Archive for April, 2011

Update on The Oscar Quest (~11 months in)

A month ago, I posted an article updating my status of my Oscar Quest. I began the year with somewhere between 515-530 films left to watch, and as of March 27th, had 360 left to go. I figured, “Three months seems like a logical time to update, so the next update will be three months from now. Not much should change between now and then.” Yeah — let’s call that one a mulligan. A lot’s changed since then.

The big thing that’s changed since last month is — I’m about to be finished with Netflix. That is, the way I mark down these updates is, all films not in red are films that either I have in my possession, via DVD or on hard drive, or are films that can be readily obtained, via Netflix DVD or Netflix Watch Instant. But in the past month — through various ways and means — I now only have 1 “Oscar” movie to go before I no longer need to rent DVDs from Netflix (and that one’s shipping on Monday). Everything else is either in my possession, can be watched instantly via Netflix, or is unavailable. I think that’s worth an update, don’t you?

Here’s a breakdown of what I have left to do. First off, I have only 6 Best Picture nominees left before I’ve seen them all. Ever. Every single nominee ever (that isn’t lost). How fucked up is that? I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee of the past 76 years. As for macro, I have 138 remaining films in my possession, 54 in my Instant Queue, and 81 that are, for all intensive purposes, unavailable (though, 11 of them are, last time I checked, available to watch on Youtube. Who knows if they’ll be there when I get around to watching them).

Which totals us at — 274 films to go. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1998

Oh, 1998. The year that lives in infamy. I think I can sum it all up with three words: Shakespeare in Love.

Personally, I don’t know why people hate on the decision so much. I mean, sure Saving Private Ryan is a film most people prefer, but as films, I think they rate about even. Private Ryan has that amazing opening sequence, but the film peters out by the end. That last battle is kind of meh. Shakespeare, however, is a great film. It’s funny, entertaining, and really well made. The problem is though it’s a bit too — I don’t know, on the nose, maybe. There’s something that keeps it from being a “perfect” film. Plus, even though Private Ryan didn’t win Best Picture, it won the award that really mattered for it — Best Director. The split is really what makes this year okay for me. I will say though, that the fact that this one was (aliteration) the way it was, was one of the reasons that 2010 was not okay for any reason. Fool me twice — fuck you two. It would have been a lot more palatable if there was a Picture/Director split. But there wasn’t. And that’s why 2010 will — probably — I hope — go down as a greater offense in Academy history than 1998 did.

Oh yeah, also, Best Actor was Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful (not gonna say a word), Best Actress and Supporting Actress were Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench for Shake-a-spere, and Best Supporting Actor was James Coburn for Affliction.


And the nominees are…

Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

John Madden, Shakespeare in Love

Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line

Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan

Peter Weir, The Truman Show (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Have I ever had you before?…So you don’t call me by my Christian name.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1997

1997. Titanic. I think that about covers it.

Sure it’s not a perfect film, but, this isn’t Best Picture. This is Best Director. I don’t think many people would argue that Cameron didn’t direct the hell out of the movie. The only real issue with Cameron is his weak and/or contrived scripts. But he wasn’t nominated for that, was he?

Also in 1997, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Best Actor and Best Actress for As Good As It Gets, Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, and Kim Basinger won Best Supporting Actress for L.A. Confidential. All around good films there. And yet, Titanic. It sucks when such good films are up against a film that can’t lose. (Gee, how many times has that happened?)


And the nominees were…

James Cameron, Titanic

Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty

Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter

Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential

Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting (more…)

Pic of the Day: “What is it with men and asking for directions?” “I don’t want to play the gender card right now. You want to play a card, let’s play the “let’s not die” card.”

The Box Office Report – April 29-May 1

Last week, in Box Office…

Rio wins the box office once again, doing exactly what it was supposed to do. $26.3 million. I said $25-27 million. I believe that’s pretty exact. The reason it didn’t do $27 million will be explained shortly. It was pretty harmless and not that bad (though the songs were terrible and it lacked that Disney/Pixar humanity that makes these films really work), so I’m cool with it. But really what this is is another reminder that kids films make bank all the time. I think this is the one that really got them to notice. I’m really curious to see what happens in two years.

Finishing second, doing exactly what it was supposed to do, was Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion, with $25.1 million. This is the standard Tyler Perry opening. I just figured that since the previous Madea entry was so crazy with the $34 million opening that audiences just went to see Madea more. I’m much happier with this opening. $25 million is fine. More than that is insanity. This film, as we’ve established with the Tyler Perry Box Office Chart last week, will do around $50-55 million when all is said and done. (They typically do a bit more than double their opening weekend.) Whatever. Dude’s earned it. On the other hand, I won’t go near these movies with a 39 1/2 foot pole. Definitely not for me. But, kudos to the dude. He works for this. Good for him.

Finishing third, with, about what it was expected to do, albeit slightly overperforming, was Water for Elephants, with $16.8 million. Most people expected around $14-15 million. Though most people — including me, figured the window was $12-17 million. And most would have guessed the upper 50% quadrant of that estimate, so, this was right in the wheelhouse. I’m really not that interested in seeing the leads here, but I hear Christoph Waltz is the only reason to watch. So I probably will see it soon. In fact, I’ll probably watch it when I’m done with this article (which, doesn’t really mean anything to you, since, you don’t know when I’m writing this article). So, by next week I’ll let you know how it was. Still, this movie had only a $38 million budget, so, I guess it’ll be a decent hit. I still have mixed feelings on it. Even if it’s worthwhile, I’m still not gonna want the leads to be that successful. I really just don’t like their movies. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1996

1996 was a good year punctuated by shitty decisions. So many good films came out, and yet  — does anyone even think The English Patient is a great movie? Good? Fine. The minimum allowable to be considered good. But better than Fargo, it is not. Hell, better than Jerry Maguire it is not. These are the kind of years that really upset me. Because it’s like the Academy is striving to meet the standard of what they think their reputation is, and yet, they’re perpetuating this reputation by picking such shitty films.

And don’t think this poor decision-making ends at Best Picture. Best Actor went to Geoffrey Rush for Shine, a performance that lasts for about, oh, fifteen minutes. The rest of the time the character is played by two different actors. This wouldn’t be a big deal except, here’s who he beat: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt) and Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade). Every single one of them would have been a better choice. I mean, have they seen Sling Blade?

Best Actress went to Frances McDormand for Fargo. They threw at least one bone. Best Supporting Actor was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire, an okay decision, though some people would probably prefer William H. Macy for Fargo. Best Supporting Actress was Juliette Binoche for The English Patient. Most people, including herself, were not expecting her to win. That’s 1996 in a nutshell. Even the good decisions are questionable, and the bad ones are terrible.


And the nominees are…

Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo

Miloš Forman, The People vs. Larry Flynt

Scott Hicks, Shine

Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies

Anthony Minghella, The English Patient (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Martin hates boats. Martin hates water. Martin…Martin sits in his car when we go on the ferry to the mainland. I guess it’s a childhood thing. It’s a…there’s a clinical name for it isn’t there?” “Drowning.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1995

At first glance, you’d think maybe they fucked up 1995. After all, this is one of six years where the DGA Best Director award and the Oscar for Best Director didn’t coincide. In fact, this is the second time in (exactly) a decade where the DGA winner wasn’t even nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. 1985 Steven Spielberg (rightfully) won the DGA for The Color Purple, and wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar. This year, Ron Howard won the DGA for Apollo 13 and wasn’t nominated for the Oscar.

Now — notice how I said “at first glance” — I really don’t think this is that big a deal. I think we’ve all established (see: 2001) that the Academy just fucking loves Ron Howard. However, I didn’t love the direction of Apollo 13. I mean, yeah, it’s a great movie, I watch it all the time, but, aside from having awesomely shot space sequences, the movie is about as generic as a Michael Bay movie in terms of character development. It’s so superficial it’s crazy. So, I’m kinda glad he wasn’t on this list of nominees, just so I wouldn’t have to worry about where I’d put him in my rankings.

Oh, yeah, recap. Best Picture went to Braveheart, a film I still can’t get a bead on. I like it, I like watching it, but is it really a Best Picture worthy film? I think the answer is yes and no. Yes, because this year was weak as fuck and it was the best choice, and no because, just, no. I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel like a Best Picture film to me. So, there’s that. Best Actor went to Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas. This year was stacked in terms of Best Actor and there were several good choices that could have been made. Best Actress went to Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking. I’ll speak my piece on that when the time comes. Best Supporting Actor was Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects. Kind of a lead, but, I think we’ll all take that one. That movie is boss. And Best Supporting Actress was Mira Sorvino for Mighty Aphrodite, a Woody Allen film I actually like. Gasp. I know. I was surprised too. (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Just one more thing, Captain. What makes you so sure the baby is a male?” “Don’t fuck with me.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1993

1993 is just one of those years — game over, man. There’s nothing you can do. It’s fucking Schindler’s List. There’s nothing else that wins here. So, really, what this year is gonna be is, kind of like a math problem — Schindler’s List is X, that’s the given, and what we’re gonna do, is just let x be there, and then talk about everything else, and try to find some good stuff around it. It’s still clearly the winner, but, let’s see what might get overlooked because of the big, Jewish elephant in the room. Babarshkowitz.

Note: If I were Jewish, that would have been a much better pun.

So, we know about Best Picture. Best Actor was Tom Hanks for Philadelphia, which I’ve spoken about already. Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress were Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin for The Piano, and Best Supporting Actor was Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive. I guess, because, they wanted to have fun amidst the dour mood of Dumberg over there. (Wow, I really need to up my Jew pun ratio. Catholicism has so much more to work with. Oh, sorry, too soon?)


And the nominees are…

Robert Altman, Short Cuts

Jane Campion, The Piano

James Ivory, The Remains of the Day

Jim Sheridan, In the Name of the Father

Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List (more…)

Pic of the Day: “That’s thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1992

1992 is a great year. I think they got pretty much everything right here. The degrees of getting it right are specific to each category, but I think every category was genuinely on the mark. I wonder how many years that’s happened with. I guess that’s another thing I’ll do at the end of all this. Tally up which years I agree with and disagree with the most. This one will be one of the better ones, I’m sure.

Unforgiven won Best Picture this year, and Gene Hackman won Best Supporting Actor for it as well. Best Actor was one of the biggest makeup Oscars in the world, to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Best Actress was Emma Thompson, in Howards End. Best Supporting Actress was Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny. Great year, right?


And the nominees are…

Robert Altman, The Player

Martin Brest, Scent of a Woman

Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven

James Ivory, Howards End

Neil Jordan, The Crying Game (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I can’t make out whether you’re bloody bad-mannered or just half-witted.” “I have the same problem, sir.”

Lawrence of Arabia - 274

The Movie Year in Review (So Far)

I figured this would be an optimal time to review all that’s come out since the year started. After all, we are a third of the way through it.

Remember when I said at the beginning of this blog that I see everything that comes out? I wasn’t lying. I do actually try to see everything that comes out. Though unlike last year, where I literally saw everything that came out, this year I’m more involved with my Oscar Quest. And I have other shit to do. This isn’t college, there isn’t as much free time to waste. Plus, why do I need to see everything? 95% is just as good, especially when, with the other 5%, I’m not interested in them, and I already know what I’d think about them if I did see them. For example, here’s a list of the films of 2011 (so far) that I’ve yet to see, and in all likelihood will not see:

The Rite (I think we all know what the score is here. I hate horror movies, and I don’t think anyone will ever ask, “Hey, did you see that?” And if they do, it’s because they’re trying to be a dick because I said I see “everything” and they’re trying to find something I haven’t seen. We know it’s a shitty horror movie, and that’s that), Sanctum (yeah, a 3D spelunking movie. I’m sure no one will even remember this movie even exists. In fact, did you even remember this movie came out until I mentioned it? I rest my case), The Eagle (sword and sandal movie. Too much sword. Therefore not interested. I wanted more sandal), Beastly (fucking really?), Mars Needs Moms (generic, forgettable kids movie. Don’t need to see it to know that), Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 (haven’t seen the first one, so, I’ll leave it to the kids), Insidious (horror movie. Do not care), Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (if I wanted to watch unfunny black people stereotypes, I’ll watch white people movies), and African Cats (just because, nature documentary. They’re all the same. These ones are more manipulative). Oh yeah, the Bieber movie too. But are we actually counting that as a movie?

See what I mean? Is there anything on there I really need to see? No. I’m not interested in them. They’re all forgettable, and even if they’re bad, I know they won’t be bad enough to make my Unforgivables list. So there’s no point in seeing them at all. Unless of course someone tells me I should, either because it’s “not that bad” or because “it might actually be worth putting on the Unforgivables.” I’m about 90% certain none of these films will qualify in either of those categories.


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1990

Oh, you knew this day would come. The day where we talk about how Dances With Wolves beat Goodfellas. Yeah. Don’t worry, I’ll be brief about it. I think it’s all pretty understood by now. Plus, we’re gonna have to do it again once Best Picture rolls around. Let’s save it all until then.

So, to recap the rest of the year that isn’t the big two abominations, Best Actor went to Jeremy Irons for Reversal of Fortune. It’s widely regarded as a makeup Oscar for a film he wasn’t even nominated for. (I’ll tell you what that is when we get to Best Actor for this year. I’ll give you a hint. He mentions it in his acceptance speech.) Best Actress was Kathy Bates for Misery. She’s crazy as fuck in that movie. Best Supporting Actor was Joe Pesci for Goodfellas. That pretty much speaks for itself. And Best Supporting Actress was Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost, because, well, I guess they really like the magical negro. I don’t know. So that’s 1990. Let’s get into the film bashing…


And the nominees were…

Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part III

Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves

Stephen Frears, The Grifters

Barbet Schroeder, Reversal of Fortune

Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas (more…)

Tron: Legacy, and What Is Wrong with Movies Today (Part 3)

Hey, Tron is back. I decided to take more than those couple of days off on this. Just because, like all things, once I’m done with them, I cease to be interested in them. I move onto the next thing. Sure, I’ll go back and revisit thing again and be like, “Ah, this is why I like this,” but, once I’m finished with something — especially something I’ve written — I’m no longer interested in it. Which, poses a problem when it’s something you’re technically not finished with.

I wrote those first two — which, here’s Part I and here’s Part II, just so you’re not confused — and just lost interest in it. I should have kept going continuously, perhaps this entry would have been more interesting. But, this will be like the Godfather III of the bunch. But, when it’s done, we’re done. So, you got that going for you.

It took a few days to get back up to speed on this. At first I didn’t want to continue, but, I figured kind of had to. I had that feeling of being out on the shaky drawbridge without a parachute (hear that, Sam? Without a parachute), of, “Am I doing the right thing?” Then I thought, “Fuck it.” As I often do. So we’re gonna continue to the bitter end. Which is what I say every time I finish a Manhattan.

There are bitters in a Manhattan. Just checking.

When we last left Tron: Legacy (not Tron. Still checking.), we hadn’t even gotten onto the Grid just yet. Sam had just pulled his whole Encom stunt and had gotten “arrested.” This “arrest” lasts for about — oh, I don’t know, how many frames does it take to transition from one scene to the next? That many. (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Why are you lying?” “I have to.” “But your pants will catch fire.”

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - 27

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1989

1989. A number. Another summer. Why that wasn’t nominated, I have no idea. But, you know, shit happens.

1989 goes down as one of the worst Best Picture choices of all time, and rightfully so. It was a terrible choice. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a Best Picture movie. The movie was Driving Miss Daisy, which beat out such films as My Left Foot, Field of Dreams, Born on the Fourth of July and Dead Poet’s Society to win Best Picture. It’s the last (and really only) film to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. Not win. Nomination. The only other films to do that are Grand Hotel (which only got the one nomination for Best Picture) and Wings (which was in first Oscar year). Both of those came really before the Academy figured themselves out. Assuming the Oscars as we know them really started in 1934, Driving Miss Daisy is the only film to win Best Picture without even a Best Director nomination. Thus ends the bad decisions of the 80s. Then the 90s came and they only made mistakes on like, two out of the ten years. Which is pretty good.

Best Actor went to Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot, and Brenda Fricker won Best Supporting Actress for that film as well. Best Actress went to Jessica Tandy for Miss Daisy, because — well, she was old. Best Supporting Actor went to Denzel Washington for Glory. Not really bad decisions on anything except Best Picture there. I mean, Tandy wasn’t the best choice, but the category didn’t have a clear winner to take away from the sentimentality of the veteran nomination. So, you know, it doesn’t seem so bad.


And the nominees were…

Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors

Kenneth Branagh, Henry V

Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot

Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July

Peter Weir, Dead Poet’s Society (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Tell me, was it necessary that you kill all of them? I only told you to scare them.” “People scare better when they’re dying.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1988

I love 1988. I was born in 1988. Therefore I feel extra invested in what won this year. Why? I don’t know. It wasn’t a particularly strong year for movies. And the movie that won isn’t necessarily a “great” picture, but it is, at the same time, a great picture. In a different year it would almost certainly never hold up. But you know, whatever.

Rain Man won Best Picture this year. Everybody loves Rain Man, right? It’s a good picture. Maybe a bit too, sentimental, but, hey, whatever. Best Actor went to Dustin Hoffman, since — well, I guess he didn’t go full retard. Best Actress was Jodie Foster for The Accused. Best Supporting Actress went to Geena Davis (why?) for The Accidental Tourist, and Best Supporting Actor went to Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda. I’m very ambivalent about this year. I think I agree with most of the choices, but then, maybe I don’t. Maybe it’s just a factor of, I like them because the year isn’t stronger. I don’t know. This year was always tough for me to call. I was too busy — marinating. And then, you know, sleeping and crying and throwing up all over the place (I was a puker). But, you know, it’s the 80s, so we don’t really expect too much. The Oscars are much like me in the 80s — we barely got out alive.


And the nominees were…

Charles Crichton, A Fish Called Wanda

Barry Levinson, Rain Man

Mike Nichols, Working Girl

Alan Parker, Mississippi Burning

Martin Scorsese, The Last Temptation of Christ (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Could you speak louder please, I’m a bit hard of hearing.” “As if I couldn’t tell.”

The Box Office Report – April 22-24

Last week, in Box Office…

The expected happened once again. Sort of. Expected by me, anyway.

Rio wins the weekend with $39.2 million. Remember when everyone was like, “This will do $50 million,” and I was like, “I’m hesitant to say it’ll do that so I’m gonna say like, $42 million”? Yeah. Guess who was closer? We both still lost on the Price is Right, but at least I get to bid first next time.

There was really no way it should have doen more than $40 million. I don’t think it could have been that good. $40 million is now standard opening for an animated kids movie. Which I guarantee you the studios will notice and that in three years you will have at least one major animated kids movie a month. If not then they dropped the ball yet again and don’t want to make any money.

Just to provide more subjectivity, I’m very happy it didn’t actually cross $40 million, because, how good can it actually be? Let’s not have every shitty kids movie make money. We have to vote for reasonable success here. I’m also happy though that it did better than Hop, because that was fucking awful. I barely got through it. It took a lot of alcohol, and I kept the DVD of The Thin Man open in the background to remind me that better times were ahead. So, for me, this was the more optimal weekend for old flu balls there. Expect the sequel out in 2013. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1987

1987 is another one of those generic 80s years. It’s not that they made a bad choice. The Last Emperor is a very good film. It’s just — not everyone is gonna go out and watch The Last Emperor. I bet it’s one of the least watched Best Picture choices of all time. It’s certainly the least-grossing Best Picture winner of all time. So it’s got that going for it.

Best Actor of this year was Michael Douglas for Wall Street. Best Actress was Cher for Moonstruck. Olympia Dukakis won Best Supporting Actress for that film too. Best Supporting Actor was Sean Connery for The Untouchables. So, clearly they got the men right this year. The women — up for discussion.

That’s really it. If you know The Last Emperor, you know there really isn’t much more to say about 1987.


And the nominees were…

Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor

John Boorman, Hope and Glory

Lasse Hallström, My Life as a Dog

Norman Jewison, Moonstruck

Adrian Lyne, Fatal Attraction (more…)