Monday, February 25, 2013

German/Austrian Waltz spoils a near perfect night...

In rereading one of my favorite bloggers, I couldn't help but notice that he correctly picked 8 of 9 Oscar winners

Before we enjoy some of those predictions, we have to chat about Seth MacFarlane. The first thing I ever heard about Seth MacFarlane was that he bought some expensive sport memorabilia. But I can't find documentation so I must be wrong.

Turns out it was Todd MacFarlane who bought the expensive baseballs, this is Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball.
I have never watched a full episode of Family Guy but I did see the movie,'Ted.' Seth Meyers shares an insight on 'Ted'.

" Like Seth MacFarlane, I grew up in New England, and everyone who grows up in New England has a friend like the title character in Ted—the fiercely loyal, incredibly entertaining bad influence who stays in our lives too long." The tribute continues.....

Seth is a fan. Claire Hoffman posting in the New Yorker is not so much of a fan.

Take the title of the post. Seth MacFarlane, Creepy Imitator.

"So, by comparison, MacFarlane cleaned up his act for the ABC broadcast. Even so, you can put lipstick on a pig, but, in the end, MacFarlane came off as kind of a pig, as he made fun of women for being too thin, too old, too naked. How sophisticated is it to call the pretty, popular girls sluts?"

My take on Seth as Oscar host. Good delivery and quick with most of the jokes. His comic set pieces with Shatner and the Von Trapp family were cringe inducing.  He combines his many talents...comedy, music, dance, art with the vulgar adolescence that is a baby boomer legacy.
Better than the last few years....

 William Shatner and Patricia Breslin in the Twilight Zone but not the one on the airplane.
Now back to me;

Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects.

The tough categories here were Actress, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

As many of you know, I gave Jennifer Lawrence the nod because Hollywood ignored the best movie of the year, "The Hunger Games."

Jennifer Lawrence and me at our Purim Party

The masses did not ignore The Hunger Games.

Opening Weekend: $152,535,747 | Total Domestic Gross: $408,010,692 | Worldwide Gross: $686,533,290 | Total Budget: $130,000,000

The accountants enjoyed it as well.

Sound Editing was so close it ended in a tie. Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty tied for the Oscar.

Doesn't that sound suspicious? Zero Dark Thirty was despised by a political segment of Hollywood and other parts of America.  And then after 6 nominations (or so), it gets tied by a Bond film in the final talley.

Jon Stewart should remind us that Zero Dark Thirty is make-believe. Like all movies. It's not real life.

Sound Mixing...a guess based on the Argo momentum. Also they had a scene in a Middle Eastern market place. Great sounds. Great pictures. A souk is much better on film than in person.

Ben Affleck not really in Iran

Missed on Supporting actor. Really thought sentiment for DeNiro would carry him to another Oscar. Instead, Waltz again plays a charming killer.

That's it for the Oscars unless I can't think of any other important cultural event that requires my analysis.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Outstanding or Best....you be the judge. The final pre-Oscar blog.

We have come a long way together since January 19 since I began my Oscar analysis.
Puns, non-sequiters, random associations have been my love letter to the Academy.

Now, it is time to reflect, reframe, and refocus. A phrase I learned from Traffic School.


One thing I learned from my journey is that the Oscars have had a number of category and name changes. Here is the history of what is now known as Best Picture.

  • 1927/281928/29: Academy Award for Outstanding Picture
  • 1929/301940: Academy Award for Outstanding Production
  • 19411943: Academy Award for Outstanding Motion Picture
  • 19441961: Academy Award for Best Motion Picture
  • 1962 → present: Academy Award for Best Picture

  • It is the only category that has the adjective "best" attached to it. For more history, click here for the Academy's propaganda.

    Also, check out the worst best pictures from 82 to 1 and take a trip through your memory.

    Nerve

    By the way, Nerve writes that Crash in 2005 is the worst movie to win "Best Picture." Remember...
    "Up Against: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
    Should Have Lost to: Munich"

    By contrast, Godfather II is considered the best of the best pictures.
    Between Chinatown and Godfather II, was 1974 a great year for movies — or the greatest year for movies?
    Up Against: Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno
    Should Have Lost to: N/A



     
     
     The Nerve list was posted in 2011, thereby skipping "The Artist"

    Now to business. Here is what my friends in the UK are offering up on the best picture front.

    Argo:  1/6
     
    Lincoln 11/2
    Silver Linings Playbook 33
    Life Of Pi 40
    Les Miserables 40
    Zero Dark Thirty 80
    Amour 100
    Django Unchained 80
    Beasts of the Southern Wild 150

    Will Argo join the Speilberg list of "Should Have Lost to"?

    According to Nerve, that would be the following...

    2005 Crash over Munich

    1998 Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan

    1981 Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Yes, Lincoln should get the Oscar for Best Picture. It speaks to the essence of our democratic process. Idealism should not get in the way of politics. You've got to make deals. You've got to grease the skids. Lincoln is an important and timely film. It is not flawless. There are no flawless films this year.

    Argo: Ben Affleck back story about marriage is weak

    Lincoln: Bad civil war footage to start the film

    Silver Linings Playbook: Terrible sequence at the football game and unbelievable interaction with Bradley Cooper's shrink.

    Life of Pi: Not that interested in the interaction between reporter and grown up Pi (until the end)

    Le Miz: Russell Crowe singing

    Zero Dark Thirty: When Jessica Chastain is back at CIA headquarters. It really felt like filler.

    Amour: Didn't see it.

    Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino as the Australian

    Beasts of the Southern Wild: The ice age beasts were silly looking.

    That said, Argo will win because it is about how Hollywood can save the world.

    Here is an interview that will explain it all to you.
     


    Friday, February 22, 2013

    The Academy f#@ked the deck on 'Directing'

    No Ben Affleck, no Tarantino, Bigelow, guy who directed Le Miz, .

    And yet, their movies are nominated for 'best picture.' It is difficult  to handicap (rank) such a field.

    Fortunately for us, there are bookies in the United Kingdom. Here is what they say...

    Steve Spielberg is the favorite, getting offered at between 1 to 9 and a more generous 3 to 10.

    Next up is Ang Lee (Life of Pi) which is a pretty consistent 4 to 1 bet. But I warn you. The British are much closer to the whole India/Pakistan/Canada thing.
    Interestingly, the "Life of Pi" is a prequel to "Pi".

    Here's the trailer..."12:45, restate my assumptions."



    Michael Haneke (Amour) is between 12 and 16 to 1.

    David O Russell (SLP) 16 to 20.

    Wunderkind Benh Zeitlin...between 40 and 100 to 1.

    Zeitlin  born in Manhattan and  raised in Queens. He has lived in New Orleans since about 5 years ago.

                                                  Eddie Murphy comes to America to find a Queen.


    Here is what David Denby of the New York Times had to say about the lead actress, in "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

    The six-year-old Hushpuppy, played by the bayou local Quvenzhané Wallis, is a fierce little kid with a thatch of dark hair, a mouth that can form into a determined pout, and an easy swing to her skinny legs.

    She may have been a bayou local, but Q Wallis did not get the role handed to her. She beat out about 4,000 other little girls. She is very good. The life of child stars ranges from Jody Foster to the kid that nobody remembers in the "Our Gang" comedies. If Q wants that life, she would be good at it.

                                                 (that's the "kid" in the back)

    The production, to me, is , "poverty porn." It's a good movie but it's an exploitation film. It's a very, very, very good student film. What students don't understand about me is that I need a story. The thread. The what happens next-ness of the movie. I don't favor moody reflections about life and love in the movies. Unless there is a good story attached to it.

    Let's look at the story telling. The through-line or whatever they call it when they produce a movie.

    Lincoln....has to end slavery. Pretty compelling. We know that slavery ended but we're not sure how. That is interesting.

                                           
                                         
    Life of Pi....a boy and a tiger shipwrecked on a raft. (Spoiler alert, the boy makes it out alive). Good. Lower stakes than ending slavery, however.

    Silver Linings Playbook. An obnoxious guy with a crazy father meets a depressed young widow and then needs to win a dance competition. I did fall in love again with Katnis...I mean Jennifer. But seriously....ending slavery versus a local dance thing.

                                                       Jennifer Lawrence in "X-Men."
    And Beasts...a young girl in a  physically decaying neighborhod but with a post racial lanquor or something meets some creatures from the ice age in her imagination which is what all of experience is.

    Yeah, that is how life is to an 8 year. To an 8 year old. I'm not 8. I'm big. I'm an adult.

              
                                             
    Where is the director of Argo? Zero Dark Thirty...filming in India for the most part. Tackling a subject which is of gut level importance to billions of people on earth. The finding and killing Osama ben Ladn.

    And this happended to Kathryn Bigelow personally.

                                                 


    Surrounded by Tarantino and Cameron. Two of the great ego-Americans of our day. I am leaning towards Ang Li to upset St. Stephen.





    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Jennifer Lawrence is taller than Hugh Jackman: Leading Actress



    Standing tall at 5:9, Jennifer Lawrence is not only taller than lead actor nominee, Hugh Jackman, she is also the tallest of her competitors for the Leading Actress Oscar.

    Jennifer: 5:9 (odds 4-7)

    Naomi Watts: 5:5 (33-1)

    Jessica Chastain: 5:4 (3-1)

    Emmanuelle Riva 5:3 ((5-2)

    Quvenzhane Wallis: 9 years old. I don't really know her height but she's shorter than the other ladies.
    Her odds of winning are 50 to 1. Her odds of getting the job in the first place were about 4,000 to 1. So she is used to running against long odds. All due respect, Q isn't running against 6 to 9 year olds in this field.

    The tallest leading actress winner was Australia's own Nicole Kidman, who at 5:11 captured the "blunt object" for The Hours. Also had a prosthetic nose.

    
    If you are interested in further reading about Virginia Woolf's nose, you can try these titles.

    Virginia Woolf's Nose:Essays on Biography Hermione Lee

    The Nose Was the Final Straw

    By PATRICIA COHEN
    .



    By the way, Elizabeth Taylor, won 2 Oscars. Butterfield 8 and WAAVW for her performance as Martha.

    Now to business.

    Jennifer Lawrence...I think that The Hunger Games was the most insightful picture of the year. The dichotomy between the 12 districts and the Capitol is an apt metaphor for the 1% versus the rest of the world. Jennifer Lawrence's performance in that movie was much better than in Silver Linings Playbook. She had to shoot arrows and climb trees. Her dress was on fire.

    Frankly, I see the whole SLP hoopla as a make up call for ignoring The Hunger Games,


    Jessica Chastain plays an obsessive CIA agent who wants to kill Osama Bin Ladn. She doesn't want to win a dance contest. She wants to have a few beers and then hunt down our national nemesis. Why should she win? She won't win because some Hollywood types forget that movies are make-believe. And that torture or enhanced interrogation may work in certain situations.

    So, Jennifer Lawrence, with whom I am in love, may win but for the wrong reasons.

    Emmanuelle Riva strangely does not have her own fan web site. I have heard she gives a wonderful performance. Tell me about it.

    Naomi Watts has her own EXPERIENCE online.

    And there are her famous towers.

    And her father...





    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    And the Oscar goes to Daniel Day Lewis. What else can I say?

     Listen, I  grew up in Illinois. I shook hands with Abraham Lincoln. Friends, Daniel Day Lewis is Lincoln.


    Abe had the same squeaky, slightly Irish voice and told the same corny stories. Great performance. I felt myself "back in the day," when I was a Senate page in charge of Thaddeus Stevens wig.

    As you all know, Thaddy T, was a sharp tongued congressman from Pennsylvania who is featured in the movie "Lincoln." He is known for his fierce opposition to slavery and ferocious debating style.

    Here are some of his zingers.

    You fatuous nincompoop!

     I haven't noticed you. I'm a Republican, and you, Coughdrop, are a Democrat?

    This is the face of someone who has fought long and hard for the good of the people without caring much for any of 'em. And I look a lot worse without the wig.

    Thanks to my work in the House in the 60's, I have some rare footage of the T-man without his wig. And catch the shout out to Daniel Day Lewis (or Lewis)




    As to the rest of the field for the Oscar...here are the latest odds:

    DD Lewis: 1-25 (although some sites have him 1-100)

    Hugh Jackman: 12 to 1

    Joaquin Phoenix: 33 to 1

    Bradley Cooper: 50 to 1

    Denzel Washington: 66 to 1.


    Hugh Jackman is best known for his facebook page. He has 1.5 MILLION likes. On Friday he posted, ""As I’ve gone on, I’ve become more guarded about what’s personal and what’s public, and I’ve become smarter about how I protect myself and my family."
    He's a Libra.
    I didn't see Le Miz but I'm sure he was fine.

    Joaquin Phoenix was outstanding in Gladiator. Although nominated for best supporting actor, he lost to Benicio Del Toro  Traffic.

     
     
    Bradley Cooper changed his name when he went into show business. He dropped the "D" and disappeared for awhile.
     
     
     
    Copper was so angered by the casting of Treat Williams, in this bio-pic that his character in Silver Linings Playbook is plagued by bi-polar disorder and gets a very hot girl friend


    Denzel Washington is a bright young actor for whom being nominated is award enough.





    Saturday, February 16, 2013

    Best Supporting Actress...."Oh my gosh, This is happening."

    I didn't see the movie "Les Miserables" but apparently it has something to do with France. When I went to France, there didn't seem to be all that dancin' about. But we went in January, so maybe the spectacle goes dark.

    Here are the odds in this category; http://dons-basement.blogspot.com/2013/02/oscar-picks-revisedthe-big-6supporting.html.

    Anne Hathaway: The Miserables. 1/40
    Sally Field: Lincoln: 12
    Amy Adams: The Master 25
    Helen Hunt: The Sessions 20
    Jacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook:66

    This is from a British site. "Please note: Whilst every effort is made to ensure odds are up to date, differences between these odds and those actually available from quoted betting partners may exist."

    Anne Hathaway has lapped the field in this and she has one of the best "Oscar" stories of all time. Her mother, Mrs. Hathaway was also an actress.

    For the record, I really liked Anne in "Rachel Getting Married". Although nominated for an Oscar for her performance, Anne lost to Kate Winslet (The Reader). Anne should have won. I don't like realistic movie Nazis.

    I didn't like her Golden Globe schtick. You be the judge...


    Sally Field got the "Flying Nun" shoutout from Anne, while totally ignoring Gidget. As a young person in the 60s, Gidget meant so much more to me.

    That's Sally,  an unidentified generic white TV actor of the 60s, and ,possibly Betty Conner, who played Gidget's older sister ANNE!!!. How is that for tortured internet connections?

    Amy Adams was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado. She starred in Psycho Beach Party in 2000. I didn't see the movie but I'm guessing she played the cute red head.


    Helen Hunt is nominated for her role as a sex therapist in "The Sessions."
    I don't like Helen Hunt and I can't tell you why. Maybe it was her work in Mr. Saturday Night, when she played opposite Billy Crystal.



    Billy Crystal is good in this scene and Helen Hunt is bad.

    That brings us to Jacki Weaver, whom no one has ever heard of. She is Australian.

    Here is a funny clip of Kangaroos on a golf course in Australia.


    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Oscar Picks revised.....the big 6....Supporting Actor

    Due the exigencies of life, I need to "pivot" on my goals of blogging on every Oscar category and switch to what I am calling the big 6. 4 actors, dirctor and picture.

    The best supporting actor field is very strong in that each of the nominees has won an Oscar.

    (Research by Sasha Stone, Awards Daily Blog

    Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (won 18 years ago for The Fugitive)
    Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained (won 3 years ago for Inglorious Basterds)
    Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master (won 6 years ago for Capote)
    Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook (won lead 31 years ago for Raging Bull and supporting 37 years ago for Godfather II)
    Alan Arkin, Argo (won 5 years ago for Little Miss Sunshine)

    Betting odds from http://www.sunshine-sportsbook.com

    Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) – (+125)
    Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) – (+160)
    Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) – (+350)
    Alan Arkin (Argo) – (+1400)
    Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook) – (+1400)



    This is a rich and complicated field to assess. I saw all the movies but "The Master," but neither did many others. "The Master" or TM did about 16 million domestic and 8 million international. It didn't crack the top 100 grosses in 2013. The "Three Stooges" did 44 million and that wasn't even a full movie. It was 3 'shorts'. Farrelly Brothers. Sacha Baron Cohen's, "The Dictator" grossed 59 million. Didn't see it. Thought SBC looked good at the Golden Globes that year.




    Ted did 218 million. That was about a stuffed bear that came to life and smoked dope and screwed. Ted did about 14 times better than the "Master."

    So, I say no to Hoffman. Especially not at the price.

    Tommy Lee Jones and his wig. Did the wig have to look like a dead, furry animal? It was distracting. I enjoyed the performance despite the beast. I like his chances, a little. He is such an iconoclast, though. Tommy and Al Gore, the college roomies. Trying to find what is meaningful.
    I say no. Tommy Lee is too much of a Yalie. I think he's stuck up though I've never met the man.

    Waltz is very good at what he does. He is charming while cast as a Nazi who specializes in hunting down Jews or a bounty hunter with a quick trigger finger. And, his was not a supporting role. Co-Starring, certainly, with Jamie Foxx. So, how is this a fair comparison? But we rewarded him for the act. Let's move on. The man is a character actor and let him stay a character actor. You get a guy "awarded" up...he changes. Let's leave Waltz where he is.

    Alan Arkin. I am a big fan. Long time fan. "The Russians are Coming," paved the way for Perestroika. "The In-Laws" one of the best ever made. Falk and Arkin tearing through the streets of Manhattan, an unnamed Southern Hemisphere dictatorship, and a lovely home in the suburbs. And he rocked "Argo." He even had to play the goofy suspense thing, with the phone ringing. Nope...not him.

    Ladies and gentlemen...the once and future king, Robert DeNiro. What a career! With Ben Stiller....he's a gangster in therapy. And in the beginning, he's the guy from "Mean Streets." Clearly a long, strange trip for Bobby D. For me his best role....'Goodfellas.' I know there were greater performances and he had to gain all that weight and lose it for "Raging Bull,' and had a Mohawk in "Taxi Driver." In Goodfellas, he had heft and a sense of right and wrong. Until wrong goes very bad and DeNiro becomes a murderous paranoid psychopath. Not even nominated for 'Goodfellas'
    Joe Pesci won supporting. As he should have. And DeNiro was nominated for Actor in 'Awakenings' which I didn't see. But hated.



    I see DeNiro beating the early odds and winning. The obsessive/compulsive sports fan is a large demographic and some of them are in the Academy.