ON GUARD – Staff Sgt. George Kendall of the Alaska National Guard in Anchorage, left, helps attendees at the Sitka Armory open house dress up in military police riot gear Wednesday night. The open house included information on the Guard's Explorer after-school program, which teaches leadership skills. The free program is open to high school students between the ages of 14 and 20. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Dan's Oscar Picks

The Academy has put together quite a list this year. There are so many strong performances and fantastic films that choosing winners becomes difficult. There hasn’t been a race like this in a few years. Place those bets...

As much as I’d like “Gravity” to win, and it deserves to, this one seems pretty locked. The Academy has a long history of leaning toward a film like “12 Years” over one like “Gravity.”
    “12 Years a Slave”
Alfonso deserves this more than any other director this year. “Gravity” is daring and beautiful. Since it’s not likely to win best picture, it’s likely to be recognized for best director – the way Ang Lee earned it last year when “Argo” took best picture.
    Alfonso Cuaron - “Gravity”
I’m torn between 11-time nominated Roger Deakins’ work on “Prisoners” and Lubezki’s on “Gravity.” Both are impressive, but “Gravity” will likely take home a handful of golden boys and this could easily be among them.
    Emmanuel Lubezki - “Gravity.”
It’s not a perfect movie, no, but “Dallas Buyers Club” has some remarkable performances. McConaughey demonstrates, yet again, that he is a terrific actor, far more capable than just “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” With his performance in “Mud” and in HBO’s “True Detective,” well, it’s basically the year of McConaughey. If not Mc, I’d like “The Burbs” alum Bruce Dern to take this one home for “Nebraska.”.
    Matthew McConaughey - “Dallas Buyers Club”
She probably has already cleared a space on her trophy shelf. Blanchett should take this home, no question.
    Cate Blanchett - “Blue Jasmine”
This one is a little more difficult to predict. Leto seems to be a favorite, but I wasn’t in awe of his performance. Fassbender is a solid bet too. But I’m going to bet on the dark horse nominee and say Jonah Hill. And I know it sounds crazy to say ‘Oscar winner Jonah Hill’ but crazier things have happened, haven’t they?
    Jonah Hill - “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Another difficult choice, I’d really like to see June Squibb win. She was funny and dynamic in “Nebraska,” a film that deserves more attention. But I could also see this leaning toward “12 Years.”
    June Squibb - “Nebraska”
“The Wind Rises” is the final film by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, and that alone could land him a congratulatory award. But in the other hand we have “Frozen,” which ruled the box office and critics... “Frozen” should take it, but Hayao could get it out of respect.

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