'And The Oscar goes to ...'

It's that time of year again. Awards season for film comes to a close Sunday with the 86th Academy Awards, more commonly known as The Oscars.

For those in the industry, The Oscars is the time to recognize the achievements of their peers. For film fans, it's the time to justify the exorbitant amount of money we spent in cinemas last year.

Last year was a great one for movies. Audiences experienced powerful stories of slavery, living with AIDS, the terror of being adrift in space and having a slightly unhealthy attachment to one's computer. There were characters we fell in love with and characters we loved to hate.

Usually, when columnists begin to wax poetic about The Oscars, we talk about the big four awards: Best Actor and Actress in a Lead Role, Best Director and Best Picture. While I want to talk about Best Picture for a little bit, I want to focus on some of the awards that don't get as much love.

Let's start with Best Picture. When it comes to the big four awards, it's pretty easy to predict a winner once the awards for the different guilds — directors, screen actors and producers — have been awarded. The producer's guild is where to look for your Best Picture win. This year the award went to "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave."

I haven't seen "Gravity," but I have heard a great deal of the praise heaped on it. It quickly cemented itself as an influencial film for a whole new generation of filmmakers.

My vote for who I believe will win, however, goes to "12 Years a Slave." The visceral story that Steve McQueen portrayed was rough to watch, but it needs to be watched. I find it interesting that it took an English director to tell the story of American slavery the way it needed to be told.

Outside of the major categories, one of the awards I'm most interested in is for Best Animated Feature. While five films are in the category, and all of them deserve their nomination, only two are truly in contention for the statue: Disney's Nordic musical "Frozen" and Hayao Miyazaki's historical fiction "The Wind Rises."

This is a tough one for me to call. "The Wind Rises," which I haven't had a chance to see, is the fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, who designed two of the major planes used by the Japanese during World War II, and the Academy loves history. This also may be the legendary animator's final film. Miyazaki announced last year that he would retire after the film's release. Granted, this marks the sixth time he has announced that he would retire, but you never want to make assumptions with these things.

"Frozen," which I saw twice in theaters, exploded into a cultural phenomenon. Disney has a stranglehold on the animated market, but the sheer penetration of this movie and how it resonated with so many different types of people proves it is one of the heavyweights of this category.

It's too difficult for me to pick, so I'm not going to. That's my prerogative as the columnist.

The last category that I want to look at is Best Original Song. Of the nominees for this category, I pick "Let It Go" from "Frozen." As I mentioned, the movie has had intense cultural penetration, and this song is one of the reasons. Go to YouTube and search for "Let It Go." In addition to the original song, the search will yield dozens of covers and re-imagined versions of that song.

I absolutely adore this song. As a 22-year-old, heterosexual male, I am not at all ashamed by this fact. It's a fun song with a great message. I am definitely on "Team Frozen" for this category.

That's it. Those are a few of my picks for this year's award ceremony. So this Sunday, put on a tuxedo T-shirt, fill out your ballot and enjoy the show.

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