We are just about half way through the year.  The real Oscar race doesn’t begin to take shape until September/October.   We to don’t really know anything until the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Oscar bloggers speculate all year long. So let us speculate about Oscar contenders that were seen the first half of the year. I use the word “seen” because the Cannes films have not yet been released.

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INSIDE OUT: The best reviewed movie of the year so far with 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 93 on Metacritic add the Pixar factor and you have this best animated feature nominee and the likely winner. INSIDE OUT is the closest we have to a sure thing right now.

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD-One of the best reviewed movies of the year so far with 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some say that it will get a Best Picture nomination, but that is bit ambistious this early on.

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JURASSIC WORLD-If the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences wants to stay relevant and increase the ratings of the Oscar ceremony, they need to acknowledge the box office success of JURASSIC PARK. Even if only through best visual effects. At almost $400 million so far domestically and close to $1 billion worldwide it will soon take over as the highest money maker of the year over AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON.

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CAROL: Big hit out of Cannes.  The Weinstein Company is setting CAROL up to be a major player this season. Best Picture will be a difficult battle,but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara will be competing for best actress nominations.

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SON OF SAUL: Took home the Grand Prix award at Cannes. Just this week, Hungary was the first country to announce its official entry into the best foreign language film category for an Academy Award. This Holocaust story is sure to be recognized throughout awards season.

The Cannes Film Festival rarely influences the Oscar race. It does however give us a few movies to start the Oscar conversation. The movies with the most potential coming out of Cannes are:

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CAROL-Directed by Todd Haynes and stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (best actress winner in Cannes). Carol is set in 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman. Some alreaar. dy calling Mara to get the Best Actress nomination and possibly the win. It’s way too to early to start calling winners, but nineteen Best Actress winners from Cannes went on to get Oscar nominations. (4 have won).

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SON OF SAUL-(Hungary)-In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son. No way to tell if Son of Saul will be submitted or qualify for Best Foreign Language Film, but many predicted it to win the top prize, the Palme d’Or. Instead it took the runner up Grand Prize award. Holocaust movies tend to do well in the Foreign Language category.

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INSIDE OUT- This years Pixar movie. After a girl moves to a new home, her emotions are plunged into chaos as they compete for control of her mind. With strong reviews out of Cannes and the history Pixar has with Best Animated Feature wins, this is the only shoe in for a nomination so far.

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The 86th Academy Awards just wrapped up making history. 12 YEARS A SLAVE became the first film directed and produced by a black filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Picture. It won three awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This is the 19th time in 86 years that the Best Picture and Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron for GRAVITY) have split. While most were predicting the split, I was convinced that splits were rare and 12 YEARS A SLAVE didn’t have the support to win Best Picture. I am happy to be wrong. GRAVITY was no doubt the biggest technical achievement in filmmaking this year, but 12 YEARS A SLAVE is the better film. If there was ever a year for a split it was this one. GRAVITY won all the technical awards and 12 YEARS A SLAVE won Best Picture. Who can complain about that? Both films won what they deserved and how often does that happen?

GRAVITY did win seven Oscars Including Best Director Alfonso Cuaron.  He is the first Hispanic filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director.

AMERICAN HUSTLE, my least favorite of the nine nominees, went 0 for 10. Only THE COLOR PURPLE and THE TURNING POINT beat it by going 0 for 11. My favorite film WOLF OF WALL STREET also went home empty-handed after 5 nominations.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB tied with 12 YEARS A SLAVE with three Oscar wins. Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor and Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor. It also won for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Sorry Jackass fans, no Oscar for BAD GRANDPA.

No surprise that Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. She has dominated this category all year. Merly Streep has now lost a record 15 times winning only 3 out of the 18 times that she has been nominated.

The only real surprises were in the Best Animated Short and Best Documentary categories.  MR.HUBLOT some how beat out GET A HORSE for Animated Short and 20 FEET FROM STARDOM beat out the better THE ACT OF KILLING for Documentary.

All in all it was a good show. Ellen Degeneres knocked it out of the park. Unlike Seth MacFarland, she is comfortable on stage and didn’t have try too hard. There were a few awkward moments that can happen during any live show. At first the pizza bit seemed forced, but it ended up working. The group selfie also started off awkwardly, but ended up being re-tweeted over 2 million times. Becoming the most re-tweeted tweet ever. As of 2:06am EST. it is at 2,314,092 retweets and still going.

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Final Count:

GRAVITY- 7
Best Director, Alfonso Cuaron
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Score
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing
Best Visual Effects

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Best Picture
Best Supporting Actress, Lupita Nyongo
Best Adapted Screenplay

“Dallas Buyers Club” (3) – Focus Features
Best Actor, Matthew McConaughey
Best Supporting Actor, Jared Leto
Best Makeup & Hairstyling

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Best Animated Feature
Best Song

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Best Costume Design
Best Production Design

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Best Actress, Cate Blanchett

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Best Original Screenplay

Movies with multiple nominations that were shut out:
American Hustle (10)
Captain Phillips (6)
Nebraska (6)
The Wolf of Wall Street (5)
Philomena (4)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (3)

Regardless of which actors and actresses win on Sunday night, everyone has their own personal favorites. Here are some of mine:

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)

Leonardo Dicaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight) **spoiler***

Forest Whitaker (The Butler)

Sarah Paulson (12 Years A Slave)

Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

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The BAFTA awards air tonight at 10pm EST on BBC America.  Warning! The winners are posted below.

The 67th annual British Academy Film Awards (Britain’s equivalent of the Oscar) were held today at London’s Royal Opera House.  Nobody really paid attention to the BAFTA’s when they were held after the Oscars. In the year 2000 they moved them to before the Oscar ceremony and they have become the last predictor of the Academy Awards.  Since then, they have chosen 7 out of the last 12 Best Picture winners. One reason could be that Many of the BAFTA’s 6500 members also vote in the Oscars.

GRAVITY took home the most awards with 6.  AMERICAN HUSTLE won 3 and 12 YEARS A SLAVE won 2. They went with the Director/Picture split that most are saying will happen at the Oscars. 12 YEARS for Best Picture and Alfonso Cuarón for Best Director.

The biggest travesty was Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Supporting Actress over Lupita Nyong’o.  God help us if this happens on Oscar night! And AMERICAN HUSTLE wins for Best Original Screenplay? I thought there had to be a screenplay to win!

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Actor – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor – Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay – Philomena, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Best Original Screenplay – American Hustle, Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Best Cinematography – Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Documentary – The Act of Killing
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
Best Music – Gravity, Steven Price
Best British Film – Gravity
Best Editing – Rush
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Sound – Gravity
Best Hair & Make – American Hustle
Best British Short, Live Action – Room 8
Best British Short, Animation – Sleeping with the Fishes
Outstanding British Debut – Kelly & Victor
BAFTA Rising Star – Will Poulter

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The Screen Actors Guild consists of 165,000 members. Around 2100 are selected each year to vote in the annual SAG Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acting branch is the largest of all Oscar branches at 1,311 members. This makes the SAG awards one of the best precursors as to who will win acting categories at the Oscars. In their 19 years they have predicted 52 of the last 76 Oscar winners for acting. In the last 2 years 3 out of 4 actors when on to with the Oscar after a SAG win.

Best Picture has only matched the SAG’s Best Ensemble award 9 times, but 7 of those were in the last 11 years. This looks to be closer step to Best Picture for AMERICAN HUSTLE, in my opinion, the most overrated movie of the year. How it beats out 12 YEARS A SLAVE or GRAVITY is beyond comprehension. One thing is for sure, Hollywood loves AMERICAN HUSTLE and that’s all it takes to win the Oscar. I still hold out hope for 12 YEARS. The other acting categories are as close to a lock to win the Oscar as you can get.

and the Actor goes to…

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY -DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
CATE BLANCHETT-BLUE JASMINE

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
JARED LETO – DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
LUPITA NYONG’O – 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
AMERICAN HUSTLE

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According to their website

The Online Film Critics Society is comprised of internet-based film critics located around the world. As of September 8, 2013, our membership stands at 271. We have writers from 19 countries around the world. Below you will find links to pages about each of our members and at the bottom of the page are a series of maps showing our members’ worldly locations.

Today they announced the winners of their own film awards. 12 YEARS A SLAVE keeps moving along with 5 wins.

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises
Best Film Not in the English Language: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity