The ONLY Oscar Blogger, who lives in walking distance to the Kodak Theater!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thoughts on the 83rd Academy Awards

The 83rd Academy Awards have come and gone. I love the Oscars, so this was a little tough for me. I rewatched the show again earlier today and it wasn't very good. It's finally time to share some thoughts on what happened on Sunday.

THE PARTY

I did had a fun time having some people over my apartment. There were 20 people in my cramped apartment. A little more than I wanted. Really wanted to have about 15 people over, but had a few unexpected guests. It happens. Managed to drink 18 bottles of wine, so I think that is a hell of an accomplishment.

MY OSCAR BALLOT

I went 18 out of 24, which isn't too bad. I've managed to get at least 18 correct picks in 5 out of the last 7 years. So I usually consider 18 to be the key number on Oscar night.

Last night was just another reminder of how special it was when I went 22 out of 24 in 2009. That very well may never be topped by me.

No one beat my Oscar record in the my annual Oscar contest. Again, just another reminder of how hard it is to get 22 picks.

I had a weird night with my picks as I actually went 0 for 2 to start the night off and 1-3 in the first four categories. Then, I proceeded to go 17-3 over the next 20 categories to finish with 18 picks. After my 1-3 start, I actually thought I was going to have a real bad night. Luckily, I rebounded.

I actually picked Best Documentary - Short Subject right for the first time since 2008. I usually consider that to be my worst category, so it felt nice.

I'm glad I didn't change my Supporting Actress pick. I stuck with Leo and it paid off. I never fully bought into the idea that Hailee Steinfeld would pull it off.

I'm mad at myself for not changing 3 categories I should have got right (Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design). I really overestimated the Academy's love for The King's Speech. I went with that film in all three of these categories even though I was a little worried. The worst part is my alternate in all three of these categories was the actual winner. Part of me just didn't think Alice in Wonderland would win 2 Oscars. Still find it hard to believe, but oh well...

The other 3 categories I got wrong, I would have never changed. I had to stick with True Grit for Best Cinematography. The other 2 were shorts, which is always a crapshoot anyway.

I'm really happy I stuck with Tom Hooper. When predicting the Oscars, you can't play favorites and need to pick the person or film you think has the best shot to win. The way the race was going, it just felt like Hooper was the best choice. I was shocked how many people went with Fincher. Was the guy robbed? Yes, he was, but let's be honest, the Oscars make a lot of poor choices. Just ask Martin Scorsese.

THE SHOW

In the week leading up the Oscars, I had a feeling James Franco and Anne Hathaway would be bad Oscar hosts. Unfortunately, I was correct. They just lacked the X factor that makes someone a great Oscar host. The Oscars are always the hardest hosting gig, so it shouldn't be too surprising they were going to run into trouble.

The show just lacked a lot in general. It has been universally panned. I hope Anne and James rebound as I think they are both really talented.

Franco is taking even more heat than Hathaway. Some people said he was stoned. I disagree. It felt like to me that he just didn't really care that much.

I still think Hugh Jackman was the best host in the last five years. In looking for a host or hosts for next year, they need to look for someone in the similar mold. I actually hope they go back to a single host. I just think it works better. Part of the problem with Franco and Hathaway is that they lacked chemistry. I found it a bit surprising too since I thought they would work well together. Not sure what happened.

Kirk Douglas is a legend, but watching him was painful. The guy is 94 years old. It was funny at first, but soon became just awkward.

The speeches in general I thought were okay. Nothing really special was said. Maybe the most memorable part was when Melissa Leo dropped the f bomb. I thought David Seidler's speech was great. It was probably my favorite of the night.

It was funny and awkward when Spielberg talked about all these great films that didn't win Best Picture. The statement was true, but it was weird to hear it on the Oscars. It was almost discrediting the award.

THE RESULTS

Really surprised The King's Speech only won 4 Oscars. It even failed to win one technical award. It was surprising to me.

Inception winning 4 Oscars was also surprising. Best Cinematography was probably the surprise the night.

Before Best Director was announced, I honestly thought The Social Network may win Best Picture. The King's Speech was underperforming, so it left the door open. Then, Tom Hooper won and it was all over.

Some people have horrible luck with the Academy. Last night, Fincher, Deakins, and Bening all lost again. A lot of people thought this would be the year for Fincher and Deakins. I hope they get their Oscar one day, but it will probably be for not their best work. Then again, that happens to a lot of people. As for Bening, she just can't get a role strong enough to get her over the top. She's lost twice to Hilary Swank and now to Natalie Portman. It's not like she is losing to horrible actresses.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Overall the Oscars this year were okay for me. The party was great. My ballot was great. The show sucked. It happens. Not every Oscars can be like the 81st Academy Awards, which is still "The Greatest Oscars Ever".

Monday, February 21, 2011

Current Oscar Predictions


I am going to post final predictions on Saturday, but I figured I would give everyone an idea of what I'm thinking right now.

Best Picture: The King's Speech

This is either going to be King's Speech or Social Network. While I would prefer Social Network, I have to go with the British film. It has won all the relevant precursors and people seem to love it. Seems like a safe choice right now.


Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

I'm really conflicted with this pick. I may change it by the weekend. Hooper won the DGA, but Fincher could pull it off. The DGA is just such a good precursor. This could be a year where Picture/Director split. The last time that has happened was 2005 when Ang Lee took Director and Crash won Picture. I really think this is a toss up and I don't think I'll feel safe about this pick at all on Oscar night.


Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech

This is the easiest pick out of all the acting categories. This is really a lock. Would be shocked if Firth lost.


Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Poor Annette Bening can't catch a break. I still haven't seen The Kids Are All Right, but she always seems to be in second place when she gets nominated (ex. American Beauty and Being Julia). Portman is in the driver's seat and it doesn't make sense to pick against her.


Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Could Rush sneak in and win this? It's possible if Oscar night becomes a King's Speech lovefest. I just like Bale in this race. He has the asshole factor working against him, but he's done really well this awards season. Especially with his speeches, which I have really enjoyed. People know he's hard working and he seems to be enjoying himself. Plus, Rush already has his Oscar, which I do think will work against him.


Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

There's a good chance I will change this pick to Steinfeld by Saturday. I don't know if The Fighter can really win two acting awards. I am also worried about Adams and Leo splitting the vote. I am also worried about Bonham Carter pulling this out as well. Basically I'm worried about this race more than any other major category. Really hard race to predict and I'm really confused.


Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech

Feel pretty safe with this pick. Can't really go against it here.


Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Social Network may lose Picture and Director, but it should definitely take this. Be shocked if it lost.


Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3

Don't bet against Pixar in this category. I would have to say this is a lock and one of the safest picks of the night.


Best Art Direction: The King's Speech

This is a tough call. I'm going with King's Speech because I don't see Alice in Wonderland winning this Oscar and I don't think Inception has enough support. Films like The Aviator have won this category and I think King's Speech will follow.


Best Cinematography: True Grit

I feel like this is a trap pick and I may change it. Everyone says Roger Deakins' time has come. The problem is the voting ballot doesn't say his name on it. Is it common knowledge he was the DP? I'm not convinced. This could be a situation where there's a surprise. I'll come back to this pick over the weekend.


Best Costume Design: The King's Speech

I look at The Aviator for my support that films like King's Speech can win over a film like Alice in Wonderland. Bad films have won in this category, so it's definitely possible for an Alice win. Part of me refuses to put it down on my ballot right now. That could change.


Best Documentary - Feature: Inside Job

Exit Through the Gift Shop could win, but I don't know if the Academy will want to acknowledge Banksy. I haven't seen Inside Job yet, but it feels like the film to beat.


Best Documentary - Short Subject: Strangers No More

No one really knows anything about this category. I never get this right, so if you want a piece of advice, don't pick Strangers No More.


Best Film Editing: The Social Network

Usually Best Picture wins this, but I think the editing in Social Network is so good that it can't be passed up. I could be wrong, but I leaning towards this to win over King's Speech.


Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World

Better World won the Globe, which means nothing. I'm going with it right now because I need more time. I'm just not feeling Biutiful or Incendies for the win. Though, I think Incendies has a better shot. I guess I really just don't think Biutiful will win.


Best Makeup: The Wolfman

Everyone is picking this to win. I'm just following the leader. Although, I wouldn't be shocked if another film wins. The alternate feels like Barney's Version.


Best Original Score: The King's Speech

At first it looked like Social Network would win this, but it's looking like King's Speech. Sounds like more of an Oscar winning score to me.


Best Original Song: "We Belong Together", Toy Story 3

The other songs don't stand out as much. I could see this losing to "If I Rise" from 127 Hours. I'm just not confident enough to pick it.


Best Short - Animated: Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Contrary to the Animated Feature, don't bet on a Pixar film. I'm not going with Day and Night. I like The Gruffalo and that may win, but I really liked the animation style in Madagascar. Reminded me of the short animation that won a few years back. That probably means nothing, but that is what is dictating my thoughts right now.


Best Short - Live Action: Wish 143

I feel like it's going to be either this or Na Wewe. I may change it by Saturday. Considering this is one of the 5 categories that members must attend special screenings, I feel like they will vote for the film that touched them the most. This very well may be it.


Best Sound Editing: Inception

A lot of people are predicting a little Inception mini sweep for both sound categories and VFX. This sound category is definitely safer than Mixing. I can't see the other nominees winning.


Best Sound Mixing: Inception

This could be like 2008 when Slumdog won Mixing and Dark Knight won Editing. If the Oscars turn into a King's Speech lovefest, then that will happen. I just don't see it getting to that point.


Best Visual Effects: Inception

This has to win right? Definitely not a lock, but I feel pretty confident about this pick.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Films I Saw at 2011 Sundance


I figured I would finally post my thoughts on the films I saw at Sundance this year. I saw seven features and two shorts programs. I'm not going to rank the shorts because it would just take too long to do and I'm at work right now. Sundance ended over the weekend, so I want to post this before it becomes too late. Special thanks to Jason Stevens for organizing the whole trip. Going to Sundance was one of the best times I've had in long time.

Celebrity Sightings (that I remember off the top of my head):

Robert Redford (first celeb sighting and the best), Harry Belafonte, Ben Foster, Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, John Salley, Christopher McDonald, Morgan Spurlock, Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Elizabeth Banks (Not confirmed, but I'm pretty sure it was her. I recognized her jacket from some Sundance photos.)

Now onto the actual rankings...

7. Pariah

This was one of the two opening night films I saw. I don't think this was a bad film, but I had trouble getting into it. This was a classic example of a film I would have never watched unless I was at Sundance. I guess that is one of the great things about the festival.

6. The Woman

If Sundance gave out a most disturbed film award, then it would go to this film. A family decides to capture a woman living in the forest and basically torture her for two hours. This was the last film I saw at Sundance and probably the reason I got the flu three days later. While I didn't hate it as much as some people, I still didn't really expect to see a film like this at Sundance. The film has everything from domestic abuse to rape to incest before ending with a bloodbath. A lot of people have been talking about this film since it premiered. In a lot of ways, it's a great horror movie for that reason. It leaves a mark on you, but it's so twisted and disturbing that I really didn't know how to take it all in. Maybe, I need to watch it again. On second thought, maybe I'll just let you watch it for yourself and make up your own mind.

5. Kaboom

This film was really wacky. The ridiculous thing about this film was that it got crazier and crazier as the film progressed. There was like no rules in this film. Definitely made it entertaining to watch as you never knew what was going to happen. There was sex, drugs, more sex, people running around with animal masks, even more sex, and a cult trying to control the world. Then, out of nowhere, everything goes KABOOM!

4. HERE

Okay, I'm not going to lie, I was in bad shape when I watched this film. It was part of my marathon movie watching day of Friday and I was literally exhausted. Combine that with the fact that this film's pacing is slow, I struggled to stay awake during portions of this film. To be fair, I would like to watch this film again and if it ever gets distribution I will go see it because I feel bad I didn't give it a fair chance. Anyway, this was a beautifully shot film and probably the best shot film I saw at Sundance. Some of the landscape shots of Armenia are breathtaking. The film has a Lost in Translation feel to it and if you're down for a less conventional love story, then I thought this film was refreshing.

3. The Ledge

I didn't realize it until after I got out of this film, but the lead in this film was in Undeclared. Just felt like sharing that. I wanted this film to be better. I think my expectations were too high (similar to HERE), but I still enjoyed this film. Part of the reason I liked this film was that it was not a standoff film about trying to convince a guy to not jump, but rather the film is about the guy's relationship with his neighbor and her evangelical Christian husband. Charlie Hunnam's character is an atheist too, which adds an interesting dynamic to the whole film. The film is told mostly in flashback as you watch him and Liv Tyler fall in love and eventually realize why he is on the ledge.

2. Sing Your Song

This was the first film I saw at Sundance. Not a bad first film to see at all. It was actually my number one film until Sunday. I knew a little about Harry Belafonte before, but I actually had no idea how important he was. I actually learned a lot watching this film. The man lived an incredible life. This documentary also did a great job using archival footage especially some of the footage of him and Martin Luther King Jr. I left this documentary wanting to change the world. It was very inspiring.

1. How to Die in Oregon

I remember reading the synopsis of this film months ago. I was pulled in immediately when I read that someone literally died on camera within the first few minutes. I thought to myself, this film is going to be intense and different. I thought this was one of the most powerful films I've ever seen. I was just emotionally drained after watching it along with everyone else in the theater. I'm pretty sure that almost everyone in the theater was crying during this film. The film is about physician assisted suicide or death with dignity in Oregon. I went into this film not really supporting this, but after watching the film, I think death with dignity should be legal in the United States. The film primarily followed a woman, Cody Curtis, who was a woman in her 50s with terminal liver cancer. The film follows her last months as she comes to terms with her own life and really makes you reevaluate your own life. This film is not really about death as much as about living with dignity and leaving this world on your own terms. This film was awarded the grand jury prize in the documentary competition. I believe this documentary will be airing on HBO over the summer. Everyone should watch it. Peter Richardson made an extraordinary film that was by far the best film I saw at Sundance.