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Reactions to the winners, losers and snubbed of the 90th Annual Academy Awards (PODCAST)


I’m back on the What Does It Matter? podcast to react to this year’s Oscar show! You can listen below or download by searching WDIM in your podcast app of choice! You can find WDIM on Facebook and Twitter, too! Drop some review love on Facebook and iTunes!

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I, Tonya movie review: a performer’s delight with an emphasis on the journey rather than the destination

Movies are, by their very nature, destined to be viewed by a specific audience. For example, you wouldn’t send a room full of kindergarteners to watch Dunkirk. (That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy it anyway, but probably not the intention of the filmmaker.) The thing about a movie like I, Tonya is that the majority of the audience for this movie already knows the key plot points. They essentially know how the story is going to end and while that’s not the only reason you go to see a movie, it is a big part of the experience and the audience anticipates the satisfaction of a well-crafted tale. So how do you do that when the audience knows what happens to the protagonist at the end of the film? The answer is this movie.

There are lots of films about how characters grow and/or change during the course of the story and this is where I, Tonya really succeeds. This movie delivers multiple perspectives in a way we rarely see and does it more successfully then I could have possibly imagined. As this is the case, the emphasis of the movie is on HOW the characters end up where they are at the end of the movie rather than their specific circumstances. I, Tonya is a question of how and why rather than where and when.

Should you take this journey? I would have to say yes. Even general audiences who may not have a strong desire for nuanced character development and even if they know the story points can still find something to enjoy in this movie. I wouldn’t refer to these roles as showy opportunities for actors such as what is afforded to James Franco in The Disaster Artist, but all the performers here not only have a great deal to do but do their jobs well. I, Tonya is the rare opportunity for viewers to make an impression on a character and continuingly reevaluate that impression throughout the course of the film.

2017 was a good year for movies and I certainly didn’t see everything, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie better than I, Tonya. It’s got a compelling story but the character arcs and performances really power this movie home. The other quality technical elements (photography, editing, etc) have to take a backseat while the most visible members of a larger team take center stage. This movie gets my highest recommendation.

Best Collaborative Performance – a nuanced Oscar for a modern problem

I often find that modern problems are still approached with black and white solutions. As adults, we know that life is often gray and there are seldom two definitive choices to pick from. Since I’m big on film and the Academy Awards has been slowly driving me insane for years, I’d like to proposed the idea of an Oscar for Best Collaborative Performance to solve one of the biggest areas overlooked by the academy.

Who would be eligible:

Voice actors, motion capture actors and the people that helped bring these characters to a fully realize state on screen

Why this is important:

An entire subset of the community is ignored when there is no recognition. A visual effects award is just not cutting it, particularly when they hide such things in a separate ceremony only for nerds.

How quick do we need this?

We need this yesterday, but we can settle for the 2018 Oscars and just give Andy Serkis and his team what they deserve. Obviously, Team Serkis isn’t the only performer and effects group that’s been overlooked, but it’s certainly the most egregious example to date.

Birdman movie review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was the 2015 winner for Best Picture at the Oscars and I’m sure few are surprised.  The movie has excellent performances, directing, cinematography, lighting, screenplay, the editing is flawless, the score is amazing, sound design and mixing…  It’s a really f@cking good movie.  Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry

3 Points on American Hustle (movie review)

We finally got around to seeing American Hustle and it’s fair to say that the build up to watching the picture might have pulled some of the luster off the surface. Nevertheless, I certainly understand why everyone enjoyed it so much but I can also see what people mean when they say it’s two hours of people yelling at each other. Here are three points on American Hustle for both sides of the argument. Read the rest of this entry

2011 Oscar Picks for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

academy awards oscar statue

"I still can't believe Return of the King won best picture over Mystic River in 03."

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards are tomorrow (February 27th, 2011), and despite not having seen every movie that’s nominated, I’m going to make some picks anyway.  Given that I haven’t seen everything, I’m just picking between the movies I have seen and will indicate the movies I have not seen with a strikethrough the title, so Toy Story 3 will look like this:  Toy Story 3.  I’ll indicate my pick by setting the title of the movie to bold, so Inception will look like this:  Inception.  Yeah, I say Inception because you’re going to see me pick that movie a lot, so if you didn’t like Inception, you might take serious issue with this post!

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Yeah, I’m going with Inception.  Inception is the most original movie I’ve seen in some time, and it messed with my mind a little bit – what more can you ask for?  Everything was great about this movie; I wouldn’t change a thing:  the performances, directing, cinematography, music… just awesome.  I can say the same for The King’s Speech, but as much as I loved that movie, I kinda feel like I’ve seen that movie before.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get a chance to see Black Swan, but I’m kinda under the impression that if you’ve seen one Darren Aronofsky movie about a character on a downward spiral, you’ve seen them all.  I will get to it though; LOVE that Natalie Portman!  I have no idea what True Grit is doing on this list.  It was an OK movie, but I’m shocked at how much praise it’s got from the Academy:  10 nominations?  10?  I have no idea what movie they watched…  and it’s a remake, and yes, like Scarface, it’s superior to the original, but there is nothing special about this movie except for the unlikely performance in a leading role by a young actress.

Darren Aronofsky Black Swan
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen True Grit
David Fincher The Social Network
Tom Hooper The King’s Speech
David O. Russell The Fighter

Uhm… where’s Christopher Nolan?  Inception didn’t direct itself, did it?  How can you nominate a movie for best picture and then snub the director?  I know it was bound to happen with 10 best picture nominees and only 5 best director nominees (that makes sense how?), but really, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen get nominated for True Grit, a movie that could have directed itself and Christopher Nolan doesn’t?  What the hell is that shiz?  This is totally weak.  I decided to go with David Fincher because The Social Network looked like a difficult movie to direct due to it’s nonlinear format and having Armie Hammer play both of the Winklevoss twins…  Frankly, I just kinda threw a dart and picked The Social Network because I’m so disappointed Christopher Nolan isn’t here.

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem Biutiful
Jeff Bridges True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg The Social Network
Colin Firth The King’s Speech
James Franco 127 Hours

I’m sure James Franco is deserving of an award for his role in 127 Hours, during which I understand he’s on screen for virtually every frame of the film and often by himself, but I still haven’t seen this movie.  I had a hard time picking between Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth, but I think I finally settled on Mr. Firth because not only was he brilliant in The King’s Speech, but I was annoyed he didn’t get the accolades he deserved for his role in A Single Man.  The man is a genius and he should get an award every year!  The best part of The Social Network was the performances, so it’s hard not to pick Mr. Eisenberg, but whatever – I think he’ll get another chance.  (Note:  there was a tiny bit of, “I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight” that went into picking Mr. Firth, but not enough that it cost Mr. Eisenberg my pick – it was close, though.)

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman Black Swan
Michelle Williams Blue Valentine

Still haven’t seen any of these movies.  My fault.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld True Grit
Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom

This was a tough decision!  It’s hard not to pick Hailee Steinfeld, given that she had so much more screen time than the other ladies, but that’s because she was the lead in True Grit.  I don’t understand why the Academy allows producers to submit folks for awards that they clearly don’t qualify for.  This makes no sense, “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”  I was close to picking Helena Bonham Carter, who is a brilliant in everything, but I decided to go with Amy Adams.  Ms. Adams completely changed my opinion of who she was and what she was capable of with this one role, and I won’t forget it.  And I was particularly pleased that she looked like a real person in this movie and not a air-brushed, one dimensional love interested.  This was a tough decision!

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale The Fighter
John Hawkes Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner The Town
Mark Ruffalo The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush The King’s Speech

This was also a tough decision, and I only had to pick between Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush, but I had to go with Mr. Bale, who is great in everything, and although I’ve seen him play a variety of roles, he really blew my mind in The Fighter.

Original Screenplay
Another Year Mike Leigh
Inception Christopher Nolan
The Fighter Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
The Kids Are All Right Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech David Seidler

Again, Inception was awesome…  The King’s Speech and History was based on actual events… not very original!

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 Michael Arndt
True Grit Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Uhm… True Grit, I guess.  My understanding is that the only story about Facebook that is less accurate than The Social Network is the book it was based on, The Accidental Billionaires, which I understand Aaron Sorkin didn’t bother to read until right before he completed the screenplay.

Foreign Language Film
Biutiful Mexico
Dogtooth Greece
In a Better World Denmark
Incendies Canada
Outside the Law Algeria

Sorry, I’m always about a year behind on this category.

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

No Despicable Me?  What the hell happened?  Sure, it might have been a little predictable, but then, so was The King’s Speech… or True Grit, or most of the movies nominated for best picture, so I don’t know why Despicable Me doesn’t get any love.

Original Score
127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Really, The Social Network’s boring ass score of chords and whole notes by Trent Reznor (and somebody else, I forget who) was good enough to make the list of top five scores of the year?  Garbage.  I don’t remember anything about The King’s Speech score, but I liked the Inception score a lot, so this was a no brainer for me.

Original Song
Coming Home Country Strong
I See the Light Tangled
If I Rise 127 Hours
We Belong Together Toy Story 3

Here’s a rare category where you can just go to YouTube and listen to the songs, which is what I did because I didn’t see any of these movies, so I’m listening to them out of context, but whatever.  Here are my thoughts after listening to each song once:  they’re all boring as hell.  Even We Belong Together from Toy Story 3, which maybe be the only song in the group to be a bit upbeat (yeah, a song called “If I Rise” isn’t upbeat at all – how did that happen?  Sounds like a kick ass Gospel song,but nope), but We Belong Together was written by Randy Newman, and, well… if you didn’t already know, all Randy Newman songs sound basically the same, and they all suck.  So, I’m not picking any of these songs.  Instead, I’ll refer you to the 1971 winner, The Theme from Shaft by Issac Hayes.  Can you dig it?

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King’s Speech
True Grit

I flipped through Alice in Wonderland, but didn’t actually watch the movie, but I didn’t see anything special here… in fact, it looked like CG at it’s worst… the movie looked like they filmed the entire thing in a studio and the movie was worse for it.  The King’s Speech is up for Art Direction?  It was a period piece, it’s not like they were making shiz up…  as was True Grit, so I don’t get that selection, either.  I think I have to go with Inception again, which had truly inspired art direction… Harry Potter is a close second, particularly for the sequence that took place at the Ministry of Magic.

Black Swan
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Uhm, yeah, Inception.  Easily.  I won’t waste your time explaining why.  The Social Network is on here?  Are you serious?  What, for that shot during the rowing race?  Whatever.

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Wish I’d seen this movie I Am Love, so I could have yelled at the screen, “No, I am love!”  But yeah…  picking costume design award between two period pieces… I’ll go with… uhm… [flipping coin] heads – I mean, The Kings Speech.

Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Sorry, didn’t see any of these movies.

Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Sorry, didn’t see any of these documentaries.

Sound Mixing
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Again, Inception, easily – the other choices called for significantly less mixing, so this is a poor mix of choices.  And without seeing it, I guarantee you Salt had twice as much mixing to be done than Speech, Network or Grit.

Sound Editing
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

I’m going with Inception again – a lot more sound editing than True Grit, so not really fair.

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

The effects I saw from Alice in Wonderland were pretty shizzy, but whatever.  I’ll go with Harry Potter on this one – Harry probably should have been up for cinematography, too – that movie was beautiful.

Film Editing
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech

The Social Network

Really, no Inception?    I bet 127 hours was a pain in the ass to edit – they must of cut the shiz out of that movie to make it move nicely with James Franco being the only character on screen for the majority of the film and stuck in one place.  Crazy.  So I’ll throw my dart and hit…  The Social Network, due to it’s nonlinear story format.  I was considering The Fighter for the cutting of the fight scenes, but whatever.

Short Film, Animated
Day & Night Teddy Newton
Let’s Pollute Geefwee Boedoe
Madagascar, a Journey Diary Bastien Dubois
The Gruffalo Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
The Lost Thing Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short animated films.

Short Film, Live Action
God of Love Luke Matheny
Na Wewe Ivan Goldschmidt
The Confession Tanel Toom
The Crush Michael Creagh
Wish 143 Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these short live action films.

Documentary Short Subject
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Sorry, I didn’t see any of these documentary short subject films.  What the hell does that mean, anyway… short subject?  Don’t they mean ‘short’ in duration?  What the hell subject is short?  Pomeranians?

Thanks for checking out my Oscar picks, it was fun for me!

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