Tag Archive | American Hustle

Who Will Win an Oscar On March 2nd? Our Predictions Are In!

Best Picture Oscar Collage
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It’s no secret that I couldn’t care less about most awards shows – the Grammy’s being a prime example of a formerly held-sacred-by-me tradition that long ago became all about rewarding commercial success over acknowledging artistic merit. But being a huge movie fan, film awards like The Independent Spirit Awards, The Golden Globes and, coming up on March 2nd, The Oscars (whose list of nominees can be found at This Link) are the nights of ceremonial award giving that I shamelessly indulge in. Because to me, those awards are still more about the art than the box office returns.

Over the Christmas holidays, I had the chance to get caught up on a handful of the films that would become contenders for the major category awards of 2014 including American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, Her (which I didn’t care for) and indie favorites like Inside Llewyn Davis, which got a little Golden Globe love but was virtually ignored by the Academy, despite being excellent on every level.

Wolf of Wall Street Dollar
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If you’re passionate about film, it’s fun to predict who might win the Oscars in various categories – and for those inclined to wager a little cash on the outcomes, or who simply want water cooler bragging rights the day after, Sports Betting Dime has their odds posted right now (by the way, if fractional odds confound you, whichever film has the lowest number – less than a value of 1 being ideal – is the favorite to win). Two of the Best Picture NomineesGravity and 12 Years a Slave – I’ve yet to see. But there is still time! Here are a few of my personal favorites and some of my own predictions.

My favorite film of those nominated is American Hustle. The script and direction are excellent, the cast perfect, with top notch acting by all five major characters, and I also really love The Soundtrack. American Hustle won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy, while 12 Years a Slave took the Globe for Best Drama. Since with Oscars there is no categorical subdivision, I predict American Hustle will lose the Best Picture category to 12 Years a Slave.

When I saw Dallas Buyer’s Club, I couldn’t imagine that any other actor would deserve the Best Actor Oscar more than Matthew McConaughey, who won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. Chiwetel Ejiofor is McConaughey‘s stiffest Oscar competition for his starring role in 12 Years a Slave. It could really go either way on this, but Sports Betting Dime slightly favors McConaughey in what is a pretty close race.

As with the Golden Globes, McConaughey’s Dallas Buyer’s Club co-star, Jared Leto, is a favorite (and my favorite) to win his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a transgendered AIDS victim. He was just amazing.

Cate Blanchett completely owned Blue Jasmine and no one else in the Best Actress Category even comes close. Not even Meryl Streep. Cate FTW!

Best Supporting Actress is either going to Lupita Nyongo for 12 Years a Slave or Jennifer Lawrence (who won the Golden Globe) for American Hustle.

The Best Director award could go to anybody, with the exception of Alexander Payne for Nebraska, a film that only the critics and the people involved with the film seem to like. My choice would be David O. Russell for American Hustle, but if it went to, say, Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) or Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) I wouldn’t say they didn’t deserve it. Gravity is supposed to be an epic film but if Alfonso Cuaron wins for directing it my head will explode.

And last but not least, if I gave out the awards, Best Picture would go to American Hustle, but I am pretty sure 12 Years a Slave is going to get it, because slavery was way worse than ABSCAM.

Who do you like to win in each category? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments below, and I’ll see you in front of the TV on March 2nd, 2014!

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Recommended Listening: American Hustle Soundtrack

American Hustle Album Artwork

Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!

It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”

Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.

Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.

Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.

But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.

Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.

American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:

1.    Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington

2.    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John

3.    White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa

4.    10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra

5.    Live And Let Die | Wings

6.    How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees

7.    I Feel Love | Donna Summer

8.    Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

9.    Delilah | Tom Jones

10.  I’ve Got Your Number | Jack Jones

11.  Long Black Road | Electric Light Orchestra

12.  A Horse With No Name | America

13.  Stream Of Stars | Jeff Lynne

14.  Live To Live  | Chris Stills

15.  Irving Montage | Danny Elfman