Grading the 2014 Academy Award Nominees

As far as Oscar nominations go, this morning’s announcements weren’t nearly as contentious as they have been in years past, but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t a snub or two to complain about. With that in mind, I took a look at several of the major award categories and graded the Academy on their selections.

Best Picture

best film

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

No real surprises here, expect perhaps for the absence of Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which had more than its share of champions. I’m also a little shocked to see “Philomena” make the final list (that one reeks of the Harvey Weinstein School of Schmoozing), especially over the likes of Palm d’Or winner “Blue is the Warmest Color,” which was ineligible for Best Foreign Language Film due to a silly technicality. Of course, this category is essentially down to the three biggest nominee getters: “Gravity” (my pick for the prize), “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave.”


Best Director

best director

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

This one is Alfonso Cuarón’s to lose. The only thing standing in his way is that the Academy gave the award to Ang Lee last year for a similar reason, in which case, Steve McQueen could end up making history as the first African-American director to win the prize. The only real snub here is Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips,” though he was likely on the bubble.


Best Actor


Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

This is one of the best crops of Best Actor nominees in ages, with the Oscar virtually up for grabs. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the frontrunner, but considering that some people thought Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”) and Robert Redford (“All Is Lost”) were also shoo-ins to receive nominations, it just goes to show how competitive this category is really is. It was essentially a seven- or eight-horse race, and only five were invited to the party. Still, I would have chosen Hanks over Bruce Dern for that final scene alone.


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Robin Shou at “Death Race 3” premiere. Photo by Paul Miller

Photographer Paul Miller was in South Africa for the filming of “Death Race 3: Inferno” and he had the opportunity to interview many of the cast members, including Robin Shou (“Mortal Kombat”). Robin also made an appearance at the “Death Race 3” premiere as you can see in Paul’s photo above.

Check out the video interview below where Robin discusses his character and also discussed martial arts.


Our holiday gift guide is live

holiday gift guide

Get ready for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season with our annual holiday gift guide. You’ll find sections for Gadgets, Games, Guy Stuff, things for her, Movies, TV, Stocking Stuffers and things for the home.


Movies and Poker: Celebrating a Legendary Card Game with Four Entertaining Films

Both movies and poker have been mainstays in home entertainment for decades. If you are planning a night filled with poker games along with your friends, what could be better than watching a great poker flick while playing? There are several wonderful movies that involve this legendary card sport, but some classics are listed below. The next time you plan a poker game with your friends, try incorporating one of these titles into the night; if your friends love poker, they are sure to enjoy them.


This 1998 film helped to turbocharge the poker craze. Here’s an overview from our review:

“Rounders” offers an inside look at the world of high-stakes gambling through the eyes of Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), a New York City law student with a natural talent for a good hand and the ability to read virtually any opponent. After dropping $30,000 one night to local poker thug Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), Mike turns away from the game forever to focus on his studies, much to the approval of his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). Working a dead-end job to pay off his school loans, Mike remains clean for nine months until his best friend Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison with a giant gambling debt to his name. When Mike takes a stake in the debt, putting his own head on the chopping block, he must return to the card table and play the game better than he ever has before in order to meet Teddy KGB’s 48-hour payment deadline.

The poker scenes are excellent in this film, which focuses on the psychology of the game as much as the game itself. If you can’t read people, you’ll never be a great poker player.

A Big Hand for a Little Lady

In this film, Mary is the wife of a poker player who puts their entire family wealth on the line for a large poker tournament. She does not approve, but gets put into a tight situation. When Meredity (Mary’s husband) suffers from a heart attack, she steps in to play in his place. This movie is a masterpiece in poker related drama, which might strike the interest of female players.


In this film you meet a character named Maverick, who is on a journey to compete in a large poker tournament. However, he lacks the necessary funds to pay for the entry fee. He knows he has a solid chance at winning, but must raise $3,000 before the tournament. He starts by trying to recover old debts, but this quickly turns into a nightmare. He finds himself being pursued, as certain people are out to stop him from competing. He is continuously betrayed and rivaled, so this comedy doubles over as a drama. It has several twists in the plot, making it a wonderful post-game flick. The main character in this movie is Mel Gibson, and it was released in the 1990’s.

The Cincinnati Kid

This is an older film; a classic in the poker world starring Steve McQueen as “The Kid.” Most diehard poker fans have seen this movie, due to its suspenseful climax. The Kid is an ambitious poker player that wants to try his hand at a game with a renowned poker player; who just happens to come into town. During the showdown, cheating makes for an interesting twist, but does not exactly affect the outcome. During the course of the movie, The Kid loses nearly everything, including his girlfriend. This classic poker flick will have experienced poker players on the edge of their seats, especially if they have yet to see it.


Halle Berry in new Revlon campaign

Revlon sure knows how to pick their spokesmodels.

Halle Berry launched a new Revlon ad campaign this month for the new ColorStay Whipped Crème Makeup. This beautiful photo of Halle was from the launch last month at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. We love the longer, curly hair that she’s showing off in this photos. She’s a talented actress and one of the most beautiful women on the planet so this is another coup for Revlon. Look for her later this year starring in “Cloud Atlas.”