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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Rob Reiner |||
Rob Reiner

Son of comic genius Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner has picked up the family torch and directed some of the most memorable, quotable, and endearing comedies of the last two decades, and he’s no schmuck when it comes to dramas either.

This is a hilarious spoof filled with biting satire about a filmmaker making a documentary (or “rockumentary” if you will) about a once famous raucous British heavy metal band on a disastrous U.S concert tour, featuring the magnificent talents of co-stars/co-scripters Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. This granddaddy of the mocumentary speaks to the hard rockin’, air guitar playing 14-year-old boy in us all.

In this low-key sleeper hit based on a Stephen King story four young boys in 1959 Oregon set out on a camping trip in order to see a dead body one of them accidentally found. This is a loving memoir to a simpler time with an exceptionally talented young cast tentatively taking the steps on a road that leads to maturity.

Reiner turns a wry, even caustic, eye on men and women in friendship and in love, and that gray area in between. This is an engaging and smartly performed comedy about a pair of longtime platonic friends who turn a feud into a lasting friendship, determined not to let sex mess up a great relationship, until love threatens to ruin everything.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Oscar Handicap 2014: Best Picture of the Year

By EdwardHavens

March 1st, 2014

We begin (or conclude, depending on how you go about perusing) our eleventh series of articles with the most important and prestigious award in all cinema.

Oscar Handicap 2014: Best Picture of the Year

We took a look many of the major categories over the past 35 ceremonies (for the films of 1979 through 2012), and found some surprising mathematical data, which may give some pause about who might win on Sunday night.

Please note: These are not predictions on how the awards will turn out. Like in baseball, there are always more stats that could delve deeper into any category (like how well Buster Posey hits with men in scoring position, with less than two outs, at AT&T Park, during day games, against left handers, on artificial turf, when the count is 3-1, etc.), but these numbers are meant to entertain and start some interesting discussions about the nominees.

For clarification purposes, when there is mention of a pre-award favorite, this describes how this person won at least two of the top five pre-Oscar awards, between the Golden Globe for Drama, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. Also, when there is mention of someone playing a real person, the character that actor played must not be a fictionalized version of a real person. When Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor in 2011 for playing Dicky Eklund, Dicky is a real person. If Bale wins for "American Hustle," his Irving Rosenfeld is a fictionalized version of real-life con man and ABSCAM particpant Melvin Weinberg, and thus would not qualify.

And now, on with the show...

There are three basic trains of thought: that "12 Years a Slave" is one of the powerful and moving stories to make it to cinema screens in many years and is deserving of a Best Picture Oscar; that "Gravity" is a masterful film from the sixth teaming of a virtuoso director and cinematographer and is deserving of a Best Picture Oscar; and that "American Hustle" is a begiling mix of comedy and drama rarely seen in movies today and is deserving of a Best Picture Oscar.

So which one will it be? Or is there a dark horse candidate possibly lurking in the shadows?

The Breakdowns:
1) Movies with nominated screenplays have won 34 of the past 35 ceremonies (97.14%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
2) Films nominated for Best Editing have won for Best Picture 34 of 35 (97.14%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave
3) Best Picture winners have come from movies whose directors were also nominated for Best Director 33 of 35 (94.29%). Advantage: American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
4) Films with at least five other nominations have won Best Picture 76 of the 85 previous Oscar ceremonies (89.41%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave
5) Best Picture winners have had at least one acting nomination 31 of 35 (88.57%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
6) Movies with a screenplay nominated by the WGA have won Best Picture 29 of 35 (82.86%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street
7) Best Picture winners have lined up with the winner of the Directors Guild's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Award 28 of 35 (80%). Advantage: Gravity
8) The Best Picture winner has also won the PGA Golden Laurel Award 18 of the 24 times the latter award has been presented (75%). Advantage: Gravity, 12 Years a Slave
9) Stories predominantly set outside the past thirty years have won 24 of 35 (68.57%). Advantage: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave
10) Pictures that have received the Golden Globe for drama have won 20 of 35 (57.14%). Advantage: 12 Years a Slave
11) Best Picture Winners have come from materials previously published or produced 20 of 35 (57.14%). Advantage: Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
12) If the director of the film is not also a producer on the film, that film has won 19 of 35 (54.29%). Advantage: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, Philomena
13) Movies primarily set in the United States of America have won 18 of 35 (51.43%). Slight advantage: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
Mythbuster) The winner of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble Cast has won an Oscar 9 of the 18 times the former award has previously been given. Advantage: Everyone and no one

By The Numbers
It's a tight race, but it appears "American Hustle" has the slightest of edges over "12 Years a Slave," but it really is a race too close to call.

"American Hustle" (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11, +12, +13 (341 of 494, 69.03%)
"Captain Phillips" (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca): +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, +11, +12, -13 (301 of 494, 60.93%)
"Dallas Buyers Club" (Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter): +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, +12, +13 (297 of 494, 60.12%)
"Gravity" (Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman): -1, +2 ,-3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, -9, -10, -11, -12, -13 (301 of 494, 60.93%)
"Her" (Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay): +1, -2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12, +13 (167 of 494, 33.81%)
"Nebraska" (Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa): +1, -2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, +12, +13 (295 of 494, 59.72%)
"Philomena" (Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward): +1, -2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, +11, +12, -13 (176 of 494, 35.63%)
"12 Years a Slave" (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8, +9, +10, +11, -12, +13 (337 of 494, 68.22%)
"The Wolf of Wall Street" (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskof): +1, -2, +3, -4, +5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, +11, -12, +13 (231 of 494, 46.76%)

So, how did we do last year?

Our Oscar Handicap was correct in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor, both Supporting categories, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Language Film and Animated Film, while missing on Director (we had Spielberg over Lee, 63.53% to 53.53%), Actress (Chastain over Lawrence, 70.31% to 63.28%) and Original Screenplay (Amour over Djanog Unchained, 62.99% to 61.52%).


All articles in this series:
Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature