THE WEEKEND WARRIOR
Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More

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The Oscar nominations have been officially announced--you can read the entire list here--and of course, the Oscar Warrior is here to ponder over the list and see what jumps out as something shocking and unexpected and what probably surprised those who woke up early to listen to the nominations.

This was not a year when any nomination could be taken for granted, especially when it came to the top categories like Best Picture, Director and the acting categories because there were a lot of of quality movies and only ten potential spaces for Best Picture. Going by the odds from the past two years, only nine movies might get into the Best Picture race leaving a lot of beloved quality movies out of the main race and that happened for a third year in a row with just nine nominees for Best Picture.

By the end of the year, there seemed to be many categories where six candidates were looking to fill five slots, and that was true in almost every category from director to acting and other categories and that alone probably contributed to some of the biggest shockers when in some cases, seven candidates were looking to fill five slots.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, January 16, and it's another year where many first-time filmmakers as well as Sundance vets make the trek to Park City, Utah, to show off their latest movie. As always, there are a number of exciting premieres, either due to who is involved behind the camera or the talent in front of it, and sadly, the Weekend Warrior isn't able to make it out this year, so he'll just have to watch from afar and see what gets buzz.

Last year was a good year for the festival with movies like Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station and the comedy The Way Way Back, both being picked up for distribution and doing quite well at the box office. There were other movies that didn't fare nearly as well but still made quite a mark over the course of the year.

It's Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, sort of the first four-day holiday weekend of the year, where schools are out on Monday, as are most government and municipal workers, but for the most part, people work on Monday rather than taking it off. So it's essentially a three-day weekend where strong movies have a good chance at bringing in a bit of extra business on Monday and this week, we have four brand-new movies vying for the top spot currently held by Peter Berg's Lone Survivor. Can anyone do it? Read on!

There are two big movies with known stars who have proven themselves at the box office but being MLK Jr. weekend and knowing the history of this particularly holiday weekend, we're gonna go with the action-comedy Ride Along (Universal), starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, to win by a sizable margin over everything else.

In a year when many people felt that the Hollywood Foreign Press got it right in terms of their annual nominations, the night of the Golden Globes, Sunday, January 12, was still one that was full of surprises.

Going into the show, two movies stood out, tied with the most nominations, David O. Russell's American Hustle and Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, and since they were separated by different categories--Comedy/Musical and Drama respectively--there didn't seem like there would be a lot of crossover competition between them. Except for in the supporting categories, which don't designate by genre.

Tonight at 8 PM Eastern, 5pm Pacific, NBC will be airing the 71st Annual Golden Globes and in what has become a semi-annual tradition, ComingSoon.net's Weekend Warrior will be watching and sharing his thoughts in the space below.

Feel free to follow along, refreshing your browser regularly and post your own thoughts in the comments below, although bear in mind that once the show starts, I won't be able to answer any direct questions.

For those who have been patiently waiting for my final Oscar predictions i.e. those of you who haven't been keeping track of them on Gold Derby, that is, I'm putting them all in one place for your convenience. There are a few tougher categories this year (like Best Picture - man, has this been a good year for movies!), but for the most part, it's just that fifth slot in some of the categories and how the Academy will go vs. some of their precursors like the Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood Foreign Press (who nominate the Golden Globes).

I'd like to once again give up the Weekend Warrior forum to one of ComingSoon.net's finest writers and film critics, Mr. Joshua Starnes, so that he can talk about his ten favorite movies of the year, which only partially aligned with my own list. Take it away Josh!

If anything, this year was the year of the actor. There's always at least one truly great performance to stay with you each year, but this was truly an embarrassment of riches, from the ensemble of 12 Years a Slave to films like Gravity and All is Lost, where all rode on one set of shoulders.

Every January you’ll hear the same thing, that it’s all about the crappy movies that studios are dumping OR it’s about the Oscar contenders they’re hoping people will go see once things start winning Golden Globes and the Oscar nominations are announced. In the case of this weekend we have a little bit of both, and this is a week where basically everyone is back at work or school with less time to go to the movies, although a couple “awards contenders” will be making a play for business where the movies have yet to play.

Of the movies expanding this weekend, Peter Berg’s military drama Lone Survivor (Universal), starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch and Ben Forster, stands the best chance at making an impact, because the marketing has done a good job selling it as a dramatic real-life action thriller set in Afghanistan, the type of film older guys (20 and up?) may be interested in seeing once they’ve gotten past all the holiday fare.

We're less than a week into the New Year and I've already discovered a rather alarming trend for the year, which is that studios seem to be willing to spend money on making big sword and sandals movies again.

These epic movies were popular during the early days of cinema, but then they went away for a while with a few notable resurrections over the years, the first major one of the 21st Century being Ridley Scott's Gladiator in 2000, which was successful enough that studios started seeing the big historic war epics as viable again. Six years later, Zack Snyder's 300 helped give the genre a bigger boost by creating a far more stylish war epic based o Frank Miller's graphic novel using state of the art CG backgrounds. Falling right between them was Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, which proved that there was a huge audience of faithful Catholics and Christians who were willing to flock to see a movie about their religious icon. While that wasn't an action movie perse its biblical setting puts it into a similar genre as the other two and that ended up grossing $370 million.

Happy New Year! January is often the Weekend Warrior's favorite time of year because it's the time to brush off the cobwebs, finally set aside any attempts to see the movies of the year before and start fresh with new movies that will be released on a weekly basis. Some will be good, some will be bad, some will be great, but like everyone, there are movies that I'm so excited to see this year that I feel the need to share them with all of you so you can tell me, "You're nuts" or "I'm with you" or whatever you want to say.

2014 feels like it's going to be a transitional year for sure. Last year started out fairly weakly and then by September we were slammed with quality movies one after the another, many of which we never saw coming. Of course, at this point in the year, we're really looking at some of the bigger summer tentpoles and holiday releases, sequels and such, but there are a couple smaller movies on my radar that I hope will deliver as well.

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