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Thoughts on the Oscar Telecast 2017

PACKING up my homemade treats, looking over my predictions with the list of winners, using eyes that were strained and tired from staring at the television screen for hours; I was ready to go to bed. Another year is now in the record books for a lot of reasons. Of course the biggest surprise was the mixup for the last category, best picture. Reading and hearing about the different theories on the how and why it happened did not provide me with answers to a couple of simple questions. Assuming Warren Beatty has all of his mental faculties, I just do not understand why he did not say he had the wrong card. It was obvious to me he was flustered, looking back to the side stage and around; he did not know what to do. Of all things then why would he throw Faye Dunaway under the bus. He could have whispered in her ear to see if she agreed, but since the surveys said La La Land was going to win, Faye possibly saw that on the card first instead of Emma Stone’s name when he showed her. The two of them knew they were giving out the best picture award, wouldn’t seeing Emma Stone’s name on the card be the first clue something was wrong and it would be perfectly okay to say so? This is just my opinion.

 

THE opening was refreshing to me. Since host Jimmy Kimmel is not a song and dance type of comedian like Billy Crystal, I liked the way Justin Timberlake sang his Oscar nominated song which loosened up the audience. Because of this, I felt the crowd gave off less of “aren’t we great, idolize us” vibe and more of an earthiness if you will. In fact, I thought Jimmy did a wonderful job in being down to earth. He avoided the mean spiritedness that some jokes could have taken on while he kept things moving on. The candy drop and the busload of tourists were my favorite segments, though the Matt Damon feud thing was more outrageous on the big stage. My favorite part was when Jimmy was conducting the orchestra to drown out Matt during his presentation.

 

MAYBE it is me but I thought the speeches were shorter this year and surprisingly were more personal when politics was brought into them. My favorite speeches of the night came from Viola Davis and the reading of writer and director Asghar Farhadi’s acceptance speech. Viola was so passionate and sincere, I loved how she talked about actors taking on the lives for those who no longer can speak. I laughed at Jimmy’s comment that she would be nominated for an Emmy with her speech. As for Asghar’s speech, I had just seen his winning film The Salesman the afternoon prior to the show and appreciated his thoughtfulness and heartfelt words. Gael Garcia Bernal was one of the presenters that touched the perfect balance of personal without the hate. Speaking of presenters I felt Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae were lovely while on stage as they brought out Katherine G. Johnson, the NASA mathematician that Taraji portrayed on screen. It was such a touching moment.

 

EVEN with the long telecast, as I reclined across my sofa my desire to be a seat filler was just as strong today as it has been all the past years. Just once I want to be part of the red carpet pre show activities, the ceremony and just be able to walk around and soak up the whole atmosphere of the event. With that said it has been a year of ups and downs with movies. I feel I saw more poorly done films than wonderful ones; but I would not trade a minute of it since I still love the whole movie watching experience and the ability to write down my thoughts to share with you. So tomorrow we will start all over for the new Oscar year in search of that 4 star picture. I look forward to another year talking and commenting on the movies with you. Thank you for all of your support, I deeply appreciate it.

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Oscar Nomination Picks 2017

THE time has come to put all of your worries aside, forget the chores, make your favorite food dishes and do something special for yourself. It is that time of year, after twelve months of movie watching, where I can relax and stretch myself out on the sofa to experience the blessed event—the Oscars telecast. My menu is set, all I have to do is pick-up the ingredients this weekend. I will be eating dinner early; the reason being it is not healthy to eat something then go lie down. It is bad for one’s digestion. I have declined all invitations to be part of an Oscar party since those attending tend not to devote all their attention to the show compared to me. Talking can only be tolerated during the commercial breaks. If everyone is settled in and there are no questions, let the show begin. I have listed below those nominees I think should win compared to those I think will win. Have a joyous night of fun and laughter everyone. So without further adieu, good luck to everyone and let the show begin.

 

SHOULD WIN:                                                                        WILL WIN:

 

Best Picture:

Hidden Figures                                                                           La La Land

 

Best Actress:

Natalie Portman                                                                         Emma Stone

 

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck                                                                               Denzel Washington

 

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis                                                                                  Viola Davis

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali                                                                            Jeff Bridges

 

Best Director:

Barry Jenkins                                                                            Damien Chazelle

 

Best Original Screenplay:

Manchester by the Sea                                                             La La Land

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Hidden Figures                                                                          Moonlight

 

Cinematography:

Silence                                                                                         La La Land

 

Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings                                                       Zootopia

 

Best Original Song:

How Far I’ll Go                                                                          City of Stars

Oscar Telecast

The telephone loudly pierced the purposeful silence that descended upon the house. It was less than 5 minutes prior to the Oscars telecast, so it was obvious the caller did not know me. Everyone who knows me knows not to call me on Oscar Sunday. I need the day to take care of life’s chores before settling in to watch the show and see how my predictions will fare. With the controversy over this year’s nominations I commend host Chris Rock tackling the subject head-on, with a mixture of humor and seriousness. I felt he found the perfect balance to carry off the monologue. As the show progressed I would have preferred it if Chris expanded beyond this one subject. Yes, there was the Girl Scout cookie moment but it seems ever since Ellen DeGeneres took that selfie shot in the audience, every telecast now has to have some kind of interaction with the audience. The cookie gag was funny for a moment but was not necessary in my opinion.

 

Though I just heard on the news that this telecast had the lowest television ratings of the past 8 years, I thought the news ticker running across the bottom of the screen listing the people the winners wanted to thank was a good idea; their speeches certainly seemed shorter to me. As far as I could remember this telecast was the closest to end on time compared to recent past shows. My favorite acceptance speeches were given by Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, though I wished the music was not playing during Alejandro’s speech like it did not for Leonardo. I also enjoyed the quick informational blurbs that appeared next to the presenters, despite them being a bit small to read at times. Since I am a big fan of music, I was looking forward to the singing of the nominated songs. Lady Gaga did not disappoint; I thought her performance was a highlight of the show and was surprised her song did not get an Oscar. The two presenters that stood out for me were Louis C.K. for Documentary Short Subject and Toy Story’s Woody and Buzz Lightyear for Best Animated Film. Oh and I cannot forget the robots from Star Wars and the Minions.

 

If you know me you probably realize there would have to be something startling inappropriate or poorly thought out for me to dislike an Oscar telecast. There have been hosts that were quickly forgettable, speeches that dragged on forever and presenters that used the opportunity for personal gain; but I do not care, the bottom line for me has always been the celebration of the movies I love. Ever since I was a little boy, sitting on the floor in front of the TV with my bowl of popcorn, the Oscars has been my favorite show to watch. So with that being said, it is time to close the chapter on this year’s Oscar telecast and begin seeking out what will get the nod for next year’s show.

Oscar Telecast

There once was a little boy who was not very little. A majority of the people around him all looked the same which made him more self-concsious about his size. Not finding many places to fit in, to be like one of the others around him, he found a safe place in a palace. It looked like a palace to him with stained glass windows, smooth white colored brick walls, aged statues and a massive awning filled with colored lights perched above sets of pure glass doors with brass oversized handles. He not only felt safe inside but found a whole different world to the one he was living in. The first spot he would stop at once inside was the glass cases that were pieced together like a kid’s fort. Walking around he saw more types of candy than he had ever seen before. From there he would walk through a set of polished black doors that opened into a huge auditorium filled with row upon row of red velvet seats. He spent as much time as he could in this place because he discovered different worlds and experienced things he only saw in his imagination. Every week there would be a new movie that proved to him there were all types of people from all different places. He laughed, he cried, he yearned, he wished; and most importantly discovered he was okay just the way he was.    FROM that point in time he has paid his respects to the magic of movies by watching the Oscar telecast every year. This year the show started out on a high note with the host Neil Patrick Harris doing what he does best, being a song and dance man. With the special effects around him that placed him into classic movie clips, things took a fun turn with Anna Kendrick and Jack Black. As the evening progressed Neil had more misses than hits as a host. The schtick with Octavia Spencer got old fast, though I give him points for honoring the film Birdman by walking out on stage in his underwear. One of my favorite moments was Lady Gaga’s tribute to the 50th anniversary of the movie The Sound of Music. Having seen her in concert where she sang live, she already had extra points in my book. Using a higher register of voice without losing her power; she did the movie proud. And if that was not enough to have Julie Andrews walk on stage was perfect for me. I wanted Mary Poppins to come to my house when I was a kid. For the best song from the movie Selma I thought the staging, the message and the vocals all contributed to the power a song has not only in a movie but in our hearts.    THIS year the speeches took on a more personal aspect. The one everyone is talking about and deservedly so was the one given by Graham Moore for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game. Coming from the heart, his speech was the most inspiring in my opinion. Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette both had strong speeches delivered in two distinctly different styles, yet each had potency in their words. Reese Witherspoon may not have given an acceptance speech but her #askhermore campaign is a wonderful idea. I understand all the designers are expecting shout outs for their handy work with the gowns the actresses are wearing, but is that all people want to hear about? Reese’s idea is for journalists to start asking more questions besides, “Who are you wearing?”    OVERALL I am pleased with who received the Oscar award. To tell you the truth on one level I find it odd to place movies into a race with each other. My thing has always been if a movie can move you then it did its job. Just like there has to be someone who graduates at the top of their class and others from the bottom, some movies are phenomenal and others are awful. No matter what movie I am seeing, to this day there is a certain comfort and safety that comes over me when I sit down in a movie theater seat.  So with the Oscars now given out the past year of movies has come to a close.  May the new year of films stir something in our hearts and give us something to talk about.

Oscar Predictions

For the past year I have spent my time in a variety of movie theaters. Some had floors so sticky that my shoes refused to go with me when I tried to leave my seat. There were numerous occasions I had to ask people around me to shut off their phones; some did so obediently while others had to first glare at me. I did not care for I had a movie to watch and review. And what a year it has been; we learned there was a theory for everything and we had new guardians of the galaxy. The Chicago Bears finally caught a Fox and a man bonded with the avian world. There was another lesson on how to train your dragon while a woman went wild and another was just gone. We saw a boy grow up to be a mature young man and discovered a new hotel in Budapest. Such an eclectic group of films the past year; just the way I like it. As we come to an end this weekend during the high holiday of the Oscar awards, I want to thank each and every one of you for joining me on this journey that was filled with discovery, disappointment, joy, amazement, anger and love. Wow, doesn’t that sound just like an intimate relationship? Without further ado, here are my thoughts and predictions for who will take home the Oscar.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:    Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

I would be very surprised if the academy awards this to Meryl. Personally my other choice would have been Emma Stone.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:    J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

This was my easiest decision; I felt he deserved it from the moment I saw him in this movie.

 

BEST DIRECTOR:    Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman)

I believe the academy will choose Richard Linklater for Boyhood because the film was novel. However, I thought Alejandro with his seamless filming was extraordinary.

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:    CitizenFour

Though I did not see all the nominees in this category I thought this film played out like an exciting thriller. My other choice would be Finding Vivian Maier.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:    How to Train Your Dragon 2

Once again I did not see all the entries in this category but I felt this picture was the most well-rounded out of the group.

 

BEST ACTRESS:    Julianne Moore

It is not only her time now but out of the group I thought she really stood out.

 

BEST ACTOR:   Eddie Redmayne

This was my toughest decision and I feel there is a good chance the Academy will choose Michael Keaton based on his body of work. I would be okay with that decision. He was excellent but I felt Eddie’s detailed transformation made for a brilliant performance. My other choice would be Benedict Cumberbatch.

 

BEST MOTION PICTURE:    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Here again I feel the Academy might reward Boyhood though if I did not choose Birdman first I would choose The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:    Glory

If for nothing else this movie deserved more nominations so the Academy will vote to give this the best song Oscar and I agree on the choice; it was the most memorable to me.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:    The Grand Budapest Hotel

I normally do not include this category in my predictions but because the movie was so different and fun, I wanted to list it as my 1st choice.

 

There you have it, this year’s predictions. No matter who wins, I had a great time watching all of these films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Restrepo

In a discussion with a member in my yoga class who is a magazine editor, we talked about the current state of reporting on the news. If someone does not have a direct connection to an event, the story becomes abstract. We specifically were talking about war coverage since we had been talking about the movie Zero Dark Thirty. She mentioned the differences in media coverage between the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. In the 1970’s newspapers and newscasts put battles and casualties right in people’s faces. These days it tends to be mentioned as a statistic with less importance, which angers her. Unfortunately we had to end our conversation since I was about to start class. Believing in synchronicity, I found this movie came at the perfect time; right after I had seen Zero Dark Thirty. Where one was a Hollywood production, this movie was a documentary distributed by National Geographic. Directors Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger spent over 1 year with the men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, starting with their deployment to Afghanistan. These men were being sent to Korangal Valley, an area that could easily have been called “Death Valley” due to the never-ending deadly skirmishes with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. What I appreciated most about this Oscar nominated and Sundance Film Festival winner was the matter of fact way it was filmed. There were no political agenda, no slanted interpretations; it was more about the daily lives of these courageous men. Where Zero Dark Thirty had its intense scenes; so did this film in a different way–these men were shooting real bullets. Some people may find parts of this movie slow because there was not a story line to be followed. We were watching real soldiers up close, from deadly battles to burning their own feces.  Foul language and a couple of brief scenes with blood.

 

3 1/2 stars — DVD

Top Ten Favorite Movies of the Year 2012

Before the movie studios begin their marketing campaigns when the Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow, I wanted to put out my top ten films for the year. There is no secret formula or pouring over statistics and sales figures involved with my decisions. The basis used is how the movie affected me. Was I moved by the story, did it take me away to a different reality, did the entire experience linger with me afterwards are just some of my criteria. I know ultimately it comes down to one’s personal tastes and with the variety my fellow movie bloggers have shown, we all have different opinions on our movie choices/ratings. There is no right or wrong pick; the selections made come from our love of the movies.  So before I start evaluating the academy’s Oscar nominations, here is my list. I do hope you get the opportunity to experience at least a couple of these amazing films.

 

1.    Zero Dark Thirty

2.    Argo

3.    Life of Pi

4.    The Other Son

5.    Samsara

6.    The Perks of Being a Wallflower

7.    Silver Linings Playbook

8.    Beasts of the Southern Wild

9.    Lincoln

10.  Django Unchained

Flash Movie Review: The Master

The word “master” comes with several connotations. If I hear master crafter, I think of a skilled creator. When a person is referred to as the master of the house, I think of slavery. The title of this dramatic movie was a perfect choice. Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, Hotel Rwanda), was a naval veteran who had a gift for making alcohol, out of a variety of substances. A majority of his life had been spent in a haze of drunkenness. When Freddie met the charismatic Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (Moneyball, Doubt), he hoped to find some clarity in his life. Lancaster saw something in Freddie that could be purged with his help. The two men began a tumultuous relationship; Freddie would become both a guinea pig and an example of Lancaster’s unorthodox methods. Staging assemblies around the country, Lancaster’s fervent beliefs began to attract followers. If for nothing else, the amazing acting from Joaquin has to be seen. Besides his explosive, emotional rants; his physical transformation was mind blowing. Pitting him with Philip should easily earn the two Oscar nominations, in my opinion. As for the story, I found it tedious and wordy. Scenes that were carefully detailed did not help with the drawn out passages that I found boring. There were parts that made no sense to me and Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve, The Fighter) as Lancaster’s wife Peggy was underutilized.  She was the wrong choice for the role.  Without excuses or making judgements, this movie simply presented a man with his flock; others could interpret it as the master and his cult.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

I’m not a parent but know I would be a “tough love” type of Dad. I do not understand those parents who let their children run wild in a store or restaurant. And don’t get me started on the ones that bring their underage kids to an R rated movie–I am talking like a 6 or 7 year old! But what do you do if it turns out you do not like your child? The Kevin in this movie would really test a parent’s love. This intense film was too much for me to watch all the way through; I had to take a break from it. Since birth it appeared Kevin and his mother Eva Khatchadourian, played by Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Adaptation) never got along. Or maybe they just did not like each other. Tilda was extraordinary in this challenging role. As the teenage Kevin, Ezra Miller (Another Happy Day, City  Island) not only looked like he was Eva/Tilda’s son, but his acting was just as remarkable. Playing the father Franklin, John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids, The Promotion) was reduced to a minor character compared to the mother and son. I did not care for the direction, finding the use of flashbacks annoying. There were times I was trying to figure out why something was taking place. If you were to ask me if I enjoyed watching this movie, I would have to say no, not really. I wanted to see the acting since Ms Swinton was Oscar nominated. And yet, maybe this was a good film since it elicited a strong response in me. I have one other question I would like to ask: Should a parent be held responsible if their child grows up to be a sociopath?

 

3 stars — DVD

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