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My (Instant) Reactions to the 2016 Academy Awards

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The monologue: Chris Rock did a great job. So many laughs. So many things to think about. For the second year in a row, race joke to kick it off.

Screenplay: It’s difficult to follow up the host, whether it’s a good or a bad. Good job from Theron and Blunt. Spotlight won (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer). McCarthy has written/directed some good movies like Win Win and The Visitor. So I should probably watch Spotlight.

Adapted Screenplay: What a cute exchange from Crowe and Gosling. They both have bird names, I wonder if that is why they were paired together. The Big Short won (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph). An interesting thing that they worked together, much less that they now share an Oscar. McKay makes silly movies and Randolph makes bad ones. So yeah, like every year, I now admit that I should probably watch The Big Short. It is not my #1 movie to go see. Also, best tweet re: from Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes), “They choose which lines to show on screen for the best writing awards by closing their eyes and pointing to a random line in each script.”

No black actors skit. So funny. They got some great actors in there. And was that really Stacy Dash? Best tweet: from Timothey Burke for noticing the KRS1 reference in the Black Astronaut part.

Ooooooh! Sam Smith’s “The Writing’s On The Wall”! And Sarah Silverman crushed it too. Been a fan of her since “Mr. Show.” I feel like if best song were decided at the Oscars, this performance would have clinched it.

I’m not sure why I haven’t seen The Martian yet. Great cast. Great director. Were received source novel.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander won, but she cheated. That’s not fair, whoever or whatever owns the rights to The Danish Girl advertised her as a supporting actress despite being FIRST BILLED in the credits. She was on screen for 61% of the movie.

Costume Design: Oof, that was an awkward skit they did behind Cate Blanchett. If it is awkward with someone as wonderful as she, then, imagine how bad it would have been with anyone else. Jenny Beavan won for Mad Max: Fury Road, I am still waiting for Megan to watch the first three so we can see it together. Note: WOW, director, cutting off a winner because she said she had something serious to say after 20 seconds. Pathetic and cowardly.

Production Design: I should have waited and done the Costume/Production Design combo. I know it’s different people, but so often the voters conflate the two and the same movie wins too.

Makeup & Hairstyling: Jared Leto said “merkin.” That is always good for a laugh. Wow that clip of the Revenant makes me not want to see it! Mad Max won again. Sounds like it was an amazing team making this movie. Just goes to show you how the people who choose what movies to make have no idea what they’re doing since it took 30 years to get the funding to make this. But hey, at least no Mel Gibson.

No comment on that Suge Knight joke.

Cinematography: This is one of my favorite categories, but I never remember the name of cinematographers. Some day though I just might thanks to putting up my pretty pictures posts. Emmanuel Lubezki won for Revenant. I did recognize his name, but perhaps that’s because he has won three times in a row.

At this point I want to point out that I have picked up on the use of Bond themes (Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever and Goldfinger)! I wonder if they are voting with their soundtrack for Writing’s on the Wall!

Film Editing: Mad Max again (Margaret Sixel). Beating Star Wars in the one category for which it was nominated has made me turn on it. Maybe I will wait for Megan to watch the first three.

Sound Editing: Bad joke to start and then a really disappointing montage. Also, da Academy likes guns and explosions. Oh Star Wars had two nominations! I will not boo Mad Max this time because one of the winners was nominated for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Good to see that it too had at least one nomination.

Sound Mixing: Mad Max wins again. (I didn’t even wait for the nominees to type this one). Oh Star Wars had three nominations…kinda.

Visual Effects: Andy Serkis montage?  I do love him. Yay and he is getting a big pop from the crowd. Okay, a fourth Star Trek nom! On the bright side, I have now seen over 30 minutes of clips from Mad Max, so I think I will not need to go watch it. Ex Machina won!  Well now it is on my list of movies to see now. Best tweet comes from Kumail Nanjiani,
Did they add a beard to Matt Damon in The Martian?!?!?? I know a cheaper way to do that.

No comment on the droids showing up. Same for the girl scout cookies.

Animated Short: Bear Story. Having the Minions present this late in the show indicates that they expect a large west coast audience. Also, please go away Minions. Cool that Chileans won.

Animated: Inside Out won. I guess that should be my new number one to watch because everyone loves it unironically.

The Weeknd sang “Earned It” from 50 Shades of Gray. Gray? or Grey? I think Grey. Whatever, the song was not very good and the dancers seemed sexist to me.

Bridge of Spies looks so good! It’s in a 3 way tie for movie I most need to see.

Spotlight has a dream team cast.

That Compton movie theater interview segment was pretty good. Funnier and more insightful than it was awkward.

Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies. What?! Okay, now it is my number one movie to see. The other nominees were Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hardy, Christian Bale and Sylvester Stallone! Great acceptance speech.

Documentary Short: A Girl in the River won and listening to the director say how it has convinced the president of Pakistan to change the law about honor killings made me tear up. And then Kumail Nanjiani made me laugh with his tweet, “The director of “A Girl in the River” went to high school with me in Karachi! She won an Oscar! This is not gonna help w my parents. #Oscars” And I went to college with Kumail Nanjiani, who only has approx 500k more twitter followers than I do!

Documentary Feature: Amy (Winehouse) won. I did not see it, but did read some of the hubbub about it.

Now I see why Spike Lee boycotting the Oscars mattered this year! He won an honorary award.

Louis Gosset, Jr. still wears an earring. When I heard his name I thought, oh, I hope he stopped wearing that earring. He was introducing Dave Grohl for In Memoriam:

I forgot that Wes Craven died, he had a nice cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  Miroslav Ondrícek is best known for being the cinematographer on Amadeus. Christopher Lee—I am surprised to find that I did not write an essay about his passing, he was a treasure for a nerd like me. Theordore Bikel looked very familiar, because he played Worf’s father in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Alan Rickman’s passing has gotten such a large response I never said anything, but from Die Hard to Dogma to the Harry Potter films I was always a fan. I have a giant book of movie reviews by Richard Corliss. Douglas Slocombe did the Indiana Jones Trilogy! And of course Leonard Nimoy, about whom I did write.

Live Action Short: I missed it. Cute height jokes though.

Foreign Language: Re: the presenters, Sophia Vergara looked so amazing that I did not recognize Byung-Hun Lee! Byung-Hun was amazing in I Saw the Devil and The Good, The Bad and the Weird. He was also in Red 2, but no-one came out looking particularly good in that crap. Also, Son of Saul won.

Powerful appearance by VP Joe Biden talking about sexual assault (ItsOnUs.org) and a moving performance from Lady Gaga (Til It Happens To You).  I don’t have the words. Brave is all that comes to mind.

Score: Nominees are some of the usual suspect: Thomas Newman, Carter Burwell, Johann Johannson, Ennio Morricone, and John Williams. John Williams deserved to win because he made ANOTHER Star Wars soundtrack. Morricone got a lifetime Oscar in 2007, but I do not begrudge him this as the second greatest score composer of all-time. He was not nominated for any of his Westerns before this one, which means that there must not have been an Oscar for Best Score before 1969. (It did exist and even with 10!! nominees in 1968, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly did not get a nomination. Shame on you Academy! Shame.)

Song: Writing’s On The Wall! Yay! I used to hate Sam Smith!

Da Ali G! Booyakasha! I can’t spell that word but he was my favorite character of Sacha Baron Cohen’s from Da Ali G Show.

Director: Revenant won. Ugg, I have to go to copy and paste Alejandro González Iñarritu’s name again this year. Also, I am glad he got cut off by the music since this is his fourth speech. Although fighting through it to talk about racism makes me glad that he stuck to his guns and talked through it.

Actress: Brie Larson won for Room. What a nice outcome. I need to see Room but it is not as much to watch so I think I will wait a bit longer. Just three years ago she made my list of Under Appreciated Supporting Actors. And look at her now! I hope she gets on the Jennifer Lawrence career path now. This makes me want to make an updated list!

Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio for Revenant. Good speech. I’m sure it felt better saying it to millions of people this time instead of his bathroom mirror. Looks like a two horse race for best picture. But one has horses and the other has cars. Best tweet comes from Dan Van Kirk (@danielvankirk), “Leo’s win is a victory for the whole cast of Growing Pains. #Oscars”

Picture: Spotlight won. Wow! Did not see that one coming. I guess the moral is that you need an older Michael Keaton to win best picture henceforth.

All told, it was another excellent year for the Academy Awards.

 

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Daily Film Beauty: Inception

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Inception — Wally Pfister (cinematographer) & Christopher Nolan (director).

I bet you thought I would have gone with the hallway shot.

Leonardo DiCaprio in a Japanese man's dream, Inception © 2010 Syncopy.

Leonardo DiCaprio in a Japanese man’s dream, Inception © 2010 Syncopy.

My reaction to the 2014 Academy Awards

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This is a live-diary from watching this year’s Oscars.

The monologue: I entered this with low expectations. Mostly because I do not like Ellen’s delivery.
“Bruce Dern is not pleased.”
I liked the Jonah Hill’s penis joke. But it was premised on Ellen having seen his before, which left me wondering, when had she seen it before?

Best Supporting Actor: I haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club, but Megan my girlfriend really wants to see it, so I’m thinking fun date night movie! Nothing’s more romantic than emaciated/dying of AIDs in drag Jared Leto. He continues the proud transition of cross-dressing bringing home the gold! Also, way to remind us that there are more important things going on in the world than some awards.

Animated Heroes Montage: “Lawrence of Arabia. Citizen Kane. Ace Ventura. Our next presenter was in one of these. Jim Carrey.” Best line so far. Also, man Jim Carrey is still hilarious. What I don’t understand is why this was presented to us.

Happy by Pharrell Williams — Oh no! not another unpopular hat. Also, how has he not aged in the past 12 years? Also, why did he “hey!” Sidney Poitier? Questions! Questions without answers.

Achievement in Costume Design: The Great Gatsby! I am really glad this won. I was afraid that American Hustle would win this, but mostly a home run in the costumes in GG.

Makeup & Hairstyling: Only 3 nominees? That seems oddly small, but hey, what do I know about makeup/hairstyling?

American Hustle & Dallas Buyer’s Club & The Wolf of Wall Street: Amy Adams was really great. These actors looked like they had so much fun making American Hustle. Dallas Buyer’s Club looks good. But then again, the Wolf looked like it was more than an ad for drugs, so we will see.

Best Short – Animated: Kim Novak used to be hot in 1958. Thanks McConaughey for that awkward reminder.
Best Animated Film – Not Short: Congratulations to Frozen! You just beat a Miyazaki film! And were totally awesome! And there is a woman on stage! Whoa!

Ordinary/Extraordinary Heroes: Goosebumps!

Sorry, I almost missed the name of this category because of two young hotties, Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be an obnoxiously attractive couple. Gravity probably deserves the Visual Effects Oscar, but damn this was a hotly contested category. Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit 2 were hard to beat.

That nice song from Her by Karen O — It’s a very nice song. I don’t remember it being only 75 seconds long though… But about the presenter, serious question, Zac Efron is an actor? He doesn’t seem like he can act. Even in previews he looks awful. Just awful.

Short Film (Live Action): Some year I will watch these before the awards so that I can have an f’n opinion. Just once I will. Oops, I missed who won, but the important thing is that I saw a clip from The Voorman Problem. Because it had Martin Freeman (Bilbo, The Hobbit) and Tom Hollander (a villain in the middle 2 Pirates movies), but that led me…
Short Firm (Doc): Music Saved My Life. …to Hollander’s IMDb page which has Gosford Park in it. Whenever I read those two words I think the exact same thing, “oooh, Gosford Park, I should watch that again.” Every time. No joke. I even thought that two days after I had just seen it.

Best Documentary: Whoa whoa whoa, slow down there, Bradley Cooper. Describing “documentaries” as “telling the truth for a living” is not true. That would be like saying the Fox News or MSNBC “tell the truth for a living.” Congrats to 20 Feet From Stardom, I hope that this leads to people watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Also, having that woman sing too loudly was not a good idea. Actually, it was a good idea, but just not well executed. Ick.

Governor’s Awards: Angela Lansbury, Pierrot Tosie (sic?), Steve Martin, and Angelina Jolie. Sounds like quite an assortment of people.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty appears to be a movie about…who knows. Omar, on the other hand, is a movie I know I need to watch. Hany Abu-Assad wrote and directed it, just like he did Paradise Now. That was a great, humorous and human movie.

Nebraska, Her, and Gravity: Of those three I would prefer Nebraska to win, even though it is the only one I have not seen. Honestly, Gravity is good, but it has the depth of Rush without as interesting of a story. And the acting was not as good. And Her was a nice movie. I just hope for more.

U2’s Ordinary Love sounds pretty good, but I am not sure if I have heard it before. Also, what is Larry Mullen doing without a drum set? (oops now I see his drum)  And why is Adam Clayton not playing a bass line? (The point of this is to show that I know who the other two members of U2 are without looking it up.)

Ellen and the cellphone thing. Make it stop? Please.

Sound Mixing: It’s funny how incestuous this category was. Lots of multiple nominations for these sound mixers. But how hard is it to mix Sandra Bullock hyperventilating for 85 minutes? Also, space is pretty damn silent so…really? No other movie had better sound mixing?
Sound Editing: See above. Bonus thoughts, Alfonso Cuarón’s name has been pronounced three distinctly different ways by his employees. Thanks for NOTHING!

Supporting Actress: That clip for June Squibb was amazing. And Lupita Nyong’o just won with her first acting role. Sounds like she’s a natural.

Cinematography: I don’t know if Gravity deserved this or not. It’s such a gorgeous movie, but maybe that was the special effects, or Cuarón’s direction. If this nice man is truly responsible, then Cuarón probably does not deserve best direction.

Best Editing: Captain Phillips deserved this over Gravity. Seriously. Unless Gravity won this for being the shortest movie, this is inappropriate.

Guinan! Remember? Whoopi Goldberg was on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. My Uncle Terry loves The Wizard of Oz, so it is nice for me to see it come up. Let’s cut to the montage! No!!! Not Pink! What the fuuuu?? What demographic are you aiming for with this??

Production Design: Great Gatsby with a second win. This was an amazing year for production design. This could have easily gone to American Hustle or Gravity on merit.

Chris Evans grew a beard? Uggg. First Chris Hemsworth and now him? My ranking as most attractive man with a beard keeps slipping! Most Inspiring Characters: After Katniss Everdeen I had this thought about 30 seconds later, Whoa, mark this moment! There was one shot where there was a woman! Sure, she was out numbered 5-1 by men, but there was an actual, real life woman in this group! And Sandra Bullock and Sigourney Weaver. So it’s a victory for equality! 4.5 women to only about 75 men!

In Memoriam: The ones who made me saddest were Jim Kelly, Elmore Leonard, Peter O’Toole, Richard Griffiths, Roger Ebert, Harold Ramis, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Philomena, Captain Phillips, and 12 Years a Slave: I really wish I would have seen 12 Years a Slave already. I still like Captain Phillips best.

Let It Go performed by Idina Menzel: this is a very good song. Disney tapped into their storied past to pull this out one and let a real singer/actress sing/act in Frozen. I bet this wins for best song.

Best Score: Whoa, fix that chin, Jamie Foxx! Gravity won.
Best Song: Who the fuck are Paul Hewson and David Evans? I literally have never seen Bono and The Edge’s real names before. Shocking! Knowing that Mullen and Clayton are in U2 finally paid off! Also, tears alert for that shout out to their daughters.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Not a surprising win for John Ridley and his adaptation of 12 Years a Slave.
Best Original Screenplay: Her and Spike Jonze win. This means it’ll be another 6 years until he puts out his next movie.

Best Director: this should go to my favorite living director Paul Greengrass. Maybe I am biased? Part of me thinks that someone whose best film is still Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban might not deserve the best director academy award, but he is also not a native English speaker so I am pleased that the Academy could look past their prejudices to award this to him. At this point we have realized that Ellen has gone on way longer than she should have with her gags. We have also caught up to the DVR, which is never fun.

Best Actress: And the award for least bad Sandra Bullock performance in her career goes to…Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Seriously. It was a compromise to get me to watch a movie with her in it. WHAT!? Cate Blanchett won! I am shocked. She’s looking all Galadriel tonight in that dress. I am now realizing that I have no idea what her accent is. She made me forget that she’s Australian.

Best Actor: Christian Bale talking is so good! Him and Fassbender are probably the best two actors going. Leonardo DiCaprio was better in Gatsby than he was is Wolf, even though he was very good in Wolf. Also, I was on the Chiwetel Ejiofor bandwagon way before this movie. As was Joss Whedon who cast him in Serenity. But Matthew McConaughey pulled it in. He has one from one of the most underrated actors, go back and watch him in Lone Star and A Time To Kill, to, with this award and True Detective he is now overrated. Not because he is not an excellent actor, but because he is not one of the very best.

Best Picture: It is sad that the presenter for the best picture just won a razzie for his movie this year, Will Smith. 12 Years a Slave won! Yay! I was so scared that Gravity was going to win. If you would have asked me, will the guy whose last movie was an NC17 one about a sex addict ever win an Oscar my answer would have been no. But congratulations to Steve McQueen, who has always fought against the odds, by even not changing his name since the shadow of the late Steve McQueen is a big one. Putting Michael Fassbender in all of his movies is also a good idea too.

Good night all, and this was a good night.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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***½

On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my “back pain”, Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine… Well, because it’s awesome.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Katarina Cas and Jon Bernthal (© 2013 Red Granite Pics.)

Leonardo DiCaprio, Katarina Cas and Jon Bernthal (© 2013 Red Granite Pics.)

This quotation sums up the accuracy and immaturity of the film. If I said this, people would quit listening to me and turn off the movie. But if Leonardo DiCaprio says it, then it sounds interesting and moderately amusing. DiCaprio was pretty amusing in this. Not nearly as amusing as Jonah Hill though. They play a couple of rich dicks who were married to regular women. They scam people and this is played for laughs. When they antagonize the SEC by keeping the air conditioning turned up really high, it’s kind of funny.

Despite my negative tone, there truly were dozens of big laughs. Matthew McConaughey does a great job in a little cameo. Pretty much everyone did a really good job with their roles. If only this were not an hour too long. 

The Great Gatsby

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Can’t repeat the past? No, why, of course you can… of course you can.

A better question is can you create the past? Even as it was written, The Great Gatsby was a tale of the past. Each movie adaptation has attempted to recreate that past, which never existed. One of the best things about Baz Luhrmann’s update was the rejection of old-timey music. But mentioning the excellent usage of the song “No Church in the Wild,” evokes the wonderful trailer released for this film. It was the best preview of the year.

Carey Mulligan (Daisy) and Joel Edgerton (Tom), at Gatsby's. © 2013 Warner Bros.

Carey Mulligan (Daisy) and Joel Edgerton (Tom), at Gatsby’s. © 2013 Warner Bros.

Unfortunately, the best part of the trailer does not make it in the film! That being the Filter version of “Happy Together.” Still, this is a complex story, so it must have been difficult to cut together an accurate preview. From the preview I expected Joel Edgerton’s character, Tom Buchanan to be more of a villain. He is simply who he is. A well educated, small minded lout, who does not mind slapping his mistress for badmouthing his wife. But he is not a criminal and not a murderer, just an entitled adulterer. He is married to the much sought after Daisy Buchanan–Carey Mulligan. Mulligan’s performance stole the film. She maintains a consistency throughout all that she faces, allowing the audience to see anything they want in her, much like the men in the film do. Her companion, Elizabeth Debicki, shows more personality, but also the twinge of self-doubt as she is more athletic and taller than might be generally found to be ladylike. I am a bit surprised in how her fledgling relationship with Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carroway seems to fizzle out. And the last actress to mention is the 1920’s pinup bombshell version of Isla Fisher—most famous for Wedding Crashers. With so much to get through for the main characters, I understand why she disappears from the film, but this could have been done more gradually.

Va va va voom.

Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson, in the single terrible costume in the otherwise cosmetically flawless  Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Great Gatsby.

Even more impressive than the varied beauties provided in the film are the dynamic looks of its heroes, Carraway and Gatsby–Leonardo DiCaprio. The film opens with a weakened, alcoholic Carraway, which made me think that this was simply how Maguire looks today. That is absolutely not the case, as he looks chipper and dapper as a man in his late 20’s dressing for work, recreation, and dining. Gatsby, on the other hand, mostly appears in the visage of a movie star. Yet in one wet scene, even his perfect hair betrays his age as he mats it down like aging dog, long left out in the rain. Together they simultaneously show the grandeur of the Jazz Age, as well as the emptiness of its boozing elites.

DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Maguire as Carraway and Debicki as Jordan Baker in Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama "The Great Gatsby."

DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Maguire as Carraway and Debicki as Jordan Baker in Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “The Great Gatsby.”

One criticism I heard leveled against this film is that it is too slow and too long. I disagree. The measured pace works for me, and it made the exciting parties and drives seem that much faster. To give this *** is to say that I did not know what to do with this film. It has provided me with so much to think about and so much to take in. On the other hand, it was a huge disappointment compared to that perfect preview. So there it is: ***