Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eimer's Best Reads of 2014

It feels like my book-reading took a hit this year and I'm not really sure why. Maybe I'm busier at work. Maybe the sandman is dumping more sleepy sand at night. Maybe I'm watching more movies. Maybe I read a bunch of crappy books last year.

Yeah, it was the last one.

Well, at least I managed to scrape together a top-ten list of some pretty good books spanning a wide array of genres. Enjoy! Links will direct you to for you to conveniently bookmark onto your 'To Read' list.

I read this book back in 1995 in a drunken stupor. I thought it all soaked into my lead noggin, but it didn't. And I was happy that I decided revisited this little gem. It's a mix of Vonnegut's first-hand experience on the Bombing of Dresden, which pretty much leveled the city - as well as a little bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. To me, the thing that stands out about this novel is the writing. The loose, almost effortless writing that comes from Vonnegut's brain. It makes me want to strangle him he's so good (sadly, he's already passed so I don't have to). This rejuvenated my interest in this writer, and writing art form as a whole, as I'll be checking out more of his work in the near future. 

This comic book series (comprised of 6 volumes) is just a cool horror story that kept me guessing, kept me enthralled and kept me immersed in this pretty interesting idea. Hats off to Joe Hill, who can now remove the cloak of Stephen King's son, which I'm assuming why he chose a pseudonym. He’s in a league of his own. This graphic novel is filled with fantastic art by Rogriguez and dialogue by Hill. If you're a comic book enthusiast looking for something to do this winter, check this out. Highly recommended.

I picked up this book  after I found out David Fincher was directing a feature film based on this book - with help from the author Flynn (which is always nice). That said, enjoyable read with a nice twist on the missing wife thriller. In film terms, the book reminded me a bit of War of the Roses mixed with Body Heat mixed with The Fugitive. You never know what's going to happen, but when you think you have it all figured out, Flynn takes you onto a different highway (so to speak). In any event, very entertaining read. Some people were thrown off by the tone of voice and the switch of narrative tones. But it didn't bother me too much. Flynn has a knack of ratcheting up the suspense by condensing the chapters and ending them with just enough of a hint to make you want to read more. In any event, check it out before it hits theaters. Because, after you see the movie ... you'll never want to read the book. Am I right?

After reading this book about one of my ten favorite movies of all time, it boggles the mind that this movie was even half as good as Star Wars - let alone better than the original. This book gives an insider's perspective on the entire motion picture from brainstorm, script, production all the way through to final cut and release - with everything thrown in from location shoots in arctic temperatures, to set design, special effects, make-up, costumes and art direction. And the problems. To speak as Yoda, Many problems this movie had. From script problems, special effects snafus, location shots gone awry, internal strife, bloating egos, bloated budgets and months over deadline, the crew suffered a wide array of snafus. But, the creativity and ingenuity they used to work their way out of all of the problems is just mind boggling. Just a fantastic book from start to finish. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of the film or just a film fan.

Very entertaining 'western'. Almost a smart western, if there is such a thing. Reminded me of a collaboration between Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brothers. Moments of deep thought, casual conversation and minimal action (i.e. living life) with dabs of violence, gore, death and drips of blood mixed in. deWitt's great dialogue (i.e. using them 'big' words) in a Western novel pulls this out of the three-star cellar. Sadly, I think we're going through a dumbing down phase in our culture. Who's to say that well-read, educated people of the past spoke better grammar and used bigger words than we do nowadays? It could very well be a possibility, which made this book even more of a joy to read. Quick read. Fun read. Bloody read. Check 'er out.

I grew up somewhat religious. Then, I was a rebellious anti-religious teenager which stretched through college and into my 30's. Now, as I've had time to think, reflect, and learn more about life, I've come back to appreciate religion as a whole - sort of like Pi Patel in Life of Pi. But not really. I think as long as you're not some sort of crazy fanatic, religion is actually a pretty positive thing. But, look around this world, there are a ton of different religions. Judaism. Islam. Buddhism. Taoism. Christianity. Someone has to be wrong, right? Right? Maybe not. Many people may hate Aslan's book, but I found this an interesting read. Someone that has taken the bible, taken Jesus's story and has tried to figure out what it all means. There are a lot of questions that he brings up that makes you think, complete with Bible references to back up his theories. Was John the Baptist the true visionary for Christianity as it is today? Is the Anti-Semitism through the ages warranted based on the writings in the bible? Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? What of Jesus's life prior to his Baptism on the banks of the River Jordan? Where some of Pontius Pilate’s actions and decisions stated in the bible a bit out of character for a prefect? And why was Jesus the chosen one when there were plenty of other self-proclaimed Messiahs who were executed prior to his crucifixion? In this book, Islam - who was raised as a Muslim - tries to make sense of it all. Look, I'm not trying to stir up an angry hornet's nest, but - to me - a person who doesn't have it all figured out - this was a very enlightening read. Pick it up, read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Wow. Can't say enough positive things about this book. If you're a fan of Pixar or animation, someone who works in the creative realm, or even a manager in some sort of other field, this is a great book for you. You know what I hate? Books written by successful businessmen that don't talk about their failures and only discuss everything they've achieved in their career - like they've never made a mistake in their life. Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar and the current President of Pixar animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios, does the exact opposite. This book is filled with failures, mistakes, blunders and the like that happened to Pixar. Sure, it talks about the successes, but - in my opinion - you learn more from people's mistakes. It's amazing how much Catmull shares, but I applaud him for his honesty as it relates to managing a creative team, the creative process, good ideas coming from anyone, pushing a story to it's fullest capabilities, running a company, and motivating team members. Just a fantastic book with a lot of inside stories - warts and all. Highly recommended.

I read that Matt Damon and Director Ridley Scott were circling this project for a possible film, which intrigued me enough to check it out. Not reading the book cover or the synopsis, I was expecting a crazy Mars Attacks, War of the Worlds-type of alien book, but it's entirely something, refreshingly different. Something like Nolan's Interstellar, but I think a bit ... better. An astronaut is trapped on Mars and is trying to survive. Almost like Apollo 13 on Mars, but with just one astronaut. Very imagined, creative world by Andy Weir. It would take a lot of insight, engineering and scientific chops to pull off a fictional book this ambitious - and make it seem almost plausible. Curious if he just did a lot of studying on the subject and/or interviewed a number of high-level NASA administrators to pull off this intriguing book? (Probably both). In any event, if you're a fan of hard-core science fiction (not sci-fi), check this book out. It's not John Carter fantasy fiction. It almost feels like the real thing.

I thought it was going to be an expose on why schools outside of the United States are much better at studying, test-taking and overall success than our own. But Ripley, a seasoned journalist, takes an unbiased approach in examining studying 'successful' teaching methods by following three American exchange students who traveled to three of the 'brightest' schools in the world: Finland, Korea and Poland. In a nutshell, her findings come back to (among other findings) all-around rigor (i.e pushing the student mixed with a well-balanced educational growth through the years), the teacher's who are in the classroom, the parents contribution not in the schools but with their studies and a focus on studies rather than athletics. SHOCK! Makes sense, right? Is it going to change anything in this country? Probably not. That said, my wife and I are taking it upon ourselves to help further my children's excitement (i.e. their well-roundedness) about learning, curiosity and playing -- outside of the classroom. Teach them to be responsible. Don't hold their hand so much. Let them make mistakes. Let them learn from their mistakes. Talk to them. Ask them about their school, about their teachers, and what exactly they're doing at school for 8 hours every day. And serve as a support system to foster their learning outside of the classroom - almost as a supplement or extra class as to what they're learning in school. This is all stuff Ripley talks about in her appendix, which makes total sense to me. I'm sure people will pull different things from this book, there's a lot of facts to glean, but that's what I grabbed. Check it out for yourself and see what you come up with.

It's the perfect summer read for film and gamer geeks. If you liked the 1979 movie Scavenger Hunt (which is available to view for free on YouTube), you have a thing for 80's nostalgia and Legend of Zelda-esque video games then you'll love this story revolving around an online search for a billion dollar prize. It's a fun, entertaining popcorn novel that's dipped in pop culture and reads like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Truth be told, it was very hard to put down. Sure, it can be a bit corny at times, but it was a fun read. Like I said, the perfect summer read for all ages of nerds and geeks. Check 'er out.

Other Top Reads From Year's Past:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

27 movies I need to see before 2015

Well, it's that time of the year. No, not Thanksgiving and Christmas, you moron.

It that time of year when all of the good movies come out ... and I'm stuck at home, sitting, waiting, anxiously pawing at the window, praying for a wormhole to hop into so I can head to the movie theater to see the following 27 movies before Father Time cuts off his head with his dull scythe as the final seconds tick away on 2014 and Baby New Year 2015 is born. (Whew, that was a mouthful)

So, here's my movie viewing wish list (in no particular order):
  • X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - Bryan Singer returns to his roots ... of filming X-men movies. 
  • INTERSTELLAR - Christopher Nolan's new space opus starring that one guy who won an award.
  • BIRDMAN - Michael Keaton stars as a washed-up former superhero movie star.
  • FURY - Pitt. Tanks. World War 2. Directed by the guy who wrote Training Day.
  • NIGHTSTALKER - Jake G. returns to his Donnie Darko insanity roots.
  • BIG HERO 6 - Disney's latest (and greatest) from the Tangled, Wreck-It-Ralph and Frozen crew.
  • AMERICAN SNIPER - Clint Eastwood. Bradley Cooper. Navy S.E.A.L.S killing people.
  • DUMB AND DUMBER TO - It may suck, but I just have to see it. 
  • FOXCATCHER - Steve Carrell. Drama. Wrestling. Murder.
  • ST. VINCENT - Bill Murray is getting rave reviews.
  • THE IMITATION GAME - It's getting Oscar buzz. It's about Codebreakers during WW2. I'm sold.
  • THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING - Watch Errol Morris' 'A Brief History of Time' before you see this.
  • WILD - Loved the book. Good choice of acting. Plus, it's a movie about hiking the PCT. Sold!
  • EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS - A sandle epic about Moses directed by Ridley Scott. Ticket, please!
  • INHERENT VICE - If Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson filmed a movie about toasting bread, I'd go see it.
  • BIG EYES - Tim Burton turns his lens to the painter(s)? behind those 50's & 60's Big Eye portraits
  • UNBROKEN - Loved the book. Trailer looks good. Angelina Jolie directs.
  • TRACKS - Another female heroine who decides to trek the Australian outback.
  • CHEF - Heard good things about Favreau's latest, I just haven't had the time to see it.
  • HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 - My kids saw it and loved it. I just haven't had the time.
  • 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH - Nick Cave documentary that may or may not be 100% true.
  • BOYHOOD -  Richard Linklater's ambitious 12-year filming project just may win the big prize this year.
  • WHIPLASH - I hear it's like STAND AND DELIVER meets the first part of FULL METAL JACKET ... with drums.
  • LIFE ITSELF - Documentary about Roger Ebert.
  • JODOROWSKY'S DUNE - Did you know another cult film director besides David Lynch was going to take on the movie Dune? What?!! You don't care?
  • DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - I'll probably catch this on the rebound on DVD or OnDemand. Can't wait to see it. 
Welp there you have it. 27 films that I must see before the end of 2014. Will I achieve my goal? Probably not. But wish me luck anyway! By the end of this week, I should have four scratched off the list.

What about you? Which movies are you looking forward to seeing before the ball drops ... literally and figuratively?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eimertoons - Utilities

Eimer Note: I've had this one in the hopper for quite some time - since maybe early April 2014. But, for whatever reason, I was hesitant on releasing it to the public. Not sure why. In any event, enjoy.

(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eimer's Top 6 Favorite Robin Williams Films

I heard the news about Robin Williams, ironically, when I was watching Guardians of the Galaxy with my kids at a vintage movie theater in Akron, Ohio.

“How appropriate,” I thought to myself.  I’m watching a great film when I learn that one of America’s greatest film entertainers of my time has died surrounded by other film lovers.

Robin Williams – the entertainer – has been around all of my life from Happy Days and Mork & Mindy to HBO's Comic Relief to one of his first film's Popeye and on and on and on. There’s an eerie sensation when someone that has lived in your pop culture world for the past 40 years and suddenly, tragically passes away. It's happened before and will happen again, but it's just odd.

I think it's a reminder – at least to myself – that we're all mortal (even these untouchable movie stars) and the grim Spectre of Death will always be roaming around searching for its next victim to take into the afterlife - much like Williams underrated film What Dreams May Come, based on a short story by Richard Matheson. Don't let people fool you, I was one of about five people in the whole United States who saw this movie in the theater.

That said, I wanted to take this time to honor this wild, crazy and insanely funny guy with my top six favorite films of this man’s storied career:

I was 11 years old when I first saw The World According to Garp. It was at my Grandpa Baker's house in a small town called Dillies Bottom near Shadyside, Ohio. He had Showtime. My family didn't have cable until I was 18. So, I was always more then excited to head on down to his house for some free awesome cable. (Later in my life, it was for the free beer, Boxcar Willie music and great Grandpa stories, but that's another story.) While my mom, dad, grandpa and cousins were hanging out in the kitchen drinking beer and having fun (Gasp!) my brother and I would turn on the big oversized TV with a wooden case and click on over to Showtime, always giddy to ogle some boobies, raunchy sex and bloody horror flicks that our parents (although very lenient when it came to movies) would probably otherwise have put the kibosh on.

Sure I was only 11, but man did I love me some Garp. I loved that Garp (the character) was this awkward person constantly unsure of himself, always searching for the meaning to his life as he grew up. Once, every four or five years, I always like to revisit this film. It puts me in the body of that 11-year old kid once again. Down at my Grandpa's enjoying the summer air conditioning, secretly watching risqué movies on Showtime. In my opinion, this is one of the first movies that truly showed Williams' hidden dramatic talent. And oh, by the way, my brother and I definitely got to see some titties as well as a blow job scene gone horribly wrong. (To be honest, at the time I didn't really know what was going on in that car.)

When I was a freshman in high school, I was on the kick-off return team. There was about 2 minutes left and we had a chance to win the game if we could get the ball, go down field and score even a field goal, a measly three points. Of course the kick came to me. Of course I ran it up the field at a very slow pace. And, of course I was hit in the knees and fumbled the football. And of course we lost the the game. Once or twice a year, I always think about that fumble. It doesn't sting like it used to, but I still shake my head in shame. Oh, if I could play that game at my current age, what would have been the outcome? Which brings us to The Best of Times.

I just turned 14 when this movie was released on VCR in 1986. My brother, mom and I were at the video store picking out movies (this is what you did in the old days, folks) and my brother chose this film as his official ‘pick’ (we were all allowed one VHS rental per visit mind you). Being the film snob that I was, due to the fact that I had never heard of the movie, I made a face like it was a pile of shit. But, in hindsight, it starred two very good actors in Kurt Russell and Williams – so when we got home I decided to give it a try. I sat on the couch with my arms crossed expecting a giant turd sandwich. But, boy was I wrong.

Next to Hoosiers and Tin Cup, this is one of my favorite sports movies. It just came out of left field and smacked me in the face. Another under-the-radar movie that’s highly recommended. Written by Ron Shelton (White Men Can't Jump, Bull Durham, Tin Cup, Cobb) this film has it all: nostalgia, football, tragedy, action, defeat, and humor. It’s got everything you want in a redemption film. And, most importantly, it's got Robin Williams.

When I was in high school, I asked the eventual salutatorian of our senior class if she would like to go to homecoming with me. To my surprise, she said yes. I liked this girl. I thought she was a little funky and a little bit different. When everyone else listened to Metallica and Slayer, she listened to The Smiths and proudly wore her Cure t-shirts and dressed in black. She was Bona Drag before Bona Drag was even popular. Suffice to say, she was also pretty smart. Like really smart. I think she's a lawyer now. And she watched some crazy ‘out there’ movies - two of which she recommended to me while we were 'dating' - which are still favorites to this day. The first film was Heathers and the other was Dead Poets Society.

Dead Poets Society came out in the middle of summer blockbuster season (June 9) and was quickly in and out of theaters in a flash. But, then, something crazy happened. It was nominated for a ton of Academy Awards and slowly, but surely gained steam once again during awards season. She talked about this movie like it was the bible. To be honest, I thought she was being a bit over dramatic. But I decided to give it try. I remember watching Dead Poets with my family. They seemed to like it, but I was simply mesmerized by the film, more importantly Mr. Keating's (i.e. Williams') words throughout. Everything from whispering ‘Seize the Day’ like a ghost in the hall to breaking Ethan Hawke out of his shell to tell a kick-ass poem to the final ‘O Captain, My Captain’ scene – the movie was perfect in so many ways. Sure, you have to give credit to director Peter Weir. But if there was anyone else but Williams in the role, I can assume with 100% accuracy that it would not have been the same film. I was enamored with this film so much, I watched it four times in two days.

Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, The Meaning of Life, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Twelve Monkeys, etc.) is one of my favorite directors. I remember hearing about this odd little film called The Fisher King being filmed in New York City starring Robin Williams. I saw a couple pictures in the newspapers and movie mags (sorry, there were no internet movie geek sites) of knights and swords and castles and I couldn’t wrap my mind about what the hell this movie was about. Then I saw it in the theaters. Then, again, I was floored. Just like Ed Wood and Pulp Fiction, I couldn’t believe a film like this could be made or would have been greenlit by a major studio. It was not a romantic comedy. It was not a straight-up drama. It was something ... totally different which I loved. In fact, when I left the theater, I was jealous of all the people who made this odd, quirky little film so damn cool. "Why didn't I think if that first?" I fumed.

Credit is due to Gilliam and, of course, Jeff Bridges, supporting actress winner Mercedes Ruehl as well as others. But Williams' talents as a humorist and tortured soul of a man shine through in every scene. Just a great acting tour de force, and a highly recommended film. Come to think of it, learning more about his addictive past and his depression - maybe Williams wasn’t acting at all in this film. It’s dark. It’s sad. It’s humorous. It’s simply fantastic.

I'm not going to talk to much about this film because everyone else and their mother has posted YouTube snippets of this film on Facebook the past couple days. But I will say this; Every scene. Every single scene that contains Robin Williams is simply jay dropping. Sure, this is Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s vehicle – with great direction by Gus Van Sant. But Williams simply steals the show every single time he’s on screen. The night of the Academy Awards, I was pulling for Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights to win Best Supporting Actor. (Hey, I loved Smoky & the Bandit, Hooper, Sharky's Machine and The Cannonball Run plus he was pretty good in this)  But, after they announced Williams name, I was like ‘Of course, that was a no brainer’. Great film. Great acting. Great directing. And a great performance by Williams. Nuff said.

Taking a cue from his other dark films later in his career like Nolan's Insomnia and Romanek's One Hour Photo, Williams plays his most subdued part to date – and it works. The Final Cut may be an odd pick as one of  my six best Williams' films, but it’s just a movie that always seeps back into my conscious every once in a while. The film has stuck me with year after year. What if we could implant a video camera in our brain at birth that could record every breathing moment of your life, even your death? What if after you die, there is a 'director' that’s hired to make a film out of your life’s for people to enjoy at your funeral, and remember you after you die? This is just a very interesting, unsettling little film that I would be remiss to not add to this list. William's performance is dark and a little quiet – but it’s the skeletons that he’s trying to hide in his closet that you can see working in the back of his mind every time he's on screen.

Of course, there are other great Williams films like Good Morning Vietnam, World’s Greatest Dad, Happy Feet, Alladin, The Birdcage, Jumanji, Dead Again and Awakenings – but when I think of Robin Williams, I think of these six fantastic films. And, if you haven’t seen these films, I urge you to seek them out anyway you can.

So, what about you? What are your favorite Robert Williams performances?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Smoky Mountains - 2014 Hike

Four friends and myself traveled down to the Smoky Mountains at the Tennessee/North Carolina border on a 4-day, 60-mile hike via the Hazel Creek/Lakeshore/Forney Ridge Trail.

My buddy, and fellow hiker (or is it hikee?) Shaun Culbertson took this video of our escapades. The video reminds me of 'Easy Rider in the Smokies'. Cheers Shaun, and cheers to the rest of the studs who joined me on this awesome trip.

For more Eimer Debris hiking stories, check out:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Eimertoons - CMO

I created this toon of our Chief Marketing Officer for his birthday card.

(click image to enlarge)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mount Washington Trip - Videos

As I'm getting revved up for this year's hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains in July, I forgot about these two little gems that my buddy Shaun filmed on our hiking trip to the White Mountains circa 2012.

As an annual summer tradition I get a group of three to five guys and we drive to key hiking destinations in North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey, etc. However, this particular trip was a gift I gave myself for my 40th birthday. We flew into Boston (via Airtran) and rented a car to drive our hiking destinations in New Hampshire.

And, as luck would have it, two of my adventurous buddies, Shaun and Drew, were kind enough to come along.

This video documents our trip from Crawford Notch to Mount Washington:

And this video documents our hike of the Franconia Ridge:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eimertoons - Work For Hire

Below are some toons that I created for a co-worker to celebrate her boyfriend's 40th birthday. This was a fun exercise - plus I also got paid, which is always nice. :)

(click images to enlarge)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Academy Awards Pick Outcome: 15-9

Welp, the 2014 Academy awards came and went.

All in all, it's cool to see Gravity get the recognition it deserves. I'm a big fan of Alfonso Cuaron and look forward to his future work.

Also, it's cool to see an important historical film such as 12 Years a Slave win best picture. I'll eventually watch it. But, every single time I've had the chance to see it in the theater, I switched my decision at the last minute because, well, quite frankly, I just didn't want to be sad. It almost reminds me of going to see Schindler's List in the theaters. You know what's going to happen. You know it's going to be a great movie. But, you're not sure you want to get all emotional and bummed out on a Saturday night, or even Thursday afternoon for that matter (guys at SNP will understand this one). But hey, kill me. I want to see something uplifting, action packed or positive when I hit the theaters solo on my free time and my time. Something like Gravity, Her, or even The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which wasn't that bad). But I digress...

As far as the show went, besides Matthew McConaughey's speech and Spike Jonze winning for Best Original Screenply (I picked both of those by the way), it was a pretty lackluster occasion. Ellen Degeneres tried to be funny, but meh.

I'm not sure what is wrong, but I have a theory.

When I was young - and the internet didn't exist - the Oscars were this magical moment when you could see all of your favorite actors in one place. You could see that they weren't these automated robots but real people (some people may disagree). In this information age, I came to realize that these actors have been attending awards shows since early January - almost every single weekend. That has to be draining, right? Plus, you sort of get an idea of which movie is going to win, which actors are going to win, etc. There's no real excitement. At least that's my opinion.

So all in all, I didn't do too bad in my Academy Award Picks. Better than last year, and the year before, that's for sure.

So my losses included:

  • Best Picture (I picked Gravity. I haven't seen 12 Years a Slave yet)
  • Supporting Actress (I picked Sally Hawkins as an upset)
  • Documentary Feature (I was sure The Act of Killing was going to win, but it didn't)
  • Foreign Language Film (I picked The Hunt. I think a lot of people were surprised it didn't win)
  • MakeUp and Hairstyling (should have guessed that Dallas Buyers Club was going to win over Bad Grandpa)
  • Film Editing (I thought Academy would have liked the editing of Captain Phillips. Gravity deserved it)
  • Animated Short Film (an educated guess)
  • Documentary Short (an educated guess)
  • Live Action Short Film (an educated guess)
Talk to you soon.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eimer's 2014 Academy Award Picks

It's Oscar time. This failed screenwriter will be drinking a 40-ounce of Mickey's Malt Liquor and sulking like the jealous bastard writer that I am at all the celebrities and fanfare going on out West. (Sob!) So, just in time for the Red Carpet, I'm giving you my personal choices for Sunday's extravaganza.

If you've read my Top 10 movies of 2013, then you'll know my true favorites of the year. However, the Academy Awards are a different beast. Lots of politics involved in these choices my friends.

That said, going by various articles, mumblings on geek sites, awards handed out thus far and my personal knowledge of how the Academy has voted in the past, I'm giving you my educated guesses on the big winners. So, here you go!

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

I think Gravity will win. Personally, I would give it to The Wolf of Wall Street. That was the most fun I’ve had in a theater in a long time - besides (of course) The Lego Movie.

Best director
Steve McQueen -- "12 Years a Slave"
David O. Russell -- "American Hustle"
Alexander Payne -- "Nebraska"
Martin Scorsese -- "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Director’s Guild already gave Cuaron this title, so I’m not bucking the odds on this one. Besides, he did a great job. And I've loved his past work (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men). If he doesn’t win, I’d give it to Russell or McQueen.

Best actor
Bruce Dern -- "Nebraska"
Chiwetel Ejiofor -- "12 Years a Slave"
Leonardo DiCaprio -- "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Christian Bale -- "American Hustle"

McConaughey is on a roll this year. He’s hitting his stride. Plus, all the weight loss aside, he did a great job in this film. And is doing an even better job in True Detective. However, if it was up to me, I would give it to DiCaprio. I loved his performance in Wolf, but he’s not going to win.

Best actress
Amy Adams -- "American Hustle"
Judi Dench -- "Philomena"
Sandra Bullock -- "Gravity"
Meryl Streep -- "August: Osage County"

Although I heard good things about Dench, Blanchett owned her character in Blue Jasmine. She made her up from scratch. Great acting, all around actually in this film, even from the Dice man.

Best supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi -- "Captain Phillips"
Bradley Cooper -- "American Hustle”
Jonah Hill -- "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Michael Fassbender -- "12 Years a Slave"

I loved Abdi in Phillips, but since he’s a first-time actor, he may not be acting - if you know what I mean. It could just be the way he acts all the time in real life. That’s why I think Leto for the win. Seems like the Academy likes actors who dress up as the opposite sex. Or maybe I'm wrong.

Best supporting actress
Jennifer Lawrence -- "American Hustle"
Lupita Nyong'o -- "12 Years a Slave"
June Squibb -- "Nebraska"
Julia Roberts -- "August: Osage County"

Everyone loves Lawrence, but I’m going with Hawkins here. Again, just like Blanchett, she owned her role and created this quirky character out of thin air.

Best original screenplay
"American Hustle" -- David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
"Blue Jasmine" -- Woody Allen
"Nebraska" -- Bob Nelson
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

I’m a Jonze fan. And although I haven’t seen this film (yet), the screenplay has to be one of the reasons that it’s getting accolades. Right? Right? Plus, I just like his entire body of work, thus far. By the way, did you catch Jonze's small performance in Wall Street, and last year's Moneyball?

Best adapted screenplay
"Before Midnight" -- Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater
"The Wolf of Wall Street" -- Terence Winter
"Captain Phillips" -- Billy Ray
"Philomena" -- Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Going to give this one to Ridley for 12 Years ... just because. Although 'Before Midnight's' dialogue was pretty cool (well, my wife didn’t think so, but I did!)

Best animated feature
"The Wind Rises"
"Despicable Me 2"
"Ernest & Celestine"
"The Croods"

It’s Frozen. Although DM2 could sneak in and pull an upset.

Best foreign feature
"The Broken Circle Breakdown" (Belgium)
"The Great Beauty" (Italy)
"Omar" (Palestinian territories)
"The Missing Picture" (Cambodia)

Haven’t seen any of them, but I’m going with The Hunt, because it sounds cool. And has a 93% approval rating on

Best music (original song)
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom": "Ordinary Love" -- U2, Paul Hewson 
"Her": "The Moon Song" -- Karen O, Spike Jonze
"Despicable Me 2": "Happy" -- Pharrell Williams

When all else fails in this category, go Disney. So, I will just do that.

Best music (original score)
"Philomena" -- Alexandre Desplat
"The Book Thief" -- John Williams
"Saving Mr. Banks" -- Thomas Newman
"Her" -- William Butler and Owen Pallett

Thinking about Gravity for this one. Science-Fiction. Great Film. Moving Score. Sound like another familiar film?

Best cinematography
"Inside Llewyn Davis" -- Bruno Delbonnel
"Nebraska" -- Phedon Papamichael
"Prisoners" -- Roger Deakins
"The Grandmaster" -- Phillippe Le Sourd

I pick Roger Deakins every year and he never wins. So, let’s go with someone else. Now hopefully Deakins will win. He’s very deserving. I mean, check out his body of work in imdb. But, I picked Lubezki for a reason ... Space is cool to look at.

Best costume design
"12 Years a Slave" -- Patricia Norris
"The Grandmaster" -- William Chang Suk Ping
"American Hustle" -- Michael Wilkinson
"The Invisible Woman" -- Michael O'Connor

Let’s give The Great Gatsby a little love with Martin's beautiful costume designs in effortlessly recreating the 1920’s look. 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle may also win though.

Best documentary feature
"20 Feet From Stardom"
"The Square"
"Cutie and the Boxer"
"Dirty Wars"

I was hoping Blackfish would have been nominated for Best Doc. That said, this film getting the most buzz heading into Sunday. You can catch it on Netflix streaming. And it’s not that bad of a film either.

Best film editing
"Gravity" -- Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
"12 Years a Slave"-- Joe Walker
"American Hustle" -- Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

I love the editing of Captain Phillips. It’s that popular documentary look that's all the rage--and has been done many times before (see Bourne movies, Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, etc.) But, I'm a sucker. I think it totally worked for this movie.

Best makeup and hairstyling
"The Lone Ranger" -- Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

Hey, if Norbit can win, then Bad Grandpa can win. Right?

Best production design
"12 Years a Slave" -- Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker
"THE GREAT GATSBY" -- Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn
"American Hustle" -- Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler
"Gravity" -- Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
"Her" -- K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena

I’m going with The Great Gatsby on this just because. Personally, I love the 20’s look and feel that the movie created. Any of these films could win actually.

Best visual effects
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
"Iron Man 3"
"The Lone Ranger"

Hands down, Gravity. Although ‘The Hobbit’ could sneak in. Loved me some Smaug.

Best sound mixing
"Captain Phillips"
"Lone Survivor"
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

Hands down, Gravity. Although ‘Captain Phillips’ could sneak in.

Best sound editing
"All Is Lost"
"Captain Phillips"
"Lone Survivor"
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

Hands down, gravity, although ‘All is Lost’ could sneak in with it's quiet dialogue and heavy aquatic sound effects.

Best short film, live action
"Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)"
"Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)"
"Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)" "THE VOORMAN PROBLEM"

Haven’t seen any of them, let’s go with The Voorman Problem.

Best short film, animated
"Mr. Hublot"
"Room on the Broom"

I’ve chosen Get a Horse because it harks back to the old Mickey animations of yore (Steamboat Willie anyone?). Heck, it looks like it came out of that time, which is interesting to see. The animators almost had to break some of their own animation style to create the antiquated animation look and feel. It was probably pretty hard to create. That said, Feral and Mr. Hublot could also win. But, personally, I liked Get a Horse.

Best documentary short
"Facing Fear"
"Karama Has No Walls"
"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
"Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall"

Let’s go wiith Cavedigger because it’s about a crazy artist who creates art in caves that he has personally dug himself. Crazy, right?

Welp, that’s it. Be on the lookout for a round-up of my wins and losses on Monday. Oh, and enjoy the Oscars.