Showing posts with label Academy Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Academy Awards. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Befuddling Line of Whine

With all the political talk at last night's Oscar ceremony, there are sure to be howls of derision from the right over how Hollywood just doesn't get it and they better be careful about who they criticize if they want to win more elections. I guess the right assumes that everyone in California votes for Democrats even the big studio execs.

This line of whine has always befuddled me. Isn't this the same group of folks that bitch about people being two faced and wishing they would be more honest? Being too PC and not allowing the country to speak their mind?

I guess the right has exclusivity when it comes to being abrasive and honest. And they clearly can't take what they dish out every single fucking day.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Grand Indeed (Best Picture Nominee #8)

If it were up to me, The Grand Budapest Hotel would in in every category in which it was nominated. Wes Anderson is a genius and it makes me very happy that he and Richard Linklater are making films and being massively appreciated these days. Odds are that Birdman or Boyhood will be the winners for Best Picture tonight but Grand Budapest is my pick.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Boyhood (Best Picture Nominee #7)

Richard Linklater's Boyhood is pure genius. Think about the commitment that 12 years on a project must bring. I've always enjoyed Linklater's films, especially Dazed and Confused and the "Before" series. This one brings him into a whole new level of auteurism. Watching the progression of the actors, especially Ellar Coltrane, is heartfelt and amazing. The story that is told is also wonderful.

It's truly stunning and that's why I think it's going to win Best Picture and Best Director.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Fucked Up Wonderful Mess (Best Picture Nominee #6)

Birdman is a fucked up wonderful mess of a film and currently the front runner to win Best Picture on Sunday night. I don't really have many words that describe what it's like watching this film. It most certainly stretches the limits of how to tell a story and I think that's always a good thing as Hollywood continues to recycle the same old stories over and over again.

Prepare to have your mind blown away when you see this film.

Where is the Joy? (Best Picture Nominee #5)

I have to admit that there are plenty of days when I'd like to be the kind of teacher that J.K. Simmons is in the film Whiplash. This was especially true after my 4th block World Studies class last semester.

Yet, after I watched this film, I couldn't help but wonder...where is the joy? Music is about love, peace, happiness and joy, not a military style regiment that sucks all the fun out of playing. I've played guitar for nearly 30 years and never had anywhere near the obsessive desire to be the best that is on display in this film.

Simmons is going to win Best Supporting Actor, though. His performance is stellar!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Selma (Best Picture Nominee #3)

The film Selma isn't good. In fact, it's poor. Most of the reason for this is Ava DuVernay, the director of the picture. In looking at her past credits, it's clear why the movie is so uneven. The pacing is horrible and the story is more interesting if you just go out and watch a documentary like Freedom Riders.

The historical accuracy is Selma is also way off. Lyndon Johnson is played as an inept villain who seemingly tried to block the Voter's Rights Act from being passed. That never fucking happened. I'm no Johnson fan and think, in fact, that he was our nation's worst president but get the guy right, for pete's sake.

Don't waste your time with this film.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Theory of Everything (Best Picture Nominee #2)

I quite enjoyed the film, The Theory of Everything even though it tended to focus more on Dr. Hawking's personal life rather than his scientific theories. Eddie Redmayne was simply phenomenal in the main role and Felicity Jones...well, what can I say? She's a petite brunette who also happens to British which means deadly for me.

Don't go into this film thinking you will see long explanations of Dr. Hawking's work. That's what A Brief History of Time is for. This is a personal story about how a family dealt with a very serious illness and emerged, most unexpectedly, triumphant.

What American Sniper Really Tells Us (Best Picture Nominee #1)

As is usually the case at this time of year, I catch all of the Best Picture nominations before the ceremony on the last Sunday in February. Last weekend, I took both of my kids (now age 15 and 13) to see American Sniper, the bio pic of the late Chris Kyle and that's the first of eight films I will comment on in the run up to the Academy Awards.

All three of us thought it was good film but didn't live up to the hype surrounding it. I didn't agree with Michael Moore's assessment before the film and I still don't after the film. Snipers aren't cowards. They are very effective strategic tools, many of whom are heroes. My problem with it centers around the mental health issue.

Clint Eastwood had a real opportunity to showcase how horrible PTSD is and the effect its had on an entire generation of young men who have been at war. Instead, he turned the plot line into a "manhunt" format with Kyle returning again and again to Iraq to kill "Mustafa," a Syrian sniper who has continually taken out US Armed Forces personnel. Kyle's obsession with stopping him is really the focal point of the film.

Worse, however, is the glossing over and soft pedaling of how Chris Kyle died. Kyle, along with a friend named Chad Littlefield, were killed by a fellow veteran named Eddie Ray Routh at a shooting range. The film does show that Kyle was helping other vets with PTSD by taking them out to shoot. What the film doesn't show was how incredibly myopic this was.

Because the real story of this film is its irony. How is it that a guy who survives four fucking tours of duty (1000 days)  in one of the most dangerous places in the world (with a bounty on his head) end up being a victim of gun violence in his own home state?

The horribly misguided ideology of the Gun Cult.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Nominee For Best Picture: Gravity

Gravity is still the best film of the year. The images and story of one woman's struggle for survival still haunt me months after seeing it. Hands down, the performance of Sandra Bullock's career and that's saying a lot considering her tun in The Blind Side. And I am just a giant geek for space stuff!

I hope it wins tonight!!

Nominee For Best Picture: Nebraska

I found many familiar people and scenes in Alexander Payne's Nebraska. For those of us who live in the upper midwest, the sight of men staring blankly at a TV set and eventually falling asleep is commonplace. Bruce Dern is so fucking good as Woody, a man convinced he has won a publisher's sweepstakes prize of one million dollars.

Nominee For Best Picture: Philomena

Did the Catholic Church engage in slavery in Ireland in the 1950s? Yes they did and the results were devastating to single women who were simply exploring their sexuality. Phiolmena is both charming and sad as Judi Dench plays Phiolmena Lee (based on a real woman) searching for her son who was given up for adoption by evil nuns. It's worth it just to see Steve Coogan thunder away at a nun in wheelchair.

Nominee For Best Picture: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyer's Club should be the Tea Party pick of this year's nominees as it is most decidedly anti-government. But with good reason as the federal government's response to the AIDS epidemic in the early years (in particular, the FDA) was abominable. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are brilliant.

Nominee For Best Picture: Wolf of Wall Street

I am the most open person about sex that I know and have no filter whatsoever between my mouth and brain when it comes to carnal matters. But I blushed several times when I saw Wolf of Wall Street. Leo's performance is exhausting to watch and after 3 hours, I felt as though I'd ran a marathon. He's my fave for Best Actor.

Nominee For Best Picture: American Hustle

I think David O. Russell has followed in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese and decided to make a career of telling right to the very core American stories. While American Hustle touches on the Abscam operation in the late 70s and early 80s, it's really a story about how desperate and fucked up we are as a nation. All of the actors in this film are simply outstanding!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Nominee For Best Picture: Her

Can you be in love with someone who doesn't have a body? Can you have sex with them? If we create an artificial intelligence that evolves, have we become God? These are the questions I asked myself after I saw Her. 

I don't have any clear answers as of yet.


Nominee For Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave

I found people's reaction to 12 Years A Slave to be both sad and amusing. They were shocked (!) at how awful slavery really was and couldn't believe that plantation owners were that harsh. The film certainly doesn't pull any punches but it's pretty much what I expected. How quickly people forget their own history...

Nominee For Best Picture: Captain Phillips

I enjoyed Captain Phillips a great deal and thought that Tom Hanks was great as he always is. The last 45 minutes of the film did an excellent job of capturing the tedium of hostage situations. But what was very wonderful about this film was how they showed the life of an average Somali near the coast and the near constant pressure they are under in their daily lives from barbarians. It was a very balanced film and not so pro-American hoo rah.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Best Picture: Lincoln

The last of the nine Best Pictures nominees is Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. To put it simply, it is a film made specifically for a 9th grade civics class. Contrary to what you might expect, this is not a bio pic. It is a story about how the 13th Amendment passed the House of Representatives in January of 1865....the actual way it passed, not the sanitized, history book version.

My only complaint of the film (similar to my beef with Django Unchained) is that it should have ended 20 minutes before it did. There is a fantastic moment when President Lincoln puts on his hat and walks off down the hallway of the White House residence to go to the theater. His butler watches him go and....the film goes on. We see his son's reaction to the news of his father being shot and a massive historical inaccuracy when they lay him out on the bed at the Petersen House and he fits in the frame! No doubt, Hollywood needs to learn how to end a film.

Yet, the performances of dazzling. Of course, Daniel Day Lewis is amazing but we expect that from him, right? The true diamond in the rough in this picture is Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. A remarkable portrayal, to be sure, but interestingly accurate. Stevens was a true intellect with a sharp wit, relying on both to carry through whatever legislation he supported. It is worth the price of admission just for his performance.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Best Picture: Argo

Even thought I knew exactly what was going to happen in Ben Afleck's Argo, I was still on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours. The film is positively riveting as it relates the story of how a few people from the American consulate in Iran in 1979 made it to safety in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Yes, the film does take some liberties with events as they happened but this is a work of fiction, after all, based on real events.

I've enjoyed watching Ben Afleck's career trajectory over the years. The Town saw some real growth after Good Will Hunting and Argo shows he continues to mature.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Best Picture: Life of Pi

My daughter and I went to see Life of Pi a few months back and both of us were very, very moved by this inspiring story. I remember several points throughout the film looking over at her and watching her face run the full range of satisfaction...all of these are present in this amazing film.

The films tells the story of Pi Patel, first in his quest to know God and become a devotee of all religions and then in his fight to survive after the ship he is on sinks, killing his entire family. We left the film with many, many things to talk about. My daughter thought it was amazing that he was a  Hindu, Christian and a Muslim at the same time. Pi, in the movie, explains this.

"I just wanted to be as close to God as possible."

She was very moved by his spiritual quest.

The rest of his journey across the ocean is filled with adventure and suspense coupled with that innate, human characteristic to survive at all costs. Life of Pi is definitely one of the best of the nine films that have been nominated for Best Picture.