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Analyzing the first month of the NBA season

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As the 2017-2018 NBA season nears the conclusion of its first month, several unexpected and exciting storylines are emerging. In the Eastern Conference, only three of last year’s NBA Playoffs participants would make the postseason if the season ended today (Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors). In fact, the three-time reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, sit 12th in the standings at 4-6, having dropped games to perennial bottom-dwellers such as the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic. The Cavs have struggled on the defensive end, placing near last in the NBA in several major defensive statistical categories, such as opponent adjusted field goal percentage and opponent three-point percentage. The Cavs have also been sluggish out of the gate in many games, trailing seven of their ten opponents after the first quarter.

Due to their poor starts, tension is mounting within the team. Following Sunday’s loss to the struggling Atlanta Hawks, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, a 12-time All-Star, called out the Cavs’ starters for their subpar performances. Wade recently bought out the final year of his contract with the Chicago Bulls in order to be reunited with Lebron James, with whom he won back-to-back NBA titles in 2012 and 2013.

“It’s no secret we’re starting games off awful. Terrible. And [Atlanta] got it going early, and the effort or the focus just wasn’t there to start off, and you try to battle back, you waste a lot of energy trying to come back from 16-18 down, and it’s tough nightly to do this. And we all know this. It’s no secret in this locker room, but our first unit, we got to start off better,” Wade said to reporters in a post-game interview.

On the flip side, the Boston Celtics, despite losing recently signed star forward Gordon Hayward to a gruesome ankle injury in their season opener, have won eight straight games to sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Kyrie Irving, acquired from the Cavaliers in a controversial offseason trade in exchange for beloved and hardworking All-star point guard Isaiah Thomas, defensive specialist Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first round pick, has led the balanced charge, averaging 21 points and 5.6 assists per game. Other key contributors include savvy veteran, Al Horford (14.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists), rookie Jason Tatum (13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds), and Hayward’s more-than-capable replacement, Jaylen Brown (15.8 points, 6.6 rebounds).

One team in the East that has exceeded expectations up to this point is the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons, a team that finished eight games under .500 last year and missed the NBA Playoffs, currently sit at 7-3, only one game off the pace in the East. Off to their best start since 2008-2009, the Pistons’ success can be attributed in large part to improved offensive efficiency and the drastic improvement in free throw shooting of their star center, Andre Drummond. Prior to the season, Drummond held the record for the worst free throw percentage in NBA history (38.1%) but through ten games in 2017-2018, Drummond is shooting a very respectable 75% from the foul line. Even if Drummond’s “hot” free throw shooting cools down, it is still likely that he has improved substantially from his career averages. Drummond is not the Pistons’ only hot offensive performer, however, as the team’s top seven scorers are all averaging point totals above their career averages.

In the Western Conference, after a shaky start, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors seem to have righted the ship, winning their last three games by an average of 22.3 points. The Warriors’ potent offense, led by All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson, once again tops the league in points per game (120.7). Although still early in the season, all five of the Warriors’ starters are shooting a very impressive 50% or better from the field. NBA General Managers’ overwhelming pick to repeat as NBA champions (93% of GMs selected the Warriors to win in an annual pre-season survey), the Warriors seem to be hitting their stride, and at their best, they are nearly unbeatable.

One team in the West that has failed to meet expectations is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last season, the Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Over the offseason, in an attempt to bolster their roster and improve on last year’s results, the Thunder acquired two superstars, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, to assist reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. However, despite a drastically improved supporting cast, the Thunder are a mediocre 4-5. One would expect the team to improve over the course of the season as George, Anthony, and Westbrook gain experience playing with one another, but the three superstars have not yet figured out a way to share the ball. The Thunder are averaging barely over 20 assists per game, only good for 13th in the NBA.

It is too early to know how the 2017-2018 season will end, but I expect struggling teams like the Cavaliers and the Thunder to finish the season near the top of their respective conferences, while teams lacking stars, such as the Pistons, the Magic, and the Indiana Pacers, will likely cool down from their hot starts. Anticipate the NBA’s “superteams,” such as the Warriors, Cavs, Thunder, Rockets, and Celtics, to battle it out for the NBA crown. That being said, it will be difficult for any team to wrestle the title away from Curry, Durant, and the rest of the Golden State Warriors. I expect the Warriors to once again dominate the NBA and take home their third title in four years.

College football playoff preview

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The calendars have been flipped to November. The final third of the college football season is here. As the dust settles and a clearer picture of the state of many teams emerges, it seems apt to look forward to the College Football Playoffs and who will be crowned as the national champion.

The Contenders:

There’s a pretty clear consensus on who the number one team in the country is. As it seems to be most seasons, it is the University of Alabama’s to lose. They possess the number one ranked scoring defense in the country and the fifth best scoring offense. They have a young, dynamic quarterback and a defensive front that inspires awe in opponents, in spite of many personnel losses to the NFL in the offseason. But upon taking a closer look, it doesn’t seem all that impressive given their schedule so far. Their season opener was against then #3-ranked Florida State, a game that was billed as a potential national championship preview. Then Florida State lost quarterback Deondre Francois in that game and their season has been an absolute disaster since. Alabama’s only win over a conference opponent with a winning record was against underachieving Texas A&M, and that was a surprisingly close game. The Crimson Tide are about to hit the thick of their schedule, with a game against nationally ranked LSU this weekend and then games on the road at #21 Mississippi State and #16 Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Should they stumble even slightly, there are a number of other teams looking to take their spot in the national conversation.

Georgia is another 8-0 Southeastern Conference team, and they might just have the strength of schedule advantage over Alabama, in spite of playing in the weaker SEC East. They went on the road earlier in the season to beat a now top five ranked Notre Dame squad in an absolute nailbiter, and they beat up on Mississippi State earlier in the season. Many had doubts about the Bulldogs’ ability to succeed after the loss of quarterback Jacob Eason, the number one overall recruit in the class of 2016, to a knee injury, but Jake Fromm, another top-ranked quarterback recruit, has stood tall in his stead. And the Bulldogs have proven they have other ways to win, as Fromm only attempted seven passes in a 42-7 win over Florida, where the defense and run game shone. Auburn still stands in their way of a perfect regular season, but should the Bulldogs win out, they’ll likely be playing Alabama in the SEC Championship game, where both teams will probably make the Playoff regardless of the outcome if both are undefeated going in, but nonetheless, a game that should decide who’s number one.

Ohio State beat Penn State in possibly the best game of the season on Saturday night and vaulted themselves back into the playoff conversation. After an early season loss to Oklahoma combined with a seemingly unstoppable Penn State team, the chances of Ohio State making another appearance in the College Football Playoff seemed slim. But then J.T. Barrett demonstrated why he’s a top quarterback prospect for the NFL, going 13 for 13 in the final quarter before delivering an absolute beauty of a strike to Marcus Baugh in what proved to be the game-winning play. Now the Buckeyes have made it through the heart of the schedule and have only one game left against a nationally-ranked opponent Michigan State, before they have an opportunity to play in the Big 10 Championship game for a berth in the Playoff.

Wisconsin is another one of those few remaining undefeated teams, and also possibly one of the most overlooked ones. They play in the lowly Big 10 West and have no games against nationally-ranked opponents. They’re practically guaranteed to represent the West in the Big 10 Championship game. What they’ll be able to do there is unclear. They’ve played a fairly middling schedule in terms of difficulty, and all their wins have been uncomfortable, though not impressive. Faced with a team of the caliber of Ohio State or Alabama, it’s not clear if they’d be able to hold their own. Their only path to the playoffs is likely an undefeated regular season and a Big 10 Championship game win.

If Ohio State wins out in the regular season, Penn State is almost certainly out of the playoff. But there is still a path to the playoff for Penn State as a non-conference champion. This would have to involve them winning out, and they still have a game against nationally-ranked Michigan State on the schedule. But they lack that signature win this season, a win like Ohio State’s over Oklahoma last year that boosted them into the playoff in spite of their not even playing in the Big 10 Championship. It looks like time has run out for Nittany Lions fans.

The Big 12 is in a very interesting place at the moment. It currently has four 4-1 teams in conference play (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State), all of which are currently ranked in the top 15. Oklahoma is the only team that possesses a nonconference signature win over then #2-ranked Ohio State, but has yet to play TCU and Oklahoma State. Iowa State has taken down both TCU and Oklahoma but is only 6-2. Oklahoma State still has tough games against both Oklahoma and Iowa State. The odds of the Big 12 champion having two losses is fairly high. Overall, it seems the clearest path to the playoff is Oklahoma’s. Should quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Sooners win out, the committee would be hard-pressed to exclude them. If any of the other teams win out and win the conference championship game, there are decent odds that they will be left out, even if they are only a one-loss team. The hopes of Big 12 fans are being firmly shouldered by Oklahoma right now.

The Pacific 12 Conference is another interesting situation. There is only one loss team in the conference, the Washington Huskies. But the Huskies still have tough matchups against #18 Stanford and #25 Washington State. The Huskies are the only team that has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. But a two-loss conference champion simply will not cut it given the quality of teams this season. Should the Huskies win out, they might make the playoff, and even that is not certain given their relatively easy schedule and lack of signature non-conference wins.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has two legitimate contenders for a spot in the playoff. Miami is currently undefeated but has played one less game than most other teams because of Hurricane Irma. Clemson, the defending national champion, suffered a shocking loss to Syracuse, something the playoff committee will not look too kindly upon. Miami also has some very difficult matchups over the next two weeks, namely against Top 15 teams Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. They have a chance to impress over the next few weeks; the questions is whether they will rise to the occasion. Clemson, on the other hand, should they get past the roadblock of #20 North Carolina State, has a fairly easy finish to the season and will likely play in the ACC Championship game. Should they win out, it would be difficult to keep them out of the playoff.

The final contender is Notre Dame. Notre Dame is in a very unique situation because it is not in a conference and thus cannot play for a conference championship, something the committee values rather highly. Therefore they have scheduled some very tough matchups to pad their resume, and boy, have they risen to the occasion. They have wins over now-ranked Michigan State, USC, and NC State. They have yet to play currently-ranked Miami and Stanford. Their lone loss this season was a one point loss to Georgia. If Notre Dame wins out, they will have one of the most impressive resumes in the history of the College Football Playoff and will more or less be guaranteed to make it in.

At this point in the season, my predictions for playoff teams are Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.  

Predicting the success of the NBA rookie class

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The 2017-2018 NBA season was highly anticipated, partly because of the frantic free agency period, but largely due to the amount of rookie talent that entered the league. Big name college basketball stars like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Malik Monk inundated sports broadcasts, articles, and talk shows for months in preparation for the season. The only problem, however, was that all of these conversations revolved around pure speculation. While we had seen many of these rookies play in high school or college, it was still largely a mystery whether their play style would translate to the NBA and have a tangible impact on their respective teams. Now, with the first few games of the season in the rearview mirror, it is becoming more possible to discern which rookies have had the biggest impact on their teams, and which rookies will continue to contribute throughout the year.

NBA fans around the globe may be tired of hearing his name already, but I don’t care. Lonzo Ball rose to prominence as one of the most hyped-up talents the basketball world has ever seen, partly due to his father, Lavar Ball. His father became known for going on radio shows, TV stations, calling his son “better than Steph Curry,” and generally making many outlandish claims about him. Regardless, I believe that Lonzo Ball is going to be the truth, and although his opening night performance versus the Houston Rockets was disappointing, it should just be an anomaly. Asking any rookie to show up and ball out in their first game is hard enough, but when Patrick Beverley (one of the best guard defenders in the league) is guarding you the whole night, it’s a completely different story. To see what he’s truly capable of, you have to look at his second game versus the Phoenix Suns where he had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists (one assist short of becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double). The Lonzo Ball on the court in Phoenix resembled the Lonzo that so many fans fell in love with during his career at UCLA. Ball certainly has a lot of upside, and while only time will reveal the extent of his impact on Los Angeles basketball, it’s safe to say that he is going to be a solid NBA player in the years to come.

Next up is Jayson Tatum. In his first and only year at Duke University, Tatum was an integral component to the team’s success in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). His hard work, confidence, and sheer ability positioned Duke as one of the best college basketball teams in the country. It wasn’t until the ACC tournament that Tatum showed just how good he is. With 25 points against Louisville in the quarterfinal game, 24 versus North Carolina in the semifinals, and 19 versus Notre Dame in the championship, Tatum demonstrated that he is able to elevate his game when it truly matters, much like his current Celtics teammate and fellow former Duke star Kyrie Irving.

After being drafted at the #3 overall pick by the Celtics, many Boston fans were excited for the season to start as they believed that their system, coaches, and winning culture would be the perfect environment for a fresh-faced Tatum to thrive. So far, he has not disappointed, and is currently averaging 15 points, six rebounds, and two assists. While he has shown great flashes of athleticism and a true ability to shoot the ball, perhaps his most impressive quality so far is his efficiency. Shooting just above 50 percent from the field is an impressive statistic for anyone in the league, let alone a rookie. Much like Lonzo Ball, you should expect to see and hear great things from Tatum in the future.

Last but not least is Ben Simmons. Simmons spent a year at Louisiana State University before being drafted #1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA draft. While this is technically Simmons’ second year in the league, an injury prevented him from stepping on the court for a single game last year, which means that this year is technically his rookie season. Simmons is an unbelievable talent and demonstrates remarkable ball handling and passing abilities for someone who is 6 feet 10 inches tall. What really has separated him from the rest of the pack, however, is his basketball IQ. When he is on the floor and the ball is in his hands, he knows exactly where his teammates are on the court and where they will be going. This has allowed for him to complete incredible passes with ease. What Simmons will continue to struggle with, however, is his inability to consistently hit a 15-foot shot. If he can prove that he can do so, his potential is unlimited.

Currently, Simmons is averaging 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists through six games. While his team is a disappointing 2-4, there is only so much Ben can do. Simmons will be required to pick up the slack even more as fellow rookie Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely with an injury. That being said, Philadelphia 76ers fans should be more than happy with what they’ve from him so far.

With all the buzz behind this year’s rookie class, it seems like the NBA will avoid a repeat of last season’s weak Rookie of the Year race. It remains to be seen how this strong class will look years from now. Hopefully for NBA fans, the 2017 class will produce as much talent as the 2003 class, which included future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh, among other star players. With the limited preview seen so far, it looks like this might be the case, and another slate of NBA superstars is coming.

MLB Postseason Preview

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October is here, and with it comes the MLB playoffs, one of the most exciting times of the year. Last year saw an instant classic play out in the World Series as the Cubs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series in extra innings in Game 7 and shattered a 108-year streak without a World Series title, the longest in history. Will the Cubs repeat as World Series champions? Will the Red Sox win for the fourth time since 2000? Will the Indians snap their 68-year streak without a title, the current longest active streak?  

The American League:

Cleveland Indians:

The Indians, last year’s AL pennant winners, come surging into the postseason possessing the second best record in baseball, and tops in the American League. In one of the best storylines of this season, the Indians won a record 22 games in a row between August and September, cementing their spot atop the AL Central and all of baseball in the eyes of many. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor led an offense that ranked in the top 10 in the MLB in most hitting stats (second in On Base Percentage and Slugging). The Cleveland pitching rotation was buoyed by breakout performances from Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco as they posted the best Earned Run Average and strikeouts of any team, along with the ever dominant trio of starter Corey Kluber, reliever Andrew Miller, and closer Cody Allen. With a pitching staff that deep, Cleveland looks poised to make a deep run in October, and they stand only 11 wins away from breaking that 68-year title drought.

Houston Astros:

Jose Altuve has been the one of two or three of the best players in baseball this year. The leading candidate for American League MVP has led a team that until two years ago no one thought anything of, a team that only a few years ago had a payroll less than Alex Rodriguez’s salary, to an AL West top finish and a second seed in the playoffs. Dallas Keuchel, whose workload has been carefully managed all year, has put in a fantastic season a year removed from a wholly mediocre one (admittedly, he won the Cy Young Award the season before). It could be the year for the Astros to win their first-ever World Series title. They face off against the Red Sox in the AL Divisional Series, beginning today.

Boston Red Sox:

There were high hopes placed on the Red Sox coming into this season as they traded for Chris Sale to bolster their rotation that already contained $217 million man David Price, now pitching out of the bullpen, and 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. And while Sale has been masterful all season, leading the MLB in strikeouts, Price has struggled through injury while Porcello had a performance similar to, and maybe worse than, Dallas Keuchel’s last season. However, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Doug Fister have all emerged as solid members of the rotation, and that has helped to carry the Red Sox into the postseason as they’ve struggled with inconsistent hitting. They lost David Ortiz to retirement, and Mookie Betts has regressed from last year’s MVP-caliber season, but Andrew Benintendi has become a young star in left field, and the Red Sox will hope to get hot as they face off as against the Astros.

New York Yankees:

No one thought the “Baby Bombers” would be this good this soon. But Aaron Judge has looked incredible at times, shattering the rookie record for home runs in a season. Luis Severino posted a sub-3.00 ERA in his first full season in the majors. Gary Sanchez posted a solid year after tearing up the majors with 20 home runs in 53 games last season. The Yankees have one of the best farm systems in baseball. They have star power coming out of the bullpen in Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, maybe the best closer since Mariano Rivera. They’re poised to win now and win later, and they look to get that started off against the Indians after beating the Twins Tuesday night.

The National League:

Los Angeles Dodgers:

When the Dodgers were 91-36, all anyone could talk about was whether or not they’d break the all-time record for wins. Those folks who said no were surely in for a treat as the Dodgers went 1-16 over their next few games before a 12-6 “rebound” to finish the season 104-58, well below the record. Clayton Kershaw looks as good as ever, and they picked up Yu Darvish, the former Rangers ace, midseason. Alex Wood has been a breakout star in the rotation while Cody Bellinger has lit up opposing pitchers almost as well as Aaron Judge. The Dodgers have the roster to advance to the World Series. But do they have the composure to go all the way?

Washington Nationals:

Max Scherzer is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s the kind of guy you wish you could start everyday. He’s also the guy who could potentially make no starts as he deals with an injured hamstring. The Nationals do still have Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, who have put up stellar numbers this season in the rotation. Add to that the hitting abilities of Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman, and you’ve got yourself a potential juggernaut in this postseason. Can they come together to win Dusty Baker his first title as a manager?

Chicago Cubs:

The reigning World Series champs got off to a rough start. The roster put together by wunderkind Theo Epstein was still intact, but they just couldn’t find their spark. Kyle Schwarber had a rough year after his World Series heroics. Jake Arrieta struggled with his command and velocity through the first few months before turning it around in spectacular fashion after the All-Star break. Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, and reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant still combined to hit 90+ home runs. This is a team with a very high ceiling, but also a pretty low floor. Their chances to repeat as world champions all depends on which of those teams takes the field against the Nationals come Friday.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Greinke rebounded for a 17-win season with a 3.20 ERA to help propel the Diamondbacks to the first wildcard spot in the National League. Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen should be applauded for his midseason acquisition of J.D. Martinez, who hit 29 home runs in only 62 games in the desert. Paul Goldschmidt remains a perennial MVP candidate with a .297/.404/.563 slash line to go along with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. Robbie Ray looks like he might just be the next Randy Johnson (just a tad bit shorter). The Diamondbacks have great depth which might just give them an edge in the playoffs.

Colorado Rockies:

It’s rare for a team to have two legitimate MVP candidates in the way the Rockies have Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, though if it’s going to happen anywhere, it’ll happen in Colorado (the high altitude has notoriously helped hitters pad their stats). And it’s even rarer for a Rockies team to have a top 10 ERA as a staff when they spend 81 games at Coors Field. But manager Bud Black has done an exceptional job managing his pitching staff to do just that. The Rockies had only one pitcher, German Marquez, throw more than 150 innings, but they made it work with no real ace. They’ll have to travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks Wednesday night.

My Predictions:

The Indians advance out of the American League after beating the Yankees and the Red Sox in the Championship Series. The Nationals beat the Cubs and then use their hitting prowess to overpower the Dodgers in the Championship Series. The Indians beat the Nationals in six games to claim their first World Series title in 68 years after last year’s heartbreaking loss.

Hit or miss: Oscar predictions

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After months of predictions, campaigns, and hand-wringing, Oscar nominations were finally announced last week. Setting aside some disappointing snubs (“Inside Llewyn Davis” only scored two nominations, and “Fruitvale Station” received none) and interesting surprises (“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”? Really?), the competition this year should make for an interesting night. There is still plenty of time for shake-ups – voting doesn’t begin until mid-February, with the ceremony happening on March 2nd – but here are my initial picks for the top seven awards.


Best Picture

Will win: 12 Years A Slave

Should win: 12 Years A Slave

“12 Years” is, without a doubt, the most impressive film of the year. It’s a fearless portrait of slavery and features impressive performances from both newcomers and veterans.

Might win: “Gravity” could snag the top prize from “12 Years”. The films tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild Awards, which has correctly predicted the Best Picture Oscar race for the past six years. The star-studded “American Hustle” is also a possibility, although it’s momentum has been diminishing steadily throughout the season.


Best Director:

Will win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”

Should win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”

Cuaron’s “Gravity”, a 90 minute thriller about a stranded astronaut, is a technical and creative feat.  The film is beautifully photographed – it opens with a single expansive take that lasts nearly 10 minutes – and well paced. However, this is Cuaron’s first nomination and he is up against eight-time nominee and one-time winner Martin Scorsese (“Wolf of Wall Street”) and two-time nominees David O. Russell (“American Hustle”), and Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”).


Best Actor:

Wil win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Should win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”

Matthew McConaughey’s performance in “Dallas” is impressive, and not just because of his much-discussed weight loss.  But it pains me that Ejiofor’s turn as Solomon Northup won’t be recognized. Ejiofor’s performance is nuanced and gut-wrenching, but McConaughey’s slightly flashier role (combined with his great comeback story) seems to be too much for voters to resist.


Best Actress:

Will win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Should win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Blanchett’s performance as a modern-day Blanche DuBois has been racking up awards this season. The recognition is well-deserved, as Blanchett’s performance is a highlight of her already impressive career.

Best Supporting Actor:

Will win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Should win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Is there an award Jared Leto hasn’t won this season? His performance as a trans woman living with AIDs  is so striking I don’t feel conflicted that Leto taking home the statuette seems inevitable.


Best Supporting Actress:

Will: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Should: Lupita Nyong’o. “12 Years a Slave”

Might win: Jennifer Lawrence. “American Hustle”

JLaw and Nyong’o have been neck and neck for most of awards season, but the latter’s performance is unquestionably stronger.  Lawrence did take home the Golden Globe this year, but Nyong’o has won 29 of the 36 awards she and Lawrence have been nominated for so far, so I am confident the Academy will make the right choice.

Best Original Screenplay:

Will: “American Hustle”, David O. Russell and Eric Singer

Should: “Her”, Spike Jonze

Best Original Screenplay is one of the most crowded and competitive slots of the year. Four of the five nominees are also up for Best Picture and there is no clear front runner.  Although through-provoking and sharp screenplay of “Her” was my favorite this year, I think Russell and Singer’s over-the-top treatment of the 1970s AbScam scandal will distract voters from it’s more muted competitors.

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