86th Annual Academy Awards

As has become tradition I will drop here my off-the-cuff thoughts on the ceremonies and the winners as they proceed. Enjoy.

Red Carpet

I intended to cover more of the red carpet this year because I haven’t seen an awful lot of the nominated films, but I tuned in about 23 minutes later than I intended to.

As for the films, I typically get caught up in January and February, but have been focused on more new releases. As always, I have come to terms with the Oscars being more of a great show than about who wins for me, but I do still have some people I am rooting for.

With this year’s host not really being a controversial decision I anticipate I will discuss the “material” (such as it is) less.

I’m am extraordinarily bad at realizing people are related. Today’s example: Laura and Bruce Dern.

Amy Adams doing her hair as an homage to Vertigo is a decision I support.

Jennifer Lawrence is “winning” so far. Once Christian Dior was mentioned I realized it made sense. Amazing look.

Some good little segments in this pre-show like the Blue Jasmine costuming and My First Oscars.

Only 12 minute to the pointless thirty-minute pre-show that only delays the festivities!

The countdown clock is up. Everyone is pretty much there. You’re just being tortured at this point.

The good thing about the pre-show is that the nominees start to take over because it seems they just want to get things started.

I haven’t minded the selfie and pizza bits, but if the show is running even later than normal, then maybe, just a little.
A Fresh Prince cameraman is working the Oscars. One of the better tidbits we’ll learn.

The clock makes things go so much slower.

The Ceremony

It started. Nick Hoult is in the audience, the start is a good one.

New oldest nominees, which I was unaware of.

I like the stage and the fact that Captain Phillips and Philomena Lee are there.

That was the joke to end a monologue on. Amazing!

The Oscar clip is the main reason I don’t get Hanks being snubbed.

Jared Leto’s clip was the most convincing advertisement of Dallas Buyers Club yet.

The first political moment of the night didn’t take long, truthfully more important things are going on. Peace on earth all.

Random video segment of the night one: celebrates animation. It’s not like it’s under-appreciated.

“Happy” was the Despicable Me 2 song closest to earning a BAM nomination but missed the cut. It’s a tough category to crack.

Notable acknowledgement of the inclusion of hairstyling in the makeup category. It undeniably changed the process.

Three best picture nominees profiled at a time. Oh boy.

What is a “warm Kodak Theater welcome” exactly?

My take on the short films as a whole, and where to find them, can be seen here. I am glad Mr. Hublot got it, because Disney is a safe bet for the Feature category.

FROZEN! Called it.

Frozen (2013, Disney)

Picking Gravity for Visual Effects is so easy I did it.

Zac Efron, your intro is a musical chord from Hairspray please do more musicals.

So far the most exciting moments of the night have been around the short films. So, so, so, so happy that Helium won. What a gorgeous film that made me cry in its 20 minute run time.

At least The Great Beauty winning supplants Life is Beautiful as Italy’s most recent win.

Not many comments recently because, as per usual, almost nothing is a surprise.

The obligatory joke about the President of the Academy always gets me.

Bill Murray’s impromptu tribute to Harold Ramis wins tonight.

Lubezki won long ago in my book.

“Cuaron wrote, directed and edited the movie, let’s play music on him” The Oscars.

Pink is guaranteed to bring the house down at any award show she sings at. Always a good idea.

The only thing that can get Gravity is … The Great Gatsby of all things, in art categories.

Missed the intro for the 2nd random video tribute. This third one is heroes. OK.

Lost momentum towards the end, but there was little else to report really. Love McConaughey’s speech it was great. Blanchett’s was also a statement of a different kind.

The ceremony was saved from being a complete and utter bore because Gravity didn’t win Best Picture after nabbing most everything else. However, maybe that was foretold by the fact that it didn’t have a writing nomination.

Glad, Cuaron got to speak his entire piece when his turn came again.

Not the most memorable broadcast, but maybe more exposure to the crop will make it stand out. Dallas Buyers Club rose big time in my estimation.

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My Ballot: 2014 OMIEs

The OMIEs are an award, that’s voted on by users on the blog Flixploitation. It honors those the Oscars overlook. This year’s OMIEs ballot takes a slightly different approach than last year’s. Rather than being all write-ins there are suggestions for nominees. You can find them here. Below I will highlight my choices and explain why.

Most Deserving Documentary

Blackfish (2013, CNN Films)

Blackfish

In introducing my method in selection BAM Best Doc nominees I said:

With Best Documentary I again had a re-adjustment as award time started to roll around. I wanted to avoid redundancy in the topics as much as I could and really focus on the crafting on the film more so than any greater message or social purpose. Issue-based documentaries are great to rally behind and can incur real change, and they can also be great films, but you can have one without the other.

Because it lacked slightly as a film that eliminated it. However, based on the choices given, and the fact that I said this about it:

I heard of this film quite some time ago as it featured prominently on My Radar. I recorded the CNN airing a while ago but was reticent to watch it. In the end I’m glad I did. There are a few graphic and disturbing images but the takeaway from the film is far more profound than that. The scariest, most stomach-turning thing is the pervasiveness of lies documented that Sea World spews as facts. Lies that I as a child believed to be true and still recalled learning there. What this film shows is not only that these massive mammals are smarter and more complex that we can yet understand, but also that there are dangers inherent to the people who attempt to keep them in captivity as glorified circus performers.

this is clearly my winner.

Most Deserving Foreign Language Film

Two Lives (2012, IFC/Sundance Selects)
Two Lives

Two Lives is a very solid film. I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard more about it to be quite honest. I enjoyed it very much. Its omission in my foreign category was more about finding far more off-the-beaten path stuff that I enjoyed even more; as for the Oscars I have no idea.

Most Deserving Original Screenplay

The Way, Way Back (2013, Fox Searchlight)

The Way, Way Back

I didn’t get to discuss The Way, Way Back too much in the BAMs, or on the site in general. There are in this film several tremendous scenes and for as quirky, funny and witty the characters are they are very real and their interaction with one another is more so. Excellent work.

Most Deserving Adapted Screenplay

august-osage-county

August: Osage County

This is one of those interesting ones where a contender for this year (due to it’s wide release coming in January – for more on my late-year release issues go here) is my choice for an award last year. There was much talk of the running time being chopped down, but it doesn’t feel like anything essential was lost.

Most Deserving Supporting Actress

fruitvale-station04

Melonie Diaz Fruitvale Station

This was the first film that got any Oscar buzz. Of course, with its being released early in the year it was destined to get nothing. Diaz was a revelation.

Most Deserving Supporting Actor

THE WAY, WAY BACK

Sam Rockwell The Way, Way Back

I was very close to picking Sam Rockwell. With regards to the Oscars there were a few things going against him: it was a summer release and it’s a comedic performance. Those shouldn’t matter, but it seems to. Rockwell is damn near perfect here.

Most Deserving Actress

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012, Tribeca Film)

Veerle Baetens The Broken Circle Breakdown

It was nearly a sweep for this film in the lead acting categories in my awards. Again, I’m astonished she hasn’t garnered more notice or a nomination. More attention needs to be drawn both to this film and her work in it.

Most Deserving Director

Woody Allen (2013, Esquire)

Woody Allen Blue Jasmine

Basically, the thought here (as it seems to be with the Oscars many years) is to award the director of the film you’re going to choose as best from the candidates.

Most Deserving Picture

Blue Jasmine (2013, Sony Pictures Classics)

Blue Jasmine

Not much to explain in my choice here, for a bit more detail check the BAMs or my brief write-up linked above. Similar logic to the above, essentially it was the highest ranking film of my top 10 to make the list.

If interested in casting your choice for nominees please follow the link!

2013 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

2013 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

“Me sitting down for dinner with Ingmar Bergman felt like a house painter sitting down with Picasso.”

-Woody Allen, interview with Esquire Magazine 6/4/2013

Woody Allen

I saw a tweet over the summer, leading up to the release of Blue Jasmine, that asked something to the effect of: I wonder why now is the time that many publications have chosen to do a career retrospective on Woody Allen? Logically speaking, I can’t answer that. He hasn’t necessarily slowed down and like all of us he’s not getting any younger. My theory though is that it took the film-loving community by surprise that shortly after Midnight in Paris he returned with another widely acclaimed film so soon. Due to that fact it caused many to want to start looking back over his career.

I must say it hit me the same way. I caught Blue Jasmine a little later than many but I was quite blown away by it, and even with his recent triumph surprised by it. Woody Allen was one of the earliest writer/directors I gravitated to by name. He’s also one I came back around to, at least once, after I became obsessed by Bergman, seeing as how Allen is a fellow disciple.

It’s a virtual prerequisite that I’ve seen most of the works if not all of the works of the winning director. However, I know there are some of his I’ve not yet checked out (many recent) and I also have a volume of his short stories to check out. It’s a retrospective I’d be glad to take in.

Especially considering that one of the most overlooked aspects of Allen’s repertoire is his ease of going back and forth between comedy and drama, and even mixing them. In my family Allen’s name has long been synonymous with greatness, in writing especially, if not also directing; and I’ve certainly taken the ball and run with it in terms of tracking down his works.

While Allen has had his share of off-screen production-related drama lately he seems to have found a new home at Sony Pictures Classics and has adopted a late-career globetrotting aesthetic that is making returns to New York, even for a scene, a breath of fresh air as well. And, as always, these awards are a recognition of onscreen accomplishment, and Allen’s works have been with me a long time already and I hope to many more years of enjoying his films.

Birthday Movies 2013

This is a new edition of this post, it’s a follow-up to one wherein I chronicled the films I could recall having viewed on my birthday. Some have been good to great, some have been awful. I usually try to make the selection something befitting a mood I wouldn’t mind being in on that day (hence I saved Amour for today) and something I think I would remember. I think both the titles from yesterday. For a guide to what these ratings mean, please go here.

Twixt

Twixt (2011, American Zoetrope)

This is a film that I wanted to see first because it’s Coppola returning to horror, but then also because of some of the people involved. I cannot argue by any means that it’s perfect. However, if there’s one thing that gets under my skin is when people argue “It’s just a horror movie” implying: there’s a ceiling to how good it can be, or it’s OK if it’s stupid, or worse, it’s allowed to be unambitious. I don’t think this film falls into any of those tappings. It’s hard to say if going beyond a standard horror film’s running time would’ve benefitted or hurt it, but I think it may have hurt. I recall that why I liked My Soul to Take so much was underscored by what was left on the cutting room floor. The exposition that was deleted spoon-fed things I and my friends pieced together after it was over, and that made it more powerful. There are deeper mysteries and enigmas here and multiple plots all horrific and well-wrought, though they don’t always seem so. After seeing him in a few that were not-so-great, it’s good to see Val Kilmer in a fascinating horror film.

8/10

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine (2013, Sony Pictures Classics)

The allusion I made above to occasional greatness definitely applies here. For a filmmaker such as Woody Allen who on many occasions has been accused of using his films as therapy and being un-cinematic this film is a rebuttal. For myself, as a long-time devotee, it’s wondrous not only to see him work a story that again employs a wonderful editorial language that is quickly-learned and never off; but also such a non-judgmental character study. It’s a film of revelation rather than reparation. It has its humor, too, but is perhaps the most searing, honest drama he’s committed to the screen since Husbands and Wives. The casting, as well as the cast, is flawless; but it’s really Cate Blanchett who makes this film work. She’s as powerful, if not more so, in her character’s detached, pained moments as she is in the “big” ones, which is what makes her turn so immaculate. It’s a performance that towers not only due to the sparsity of great roles afforded women in the American cinema lately, but because of how titanic an effort it is on its own.

Engaging and enthralling from the first frame this film of a life shattered, whether by design or not, may be his most Bergmanesque, and is truly one of the year’s best.

10/10