I Don’t Have A Vote: The 89th Annual Oscars – You are ruining Everything

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89th Annual Oscars – You’re Ruining Everything

Save us, Jimmy Kimmel. Save us.

This year, with all that’s going on in the rest of the world, we need movies more than ever as a distraction. Awards shows in the modern era normally have a certain amount of politics thrown in, but Meryl Streep’s  flatulent performance at the Globes really ruined it for a lot of people, including our entire house. One can hope they don’t hand her a microphone this year, but this is unlikely.

My heart was set even further asunder when I saw how good a speech can be. George Kennedy is not everyone’s first thought as an Oscar winner. And that also included George Kennedy.

Could you imagine anyone winning the award Post Halle Berry handling it with such grace? It beats talking about saving the planet from climate change and then flying off in a lear jet to go spend time on one’s yacht any day.

My wife wants to skip it. My youngest daughter wants to watch Jimmy. So do I. Looks like we’re going to have to rely on our DVR so we can cut the crap and enjoy the crappy spectacle.

As a result of that one complete overindulgence, I nearly lost the will to tell you what I liked best this year. This is as close to forcing it as writing comes for me. There was some good things in the movies this year though, and I think we need to talk about it.

My pick for the best in film this year is a lot closer to what the Academy picked this year. I can almost see it from here when there are no clouds at night. It’s somewhere behind Pluto.

So I will give everyone my take on who I would have won the awards. Often it’s someone who isn’t on the board, and that is okay. This follows with who I think should win of the nominees. I hope you find some way to enjoy some movies that may not be mentioned at all tonight.

Best Film:

I gave my highest rating to Hacksaw Ridge, Fences,  The Girl With All The Gifts, Loving and Captain America: Civil WarArrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story almost got there, too. That’s a pretty good year. Of these films, the one that I think accomplished the most is McCarthy’s take on an apocalyptic vision. In under two hours we see one of the most brilliant philosophical musings about moving forward as a species ever placed in such a humble package. If you haven’t seen it and you can stomach a zombie film that discusses and understands Schrödinger’s Cat, you should.

Of the nominees:

I need to go with Fences. It’s the best of those films. La La Land will likely win. Most winners for best picture ended up being just above average (at ***1/2 stars) for me.

Best Director: 

Arrival accomplished the most amazing thing this year in its approach to sci-fi. We have as many heady subjects going on as are occurring in The Girl With All The Gifts, and most importantly, Villeneuve works carefully with his team to avoid any of the tropes that we see in even the best sci-fi. It’s lone weakness of circular logic is insignificant when one considers we are going back to the most basic form of communication to ponder some of the deepest philosophical and heart-wrenching truths of human existence. His work here, along with an incredibly dense (if short) career’s worth of work places him just above McCarthy.

Of the nominees: 

Villeneuve. Gibson has created a powerful film that seems at once of its time and timeless, but I have to defer to the power of Villeneuve’s simple choices.

Best Actor:

Andrew Garfield has a great performance as a man driven by impulses that many can’t understand. Denzel Washington has the kind of vulnerable performance that he’s never done before. My favorite performance of the year is Ryan Gosling in…The Nice Guys. I spent much of La La Land realizing how good he had been and subsequently went home and watched it again. His range therein moves from incomparable weenie, to overwrought widower, horrible father to great father. If there were ever a performer that completely absorbed Shane Black’s vision, this is it.

Of the nominees:

Garfield may never be nominated again, and it would be nice to see him win. But there is no way he was better than Washington.

Best Actress:

Sennia Nanua has what I consider the most memorable and poignant performance of the year. Her journey from complete innocence to an understanding of her role in the advancement of humanity is one that I will not forget.

Of the nominees:

I am so hopeful that Ruth Negga wins this category for Loving. Her performance is the best of those that I saw. What I have seen of Huppert’s performance in Elle intrigues me. WeMissE has me thinking I need to watch this film today. But dear God, whatever you do, don’t give this to Streep.

Best Supporting Actor: 

Russell Hornsby and Stephen Henderson keep coming to my mind for their divergent takes on the sons of Troy Maxson in Fences. Both present incredibly resonant reactions to a father who is different to both of them and continues to change. I didn’t expect to be so enamored with their bit roles, but they really help to bring the story into focus with their performances. No one can take this award from Mahershala Ali, though.

Of the nominees: 

Ali.I love Shannon. He really made chicken salad here. Bridges is great here, too. But he’s done this guy before, even if the ending of this film pushes him to another level.

Best Supporting Actress:

There really can be no other discussion beyond who is second best. Davis has this award locked and she deserves it. This is a performance of the ages.

Of the nominees:

Davis. Just don’t thank Meryl Streep.

Best Original Screenplay:

Hell or High Water has about the best ending of any film this year. The only one that was better is Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy’s Rogue One A Star Wars Story. It’s remarkable achievements include creating a cast of original characters, making A New Hope‘s weaknesses disappear, and adding to the mythology while detracting the dorkiness factor. It’s truly a remarkable achievement in a series I had given up on seeing a good script from.

Of the nominees:

La La Land has a good script, but of this group, the best one I have seen is Hell or High Water. Sheridan is on a roll.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

This truly is a race between Fences, The Girl with All the Gifts and Arrival. The difference here is that the former is almost entirely word for word from the original. There is no real adapting, because it is perfect the way it is. Arrival is has had some work done, but then there is that circular logic thing. I enjoy both of them so much, it’s literally a tossup. Either of them will not be forgotten. My pick is The Girl with All the Gifts. It’s an extraordinary story that could be understood by kids as well as adults, even if the subject matter can be gruesome.

Of the nominees: 

Same here, though I give Arrival a slight edge since Wilson has already taken home some pretty impressive accolades (including 2 Pulitzer Prizes, one for this) and he would not be around to pick up the trophy, since he passed 12 years ago.

Best Cinematography:

Arrival and La La Land are both fantastic in this category. Simon Duggan’s work in Hacksaw Ridge is extraordinary. The work that stands out for me is Ben Davis’ seamless blend of effects and imagery in Doctor Strange. It’s one thing to push forward the incredible work done in dimensional photography in Inception. It’s quite another to completely replicate the remarkable comic book look shot for shot.

Of the nominees: 

This is one category I think La La Land should win.

Best Animated Film:

Moana is another in the long line of Disney Princess films that will resonate for generations. Sure it misunderstands the purpose of promoting a woman is to make her look good without denigrating men, but damn the visuals are exquisite and the songs are catchy. Zootopia is a really good movie too, but it’s preaching so much, the good stuff is harder to detect while trying to weave out the bad. For this reason, I have to go with the art of Kubo and the 2 Strings.

Of the nominees:

Kubo

I don’t know if I will ever stop watching this celebration of movies. As bad as it usually is each year, it’s still the best thing we have to mark the passage of a year in the age of film. It really helps if Jimmy Kimmel is on his game, though. We need him more than ever this year.

 

 

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I Don’t Have A Vote: The 88th Annual Oscars – Cut the crap

Oscars

The 88th Avenue Oscars – Cut the crap

Enough of this stuff. It’s getting old. Why is it that each year increasingly mediocre films are awarded for having one trick pony, when well rounded fare is given a pat on the ass and shown the side door? Yes, it’s Leonardo’s year. Why?  Because we’ve been told so ad naseum. It’s also Stallone’s year, but for work that actually comes close to meriting the award. We also like our directors increasingly foreign sounding and passionate. That their films are lack many dimensions is of no consequence. As for topics, it’s well known that to get a nomination, make sure you capture Hebrew suffering or the Roman Catholic Church doing bad stuff. Increasingly it’s become more apparent that if you want to celebrate the best movies, don’t watch the Academy Awards.

Still though, I think you should know what is great as compared to what is good. So let’s roll.

Film: There are only three movies released this year that I gave 5 Stars to, and those are Inside OutAnt-Man and It Follows. Still, The Martian,  Sicario, The Hateful Eight and even Mad Max: Fury Road are pretty darn close. The best of these films is Inside Out. That it escaped nomination is more a result of the fallback of having a Best Animated Film Category. Still, it’s the rare film that speaks to everyone in the family like this one does.

Of the nominees: The Martian has but one glaring error on repeated viewings: too much Kristen Wiig. Her character is a spokesperson, meant to give soundbytes. She’s all over the film and it becomes annoying. Other than her character, there is no more positive or inspirational film in this pack.

Director: There is nothing quite as remarkable as the visual spectacle of Mad Max: Fury Road. It is a beautiful film beyond compare. The whole package is encapsulated by Ridley Scott, though. His incorporation of a script filled with innumerable science facts, a diverse cast and the power of human intellect worked so smoothly, it is almost too easy. It shouldn’t be overlooked how hard it should have been to make a good book into a great film.

Of the nominees: Ridley Scott.

Actor: This one is a no brainer. Jacob Tremblay’s performance in Room is quite different than any child performance I have ever seen. There is an honesty there that is not easy for most screenwriters to ask a child to play the role of the ignorant one. The key to the success of Room is that Tremblay is not given some sixth sense that is beyond the horrors his mother experiences. He knows only what he knows. He intuits, sure, but he deals with the stimuli he is given only. That is the magic behind the performance. It’s an amazing degree of simplicity and restraint that kids rarely achieve, whether by lack of experience or a director’s unwillingness to push a kid into an area that’s not cute.

Of the nominees: Matt Damon does incredible work making the complicated accessible.  He’s been doing some true yeoman’s work even longer than DiCaprio. His is a movie star performance.

Actress: Brie Larson had a great year, both with Room and her understated performance in TrainwreckRoom has the best female acting performance of the year, with special consideration for Riordan in Brooklyn (review coming) and Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Of the nominees: Still have to go with Larson.

Supporting Actor: This is easy. Stallone has had 7 tries at Rocky and other than IV, he’s nailed the performance every time. That he was not recognized for Rocky Balboa is a shame because that is his most well rounded performance. Still, he does not have a false step in Creed. Talk about a lifetime achievement award. This should be it, because he is still achieving with this performance in his lifetime.

Of the nominees: Stallone.

Supporting Actress: Lili Simmons is a name that you won’t hear this year. I certainly hope that you might hear it in the future. Her stoically resigned performance in Bone Tomahawk is the unexpectedly pleasant surprise of 2015. She acts not as a damsel in distress when captured by cannibalistic troglodytes. Rather she is logical and cool in her reactions to what is going on around her. This is the type of woman that lived in the old west. While men are controlled by what it takes to be a man, women push through the elements to help everyone survive.

Of the nominees: Kate Winset, Steve Jobs. Her’s is the most straightforward, non-gimmicky performance.

Original Screenplay: Inside Out is the best example of taking a complex subject and breaking it down completely so that everyone gets something from it. Animated features this complex come along once in a decade and the last few decades it’s been Pixar every time.

Of the nominees: Inside Out.

Adapted Screenplay: Room is incredible in its ability to take the perspective of a two people and stay true to the differences as the viewer gets to see the truth of somewhere in the middle. The challenge is not so much in the performance of the adult figure, but in capturing the viewpoint of the child in a completely honest and realistic way. This is art.

Of the nominees: Room.

Animated Feature: It certainly feels like a lesser award when they separate it into another category. Inside Out has a muted feel when relegated to the cartoon section. It does not deserve that.

Of the nominees: Inside Out.

Cinematography: Added this category because the nominees were (outside of Carol) so interesting this year. The four other contestants belong there, but the only one that should stand out is Mad Max: Fury Road. The images from this movie will stand head and shoulders above the rest decades down the line.

Of the nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road.

For me, I go back 12 years to Return of the King, for the last Oscar winner I have watched expecting to be entertained. Even so, that is the least of the 3 movies of Lord of the Rings. I keep meaning to watch the best picture films I own, which are The Hurt Locker, The Departed, Crash or Million Dollar Baby. There is an incredible negative energy coming off of those films that is tough to work myself up to viewing. And these are the great Oscar winners.

See, it’s easy to understand that the Oscars don’t want to be like other Awards shows that give out the statue to movies that are box office favorites. Got it. Over 4 the last 5 years though, they aren’t even in the ballpark of a completely great film.

It’s never going to be perfect, but I will be happy if the Oscars became less interested in serving up platters of the same type of movie year in and year out. If you can name one Best Picture winner of the last 10 years that you have watched since the year it was released, then you can tell me I am wrong.

I Don’t Have A Vote: Cool Papa E thinks the 85th Oscars Suck

80th Academy Awards Rehearsals Monday

I have to admit it.  Once I found out it wasn’t happening, I wasn’t interested,  The list of nominees arrived on January 10 and Samuel L. Jackson’s name was not among them.  There is no good reason for it, either.  Within the list of nominees, even the guy from his own movie, Christoph Waltz, didn’t do as good a job as Jackson’s groundbreaking portrayal as Stephen, the sadistic house slave intent on keeping things just as they are.  The moment I found that he wasn’t nominated, the wind went from my sails.  I had no wish to round out the rest of the nominated performances and movies.

Whatever they got going in the Oscars, it isn’t as a representative for movie goers.  Even when they almost get it right (they nominated Hugo last year) they end up getting it horribly wrong by giving the win to a film was an unfunny joke last year and is just a sad reality one year later.  And no, I didn’t name that movie…and you can’t remember it.

Equally ridiculous is that they nominate up to 10 films in a year, which was brought upon by the snubbing of The Dark Knight in 2009.  Immediately one can rule out 5 of them, as they still only have 5 directors nominated.  Each year the winner for Director has been from the winning Movie.

This year, we have a lot of the same people we see every year: Speilberg, Ang Lee, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel, Waltz, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Arkin, Philip Seymour Hofffman, and even DeNiro is back.  Ben Affleck is getting much of the publicity for his “snub” as director.  I am not even sure Argo gets beyond TV Movie status, as far as interest goes.

There are a few new faces, such as Zeitlin and his crew from Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Wallis’ nomination, like the rest of the participants of this mediocre movie, feel like the tip one gives the shoe shine boy.   In the end, they get a nickel and the Academy gets the shine.  Critics fall for it every time.  We should be thankful that Wes Anderson doesn’t work for Steven Spielberg, lest his diabolically boring Moonrise Kingdom be nominated, too.

The biggest stain on the Academy, though is the omission of Take Shelter from last year’s show.  It was a film that should have swept the Movie, Director, Actor (Shannon), Actress (Chastain) and Screenplay (Jeff Nichols, who is also the director).  Nichols is a guy who doesn’t work for anyone.  He just makes good films.  The makers of Man of Steel (including another oft ignored filmmaker, Christopher Nolan) knew well enough to cast Shannon as their villain in the tent pole film of the summer, but they are just here to make good movies, not to win awards.

Which brings me back to Jackson.  No other actor has made more money for their studios than Jackson.  2013 was no exception, either, with his roles in The Avengers and Django Unchained.  I don’t think anyone will question the artistic integrity of these films, either.  They are films that connect on every level.

So for those who care, you can have your Oscars.  For me they lose more relevance every year.  To try to predict the winner would be akin to guessing what voters who love Spielberg and Hanks can accept winning: the key words are  “safe” and “liberal.”

My short list of predictions is as follows:

Film: Lincoln
Director: Spielberg
Actor: Day-Lewis
Actress: Lawrence
Supporting Actor: Arkin, DeNiro for “safe” and Hoffman if they go “liberal”
Supporting Actress: Hathaway
Original Screenplay: Boal
Adapted Screenplay: Kushner, Goodwin
Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph

My short list of who should have won, regardless of nomination:

Film: Liberal Arts (ironic, I know, but it’s more than liberal: it actually has ideals and morals)
Director: Joss Whedon, The Avengers
Actor: Josh Radnor, Liberal Arts
Actress: Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect
Supporting Actor: Jackson, Django Unchained
Supporting Actress: Judi Dench, Skyfall
Original Screenplay: Josh Radnor, Liberal Arts
Adapted Screenplay: Ol Parker, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Animated Feature: Brave

For the reasons behind my choices, please click the links for follow the reviews.  These are based on films I have watched, rather than those I was told to watch.  Experience tells me that  I can catch up with the “winners” later.