Tag Archives: oscars

A Few Stupid Opinions About the Academy Awards

6 Mar

This post is a day late and a dollar short, but that’s what happens when vacations intersect with self-imposed deadlines and Fat Tuesdays. C’est la vie. I haven’t watched the Oscars in the last 5-10 years. Maybe longer, and there may have been a year that I checked out a moment or two from the show, but the last one I consciously remember watching included Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller hawking their Starsky and Hutch remake. But, I will also say that one of the reasons I got into filmmaking was the Academy Awards. I thought as a youth that there was no validation as powerful and as a gold statuette named Oscar, well an Oscar and being drafted in the Lottery had the same level of validation points in my book. So, in hindsight, it isn’t a big surprise that right around the time I realized that I could never play in the NBA I began to pursue making films. Wow, that’s an embarrassing bit of subconscious motivation I just revealed to the world. (Phew, good thing that only eight people read this blog) Anyway, here are some thoughts not long enough or weighty enough for their own stupid opinion that came about from returning this year to watching the Oscars this year:

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If you haven’t seen the films, the Academy Awards is just a three-hour long commercial, if you’ve seen the films it’s a three-hour opportunity to feel a superficial connection to beautiful, lucky people wearing designer clothes. All award shows are dumb, they are the glamorous under belly of capitalism. But not just award shows, also sports competitions where judges determine the winner, they are nothing more than art sold out to the bank of competition. Both are designed solely to increase the value of art. A way to judge art on something that isn’t emotional impact. The gold medal in figure skating and the Oscar for Best Picture should in theory both be equally worthless to the artists who did the work, but of course that isn’t the case. Steve McQueen will jump for joy, whoever beat Kim Yuna will cry tears of joy. It’s a strange dichotomy of art. Emotional connection is key, but there needs to be exposure to give the opportunity for that connection. The thing I enjoyed about this three hour commercial was that it was presented in a quality way. The graphic design for all of the films was unique, reflected the themes of the films and beautiful. Quality art, design and craftsmanship was used to sell quality cinema, which is more than can be said for any type of art in communist N. Korea.

Next up, the Best Original Screenplay is code for best film in my book. The Academy rarely misses in the category. Nearly all the films nominated are some of the best of the year, in my humble. That or my definition of a quality film is the same as the Academy’s definition of a well written, original film. There is one minor thing that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around, why does the Academy regularly nominate Woody Allen for writing to the tune of sixteen original script nominations, while the Coen Brothers only clock in at two original and three adapted. I wonder if the Academy is susceptible to psychological reactance, where they want it(Woody Allen’s attendance) more when they know they can’t have it. It’s shocking that Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t get a nod, but the blue period Blue Jasmine did. Even with that miss, the Best Original Screenplay is the best example of proper artistic appreciation. So good on ya, Spike Jones.

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Last stupid thought generated by the stupid Oscars is that Matthew McConaughey could be the most likable dude on the planet. What a professional. His acceptance speech was a perfect blend of entrainment and genuine gratitude. If everyone prepared a speech as well crafted as this, instead of playing the false modesty game of not thinking they were going to win, then the Oscars would be worth watching once again. I don’t know if retweeting a picture will make the Oscars more worthwhile, but hearing gems like your hero is yourself ten years in the future is something that makes the three-hour commercial worth it.

-C.Charles

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Stupid Oscar Predictions

24 Feb

The title says it all so let’s get started with a comparison of how I think Sunday night should go vs. how it actually will go. These are more or less in the order the awards will be presented. I’d also like to award Oscars for reasons not included on this list but that’s another post.

Best Supporting Actor:

Who should win – JARED LETO for his role in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. Hands down owned the role of “Rayon” and embodied the elements of Comedy and Tragedy with his performance. If it wasn’t for this movie, I’d say MICHAEL FASSBENDER is a close second.

Who will win – JARED LETO because he deserves it doesn’t matter, what really counts to the judges is if the subject matter is of social importance (as Hollywood sees it). Coincidentally for this category the same nominee fits both qualifications.

Best Animated Feature:

Should win – THE WIND RISES because MIYAZAKI  is overdue.

Will win – FROZEN, not counting Pixar movies, Disney’s animated films in the past couple of years have been disappointing. This is because they used to be the best there was in animation. By continually raising the bar for animated features every year for decades, audiences came to expect perfection and in the recent past Disney didn’t deliver. FROZEN rose Disney out of the rut they’d been stuck in and is the popular choice.

Best Song:

Should win – “THE MOON SONG” from HER, this was one of the smartest movies of the year and Arcade Fire’s contribution sets the perfect tone.

Will win – “LET IT GO” from FROZEN, The Academy isn’t about music so they’ll vote for the safest choice.

Best Original Screenplay:

Should win – PRISONERS, it took you on such an intense unpredictable ride that it should win, but it wasn’t even nominated. So if HER or DALLAS BUYERS CLUB won, they deserve it.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE, I really think this overrated movie was pretty bland and forgettable. But since the Academy didn’t award SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK for writing last year, they’re going to try and make up for it by rewarding the same filmmakers this year for an inferior movie. For those who haven’t seen AMERICAN HUSTLE, it isn’t the movie you think it is, those who have, you know what I’m talking about.

Best Animated Short: Has anyone heard of any of these nominees?

Should win – MR. HUMBLOT because it has a robot in it

Will win – FERAL, by contrasting the dichotomy of the modern and primitive lifestyles through the eyes of a child, blah blah blah, artsy gobbled gook = Oscar. (Sorry Mickey, snubbed again.)

Best Documentary Short: Judging by titles alone

Should win – CAVEDIGGER, I’ve actually wanted to see this movie but it didn’t play in my town and isn’t available for home viewing yet unless I pay for it on their website.

Will win  –  FACING FEAR, Because the Academy sees this as being the most socially relevant movie that nobody saw.

Best Live Action Short:

Should win – Who cares?

Will win – THE VOORMAN PROBLEM, because it is the only one in English and us stupid Americans like that.

Best Hair and Makeup:

Should win – JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA, and not just because this would be a huge surprise and fuck you to everyone but because without the skills required to make Johnny Knoxville look like an 80 year old man to the general public this movie couldn’t exist. (For the record the world would be a better place if this movie didn’t exist).

Will win – DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, because seriously we can’t let JACKASS or  THE LONE RANGER be Oscar winning movies.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Should win – CATCHING FIRE, what an improvement this movie was over the first. But since the Academy always snubs sci-fi and didn’t even nominate it, I’ll have to pick PHILOMENA, Because I want to live in a world where STEVE COOGAN wins an Oscar.

Will win – TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, regardless of the problems with his movie, the true story has such a powerful emotional impact and a historical significance. Now couple that with the fact that the script is adapted from a very old book that could easily have been lost and forgotten forever had it not been for this movie and you got an winner.

Best Supporting Actress:

Should win – I Love JENNIFER LAWRENCE and she was the best part of AMERICAN HUSTLE, but her costar in CATCHING FIRE, JENA MALONE was a better Joanna Mason than I ever expected to see. She deserves some credit and I think in the sequels we’ll see her become more noticeable. I know who should get it and…

Will win – LUPITA NYONG’O for TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE she was intense and the Academy has a recent history of favoring African American actresses.

Best Production Design:

Should win – GRAVITY, because even astronauts were impressed at the realism of the sets and props.

Will win – THE GREAT GATSBY, because it was lavish and over the top

Best Costume Design:

Should win – CATCHING FIRE even though it isn’t nominated, fashion is a big part of that world and this movie finally got it right.

Will win – TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Best Sound Editing:

Should win –  GRAVITY, because it edited out sound to actually represent the vacuum of space, something most space movies don’t do.

Will win – THE HOBBIT

Best Sound Mixing:

Should win – INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS for how they presented Live musical performances.

Will win – GRAVITY

Best Cinematography: This is the only category where if I haven’t seen the movie that wins I will watch it ASAP. Luckily I’ve already seen the winner, 3 times.

Should win – GRAVITY

Will win – GRAVITY, It better fucking win this one!

Best Score:

Should win – GRAVITY, with minimal dialog the music is much more important to the story.

Will win – GRAVITY, normally whoever wins the Golden Globe for score wins the Oscar as well but ALL IS LOST despite winning the globe isn’t nominated.

Best Visual Effects:

Should win: GRAVITY although THE HOBBIT did look amazing.

Will win: GRAVITY

Best Documentary:

Should win – BLACK FISH I think this movie was one of the highlights of the year but it didn’t even get nominated. But 20 FEET FROM STARDOM was the most entertaining of the nominated documentaries.

Will win – DIRTY WARS because it’s viewed as politically important.

Best Film Editing:

Should win – GRAVITY, because less is more.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE, because there’s no logic applied to judging this category.

Best Foreign Film:

Should win – THE GREAT BEAUTY

Will win – OMAR, because it’s from the Middle East.

Best Actor:

Should Win – MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Will win – CHIWETEL EJIOFOR for 12 YEARS A SLAVE, he was very good but will get it because of the subject matter of the movie.

Best Actress:

Should win – SOPHIE NELIESSE for her title role in THE BOOK THIEF this little girl went above and beyond and was a big part of why this little movie was wonderful and she wasn’t even nominated.

Will win – AMY ADAMS for AMERICAN HUSTLE, she is really good, but I just can’t root for anything about this movie.

Best Director:

Should win – ALFONSO CUARON for GRAVITY, because he spent 4 years developing new techniques to perfect the story he wanted to show us.

Will win – DAVID O. RUSSELL for AMERICAN HUSTLE because too many people have been brainwashed into thinking this movie is great.

Best Picture:

Should win – GRAVITY because it was the best movie of the year, your argument is invalid.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE or 12 YEARS A SLAVE, because we don’t live in a sane or just universe.

Good Luck on filling out those last minute ballots for the Oscar betting pool.

Carl Wells

Much Needed Additinal Categories To The Oscars

18 Jan

Oscar nominations for 2014 are out and Oscar Buzz is in full gear these next couple months. With people rushing out to watch movies just because they’re nominated. We’re all going to talk about who and what got snubbed and how awesome we are because we saw (Insert movie) when it first came out before it got recognition. Now we know there’s problems with the Oscars, like how it’s just millionaires congratulating themselves. Or how they are all vying for the dollars of the average consumer. While at the same time are so out of touch with the general public, since nominations are mostly underdog movies that most people skipped. Also that they have categories 98% of people ignore. Seriously when was the last time anyone watched a “Documentary Short Subject”? I can’t even go into how many things are wrong with the Oscars, it would take all day, but in spite of that I still get caught up in the hysteria.

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If they made just a few small changes it would ripple out, ultimately leading to better movies or even just get the public interested in smaller movies before they’re nominated for anything. At the very least it would add variety to the show. Here are some additional categories I think the Oscars could easily adopt that aren’t also recognized by other award shows like The MTV Movies Awards or The Razzies.

Best Vocal Performance – This is long overdue and the need to honor the vital necessity of a human voice in a film is becoming more relevant in modern times. As computer graphics continue to become better and cheaper they’re being used more and more to generate entire characters visually. While there may come a point where computers can flawlessly replicate every visual detail of a character, they will never be able to replicate their voice, only an actor can provide that. This award doesn’t just nominate voice acting in animated movies (CG or otherwise) but anytime someone’s voice is the only presence they have in that movie, this includes narration in a movie or documentary, and cases like the movie Her. I find it ironic that a movie which asks “Can you date a conscience that isn’t really a person?” had the Academy asking “Can you nominate an person who isn’t ever on screen?”. Of course you can! and should’ve, Oscar people. But since you won’t,  just make a whole new category and award Scarlett Johansson Best Vocal Performance for her Role as the A.I. Samantha in the movie Her.

Best End Credits – They already award “Original Song” which most of the time isn’t heard in full until the end credits anyway, might as well award a movie for having good end credits too. It’s becoming more common for movies to have something other than a list as their end credits. Maybe honoring this extra effort will get more movies to elevate their end credits into something that’s more entertaining than a telephone book. Pixar has always been pretty good about this and it is catching on. Popular options are outtakes, additional scenes, great graphics and concept art, short films, epilogues, Argo even had Jimmy Carter talking about the Iranian escape operation over news photos. But this year best end credits goes to Saving Mr. Banks which played the actual 1964 audio recordings of author P.L. Travers dictating notes to Disney executives on what she expected from the Mary Poppins movie. It was cute, funny, and fascinating.

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Best Alternate Format – Increasingly movies are being released in IMAX and 3D formats this is partially due to technological advancement  and partially an attempt to combat online piracy. Most people are just fine watching a standard movie on a computer screen but you can’t pirate a movie and watch it in IMAX or 3D (3D TVs are stupid and irrelevant and I don’t acknowledge them). So Hollywood is trying to get less movies illegally downloaded and more money at the box office by using these high quality formats. However too many movies are just shitty upconverts, and look terrible. If we want better 3D/IMAX movies and want filmmakers to use these formats to their full potential, rather than just a gimmick, they need to get recognized for quality 3D or shooting in IMAX. I’d even nominate movies that were all in Black and White or very stylized like Sin City. The winner would be the movie that used the alternative format in the best narrative way it could, it can’t just be the best looking IMAX3D it has to be the movie that uses the advantages of IMAX 3D to communicate it’s story. This year It’d go to Gravity.

Best Trailer  – Even trailers are hyped now and online viewings of trailers get more views than some Oscar winning movies and there are multiple youtube channels devoted to trailers. The Best Trailer award has nothing to do with how good that movie is and this is why any movie has a chance to win it. I would judge a trailer, not by how it teased the plot, maybe how interested did it make you about the movie it was advertising. But what would trump everything is just if the trailer is entertaining on its own. I want to live in a universe where Gothic Lolita Battle Bear wins for Best Trailer.

Once seen you’ll never forget it…Enjoy.

 

Carl Wells

Seven Psychopaths

14 Jan

The first stupid opinion I have in the year of the stupidest opinions is that I think that Seven Psychopaths was the film of two-naught-twelve. In the same year that brought about films from fanboy-pantie-wetters Sir Paul Thomas of Anderson, the larger than life caricature Q. Tarantino, and the man who bleeds argyle, Wes Anderson, it was Martin McDonagh’s sophomore effort that takes the noble distinction of being, not just my favorite film of the year, but the most noble distinction of being the first thing reviewed on this surely-soon-to-be-abandoned blog. To Begin:

I have no idea why this film isn’t floating around on more best of the year lists, or why in god’s name it wasn’t nominated for best original screenplay. I don’t get it. McDonagh’s dialogue gets all the praise, but I’m such a fan of his story-within-a-story technique. Most original scripts these days suffer from gold-leaf-thin story stretched and drug out over 120 pages, where the only emotion being evoked is the anticipation of the phrase FADE TO BLACK, but Marty McDonagh has stories within his scripts that could be Oscar nominated scripts on their own. Do audiences not like being blown away with quality? Would they rather pay for half-baked ideas adapted from properties with the biggest built-in market? It’s stupid.

This script was brilliant, and after you get past the alcoholic writer, all of the characters are unique and original. And no, I take that back, even the alcoholic writer is an interesting take on an alcoholic writer. Colin Farrell’s Marty is walking cliché, alcoholic Irish writer, even Paul Haggis would be afraid to bring that up in Texas, Walker story pitch meeting, but McDonagh puts the realistic spin of everyone seeing his problem but him. Then he let’s him live with it. He just go right on functioning with that glaring flaw everyone is so kind to point out to him. Marty stubbornness and denial make him act like a psychopath, like the pacifist psychopath he has such trouble with. Great stuff.

Then there’s the great performances from Walken and the always just shy of becoming a star Sam Rockwell. These two are certified psychopaths, but this not this film trope psychopaths, where psychopath means that you can just have someone be crazy for no reason at all. These guys are real life fully fleshed out psychopaths. Walken’s Hans is just a badass, and his psycho tendencies is more defined by his lack of action than traditional psychotic-wild-card behavior. The wild-card carrying psychopath is the always great vastly-under-appreciated Sam Rockwell. And while he sure seems like a traditional psychopath, he really gets fleshed out when his own not-so-thought-out plans have some serious consequences he wasn’t really hoping would happen. He has sweet and almost naive motives for his actions, he just doesn’t really weigh the full consequences of his actions.  His way of getting what he wants is just so focused on himself that I’m sure he’d fall perfectly under the DSM iv definition of psychopath.

One last thing here, if the Academy is going snub this film and the great performances in favor of nominating every actor in films with ensemble casts, why the eff don’t they just have an award for best ensemble cast? Let The Master battle The Sliver Lining Playbook, and leave spots open for these guys, or even better, nominate this film for best ensemble cast, too. I don’t get it, In Bruges is great and ignored. This film is too. I hope that McDonagh isn’t driven back to the theater where people appreciate him, and I hope it doesn’t take another four years for the next McDonagh film to come out. Fingers Crossed.

-C. Charles Gilmore