Category Archives: academy awards

My Oscar Picks 2013

My opinion really doesn’t count for all that much this year as some personal issues have kept me from seeing many of the films this year, but folks expect to see my picks, so this year, I will choose by instinct and odds rather than any educated guesses. I still might get lucky. Here you go…

  • Best animated feature – Brave
  • Best animated short film – Paperman
  • Best visual effects – Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Best original screenplay – Django Unchained
  • Best original score, and song – Skyfall
  • Best costume design – Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Best direction – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actress – Sally Field for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best actress – Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best actor – Denzel Washington for Flight
  • Best picture – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Yep, that’s right. I’m predicting a complete shut out for Le Miz. Nothing against the flick, but that’s just how it played out as I picked category by category.

    What do you folks think?

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    Ernest Borgnine 1917-2012

    Ernest Borgnine passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 95, from kidney failure.

    I grew up with him in “McHale’s Navy,” but some of the younger folks might know him from “Airwolf” or surprisingly (at least to me) “Spongebob Squarepants.” Besides those roles, Borgnine also acted in dozens of television shows in his six decade career, including an Emmy nomination for his role in the last couple episodes of “ER” when he was 92.

    Borgnine was also a stage star, and because his television credits are so dominant, many folks forget what a legendary screen actor he was. He won the Oscar for his role in 1955’s Marty, and was outstanding in many other films like From Here to Eternity, The Dirty Dozen, Willard, The Devil’s Rain, The Poseidon Adventure and even Harlan Ellison’s infamous The Oscar.

    I recently saw the man interviewed on TCM. He was as boisterous and lively as he had ever been, happy to tell tales of the old days and more recent times, a happy library of the industry. We have lost one of the great actors of Hollywood.

    Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy ~ This is the movie that changed the way people thought about movies, and it was also the first and only X-rated film to win the Academy Award for best picture, although the X rating meant something a little different back then than it did later on. It cemented Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight as the stars of the 1970s, and it forever placed the song “Everybody’s Talkin'” in people’s heads when walking in crowds in New York City. It also features two of film’s most memorable characters, and one of its most quoted lines, “I’m walkin’ here.”

    Based on the 1965 novel by James Leo Herlihy, written for the screen by Waldo Salt, and brilliantly director by the legendary John Schlesinger, Hoffman and Voight lead an all star ensemble cast through a tour of the seedier side of New York, a Time Square that no longer exists, and the darker side of life that still haunts us. At its core, it’s a tale of friendship and desperation.

    The real feat of Midnight Cowboy is bringing life, thanks to the expert direction and the performances of the actors, to two almost cartoon-like characters – naïve hustler Joe Buck and the infamous Rico ‘Ratso’ Rizzo – amazing. You actually grow to love them and their relationship so much that the ending may bring you to tears. This is truly one of the best films of its era, and a definite game changer. Recommended.

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    My Oscar Picks for This Year

    Okay, first off, yes, I have been lax this year with The Oscars. I am hesitant to admit this, but I really haven’t even taken a good look at the nominees until earlier this week. Nevertheless, I will take a shot a predicting the Academy Awards – both what will win, as well as what should win. And just to remind all you other latecomers, check out the nominees here.

    Best original Screenplay – I want Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris which I thought was brilliant, but it will probably go to The Artist.

    Best Original Song – Of the choices, it’s “Man or Muppet.” Only two songs nominated? Really?? And only one from The Muppets??? What about the songs in Captain America or Bunraku?

    Best Animated Film – Nothing deserving was nominated, and the three I saw were abysmal. For the first time in quite a few years, I don’t care about this category.

    Best Supporting Actor – Is it time for Nick Nolte to win this year? Plummer and von Sydow deserve it, but I think it’ll go to Nolte, just a hunch.

    Best Supporting Actress – I looove Janet McTeer, and would love to see her get this, but I think one of the ladies from The Help will take this one.

    Best Actor – I only saw Clooney and DuJardin, but I’m still going to say the latter.

    Best Actress – Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. It’s her turn again.

    Best Director – If Martin Scorsese doesn’t get this for Hugo, it will be a crime. Not only will the Academy admit they know nothing about direction, they nothing about film either.

    Best Picture – The Help and Midnight in Paris were my favorite movies of the year in this batch, The Artist and Hugo are wonderful love letters to film itself, but I’m going to say they give it to The Help.

    Check back later and see how I did. What are your picks?

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    Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

    I confess. I’m a bit late to the show on this one, and that’s not just a day or two late in posting this after Dame Taylor’s passing. I mean I was late in discovering the phenomenal talent that is Elizabeth Taylor.

    Oh sure, I knew the name, but the fact is, my first real exposure to her was on “General Hospital.” Long after her film career was over, in the heyday of the soap when the names Luke and Laura were on everyone’s lips, Elizabeth Taylor made a few appearances on “GH” as the sinister Helena Cassadine, in the highest rated episodes of any daytime soap opera. Of course by that time, she had already reached legend status.

    The violet-eyed beauty had begun her career as a teenager decades earlier and went on to appear in dozens of films, television shows and stage roles. Liz was a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? respectively. It was in the latter film that I first saw what an amazing talent she truly was. From that point on, I caught up on her films.

    The aforementioned Woolf is probably my all time favorite, but she is best known for her roles in National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Raintree County, Suddenly, Last Summer and of course the title role in 1963’s Cleopatra. Liz was also known for her many marriages and in recent decades her work with many AIDS-related charities.

    Elizabeth Taylor passed away yesterday morning due to complications of congestive heart failure, she was 79. We have lost one of the great ladies of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and we are much poorer for it. She will be missed.

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    Catching Up with the Oscars

    Due to some family troubles I have not been keeping up with my blogs as I probably should have, and neither have I gotten out to see all the films up for the Oscars tonight, but I wanted to take a few moments to breeze through the few I have seen.

    The King’s Speech ~ This by far is the best of the litter of the Best Picture nominees I have seen this year. That’s not to say it will win, although it might. I have heard that The Fighter is better, but I really can’t speak to that.

    This fascinating film about the heir to the throne of England conquering his speech problem is one that many can understand, and it has the key handicap feature that wins Oscars so often. It’s time for Colin Firth to win and this is the perfect role. Geoffrey Rush is also in the running, having himself won in a similar handicapped role in My Left Foot. There is also an interesting nod to Rush’s character from Shakespeare in Love with his love of the Bard. Another nice smirk comes from the appearance of Derek Jacobi, whose best known role is that of the title role stutterer in PBS’ “I, Claudius.”

    Even Helena Bonham Carter is entertaining here and got a nomination. I usually find her freakish and over the top. Here’s proof that she can reel it in and give a great performance. There’s really nothing not to like about this flick, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it swept the Oscars. I had always thought the more compelling story of the royal family of this time was Edward and Mrs. Simpson, but here I am proven wrong. Bravo, recommended.

    Animal Kingdom ~ This one is very slow but it shouldn’t have been. Based on the synopsis, I expected an Australian gangster flick but got a somewhat quiet drama, with a few shocks and bumps along the way, instead. Disappointing but good. Jacki Weaver is up for Best Supporting Actress, and she’s good, but I thought that James Frecheville was better, and quite possibly should have gotten a Best Actor nod. But what do I know?

    The Town ~ I really kinda dug this Boston heist flick, and I think Jeremy Renner definitely deserves his nomination for Supporting Actor. This is a different character from last year’s The Hurt Locker, a much more complex and darker portrayal, and it gets my vote. Jon Hamm does little more than show up and draw in the “Mad Men” fans however. The real star is Ben Affleck, who co-wrote, starred and directed this flick. I think it’s a shame that he is apparently still on the Academy’s hate list, because I think he deserves recognition for his triple threat performance here – he is the star of this one. Where are his nominations?

    How to Train Your Dragon ~ I could bitch about where Tangled and Megamind were in the animated feature category, but I’ll refrain. This one was a surprise, not the best animated feature this year by a long shot, but a lot of fun. It’s predictable, but compelling and entertaining. Recommended.

    My predictions for tonight are as follows. King’s Speech for Best Picture, David Fincher for Best Director, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush for Actors, Natalie Portman and Hailee Steinfield for Actress, Toy Story 3 for Best Animated, Biutiful for Best Foreign, and Exit Through the Gift Shop for documentary.

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    Winter’s Bone

    Winter’s Bone ~ Set in the hillbilly hell that is modern Appalachia, this is a quest movie, similar to Easy Rider, The Wizard of Oz or even The Matrix, or some weird hybrid of the three. It also reminds me of The Road, only without the relationship, the narrative or the apocalypse. It is all of these films actually, minus the excitement, happiness or enthusiasm – or momentum. Winter’s Bone is slow as hell.

    Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence tried to find her daddy who’s on the run and has put the family home up for bail. If he doesn’t show up, she loses everything. Most of the folks in this hillbilly hell don’t want to help her. Everyone smokes pot and carries a gun, except for our protagonist so it’s hard for her to make any headway finding her father.

    Did I mention how slow this flick is? I wanted to scream at the screen for something to happen other than bad grammar or verbal and physical domestic abuse. Furthermore, Winter’s Bone stinks of the social commentary that the bleeding hearts of the Academy love so much, but me, I kept waiting for the point, or better yet, a plot.

    Now I wanted a plot, but when the flick turned into this effed up version of The Wicker Man meets Children of the Corn with a bit of, God forbid, The Village thrown in – I started wishing it didn’t have a plot. Really. This got a Best Picture nomination, and Secretariat didn’t? Wow. Not recommended.

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    The Social Network

    The Social Network ~ You know how the opening sequence to Raiders of the Lost Ark gives you everything you need to know about the protagonist Indiana Jones? This film does the same thing with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook – he’s socially inept, thoughtless, self-important, and basically an asshole. It’s all you need to know about him, game over, story done. The rest of the film is about Facebook, and how it affects everyone else, and just everyone else, because after the opening sequence, I really didn’t care how it affected Zuckerberg – kudos to actor Jesse Eisenberg, writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher. As a matter of fact, given the Academy’s penchant for the handicapped – and trust me, Zuckerberg is handicapped – Eisenberg has a good chance of taking that Best Actor Oscar.

    As much as I usually dislike Aaron Sorkin’s work, he was adapting from Ben Mezrich’s terrific book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal,” so that counts for something. Two other elements make this film a no-brainer for me to like – it was directed by one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, and it has a score co-composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Trent is one of my music gods. The direction, like the score, is very different and new territory for the creators, and yet, amazing work, the music being a highlight. Both are also nominated for Oscars. And Justin Timberlake is damn good too.

    At this point, I have only seen half of the ten films nominated this year for Best Picture, but of those, The Social Network is the best, I think it has a very good chance of winning. I would give good odds to Fincher and Reznor as well. The Social Network might just sweep this year. Recommended.

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    Oscar Noms 2011

    Well, better late than never, right?

    The Oscar nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced early this morning. There were a few surprises, but not many. Here are the main awards…

    Best Actor – Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco.

    Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush.

    Best Actress – Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams.

    Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver.

    Best Animated Film – How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3.

    Best Foreign Film – Biutiful, Dogtooth, In a Better World, Incendies and Outside the Law.

    Best Director – Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

    Best Film – Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

    Hmmm… now let’s not always see the same names, shall we? I can’t really make official guesses at this point, having not seen all the films and performances nominated yet, but I do have some thoughts. I was fully unimpressed by both True Grit (other than Hailee Steinfield) and Inception, so I doubt they will get much more beyond the noms. I liked Hailee quite a bit. It’s time for a win for Colin Firth. And I wouldn’t underestimate the dark horses like The Kids Are All Right and 127 Hours.

    Speaking of horses, where was Secretariat? Where was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the foreign category? Where were Waiting for Superman and Despicable Me for documentary and animated film? Major snubs here, folks.

    Check out the complete nominations here, folks, and I’ll be back with my predictions in a while, once I’ve caught up on all the flicks.

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    Lynn Redgrave Passes Away

    Actress Lynn Redgrave passed away peacefully last night after a long battle with breast cancer. She was a star of the stage and the big and small screen, and a member of the Redgrave family acting dynasty, which also lost her niece Natasha Richardson some time ago.

    Lynn Redgrave’s roles range from films like Georgy Girl and Gods and Monsters for which she received Oscar nominations to Tony nominated stage performances to recent television appearances on “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty.”

    Her personal life has never been kept from the public. Suffering from bulimia, she became an open spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and released a book with her daughter about her fight with breast cancer. Ms. Redgrave will be missed.

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