IT WAS A MAD DASH TO finish up the chores I had before the telecast began. I had an appointment in the morning, food shopping in the afternoon, preparing food for the week, packing up my gym bag and laying out my work clothes before the show. I finished up 5 minutes prior and quickly nestled myself into the sofa to see the return of not one but three hosts for the Oscar telecast. The opening of the show with the Williams sisters introducing Beyonce was a well-played move by the producers of the show. Let me first say Beyonce has a wonderful voice and knows how to deliver a song. However, I feel every performance of hers recently must be a big production with a multitude of people and large settings. At a live concert, I appreciate when the musical artist mixes up the songs so that there are some intimate moments in between the bigger song productions. I wish Beyonce would just come out on stage and sing the heck out of a song. NEXT UP WERE THE 3 HOSTS: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I respect all three and have enjoyed the performances I have seen them in. With Amy and Wanda being more of a comedienne, where they can do standup comedy, I felt the three of them were a bit awkward working with each other. There were jokes that hit the mark, but I thought Regina’s bit concerning the testing of male movie stars went on too long. Because I think the three women, especially Wanda and Amy, have great comedic timing, I would have enjoyed their opening more if they had been given leeway to adlib and perform more like it was one of their stand-up shows. As the first award category was coming up, I realized my excitement in seeing the show was not at its usual level. The main reason was the fact I had not seen all the major nominated films, like Coda. There was a layer of sadness from this but also from the fact that some categories’ nominees were given their awards prior to the show. To me, everyone who works on a film is equally as important as their fellow workers. It takes a group of people to bring a story to life on the big screen. I know the academy made this decision in the hope of keeping the telecast tight and on time. Well, I have to say it did not make a difference to me. THE DURATION OF THE SHOW WAS something I was aware of due to it being slow in my opinion. Doing a big number of a non-nominated song from a nominated film made no sense to me, wasting more time. I am upset that I even must address this since it has already sucked all the air out of the room; but Will Smith should have been removed from the theater. Violence solves nothing and correct me if I am wrong, but when the camera cut to Will and Jada after the joke, it looked as if Will was chuckling until he saw Jada’s sour look on her face. Then suddenly in testosterone mode, Will has to get up and defend Jada’s honor? Do not get me wrong, no one and I mean no one should ever make fun of any individual who suffers from an infliction. Maybe Chris knew or maybe he forgot. A better option would have been Will making a statement after the show or confronting Chris off camera. Since he was the frontrunner for best actor, I feel the academy stood paralyzed in what actions they could have done. Since Will did win, he could have easily made a statement during his acceptance speech and turn this episode into a real learning moment. What he did instead was to ramble on without taking full responsibility for his actions and not apologizing to Chris and the public who were stuck watching his foul-mouthed tirade. Yesterday the academy said they are starting an investigation and now today, Will comes out with a prepared apology to Chris. Can we say damage control here? What upsets me is the focus is off the films and on Will’s actions. My time is valuable as well as yours, who wants to listen to this stuff. FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TELECAST one could tell things were off kilter; though, I loved Amy’s joke about taking too long to undress from her Spiderman outfit, asking if she missed anything. I felt the choices for the winners made sense and I was fine with them. One thing I have a hard time with is when celebrities in a confused state are brought onto the stage for a tribute or to speak in front the audience. It was obvious there was some confusion going on with Liza Minnelli. However, I will give credit to Lady Gaga for handling it in such a way as to maintain Liza’s dignity. But as I was cozy on the couch, I could not help feeling like I found a precious jewel that had a flaw in it. The value of it was lessened and my enjoyment level was not at its usual peak. Having gone past its scheduled time and with the feelings I was experiencing, as soon as they said goodnight I jumped up and quickly got ready to go to bed. This telecast will always be remembered for the poor behavior and lack of respect on display. They are movies, pure entertainment and that is all I want out of them. I hope the academy can get to a place where this show once again is a celebration of movies instead of a display of egos.
EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME, I have felt a sense of excitement and joy in anticipation of the Academy Awards telecast. In the past, I would have more than likely seen every movie nominated in the major categories. Various family members and friends would list their picks on who they feel deserves to receive an Academy Award, to see who had the most correct predictions. I was always invited to viewing parties but declined all of them because I did not want to have any interruptions or too much noise interfering with my enjoyment of sitting back and watching the television show. All of that changed when COVID came into our lives. It has been a long time coming but movie theaters have reopened, though not all of them and this year’s telecast will be televised live with three hosts. DESPITE THIS GOOD NEWS, THERE IS a part of me that is sad and stressed out. I looked at the list of nominations and out of the films I was able to see this past year, there was only one I physically saw in a movie theater. For the others, I had to either stream them at home, rent them, or plead with friends to make time for me to come see a film on their streaming service; and sadly, I again this year have not been able to see all movies nominated. I also have to say, watching a picture on a small screen in the comforts of one’s own home has a different affect on the movie watching experience than sitting in a dark theater. The past year I may have given one or two films a 4-star rating; part of me thinks the lack of a big screen did not let me get fully into the story. Regardless, I do want to offer below my list of films I feel deserve to receive an Oscar award and those that I think the academy will pick.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
MY CHOICE: ACADEMY PREDICTIONS
AUNJANUE ELLIS ARIANA DEBOSE
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
DRIVE MY CAR THE POWER OF THE DOG
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
KODI SMIT-McPHEE KODI SMIT-McPHEE
BEST FILM EDITING:
DUNE THE POWER OF THE DOG
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE:
DRIVE MY CAR DRIVE MY CAR
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
JESSICA CHASTAIN JESSICA CHASTAIN
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH WILL SMITH
JANE CAMPION RYUSUKE HAMAGUCHI
THE POWER OF THE DOG THE POWER OF THE DOG
SO, THERE YOU HAVE IT; MY list of who I would recognize for an Oscar and who I think the academy will pick, all from the limited group of films I was able to see this past year. No matter how it plays out, I hope the televised show brings enjoyment, thrills and excitement to all of you and to me, too. I could use a good show to comfort and transport me to my happy place.
I USUALLY AM NOT THE TYPE to 2nd guess myself; but when it comes to losing a good friend, I do wonder about the circumstances that led up to the break. We had been friends for a few years, who never had a disagreement about anything. He was a teacher who had a more flexible schedule than me. Let me also add, he did not have a car because he lived in a congested part of the city and found it easier to take public transportation to get to his college classes. Our friendship essentially ended due to illness; let me explain. It took place pre-pandemic. We had plans to get together over a weekend; I was going to drive down to the city and park in his building because he bought a weekend parking pass for me. The week leading up to our get together, my friend started to come down with something. At first, we thought it was just a cold; however, his symptoms were more varied and intense. I suggested we postpone our get together, but if he needed something like groceries, I was available to go and pick them up for him. With the weekend nearly upon us, his symptoms had not lessened. He needed someone to get him a few things at the grocery store. I volunteered, explaining I could leave them at his front door. He got offended by my suggestion. I reminded him I was a germaphobe; but he would not acknowledge it. ON SATURDAY, I CALLED TO SEE if he still needed anything. He told me a friend had gotten groceries and brought them over to him. He also added, “And he came into my place to put the groceries on the kitchen counter.” By the tone of his voice, I knew this was a dig at me, but I did not react to it. I expressed my happiness that he was easily able to get food delivered from another friend. Here is where things got ugly. He emphasized that the friend who brought him food was a “real” friend. I asked what he meant by “real.” He said his friend had no problem walking into his place. I reminded him that I was a germaphobe and I had offered to bring groceries to his front door; I was just not going to stay and visit with him for a while. He refused to acknowledge my concerns and my willingness to work around them. Neither of us knew exactly what he contracted; I was not going to take a chance of catching it. Ever since then he stopped talking to me, which is why I go over in mind if I could do things over, would I do the same thing. I bet the main star in this drama was thinking the same thing. ALLOWED A 2 DAY LEAVE FROM prison, a prisoner decided to find the man who put him in jail, to make an offer. His plans did not go exactly as planned. With Amir Jadidi (Cold Sweat, Zero Day) as Rahim Soltani, Mohsen Tanabandeh (Seven Minutes to Fall, 3 Puffs) as Bahram, newcomer Sahar Goldust as Farkhondeh, Ehsan Goodarzi (A Bigger Game, A Dragon Arrives!) as Nadeali and Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy (Border Café, The Circle) as Mrs. Radmehr; this official Oscar entry for 2022 was beautifully done. I fell in rhythm with the pacing of the story, which was told in a simple way without trying to influence the viewer. Add in the authentic acting skills of the cast and I was totally invested in this movie. It felt as if I was right there with the family as the story unfolded, a fascinating slice of life. This film is the official Oscar entry for 2022 and I am 100% in agreement with it being the choice. Maybe other viewers will have a different opinion and that is perfectly okay. It is funny, it sort of goes along with what the story in this picture was trying to show. Persian was spoken with English subtitles.
MAYBE BEING BORN IN AN APARTMENT building is the reason why I acknowledge neighbors when I see them. I have lived in buildings and houses; each offers a different living experience. With a house, I always made sure that any loud music/noise ended by 9 pm. There were times I would get home late on a winter night and I would not use the snowblower to shovel the sidewalks, because I did not want to disturb any neighbors. It was important to me to be a good neighbor, so I never complained about a dog barking non-stop in the neighbor’s backyard or my neighbor’s child shooting baskets at 6:30 in the morning. Honestly, I was fortunate to have reasonable and good neighbors. It was not unusual for a neighbor to come over and help when they saw me attempting to do a home repair outside. Likewise, I would help a neighbor carry groceries or heavy objects from their vehicle whenever I saw them. When I moved from an apartment to a house, I made it a point to maintain friendly, or at least cordial, relations with my neighbors. We were going to be living next door to each other, so why would I want to cause something that would turn the relationship acrimonious. LIVING IN A CONDO BUILDING, I have found I have more frequent contact with neighbors than when living in a house. Having several apartments on one floor, one is bound to bump into a neighbor in the hallway. Add in an elevator and there rarely is a day I would not see anyone. Now here is the funny thing; when someone would get on the elevator I always either say hello or acknowledge them with a nod of my head. We live in the same building and though they may be a stranger to me, I feel it is the kind thing to do. It always surprises me when I meet a neighbor who either does not make eye contact or says nothing in return when I acknowledge them. It is not like I get offended by it; I just find it odd. There are some neighbors who will make small talk and there are others who just say a quick hi and go about their business. This may sound weird, but I sometimes wonder what a neighbor would do if they came upon me in some kind of physical distress. Would they quickly walk away because they do not want to be involved or would they try to help? I would rather they be like the neighbors in this dramatic, Academy Award winning movie. EXPERIENCING MULTIPLE LOSSES AFTER THE GREAT recession, the only thing Fern, played by Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom, Burn After Reading), had available was her phone and a van. Between the two she would find a place unlike the place she had come from. With newcomer Gay DeForest as Gay, newcomer Patricia Grier as Patty, newcomer Linda May as Linda and David Strathairn (Fast Color, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Dave, this film festival winner was a gentle piece of work. The direction was excellent though I have to say the pacing bordered close to being too slow for me. The acting from Francis was a study on how one could convey emotions without talking and she was powerful in the role. One of the big surprises for me were the newcomers who were not actors but the actual people portraying their lives. The story was a curious one and I appreciated the way it was filmed; the scenery was beautiful. I do have to say if I had seen this before I did my Oscar favorites, I honestly would not have picked Frances as best actress, not that she was bad by any means. My focus is first and foremost the entertainment value and I think the slowness and quiet dragged me down a bit. However, I still feel this rightfully deserved to be included with the nominees this past year.
3 ¼ stars
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE SEEING A musical act performing live at a concert. This may sound corny, but the experience produces a natural high in me. Granted I always start out with a little anxiety about the commuting aspect; however, once I am safely in my seat, I am plugged in to experience everything the musical artist(s) brings to the stage. Let me see if I can describe to you the feeling of being at an arena sized concert. Imagine 15-20,000 fans converging into a stadium; every single person is there for one sole purpose, to hear and show their love/adoration for the performer(s). Everyone is in a good mood, smiling and nodding at each other as if they share a special secret. While walking the halls to find your seats, random music can be heard echoing from the arena; a constant thumping bass sound pulsates through the air. There are some fans dressed up to look like part of the band or artist’s entourage; the more flamboyant the act, the wilder are the costumes. As I walk to my seat, my only wish for the moment is that a tall person or one dressed in an elaborate outfit is not sitting in front of me, obstructing my view. As more people are settling into their seats, the feelings of anticipation are being elevated to a point where the space around everyone is buzzing with excitement. That bass sound that has been thumping is resonating in each person’s chest as if synching everyone to a common beat. And then suddenly the music stops, and the place goes dark. Everyone in unison begins to cheer loudly. THE WEEKS AND MONTHS LEADING UP to this moment were worth the wait. I just need to hear the first couple of notes to announce the start of what I am sure will be a familiar song, one of many that I have been singing in the car since I got the tickets to this show. A set of spotlights slowly wake up to reveal a spot on the stage where 4 strangers are standing. I have never seen them before in my life! An announcer introduces them, and they start to play their instruments. They are the warm-up act. Nowhere in the advertisements or my tickets did it say anything about a warm-up act. Where is the group I paid to see? The built-up feelings that were about to burst out of my body suddenly deflated like a flat tire, after slamming into a deep pothole. It almost felt like I could not catch my breath because I was in such shock. Right at this single moment I am flooded with the feeling of disappointment and this feeling is exactly how I felt about the Oscars and the awards show this year. THE TRANSFORMATION OF UNION STATION FOR the show was beautifully handled. I thought the place looked like an old-fashioned supper club. The outside reception area was equally beautiful in my opinion. I do have to say it was odd for me to see a gathering without masks, where people were hugging each other; it almost felt like a time pre-COVID. There was glamour but due to restrictions, the pre-show scenes seemed like individual segments that were more unconnected than usual. For the fact I could not see all the nominated films, I came into this without my usual excitement and joy. The Oscars telecast has always been my Super Bowl and High Holiday wrapped together. When presenters were talking about a film that I had not seen, it felt so foreign to me as if they were talking a different language. Right from the first acceptance speech, I so badly wished they had a live orchestra to drown out the winner who overstayed their welcome. There were some exceptions but for the most part the acceptance speeches rambled on and on; it was painful. The exception for me was Yuh-Jung Youn, best supporting actress, due to a couple of her comments. Though she was long in her speech, I appreciated her saying, “All the nominees, five nominees, we were the winner for different movies. We played different roles—so we cannot compete against each other. Tonight, I’m here, I just have a little bit more luck. I think, maybe. I’m luckier than you…” WHEN TYLER PERRY ACCEPTED HIS HUMANITARIAN award, I especially appreciated the part of his speech when he said to “refuse blanket judgement” and “refuse hate.” I wish I could do that when it came to Questlove as the DJ; I did not care for most of his musical selections. The music did nothing to try and elevate the mood amongst the guests. Now granted I know there are way more important things to focus on than the Oscars. I simply wanted to be taken away for a couple of hours to a world of glamour and stars, checking my predictions against the winning choices, before I had to settle back down into the real world. Sadly, this show did not provide me with any of these things, except for way too many commercial breaks. I was still mad that the Academy had enough money to give swag bags worth, I heard, up to $200,000.00. Why couldn’t the Academy take all that money to pay for a weekend of nominated films to be shown free across all viewing platforms? Not everyone buys every streaming service to view the nominated films. Don’t you think it would be in the best interests for actors and the Academy if they offered something for their dedicated fans?!?! OUT OF THE ENTIRE BROADCAST, I thought the most egregious error was the change in the order of awards for the end. Usually the last 3 awards are for actress, actor and picture as the last. The very end is seeing all the people associated with the winning picture up on stage, happy and excited for their film. But because I believe the Academy was expecting Chadwick Boseman to win best actor, they changed the order so that category would be last. Well it certainly did not work out the way they thought it would because Anthony Hopkins won, and he was not even there. So, the presenter awkwardly accepts the award in his honor and tells everyone to have a good night; that is the end of the show. What an utter mess and shame on the Academy. I read today that the broadcast this year had the fewest viewers ever and I perfectly understand why. I honestly do not know where my comfort level will be to go back to a theater; I am more in a wait and see mode. However, if Sunday’s broadcast represents the future of how the show will be done, I may have to take more of an attitude like Yuh-Jung Youn, it is just luck; so, why pay attention to what gets nominated.
I KNOW FOR SURE IT WAS before I started kindergarten, but I cannot remember how much younger I was when I saw my very first Oscars telecast. What I do remember was how all the women were so fancy in their long dresses. The other memory is about the Oscar statue; it looked so heavy to me, I wondered how the actors could lift it so easily. Ever since that moment in time, I have seen the Academy Awards telecast each year. Everyone who knows me knows how much I look forward to the telecast. Through the years it became a thing to see every nominated film before the show aired and then soon after the family contest started to see who was best at predicting the winners. I cannot tell you how much I looked forward to this yearly event…. up until now. LIKE SO MANY THINGS THE PAST year, COVID has had an affect on movies. For the first time in my adult life, I have not been able to see all the films nominated in the major categories. With the onslaught of all the different streaming services, it has been a maddening situation for me. The idea of signing on to all these services just to see a few films makes no sense to me; it would cost more than my cable bill, which is already expensive. And I must tell you, I am angry at the Academy’s board of trustees. I feel if movies are such an integral part of society, they could have made the effort to arrange for all the nominated films to be shown for free. Possibly pay the streaming services and studios to air the films under their banner for free or nominal fee over a weekend; I would be happy with this arrangement. But instead for the first time since I was predicting Oscar winners, I will not be doing it this year because I have not seen all the movies in each category. Instead all I can offer is my opinion on which one out of the ones I viewed I liked the best. So, with no further ado, here are my thoughts on this year’s partial crop of Oscar nominated films.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
My favorite out of this group would be Glenn Close.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
This is a tough one for me because they all had a strong impact on me. I would love to see Sacha win just to hear his acceptance speech, plus he did an amazing job. I think the academy will choose Daniel.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Each of these 3 deserve the award. Carey made the biggest impact on me, so I will go with that though I think the Academy will pick Viola.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Gary Oldman, Mank
Chadwick has a lock on this category. I did think Riz did an amazing job with his role and under different circumstances I would pick him.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Another Round – Denmark
Better Days – Hong Kong
I absolutely loved Better Days and it deserves every award it can get.
My Octopus Teacher
Though I thoroughly engaged with Crip Camp, My Octopus Teacher is my favorite.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
My choice goes to The Trial of the Chicago 7
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
The one that took me away is Over the Moon
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Out of the ones I was able to view, I would give it to The Trial of the Chicago 7
So, there you have it; I am sad I haven’t seen all the nominees and have not been in a movie theater for one year. However, putting things into perspective, at least I am here and able to see some films. The most important thing is that we all get through this time and get to our new normal. Be well and stay safe, that is my wish for you. Thank you.
AFTER LISTENING TO THEM WHINE ABOUT how hard it is to be separated so long from their significant other, I had to remind them I had been in a long-distance relationship for a couple of years. They were complaining about the 6 months out of state assignment their partner was on for work. I wanted to be supportive, I truly did; but all I was hearing was a list of complaints about their needs not being met. It was only 6 months and I knew the high costs made it prohibitive to travel often; but they were in a committed relationship. Shouldn’t those in such a relationship be able to “weather the storm” of being apart I wondered? In my past relationship we were only able to be together once a month after they were promoted to a position at their corporate headquarters, that was out of state. They could not turn down the offer and I would not have wanted them to do it; we chose to be together while we were figuring out what made the most sense. My friend knew their partner traveled for work. Granted it usually involved being away 3 to 5 days at a time, nothing more until this current work detail. Tell me if I am wrong, but I had to wonder just how committed were they to their love relationship? COMMITMENT TAKES WORK AND IT TAKES strength; don’t kid yourself if you do not think so. I knew a married couple who spent more time apart than together because one of them took a teaching job in a foreign country. They realized for the short term it would be challenging, but they had a goal; with this job they would be able to retire years earlier than expected. The money from the teaching job would allow them to both retire young enough to enjoy sharing their lives together. I am not saying this would work for everyone; but I will say it shows a strong commitment to each other. This couple was able to see each other 3 times a year. Their children were grown and out of the house, which I assume made this arrangement easier for them. Within my circle of friends and acquaintances, I have seen individuals who cannot handle adversity in their relationships. If something tough happens they are too quick to end everything and move on. I try not to judge them; I understand everyone handles things differently. Now that I have watched this Oscar winner, I should just suggest they watch this movie to see how some people deal with commitment. HAVING RECENTLY MET, THERE WAS LITTLE time for Inman, played by Jude Law (The Nest, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Ada Monroe, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, Bombshell), to get to know each other because the country was falling into a civil war. With Renee Zellweger (Judy, My One and Only) as Ruby Thewes, Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, Gosford Park) as Maddy and Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, Calvary) as Stobrod Thewes; this film festival winning adventure drama was beautifully filmed and exquisitely acted. The outdoor scenes were wonderful to look at. Renee was amazing in her role and for me, she was the most believable. Much of the film consisted of a slower pace; sometimes more than I thought necessary. However, I did not lose interest as the script provided enough change in emotions to keep things moving. I can only assume the book must be powerful as this film had a variety of ways to look at the story. Also, I never gave enough thought to those left behind during wartime and I felt the writers did an especially good job in showing viewers the reality of the times. With a running time of 2 ½ hours, it does take one to commit to watching this film; but I feel it would be worth it.
3 ¼ stars
I MAY NOT REMEMBER A PERSON’S name, but I am good with remembering faces; yet, I had a hard time recognizing this man who was talking to me in the music store. He called out my name as he walked up to me. I am not attaching any judgment here, simply describing what I saw coming down the aisle. This man had, if I understand the phrase correctly, long dishwater blonde hair that looked oily. It cascaded in waves down the sides of his head. Perched halfway down his nose was a pair of wire rimmed glasses that had lenses that looked smudged and dirty to me. He was wearing an oversized, beige canvas jacket that had frayed edges and a couple of discolored spots on it. The jeans he was wearing were extremely faded and were so worn at the knees that you could see the white threading crisscrossing in the fabric. His shoes were so dirty it looked to me as if he had been trudging through a long road of mud. As I watched his face get nearer to me, I tried placing where I had seen it before. There was something familiar about it; I had a feeling that I must have known him from a long time ago. WE WERE FACE TO FACE WHEN he asked me how I was doing. I said fine but he must have seen the bewildered look on my face because he told me his name. As soon as I heard it, memories of him flooded into my mind. I did know him because we went to school together. So, you will better understand, let me tell you about him. He wasn’t a jock, did not play sports, but he was always trim. His hair back then was a lighter shade of blonde and was thick and cut short. I don’t remember him ever wearing glasses back then; maybe he only used them when he was studying at home. Many of the students in his class considered him a Brainiac; though, he never flaunted his high intelligence, at least he did not around me. A lot of us thought he would become a scientist or philosopher. I remember him always having a paperback book in his hand. So, you can sort of get the idea how shocked I was to see such a different version of him. As we were conversing, I kept wondering what had happened to him that caused such a drastic change in appearance and mannerisms. I think I found the answer while watching this Academy Awards and film festival winner. WITH HIS NEW GOVERNMENT POSITION ROBERT Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra, Ant-Man franchise), did not realize the impact his new mission would have on his family. With Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, 21 Grams) as Javier Rodriguez, Don Cheadle (The Guard, Traitor) as Montel Gordon, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Mask of Zorro franchise) as Helena Ayala and Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop, Crossing Jordan-TV) as Eduardo Ruiz; this dramatic crime thriller took me a short time to separate and connect all the characters among its three story lines. The large cast was full of top notch acting that ran the gambit of emotions. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Magic Mike), I felt he did a masterful job of keeping the stories moving forward and blending in easily with each other. There were several intense scenes with blood, yet I did not find the violence was in excess. Once I found the rhythm of this picture, I was totally in and lost the concept of time; things kept happening and changing without me losing track once. I especially enjoyed the way the subject was broken down so each story line could focus on a particular aspect of it. Watching this film, I could not help wondering if my assumptions about my old classmate were closer to truth than I first thought.
3 ½ stars
THE CARDBOARD BOX SITTING ON A SHELF in my basement said it was some coffee brand; I do not drink coffee. When I took the box down, I could see a layer of dust that almost looked like gauze fabric was covering the lid. Placing it on the floor, I opened the box and saw crumpled newspaper packed inside. This told me whatever was in this box had come from somewhere else. I began pulling the clumps of newspaper out, but not before looking for a date listed on the paper. The paper was decades old which explained its yellowish hue and fragile state of decomposition. Something deep down in the box reflected a spark of reflected light coming from the bare lightbulb that was hanging down from the ceiling above me. I reached inside, dug my way down, and touched something that was cold and smooth. What in the world had been residing in my basement all these years I wondered? My hand was able to engulf nearly all of the object, but something attached to the surface was blocking my thumb and finger from touching each other. As I pulled this thing out of the box, bunches of crumpled newspaper tumbled to the basement floor like expired carnations. Lifting it up to my face, to be bathed in the glow of the single lightbulb, I held in my hand a silver creamer. MEMORIES INSIDE OF ME AWAKENED FROM their long slumber. This silver creamer with the black Bakelite handle was from the Art Deco era and I remember it only being used when guests were in the house. I put the creamer down on the ground and returned my hand back into the box because I knew the creamer always had a companion. And sure enough, I found the sugar container that was identical to the creamer except it had 2 handles. The times were so different when this set was sitting out on the dining room table. It was a different era where married couples formed couples club; a once a month get together, where the men played cards and the woman played games using small ceramic tiles. The term “coffee and” was popular; it meant coffee and some kind of dessert item(s) would be served during the evening. The tablecloth was set out; the coffee was brewed and stored in a big fancy percolator; platters of cookies, doughnuts or sweet rolls were placed around the table; and the required frosted cake presided over all the desserts from its lofty pedestal cake stand. There were even ashtrays available that were always accompanied by a book of matches. It was a different era and time, just like it was in this dramatic Academy Award winning film. DIRECTOR BERNIE DODD, PLAYED BY WILLIAM Holden (Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17), had always admired the work of Frank Elgin, played by Bing Crosby (High Society, Going My Way). Bernie was determined to get Frank to star in his play, but he would have to contend with Frank’s protective wife. With Grace Kelly (Rear Window, To Catch a Thief) as Georgie Elgin, Anthony Ross (The Gunfighter, Suspense-TV) as Philip Cook and Gene Reynolds (Boys Town, Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary) as Larry; this film festival winner came out of a different film era. Personally, I loved the feeling of traveling back in time to experience a Hollywood classic with its famous actors and abundant musical soundtrack. The acting was excellent but did come over a bit outdated or maybe I should say with over the top expressions with little subtlety. I did not mind this over dramatic flair because it was so fascinating watching the actors tell the story that threw the viewer a couple of curveballs. Images of old Hollywood with actors who were bigger than life; I felt as if I had visited a bygone era by watching this memorable movie.
3 ½ stars
WELL ANOTHER OSCAR SEASON will close with this weekend’s awards show. It has been an interesting past year for movies. There have been a couple of breakout stars and some major flops. Looking at my reviews the past year, there seems to have been fewer outstanding films in my opinion. I believe only 1 or 2 movies received my top 4 star rating. To tell you the truth overall it has been a tough slog to sit through so many pictures that were poorly made. I did however discover 3 new things at the theater. First, I love the one remodeled theater out of 18 at the movie complex near my house. With oversized, soft reclining seats that vibrate to the soundtrack and a dynamite sound system; it made watching a blockbuster film more enjoyable. Second, I discovered a decked out theater with great sound and picture quality along with reclining seats does not make a poorly made film any better. And lastly I discovered I hate, yes hate, sitting in a theater that allows people to order food and have it brought in so they can eat a meal while watching the movie. It is so annoying to sit there and try to pay attention to the picture while a group of people next to you are chomping down on their food. And don’t get me started with the ones that eat with their mouths open!
So let us put all of that aside, get settled into our happy place and enjoy the Academy Awards show. I have all of my favorite snacks ready (to be eaten during the commercials) and have the weekend off from teaching, so I can focus on getting all of my chores done before the telecast. Without further ado let me present to you my choices for what I think should and will win in each category listed.
MY CHOICE TO WIN WHAT WILL WIN
The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
Gary Oldman Gary Oldman
Sally Hawkins Frances McDormand
Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell
Allison Janney Allison Janney
Guillermo del Toro Guillermo del Toro
Loving Vincent Coco
Call Me by Your Name Call Me by Your Name
Get Out The Shape of Water
Dunkirk Blade Runner 2049
This is Me Remember Me
Phantom Thread Beauty and the Beast
Baby Driver Star Wars: The Last Jedi
THERE YOU HAVE IT, my picks for the Oscars. May each and every one of you enjoy the show and may each day after be an Oscar worthy day for you. Thank you for your support, comments, likes and suggestions; I appreciate it deeply and also you allowing me to nurture my passion for movies.