Two thoughts for this new year. First, awards, because they're extremely important. And second, plastics.
Academy Awards nomination balloting closes Wednesday. Oscar voters are determining their favorites in various categories for the March 2 Oscar ceremony, to be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres .
Variety's Tim Gray argued in a recent column that voters should take their No. 1 picks very, very seriously. To secure one of the coveted best picture nominations, a film — or a director, or an actress — needs enough No. 1 votes to get in there, get nominated and enjoy the ride.
What happened last year to Ben Affleck, who failed to get a director nomination for "Argo," even though his film sailed through to win best picture? Perhaps voters thought he was in the bag, Gray speculates. So they voted for everybody else instead.
A voter's No. 2 or No. 3 picks mean little to nothing, Gray implies, in a year with a formidably rangy contenders that are actually good.
The eventual best picture nominee roster will likely include "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave," "American Hustle," "Her" (I hope — "Her" was my favorite of 2013), "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska," "Captain Phillips," maybe "The Wolf of Wall Street," maybe "August: Osage County," one or two others. If I'm right, or right-ish, that's a strong list. Some I liked, some I didn't, some I loved. Overall, 2013 did well for us and by us.
It's nice to start a new moviegoing year with the recent memory of so many artists and craftspeople succeeding in so many different directions, taking us to outer space, the near future, the recent past and our present day.
Sight unseen, which is the preferred way to see any film, it's clear: The most important release of 2014 arrives Feb. 7. It is "Lego: The Movie." In our house this is a shattering and beautiful event to anticipate.
And in the spirit of tiny plastic things strewn around the floor, eluding capture, I propose the next great feature animation project: "The Rainbow Loom Movie."
In "The Rainbow Loom Movie" all 600 mini-rubber bands found in a basic Rainbow Loom kit, which is used for making colorful homemade bracelets, will have speaking parts voiced by the casts of every Nickelodeon and Disney television series currently running. The joys of collectivism and teamwork will be celebrated when the pluckiest of the rubber bands join forces to create a Hexafish bracelet.
The sequel will depict a battle to the death between the Hexafish and a rogue member of the Silly Bandz bent on world domination.
Eventually the great documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman will make a five-hour movie in which an ordinary American parent goes around from room to room silently picking up wee Legos and wee rubber bands, contemplating childhood and parenthood and eyestrain and wondering if there's potential in a full-length live-action film version of "Spot It!"