Oscar Thoughts…and there are a lot of them.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re upset about Quentin Tarantino getting snubbed. Thought so, there are more of you then I thought. I was very disappointed with the Academy Awards last night. It wasn’t only with the awards, and who won and who didn’t win, the production was just bad (maybe more bland, not bad). There were some high points, and I liked of some of the things they did – but that wasn’t enough to save the show. The opening musical number with Neil Patrick Harris was just so fucking atrocious, I couldn’t even believe my eyes. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are two of the funniest guys in show business and I thought they were going to hit it out of the park. They kind of did with some jokes and shorts, but I just thought they weren’t that good.

I was pleased with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor, and I absolutely loved his acceptance speech. I thought it was touching and heartfelt. When it came to Best Original Screenplay, I had a feeling “The Hurt Locker” was going to win (Peyton is my witness). I thought by “Locker” winning that award, it would help “Avatar” or “Inglorious Basterds” win Best Picture. We all know how that turned out. The fact that it has been fifteen years since Tarantino was nominated for anything is too long. The fact he went home empty handed is a crock of shit. What makes “The Hurt Locker” a good film isn’t its screenplay, or memorable dialogue – its Kathryn Bigelow’s direction, it’s Jeremy Renner’s solid performance, and its Anthony Mackie’s supporting performance, the three (distracting) cameos and the near perfect cinematography. It wasn’t the fucking screenplay! Think about “Inglorious Basterds” for a minute. Think about all the characters, the dialogue and the amazing universe that Tarantino has once again constructed! The characters of Hans Landa, Aldo Raine and his version of Hitler! Looking back I am amazed that the Academy didn’t reward the greatest writer/director of our generation. It’s unfair and bullshit. And YOU know it.

I did enjoy the extended acting clips for the supporting roles this year. I think the lack of clips takes away from the emotional connection the audience has with the winner. I am very glad they brought that back. It was truly a treat to see Waltz win. He deserved it hands down, everyone knew it. His speech was very gracious and very sweet. The

"Oscar and Penelope -- that's an uber-bingo!"

Academy sure got this one right. Finally, an actor won an Oscar for being in a Tarantino film. It’s perfect too, Hans Landa may just be Tarantino’s finest character yet. Welcome to America Christoph, enjoy your ride while it lasts. And as much as it pains me to admit it, so was Mo’Niques. I still think she’s a self righteous diva. It seems fair that the star of “Soul Plane” get an Oscar the same night the director of “Pulp Fiction” gets snubbed. Nice.

I was very disappointed with the songs nominated for Best Original Song weren’t played (but for Original Score there was some odd dance number?). I would have enjoyed seeing Ryan Bingham perform “The Weary Kind”. And listened to the other Randy Newman songs that were nominated, I guess they were more worried about showing tribute to horror films. What the fuck was that about? Horror is the most bullshit genre there is because there aren’t any good horror films. If I stretch myself, I can think of 20 good horror films. And I’m talking horror films, not thrillers or mysteries that have scary elements; I’m talking real horror films. I’m sorry but “Silence of the Lambs” isn’t a horror film, and what was with the clip from “Marathon Man”?

One of my favorite parts of the Oscar telecast has always been when they show clips of people from the film industry who passed away the previous year. The addition of James Taylor performing The Beatles “In My Life” was a very nice touch, although I think “Fire and Rain” would have been better. I have one small question, why wasn’t Farrah Fawcett in that montage? She may not have been the best actress in the world, but she was in an Altman film (“Dr. T and the Women) and Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle”. The Academy released a statement this morning saying, “It’s impossible to pay tribute to every star that has passed away.” You’re going to show Brittney Murphy, but not a huge pop culture icon like Fawcett. Really?

Those of you who read my blog and know me know that I am no fan of “The Hurt Locker” and it’s Godlike momentum. I think it drags and doesn’t have a lot of substance to it. I think it’s good, but not great. It’s very ironic that the one Oscar I think it deserved (Best Achievement in Cinematography) was won by “Avatar”.

The fact that Barbara Streisand presented Best Director was the biggest ploy ever and so utterly transparent. How is it possible that Bigelow has a Best Directing Oscar and Stanley Kubrick, Alan J. Pakula, Terrence Malick, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino don’t have any directing Oscars? With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture, it follows in suit with my opinion that the Academy keeps awarding the wrong film Best Picture. But that’s just my opinion.

There are a lot of things I like about “The Hurt Locker”. The shot of Renner pulling the six secondary bombs around him is great. The cameos are great. The greatest shot of the film is when Renner is home and is standing in the cereal aisle, and has no frame of reference of what to get. It’s just such a haunting long shot of Renner standing there and you know he’s thinking about Iraq. His character is a slightly more intense Willard from “Apocalypse Now”. Bigelow knew what she was doing, but putting gender aside, the film wouldn’t be as big of deal and you know it (at least give me that Kevin). I’ll say it again, “The Hurt Locker” is a good film, but it’s not Best Picture caliber.

I think the biggest upset of the night was Jason Reitman not winning Best Adapted Screenplay for “Up in the Air”. I thought since he was nominated for “Juno” (even though I don’t like the film) and was again nominated for “Up in the Air”. I almost like the fact that Reitman didn’t win because he is the embodiment of nepotism. But to his defense, he is extremely talented – more than his father Ivan Reitman – but still had every opportunity in the world to make films. I resent that.

"Thank you, mom and dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession."

I am very happy that Jeff Bridges finally won his Oscar! Even though he shouldn’t have and Colin Firth should. It was a very sentimental moment, watching Bridges holding his Oscar up in the air. I was worried that Jeremy Renner was going to follow in suit with the Academy’s gushing for an above average non bias (but is anti war?) war film and win Best Actor. I would have lost my mind. Bridges’ acceptance speech was wonderful. I love how he is just a beatnik. Deep down inside, he’s more like the Dude than any of his other characters. I think Renner being introduced by his “Swat” costar Colin Farrell cheapened his nomination. They should have gotten Brad Pitt for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” or Charlize Theron or Richard Jenkins from “North Country”. If “Swat” is your best achievement next to “The Hurt Locker”, that’s pretty sad, although Colin Farrell was delightful as always.

I am getting extremely tired of Ben Stiller. I don’t think he’s as funny as much people. I thought it was somewhat humorous, but I think he dragged it a little too long. But I will give “Greenberg” a try.

The one thing that I really wanted to see was Roger Corman giving his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Oscar. More than half of the people in the auditorium got their start from Corman. I don’t know why he didn’t speak. That’s pretty shitty.

I love Sean Penn. I think he’s a huge asshole, but a great actor and director. He didn’t let me down with shitting on the Academy. I believe when he said how he and the Academy share that they ignored a great actress the past two years, I believe he was referring to Robin Wright (Penn?). He didn’t thank her in his speech last year, and he thinks she should have been nominated for “The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee”. He’s just so great.

As for Sandra Bullock winning: why? She’s a one trick pony. Her Oscar will follow along the lines of Halle Berry’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Best Actress Oscar – people will look back and shake their heads. I feel bad saying this almost; because she seems like a really cool and fun lady, but I think she knows too, that she didn’t really deserve it. As funny as this sounds, I do feel bad for Meryl Streep. She should have won this year and last.

Tom Hanks running out and just announcing the winner was a nice touch. I liked that.

I liked the John Hughes tribute.  That was very classy, and very well done.  But Molly Ringwald scared me.

Maybe Bridges can pull a next year with “True Grit” and win back to back. Wishful thinking?

Did you almost feel like Streisand alluded to Bigelow winning just because she was a woman as well, or was that just me?

And for the love of anything that is holy, please Academy, don’t have ten nominations for best picture next year.

And why wasn’t Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row?

Oscars: Predictions and Thoughts.

Best Picture Nominees:

I would first like to say that the fact the Academy decided to have ten Best Picture Nominees completely cheapens the award. I am disgusted that “The Blind Side” was nominated, but “Nine”, “The Road” and “A Single Man” weren’t. Also: “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”, “Antichrist” and “The Watchmen” are just as deserving but unrealistic. My theory for “Inglorious Basterds” winning the gold is that the Academy voters will split between “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” and “Basterds” could eek by. If “The Hurt Locker” didn’t exist, “Avatar” would win hands down, and the same would go for “The Hurt Locker” if “Avatar” didn’t exist. I do also think that since that producer of “The Hurt Locker” sent out that mass email to the Academy voters saying they should vote for the small film instead of the 500 million dollar film will hurt their chances as with voters who had yet to cast their ballot. The Academy likes to be romanced and courted – not be told what to do. I just can’t see the Academy giving the most prestigious film award to a film that grossed a minimal amount of money. If “The Hurt Locker” does win, it will be the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time. “Basterds” is an interesting film, when I saw it in theaters I didn’t like it very much, I thought it was long and very extreme. It got mixed reviews at the time of its release too, but now everyone loves it. It won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild which is a somewhat odd barometer for Best Picture. When I purchased “Basterds” on DVD, I watched it over and over again. It holds up well to repeat viewings and is so goddamned enjoyable. I think that many people feel that Tarantino is long overdue for an Oscar, even though he already as an Original Screenplay Oscar for “Pulp Fiction”, but let’s face it, “Pulp Fiction” should have won everything 15 years ago. But, if critics ran the Oscars, “The Hurt Locker” would win hands down.

What I think will win: “Inglorious Basterds”

What should win (that’s nominated): “A Serious Man”

My personal pick: “A Single Man”

Best Director:

I like the nominees for best director. If you want to know what the “real” Best Picture Nominees are, just look at the five directors nominated. In a perfect world where I had a say, the Nominees would have been: Tom Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Joel & Ethan Coen, James Cameron and Rob Marshall.

Who I think will win: Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Quentin Tarantino for “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: Tom Ford for “A Single Man”

Best Actor:

Best actor seems to be a lock this year. The only upset I could see happening with this category would be Colin Firth. I am a HUGE Jeff Bridges fan, and I believe he is long overdue for an Oscar – but I don’t think he gave the best performance this year. The top four nominees had been set in stone with: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman. The fifth, Jeremy Renner – who was very good in “The Hurt Locker” – isn’t as deserving for a Best Actor nomination as Daniel Day-Lewis (“Nine”) or Viggo Mortenson (“The Road”) or even Nicholas Cage (“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”). Cage did win the Toronto Film Critics Circle, which should count for something – right?

Who I think will win: Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Colin Firth for “A Single Man”.

My personal pick: Colin Firth for “A Single Man”.

Best Actress:

This has been the most interesting category as far as tracking goes this year. Meryl Streep seemed to have it in the bag – until she was blindsided by Sandra Bullock (I’m sorry, I had to do it…). I think this is the weakest category this year; Streep gives a very good performance, but not nearly as good as her previous performance in “Doubt”. Carey Mulligan was good in “An Education”, but the film itself left me bored and waiting for it to be over. I have not seen “The Blindside” – nor will I. I refuse to be pulled into this celebration of mediocre filmmaking that rests itself on pappy crap. Helen Mirren seems like the odd nomination here considering everything I’ve heard about “The Last Station” is that it’s a train wreck of a film but is brilliantly acted.

Who I think will win: Sandra Bullcok for “The Blindside”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Meryl Streep for “Julie and Julia”.

My personal pick: Charlotte Gainsbourg for “Antichrist”.

Best Supporting Actor:

This category lacked acknowledging a few performances I would have liked to have seen nominations for: Mathew Goode for “A Single Man”, Jackie Earle Haley for “Watchmen”, Robert Duvall for “The Road” and Colin Farrell for “Crazy Heart”. The only one of those I thought might have grabbed that fifth spot would have been Duvall for “The Road”. I know he had minimal screen time in “The Road”, but the Academy loves supporting performances from well respected actors, think about it: Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), William Hurt (“A History of Violence”), Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”), James Coburn (“Affliction”) although I suppose this year it’s Christopher Plummer for “The Last Station”. I think Waltz is pretty much a lock, since he’s won every single award for his role in “Basterds”, but if anyone can beat him, it will be Plummer – and if Plummer does win, it will be strictly for merit for his long and distinguished career. One thing I would like to note is that Stanley Tucci is the only redeeming factor in “The Lovely Bones”, it’s a film that is wretchedly horrible. Tucci turned out two very good performances in “Bones” and “Julie and Julia”. I think his performances are equally as great, but he should have been nominated for “Julie and Julia” if only to be spiteful. I would have also liked to see Brad Pitt be nominated for “Basterds”.

Who I think will win: Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: Christoph Waltz for “Inglorious Basterds”.

Best Supporting Actress:

This category has the lamest nominees, I’m sorry but it does. When Mo’Nique was acting like a diva a couple of months ago, and not promoting “Precious” and not showing up to collect her awards I thought for sure the Academy would resent her behavior and not award her the Oscar (kind of like Eddie Murphy’s behavior problems when he was nominated for “Dreamgirls”). I also thought that “Nine” would garnish two, if not three Best Supporting Actress nominations; but this was before it got a much unwarranted and undeserving backlash from critics. I think Cruz should not have been nominated for the film, if anyone I would have wanted Judi Dench. I thought Sofia Loren would have gotten nominated as well, considering she’s the last of the Golden Age of Hollywood, much like Plummer. I thought Loren would have followed in line with Lauren Bacall’s nomination for “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and Gloria Straut’s nomination for “Titanic”. I was wrong, very wrong. I think Julianne Moore was snubbed for “A Single Man” and Vera Farmiga’s nomination is undeserving, and she should have been nominated for “The Departed”. If anyone can upset Mo’Nique it would be Anna Kendrick. I think the other obvious Oscar snub is Melanie Laurent for “Inglorious Basterds”. Also remember, there have been previous Supporting Actress surprises before, Marcia Gay Harden for “Mystic River” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton”. Also: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nomination for “Crazy Heart” is the one sleeper nomination I was telling everyone about, although my sleeper pick was Duvall for “The Road.

Who I think will win: Mo’Nique for “Precious” (I refuse to type the full title because that is contrived).

Who should win (that’s nominated): Mo’Nique for “Precious”.

My personal pick: Julianne Moore for “A Single Man”.

Best Original Screenplay:

This category seemed to be a lock for Tarantino, but the tides are slightly turning. The more weight that’s being pulled by Tarantino for Best Picture, is pulling “The Hurt Locker” closer to Best Original Screenplay. Face it, they have to award “The Hurt Locker” – even though Bigelow seems to be the frontrunner (with a possible upset by Cameron), the Academy still has to award this film another prominent award. I have always felt that this category is a runner up for Best Picture. I almost want to say if Tarantino wins for this award, “The Hurt Locker” has it in the bag for Best Picture, but if “Locker” wins this award it should give a slight edge to “Basterds” for Best Picture.

Who I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): “A Serious Man”.

My personal pick: “A Serious Man”.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

I have not seen “In the Loop” but I hear nothing but great things from my friends Kevin and Peyton. I will watch it before Sunday. I think this award is pretty much a lock for Jason Reitman since “Up in the Air” won’t receive any other major awards. I’m not sure how to feel about Jason Reitman. I thought “Thank You for Smoking” was very good and “Up in the Air” is phenomenal; as for “Juno” I couldn’t stand it. I thought it was contrived and smug and I couldn’t sit through it. Reitman is the greatest example next to Sofia Coppola of nepotism. The hard part is, they are two of the most talented filmmakers of our generation. How could Reitman not finance or be able to distribute his films? His father is Ivan “Ghostbusters” Reitman. I also think “The Road”, “Nine” and “A Single Man” should have been considered for this category too, especially “A Single Man”.

Who I think will win: “Up in the Air”.

Who should win (that’s nominated): “Up in the Air” – pending a viewing of “In the Loop”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Cinematography:

This and editing are my two favorite technical awards. I think this can help make a good movie great, or a great movie good. I haven’t seen any “Harry Potter” films, or “The White Ribbon”. I think that “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”, “A Single Man”, “The Road” and “Antichrist” should have been nominated, but what can I say… I will see “The White Ribbon” before Sunday as well.

Who I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”

Who should win (that’s nominated): “Inglorious Basterds”.

My personal pick: “Antichrist”, but more realistic: “A Single Man”.

Best Editing:

Editing is a tough category because it’s so difficult to be perfect. What’s distracting to me is when there are simple mistakes. Take for example “The Departed”, during the opening scene with Nicholson doing his voiceover monologue towards the end when we see him from behind, looking over his shoulder as he’s walking towards a young Matt Damon, Nicholson is talking and has a cigarette in his mouth. When the shot cuts to a point of view shot from young Matt Damon to Nicholson, he doesn’t have a cigarette in his mouth as he finishes his line of dialogue. Come on! That is so simple to fix! Why leave it? That being said, I looooove Thelma Schoomaker, Scorsese’s long time editor and friend. Its simple things like that, which can ruin certain parts of movies for me. A good way of watching for good editing is if a lot of characters smoke watch for the continuity of the length of cigarette, and the characters inhaling and then exhaling the smoke. A lot of movies fall victim to “magic cigarettes”, much like “The Usual Suspects” when the “suspects” all leave the jail after the famous line-up scene, Gabriel Byrne is outside on the steps smoking while his girlfriend is talking to him, and Byrne watches the other “suspects” and cuts between them watching Bryne, and Byrne watching them. There is no continuity of Byrne inhaling, and continuously exhaling the smoke. The director’s commentary is funny due to the fact of Bryan Singer making fun of the scene because Byrne is smoking a “magic cigarette”.

What I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”

What should win (that’s nominated): “Inglorious Basterds”

My personal pick: “Nine”.

Best Art Direction:

At least “Nine” got this nomination! Boo-ya! That being said, “A Single Man” should win, but once again it’s not nominated.

What I think will win: “Avatar”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “Nine”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Costume Design:

Here’s where my frame of reference starts to wear. I haven’t seen a lot of the films in the tech categories, so I shall do my best.

What I think will win: “Nine”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “Nine”.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Make-up:

What I think will win: “Star Trek”.

What should win (that’s nominated): Anything but Star Trek.

My personal pick: “Watchmen”.

Best Original Score:

Once again, “A Single Man” was snubbed. I am actually really surprised it wasn’t nominated in this category, it was incredibly haunting, and filled with deep emotion.

What I think will win: “The Hurt Locker”.

What should win (that’s nominated): I can’t make a prediction since I haven’t seen most of the nominees.

My personal pick: “A Single Man”.

Best Original Song:

This is an easy one with very little competition. I really hope they go back to having each individual song performed by each nominee, but I don’t think it will happen.

What I think will win: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

What should win (that’s nominated): “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

My personal pick: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”.

Best Animated film:

Shouldn’t “Up” automatically win since it’s the only animated film nominated for Best Picture? I know there was an oddity at the BAFTA’s that my friend Kevin told me about, but seriously!

What I think will win: “Up”.

What should win (that’s nominated): Pending my viewing of “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”.

My personal pick: Pending.

For the rest of the categories, I believe “Avatar” will win all the sound and visual awards. As for short films, I haven’t seen any. And as far as documentary’s go, I’ve always seen “Food, Inc.” and from the best of my knowledge, “The Cove” is probably going to win.

I really hope the Academy goes back to showing clips of each actor for each category, but I’m not sure what the final word is on that either. What I am truly looking forward to is Alec Baldwin and Steven Martin hosting. What a treat that is! Please, please, please Academy! Don’t leave me bitter this year!

Let me know what you guys think. I will try and proofread at the best of my ability!

Male Performances of the Year…Thus Far.

I still have yet to see some films that I need to make full judgment on what the best lead and supporting performances of the year are.  But with what I’ve seen, here is my list.  Expect this post, and my Top Ten of Year for films to be updated.

Lead Actor

Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.

Willem Dafoe as He in “Antichrist”.

Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart”.

George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air”.

Nicholas Cage as Lt. Terrance McDonagh in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”.

Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds”.

Colin Farrell as Tommy Sweet in “Crazy Heart”.

Mathew Goode as Jim in “A Single Man”.

Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine in “Inglorious Basterds”.

Val Kilmer as Stevie Pruit in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”.

Stanley Tucci as Paul Child in “Julie and Julia”

Top Ten of the Year (Thus Far)

Top Ten Films of the Year

Here’s my top ten of the year thus far.  The notable films that I haven’t seen yet include “Nine”, “Avatar”, “An Education” and “Invictus”.  I would only assume that Avatar will make the cut, and maybe some more films.  So please dear reader, stay tuned.

1. “Antichrist” Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

2. “A Single Man” Dir. Tom Ford.  With Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

3.  “Up in the Air” Dir. Jason ReitmanWith George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman and Anna Kendrick.

4.  “Inglorious Basterds”.  Dir. Quentin Tarantino.  With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Til Schweiger.

5.  “Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans” Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

6.  “The Watchmen” Dir. Zach Snyder.  With Billy Crudup, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Mathew Goode and Jackie Earl Haley.

7.  “The Girlfriend Experience”  Dir. Steven Soderbergh.  With Sasha Grey and Chris Santos.

8.  “Taken” Dir.  Pierre Moral.  With Liam Neeson, Famke Jassen, and Xander Berkeley.

9. ????

10. ????