper (Les Miserables) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) — all prior Oscar winners — in favor or two newcomers sent predictions into a tailspin. Add to that the continuing success of Argo in best picture competitions (Golden Globes and BAFTAs; the Screen Actors Guild’s equivalent, best ensemble) and Affleck’s own victory as director, not only is Argo the unlikely frontrunner for best picture, there is no frontrunner for best director.

So what’s gonna happen?

That’s what the Academy hoped you’d ask.

When the world goes upside down like this, almost anything is possible — especially in the best actress category, which is wide open, and best supporting actor, which looks like a two-man race but which could allow a spoiler. Here are your best bets to win the office Oscar pool (the Oscars will be presented Sunday night, broadcast on ABC):

NOTE: If you wanna challenge yourself with Oscar trivia from me, I’ll be hosting a show Sat., Feb. 23 on Facebook’s Hollywood Babylon fan site starting at 1 p.m. Central!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones