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Oscar Nominations 2014: Ti-ied to the whippin' post!

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"Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth; turn melancholy forth to funerals."

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---Shakespeare---

Reety aw-righty, looks like that time of year again. The Word has come down from the Hills of Beverly, and we petty mortals begin contemplating with baited breath that most crucial and all-consuming of issues:

"What will (insert name) wear on Oscar Night?"

With that in mind it falls to even pettier mortals to waste time considering nonsensical items. Like, for instance, what films and people will go home with a statuette the night of March 2. I shall leave matters of fashion to loftier minds and remain in the trenches. Yes, yes, I know. But someone has to suffer and, since my stomach is already sort of rolling around after looking at some of the nominations, I figure let's go for the quinella. Yes, pumpkins, once again it's time for America's Favorite Game Show: How Wrong Will Uncle Mikey Be!

Best Picture: Quite a line-up here. And quite a tricky one. I suspect some considerable money will be changing hands at the outcome of this particular category. Amazingly enough we not only have some films worth voting for, we also have not one, but two science-fiction titles. Wow. This doubtless presents quite a dilemma for the fossilized hags at AMPAS (many of whom are still flagellating themselves with stale Twizzlers over the fact that "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" walked off with eleven Oscars . . . including Best Picture . . . back in 2004).

And, as usual, the serpent of politics slithers through the garden. Does McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" get Best Picture because it's a great film, because it'll make people feel socially good about awarding it, or both? Or will it get Best Picture because there are people out there still confused about how Steve McQueen can direct movies when he died back in 1980?

(Oh, right. Tell me there aren't people out who actually think that. I dare you.)

This category's going to be a real tough call. Right now I'm going with a four-way fight between "12 Years a Slave", "Captain Phillips", "Gravity" and "Dallas Buyers Club", with "Her" as a possible joker.

Probable Winner: "12 Years a Slave".

Personal Preference: "Gravity" or "Her".

Best Actor: It's so tempting to go with Chiwetel Ejiofor here. The only thing that might doom his chances is that he's already picked up practically every other cinema award known to man for his work with "12 Years a Slave", so an Oscar might be considered excess. I'm thinking that, if he gets the award, then that'll be a clear sign that another film will get Best Picture (and if he doesn't get an Oscar, then that'd be a bankable clue that the movie will get the Best Picture nod). Meanwhile, we've also got Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey in the running, so this'll probably be another nail biter up to the point where the envelope's opened.

Probable Winner: Either Ejiofor or Bale.

Personal Preference: Bruce Dern.

Best Actress: Yeah, you people've been waiting for me to get to this one, haven't you? I can hear it: "Hey, Uncle Mikey! Amy Adams got a nomination."

Urrrrrhhhh . . .

Okay, here's the knife. Go ahead. Twist it in me. Go on.

(Sigh.)

All I can say is that Meryl Streep's been to the well so many times already, so the voting might automatically go against her. Unless, of course, people feel they have to throw some sort of bone to "August: Osage County". Streep (and Adams) are also up against a rather strong competing line-up, but Sandra Bullock has committed the unpardonable sin of getting a nomination while appearing in a science-fiction film. Here's a watching point similar to Ejiofor: if Bullock gets the Oscar then it'll possibly mean that "Gravity" won't get Best Picture (and vice-versa).

(Labyrinthine? The Oscars? Pshaw!)

Probable Winner: Amy Adams or Cate Blanchett.

Personal Preference: Judi Dench.

Best Director: I'm giving this to Steve McQueen. I'm willing to stretch a point for Alexander Payne, but dark satire doesn't often play as well at the Oscars as it does in the theater, so I'll tap David Russell as the joker in this race.

Probable Winner: Steve McQueen.

Personal Preference: Martin Scorsese.

Best Original Screenplay: Well . . . I was tempted to pick Woody Allen for the winner here. But Mia Farrow smarted off about him not too long ago (perhaps justifiably) so that puts a lot of baggage on the Allen supporters. Spike Jonze might get the award in order to throw "Her" a bone. Otherwise I'm going with Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for "Dallas Buyers Club".

Probable Winner: Borten and Wallack.

Personal Preference: Spike Jonze.

This, That and the Other: What? $190 million dollars to make, and "World War Z" couldn't score one nomination? What do we learn from this, pumpkins?

Biggest Surprise: Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger" actually picks up two nominations.

In the "It'll Be A Cold Day In Hell Before . . ." category: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" doesn't rate anything higher than a nod for Sound Mixing (and I'm betting it'll lose out to "Gravity" or "Captain Phillips").

"Gravity" will also score Visual Effects (beating out both "Iron Man 3" and "Star Trek: Into Darkness"). You heard it here first, folks.

And that'll be as far on the limb as I'll go. Make your own notes and then, on the morning of March 3, we can find out how woefully far off base the Unkster was.

(What? Actually watch the Oscars? I'm an old man and I need my sleep.)

(But if someone goes into a Jacqueline Bisset fugue state while on the stage, feel free to send an alerting e-mail my way. I might still be up.)

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