Oscars

Sheepdog David Grant’s 19th Annual Academy Awards Contest Results!!!

THE BROADCAST

We live in a very different America than we did last year.  While there has always been angst regarding the Academy Awards acting as a platform for political views, we had never had a sitting president call Meryl Streep “overrated” before.  After her comments at The Golden Globes – which could basically be boiled down to: Please stop bullying Hollywood, foreigners, the press, and handicapped people, Mr. President – Trump supporters vowed to boycott the Oscars.  This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who is paying attention.  The right have long derided “the left coast,” and now they finally have an administration eager to end funding to the arts.

A lot of people were expecting heavy political messages this year, and there were a couple.  When Iran’s “The Salesman” won Best Foreign Language Film, a statement was read by the filmmaker, who refused to come to America as long as we have a president that has openly discussed a “Muslim ban.”  While presenting, Gael Garcia Bernal told a truth about how all those in the film industry are migrant workers who go to other countries to craft their work.  And several jokes were made that teased at the division in our country.  Overall, however, it was kind of lite on hardline statements.

Normally I would do a segment entitled “On a Very Special Episode Of…” that goes in depth into the greater theme the broadcast seemed to be on a crusade to discuss, but it fits in so nicely here.  The reality is that they were going for something more mainstream and neutral this year, aiming to please as many people while spreading out the monolog throughout the program and keeping a tight schedule.  It worked pretty well, but it would have been rather unforgettable had Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway not announced La La Land as Best Picture when Moonlight had actually won.

But there were two themes that did come up.

The first was not a new one.  We’ve seen it a lot since 9/11, actually.  And the year that there was controversy surrounding the rise of superhero movies, the perceived decline of films with depth, and fans that were upset that The Dark Knight was snubbed, the Academy went to extra lengths to elevate the films that were actually given the nod, going as far as to have host Hugh Jackman use his Wolverine street-cred to sing a song in his opening monologue about the subject.  Movies are important.  Storytelling is important.  Film is an important industry, not just for the American economy but for the world’s.

The second was only lightly touched on, but it’s exactly what I thought they should have focused on.  You see, in calling for others to boycott the Oscars, the Trumpeters said things like, “Why do we give awards to actors and not the real heroes?”  First, we do, and if it made for good T.V., you better believe they would air it.  It should go without saying that Hollywood is indeed rewarding the best work in their industry, but their industry routinely pays tribute to real-world heroes.  Captain “Sully” Sullenberg.  Desmond Doss.  The hidden figures that put a man on the moon.  People who adopt and raise children.  Not to mention all the real-world heroes in the documentary subjects!  By bringing famed scientist Katherine Johnson, who Taraji P. Henson played in Hidden Figures, onto the stage to a standing ovation, the point was made.

“Movies about the lives of men and women in the history books have long been a staple of storytellers,” Monae told the audience. “Sometimes the names and deeds of the heroes in those films are known to all.”

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THE BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

The best acceptance speech for an Oscar this year was not during this broadcast.  It actually came from Jackie Chan, who won a lifetime achievement award during an earlier ceremony.  You can watch that speech here.

However, if we’re just looking at the televised ceremony, then the winner would be Viola Davis, who extolled the storytellers to “exhume those bodies.”  You can see that here.

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ALSO DEAD:

They always leave people off the memoriam.  This year, the following people were missing:

alexis-arquette

Alexis Arquette (actor)

florence-henderson

Florence Henderson (actor)

direland17

Dan Ireland (producer)

Jon Polito.jpg

Jon Polito (actor)

GALLERY

Dorris Roberts (actor)

gary-shandling

Garry Shandling (actor, comedian)

robert-vaughn

Robert Vaughn (actor)

 

NOT DEAD:

janet-patterson

Producer, Jan Chapman, whose picture was mistakenly used for costume designer Janet Patterson.

janet-patterson-02

 

A SPECIAL TRIBUTE:

ken-howard

Known for The White Shadow, 1776, Rambo, 30 Rock, and 105 other credits, Ken Howard was also the President of SAG/AFTRA, Chancellor of the National Kidney Foundation, a board member of the Los Angeles Alzheimer’s Committee, a board member of Shambala Animal Preserve, and a national spokesperson for the Onyx and Breezy Foundation.  I had the pleasure of knowing him a little during my tenure at Kent State. He was attending the graduate program and taught a few classes that I was in. He coached me in a couple of monologues.  He was a no-nonsense kind of guy that was very particular about what he considered good acting.  He ended one class with an open q & a. The rest of the class kind of waited, unsure of what to ask and looking to each other to break the ice. I put my hand up right away and asked him about working with Sylvester Stallone.  He chuckled and told a few good-natured stories.  That got things going.

RIP, Ken.

 

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MY FAVORITE PART OF THE SHOW

Bringing his favorite running gag from his late night show to the Academy Awards broadcast, Jimmy Kimmel made a lot of jokes at Matt Damon’s expense.  He has been his supposed arch-nemesis ever since he ended an episode with bad guests by quipping, “My apologies to Matt Damon.  We ran out of time.”  Upping the ante, former girlfriend Sarah Silverman surprised Jimmy with a music video for “I’m F#$%ing Matt Damon” and then taking it to a whole new level with his own response, “I’m F@#$ing Ben Affleck,” the fake-feud has led to a lot of great TV moments.

So. . .  After the insane confusion with the Best Picture mix-up, I had a lot of fun with my live Tweets.

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SCORE BOARD:

0 Correct Answers 0%
Nobody  
1 Correct Answer 4.1666%
Nobody  
2 Correct Answers 8.333%
Nobody  
3 Correct Answers 12.4999%
Nobody  
4 Correct Answers 16.666%
Tarah Hamilton  
5 Correct Answers 20.8333%
Nobody  
6 Correct Answers 24.999%
Elizabeth “E.J.” Jackson  
7 Correct Answers 29.1666%
Matt Ratz  
8 Correct Answers 33.333%
Jamie Mank  
Ann Murdock  
9 Correct Answers 37.4999%
Nobody  
10 Correct Answers 41.666%
Mike Maletic  
Leigh Ann Spratt  
11 Correct Answers 45.8333%
“Shawny” Shawn Page  
12 Correct Answers 49.999%
Regan Page  
David Shoemaker  
13 Correct Answers 54.1666%
Brian Stevens  
14 Correct Answers 58.333%
Victoria Leduc  
15 Correct Answers 62.4999%
David Grant  
Stella Ingram  
16 Correct Answers 66.666%
???????  
17 Correct Answers 70.8333%
Nobody  
18 Correct Answers 74.999%
Nobody  
19 Correct Answers 79.1666%
Nobody  
20 Correct Answers 83.333%
Nobody  
21 Correct Answers 87.4999%
Nobody  
22 Correct Answers 91.666%
Nobody  
23 Correct Answers 95.8333%
Nobody  
24 Correct Answers 100%
Nobody  

 

WALL OF FAME

1999 – Elizabeth Grant

2000 – Eric Fox

2001 – Jillaine Gill

2002 – Eric Fox, Nate Hodges, and Drew Lerman– 13 correct guesses (no tie breaker)

2003 – Eric Fox– 15 correct guesses

2004 – Kevin Schwendeman– 20 correct guesses

2005 – Nate Hodges– 16 correct guesses

2006 – Jes Antolik and Leigh Ann Spratt — 14 correct guesses (Leigh Ann won the tie breaker)

2007 – Jillaine Gill — 16 correct guesses

2008 – Rock Shaink Jr — 14 correct guesses

2009 – Benjamin Crusoe — 18 correct guesses

2010 – Holly Elswick — 17 correct guesses

2011 – Elizabeth Grant — 17 correct guesses

2012 – Christian Hodges and Kevin Schwendeman — 18 correct guesses (Christian won the tie breaker)

2013 – Sheepdog David Grant — 19 correct guesses

2014 – Sheepdog David Grant — 21 correct guesses

2015 – Brian Stevens — 20 correct guesses

2016 – Holly Elswick and Brian Stevens — 17 correct guesses

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

With 16 correct guesses…

 

holly-elswick

Holly Elswick!!!

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Black and White Movies: The 2016 OSCARS

Chris-Rock-Promo

The Academy Awards and the issue of representation in film.

 

Sunday, February 28th, 2016.  I’m settled into the posh seat at the local cinema to watch my Superbowl, the Academy Awards.  I go in knowing what to expect.  This is going to be a tour de force moment for this year’s host, Chris Rock.  Despite it being a fantastic year for movies, the buzz surrounding Hollywood’s biggest toast to the craft is mainly about two things:

  1. Will this be Leo’s year?
  2. The controversy best summed up by the hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite

Before we even get into the theater, other audience members are talking about it.  “They never give Academy Awards to us for our merits.  Lupita Nyong’o got it for playing a slave.  Denzel got his for playing a thug.  And Halle basically got hers for having sex with Billy Bob Thornton.”

It’s not that she’s wrong.  It’s just that this other theater-goer and I have very different opinions on this matter.  I think she’s looking too far into the conspiracy.  Lupita won because she was a stunning newcomer.  Denzel won because it was a make-good.  And Halle Berry won because despite Monster Ball being a so-so movie, she was friggin’ brilliant in it!  It hurt me that the controversy was suddenly marginalizing the success of black actors that have won in the past.

And yet, she was not taking the argument far enough in a different direction, in my opinion.

That’s the thing about the 88th Annual Academy Awards.  At times the message was belabored to the point of ridiculous proportions.  And at other times, the message was so focused on a myopic point of view that it missed the point entirely.

jacob-tremblay-presenting-oscars-2016-ftr

One of my favorite moments of the night was when Jacob Tremblay (Room), who was presenting with Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), went off book while presenting Best Short to say, “Hey, Chris, I loved you in Madagascar!”  And then he explained to his Abraham, “He was the zebra.  He was hilarious!”  THIS after giving possibly the greatest performance of any child actor in film history.  Man, I hope that kid doesn’t turn to drugs, crime, and face tattoos.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the – let’s just call it a conversation – allow me to explain.  In the midst of unarmed black men being shot by police officers and private citizens and white supremacist presence at political rallies where they are forcefully ejecting minority protesters, the fact that this is the second year in a row where there are no black nominees in any of the acting or directing categories became a hot topic.

The conversation was the text and subtext of much of the day.  In fact, before the broadcast, one of the fashion commentators threw in a rather subtle burn.  At least I think she did.  It’s fashion commentary, so it’s kind of difficult to say what is supposed to be serious and what isn’t.  But when commenting on Best Actress contender Saoirse Ronan’s appearance, the commentator said how much she loved the Brooklyn star’s “luminous, pale white skin.”

So as Kevin Hart said, it was Chris Rock’s job to address the elephant in the room and then make everyone comfortable, and Rock did an incredible job.  Not only did he give one of the funniest monologues in memory, he also both defused and clarified the issue.

Chris Rock's Best Lines

And beyond the monologue – and the obvious black and white part of the conversation – the issue was just kind of batted around from time to time until it got tiresome.  There were a few notable times it was brought up. On the other hand, there were a few times when it went awry.

Two moments in particular were very hard to watch.  They were awkward and clearly did not land.

stacey dashThe introduction of Stacie Dash (Clueless) was spectacularly flat.  It’s been described as a “black Twitter inside joke,” but apparently the Fox News commentator who spoke out against Black History Month really is the Academy’s hope for racial diversity outreach.  I honestly thought it was a joke about Rachel Dolezal at first.

asian kidsThe introduction of three Asian children with tuxedos and briefcases as “accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers” – Ming Zhu, Bao Ling, and David Moskowitz.  You know, because everyone knows Asians and Jews are good at math!  Oh, and the built your phones too!  This joke had absolutely no depth besides to insist on racial stereotype and was far more exploitative of the ambitions of the children involved than it was clever.

There were neutral moments too.  Chris Rock revisited the Compton theater he took us to the last time he hosted.  The intention in the original broadcast remained the same.  Not only are the Academy Awards out of touch with black audiences, but the same is true the other way around.

Jude Law

Chris wisely did not resurrect his other joke from his previous Oscar hosting stint.  You remember, right?  When he kept saying over and over how Jude Law was only famous because he was white?  Ha!  Hilarious!!

And there were a few moments later in the show that worked quite well.

Black History MonthAngela Bassett starred in a parody short that showed how the Oscars might celebrate Black History Month.  It was risk-taking and funny

Sacha Baron Cohen, Olivia WildeWhen Sacha Baron Cohen is invited to present, the Academy knows they could get more than they ask for.  He was supposed to present as himself, but instead slipped off to change into his Ali G persona.  Instead of giving a synopsis of Room, like the teleprompter was – well, prompting him to do, he gave a full-blown satirical performance that set our own prejudices against us.

That’s where I feel like the argument failed.  It was made clearly apparent that people of color are not being given proper representation or opportunity in film.  But while the broadcast only hinted at other issues, it remained a mainly black and white matter.  And that’s where I feel like we are having a dishonest conversation.

Here is a picture from a film in the 1950’s.

Taza Son of Cochise

How offensive, amiright?  Instead of casting indigenous actors, they simply employed white actors and then employed a technique now commonly referred to as “redface.”

It’s a lot like blackface.

blackface

And yellowface.

yellowface

And brownface.

brown face

Thank goodness we’ve moved past those antiquated, outdated, racist practices!

short circuit

Still. . . I mean… That was the 80’s.  It’s not like we would –

Lone Ranger

That’s pretty bad.  But… I mean… This year?

Pan

Oh man.

Pharo

Okay. Yeah.

I’ve been talking about this since the release of The Lone Ranger.  Hollywood has created opportunity for minority actors, but just like they did in our racist past, they are giving these roles to white actors.  This time, however, instead of making wild claims that they are “protecting our children” and “common decency,” they are afraid that the audience won’t accept an actor that doesn’t already have a proven box office pull.  And because the list of minority actors with monetary appeal is short (and make no mistake, the ones that are on there are mainly black), the roles are cast white and made up in redface, blackface, yellowface, and brownface.

I’m glad that the conversation has begun.  And maybe things have already started to get better.  After all, the tenor coming from Hollywood is a positive one for representation.  I just hope that we don’t get lost too far into the whole black/white debate and forget about everyone else.

Wolf In Wool Presents Sheepdog David Grant’s Seventeenth Annual Academy Awards Contest

Hey, Kids!

Seventeen years!!  Why, this contest is practically at the legal age of consent!

2014

When I started at IKEA, I told the hiring manager that I didn’t mind working from the bottom.  I told them that I wanted to.  I wanted to get to know how the business worked.  And besides, I didn’t intend to stay at the bottom for long.

That was the summer of 2013, and at the end of 2014, after helping to pioneer a new global initiative and showing my work ethic, I got my promotion.  I’ve been a team lead in receiving for three weeks now, and I’ve finally crawled out of the debt that has haunted me since late 2011, when I left Game Stop.

Wolf In Wool Productions

 

My financial situation slowed down production this past year, but it didn’t stop me.  I was able to interview the minds behind one of this year’s nominated films (Big Hero 6) and one of the best selling book series and television shows (George R. R. Martin).  Those episodes – and every episode of the first season of “Chalkskin 10” will be available just in time for the premiere of Martin’s show, “Game of Thrones.”

I’ve also been working on my novel, “Home Street.”  It’s tough work, but it’s coming along.  I’m really excited about it!!

Personal Life

Stella and I are working on year seven.  We’ve been enjoying ourselves here in San Diego, camping and playing in the sun and snow!

 

HOW ABOUT YOU?

The whole point of me doing this is threefold.

1) So I can share my life with you.

2) So you can share your life with me.

3) So we can share in an experience that is fun and engaging!

It doesn’t work if you don’t participate, so please do so!  And let me know what’s been going on in your life.

THE RULES:

1. The winner is the person who chooses the most winners overall.  Each category is equally weighted.

2. Submissions must be made before the award ceremony begins.  That would be Sunday, February 22nd, 7e/4p.

3. Please make one choice per category.  Even if you don’t have a clue, it’s always more beneficial to guess.  If multiple entries are selected in a category, neither choice will be counted.

4. In the event of a tie, a tie breaker question will be asked to all participants in the tie. The tie breaker will decide on the year’s winner.

5. There are several ways to enter:

  • Copy and paste your answers into an e-mail for PaulSquall@gmail.com.  Make sure to keep the category title intact, so I can read your answers.
  • Go to http://oscar.go.com/mypicks and make your choices.  Be sure to link in to your facebook account, so I can see your results.

NOTE: The second option is preferable, because it makes the judging process SOOOO much easier.  If you have a facebook account, please utilize that option.  🙂

6. The Prize: Oh, there’s a prize this year.  And just wait until you see it!!!!!  It’s the game changer!!

AND THE NOMINEES ARE

 
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
AMERICAN SNIPER
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
THE IMITATION GAME
SELMA
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
WHIPLASH
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN ALEADING ROLE
STEVE CARELL, FOXCATCHER
BRADLEY COOPER, AMERICAN SNIPER
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, THE IMITATION GAME
MICHAEL KEATON, BIRDMAN
EDDIE REDMAYNE, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
ROBERT DUVALL, THE JUDGE
ETHAN HAWKE, BOYHOOD
EDWARD NORTON, BIRDMAN
MARK RUFFALO, FOXCATCHER
J.K. SIMMONS, WHIPLASH
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
MARION COTILLARD, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
FELICITY JONES, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
JULIANNE MOORE, STILL ALICE
ROSAMUND PIKE, GONE GIRL
REESE WITHERSPOON, WILD
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
PATRICIA ARQUETTE, BOYHOOD
LAURA DERN, WILD
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, THE IMITATION GAME
EMMA STONE, BIRDMAN
MERYL STREEP, INTO THE WOODS
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
BIG HERO 6
THE BOXTROLLS
KNIGHT
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
SONG OF THE SEA
THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
BIRDMAN – EMMANUEL LUBEZKI
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – ROBERT YEOMAN
IDA – LUKASZ ZAL AND RYSZARD LENCZEWSKI
MR. TURNER – DICK POPE
UNBROKEN – ROGER DEAKINS
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL- MILENA CANONERO
INHERENT VICE – MARK BRIDGES
INTO THE WOODS – COLLEEN ATWOOD
MALEFICENT – ANNA B. SHEPPARD AND JANE CLIVE
MR. TURNER – JACQUELINE DURRAN
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
BIRDMAN – ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU
BOYHOOD – RICHARD LINKLATER
FOXCATCHER – BENNETT MILLER
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – WES ANDERSON
THE IMITATION GAME – MORTEN TYLDUM
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
CITIZENFOUR
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
VIRUNGA
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1
JOANNA
OUR CURSE
THE REAPER (LA PARKA)
WHITE EARTH
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
AMERICAN SNIPER – JOEL COX AND GARY D. ROACH
BOYHOOD – SANDRA ADAIR
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – BARNEY PILLING
THE IMITATION GAME – WILLIAM GOLDENBERG
WHIPLASH – TOM CROSS
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
IDA – POLAND
LEVIATHAN – RUSSIA
TANGERINES – ESTONIA
TIMBUKTU – MAURITANIA
WILD TALES – ARGENTINA
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
FOXCATCHER – BILL CORSO AND DENNIS LIDDIARD
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – FRANCES HANNON AND MARK COULIER
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – ELIZABETH YIANNI-GEORGIOU AND DAVID WHITE
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – ALEXANDRE DESPLAT
THE IMITATION GAME – ALEXANDRE DESPLAT
INTERSTELLAR – HANS ZIMMER
MR. TURNER – GARY YERSHON
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME – THE LEGO MOVIE, MUSIC AND LYRIC BY SHAWN PATTERSON
GLORY – SELMA, MUSIC AND LYRIC BY JOHN STEPHENS AND LONNIE LYNN
GRATEFUL – BEYOND THE LIGHTS, MUSIC AND LYRIC BY DIANE WARREN
I’M NOT GONNA MISS YOU – GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME, MUSIC AND LYRIC BY GLEN CAMPBELL AND JULIAN RAYMOND
LOST STARS – BEGIN AGAIN, MUSIC AND LYRIC BY GREGG ALEXANDER AND DANIELLE BRISEBOIS
ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – PRODUCTION DESIGN: ADAM STOCKHAUSEN, SET DECORATION: ANNA PINNOCK
THE IMITATION GAME – PRODUCTION DESIGN: MARIA DJURKOVIC, SET DECORATION: TATIANA MACDONALD
INTERSTELLAR – PRODUCTION DESIGN: NATHAN CROWLEY, SET DECORATION: GARY FETTIS
INTO THE WOODS – PRODUCTION DESIGN: DENNIS GASSNER, SET DECORATION: ANNA PINNOCK
MR. TURNER – PRODUCTION DESIGN: SUZIE DAVIES, SET DECORATION: CHARLOTTE WATTS
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
THE BIGGER PICTURE – DAISY JACOBS AND CHRISTOPHER HEES
THE DAM KEEPER – ROBERT KONDO AND DICE TSUTSUMI
FEAST – PATRICK OSBORNE AND KRISTINA REED
ME AND MY MOULTON – TORILL KOVE
A SINGLE LIFE – JORIS OPRINS
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
AYA
BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM
BUTTER LAMP (LA LAMPE AU BEURRE DE YAK)
PARVANEH
THE PHONE CALL
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
AMERICAN SNIPER – ALAN ROBERT MURRAY AND BUB ASMAN
BIRDMAN – MARTÍN HERNÁNDEZ AND AARON GLASCOCK
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES – BRENT BURGE AND JASON CANOVAS
INTERSTELLAR – RICHARD KING
UNBROKEN – BECKY SULLIVAN AND ANDREW DECRISTOFARO
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
AMERICAN SNIPER – JOHN REITZ, GREGG RUDLOFF AND WALT MARTIN
BIRDMAN – JON TAYLOR, FRANK A. MONTAÑO AND THOMAS VARGA
INTERSTELLAR – GARY A. RIZZO, GREGG LANDAKER AND MARK WEINGARTEN
UNBROKEN – JON TAYLOR, FRANK A. MONTAÑO AND DAVID LEE
WHIPLASH – CRAIG MANN, BEN WILKINS AND THOMAS CURLEY
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – DAN DELEEUW, RUSSELL EARL, BRYAN GRILL AND DAN SUDICK
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – JOE LETTERI, DAN LEMMON, DANIEL BARRETT AND ERIK WINQUIST
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – STEPHANE CERETTI, NICOLAS AITHADI, JONATHAN FAWKNER AND PAUL CORBOULD
INTERSTELLAR – PAUL FRANKLIN, ANDREW LOCKLEY, IAN HUNTER AND SCOTT FISHER
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – RICHARD STAMMERS, LOU PECORA, TIM CROSBIE AND CAMERON WALDBAUER
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
AMERICAN SNIPER – WRITTEN BY JASON HALL
THE IMITATION GAME – WRITTEN BY GRAHAM MOORE
INHERENT VICE – WRITTEN FOR THE SCREEN BY PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – SCREENPLAY BY ANTHONY MCCARTEN
WHIPLASH – WRITTEN BY DAMIEN CHAZELLE
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BIRDMAN – WRITTEN BY ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU, NICOLÁS GIACOBONE, ALEXANDER DINELARIS, JR. & ARMANDO BO
BOYHOOD – WRITTEN BY RICHARD LINKLATER
FOXCATCHER – WRITTEN BY E. MAX FRYE AND DAN FUTTERMAN
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – SCREENPLAY BY WES ANDERSON, STORY BY WES ANDERSON & HUGO GUINNESS
NIGHTCRAWLER – WRITTEN BY DAN GILROY

Jimmy and Geena, Two of My Favorites

James Stewart

James Stewart

I have an irrational fear of watching my favorite actors’ Oscar winning roles (unless, of course, I watched it before they win!).

I guess it’s not TOTALLY without merit.  Too often the performance they are most decorated for is not the role they were the best in.  Think “Training Day” and “Malcolm X.”  Denzel was good in the former, but spectacular in the latter.  But since Al Pacino hadn’t won his golden boy for his multitude of amazing parts, they gave him a make-good for his underwhelming, almost parody performance in “Scent of a Woman.”  Thus, the make-good with “Training Day” on a year when perhaps Will Smith gave the performance of HIS career.

It can be kind of a let down!!

Today, I finally watched “The Philadelphia Story,” the film for which my absolute favorite actor of all time, Jimmy Stewart, earned his Academy Award.

It’s not my favorite performance from him.  That would be in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Rear Window,” or “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  (My least favorite, for those who are curious, is his final role, Wiley Burp in “An American Tale: Feivel Goes West,” which, aside from the final speech, isn’t exactly befitting a last appearance.)

I do, however, see his role in “The Philadelphia Story” as an important one.  It’s a step between the straight forward aw-shucks everyman he was known for in his early career and the psychologically interesting man-who-knew-too-much man of his later career.  And it’s a lot of fun to watch!

I especially like when he’s playing off of Carey Grant, who really yields his scenes to the other actors in a way most gigantic stars would be too vain to do.  The drunk scene, where Jimmy’s got the hiccups, is pure gold.  Especially when you know that the whole hiccuping bit was an adlib from Mr. Stewart.  One which Mr. Grant plays off of without missing a beat.  And then watch them both smile but not lose it.  That’s perfect!!

So today, we toast to Brigadier General James Stewart, the richest man in town!

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

This woman started off her career as a model. She made her debut in the same film that finally gave Bill Murray credibility at the box office, “Tootsie.” She hit it big with “Thelma and Louise” and won an Oscar for “The Accidental Tourist.”

She has a career that I’ve always taken great interest in, but in my opinion, it was all but snubbed out by the mere fact that she was way ahead of her time.

You see, Geena saw a hole in Hollywood and did her best to fill it. There were simply no female action stars. None. And it really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean, in 1991, Linda Hamilton was an incredibly bad@$$ hero in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”

Geena made two films with a goal of breaking the rules and changing the face of movies forever. The first was “Cutthroat Island” in 1995, and it was considered a flop. A major flop, actually. Her director/husband, Renny Harlin, brought a bit of a track record with him, having previously made “Die Hard 2” and “Cliffhanger,” but perhaps this movie was a bit too ambitious.

The second movie was “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” and this time Shane Black had written the script. You’ll know his work, because he’s a pioneer in the action genre. He wrote the first two “Lethal Weapon” flicks, and more recently, he penned the incredible “Iron Man 3” screenplay. I personally feel like the writing in this film is solid, the acting is solid, and Harlin replicated his formula for a 90’s action movie with gusto. But it bombed too.

And then in 2001 and 2002, Geena’s vision for female action heroes was finally realized, with the release of “Tomb Raider” and “Resident Evil.” Now, here’s the part that has haunted me. These movies are not very good. Even given the argument that “Cutthroat Island” did not work the way it was meant to (the pirate adventure film took until 2003’s “Pirates of the Carribean” to really click), and even admitting that the visuals of the 1990s were in a state of morphing into the digital empire that the 2000s became – for right or for wrong – I think the real reason those two movies made so much money was due to the licensing tie-ins.

Okay, so whether those movies were any good or not, things finally changed in Hollywood, and now a strong female and a wimpy male sidekick is even its own big thing! And I think it’s time we take a look back at the daring move that Geena took.

So go check out “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” It co-stars Samuel L. Jackson right when his career was at full lift-off, and he’s got a ton of great lines in this. I’m pretty sure you can instant stream it on Netflix.

And then let’s cruise through her library of awesome performances. In addition to “Tootsie,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “The Accidental Tourist,” I recommend watching “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “A League of Their Own,” “Hero,” “Angie,” “Speechless,” and my personal favorite “Quick Change.”

And to answer your question before you ask it, yes, I am too scared to watch “The Accidental Tourist.”

The 85th Annual Academy Awards

THE BROADCAST

Billy Crystal’s movie parodies brought a little of it.  Having Snoop Doggy Dogg piloting the airship from “The Mummy” is a perfect example, and fans of Crystal’s hosting have always placed these sucked-into-the-movies bit as the highlight of his broadcasts.  But then the rest of the show would fit into the same routine pattern of light roasting, back patting, often bizarre musical number, and then a sinkhole of political messages and flagrant attempts by the Academy to prove it’s value.

This year was a bit different.  And yet it wasn’t so different that it wrecked everything.  This year’s Oscars was the first truly post-modern show.

You see, in the post-modern era, we can sample from the past and create something new.  We can be self-deprecating and laugh at ourselves without subtracting meaning.  And we can show appreciation for what only a little while ago would have seemed old fashioned and out of style.

Think about it, so much of what happened last night would have been deemed inappropriate just a few years ago.  (Actually, critics from publications such as The New Yorker and LA Times seemed to be a bit behind the times and found everything immature and in violation of the sanctimonious proceedings.)

I understand that not everyone is going to be in favor of this type of show, and there’s a really simple way to find out if you’re one of those people.  Imagine that an Oscar host has a conversation with Captain Kirk via a giant screen on stage, and he’s told that he ruined the show by singing an immature, horrible song.  Now, imagine that they cut to that song, which is a song and dance number listing actresses and the most famous films in which you can see their breasts.  The tuxedo and top hate routine, called “I Saw Your Boobs,” which included a rousing chorus from the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir, was pretty much the first thing that happened.

I’m generally not a fan of Seth MacFarlane.  I find his work to be hit-and-miss with an emphasis on the latter, but I’ve always said that his hits are on point.  Last night, MacFarlane’s hard work paid off, and he helped create and execute the best broadcast in recent history.

The thing is, he didn’t just go for laughs.  The key to his success was that he did not pander.  He simply performed, and the show seemed mostly wish fulfillment for him.  His harshest critics have pointed this out, but they underestimate how powerful this was for the audience.  MacFarlane chatted with Shatner, danced with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe, sang as Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron danced oh-so-beautifully for us, looked like a friggin’ movie star in his tux, made fun of himself and his body of work, even did one of his patent cutaway gags to parody a classic film before introducing one of it’s stars.  He basically did all of the things WE would want to do as a host!  Despite being a part of the industry for so long, he isn’t a part of the hierarchy.  He’s an outsider that brought fresh perspective to eighty five years of history, and he was somehow able to do it with what I felt was the perfect balance of crass and class.

The Oscars have long attempted to appeal to a broader crowd, and it’s always been awkward.  From Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin telling jokes about how old they were while referencing things that the kids are into to Chris Rock wondering aloud if being white was all it took to make Jude Law famous to James Franco doing. . .  Well, whatever the hell he was doing.

Finally we live in a time where Barbara Streisand can sing “The Way We Were” without it being ironic.  We live in a time where the Oscars can borrow from “Dancing with the Stars,” “Family Guy,” and classical musicals of the silver screen all at the same time.

MY FAVORITE PART

While there were so many great moments over the course of the evening, including the James Bond tribute and some very touching acceptance speech moments, to me, the most beautiful moment came during the tribute to musicals.  Catherine Zeta-Jones kicked it all off atop a piano, magically recreating her award-winning role from “Chicago.”  The years seemed to melt away right before our eyes.  Even if the lip-syncing rumors prove credible, the fact remains that she was just as stunning and vibrant as she was eleven years ago.  Jennifer Hudson came out next, stirring up “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.”  She destroyed that song and the audience.  It was a performance that not many people on earth could ever hope to give, and it brought the audience to it’s feet.  And then the cast of “Les Miserables” came out and brought it all home with their nominated tune.  They caused you to lean forward in your seat and bathe in their voices.

That’s the part I liked the most.  You see, after Jennifer Hudson rocked the theater with her powerful pipes, I’m sure Hugh Jackman found the nearest person backstage and asked, “I have to follow that, mate?”  And he did without missing a beat.  He did.  Anne Hathaway did.  So did Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Coen.  And so did Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, and Samantha Barks (who I think was robbed a nomination alongside Hathaway).  And most importantly to me – so did Russell Crowe.

I actually liked the way Russell Crowe performed his part in that film.  He bellows with authority and a twinge or two of rock and roll.  He emboldens his character and sings like a hunter squinting through a sharpshooter’s iron sights.  But I’m definitely in the minority in my opinion.  Unlike going into the production of the film, Russell Crowe went into this live performance knowing that the critics aren’t fond of the way he sings.  He knew he would be mercilessly scrutinized by them, his peers, and the billion people at home.  And he did it anyway.

ONE LINERS

“Welcome to the Oscars, and the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh.”
-Seth MacFarlane’s opening line, which succeeded in getting the laughter he desired, which itself got loud applause.

“It’s not your fault, Ben.”
-Seth MacFarlane admitting that the Academy knew it screwed up in snubbing Ben Affleck from the Best Director nominations.  This line is a parody of Affleck’s Oscar winning screenplay “Good Will Hunting.”

“There was a lot of controversy over the multiple uses of the ‘N word’ in the film. I’m told the film was loosely based on Mel Gibson’s voice mail.”
– Seth MacFarlane, about best picture nominee “Django Unchained.”

“She said to me, I really hope I don’t lose to that old lady … Jennifer Lawrence.”
Seth MacFarlane, about 9-year-old “Beasts” star Quvenzhané Wallis.

“Since we got married 16 years ago, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men.  She’s the versatile one in the family.  She’s been a perfect companion to all of them.”
– Daniel Day-Lewis, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor.

“You have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges. It’s hard, but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how knocked down you get in life, because that’s going to happen. All that matters is that you gotta get up.”
– Ben Affleck, during his acceptance speech for Best Picture

ON A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF…

You can generally look to the Honorary Oscars to see what the theme of the year’s Oscars will be.  This year, they gave the awards to George Stevens Jr (who founded the AFI), stuntman Hal Needham, and documentary filmmaker D.A Pennebaker.  To me, this signified that the Academy was paying tribute to the importance of film.  Honestly, this is the theme every broadcast should have, and you would think it would always be the main focal point.  It is a breath of fresh air when they can get past trying to prove that movies have meaning and simply celebrate the meaning of film.

It all culminated with Jack Nicholson’s nontraditional introduction of Best Picture.  He commented about how the category was traditionally presented by a single person, and then introduced his co-presenter who would help him via live video directly from the White House.

My initial thought was, “I guess ‘Lincoln’ won after all!”  I mean, the Golden Globes brought out Bill Clinton to give the movie based on the greatest American president it’s due.  Now that we have had an actual black president take the White House and only an idiot stuck in the 1990’s would continue to give that obtuse distinction to Clinton, how amazing to have the first black first lady to honor this great film about the fight for the Thirteenth Amendment?!

But that would have been a forced message, and in the post-modern Oscars, that would have seemed way too forced.

Instead, Michelle Obama gave a reasonably impassioned speech about how films do have importance whether they make us cry, laugh, get inspired, or not.  Movies are a part of what makes America great, and these nine nominees are the greatest examples in 2013.  It was just that simple.

ALSO DEAD

They always leave people off the memoriam.  This year, the following people were missing:

Richard Dawson
Phyllis Diller
David R. Ellis
Andy Griffith
Larry Hagman
Jack Hanlon
Ann Rutherford
Donna Summer

WHO GOT OSCAR GOLD?

BEST PICTURE
Argo

BEST ACTOR
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

BEST DIRECTOR
Ang Lee, Life of Pi

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Chris Terrio, Argo

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Brave

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Searching for Sugar Man

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine

BEST FILM EDITING
Argo, William Goldenberg

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Amour, Austria

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Skyfall” from Skyfall, Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Paperman, John Kahrs

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Curfew, Shawn Christensen

BEST SOUND EDITING
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson

BEST SOUND MIXING
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

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