2015 Academy Award Picks

2015 Academy Award Picks

“And the Oscar goes to…” Roughly 40 million viewers will tune in this coming Sunday evening to hear those words and, more importantly, the name or title that follows. In terms of viewers, The Academy Awards may not be the Super Bowl, but they are the crowning jewel of popular media, drawing twice as many viewers as the Golden Globes or the Grammys and nearly three times as many viewers as the Emmys. Many of those viewers will already have their ballots filled out in hopes of winning a friendly wager, or simply bragging rights, among friends or co-workers. I am one of those viewers. So, here I present my thoughts and predictions for this year’s Oscars. Read more

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“And the Oscar doesn’t go to…”: Academy Award Controversy

“And the Oscar doesn’t go to…”: Academy Award Controversy

Every Oscar year has controversy and one of this year’s centers around Selma. The film focuses on a major event in the Civil Rights movement, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights. The film received only two nominations, one for Best Original Song for “Glory” by John Legend and Common and…one for Best Picture. Had the film only been nominated for best song, there may actually have been no controversy. But it was nominated for Best Picture with no nod to its director, Ava DuVernay, its screenplay, co-written by DuVernay and Paul Webb, or any of its performances, particularly the lead performance by David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. Is this really the same actor who played the snooty, money grubbing, corporate jerk in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and the “can we trust him” detective in Jack Reacher (2012)? Read more

Why I Watch the Academy Awards

Why I Watch the Academy Awards

With the Academy Awards/Oscars just one week away, I am beginning my yearly ritual of asking myself why I actually watch them year after year. This is the time of year when many critics and bloggers dedicate a post to why they don’t watch and go into detail about why. The reason most often given is that the films that have been nominated are not actually the “best” films and performances of the year. When this criticism is launched, the critic generally discusses the various films, usually foreign and/or low-budget and/or independent and/or arty, that should have been nominated instead. The problem with these posts is that very few, if any, of these supposed better films have been seen by a wide enough audience. They show at festivals that not everyone can attend or only in “select cities.” Another problem is that the critics that compile these alternate lists rarely agree. Read more

My Year at the Movies (2014 edition), Part 2

My Year at the Movies (2014 edition), Part 2

After my last post, several people asked where the list of movies was, so here it is. They are listed in the order I watched them, except in the case of repeats, which are listed for the first viewing only. Repeat films tend to be films I taught in class, but there were a few that were repeated for other reasons. For example, I caught One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest one night on Netflix, but then it showed up as part of the classic series at my local movie theater. I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it on the big screen. For the more visually-minded, I’ve included a highlight reel. So for what’s it’s worth, the list is below (read left to right, not up and down). Enjoy. Read more

My Year at the Movies 2014

My Year at the Movies 2014

My Year at the MoviesIt’s been a while. In fact, it’s been over a year since I posted anything new. During that time I changed jobs…twice, my wife enrolled in graduate school…in another state, and we’ve experienced several changes in our family…some good, some bad. In short, life happened. But, even though I wasn’t posting, I was still watching movies. In fact, I made it a resolution to watch a movie every day in 2014. It really didn’t seem like it would be that difficult to pull off. When I told people my plan, cinephiles were unimpressed, commenting that they pretty much did that anyway. However, casual moviegoers thought the task daunting, if not impossible, though many of them watch well over two hours of television a day. Whatever the reaction, I was committed.  Read more

Weekend with Franco-stein

Weekend with Franco-stein

FrancosteinA couple of weekends ago, I caught not one, but two films starring James Franco: Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. It would be an understatement to say that it was a pretty bizarre experience. Seeing Franco’s smiling mug in black-and-white, 3-D and super-saturated Technicolor all in 48 hours was probably as close to an acid trip as one can have (without actually being on acid). Both films left an impression, but I still haven’t decided if what kind of trip I had: good or bad. Read more

Going to the Movies with my Mom

Going to the Movies with my Mom

dwayne-johnson-snitchSo, I have to admit it. One of the main reasons I’m such a movie buff is my mom. Like me, she loves watching movies, preferably on a huge screen, with a tub of popcorn in her lap. In fact, it’s a holiday tradition at Thanksgiving for everyone to go to the movies together. I know that seems odd, but Thanksgiving—like Christmas—is actually a pretty big opening day at the movies. But the holidays aren’t the only time we hit the cinema. We accompany each other throughout the year, with or without the rest of the family in tow. Read more

And the Oscar goes to… (Director’s Cut)

And the Oscar goes to… (Director’s Cut)

Oscar StatuesI’m still trying to figure out how it happened. He did everything he was supposed to do. He made a movie that is everything movies are supposed to be. It had thrills. It had adventure. It had laughs. But more than anything, it accomplished the impossible: both critics AND audiences loved it. As the box office numbers grew, so did the accolades. And not just the early critical accolades, but the big prizes: The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Director’s Guild. But, when the big moment came, when the nominees for the Academy Awards were announced, his name was not heard when the nominees for Best Director were read. The film was there for Best Picture, but not the man behind the camera who had brought the vision to life. Read more

Blasts from the Past

Blasts from the Past

Blasts from the Past

This past week I did a double-dip at my local movie theater and took in the “comeback” films for two of the three great 80s action film stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (the third being Bruce Willis, whose own A Good Day to Die Hard—the fifth installment in the series—opens this week). I grew up watching Sly and Ah-nold taking out bad guys and blowing up anything (and anyone) who got in their way. So when I found out that The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head were coming out just a week apart, I was pumped. Read more