Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indie Review: Being John Malkovich (1999)

                       'Being John Malkovich': A Refreshingly Original Yet Completely Bonkers Comedy

                    After watching this and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I can honestly feel grateful that there are some screenwriters out there who come up with amazingly new ideas. The film's writer, who also wrote Eternal Sunshine, Charlie Kaufman, certainly falls under that category, so I give him major kudos for bringing his creative and inventive mind to Hollywood.

                   Being John Malkovich is about a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) who, at his new job, discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. He then shows it to his pet-loving wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and his sultry co-worker Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener). From there, all three discover just what it is like to literally become someone else.

                   What I Liked About It:
                  The thing that I loved the most about this movie is of course the story. Not only because it hasn't really been done before, but it manages to incorporate the theme of wanting to become someone else other than yourself. When we are down, there are those of us who tend who wish they had the life of someone else or wish they were someone else because of how they are richer or more famous or seem happier. The theme is definitely present with its main characters, in particular Craig and Lotte. Craig is a struggling down-on-his-luck puppeteer who becomes obsessed with the successful actor John Malkovich after stepping into his mind, and Lotte enjoys the experience of stepping into Malkovich's mind because it allows her to live out her transgendered desires. But if you think about it, the film has somewhat of a frightening quality to it, just because of the idea of somebody becoming you and trying to taking over your mind.

                  I also really liked the acting in this film. John Cusack does a fine job as Craig Schwartz, as he is both funny and crazily obsessive. Cameron Diaz is almost completely unrecognizable as Lotte Schwartz as she has frizzy hair and is made to look very plain, but she gives one of her best performances to date. Catherine Keener is also fantastic as Maxine, Craig's sexual and almost diabolical co-worker and I am quite glad she was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. John Malkovich is also fantastic as himself. He manages to play himself as if he was a fictional character, even though he is technically not playing a character, and to me, that shows just how he is one of the best character actors in the business.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:

                Overall, Being John Malkovich is an original and hilarious yet somewhat horrific fantasy comedy. It not only makes you laugh, but touches on the theme of wanting to become someone else, and does it with such flare. I would highly recommend this.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming Soon: 12 Movies of Christmas

Hello, Bloggers, in honor of the Yuletide tradition that will take place next month, I figured in the month of December, I will review movies that pertain to Christmas. Films that are about Christmas, set around the time of Christmas, or maybe films that seem fitting to review around Christmastime. Films from funny to scary and from kid-friendly to for mature audiences.  Here is a list of what they are:

A Christmas Story (1983)

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

Wizard of Oz (1939)

Elf (2003)

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Godfather (1972)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1980)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Toy Story (1995)

So, I just wanted to share this quick news and give you guys a heads up on what's to come for December. Until then, thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actress (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, for today, since I decided to do my updates for the other three acting categories at the Oscars, I will now update my predictions for Best Supporting Actress. Let me just say, like Best Supporting Actor, this is a very open category and was almost difficult to pick. Anyhow, here we go:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: I not only went with her because their are those that say she has a shot at getting nominated, but because I'm going with my heart and I want her to get nominated. While watching her performance, I remember thinking to myself "Wow, who is that actress? She's very good". Plus, ladies who have starred in Woody Allen movies have had good fortune with the Academy, with the list being too long. So, I would cross my fingers for her to score a nod and jump up and down if she does.

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle: After just scoring an Oscar for Best Lead Actress, Lawrence seems to be capitalizing on her success by starring in upcoming potential Oscar favorite American Hustle. Because her co-star Amy Adams seems to be leaning more towards Best Lead Actress this year, that could leave a slot in the open race for Best Supporting Actress for Lawrence.

Margo Martindale, August: Osage County: Now onto a veteran actress who has been working since the 90's. I have read on a few websites like IndieWire and HitFix and on their Best Supporting Actress prediction pages, and they have said Martindale has worked with and is respected by Academy voters, so that could help and if she were to score a nomination, then Martindale could really see all her hard work and dedication in Hollywood start to pay off.

Lupita Nyong'o: 12 Years A Slave: For a performance that surprising to many is her film debut, Lupita Nyong'o is deservingly one of the leading frontrunners for a nomination and possible win for Best Supporting Actress. Anyone who has seen the film and praised her performance can conclude that her performance speaks for itself.

Oprah Winfrey, The Butler: Said to be a lock to be nominated ever since the film's release back in August, Winfrey has received some favorable reviews for her performance. Not only that will help her chances but her star power and the fact she has Harvey Weinstein behind her helps as well. If she does get nominated, then it'll be her second nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the last time she was nominated was back in 1986 for The Color Purple, and she will be the third black actress to have two Oscar nods with the first two being Viola Davis and her Color Purple co-star, Whoopi Goldberg.

Now onto the dark horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the competition:

Scarlett Johansson (Her): Depending on if a voice can be considered for a nomination.

Sarah Paulson (12 Years A Slave): While Nyong'o maybe getting the strongest buzz, why not consider one of her fellow co-stars? The Academy has definitely proven they have no trouble nominating actresses for their villainous portrayals.

June Squibb (Nebraska): A veteran actress like Martindale, but is about 83, and this could be her last chance at getting nominated, so I would say look out for her.

Emily Watson (The Book Thief): The film is slightly off the radar, but Watson is a 2-time Oscar nominee (Best Actress for Breaking the Waves, Hilary and Jackie), so she's essentially an Academy favorite.

Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club): Depending on whether or not the fact McConaughey and Leto are getting more talk for their performances hurts her chances.

So, those are my picks for who I think will get nominated for Best Supporting Actress and the dark horses who could score a nod. If you agree or disagree or would like to add your own choices, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actor (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, for today, since I updated my picks for who will be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, I will now update my picks for Best Supporting Actor, which seems to be a pretty open race thus far. Here we go:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Since the release of Captain Phillips, newcomer Barkhad Abdi has been getting some strong notices for his performance. After having seen the film, I can definitely see why. One reason that I think he will get nominated is because the Academy might want to make him the first Somali actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and the Academy does like to make records like nominating the first Middle Eastern or Brazilian or Japanese actor or actress and so on and so forth to create diversity to the long list of winners and nominees. Plus, like I said, Abdi does give an outstanding performance and for his first feature film, is able to hold his own against an actor like Tom Hanks. That alone should grant him a place in the category.

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: While the film hasn't come out yet, it has gotten some strong buzz, partly because of the talent behind it, which of course includes Mr. Bradley Cooper, who could get his second consecutive nomination and for starring in another David O. Russell picture. If he does score his second nod, then he'll really prove to his naysayers that he can act beyond playing the wise-ass like in Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. I personally always knew and recognized that he could because I really like him as an actor.

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave: Fassbender is one of the frontrunners to be nominated in this category thus far, and I am certainly rooting for him to be nominated after seeing him give such an outstanding performance as Edwin Epps, the main character's sadistic slave owner. I have a feeling some will be concerned as to whether or not the fact that he's playing such a dark character will hurt his chances at winning or even getting nominated, but the Academy usually does recognize actors who give villainous performances (Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men, Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List, etc.).

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks: Another frontrunner thus far in the race for Best Supporting Actor, Tom Hanks seems to really be on a role this year with both Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. Interestingly, in both films, he plays real-life people and in Mr. Banks, he plays the legendary Walt Disney. The film is also a front runner to be nominated for Best Picture and like the last two winners in that category, The Artist and Argo, Mr. Banks is a movie about movies as it showcases the story of author P.L. Travers and how Walt Disney tries to obtain the rights to her book Mary Poppins and turn it into a picture. So the film's chances at going up for the top prize could easily benefit Hanks' chance at being nominated and possibly being the 12th person to have two acting nominations in the same year, with one of the first 11 being his Saving Mr. Banks co-star, Emma Thompson.

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Much like his co-star Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto is picking up strong buzz for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and like McConaughey, Leto takes on a physically-demanding role. In the film, Leto plays an AIDS victim who is also a transvestite. It's been a while since Leto has been on the big screen, so an Oscar nomination could easily be a welcome return for him.

Now, onto the Dark Horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the competition:

James Gandolfini (Enough Said): The film is a surprise indie hit and received a positive critical reception, especially for Gandolfini's posthumous performance.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners): Depending on whether or not Prisoners peeked a little too early, Gyllenhaal might have a fighting chance.

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street): The film has yet to come out, but Hill is making some people's prediction lists for this category, so I would say watch out.

Chris Cooper (August: Osage County): The film is an ensemble piece with Harvey Weinstein behind it, so he could try to score some nominations for not just the film's female stars, but maybe their male counterparts.

Will Forte (Nebraska): Forte is a comedic actor doing a dramatic turn, and usually the Academy likes to reward comedic actors who go dramatic for their efforts.

John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis): Goodman was in the last two Best Picture winners and Llewyn Davis seems to be a contender for Best Picture, which could grant him some momentum. Plus, he has never even been nominated for an Oscar before. So, I would say be on the lookout for Goodman.

So, those are my thoughts as to who will now be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. If you agree or disagree, or would like to add your own picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Topic of the Day: '12 Years A Slave' vs. 'Django Unchained'

Hello, Bloggers, for today's Topic of the Day, I figured I'd discuss two films that people seem to be making comparisons to and contrasting nowadays since the former film's release: Both 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained. Two films that cover the topic of slavery but from different points of view. Here we go:

First I'll get into 12 Years A Slave. Now, 12 Years deals is based on a real-life man's harrowing experience when he was a free man that was captured and sold into slavery. 12 Years A Slave showcases just the grimness of what he had to deal with. Not just him, but the treatment of other slaves he encounters. When we get those scenes where our main protagonist is going through cruelty, the director never cuts away from it. He just gives us long tracking shots of our main protagonist being treated as a non-human. As I said in my review, 12 Years is much more in the vein of Schindler's List, which of course shows the grimness of the Holocaust

Next, I'll get into Django Unchained, which is more in the vein of Quentin Tarantino's previous work, such as Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. Now, while Django is an outstanding picture and succeeds in its own right and has quite some fine directing and acting, it's much more of a fable than 12 Years is. Django offers a story about a slave seeking revenge that is pure escapism but it is entertaining to watch. It is a story that even I wish were real, as it deals with a slave killing slave owners that are piece of crap human beings.

But, aside from how both films approach slavery on a realistic scale, how do they work as films in general? Well, 12 Years A Slave works well as an artistic movie. You may not have the most pleasant reaction watching this, but it will give you a reaction. That is pretty much the central goal of art in general. It either makes you really happy, really sad, or really angry. This film will more than likely make you feel the last two emotions. But Django Unchained is a fun popcorn flick. It does have a few moments where they do showcase the harsh treatment of slaves, but it still is meant to entertain you for three hours and get your blood going as the action gives you a rush.

So, that is my contrast of both 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained which cover the same topic but offer different perspectives. If you have seen both films and want to share your thoughts as to why they are different or similar, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: 12 Years A Slave

                       '12 Years A Slave': A Masterful Odyssey Into The Abyss of Southern Hell

                    20 years ago, we were introduced to the masterpiece and classic that is Schindler's List which deals with one of the most brutal events in the history of mankind: The Holocaust, and it has really shown just how horrible humans can be. 12 Years A Slave does the same thing, only it deals with one of the most horrific times in American history: American slavery. Hopefully, this movie becomes a modern-day classic as this movie is the Schindler's List of slavery.

                   12 Years A Slave is based on a true story about a free man named Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is captured and sold into slavery. The film then showcases his horrific ordeals and dealing with different slave owners, one of whom is an alcoholic psychopath named Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

                   What I Liked About It:
                  Where do I begin here? I'll start off with the acting. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an astounding performance and dynamic performance as Solomon Northup, a slave who tries to stay alive and get back to his family just by working and putting his head down while avoiding helping his fellow slaves and losing his faith, but he eventually comes to his senses. Even when Ejiofor doesn't speak lines of dialogue, he really showcases the emotions he is going through and acts with his facial expressions. Now onto Michael Fassbender. He is phenomenal as the FILTHY, filthy human being that is Edwin Epps. I like how he doesn't just play Epps as a straight-up one-dimensional villain, but as a rather complex villain. One that is cunning and raging yet manipulated by his equally-cunning wife, played brilliantly by Sarah Paulson. Speaking of Paulson, talk about an actress doing a complete 180 from playing a slightly nicer character in American Horror Story to a devilish ice queen in this. I look forward to more from this actress and I see her as becoming one of the best character actresses in the business. Benedict Cumberbatch is also astounding as William Ford, Northup's first owner who is more humane than Epps because even though is a slave owner, he doesn't participate in the beating or abuse of his slaves. Brad Pitt is also in this movie for a brief appearance and he certainly makes the most of the limited screen time he has, along with Paul Giamatti, who also has a small role. But one actress who I would also like to talk about is newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, who plays a slave named Patsey. I am amazed that this is her first film role and yet she gives such a powerful performance. She has such a luminous presence on screen and whether she is in peril or not, you just can't help but weep for her. I cross my fingers that she gets an Oscar nomination for her performance, along with other members of the cast.

                  Another thing that I really liked was the direction from Steve McQueen. I like how he uses the long tracking shot technique to not cut away from the sheer horror that takes place on screen. For example, there is one big whipping scene that didn't cut away and I covered my face and started crying because I was mortified by what I witnessed. Also, there is one scene where Edwin is chasing Solomon with a knife which I found to be pretty intense because you can sense the fear that Solomon is going trough. Plus, there is another scene done in a long take that sort of had me in tears where Solomon is with his fellow slaves and his burying a slave that just passed and the other slaves start clapping and singing a song and Solomon eventually joins in. This is McQueen's third feature film, and after watching this, I want to see his other two films, Hunger and Shame. I also liked how even though the film is based on a true story and real-life people, writer John Ridley makes real complex characters out of the slave owners. William Ford is the more humane slave owner yet when he sees evil stuff being done and has the opportunity to do something good, he cowardly shies away. Edwin Epps is much more sadistic, raging, and is a much dirtier human being. Unlike Ford, Epps beats and abuses his slaves yet has tender feelings for Patsey. But Epps' wife, who is equally as cruel as Edwin, has much more of a stillness to her and is more of a subtle villain. She doesn't act as raging as her husband, but still gives off waves of ice and is practically the devil on her husband's shoulders.

                   What I Didn't Like About It:

                 Overall, 12 Years A Slave is an intensely powerful and emotionally gripping drama about slavery that will leave its mark on you long after it is over. I would say that everyone should go see this movie because if you watch it, you will see just how horrible human beings can be and maybe try to not be as horrible and better yourself once it's over. It is at times brutal to watch, but it's very honest. It's not necessarily entertaining, but it's pure art.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Gravity

                        Someone Call An Astronomer, Because 'Gravity' Is Out Of This World

                    When I first heard about this movie, I was intrigued by its premise: Two astronauts stranded in space for the entire film. Then, upon its release, I could not wait to see it because of all the hype it had gotten, so I finally went the week after its release and all the hype that this movie had gotten proved to be true as this is a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking and I can't wait to see how it'll fare this awards season.

                    Gravity is about a veteran astronaut on his last mission named Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and a scientist on her first mission named Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) who, after their space station gets destroyed by falling debris, become stranded and try to figure out a way to survive and make every breath count.
                     What I Liked About It:
                    First off, what I loved the most about this movie was the outstanding direction by Alfonso Cuaron. He starts off the film by doing a 15 to 17-minute long tracking shot and during that scene, your heart just races because you know something's going to happen, yet you don't know when. He does the long tracking shot technique at other points in the film as well and I am amazed at how Cuaron did it for a film that was shot mostly in a green screen. He also manages to incorporate spiritual themes into the story and direct great performances from the two leads. Sandra Bullock really shines as Ryan, the troubled scientist who panics as she and Kowalski are left stranded but tries to build the strength to survive. I would even say her performance in this beats her Oscar-winning turn in The Blind Side, which says something because I really liked her in The Blind Side as well. George Clooney also does a fine job as Matt, the charismatic veteran astronaut who tries to guide Ryan as they both are stranded. Another thing that I liked was the outstanding cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. I am quite fond of Lubezki's earlier work, in films like Tree of Life and Sleepy Hollow, and he certainly made another crowning achievement with this film as the cinematography is absolutely beautiful, especially the scenes where we are shown the view of space.

                  What I Didn't Like About It:

                 Overall, Gravity is an astounding visual spectacle that grasps you as soon as the movie starts and lets you go when the credits roll. It is a film that has the best of both worlds: It is not only a grand-scale visual masterpiece but manages to be a piece of cinematic art as well. I would recommend seeing this in the theater because that is where a film like this is meant to be seen.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Actor (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, since I updated my predictions as to who will be nominated for Best Actress at next year's Oscars, here are the updates I have made for my predictions for Best Actor. Take a look:

Bruce Dern, Nebraska: If he is nominated, this could be Dern's second nomination as he was previously nominated back in 1979 for his supporting turn in Coming Home and as I've said before, the Academy loves to give veteran performers who have either won or been nominated a long while ago another shot at the gold. One thing that I think will benefit Dern is that Nebraska is an Alexander Payne film, and Payne is an Academy favorite. Plus, he won the Cannes Award for Best Actor, so that could be a possible benefit and if he's nominated, he could pull of an Alan Arkin or Christopher Plummer-level win whereas the Academy will think "it's time" and award the gold to him because it could be his last chance.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave: The film itself is really starting to pick up steam, much like some of its stars, which includes its lead Chiwetel Ejiofor. If Ejiofor is nominated, it could be his first nomination and for one of the few movies where he is THE lead, unlike most films where he is typically a supporting player. So a nomination could definitely show his hard work and dedication over the years in Hollywood really starting to pay off.

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips: Now onto someone who has already won 2 Oscars: Mr. Tom Hanks. After having seen Captain Phillips, I would definitely not be crushed if he was nominated as he was fantastic as always. The film itself and his performance are getting rave reviews and the film is becoming a box office success despite its competition with the box office titan Gravity. The film's B.O. success proves that Hanks still has star power so the Academy will probably not only want to reward him for performance but for proving that at age 57, he's still got "it".

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club: McConaughey has made quite a career turnaround in recent years after doing light-hearted rom-com fare, by going with smaller gritty indie projects and winning critical praise for it, as well as winning the Indie Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for Magic Mike. Now, he could potentially have the words "Academy Award-nominee" over his name in movie trailers for starring in Dallas Buyers Club, where he plays an AIDS-victim. He lost a drastic amount of weight for his role and the Academy loves to reward actors who play physically-demanding roles for their efforts. I guess Stewie Griffin can't tell McConaughey how much he sucks now.

Robert Redford, All Is Lost: Now onto another veteran actor who, unlike Bruce Dern, has won before, but ironically, not for acting. Robert Redford has won Best Director back in 1981 for Ordinary People and has only been nominated for Best Actor back in 1974 for The Sting. But in All Is Lost, he plays a man who is shipwrecked in a film that has little to no dialogue and he is the only actor in the entire movie. Redford is getting rave reviews for his performance so not only will that benefit him, but the fact that it is a mentally and physically demanding role, as he has no co-stars for support and he does his own water stunts. So pulling that off at age 77 is an accomplishment that the Academy will want to recognize.

Now onto the dark horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the Final Five:

Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station): Depending on if the film's early July release will hurt his chances.

Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt): There's always a surprise nomination in the acting categories, and because The Hunt was screened at the Academy and is Denmark's selection for Best Foreign Language Film, I would say look out for Mikkelsen.

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street): Depending on how well the film does and his performance. Plus, whether or not the Academy will decide to give him a strong shot at the golden man another year.

Joaquin Phoenix (Her): Film is getting a good reception from critics, but a nod for Phoenix depends on the crowded awards race.

Christian Bale (American Hustle): The film has yet to come out, but if it gets a positive reception, Bale could battle for a slot in the Final Five.

Forest Whitaker (The Butler): The film is both a critical and commercial success, and Whitaker has gotten rave reviews, one saying it is "the performance of his career".

So, those are my predictions for who will be nominated for Best Actor and who could sneak their way into the Final Five. If you agree or disagree or want to add your own picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Actress (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, as we are getting close to the Oscar race, I figured I'd update my predictions for some of the major categories, and hopefully make my predictions for Best Picture as I said I would. But for this post, I will update my predictions for Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine: Blanchett seems to be the surest thing in this category to be nominated so far. After having seen the movie, I can honestly see why and I am rooting for her to go for the gold. Surely, delivering a magnificent performance is like a walk in the park for Blanchett, but in this film, she packs plenty of emotion into one performance: humorous, vulnerable, angry, paranoid, and sad. Plus, the Academy does really love Cate Blanchett as she already has 5 nominations with 1 win for Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator, and Blue Jasmine is a Woody Allen movie, so that's another plus.

Sandra Bullock, Gravity: So far, in the Best Actress race, it seems to be a battle between Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock. I had recently seen Gravity and I think she will get nominated but unsure if she will win because she had recently won Best Actress back in 2010 for The Blind Side. Although I think she'll get nominated because even though Gravity is known for being a visual spectacle, like Avatar and Life of Pi and normally films like those are mostly recognized for their technical achievements, the Academy might want to recognize them for their performances this time around, so that could easily benefit Bullock at her shot at getting nominated.

Judi Dench, Philomena: Much like Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench is another Academy favorite, with six nominations under her belt and 1 win for Best Supporting Actress for Shakespeare in Love. I think not only that will benefit Dench but because she has Harvey Weinstein behind her and he is a staple at the Academy Awards. Plus, the film itself started to pick up steam when it was being screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festival.

Julia Roberts/Meryl Streep, August: Osage County: I couldn't decide between the two because I have a feeling at least one of them will be entered into this category. Although it was announced a while ago that Meryl Streep will be campaigned for Best Supporting Actress to give Roberts a shot at Best Actress but sometimes there are supporting performances that get put into the lead category and vice versa. Either way, I think Meryl is pretty much a lock to get nominated because she is Meryl Streep, one of our greatest actresses with 17 nominations under her belt with 3 wins. Now onto Julia Roberts. I heard she is getting some of the best reviews of her career for her performance in August: Osage County and this seems to be a role out of her comfort zone. In the case of movie stars being nominated, they love rewarding movie stars who take on roles outside of their comfort zone with a nomination.

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks: With the steam that Saving Mr. Banks is picking up, Thompson could be like Mary Poppins use a magic umbrella to fly her way to the Oscars on Oscar night with a 4th Best Actress nomination under her belt. It would also be her 6th nomination overall, and she has won in the past twice for Best Actress for Howard's End and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. As I said before, the Academy does love to give veteran performers who have won for been nominated before in the past another shot at the gold, so that could very easily benefit Thompson. Not only that, but the fact that Saving Mr. Banks is a biopic and she is playing the real-life author of Mary Poppins named P.L. Travers and the Academy does love when actors portray real people.

Now onto the dark horse contenders that could "trot" their way into the Final Five:

Kate Winslet (Labor Day): Despite mixed reviews, critics said her performance was great. Plus, Winslet's another Academy darling.

Berenice Bejo (The Past): Won the Cannes Award for Best Actress, like other past nominees and winners for Best Actress (Holly Hunter, Meryl Streep, Brenda Blethyn, etc.)

Amy Adams (American Hustle): Depending on which category she'll be campaigned for and how big her part is. Would receive her 1st Best Actress nod and 5th overall.

Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color): There's plenty of buzz around Blue is the Warmest Color, but her chances at getting nominated depend on the controversy surrounding the film's NC-17 rating.

So, those are my picks for who I think will be nominated for Best Actress and who could be a possible dark horse contender thus far. If you agree or disagree or if there's any other possible contender you'd like to add, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!