- I need to see ARGO and LIFE OF PI again, ASAP!
- Next year, no host > (insert host's name here)
- The Academy Awards are about the movies, not the stage performances
- A random number of Best Picture nominees is still ridiculous; needs to be 5 or 10
- Who is lead, who is supporting? Christoph Waltz, as I have said since mid-December, is co-lead at worst.
- The LES MISERABLES we got is worse than we thought. F^&* you Tom Hooper!
- The winners are not always as bad as they appear
- The most popular non-director nomination snub: CLOUD ATLAS for Best Score
- I am far from the only hardcore MOONRISE KINGDOM fan. Huge smile.
- The Academy voted for Pixar, not BRAVE.
- To tie the previous three together: The Academy does not watch all the movies it should, even the nominees.
- Jennifer Lawrence will be the most divisive figure in Hollywood for the next X years. Not KStew, JLaw.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
* = will win # = runner-up $ = personal choice
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook$
Zero Dark Thirty
Until it came out, ZDT was the favorite. Then politics kicked in. Post-nominations, Lincoln looked to have it in the bag with the most noms. Then every other awards organization voted. Argo, to many, has been the favorite for weeks. Until the WGA, I was sure of Lincoln but alas, Argo will get it, becoming the fourth film to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination (first since Driving Miss Daisy in 1989; the other two are in the first five years of the Oscars).
Amour, Michael Haneke
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, Ang Lee
Lincoln, Steven Spielberg*$
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell#
No Affleck, no Bigelow, no Hooper (!!!), no problem? Not so fast! Lincoln has lost a bunch of momentum in recent weeks. It will be way closer than it should be but Spielberg will win. A Lee or Russell win wouldn’t shock me.
Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln*$
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master#
Denzel Washington, Flight
DDL may be the best on the planet. He has been unstoppable since Lincoln came out in mid November. If only The Master had a non-acting nomination, then it would be close. Like Earth to the sun close instead of Earth to Saturn close.
Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook*$
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour#
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jennifer Lawrence’s rise to stardom has been lightning fast and a breath of fresh air. She has the looks & talent for a career that will last decades. Can’t wait to see what she does next, which will be her acceptance speech. Riva & Chastain have slight chances. Very slight.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln*$
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained#
Any of these five could win. But TLJ won SAG, which means a lot.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln#
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables*$
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
The prophesy spoken by Julie Andrews 12 years ago comes true as Hathaway wins walking away. But keep in mind: Sally Field has never lost when nominated. Who cares if she has only been nominated twice.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio*
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, Screenplay by David Magee
Lincoln, Screenplay by Tony Kushner#
Silver Linings Playbook, Screenplay by David O. Russell$
Like Best Picture, Lincoln had this in the bag until Argo took over. But SLP is sitting there for the possible upset. Will be interesting.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Amour, Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, Written by Quentin Tarantino*
Flight, Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola$
Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal#
There is no one on the planet hoping for vote splitting and a Moonrise Kingdom upset. But alas, it’s Boal vs. Tarantino Round 2. Tarantino in a split decision.
Animated Feature Film
Brave, Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman#
Frankenweenie, Tim Burton
ParaNorman, Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph, Rich Moore*$
Full disclosure: only saw two of these. Brave was a dud after the big twist. Wreck-It Ralph was formula, but formula done wonderfully. Hope it wins.
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda#
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins*$
Deakins isn’t losing again. Not for the tenth time. Not even to something as “beautiful” as Life of Pi.
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran*$
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado#
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
Didn’t see the movie but I have seen pictures. Anna Karenina is beautiful. Will deservedly win.
Argo, William Goldenberg#
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg*$
Mark my words: William Goldenberg will win Best Film Editing. For which movie, we’ll see.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel*
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell#
If The Iron Lady won last year, why not Hitchcock?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott*
Marvel's The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick$#
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Fact: A Best Picture nominee has never lost to a non-BP nominee in Best Visual Effects. Life of Pi is a BP nominee. Nuff said.
Music (Original Score)
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna*
Lincoln, John Williams#
Skyfall, Thomas Newman
The dumbest branch once again skips the two best scores of 2012: Cloud Atlas & Moonrise Kingdom. Could really care less about any of them.
Music (Original Song)
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi's Lullaby” from Life of Pi Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth*#$
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Yeah, that’s right. The alternate to “Skyfall” is “Skyfall”. If it loses, watch out! The End Is Nigh!!!
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer*
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson#$
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn#
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson*$
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia#
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes*
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson$
Action movies win Sound Editing, musicals win Sound Mixing. End of story.
5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers, Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky and Estelle Fialon
How to Survive a Plague, David France and Howard Gertler#
The Invisible War, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn*
SfSM has won just about every major documentary award. Why not Oscar?
I have no idea about the last few, just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Foreign Language Film
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada
Short Film (Animated)
Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee#
Fresh Guacamole, PES
Head over Heels, Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman
Paperman, John Kahrs*$
Short Film (Live Action)
Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys, Sam French and Ariel Nasr*
Curfew, Shawn Christensen#
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Henry, Yan England
Documentary Short Subject
Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine*
Kings Point, Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine, Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Open Heart, Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern#
Redemption, Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
Director: Lincoln, Steven Spielberg*$
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln*$
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook*$
Supp. Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln*$
Supp. Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables*$
A. Screenplay: Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio*
O. Screenplay: Django Unchained, Written by Quentin Tarantino*
Animated: Wreck-It Ralph, Rich Moore*$
Cinematography: Skyfall, Roger Deakins*$
Costume Design: Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran*$
Editing: Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg*$
Makeup: Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel*
Visual Effects: Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott*
Score: Life of Pi, Mychael Danna*
Song: “Skyfall” from Skyfall Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth*#$
Production Design: Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer*
Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson*$
Sound Mixing: Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes*
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn*
Foreign Language: Amour, Austria*
Animated Short: Paperman, John Kahrs*$
Short Film: Buzkashi Boys, Sam French and Ariel Nasr*
Documentary Short: Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine*
Lincoln leads with three wins. Six movies win two a piece.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved
The idea: To watch every Best Picture Oscar winner, mainly to say that I have. Also, I want to compare them to its fellow nominees (if I have seen them) and to compare them to each other. And, in a little twist, I will be watching them starting with the most recent, THE ARTIST and finishing sometime next year with WINGS. I will also keep a running tally of how the movies rank against each other on the bottom of each article.
For the first few months, I will be re-watching movies (the most recent Best Picture I haven’t seen is 1992’s UNFORGIVEN) some for the second time, some for the tenth plus time. THE ARTIST falls into the former category.
THE ARTIST opens with a movie within a movie. A silent movie starring George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), the biggest star in the world. But not only is the movie within the movie silent, THE ARTIST is a modern silent movie. While the movie is silent (almost) the whole way through, the movie industry isn’t. “Talkies” are taking over, much to the disbelief of Valentin. What’s worse: Valentin’s popularity is being taken over by Peppy Miller (Bernice Bejo), who Valentin “discovered”. Can Valentin transition? Or will he stay behind & tough it out?
THE ARTIST is ambitious to say the least. All credit goes to writer/director Michel Hazanavicius for having the audacity for trying something different and not having it blow up in his face. Jean Dujardin is pitch perfect as the overconfident then defeated Valentin. Valentin could have gone down the depressing or the self-sorry road but Dujardin never allows that to occur. Bejo, Hazanavicius’ wife, is solid as the rising star who never forgets where she came from. And all the supporting players, from John Goodman’s studio executive to Uggie the Dog, are wonderful.
That said, THE ARTIST ultimately fails at what it wants to accomplish: paying tribute to silent film. The movie within the movie looks like a silent film, faded & fuzzy with the right amount of titles cards. The rest? Not so much. The movie is silent for sure, but the story gets lost in the lack of title cards. And the picture? Just looks like color was turned off. Note to young filmmakers: If you want to pay homage to something, GO ALL THE WAY! Don’t half-ass it. THE ARTIST is silent but not really a homage to the silent era. And with that…
Did it deserve to win?
No. For the first time I can remember, my top three movies of a year were each nominated for Best Picture: HUGO, TREE OF LIFE, and THE DESCENDANTS. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was the best written movie of the year, even if it was too short. MONEYBALL was also wonderful. So, at best, THE ARTIST was the 6th best Best Picture nominee, despite being around my number ten of the year.
THE ARTIST is far from terrible, but what it fails to do in homage makes it just OK.
**** (out of 5)
Thursday, February 14, 2013
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.
In the film world, there are certain characters that are sacred. If Family Feud did a survey on the subject, the top answers would probably be Indiana Jones, Han Solo & Rocky Balboa. If the board showed six or seven answers, John McClain would be up there. The New York cop first entered the pop culture lexicon in the summer of 1988 with DIE HARD, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp with the screenplay by two masters of the craft, Jeb Stuart & Steven E. de Souza. Since then, three sequels have met various degrees of success. Almost 25 years later, director John Moore and screenwriter Skip Woods bring the world A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. I bring these names to you only to offer them as a sacrifice to the movie gods for the butchering of a sacred character.
John McClain’s son, Jack (Jai Courtney), is in trouble with the Russians. As John arrives, Jack arrives at a courthouse, along with another more important prisoner, Komarov. Meanwhile, a crime syndicate blows a giant hole in the side of the courthouse to kidnap Komarov, who escapes with the help of Jack. Is John McClain…
I am just going to cut to the chase: Bruce Willis does not play John McClain. Bruce Willis plays some guy who stands by while standard action happens and, in the words of Roger Ebert, “stuff blows up real good”. And Willis’ character just happens to be named John McClain. Someone should sue. Maybe I should.
Moore & Woods should be banished from Hollywood. They have created a movie that has made an iconic action hero feel worthless and old. The world passes him by, even though the enemies (three of them, none of them remotely memorable) are Russian and the climax takes place at Chernobyl (yes, that Chernobyl). This movie feels like it is one of the rejected drafts of the original DIE HARD. There is a car chase scene that is so poorly shot & edited, you sometimes wonder if they are on the same road sometimes and are amazed when they are. And some people, mostly “McClain”, survive falls and escapes that defy Wile E. Coyote physics.
All was not lost: the final ten minutes are ridiculous fun with some vintage McClain. Too bad the first 85 minutes are a mess. A total and complete mess.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright Relativity Media and Nicholas Sparks Productions. All Rights Reserved.
Warning: Major spoiler in the final line.
When I recommend a movie, I have no regrets. No matter what the movie is, whether it be animated (WALL-E, FANTASTIC MR. FOX), action (THE BOURNE ULTIMATIUM, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) or romance (ONCE, THE VOW). That is, until last week. SAFE HAVEN is what happens when you listen to me and see THE VOW.
“Katie” (Julianne “Please Stick to Dancing” Hough) has a problem. She…did something in her home in Boston. She needs to flee… a cop who uses his authority terribly…by bus. “Katie” ends up in…a far off fantasy land where no one digs too deeply about why you are there or who you are, not even if you want a job or rent/buy a cabin. Or as the movie calls it, North Carolina. Anyhoo, “Katie” meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with 2 kids who runs the town’s general store, and falls for him. But will her past catch up to her? Can she find peace in Fairytale Land (fine, North Carolina)? And just who is “Katie’s” mysterious neighbor?
SAFE HAVEN is yet another Nicholas Sparks novel adapted for the silver screen. This time, an Oscar nominee is in the director’s chair, Lasse Hallström. Granted, two of the nominations were over 25 years ago and he hasn’t made a watchable movie since 2000 (CHOCOLAT), but the man at the helm of WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE and THE CIDER HOUSE RULES still has it. Hallström is a true, natural filmmaker. However, all Hallström is able to create is the most professionally made Lifetime movie
SAFE HAVEN plays it safe the entire way. A dead on arrival plot which includes domestic violence, an alcoholic cop, a dreamboat love interest and a dreamlike, brain-dead small town utopia which only used to exist in 1950’s nostalgia films. The movie starts off far too simple and each new layer is as clichéd as the last. And each new layer only adds to the story and not to the characters, who end up more wooden than the general store. Each new layer also contains slight to significant lapses in logic. For instance, the climatic confrontation can easily viewed by Alex, who is standing on a pier shooting fireworks in the same general direction a few hundred feet away, but is completely oblivious to it until last possible moment. And I won’t even begin with the shoddy police work by both the Boston police and especially the squad in the small town.
The dialogue varies from the bland to the awful to the truly bizarre. The aforementioned neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders), has the worst of it, saying lines that would be rejected for How I Met Your Mother’s worst episodes. At one point, Jo asks “Katie” if she is going to be around awhile while “Katie” paints her cabin’s kitchen.
I’ve seen Josh Duhamel is a few things over the years and he is his usual competent self. I bet he has millions in the bank (I mean at least one account has to be held jointly with Fergie, right?). He should take the same acting class as Robert Pattinson I suggested for him a few months ago. Julianne Hough should stick to her day job, dancing with “stars”. When asked to look concerned, she half smiles. When told to memorize lines, she sounds robotic. And when asked to cry, she appears to be laughing with a frown. With this & ROCK OF AGES on her resume, only Ryan Seacrest could possibly save her acting career now.
Undoubtedly, this seems far from the last time that a Sparks novel will be filmed, but please make it stop. I may not be the intended audience, but I believe that any theatrically released movie should be accessible to anyone at anytime. Just because it is a love story and I am a male human being (don’t laugh, my wife can back me up on that claim), doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy it. But I digress: Please, please see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK for V-Day instead. For the sake of humanity, see the best love story out there right now! Not this 115 minute clump of nothing.
As for the mysterious neighbor’s identity: Let’s just say that you go in expecting to see THE NOTEBOOK and THE SIXTH SENSE breaks out. Just saying.
* (out of five)
Monday, February 4, 2013
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright Universal Pictures. All rights reserved
Let me assure you: I watched BULLETPROOF. Months ago. So long ago, and the movie so memorable, that I completely forget what happens. All I remember was that it stars Sandler & Damon Wayans and they try to get jokes out of a backwoods hotel. Seriously, Wayans is a cop & Sandler is a drug dealer arrested by Wayans. Then, it’s all a blur. Ninety plus minutes of my life...poof!...gone forever.
Fear not my dear readers, Deconstructing Sandler will continue on the first Monday of every month until I run out of Sandler movies. As long as I stay sane…
Friday, February 1, 2013
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright MGM. All rights reserved.
Every boy, including yours truly, grew up playing baseball. From the ages of 5-12, I played T-Ball & then Little League. How talented was I? Well, let’s just say there is a reason I stopped playing at twelve and turned my attention to movies. But one of those great memories I have is being 12 in the bottom of the sixth down a run with a runner on second & one out. Under the lights, I swing at the first pitch I saw and laced it into center field. Not a home run, but enough for a hit to record my first (and only) double of my baseball life. The next batter, my brother, smacked grounder passed the first baseman and I came in to score. Baseball, at that age – no matter how badly the teams are skewed – is sports in its most pure form.
But it didn’t used to be that way. Baseball, as a whole, was pure. Baseball used to be played. Baseball used to be king. Then money reared its ugly head. Money canceled the World Series. Money became the motivation. Money demanded that players’ performances be enhanced. Baseball, for all the wrong reasons, became European football: the rich run the joint and the smaller teams just exist.
Like I said, it didn’t always use to be that way. BULL DURHAM shows baseball in its purest form: 1980’s minor league baseball. The place is Durham, North Carolina and the team is the Durham Bulls. The Bulls have their passionate fans but none more so than Annie (Susan Sarandon). Annie is the parish president of the “Church of Baseball”. Every year, she takes a different player “under her wing” and attempts to improve his game, with the added benefit of sex. The two prospects: Ebby LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), a young, slightly erratic pitcher with sights on “The Show” and Crash Davis, an aging catcher who has spent most of his career in the minors; Annie chooses Ebby. Ebby, now nicknamed “Nuke”, has a second mentor in Crash, who is responsible for showing “Nuke” the ropes of professional baseball, especially when it comes to how to act in “The Show”. Will Nuke make “The Show”? Can Crash get back to his former glory? Can Annie & Crash co-exist?
Luckily, none of those questions is really an issue. What we get is a real treat. BULL DURHAM has three real people in a grown up movie. Not just characters, characters who could be people you or I could meet in a minor league baseball town. Annie is a real fan of her team but not afraid to criticize but in a constructive way. But she is also a woman who is alone but not completely lonely. Nuke is unprepared & immature but he’s not stupid. He knows what he has and what’s missing from his arsenal but he never is afraid of nor acts negatively towards change, just awkwardly reacts to certain tactics. And Crash knows who he is & what he is in Durham for and does it. It is only after he is no longer needed that he feels betrayed & angry. But he doesn’t seek revenge. Instead, he moves on.
BULL DURHAM could not have been made today. First, baseball, like I said above, has changed for the worse. But most importantly, with how Hollywood runs today, nothing would fit together. First, no studio on Earth would give a first-time director a medium-low budget with total creative control for a baseball movie that is about baseball as much as BOOGIE NIGHTS is about pornography (but I’ll get to that later). Second, every cliché in the book would be thrown in by script doctors. Annie & Crash would hate each other at first. Crash & Nuke would turn on each other at the end of the second act. The Durham Bulls would be a rag tag team, brought together around young Nuke, until he is sent to “The Show”. The Bulls looked doomed until Crash rallies them just in time for “the big game”.
Luckily, none of this happens. Instead, we get a movie about three people at a real crossroads in each of their lives. A movie about how you’re never too old to continue to grow up. And on the outskirts, we get grown men and the joy they get from being together & playing a child’s game. The same kind of joy I got as a youngster on the outfield grass or batters’ box. The same joy I get every time the end credits roll on a great movie, like BULL DURHAM.