Oscars wish list: ‘Oblivion,’ Woody Harrelson, Tom Hanks x 2

The Oscar ballots have been tabulated and nominations are less than a day away, so it’s sadly too late to influence academy voters.

But that won’t stop me from offering my own personal Oscar Wish List in the hopes that some (or all?) of these films and stars hear their names called bright and early Thursday morning.

In some instances, my favorites overlap with what the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guild and various other outlets have already recognized. After all, quality is usually quality.

But there are also a few personal long shots up my sleeve that have me crossing my fingers and toes in anticipation.

Here’s my 2014 Oscar Wish List for all of the major categories:

My top three films of the year (“American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity“) are already locks for Best Picture nods, which leaves several open slots on my wish list that I would love to see filled with under-the-radar gems like animated flick “Monsters University,” sci-fi wonder “Oblivion,” scenery-chewing “August: Osage County” and I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-a-frontrunner “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity“) for the win! His was the directorial achievement of the year by far. I’d also love to see David O. Russell honored for “American Hustle” and Peter Jackson recognized for helming the new “Hobbit” chapter. Just because Jackson already has an Oscar on his mantle for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) doesn’t mean he shouldn’t receive another one. After all, the Academy loves double-dipping their director winners, like with Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Life of Pi“) last year and Clint Eastwood (“Unforgiven,” “Million Dollar Baby”) in 2004.

Yes, Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips“) is a lock for a nomination, but I’m greedy and I also want him to win. In the final ten minutes of the hostage flick, Hanks gives the best performance of the year, maybe even the best performance of his entire career. In a just world, this race would be over in a heartbeat, but Hanks has a long road ahead of him if he wants to take out my other personal pick from this category Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), who tops our Oscar charts.

Am I the only one who thought Meryl Streep had Oscar #4 in the bag after watching “August: Osage County”? Apparently so, because the living legend comes in sixth place in Gold Derby’s list of probable nominees, just barely missing the cut. I also want to give a shout-out to Amy Adams who gave career-best work in “American Hustle.”

For me, this race was over the moment I saw Woody Harrelson‘s terrifying, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-him performance in the underrated “Out of the Furnace.” The Oscars love honoring a great villain role (like Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”), but for some reason Harrelson just didn’t click with, well, anybody else this awards season. It would be a treat to see Hanks nominated here for playing Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks,” but it’s looking more and more likely that he won’t be receiving two Oscar nods this year like many pundits originally thought.

It’s a shame Sarah Paulson never received any traction for her icy role in “12 Years a Slave,” because she was terrific. But really, this category for me is all about scene-stealer Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”). ‘Nuff said.

Gravity” is the far-away frontrunner for both of these races, but it would be criminal if “Oblivion” is overlooked for at least a nomination. Tom Cruise‘s sci-fi blockbuster created a post-apocalyptic Earth complete with decimated New York landmarks that were so mesmerizing and realistic, I couldn’t look away.

While we’re on the topic of “fixing” this year’s Oscars, how unfair is it that ten scripts get nominated each year, but only five directors? And why are there are two sound categories totaling ten sound nominations, while makeup and hairstyling combined only account for three nominations? This year, I would like nothing more than for the Academy to combine the two screenplay categories and the two sound categories. I always found it a bit strange that scripts get split into Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay, however performers don’t get separated for portraying original characters vs. real people. Just something to ponder as we anxiously await this year’s crop of Oscar nominations!

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