2014 Oscar Predictions

It’s that time of year again, the biggest awards show of the year is upon us. 2013 brought some of the best movies I have ever seen and there are many worthy nominees this year. For the first time, I have not only seen every movie nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, but also all the movies with acting nominees. These are my picks, who I would give the awards to if it was only up to me. As I point out below, some of them are different that who is expected to win, but I make sure to explain why. With that cleared up, I present my 2014 Oscar predictions.

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The Wolf of Wall Street Review

Corruption on the stock exchange is very real and no one captured that better in the 1990’s than Jordan Belfort. So when Martin Scorsese decides to tell that story, he goes all out with three-hours of spectacular chaos. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Cristin Milioti, Jon Faverau and Rob Reiner, this movie follows convicted fraud felon Belfort, and how he built and lost his empire. Watch the trailer after the jump and then read my review.

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This is the End Review

If the world were to end, how would different famous people react? That is the age-old question This is the End looks to answer. The directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the movie stars Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel as themselves after the apocalypse hits and they are forced to stay in Franco’s house. Watch the trailer after the jump and then read my review.

This movie was a lot better than I expected. The premise sounds bad, with six famous guys locked up in a huge mansion after the world ends. But Rogen and Goldberg take this idea to some interesting places and it becomes a very funny and very thrilling apocalypse movie.

A big reason this movie is actually good has to do with the script. Rogen and Goldberg have designed their characters, even though they are actually the actors, to be full of one-liners and gross ideas, while still being terrified of what’s outside the house. For example, Franco is always carrying a gun, McBride eats all the food and Robinson can’t take a small cut to the finger. Obviously it gets much more R-rated than that, but some of the best jokes don’t involve sex or drugs. They stem from the fact that these are just a group of guys trying to survive.

As the trailer shows, this film is full of cameos. Most (but not all) happen in the first 20 minutes at a huge party at James Franco’s house, with everyone from Paul Rudd and Jason Segal to Rihanna and Mindy Kaling. Even Emma Watson shows up. Most of them play themselves, just a celebrity looking to have a good time at a party. But Michael Cera goes above and beyond as a very exaggerated but very funny coke head. His 10 minutes of screen time is some of the funniest of the whole movie and I almost wish he was around longer.

One thing that did surprise me is the special effects in this movie. The CGI monsters are very well done, looking like something you would see in a real science-fiction movie. They are big, fast and gross looking, which I was pleasantly surprised about. They also do some cool things with smoke and lighting, so that some scenes are actually suspenseful and scary. Of course most of the movie is jokes, but Rogen and Goldberg put just the right amount of scares in this to keep the movie moving.

There wasn’t any real performances that stood out from the main cast. I really enjoyed Robinson’s as the big teddy bear character. And McBride played the arrogant slob roll pretty well too. Hill and Franco, who are frequently made fun of for being Oscar nominated actors, probably are the most boring. And Rogen is just along for the ride, as if he forgot to give his character anything to do while writing the others lines.

It’s really Jay Baruchel who keeps the plot moving forward. He plays the straight man; a guy who doesn’t want to be at the party in the first place and the only one who can keep his cool the whole time. He is brave, bold and smart while the other guys just try to one up each other with stupid stunts (which isn’t a bad thing). While he didn’t offer a ton of laughs, I really enjoyed Baruchel’s performance.

This is the End should be a stupid movie but it isn’t. Rogen and Goldberg have proven themselves as directors with a film that is both very funny and very exciting. I think having the actors play themselves made a big difference to the story and it created many opportunities for the stars to poke fun at themselves and their movies. I am very excited to see what this directors duo does next and do recommend you run to the theater to see this.