The Oscars 2014

Today is the day! The 2014 Academy Awards and I know you all have been excitedly awaiting my 2nd Annual Oscar Blog.  That’s cool if you weren’t because here it is anyway.  I had a lot of fun seeing the nominated films this year as well as the acting performances and I hope you did as well.  I have a love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards.  I love watching the Academy Awards and some of my favorite films of all time have been past winners but too often I hear the name of my least favorite movie.  I’m still shaking my head from “Argo” last year.   The main reason my head still shakes is because it was one of the worst critically acclaimed films I have ever seen and booya it won.   People I love and respect still tell me they loved that movie but for the life of me I can’t figure out why.  I did figure out why it won though.  Because it was a movie about Hollywood saving the day and ending the hostage crisis in Iran.  They had to vote for themselves.  Okay, okay, enough with my bitterness. It’s time to turn the page. It’s 2014! A new year! A whole new crop of films. The Academy can still save face with me.  There is still a chance that sometime after midnight, in the early hours of March 3rd, the envelope will be opened and I will hear the words….”American Hustle”  Nooo!!!!!!!

Best Picture Nominees:

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

Here is how it goes.  I will rank my favorite movies from least favorite to most favorite.  This year I will include my predictions on who will win but also include who I think should win in the acting categories.

#9 American Hustle 

This film is based on true events about a hustle that involved the FBI, New Jersey politicians, and small time hustlers who got in way over their head.  My least favorite nominated movie of the year is American Hustle.  I’m afraid that it will be two years in a row that my least favorite movie wins the Oscar.  I know, I know, maybe it’s me.  🙂  Forty-five minutes into this movie I was waiting for it to start.  The plot had already started and characters were introduced but I was waiting for a good movie to start.  It took forever for me to finally be interested and care about any of these characters. These characters were intended to be sort of bumbling, way over their head people for the most part.  But they still have to be interesting to make it a good movie.  I eventually got interested in Christian Bale and Amy Adams and found myself being really curious how they were going to figure out this dilemma they were caught in.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence on the other hand were boring.  Poorly written characters, poorly executed, too one dimensional, and I swear Jennifer Lawrence’s accent changed a few times.

#8 Philomena

I wasn’t able to see Philomena this year but it still comes in at #8.  There is no way it was worse that American Hustle.

#7 Captain Phillips

This is the true story about the captain who was kidnapped by Somali pirates and then rescued by navy seals.  I remember being fascinated with this story when it happened and mainly how navy seal snipers could shoot people who are in a boat rolling in the ocean while the snipers are in a boat rolling on the ocean.  Not to steal UPS’s tagline but that’s logistics right there.  The movie was intense and I liked it but it is far from Best Picture Quality.  I still haven’t decided how I feel about turning true stories into movies.  I feel like the fact that they are true fascinates us more than how good the movie actually is.  The category is still “Best Motion Picture” not “Best True Story made into a Movie.”  I’ll talk more about this later.  One of the things I loved about Gravity and All is Lost is how the movie started right where the characters were at and didn’t start with a lame backstory to attempt to give the characters depth.  Captain Phillips starts with Tom Hanks packing and he and his wife driving to the airport and there is some tension about their son.  It’s the same thing Argo did and a lot of movies do.  I just want to say that as a viewer it is sometimes what I don’t know about the person that draws me into their character.  It would be more powerful to hear Tom Hanks screaming out the name of his wife when he fears he is going to die if I’m left to fill in who and what that means to him.  I’ll sum up by saying “Captain Phillips” is “Castaway” except Wilson the volleyball has been replaced by Somali Pirates.

#6 Dallas Buyers Club

Another true story(See a trend here?). Texas bull rider Ron Woodruff  contracted HIV/AIDS in the early 80’s and started smuggling and selling non-FDA drug treatments to AIDS patients.  Hmm, I’m not sure what I’d like to say about this movie.  It falls in that same category of perhaps a better story than movie.  Many people predict Matthew McConaughey will win the Best Actor.  I don’t know man but it didn’t seem like that complex of a character to play.  It’s an emotional and gut-wrenching character but sometimes I think those are easier to dive into to than those characters who have all the intensity of that emotion but it’s just under the surface.

#5 The Wolf of Wall Street

Yowza!  This dark comedy was definitely a roller coaster ride of sex, drugs and money.  Lots and lots of sex, drugs, and money.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese teamed up again to tell the story of Jordan Belfort, who set up Stratton Oakmont brokerage and a penny stock “boiler room” in Long Island, NY and then served almost 2 years in prison for securities fraud.  The main reason I was looking forward to seeing this movie was to see Jonah Hill.  I love him and it was cool to see him doing something different though he didn’t really seem that different.  The film was very funny but I definitely had several moments of “Am I bad person for laughing at this?”  The film has received criticism for glorifying the lifestyle of excess.  I can see that but I feel that anyone who has hit bottom in their life and lived to see better days would not find anything glorifying about the selfish, out of control lives depicted on screen.  I can see, however, some 19 year old males watching that movie and thinking “That’s what I want to do when I graduate”  That’s a scary thought.

#4 12 Years a Slave

I have to admit that I was hesitant to see this movie because I care about racial justice but feel like too many movies are made about slavery and not enough about current issues of racial inequality.  White audiences can handle the racial injustice(and triumph over it) if it is hundreds of years ago.  Whatever emotion you are left with you can always say “it was a long time ago” to soothe yourself.  If you want to see a more current problem with racial inequality, I suggest seeing Fruitvale Station, a great movie that came out in 2013. Fruitvale Station leaves you with an emotional urgency, that you must do something now, today.  That creates quite an impact or dilemma.  All this being said, I think 12 Years a Slave is one of the best movies I have seen about slavery and it is also a true story.  The film really took time to explore the different relationships in the system of slavery and what those relationships felt like.  The relationships between slaves and owner, slaves amongst themselves, slave owners and their wives, overseers and owners, and on and on.  It did a graceful job of this.  The film also had a powerful technique of lingering in a particularly painful scene way longer than the viewer is accustomed to(but way shorter than what real slaves were accustomed to).  I really liked this movie and thought it might be my favorite of the year but then something began to gnaw at me which caused me to put this movie #4 on my list.  Solomon Northup was a free-born African American when he was kidnapped as an adult and sold into slavery for 12 years.  He was eventually freed with the help of a white Canadian abolitionist(played by Brad Pitt) and returned home to his wife and children.  Critically acclaimed movies about race usually always have a “white hero” who saves the day at the end.  It is true that white people were involved in the abolitionist movement and did help in many instances.  My problem with movies being made like this is that they ignore the fact that there were no “white heros” for the overwhelming majority of slaves.  These “white heros” feel like they are being used to 1) make the movie palatable for white audiences and 2) help to assuage feeling of white guilt.  The last several nominated films dealing with race were Lincoln(the White Hero of all White Heros). Django Unchained(In which the white character shot the bad guy in the end and gave up his own life to save the slaves and Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for this role). Even Captain Phillips ends with the white captain being saved by the white navy seal commander by shooting black somali pirates. All “white heros” in movies dealing with race.  I go back to Fruitvale Station, there were no “white heros” for Oscar Grant that night in the subway station when he was shot in the back by white police.  If there were, he would be alive and that movie would be nominated for Best Picture.  The irony of Brad Pitt’s character in 12 Years a Slave(He is only in the movie for 10 minutes) is that him coming on aboard to produce and be part of the film is a big reason it was made.

Talk about a “white hero.”  And check out these posters from the film in Italy.  12-years-a-slave-white-black-620x4001-620x400 Michael Fassbender on the left is the slave owner by the way.  The posters in America had only the black main character Solomon Northup on them.  So, at least we got that going for us.  Look, I’m glad Brad Pitt did what he did and helped get this movie made but the narrative becomes about what a great thing he did(“white hero”) and not about the racial politics of why this movie couldn’t get made without him.  For me, that is the more important conversation to have.  My h0pe for the future is that more African American films can be made and we can enjoy the art and story without a “white hero.”

#3 Nebraska

Now we have arrived at my three favorite nominated movies of the year.  I didn’t realize this until writing this blog that my three favorite films are not based on true stories.  I think this is really telling.  I know that when a movie starts and I see those lines “based on a true story”, I start to get interested.  I wonder if that is used as a crutch for creativity by filmmakers.  You don’t have to create it from scratch.  You “recreate” it.   I don’t think it is coincidence that the most beautiful films of the year for me are not based on true stories but are original screenplays.  Nebraska is directed by Alexander Payne(The Descendants, Sideways).  Payne has a really truthful way of portraying family relationships, funny and heartbreaking. Nebraska is about an elderly man(excellently played by Bruce Dern) who gets a letter in the mail that he won a million dollars.  It is a marketing letter to get you to sign up for magazine subscriptions but he thinks it is real.  He no longer drives so he starts walking to Omaha Nebraska to claim his prize.   His son helps in the journey after he can’t convince his Dad it is not real.  This was a great film.  It was shot in black and white.  It worked perfectly.  It is interesting to me how you don’t need color to make a great movie.  Life is full of color but perhaps the real color to our lives is human emotion and spirit (the sentimental line of this blog).  I loved the family dynamics in this movie.  They had that closeness and love with years of anger, pain and frustration constantly bubbling up.  All the characters were really excellent in this movie.  I felt a kinship with this film since some of my family is from the midwest.  It had an amazing true feel to it and perfect midwestern humor.  I loved how the seriousness and the pain of the situation came in and out but was always there even during the “lighter” moments.  The ending is really sweet and touching as well.

#2 Gravity

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this film winning Best Picture from friends and family.  Is it really Best Picture worthy? I debated between Gravity and Her as my favorite movie of the year.  I got to be real, I thought Gravity was freakin’ amazing! Sitting in that theater I felt like what I imagined people watching 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars for the first time might have felt like.  Gravity is a complete game changer in cinematography. The score was ridiculous in a good way.  I loved how the movie did not start with a lame back story and Sandra Bullock packing for her trip to space.  Rather, we are instantly transported to space and feel like we are really there and within minutes shit hits the fan, literally.  It wasn’t just a movie, it was an experience.  My stomach was so tight from the tension it took hours for it to relax.  I felt weird walking on solid ground afterward.  The only thing I didn’t like about the movie was George Clooney but what’s new?  Nah, he was cool but I think it is still technically workplace sexual harassment even if you are outside the earth’s atmosphere.  The movie is a heck of a ride but it fell just short to my favorite movie of the year

#1 Her

The man who gets the new artificially intelligent computer operating system and falls in love with her.  Joaquin Phoenix played Theodore but the star of the movie was Scarlett Johansson as the voice of the operating system.  I think she would have been an amazing “out of the box” nomination for best actress even thought it was only her voice.  The other star of this movie was the “feel” of it.  The world and feeling created by Spike Jonze(Director and Writer) was amazing.  In was set in the near future which in intself is such a cool concept.  It is one thing to create a far off future world but to create something that seems just like ours but…just beyond our imaginative reach. Maybe sooner than we think.  I don’t know, it was just awesome.  The way they dressed seemed like I will totally being wearing that soon.  Alot of people talked about the theme of this movie being the technology of having a computer system that it would be possible to fall in love with.  While that technological advance was trippy that heart of the story was relationship.  The driving force of the story was relationship.  It was one of the best movies exploring the nuances and power struggles and enjoyments of being in love.  It was all so real and somehow made even more real despite the fact that one of them wasn’t real at all.  Like he was willing to risk his heart a little more.  It really made me think and feel. What a work of art.

That’s my list.  I hope you enjoyed reading and please feel free to comment and disagree with everything I said.  Ha.  I really want Her to win but my gut is telling me 12 Years a Slave. As long as it’s not American Hustle. 🙂

I’ll quickly list the acting nominations and some other awards and maybe include a few words

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

Amy Adams(American Hustle)

Cate Blanchett(Blue Jasmine) Should Win and Will Win

Sandra Bullock(Gravity)

Judi Dench(Philomena)

Meryl Streep(August: Osage County)

If you want to feel uncomfortable in your skin for two hours watch Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. So amazing. When I saw Meryl Streep on this list I was like “not again.” But then I saw her and dang she is crazy good again.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Christian Bale(American Hustle)

Bruce Dern(Nebraska) Should Win

Leonardo Dicaprio(The Wolf of Wall Street)

Chiwetel Ejiofor(12 Years a Slave)

Matthew McConaughey(Dallas Buyer’s Club) Will Win

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Sally Hawkins(Blue Jasmine) Should Win

Jennifer Lawrence(American Hustle)

Lupita Nyong’o(12 Years a Slave) Will Win

Julia Roberts(August:Osage County)

June Squibb(Nebraska)

This was hard to decide because outside of Jennifer Lawrence they were all really good but nobody seemed better than they other.  I have a feeling Nyong’o will get it which is cool with me.  I’d say my favorite performance was Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Barkhad Abdi(Captain Phillips)

Bradley Cooper(American Hustle)

Michael Fassbender(12 Years a Slave)

Jonah Hill(The Wolf of Wall Street)

Jared Leto(Dallas Buyer’s Club) Will Win

Do I have to pick one of these? They were all good but none seemed award worthy. I’ll root for Jonah Hill because I like him.

Lots of other great categories and awards to be handed out. I’ll be rooting for Alfonso Cuaron(Gravity) for Best Director, and Spike Jonze(Her) for original screenplay.  Enjoy the Academy Awards and thanks for reading my Oscar Blog 2014.  Please comment below.

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Dez Bryant “not sorry,” but others should be.

The headline on ESPN this morning reads “Dez not sorry, respects, loves Romo, Witten.”  What the headline should read is “Media and fans sorry to Dez for bashing him for encouraging his team.” or just go with my headline for this blog.   You get my point.  Dez Bryant was filmed on the sideline adamantly encouraging his teammates including WR coach Derek Dooley and Tony Romo.  I saw it live and somehow I could tell that he was not being negative.  I just did not get that vibe.  But, I also realized that as far as the media was concerned, they were going to take this and run with it.  That’s exactly what they did, describing the situation and Dez using the words “tantrum” “rant” “unhappy with Romo” “selfish” “diva”.   Well, today the NFL released the audio transcript of what Dez said and here it is.

“Man, we good on that, Tony. We the best in the NFL on that. We the best in the NFL. And I could…I’m telling you, if you look at it on film…man, if you look at it on film, [unclear] I swear to God out there, [unclear, PA announcer speaking] on the zero, I’m cutting. [Unclear] [expletive] [unclear.]”

The rest of it was in similar style but dissecting some plays that they had run or were going to run.  The media and others did what happens way too often in our society and that is mischaracterize a black man as angry and selfish(even dangerous).  It’s fascinating because I live in Gainesville, Fl and watched Tim Tebow implore his teammates at the University of Florida in the same fashion and he was lauded as a great leader.  Last year, Aaron Rodgers yelled at his WR James Jones and some praised him as being a leader.   Rodgers and Head Coach Mike McCarthy had a heated discussion on the sidelines this year and the narrative that emerges from the media is that these things happen in the heat of the battle.  Greg Jennings, former Packers WR, came out and discussed what he thought was a selfish attitude of Aaron Rodgers when he played with him.   The narrative that emerges from the media on that story is that Jennings has sour grapes and should apologize to Aaron Rodgers.  Ridiculous.  This Dez Bryant story is another example in a long line of example of black athletes(and all people of color, really) being held to a higher standard. In most cases, like this one with Dez Bryant, the media(and others) are just flat-out wrong and mischaracterizing.   I would like everyone who wrote a story about Dez and his “tantrum” to write a follow-up apologizing to him.  My hope is that we will all examine our reactions to people of color and recognize our prejudice. I hope we will see how this attitude and behavior inhibits our connection with others instead of strengthens it.

Oscars

Each year my Dad and I would see all the nominated movies for Best Picture and enjoy analyzing each movie together.  One of our all time favorites was Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni.

That year Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture and my Dad and I were flabbergasted.  Being flabbergasted at Oscar winners(and nominations) is a common emotion.  I still love the Academy Awards and I watch every year, feeling moved, inspired  with tears in my eyes.(What can I say, My Dad and I were both criers)  The thing is that I think the Academy doesn’t even nominate the best movies of the year.  Some are great, some good, and some, well I don’t like them.  Here are my thoughts about this years nominees.  To my friends out there, don’t be offended if I hate a movie you love because I am kind of ridiculous when it comes to this stuff.  My Dad passed away in 2011 and this year I felt his presence while completing our ritual.  I know he is happy that I am finally writing down some of my thoughts on the movies  Be prepared, I am not going to give much detailed analysis.  This probably won’t evoke critical thoughts.  Just some fun thoughts about the films.  Also, I didn’t feel like explaining the movie.  This will be a way more interesting read if you know what the films are about.  Okay, let the opinions begin:

Best Picture Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty http://oscar.go.com/nominees  I am going to rank the movies from worst to best.

#9 Argo
Just because something is an amazing true story does not make it an amazing movie.  I feel like this happens a lot in Hollywood.  So, none of the acting performances stood out.  Character development was pretty weak.  They gave Ben Affleck(I guess Ben Affleck gave Ben Affleck, since he is the director) a lame side story of being separated from his son and wife yet didn’t develop that plot line.  It’s a cliché thing to do to try to make the character more interesting except it doesn’t work and just seems silly.  Honestly, how much do you think they thought about that part of his character.  Barely, is my guess.  So than don’t try to get me to feel something that took you two seconds to come up with writing a “made for hollywood” screenplay.  Another thing, I’m tired of these movies that make white people look cool and brown people not cool.  Most of the time they did not even give subtitles to the Iranian characters.  “Just be mean and Iranian, who cares what you are actually saying, the audience will get the point.”  Terrible.  I want some real nuanced creative discourse on these interesting topics not a super hero Ben Affleck riding into Tehran on his white horse/plane to save the day.

What I liked? Seeing the old phones from 1980.  I miss them. It reminded me of my grandparents house. Seriously, I did like the vintage look and feel of the film, but that’s about it.

Ridiculous that this movie was nominated for Best Picture.  A joke, a farce.  I heard rumblings that it could actually win! I am critiquing the film not the story, it’s awesome that those hostages were rescued and amazing how they pulled it off.  But if it wins best picture, someone send a fake movie crew to my house to rescue me from my flabbergastment.

#8 Lincoln

I know, I know. Now you think I am really crazy putting Lincoln at #8.  Here is the deal, part of my reasoning here is about all the hype and accolades it received and how hopeful I was that it would be good.  I was very disappointed.  I was afraid to see this movie because I was afraid that Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn’t be able to pull it off.  Unfortunately or fortunately he was able to pull it off but no one else associated with the film was.  Once again, everything was over simplified.  Politicians for slavery were uglier, boring, mean-spirited, weak. Those against slavery were funny, confident, suave, likeable.  I hate being beat over the head with that simplicity.  There is a scene where Tommy Lee Jones(the abolitionist politician Thaddeus Stevens) brings a new congressman into his office to intimidate him into voting to abolish slavery.  The scene is just so contrived with Jones bullying him while, we the audience laugh at the young congressman’s inability to get words out of his mouth in the presence of such a witty powerful man.  I felt the dialogue was not realistic and was just there to explain to the audience what was happening.  When will screenwriters realize that you don’t have to tell us what is happening in the dialogue? Let the dialogue be authentic and we will enjoy figuring it out. Also, I wasn’t really into the portrayal of the relationship between Lincoln and his wife Mary(Sally Field).

What I liked? Actually, Daniel Day-Lewis.  I didn’t think what he was working with was all that good.  But, I found myself thinking while watching the movie.  “Why is Abraham Lincoln surrounded by all theses doofuses?  I would have thought those people would have been more interesting.” In other words, I forgot I was watching Daniel Day-Lewis.  Unfortunately, the rest of the movie reminded me.

#7 Les Miserables

My favorite part of this movie was the trailer and the 9 months prior to seeing it.  I love this musical.  I’ve seen it on Broadway.  I have the music on my ipod, etc, etc.  Not to be a Broadway snob but once you’ve seen it on Broadway, this cast is a let down.  I was really stoked for this movie but alas I pretty much hated it.  First of all, Javert is my favorite character in Les Mis and “Stars” arguably my favorite song.  Russell Crowe was just not good as an actor or singer.  Anne Hathaway was pretty awesome and did steal the show in her few minutes.  I also felt like the musical score was pushed to the background for the acting and singing.  The opening scene is huge and dramatic but the score was barely audible over the crashing waves and Hugh Jackman’s voice.  They missed the boat on this.(those who saw the movie get my bad reference)

#6 Life of Pi

We are getting closer to movies I liked(kinda) I promise. I actually didn’t like this crop of nominated awards very much but there are a few.  Keep reading. Haha.  So, Life of Pi? I saw this movie so long ago I can’t even remember what happened.  There was a tiger and then a Zebra that sounded like Chris Rock.  Wait, that was Madagascar 3 which was awesome by the way.  I was nervous to see Maddy 3 because I had not seen the first 2.  I wasn’t sure I would understand anything but I picked it up quick and laughed right along with all the kids in the theater.  I really don’t have much to say about Life of Pi.  Sorry.  I kinda liked it, kinda didn’t.  I didn’t see the end coming.  People talked about it being spiritual but I didn’t find the discussions about God particularly interesting or thought-provoking.  I have always liked adventure and survival stories so I enjoyed that.  I would recommend seeing it but an academy award nomination is stretching it.

#5 Django Unchained

I just saw this today actually so I have not fleshed out my thoughts on it.  Forgetting about the content, the violence, rightness and wrongness, it was a beautiful film.  Tarantino is great with a camera and often has cool shots and cinematography in his films.  I really liked “seeing” it.  I love Jamie Foxx, I always knew he was a star back on In Living Color when he was my favorite.  Foxx was cool but not to cool even when he was being to cool.  Follow me?  Tarantino reminds me of 13 yr old boy who stole his parents camera and makes movies with his buddies.  I mean that in a good way.  As for the social aspect of the film.  I know the white people ultimately lose in the end but I did not like that the black characters were humiliated and perversely killed or threatened while the white people in the film were simply shot.  It just seems that our racism again allows us to stomach the poor treatment of slaves but Tarantino didn’t have the guts to turn that treatment around to the whites.  He simply gave the whites bullets albeit plenty of them while those of color got the dogs(literally).  Maybe he knew white people wouldn’t watch.  Maybe he’s just white.  The sad thing is it would have been a braver film if Jamie Foxx had slung up the white man to castrate him instead of the other way around(Foxx was hung up by slave owner and almost castrated) but could a white audience watch that?  No way.

#4 Zero Dark Thirty

This was another film that I was very excited to see after the trailer.  I must admit there is a little John Wayne in me that gets excited to hear about America kicking ass and taking names especially UBL.(Bin Laden)  But, my John Wayne part is only a little the rest of me is yearns for a more balanced look at things.  There was so much discussion about this film being critical of the war on terror and torture.  I don’t know how anyone came to this conclusion.  The people conducting torture were made to be sympathetic.  Those being tortured were not and the torture turned up pretty good results without any negative consequences to anyone except those being tortured.  Pitiful critique.  Hearing this you might wonder how this film is #4 on my list.  I don’t know actually.  Ask John Wayne?

What I liked? I did like the filming of the final scene.  Bigelow took her time with that scene which rarely happens and I appreciated that.  The helicopters were flying to Bin Laden’s compound for what seemed like hours.  The realism of the final scene was confusing to watch.  I kept waiting for Bin Laden to jump out a window and try to escape but then I realized that is what most actions films depict and I have come to expect.

#3 Beasts of the Southern Wild

I almost put this #2 but I went with my heart and heart strings were plucked by my #2.  This film brought up some intense feelings for me so it was hard for me to tell if I liked it or not.  The main character, a young girl, dealing with her dying father.  It was close to home to watch and I felt angry after.  This is what heartfelt film making is about.  Telling stories that need to be but are rarely told because we are making films like Argo.  It was intense seeing how these people lived in what is poverty and yet is filled with connection as well.  I don’t know man.  This film was just damn good.  I can’t even think about what they were trying to portray.  I just felt all sorts of damn things the whole time.  Happy to see these beautiful people, sad that they didn’t have much.  Guilty because I shouldn’t feel sad for them.  They were cool so then I felt sad for me.  Then happy cause they had each other, then angry that people we love die.  This film gets my vote because of the emotional roller coaster it took me on.  I was ballin’ at the end of this movie.  Great job ya’ll!

#2 Silver Linings Playbook

Any film that can make me like Bradley Cooper should win an Oscar.  This film does not seem like a typical best picture nominee.  I think that speaks to how good it is.  I called this a perfect movie.  Amazing supporting cast. Deniro was excellent as an obsessive compulsive codependent father, Chris Tucker was confident and defeated. Jacki Weaver(Cooper’s mother) was loving and strange.  All the surrounding characters stood out in their own way.  The characters had depth and expressed both the yin and yang of their personalities.  There was a great tension balance humour and seriousness.  I’m telling you this film was good.  It even had a Desean Jackson Eagles jersey which you can never go wrong with.  It was cheesy at times and I didn’t always love Jennifer Lawrence.  I appreciated the portrayal of Cooper’s struggles with mental illness but more his attachment to getting back with his wife.  I too once read a book my girlfriend tried to get me to read but I read after she broke up with me in hopes that would change something.  Cooper took this to the next level and it was so believable.

#1 Amour

The French have done it again.  My little John Wayne is so pissed right now.  Finally this movie came to my town last week.  Zero Dark Thirty and Amour were the best reviewed movies on Metacritic this year.  Man, I loved loved loved this movie.  It is a heart wrenching story of an elderly couple and their last several months together.  Their love is felt so strongly from the opening scene when police break into their apartment(probably because no one has heard from them) to find a deceased elderly woman dressed in a beautiful dress lying her bed with flowers all around her.  Someone asked me if the movie goes back into their life together when they met or when they were younger.  I loved this question because that is what movies typically do right?  To try to “build” the connection of the couple. The beauty of this film is that it doesn’t have to go back.  Why go back when all the depth of their love and experiences are so palpable in their final moments together.  Apparently, the male and female lead are well-known great french actors.  They were exquisite.  Essentially, for the 2 hour film you never leave their Parisian apartment.  I do not remember watching a film and becoming so intimately connected with a home before.  I felt I was there in the kitchen having dinner with them.  I wanted to pull a book down from the living room shelf and curl up on the chaise lounge with a cup of tea.

With both actors, I could feel the deep sadness and loss of control at facing death while at the same time a certain peaceful reservation that this is what we all must do.  We all hope to be there for our loved ones to escort them to that next place, to the great mystery.  I am grateful to see a film do this so beautifully.  Full of sadness, confusion, struggle and tenderness.  This is my favorite film of the year easy.  A great thanks to everyone involved in making it.

Movies I would have like to have seen nominated and other favorites: I think it is a travesty that Moonrise Kingdom was not nominated over most of these other films.  It was in my top three of the year.  I also loved the prequel to Alien, PrometheusParanorman was an awesome animated film nominated in that category.  And My favorite comedy of 2012 was 21 Jump Street.  Jah feel?

Here are my picks for the some other categories at the Oscars tonight

Actress in a Leading Role 

Emmanuelle Riva(Amour)  This is a cool category because the oldest(Riva) and youngest(Wallis) nominees ever are represented.

Nominees:  Jessica Chastain(Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence(Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva(Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts(The Impossible)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Anne Hathaway(Les Mis)  I want to say Amy Adams here because that would make me look like a more polished film critic(and Adams was good) but Anne gets my vote.  Ha.  Nominees: Amy Adams(The Master), Sally Field(Lincoln), Anne Hathaway(Les Mis), Helen Hunt(The Sessions), Jacki Weaver(Silver Linings Playbook)

Actor in a Leading Role

Joaquin Phoenix(The Master)  This guy is so good.  I felt I was watching a young Jack Nicholson or Marlon Brando.  The film is some kind of crazy and Joaquin is awesome.

Nominees: Bradley Cooper(Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis(Lincoln), Hugh Jackman(Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix(The Master), Denzel Washington(Flight).

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tie between Phillip Seymour Hoffman(The Master) and Robert De Niro(Silver Linings Playbook)  I didn’t think this was a strong category.  It was just the “other guy” from the nominated films.  De Niro was pretty fun to watch though.  I’ll go with him.

Nominees: Alan Arkin(Argo), Robert De Niro(Silver Linings Playbook), Phillip Seymour Hoffman( The Master), Tommy Lee Jones(Lincoln), Christoph Waltz(Django Unchained)

Best Director

Michael Haneke(Amour)

Cinematography

Django Unchained

Adapted Screenplay

Silver Linings Playbook(David O. Russell)

Original Screenplay

Moonrise Kingdom(Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola)

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read my blog.  Please share it with others and become a follower.  I would love to hear your thoughts, disagreements, and you betcha’s so leave a comments.  Enjoy the Oscars.  I know even if Argo wins, I will probably shed a tear.  Peace and Love.