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Nightmares make box office gold

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With a deluge of violent young-adult flicks at the multiplex, THE GIRL IN ROW K asks what’s so fascinating about torturing teens on the silver screen?

In The Hunger Games, a young woman named Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) sacrifices herself to save her sister and ends up a killer.
In Ender’s Game, a militarised government claims Ender (Asa Butterfield) and trains him to commit genocide.

In Divergent, Tris’ (Shailene Woodley) fearless mind falls foul of the authorities who are determined to exterminate her.

And Maze Runner, out in September, introduces us to 16-year-old Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), who wakes to discover he’s trapped in a maze, hunted by monsters, with no memory of how he got there or why.

It’s a dangerous time to be a teen on the silver screen.

Wildly popular, these grim and gritty stories (based on young-adult novels) command huge, cross-generational audiences. They also have multiple instalments, ensuring years of releases the studios can pretty much bank on.

The films are vicious, offering a vision of the world where children don’t get to be children because they’re too busy running for their lives.

What is it about dystopian nightmares and teen torture that appeals so much?

These films take teenagers very seriously. Far more seriously than the rest of the eye-rolling, head-patting world, that’s for sure. Katniss, Tris and Thomas all experience alienation (because they’re special) and loneliness (because they’re too special) in strange new lives filled with dangerous, exciting temptations (sex, drugs, violent emotional roller coasters, authoritarian dictatorships) – the emotional wheelhouse of your average teen.

Unlike your average teen, however, fictional teens eat loneliness, alienation and intense awkwardness for breakfast, rising to challenges valiantly, without recourse to oxyteen, braces or mum’s broad shoulders.

Rescue the cutie, kill the baddies and save the entire planet: it’s the ultimate fantasy.

The same escapism, abandoning the mundane for a sense of grand purpose and slightly narcissistic importance, works just as well on 30-year-olds as 13-year-olds.

Hollywood’s decidedly adult casting choices help, too.  Twenty-something Jennifer Lawrence, as 17-year-old Katniss, is a choice that deserves an Oscar all its own, while securing superstar-in-the-making Dylan O’Brien, 22, as 16-year-old Thomas in Maze Runner, put that film in the same league as The Hunger Games.

Katniss, Tris, and even creepy little Ender, lead the kind of forthright, emotionally daring lives we all daydream about, no matter how old we are.  After all, who doesn’t want to volunteer as a tribute, face every fear and defeat it, be genius enough to destroy your opposition, but moral enough to rail against doing it?

(That’s where all the violence comes in, too. Choices are gratifyingly black and white when lives are on the line.)

As belts get tighter, climates get changier and tensions get higher in the real world, escapism becomes an emotional necessity – a well-earned retreat from the endless slog of a real life no less baffling than when we were teens.

Your next escape, come September, is to a steamy glade where 50 teenage boys and one girl have been trapped with no idea why.  It’ll cost you $16 and the suspension of your disbelief, but hopefully Maze Runner’s tortured teens will help you escape your mundane life for a couple of hours.

Looking at Thomas’s earnest, determined face, it seems a safe bet.

 

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Vampiric romance raises the dead

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Only Lovers Left Alive (★★★★, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch)

Tilda Swinton as vampire queen Eve and her paramour Adam, played by Tom Hiddleston, are the Only Lovers Left Alive in Jim Jarmusch’s darkly romantic vampire film.

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt.

Drama, fantasy, horror and romance. 2hr 03mins. M for Offensive language.

Remember when vampires were cool?

When David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve donned Katherine Hamnett suits and sunglasses to stalk the cavernous rock clubs of New York for their human prey in The Hunger.

Or when Keifer Sutherland lead his gang of surly teens in terrorising the night-time beaches of California in The Lost Boys.

This was back in the 80s, before Stephenie Meyers (Twilight) sank her teeth into the ‘‘death that walks’’ and drained it of all credibility.

Writer-director Jim Jarmusch remembers those gore-guzzling 80s vamps well.

He takes us back to those halcyon, pre Twilight days, in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Living in a dilapidated mansion, surrounded by the coyote infested wastelands of Detroit, musician/undead lord of darkness Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is suffering an existential crisis.


Beset by ‘‘zombies’’ – stupid humans who idolise his music yet stumble through their lives devoid of real imagination – and his own Byronic self obsession, Adam plans his own death – no mean task when you’re an immortal, blood drinking Vampire.

Meanwhile in Tangiers, Adam’s wife Eve (Tilda Swinton) is enjoying her unlife with a gusto, surrounded by books and friends – including fellow vampire Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt).

When she calls Adam to check in, however, Eve realises he’s only yet another downward spiral and goes to him.

Reunited, Adam’s crisis is averted and the pair are content to enjoy each other.

They take night tours of abandoned Detroit in Adam’s serpentine sports car, enjoy refreshing bloodsicles, talk philosophy and dance to 60s psychedelia and early 50s rock’n’ roll.

It’s all lovely and soul healing, until Eve’s bratty, greedy sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) descends, a ragged stake in the heart of their settled, urbane lives.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a gorgeous, romantic, witty film that plays with ideas of humanity and culture in fascinating ways.

Long scenes of Eve strolling through the grubby Tangiers back streets to fetch some cruelty-free ‘‘good stuff’’, or Adam’s louche rants about everything that’s wrong with modern life, could seem a tad self indulgent and pretentious in less skilled hands.

But this kind of sly, plot-free storytelling is Jarmusch’s wheel house – see Mystery Train and Coffee and Cigarettes.

In Hiddleston and Swinton, he’s got the perfect tools to do it, too.

Their swagger, nobility and emotional largesse are just so damned enticing. But what makes Adam and Eve really delicious, ironically, is their humanity.

Eve delights in everything she sees, naming plants, animals and the ages of precious things by touch, adoring life and Adam while suffering none of either’s bullshit.

Meanwhile Adam hero-worships humanity’s great artists and thinkers – Newton, Poe, Tesla, fellow vamp Marlowe – even as he decries the modern cultural wasteland, cleaving to his music and his Eve with abandon.

But Jarmusch’s modern monsters are more than just a metaphor for our apathy. They’re hilarious, too.

When Ava complains she has a stomach ache from over-indulging in human blood, Eve chastises her.
‘‘Well, what do you expect?’’ Eve asks pointing at Ava’s victim. ‘‘He’s in the music industry!’’

When the pair hear a woman singing in a bar, Eve is sure she’ll be very famous.

‘‘Christ, I hope not,’’ replies Adam, desperately. ‘‘She’s too good for that.’’

It all makes for a dense, alluring fantasy world, just slightly askew of our mundane one, that demands further investigation, and a pair of characters so charming it’s impossible to deny them.

As Jarmusch’s hypnotic snare springes, it’s no hardship to offer these undead creatures a vein to get them through the night. On the contrary, it’s an honour.

How many modern-day vamps can claim that?

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Five films not to miss in April

 

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I love April, the nights draw in the clock fall back and the cinema begins to shine as the Northern Hemisphere’s summer releases start to trickle downunder. This month yields a particularly juicy crop of popcorn toppers. Have a look…

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo)

Marvel gets political in this installment of the First Avenger’s story, dealing with the pressures and ethics of a post-surveillance society.

Expect the usual CGI histronics and macho posturing, but with more muscle in the engine than just the ones in Cap’s bulging suit.

Also, don’t be surprised if you have to bust out the tissues, Cap and the Winter Soldier’s relationship is a pretty dramatic one.

 

 

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The Amazing Spider-man 2: Rise of Electro (Directed by Mark Webb)

Despite rumours it was only rebooted to keep the franchise firmly in Sony’s hands, the team tasked with bringing Spidey into the naughties made this masked man their own.

Andrew Garfield owns the role of the too-bright dweeb whose brush with a tetchy arachnid gifts him great powers – and even greater responsibility.

It’ll be interesting to see if Garfield can bring the vulnerability and humanity to the spandex crowd a second time.

 

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The Lego Movie (Directed By Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)

If you don’t think everything is AWESOME by the end of this film then you have no soul. That’s not just opinion, it’s basically science, (awesome science) so don’t even bother trying to refute it. Besides, Batman said it was so, so… deal with it.

PS, you’re probably pretty morally bankrupt so that’s another reason to see this film. Awesome.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Directed by Wes Anderson)

The master of symmetry and whimsy returns with his most stylistically challenging offering yet, firmly cementing Anderson-esque in the adjectival dictionary for all times.

It’s big, it’s pink, it’s a hot-bed of rich octogenarian romance; it’s the Grand Budapest Hotel.

I’ll have the lobby boy take your bags right up, darling.

 

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Nymphomaniac (Directed by Lars Von Trier)

Despite the fact that I know no-one needs to see a five hour movie about how depressing sex is, I’m still going to see both parts of this film (which are released simultaneously).

A dedicated Nymphomanic (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounts her career as an inveterate shagger to a mad old bloke (Stellan Skarsgård). Shia LaBeouf gets his knob out.

I can’t believe Von Trier honestly thought anyone was going to talk about anything else when he made that casting decision.

Jaime Bell also appears as a Dom in volume II. Which is not the only reason I’m going to see it at all. Nope. Un-huh.

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Comedy joy knee-skids into the cinema

Nick Frost (Bruce Garrett) in Cuban Fury

Cuban Fury (★★★ Directed by James Griffiths)

Nick Frost ruffles and shakes a few tail feathers in Britcom with rhythm and soul, Cuban Fury.

Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Olivia Colman,Kayvan Novak and Ian McShane.

Written by Jon Brown.

Comedy. 1hr 38mins. M for offensive language and sexual references.

Gentle comedies with hearts of gold are few and far between these days.
If it’s not the slightly surreal make-believe of Ron Burgundy, it’s the cringe-worthy antics of Bad Grandpa. Sure they get the laughs and the wry nods, but where’s the joy?

Apparently it’s doing a knee skid across the dance floor in sweet, Britcom laugh-fest Cuban Fury.

Dowdy human marshmallow Bruce (Nick Frost) loves lathes, his fold-up bicycle and his quiet, little life working for an engineering firm somewhere in middle-England.

But Bruce hides a terrible secret – back in the day he used to salsa dance, he used to salsa dance real good.

It’s a flamboyant, rhinestone encrusted past he’d happily forget were it not for the arrival of the lovely Julia (Rashida Jones), an American engineering executive whose favourite pastime involves men in 11/2 inch Cuban heels and a dance named after a dip.

Desperate to impress and to save Julie from the slimy attentions of office nemesis Drew (Chris O’Dowd), Bruce pulls on his dance shoes only to find his twinkle toes in need of a tune-up.

But as the competition for Julia’s affections, and dance-floor dominance, heats up, Bruce realises the person he really wants to impress isn’t Julia, but someone else entirely.

There’s plenty of second hand embarrassment to be had in Cuban Fury, its nestled in nicely with some real warmth, genuine chuckles – Frost’s signature pop culture references are frequent and great – and smoking hot dance moves.

There’s even a whiff the classics about it, with nods to ifStrictly Ballroom nfin the design and underdog-makes-good storyline, but the tone is less dramatic and more slap-stick.

As with many warm-hearted comedies, the real gems are in the supporting cast – Kayvan Novak as dance fanatic and make-over master Bajan is stand out, as is Rory Kinnear channeling Karl Pilkington as Bruce’s cynical, vulgar best friend.

They bring out the best in Frost, who’s a capable, if one-note, leading man.
Sadly there’s not a lot of spark between him and Jones.

Cuban Fury still works a treat though, since the romance of the film is in the central themes of being true to yourself and the old adage that the best revenge is living well.

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Three Second Review: Saving Mr Banks

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Saving Mr Banks (★★★ 1/2 stars, Directed by John Lee Hancock)

An awkward film about a beloved old movie and it’s crotchety creators, Saving Mr Banks is strange in that almost every character in it except the driver (played with muted charm by Paul Giamatti) is deeply unlikable, and yet it’s hard not to love them for their often annoying faults.

Emma Thompson is radiant as P L Travers, the author whom the legendary Walt Disney (equally as well rendered by Tom Hanks) pursued for 20 years to gain the rights of her masterpiece, Mary Poppins.

Touching, tender and at times frustrating, Saving Mr Banks is not the most satisfying film you’re likely to see, but it’s required viewing if you are a fan of the source material – and who doesn’t have a soft spot for animated penguins, Julie Andrews’s cut-crystal voice and Dick Van Dyke’s awful cock-er-ney accent?) – or a lover of all things Disney.

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Pompeii not worth the visit

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Pompeii (★, Directed by Paul W S Anderson)

Not even Kit Harington’s luscious lower lip could save this terrible film.

Starring: Emily Browning, Kit Harington, Jessica Lucas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kiefer Sutherland, Paz Vega and Jared Harris

Written by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, Julian Fellowes, Michael Robert Johnson

Action, adventure, historical, romance. 1hr 44mins. M for violence.

If the criteria for cinema greatness was based entirely on how ridiculously cute and heartstring-pullingly pouty your leading man was then disaster-in-a-toga movie Pompeii would get five stars and all the Oscars going.

Sadly for Pompeii’s star Kit Harington (gladiator slave Milo) and his impossibly perfect lower lip, even passable movies require decent scripts, sensible casting and a passing attempt at pleasing the eye.

Pompeii has exactly none of those things, and it doesn’t have them in spades.

Milo is a Briton whose tribe was wiped out by a bunch of nasty Romans putting down some rebellion or other.

Alone in the world after the massacre he’s captured by slavers and we next see him, known only as The Celt, laying waste to helmeted bad ‘uns in a provincial arena.

With an eye on the big time, Milo’s owner carts the lad off on the gladiator circuit starting in Pompeii.

On the way there he falls for the local toff’s swishy daughter Cassia (Emily Browning), who’s fled Rome and the clammy attentions of Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland, yes, you read that right).

Surprise! Corvus turns up in Pompeii still hot for Cassia. Double surprise! He’s also the one who slaughtered Milo’s parents in the uprising. Gasp!

Please note: Julian Fellowes helped write this script. The mind boggles.

Trite, hammy and with dialogue that stinks like a gladiator’s armpit, Pompeii is what the ideas barrel looks like when it’s being scraped.

It pinches from the classics and more recent, proper films like Gladiator and Centurion, to present an unappealing mish-mash of swords and sandals cliches without an ounce of depth, wit or charm.

The lone, desperate high note of the execrable shite, is Milo’s first entrance into the gladiatorial arena, stepping from the pages of Men of the Coliseum’s annual beefcake calendar circa 45AD like a ridiculously violent wet dream.

But Milo’s abs are not enough to distract from the film’s low notes (and that’s really saying something), namely, every scene in which Kiefer Sutherland says or does anything.

While Sutherland does look like he’s having all the fun gnawing on the scenery as he channels Malcolm McDowell circa Caligula, his lecherous villain is little more than an awkward caricature.

There are so man brainlessly fun swords and sandals ‘epics’ out there, 300, Spartacus, even Clash of the Titans, to offer up something this rubbish is really inexcusable.

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No monument to a great story

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The Monuments Men (★★.5, Directed by George Clooney)

Reluctant warriors for art, The Monuments Men, fail to find the film their story deserves.

Starring: Matt Damon, George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman.

Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

Comedy, drama, true story, war, historical. 1hr 58mins. M for violence.

Hollywood is full of stars who think they deserve two bites at the creativity cherry.

Actors who sing, models who act, singers who front multimillion dollar box office flops, repeatedly – It’s a little greedy.

One group that usually gets a pass though are actors who take up directing.

George Clooney has been a chef in the directorial kitchen since he made the pretty great Confessions of a Dangerous Mind from a Charlie Kaufman script in 2002.

Five films later though, and Clooney’s mediocre The Monuments Men suggests too many Clooneys spoil the broth.

With the credits looking more like some underfunded indie film – starring, written, directed and produced by the same person (George Clooney) – it’s a frustrating muddle of a film, that seems on the cusp of greatness, but never quite makes it.

The story is fantastic – an unlikely group of bumbling professors, city bound architects and beard stroking art historians in the depths of WWII team up and go behind enemy lines to save  priceless artifacts of Western culture from the brutal caprice of the Third Reich.

Add to that and awesome cast featuring John Candy, Bill Murray, George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon – a who’s who of A List fun – and you should be heating up nicely.

But wait, there’s more! The whacky set-up lends itself to their talents as comedy odd couples bicker, touching friendships are forged and fearless acts of derring-do are done in a race against time to rescue abandoned caches of priceless art from marauding Russians and destructive Germans.

There’s even an attempt at a tentative romance-under-fire between Matt Damon’s dashing art restorer and Cate Blanchett’s fusty-but-feisty museum curator.

But somehow Clooney manages  to under-season the dish and serve it stone cold.

Maybe it’s the way The Monument’s Men repeatedly tries to land emotional punches it never earns, leaving you feeling like you’ve missed something crucial?

It’s clear we need to worry about the fate of the Mona Lisa, but why are we asked to cry over Bill Murray’s daughter singing a Christmas carol? The scene pops up so randomly, before we’ve even connected with his louche New York architect.

It’s disconcerting and more than a little disappointing.

Honestly, if you can’t make it work when you have John Candy, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and, yes, George Clooney to work it with, you’re doing something wrong. 

The Monuments Men has all the ingredients for greatness, but this is one floppy souffle that won’t be resurrected by Clooney’s sunny smile.

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3 Second review: 300: Rise of an Empire

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300: Rise of an Empire (★, directed by Noam Murro)

Oh dear God.  And I mean the bog standard God, not Xerxes, son of Darius, giant ridiculous golden God King of Persia.

Bloated, hammy, and ludicrously violent, Rise of an Empire is a truly terrible film.

Written by Zach Snyder, who was responsible for the infinitely better first film, 300, this stinker is little more than turgid, cumbersome tripe.

An absolute low point must be “hero” Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Green’s magnificent warrior woman Artemisia engaging in the least sexy hate-sex ever committed to celluloid.

I’m telling you, if not even the perfect breasts of Eva Green can save your film, you’re really in trouble.

Put bluntly, Zach Snyder needs to forget writing.

I don’t know who told him this kind of weighty, on the nose dialogue is fun – it’ surely can’t be fun to say, either, although Eva Green gives it a run for it’s money, bless her – because it’s painful to hear.

As for how it all looks – which I’m told is the point, God help us – it’s a grubby, cold looking affair, awash in cgi blood, staggering under the weight of a thousand slo-mo shots, and groaning with hollow cgi sets.

It’s such a pity, since the source material is Frank Miller, who appears to know what he’s doing, and since stars Green and fellow Grecian Queen Lena Headey, reprising her role as Queen Gorgo, are usually a joy to watch.

Sadly, not even their talents can help the cumbersome lumbering of this lame duck. 

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Rock n’roll pirates set sail

3mile-limit-620x3503 Mile Limit (★★★ Directed by Craig Newland)

A crew of misfits, a government with a choke-hold on fun, some No. 8 wire and a cracking sound track – set sail for pirate radio’s heyday.

Written by Andrew Gunn, Craig Newland

Drama, true story. 1hr 45mins . M for drug use and offensive language.

After the Rolling Stones’ 1964 tour, legendary guitarist Keith Richards infamously described New Zealand as the ‘‘a…hole of the world’’.

It might have been crude and rude, but from the point of view of rock’n’roll, Richards was right.

Deeply conservative and determinedly straight laced, Kiwi broadcasting in the 60s was a state controlled affair consisting of dour cooking shows, chamber music and horse racing.

That was until a group of music-hungry larrikins launched a ratty old trawler called the Tiri into international waters and started broadcasting the southern hemisphere’s first pirate station – Radio Hauraki.

3 Mile Limit, by first time feature director Craig Newland tells a much altered and dramatised version of Radio Hauraki’s story, with a kiwiana edge.

Mired in the cultural wasteland of 1960s Auckland, music journalist Richard Davis (an absolutely stellar Matt Whelan) is desperate to get modern music on the airwaves but is repeatedly turned down for broadcasting licence.

Furious and frustrated, he gathers together a gaggle of music loving misfits with a plan to broadcast new sounds from the middle of the Hauraki Gulf, outside the 3 mile limit of New Zealand law.

It’s not all plain sailing, though, with the po-faced Minister of Broadcasting (David Aston), his henchmen and the police arrayed against the Tiri’s fearless crew.

Davis sidesteps, sweet-talks and finally loan sharks his way past obstacles to get the Tiri out on the briny, proving he’ll stop at nothing to break the government monopoly on entertainment.

But as the Radio Hauraki mice get ready to rock’n’roar the Government, and ultimately the weather, has other plans.

Straight out of the docks, an obvious comparison is Richard Curtis’s The Boat That Rockedf, in which Kiwi-born Curtis transplanted Hauraki’s tale of pop culture derring-do to the North Sea and crewed it with an embarrassment of caricatures.

3 Mile Limit, however, is no comedic dog’s dinner and, for all it’s first-film-faults, it’s far more authentic than that.

From the hammy acting to the neatly mowed quarter acre sections, from the two tone, state house kitchens to the awesome sounds of Ray Columbus, this is a film about being a bloody minded, No.th8 wire wielding (in fact the film’s production company is called No. 8), authority bucking tru-blue Kiwi.

And that’s pretty glorious.

It’s not a perfect film – some of the lines drop like lead weights, the pacing is a tad shonkey and it’s a little too pat to be really dramatic – Real events have been mercilessly chopped up to fit a cinematic pattern.

But, as first features go, this little film’s got mighty big sails. Even Keith Richards would be cheering the final scenes.

Like the Tiri, 3 Mile Limit may be a little rickety, but it’s a sound vessel for Newland’s fresh Kiwi talent. Long may he sail.

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Prediction: Oscars 2014

oscars2009Today’s the day! Oscar is in the building.

George C Scott once called it  a “two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons”.

But what would that guy know? 

Last week my mate Andy dreamed I won the Oscar for Best Actress. So I’m totes down with tonight’s meat parade!  Tell Joan Rivers I’ll be wearing Rachel Hunter for the Warehouse (summer sale selection).

Seriously though, strap yourselves in because it’s going to be a funny old night.  Depending on who you talk to every nominee this year is a stone cold shoo-in to take the tin man home.

To me, though, it doesn’t seem like a year of any really big contenders, not with everything standing in the Shadow of 12 Years A Slave. But that just means we could be in for some jaw-dropping upsets (Christian Bale over Chiwetel Ejiofor, or Matthew McConaughey for example), and heart warming victories. 

Anyway, with only a few hours to go before the stars hit the red carpet, here are my picks. Chip in with your thoughts in the comments.

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

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This is kind of a no brainer.  Not everyone loved this film – indeed “love” is not the word I’d use to describe it. But it was vital, important in a way Western films so rarely are these days, and beautifully made.  The star performances were out of this world, it looked incredible and it got you, right *there*, where great film is supposed to get you.

Might lose out to Wolf of Wall Street or Gravity, but really, it had better not.

Best Director: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

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In the past it sometimes felt like the Academy has reserved the BD Oscar for the director of the number two film of the year. But not even Martin Scorsese could begrudge this wee golden man going to McQueen. I can only imagine what an incredibly painful process getting this film made and making this film must have been. But that is was a labour of incredible love – for the story and for the power of film – is undeniable.

Might lose out to: David O Russell, because everyone seems to have had a brain fart and decided American Hustle was good.  It wasn’t.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

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Look, I’m just going to say it.  I have not seen a better performance this year. Show me a better performance, because that would be AMAZING. There hasn’t been one, though.

Might lose out to: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) because he is definitely in at a very close number two. He seemed to go through the wringer for that film.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

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I’m not really into Woody Allen films, or Woody Allen the man. I have my reasons and they’re not to do with art (enough said), but Cate’s Blanche DuBois cipher in this classy, fresh flick was wonderful.  She perfectly captured Jasmine’s fractured personality and slow, sorry decent into madness. Wonderful stuff.

Might lose out to: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) because come on, its Meryl for crying out loud.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

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Again, dedication, and transcendence were what Leto achieved here.  The guy is a walking tool box, but not a shred of that was evident in his performance as Rayon. Just love for the character, the film and the integrity of the role. Stunning stuff.

Might lose out to: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) because I can’t even imagine what it took out of him to play that role, but he gave it everything.  No holds barred.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

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I didn’t feel like I was watching an actor at work during Nyong’o s performance.  Her desperation, vulnerability and suffering were palpable, and exactly what was needed to hammer home the reality of her character’s horrific plight. Like

Might lose out to: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), because everyone loves her and she’s just announced she’s taking a break from acting.