Monday, March 6, 2006

First Annual Thoughts As I Had Them During the Oscars

Hello Everybody!

Welcome to the day after the Oscars. Hope you all slept it off okay. As you might be aware, I was unable to watch the big show live due to work, and therefore taped it and began watching it at about 12:30 a.m., so you'll excuse me if I'm a little tired, the Oscars after all are loooong. Anyway, while watching during the early hours last night, I jotted down some of the thoughts I was having in order to give you, my reading audience an idea of some of the thoughts that go through a future Oscar winners head as they watch the Oscars. Here ya go...

-I'm glad I taped the Oscars. It gives me the opportunity to fast forward through commercials. Take that MasterCard!

-Jon Stewart is handling this very well, doing a good job. I always like the Oscars because they often teach us something we didn't know before, for instance, I didn't know that Jon Stewart was in Death to Smoochey. Learn something new everyday. Course I shouldn't be surprised that he is informative. This is the hard-hitting, informative journalism that Jon Stewart is known for, after all.

-Hey, sweet. I get to fast forward through the song nominees too.

-Is it just me, or were you hoping George Clooney got a little Micheal Moore with his acceptance speech.

-King Kong!?!?!?!?!?! For Special Effects!?!?!?!?!? Ben Stiller's "floating head" was better special effects then that film. Hell, the 1933 version looked better. What the hell are these people smoking?

-Okay, someone producing the Oscars has a sick sense of humor. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves presenting an Oscar. Two of my least favorite actors in Hollywood together on screen to give an art direction award. How does this make sense? Don't say "They were in Speed together" That movie was made like 11 years ago, and neither's careers have really blossomed since then. They should have let these two give out the special effects Oscar. Keanu needs special effects to show emotion, and Sandra needs special effects to differentiate herself from Julia Roberts.

-Hey, that's awesome, Keanu only got one line.

-Did the en absentia Art Director really write that note in third person? "Gretchen would like to thank...." Who does she think she is, an athlete?

-Why was Network in the montage for socially important films? It was a self satire against the media, which probably doesn't belong in a montage talking about how the media (in this case feature films) help to change what's wrong with society. Seems a little out of place there to me.

-The Academy President seems to be giving his State of the Union type deal here. The verdict, "Please go see more movies!!!!!!" Yeah, cause you guys are really suffering. You're making way more off of DVD's now anyway.

-Oh, coming up, Jake Gylenhaal (almost Spiderman), Jessica Alba (Susan Storm the Invisible Girl), and Eric Idle (Incredible Hulk), I hope they do something about Super Heroes.

-Nope, just Jake Gylenhaal pimping out movies for the Academy President. It's just not that easy to be a pimp.

-Hello! King Kong sucked people. Maybe they're still giving out Oscars for Lord of the Rings.

-Okay, I'm going to go ahead and watch the best song performance for the Pimp song. I want to see if they have to beep any of it out.

-Lots of thoughts going through my head as I'm listening to this embarrassingly bad song, but I'll keep them to myself. It's not like its going to win the Oscar.

-Oh My God, it just won the Oscar. Did not see that coming. Clearly it isn't that hard bein' a pimp.

-Hey, Jon. I said it first. Joke stealer.

-She can kick major ass, but walking is sometimes a chore, ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Garner

-You've got to be kidding me, another award for Kong? Did any of you see that movie? It sucked. Maybe they just saw the trailers and are basing these awards on that. I really think it's Oscar chances should have suffered since ... it .... SUCKED!!!

-So that's how to pronounce Ziyi Zhang. I'm not sure what she's talking about here, but damn, she is hot.

-Perhaps Brokeback is losing some steam. Geisha is picking some up. If it had a Best Picture nomination, I'd start to think it had a chance.

-A great performance in Walk the Line, and a great acceptance speech for Reese Witherspoon. I got teary eyed.

-Wow, for a second there, I thought Phillip Seymore Hoffman was going to say, "I'm honored to be nominated with these strong actors. And Heath Ledger."

-I love Larry McMurtry. And he's wearing Jeans. That's awesome.

-He just thanked me!! I'm a bookseller. Thank you, Larry! Wow, my first thank you in an Oscar speech. Hopefully the first of many.

-Damn it, Jon. Stop stealing my jokes. Write your own.

-Well, the suspense continues. Brokeback and Crash each win the writing nods. Which will it be?

-Ang Lee comes through. I guess I was wrong about the upset. I just really had a feeling that the Best Picture and Best Director would be for different movies. Oh well, we can't be right all the time.

-I was hoping he would say something in his acceptance speech like "This award is for everyone who said Incredible Hulk was gay. You want a gay movie, I'll give you a gay movie."

-Well, really can't say I'm surprised. I just picked the upset in the wrong category, but I knew that Crash and Brokeback would split these two categories. Ahh, it's good to be so smart.

Until Next Time, There you go, my thoughts as I had them during the Academy Awards, or, I guess as I had them while watching them a few hours after they had actually happened, but like NBC always used to say, they were new to me. Hope that you enjoyed the Oscars!

Thursday, March 2, 2006

LOST Maternity Leave, first thoughts

Okay, so what the hell is up with the Others?

Is it just me or did you actually start to think we might have been wrong about them?  Maybe they aren't all bad.  Clearly, they aren't as primitive as we were led to believe.  They have a fairly state of the art medical center that they were able to just abandon, and the whole grizzly adams look that we've gotten from that one guy is just a fake beard and stage makeup.

You saw how he really looked when he spoke to Ethan in Claire's flashback.

I loved that for only the second time, the episode took place entirely on the island (the other being the episode that showed what had happened for the last season and a quarter to the tailies, which while interesting was far too rushed for my taste.) 

This entire island episode was great.  It worked in the show's propensity for flashbacks so well that it was almost half the episode before I realized that it was like a normal episode, but the flashbacks weren't going as far back.  Brilliantly done.  Flashback episodes are always difficult to pull off, but for a series that is partly based on them, this episode was able to seem unbelievably natural.

I also loved that Russo is now good again.

So, some questions answered, far more asked, but all in all a brilliant episode.

The season is really starting to heat up now.

Questions from the last couple episodes that I really am unsure of: is Henry Gale (Wizard of Oz reference? especially with the whole hot air balloon thing, Dorothy Gale's uncle Henry?) an Other or is he telling the truth?

What the hell was that when the clock went down past zero, Egyptian symbols?  What do they mean?  I'm really not sure, but I'm looking forward to trying to find out.

Until Next Time, I want Walt back, and keep Sawyer bad, cause man he is a fun character.

Oscars Preview and Prediction Post 2005

Really, I don't know why I love the Oscars so much, after all, I'm generally very disappointed in the outcomes. I mean I know that I majored in film, but really, are the Oscars something I should devote any energy to whatsoever? Unlike some people I don't give a crap about the wardrobes of those nominated, and I never watch the red carpet. I know many people for whom this is all there is to care about, but for me, I care about the films. Maybe I like it because I can get so worked up about it, since the Oscars so rarely get it right.

First of all, it's important to understand that the Oscars are very political, and the awards don't actually go to the most deserving. I'm not speaking of political in the "the President is an idiot, but at least he didn't shoot anyone" sense of political, but in the inner workings of Hollywood sense of political. (Excluding a few cases such as Marlon Brando and Micheal Moore, but I digress). Remember, the Oscars gave an award for best actor to Russell Crowe for his portrayal of a gladiator in the aptly titled film, Gladiator. Really, what in that film did he do that was so special? Yell? Who can't do that, really? That award was actually for the portrayal one year before in the Insider, a much more deserving part. For those who think he actually won for Gladiator, need I remind you that also in the best actor category that year was an actor who for an hour and a half shared the screen with only a volleyball? And made it interesting? Politics.

With that in mind, I will give a few predictions for this years Oscar telecast...

Best picture.

It's really a two film race between Brokeback Mountain and Crash. Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich are just there for the parties. While, in my opinion, Capote is the best of the five nominated, only Brokeback and Crash really have a chance. Unlike in recent years, all five films are actually good, but I find it hard to believe that Syriana and Walk the Line were left off. If I had to replace two of the nominees to correct this error, I would say Crash and Munich should go. While both are good films, they aren't really Best Picture films. And that is sad, because I think Crash has a legitimate shot at winning. Ultimately though, I think the Oscar will go to Brokeback Mountain.


Here, there are three actors with a real chance. Heath Ledger (who would have believed that a year ago?), Phillip Seymore Hoffman (who many consider due), and Joaquin Pheonix. It's probably going to be Phillip Seymore Hoffman for Capote. Oscar loves it when you play a real person (which is why Pheonix has a real shot), and they love to give it to great actors who have been to often overlooked. So despite all the hype over Brokeback (being another great predictor of Oscar wins), Hoffman gets the nod.


Here we have two contenders. Reese Witherspoon and Felicity Huffman. It will be close. Oscar loves it when you play way against type, and Felicity Huffman, one of t.v.'s desperate housewives, as a transgendered person certainly qualifies. I believe Politics will play a role here, however. Witherspoon will win for her role in a film many (not just me) believe should have gotten a nomination for best picture, the best actress win will be a sort of parting gift.

Supporting Actor

I don't even think this one is close. Paul Giamatti will win for Cinderella Man. Although much like his co-star in that film, he won't really win it for this role. It will be an Oscar one year later for his role in Sideways.

Supporting Actress

Like in the lead actress role, I believe that the winner here will be in the parting gift variety to the film. Racheal Weisz will win for Constant Gardener which many thought should have gotten more notice then it did. If not Weisz, the Oscar will go to Michelle Williams who was really good in Brokeback Mountain as Ennis' long suffering wife. She's come a long way from Dawson's Creek.


Rarely does the winner of best picture not also win best director. Also the winner of the Directors Guild Award often wins this award. Due to that my prediction should be Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. I've got a strange feeling about Crash, though. I already said it could surprise for Best Picture, I'm going to go ahead and predict that Paul Haggis does surprise here and win for Best Director.

Screenplay Original

Crash is almost certain here, with an outside chance for Syriana because it didn't get a best picture nod.

Screenplay Adapted

Brokeback has a real shot, but I wouldn't be that surprised by Capote getting the nod. I'd love it if Constant Gardener somehow pulled out the win. That was a great script.

Animated Film

Who said that the traditional cartoon is dead? Okay, so only one of the three nominees is a traditional hand animated film, but none of them are computer animated, which means for the first time a non-computer animated film will win the award. Sorry Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (or Howl's Moving Castle), but a claymation film will win. Don't get too excited, Tim Burton; it will be Wallace and Gromit.

Bonus award, special effects,

Chronicles of Narnia, because Aslan looked amazing and Kong looked fake.

Well, watch Sunday and see how I do, but don't call me and tell me during the Oscars I will be working. I'll be taping it.

Until next time, remember it's okay to yell at the television when the wrong movie wins an Oscar

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Top 5 Films of 2005

Counting down, because it is ever so much more fun that way...
5. The Constant Gardener - from the director of City of God, Fernando Meirelles, adapted from the thriller by John LeCarre. This was a smart, thriller about a murder and corruption in the drug industry (the legal one), that entertained without being mind-numbing or requiring an imaginative stretch.

4. Capote - a narrative debut of a documentary filmmaker, Bennett Miller, it is a fascinating look inside the famed author of Breakfast at Tiffany's Truman Capote and at the same time contains an intriguing mystery. The mix of styles that Bennett Miller brings to the table along with the outstanding performances enhances the strong story making it often feel as though you're watching a documentary.

3. Syriana - written and directed by the screenwriter who wrote Traffic, and produced by George Clooney and Stephen Sodorberg (who directed Traffic), this is a film in the same vain as Traffic, an engrossing and massive story told from the view points of many different characters who interact sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in larger ones. Instead of being about drugs (illegal ones in Traffic's case) it is about the oil industry. Every actor is fantastic including Matt Damon, who is often times hit (Talented Mr. Ripley) or miss (nearly everything else). It is better then every one of the best picture nominees. But then so are the other two on my list, so on to number...

2. Walk the Line - I have to admit, I wasn't sure going in about Reese Witherspoon, but damn, she was really, really good. And I can't say enough about Joaquin Phoenix, he was unbelievable. After seeing this film last Thanksgiving with my best friend, I walked out saying, "We've just seen the movie that will win Best Picture." I was sure of it. Unbelievably it isn't even nominated. Ray was nominated, and compared to Walk the Line, Ray was awful. The music was good, and Jaime Foxx was outstanding, but the movie wasn't that great. Here, the music is amazing (I thought after first seeing the preview that they were actually using Johnny Cash's songs, I was blown away to find out it was Joaquin Phoenix. Face it, he nailed that signature Cash sound), the acting was as good as it gets, and the story was phenomenal. I truly don't understand how this film was ignored for best picture.

And now, let me preface by saying that it is entirely possible that no one will agree with me about my first place movie of the year, but considering I feel it is the best movie I've ever seen, it would be hard not to put it at number one for the year. (Are you listening Ebert, my number one movie of all time is also number one in the year in which it came out. It only makes sense.)

1. Serenity.

Okay, okay, some of you are saying, "I've never even heard of that movie" which means you don't think I'm crazy, you just figure it is some obscure independent film that only twelve people have seen despite it's brilliance. Well, you're partly right. Those of you who know what movie I'm talking about either A. think I've finally gone insane, or B. have seen the television show Firefly, been broken hearted by the way it was treated by FOX, heard Joss Whedon (yes the Buffy and Angel Joss Whedon) was going to be making a feature film continuing the story line of the television show, proceeded to try not to let your expectations get too high (because as we all know whenever your expectations are high for a film, or almost anything for that matter, you are inevitably let down), failed as your expectations shot through the roof with the news that every actor from the show would be reprising their roles, the talk of people who saw early cuts and said it was amazing, and just the fact that it was being based on the single greatest television show you had ever seen. Then, with hopes that could not be higher, you found yourself in the movie theatre for the midnight opening, and as the movie unfolded, found that your hopes and expectations were not only met, they were exceeded. Not only exceeded, but embarrassed. It was far better then you could have even dreamed. If you're in camp B (and I'm actually not the only one, but there are few of us out here) you can understand why I say this is the best movie I've ever seen. For those in camp A (who probably now include all those who previously didn't know what Serenity was), let me say (in addition to that absurdly long sentence above) I had Star Wars prequel sized expectations for this film and they weren't high enough. That, in my book, is unbelievable. Due to that, I have to say it is the best movie I've ever seen and therefore the best film of 2005.

Until Next Time, be sure to stay tuned for my upcoming Preview and Prediction Post for the Oscars.  Only one of these films is nominated.