Oscar Night in America, week three

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Over the last two weeks, I’ve discussed this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture as part of  MLD’s Oscar preview. The last part of the wonderful little piece on movies is for award predictions. I have not seen all of the films, so my list is very subjective based on what I have read in the papers. I’ll also discuss the movies that will be most remembered from the past year. Every year movies get nominated for best picture and forgotten soon afterward. These movies will stand the test of time as the best films of 2009.

Oscar Predictions:
Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker
Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor:  Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Actress:  Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Supporting Actress:  Mo’Nique, Precious
Best Animated Film:  Up!
Best Original Screenplay:  Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Best Adapted Screenplay:  Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Best Visual Effects:  Avatar

You can take these guesses with a grain of salt.    I’ll be watching Star Trek more than The Hurt Locker and Avatar combined.  It just is what it is.  Here are a few other movies that were not nominated for Best Picture, but you will gladly put on ahead of most of the garbage listed above:

(In no particular order)

The Hangover
Everyone already saw this movie, but it will be watched again and again. It will be on TNT nearly every weekend, like how Wedding Crashers is on it now. This movie will be dead to us in five years, but until that point it will be THE comedy of the year.

World’s Greatest Dad
Robin Williams is so great in this movie. You have to just let this movie play out. You can watch it on Netflix Instant View. It is really amazing what he does with it. It is not for everyone, but World’s Greatest Dad is one of the more disturbing/entertaining movies of the year. Maybe this one will never be widely watched, but I hope it is.

This was the best comedy of the year.  It was better than The Hangover, though that is no slight against The Hangover.  That was funny.  Zombieland is that movie that you waited too long to see, whenever it is you may see it.  You should have saw it earlier and its your fault.  Woody Harrelson, after this movie and his Oscar nominated role in The Other Side, will hopefully have a resurgence that will hopefully include Kingpin 2.  Isn’t Vanessa Angel dead?  She’s gotta be.  Oh, and Zombieland has “The Cameo.”

Drag Me To Hell

This movie has you from the first scene.  You smile the whole way through.

Big Fan

I have never been so uncomfortable while watching a movie.  I had to pause it a couple times just to get through the strip club scene… and its not for the reasons you think.  I cannot believe they offered him a drink.  It is just a weird movie.


Moon and District 9 are the two smart sci-fi movies of the year.  Moon was hardly released, which is too bad.  It is better than District 9.

I know there are others.  I loved Fantastic Mr. Fox and Observe and Report.  I’ve been told Away We Go is good.  Same for (500) Days of Summer, but I’ll pass if it is a straight rip off of Annie Hall. Some people loved Where the Wild Things Are, The Cove, In the Loop, and many many others, so the above is an incomplete list.  I’m sure I missed one… eh hem… Crank: High Voltage.

The Oscars will be televised next Sunday, March 7 at 8pm on ABC.

Go to Oscar Night In America, week two.


What about us, Vermont?

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After looking at our visitor logs over the last year, I feel I have to do something about a group of states that never visit. You know who you are…well, you really don’t know who you are, do you…

Vermont…I actually like Vermont.  I had the pleasure of visiting in January once and remember it being impossibly cold. I didn’t mind it so much after seeing there were boats actually frozen into Lake Champlain. That’s really fascinating to me for some reason. I was even told there’s a ferry of some sort that goes between Burlington and New York that’s an ice breaker! How cool is that?

I’ve been as far North as St. Albans but never had the pleasure of seeing the actual town of Podunk, Satan’s Kingdom, or your very own lake monster, Champ. The UVM area seemed like a really nice place to go to school, but I would have withered and died in a place like that. Skiing for my degree just wouldn’t have been my scene. Credit is deserved for giving us Newhart, Ben and Jerry’s, and being the original home to Chester A. Arthur and his epic sideburns. Your faux French name also scores you some points, but nearly every time I’ve typed it today it initially came out “Vermin.”

Your ongoing battles with Bigfoot are always amusing, but I hear some of your citizens want to secede from the United States. I can’t get behind that. You have the smallest largest city in any of the 50 states and are second least populated, so I realize there aren’t that many Vermonters, but you should join the rest of this great nation and visit our site.

Image courtesy of Greenwich Mean Time.com.
Frozen vessel image by CArthur.

Other states that never stop by: UtahNebraska, Maine


Alright, 24, you have me

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I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I’ve watched every season, but I haven’t enjoyed watching every season. After taking a year off due to the Writer’s Guild strike/Kiefer Sutherland’s legal problems, the show came back with a solid season last year. It was decent, but I was beginning to doubt whether I’d stick with it this year.

All doubts have been erased at this point. Actually, I think I knew this a few weeks ago but I had to be sure. I’ve found myself looking forward to the show each week and at this point I’m confident the rest of the season is going to be worth watching. The threats are developing nicely, villains are being taken off the playing field on an almost weekly basis, and the subplots are intriguing. Sure, it’s basically the same show it always is except they’re in New York this time, but it’s being done well.

Jack is still doing the impossible, but that’s really nothing to complain about. Kim Bauer and her family are hopefully completely out of the picture for this season. The addition of Katee Sackhoff doesn’t hurt. I’m genuinely interested in her character as well as her love interest Freddie the Prinze, June. Annie Wersching returning as the completely unstable Reneé Walker is adding the much needed wild card and Chloe O’Brien is still a sourpuss.  What more can you ask for from this show?


Oscar Night in America, week two

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Last week, I began MLD’s Oscar preview with five of this year’s nominees for Best Picture.  This year, the Academy decided to change the number of Oscar nominees for Best Picture from five to ten, since every year we have so many great movies.  This week, the remainder of the ten movies will be discussed at length.  Next week will have Oscar Predictions along with several other movies that will be remembered from 2009. The Oscars will be televised on March 7 at 8pm on ABC.

And the list goes on:

The Blind Side
There is a general rule, or at least I think there should be a general rule, which states a brunette should NEVER go blonde. It is a crime against nature. Sandra Bullock is one of those famous brunettes out there today, along with Jennifer Connelly, Demi Moore, Megan Fox, and many others. She has no business changing her hair color. Some of us appreciate the dark hair. Lucy Lawless pissed me off when she was blonde in BSG. The Academy should take this into account and deduct at least two-tenths of a point.

I have not seen The Blind Side, so Netflix tells me similar movies include Friday Night Lights (Liked), We Are Marshall (Hated), Radio (Hated), and They Call Me Sirr (Never Saw). I am going to include other similar movies: Remember the Titans (Mixed), Rudy (Hated), Invincible (Hated), Miracle (Liked), and The Express (Hated). So this movie is getting great reviews, when pretty much every other movie of its kind that followed the same formula has been terrible. Friday Night Lights was not inspirational, which means it really should not be in this conversation.

The Blind Side has no shot at Best Picture. Bullock may win Best Actress, but she does not deserve it. I guess this follows the well-worn Oscar precedent of doing something crazy to get an Oscar. Charlize got fat: Wins Oscar. Halle Berry gets REALLY naked: Wins Oscar. Bullock gets blonde: Wins Oscar. Maybe I will not be so surprised by this.

District 9
I loved District 9. I loved it as a sci-fi film, and not necessarily as a Best Picture-type movie. It should be on the “My Favorite” list, but not the “Best” list. You know why? It is about a dude that turns into a creature. That is the gist of it. There is a lot of political subtext that really doesn’t make sense 20 years later. We should not overlook the delay of the social commentary since good science fiction is able to tackle sociopolitical issues when they are happening.  BSG handled suicide bombing and the insurgency issue pretty well in Season 3. Star Trek: The Original Series was able to handle a lot of race issues during the 60s. It is just too late to do Apartheid.  It doesn’t speak to our times.

D9 has should just be happy with the nomination. If you take everything into account, such as the $30 Million budget, the believable CGI characters of Christopher Johnson and his little adorable prawn son, and the seamless documentary-to-linear storytelling transition.  The movie took storytelling chances, which is more than can be said about the OTHER nominated science fiction film.

District 9 would never have made it with just five nominees, but who cares.  Its a fun little film.

The Hurt Locker
The only problem with The Hurt Locker is that there is not a plot. That is kind of a big deal. The movie is more of a voyeuristic look at the lives of these bomb techs in Iraq. If this film were any longer it would have been boring, so it closed out at the right time. I wish Avatar ended in 131 minutes instead of its 162 minute run time.  I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Another problem with The Hurt Locker is that it may not be large enough in scale to be Best Picture. The Hurt Locker is a small film with a small budget focusing on a small part of life in Iraq. It is not as rewatchable as other movies in this category, though there are some intense scenes that I would love to see again like the opening scene with Guy Pearce and the middle part with Ralph Fiennes.   As an aside:  how awesome has Ralph Fiennes been over the past couple years?  He really has done everything right.

The Hurt Locker has a good chance at Best Picture and Best Director. Best Actor nominee Jeremy Renner was great, but everyone thinks Jeff Bridges will win for Crazy Heart. I’ve seen the trailer of Crazy Heart and it is clearly unwatchable dreck. I hope Clooney gets it for Up in the Air because I will watch that movie.  So if Renner wins it is not undeserved.

A Serious Man
I just got around to seeing A Serious Man and I just do not get it.  No, not like when people did not get No Country for Old Men with an ambiguous ending.  I just did not get where the Coens were going with it.  I could go into what it was about, but I really don’t know.  The easiest description is that a man’s life is falling apart all around him and he has to make a choice of faith.

Movies like it on Netflix include Election (Liked), Ghost World (Liked), Husbands and Wives (liked), and Fight Club (Liked).  The only one it is anything like is Husbands and Wives, but even there the inside nature sets it apart. I could tell you what the other movies are about.  Netflix should just list four movies that make no sense.

It has also been nominated for Original Screenplay. That’s it. It may win since the Coens tend to win things.  I’m just really confused by it.  I don’t think I liked this movie.  You tell me.

Up in the Air
I have not seen this one yet. I know a bit about it, but really tried to keep myself spoiler free. George Clooney travels like 250 days out of the year by plane.  It is a movie about the lifestyle of flying.  The last movie that seems to have hit the same cord about flying was Catch Me If You Can. Flying was not about TSA checks, but stewardesses and hotel bars. That is kind of neat and I will see it for that reason alone. That and George Clooney tends to make fun movies.

Netflix claims if I liked this I would like Glengarry Glen Ross (Liked), Good Night, and Good Luck (Liked), Legends of the Fall (Never Saw), and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Liked). I really love Glengarry and Good Night, and Good Luck. Netflix never lies. I will probably like this one.

Up in the Air will go awardless, though people love George Clooney. People are hip to his game, though. The last time he legitimately acted was in O’ Brother. It doesn’t mean he is a bad actor. He is great at what he does. Also nominated was Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. Good for them. Anna Kendrick was useless in the Twilight movies.  To get a good performance out of her must mean Reitman can direct, right?

Go to Oscar Night In America, week one, Oscar Night In America, week three.


Happy Ash Wednesday

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Today you may have seen some dirty people walking around.  Dirt on their foreheads.  Possibly in the shape of a cross, but doubtful since most priests aren’t that precise.  It is Ash Wednesday.  For the next 40 days some people may give something up.  No chocolate, no ice cream, no sugar, no swearing, etc.  Many people will go vegetarian on Fridays.  Well – fake vegetarian….they will eat fish.  Giving up meat, oh my!  I don’t care what religion you are or even if you have no religion at all.  There is something great about this time of year.  Something that you can’t deny.

That something is Fish Commercials.  Most notably – the return of last year’s incredible McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial.  It is awesome.  And I am looking forward to hearing it for 40 days.  I’m also looking forward to having a Shamrock Shake next month on my annual McDonald’s trip.