2017 Oscar Predictions

Every year I furiously watch as many Oscar nominated films as I can to put together my predictions list. Here’s what I’m thinking for this year:

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington – Fences

Who I think should win: Viggo Mortensen’s performance was so far reaching from what we know him for. Also, it showed layers that I think were lacking in the other performances. But unfortunately is was an indie film that didn’t get a lot of distribution.

Who will win: I think at this point, Denzel’s edged out Casey Affleck because of Affleck’s controversy surrounding the two sexual harassment lawsuits he conveniently settled before the start of an aggressive award season. Even though Denzel has his Tony from the same performance, Fences was completely Viola Davis’ movie, but I still think he can expect an Oscar to keep his Tony company.

Best Actress:

Isabell Huppert – Elle

Ruth Negga – Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie

Emma Stone – La La Land

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Who I think should win: Although I have a soft spot for foreign actresses and Isabell Huppert won the Golden Globe and was not nominated for a SAG, Elle is a difficult movie to watch since, and I think that will turn off academy voters. Plus, she doesn’t get really ugly in it and for a movie about rape to hit home in a looks obsessed industry, she would have to get ugly – think Charlize Theron, Hallie Berry – and Isabell just…doesn’t. Ruth Negga, however, shows such depth and beauty in Loving that you want to watch it more than once. But, this performance was so quiet, it won’t get a lot of attention.

Who will win: Emma Stone has taken almost every award out there, even though she’s far from the best performance out of the five. I’m mean, I was so incredibly distracted by her the prominence of her skinny shoulder blades sticking awkwardly out of her dress, I could barely ignore the bad singing. The industry has spoken – she’ll get it.

Best Supporting Actor:

Maherhala Ali – Moonlight

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel – Lion

Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Who I think should win: This category is always difficult. Maherahal Ali’s performance was so memorable it swept this category all award season, with the exception of the Golden Globe. But Dev Patel in Lion was so far from the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with his emotional arc that you couldn’t help but root for him. It’s a real tossup between these two.

Who will win: Maherahal Ali. His portrayal of a drug dealer and father figure has you liking and hating him at the same time. Tough. Very tough.

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis – Fences

Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Nicole Kidman – Lion

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Who I think should win: Naomie Harris’ performance was really too short to be considered, even though Judy Dench’s three minute performance in Shakespeare in Love garnered her the statue.  Michelle Williams’ role was small her devastating her final scene with Affleck rivals that of Viola Davis. Davis also took home the Tony for her stage performance and she has swept every one this award season. Her moving scene when she lets Denzel have it is so powerful it makes almost every woman want to stand up and cheer.

Who will win: Viola Davis. She was absolutely on fire in Fences. She’ll take it home, and I can’t wait to hear her acceptance speech.

Best Director:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Who I think should win: Tough. I have to admit that nothing really moved me this year as much as Moonlight. Such terrible subjects to a terrible story. La La Land left me underwhelmed. Damien Chazelle’s attempt at being the next Orson Wells with his one continues opening shot was lack luster. And I had enough of leading actors being cast as singers with Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia and Russell Crowe in Les Miserables – yeah, I said it!!  Arrival was over rated and honestly took way too much brainpower, removing watchers from the story to try to figure out the timeline. Where is she? Who knows what? What, wait? What time is it? Too hard. Manchester by the Sea, although well executed, fell short when it came to Moonlight. And as much as Casey Affleck seemed to stretch in his role, he always comes across as a bit whiney to me. Mel Gibson…well, I won’t lie to you, the film wasn’t good enough for me to forgive his drunken tirade on the side of Pacific Coast Highway.

Who will win: As much as I disagree – it’s Damien’s this year. Hollywood is in the mood to pour some love on an extremely over rated film – just like the horrible film Crash was elevated to an okay film to a masterpiece examining social issues. Hooey. It’s all hooey. But it’s also Hollywood. j

Best Picture:

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Who I think should win: It’s pretty well thought that Best Director and Best Picture usually go to the same project. Although last year they did switch it up with Spotlight winning best picture and best director going to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman. Hell or High Water was way too reminiscent of True Grit (for me) and as much as I feel Hidden Figures should be applauded, the story wasn’t strong enough for me. Hacksaw Ridge is the classic Hollywood winner, but it’s been way overshadowed by the fluff of La La Land and the insightfulness of Moonlight and Lion. Arrival had beautiful cinematography, but did I mention it was…REALLY CONFUSING!!!???  All in all, if you ask me what film moved me the most, it was Moonlight by far. But it won’t win.

Who will win: La La Land. This mediocre musical with super bad singers has managed to elbow its way front – a by product of the election and the terrible crap that has transpired in political circles. Hollywood would rather place its highest honor on a relatively forgettable film than reward something for serious thought or groundbreaking topics. It wouldn’t be the first time. Plus, La La Land represents the want and need of art in one’s life, as well as love and who doesn’t want both of those?

So those are my thoughts for the big ticket categories. Oscars are starting any minute tonight. Happy watching!

 

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Interstellar – Nothing Really Stellar About It

SPOILER ALERT – I MEAN IT. DON’T CONTINUE READING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

Christopher Nolan – famously known for his breakout film Memento – and more recently for his contributions to the Bat Man universe – has come out with another special effects heavy film Interstellar. Unfortunately it is so reminiscent of his previous work, Inception. This time the Ellen Page character is pretty much the ENTIRE cast of  Interstellar. There is so much exposition in this movie that you begin to doubt your ability to comprehend anything – nothing is truly explained. All it manages to do is demonstrate how little trust the writers have in their audience to catch on to what is going on. And that just makes for the fodder of more jokes to be mined by the writers of The Big Bang Theory.

The script, which Nolan co-wrote with his brother Jonathan, is full of so many holes that by the time Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) appears you literally want to get up and leave the theater to go watch the animated Big Hero 6 – which apparently a lot of people did. I won’t mention the numerous attempts at suspending belief when it comes to simple logical questions – why can’t they send an unmanned ship through the wormhole? There is a severe problem with the way the women are written in this film – in almost all of Nolan’s films actually. Jessica Chastain is so busy channeling her Zero Dark Thirty performance in depicting her daddy issues (Really? This is all they can give her? Her dad went off to save the world and she’s going to carry a grudge?) that the interesting twist in time (which seems to be a steady tool in Nolan’s bag of tricks clearly demonstrated in his other works) completely misses the mark.

Storytelling is hard. But overloading a the script to make up for a lack of trust in your audience doesn’t help the process.

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Olive Kitteridge – Pulitzer Prize to HBO

Watching Olive Kitteridge starring the magnificent Frances McDormand (most famous for her Oscar winning performance in Fargo but don’t forget her in Almost Famous)  and the even more lovely Richard Jenkins (unfortunately totally overlooked for what should have been an Oscar winning performance in The Visitor – Netflix it today!) is a testament to television to bring back the mini-series, but further proves that network television will never go that route.

The 4-part movie on HBO covers the full breadth and scope of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Elizabeth Strout. There is no doubt about it that it is brilliantly done. And it’s not the first time HBO has successfully adapted a notably work to the small screen (Angels in America, Mildred Pierce). With this fantastic proven theory of success, it is not enough for network television to follow suit.

Why, the four people that follow this blog, including my mother ask?

Greed.

Network and cable TV is too damn greedy to only offer a short 4-part series. TV needs to sell advertising. Needs to have a true money-making machine. That attitude is what has blown it for other channels. AMC’s The Killing is a perfect example of taking a marvelous story and then instead of letting it come down to a nice ending, they stick a hugely implausible ending to ensure a second season because viewership is up.

Even the British, who are exceptional at serial TV, is falling for the greedy continuation of a story – Downton Abbey and Sherlock are good examples of this. Both are enormously popular abroad and that popularity has a very heavy and profitable pull. That profit, that greed, it what drives the car and is why network TV will never follow the route of stopping a story when it reaches a true end. The end will keep going to some insane jump the shark moment that will keep going and going on life-support until it finally dies a terrible death.

I’m not saying that HBO is perfect (don’t get me started on The Leftovers – ugh!). I’ll continue to watch the pay channels for smart story telling. But I’ll still count on reading the book and if there is no book – I’ll watch the British or foreign version of whatever material is adapted to American TV – but that’s another post.

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The Downside to Binge Watching

So having gone under a minor medical procedure, I found myself with time on my hands and felt that time is best spent binge watching the first season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Bad decision.

Now don’t tell me. I already know that I’m behind the times. That AMERICAN HORROR STORY, or AHS for short,  just finished its third season and the fourth was just announced. But I just didn’t get around to watching all the episodes consecutively and it is just a show that needs you to watch them in order. But my experience is a big let down and that seems to be because I have a love/hate relationship with Ryan Murphy.

Creator and Executive Producer of NIP TUCK and GLEE, Ryan Murphy has great ideas, but they seldom can sustain and that is the problem with Season 1 AHS. It is built from a great idea – a marriage starting over in a house that seems alive – but the world is poorly built. The ability to suspend belief was way overestimated, particularly with the mixing of the “ghost” world and the real world. The violence is gratuitous and does nothing to propel the story forward. All it does is solidify that all the characters behave badly and are beyond any sort of growth. Kate Mara’s character is a total joke and truly demonstrates her lack of depth (she plays the exact same character down to the gruelingly annoying monotone voice in TRANSCENDENTAL), although it seems she is attempting to channel Glenn Close in FATAL ATTRACTION (a truly masterful performance NetFlix it today). I know there is a special line with horror – it straddles the ridiculous and campy with what is supposed to entertain you. The problem is, the characters are so stifled throughout the series that there is no room for entertainment. It’s just a boring string of bad decisions. Although I do have to give props to Jessica Lange. The series would be completely unwatchable without her.

The entire experience leaves me to think if I would have the same feeling if I watched them during their original air time? If I am able to digest the episode, and then wait till the following week, would I still feel that the series fails on so many levels? Probably not.

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Oscars are over. Now what?

So all the pomp and circumstance around the Oscars is over. Ellen DeGeneres headed up a great party, even providing her guests pizza. And who knew that all those famous people could photo bomb so well? Overall, it was an entertaining evening with not many surprises outside John Travolta’s new toupee and his terrible faux pas – who the hell is Adele Nazeem? Poor Idina.

John Travolta, Idina Menzel, Oscars Show

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

 

Like I said, not many surprises in the evening. It was known that even with the scandal surrounding Woody Allen (are  you team Woody or team Dylan?) that it wouldn’t diminish the achingly good performance of Cate Blanchett in a modern day Blanche DuBois type of role in Blue Jasmine. It didn’t hurt matters that Cate has starred as Blanche in her own theatre company’s production of  A Streetcar Named Desire for more than a few performances. There was no doubting that Jared Leto would win for his portrayal of a transgender woman in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Hollywood loves that kind of stuff, even though Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave really went somewhere with his grotesque and self-loathing role.

But this isn’t about me talking about who should have won. It’s about what’s next and if anybody cares. Over 67% percent of people say they haven’t seen any of the best picture nominees.  It just makes me wonder if people are just willing to wait until they can Netflix it and watch it in the privacy of their own home. I wouldn’t blame them. It’s so much easier. There are no worries about some enormously tall guy sitting in front of you.  Or someone bringing their hour-old baby into the theater. Or the two old guys from The Muppet Show sitting behind you talking through the entire movie. In fact, I can’t think of any reason to go to the actual theater unless it’s to see something like Gravity that dares to use space as a character. But even then you have to contend with not be able to pause it to go to the bathroom to take care of that giant Coke you had to buy to go with your overpriced popcorn because you thought it was a good deal.

 
 
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I Am a Sucky Blogger

I’ll admit it. I suck at this whole blogging thing. Sure, I start off fine. I’ll write some wonderfully witty posts for a period of about a week…and then I quickly turn radio silent. Life gets in my way, and I find I’m too tired to sit down and compose a clever bit about how stories are told through a variety of mediums.

So what am I to do to for my faithful 3 followers, including my mother? The first step is to admit I suck. Admitting the suckiness will clear the slate for a brand new beginning.

Stay tuned, people. The suck is no longer.

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Arrested Development Season 4 – Not So Great

Like a lot of fans I was thrilled to hear about ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT coming back for another season – and on the pioneering platform of Netflix, too! But I was also filled with trepidation. It’s been too long I thought. The magic can’t come back. Michael Cera is too old. Portia De Rossi is too happy in her married life. And Justin Bateman is having too much fun making mediocre feature films. It won’t work.

Sadly, I was right, but not because of the fault of the still brilliant ensemble cast. Unfortunately, the actors are given much to work with. The constant flashbacks just don’t work. Well…besides pissing off the viewer. There are too many and do little to propel the story forward. And it’s hard to know what the producers were thinking with the weird Ron Howard storyline. It just recreated a sad going nowhere trip for Michael – and the audience.

<p>Ron Howard as himself and Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth in "Arrested Development."</p>

Overall, it still doesn’t suck to schedule a binge watching of the fourth season. You just won’t enjoy it as much as the first three.

What did you think? Like the Netflix versions?

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