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Oscars

And The Winner Is: 2019 Oscars Preditions

From climate change to measles to the epidemic of motion-smoothing on TV sets, I know we have many, many more important things to worry about. But in the moments before your beach house is inundated by rising seas, spare a thought for the slow-motion pratfall that is this year’s Oscars ceremony.

The awards, to be broadcast on ABC on this Sunday (Feb. 24), have been bungled from the start. Let’s recap: A proposal to add a new award for Best Popular Film (alternate name: Best Movie That’s Not That Great But That Some of You Might Actually Have Seen) was quickly withdrawn after a withering reception. Then host Kevin Hart stepped down in the wake of criticism for homophobic jokes from his past. More recently, someone at the academy (or was it ABC? Or Disney, which owns ABC?) announced they would feature only two of the nominated songs during the show and would give out certain awards during commercial breaks and summarize the winning speeches later.

The aftermath: There’s no host, all the songs and categories are back in after public backlash, and the show will last seven hours. All right, maybe not seven, but ABC will have a hard time trying to make its three-hour target.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Oscar predictions from Robert Horton

This year, a coronation will be held during the Academy Awards ceremony. It happens periodically: An actor has waited an eternity to win an Oscar, and then a year comes when his or her performance is so undeniable (and, maybe, the competition not as strong as usual), and suddenly it’s the moment.

That’s why King Leo the First will be crowned at Sunday’s Oscar event. For years now Leonardo DiCaprio has worked his keister off in a variety of ambitious, ultra-serious roles. He’s been a pretender to the throne before, nominated for The Wolf of Wall Street, The Aviator, and a couple of other roles. But his physically exhausting stint in The Revenant will likely put a statuette up on his mantelpiece.

Aside from that sure thing, there are some toss-ups in the Oscar race this year. Best Picture remains a tantalizing guess: Will the Oscars go with the momentum of The Revenant, or reward the social-issue punch of Spotlight? Or does the political satire of The Big Short catch the mood of the moment?

Continue reading at The Herald (paywall alert)

Videophiled: ‘12 Years a Slave’ from Oscar to Disc

12 Years a Slave12 Years a Slave (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD), coming hot off an Oscar win for Best Picture as well as Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o, whose acceptance speech was a work of art) and Best Adapted Screenplay (by John Ridley), timed this release right. Still unavailable on VOD or On Demand, disc is the only way to see this at home.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the Solomon Northup, the free man who was kidnapped in the north and sold into slavery in the south where he survived for 12 years before he was able to return home, with Lupita Nyong’o as the young, abused female slave Patsey and a supporting cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Brad Pitt (who was also a producer).

What most impresses me about the film is the way it shows how slavery distorts humanity on all levels. When human beings are treated as property, it corrupts the owners as it takes away the self-worth of the captives. There is a vast gulf between the “bad master” played by Fassbender and the “good master” played by Cumberbatch, but he is a slave owner nonetheless and never considers another way.

Blu-ray and DVD with two featurettes, “The Team” and “The Score.” The Blu-ray offers an exclusive third featurette, “A Historical Portrait.” You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for On Demand and VOD, which could spur even more sales for those not willing to wait. Or you could visit your local video store. They could use your business.

More at Cinephiled

HungerGamesFireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, On Demand on Friday, March 7), the second film in the young adult dystopian series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katnis Everdeen, a reluctant warrior and symbol of resistance, improves upon the original film in almost every way. Taking the same basic premise—a despotic government that keeps its citizens in poverty and reminds them of its power by drafting the young into a modern gladiatorial ring to kill or be killed on TV—this one digs deeper into the idea of power and control and the way media is used as a tool of oppression.

Director Francis Lawrence understands the novels better than previous director Gary Ross. Katnis’s District 12 doesn’t look like an ennobled patch of poverty in the majesty of the wilderness this time, it’s a rural slum caked in coal dust, and the districts are essentially open slave pens for people who will be worked to death without any hope of escape. The façade of the luxurious capitol is built within a veritable bunker. And Katniss is no selfless heroine, simply a young woman who acts on instinct to protect who she loves rather than simply protect herself.

More New Releases at Cinephiled

Handicapping the Oscars: Lots of sure bets

Jared Leto in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Rarely has there been a year when the Oscar nominations felt so pre-ordained. Spoon-fed, you might say.

Oh, the movies are mostly good. 2013 was a decent year in film and the nominees are actually an admirable lot.

But with all the second-tier events like the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics and the SAG awards, not to mention a slew of critics groups around the U.S., the nods seemed already set in stone by the time they were announced on Jan. 16.

And not just because of the repetition of awards. The campaigning this year — magazine ads, talk-show appearances, endless interviews — resulted in the people spending the most money getting the most nominations.

Can nobody else but Cate Blanchett win for best actress? Could we possibly spread around the supporting actor nods to someone other than Jared Leto? Does anybody even remember seeing August: Osage County

Continue reading at The Herald

Can DiCaprio beat McConaughey? Fearless Oscar predictions give awards an edge

This year’s Academy Awards, which air Sunday, is a real contest in most categories. Sure, Frozen has a lock on best animated feature and best song (just ask all those parents of young kids who still can’t “Let it Go”), while Gravity is a shoo-in for the technical categories.

The rest of the race is a little more competitive. Is the best picture battle coming down to the soaring space drama of Gravity vs. the grim historical events of 12 Years a Slave? Will Matthew McConaughey take home best actor, or does recent buzz for Leonardo DiCaprio hint at a surprise? Here are our predictions, all based on a mix of scrupulous research, previous winners, personal opinion, and pure speculation.

Matthew McConaughey in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Best actor
America loves a comeback story and Matthew McConaughey is the story of the year. After coasting through endless romantic comedies and lightweight adventure pictures, he reinvented himself with a series a roles that cast his easy charm in challenging characters. Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club is the culmination of that transformation and it’s just the kind of character conundrum that Oscar loves to honor. But just when it looked like McConaughey had it in the bag, the buzz for Leonardo DiCaprio’s adrenaline-charged performance in The Wolf of Wall Street began to grow, at least as measured by the conversation on social media. And let’s face it, it takes real strength to sustain that kind of energy and compete with Scorsese’s runaway filmmaking.

Continue reading at Today.com

Get your Oscar flick fix without leaving the house

By the time the Oscars air on March 2, most moviegoers will not have been able to get to theaters to see all the nominees. But thanks to the era of DVD, Blu-ray, streaming video and movies on demand, those who really want to cram for Hollywood’s big night can catch up on a bunch of the films at home.

Some of the front-runners still require a theater trip (more on that later), but for those of you who want to order in and prep for your office pool from the comfort of your own couch, it’s possible to cover a lot of ground.

Jared Leto in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

The biggest talkers

“Dallas Buyers Club” picked up six nominations, including best picture and best original screenplay, but its best chances are in the acting categories, where Matthew McConaughey is a front-runner for best actor and Jared Leto is up in the supporting actor category. The two already took home Golden Globes for their performances. It’s available on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and On Demand.

“Captain Phillips” also received six nominations, including best picture, adapted screenplay, and actor in a supporting role for Barkhad Abdi, a non-actor who made a vivid debut in the role of a Somali pirate. Star Tom Hanks was overlooked for his equally strong performance. It’s available on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and On Demand.

Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” earned Cate Blanchett her sixth Oscar nomination and she is a wonder as a Blanche DuBois in contemporary San Francisco. That would make fellow nominee Sally Hawkins (up for best supporting actress) the film’s Stella. It’s available on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and On Demand.

Continue reading at Today.com

Oscar night: halfway measures

No miserables here: Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Christoph Waltz

For an Oscar year in which several big awards were foregone conclusions, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences soiree this past Sunday included its share of surprises.

It also featured an equable, perhaps accidental, distribution of the prizes among a range of movies. When we consider how set the Hollywood community appeared to be on anointing the sixth-best nominee as best picture, it’s gratifying that 2012 won’t go down in Oscar history as a sweep year.

Yes, as predicted here and just about everywhere else, the George Clooney–Grant Heslov–Ben Affleck production Argo copped the big one. But it won only two others, tying with the execrable Les Misérables and running one behind Life of Pi. Scoring two each on the tote board were Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the James Bond movie Skyfall, and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

It was Django that drew first blood, with the second supporting-actor win by Christoph Waltz in a Quentin Tarantino movie. As in Inglourious Basterds (2009), Waltz was really a costar rather than supporting player. And once again Waltz gave an impeccably gracious acceptance speech, naming and literally bowing to his esteemed fellow nominees and praising his writer-director through artful repurposing of Tarantino’s own words.

Did Waltz’s sorta-surprise win foreshadow an evening of academy voters taking pointed stands against pinched-face controversy? Django Unchained, an outrageous historical revenge tale framed as a spaghetti Western, had been deplored (especially by people who refused to see it) for its ballsy, N-word–laden take on slavery. What about Zero Dark Thirty—only the for-real best movie of 2012—glibly maligned for endorsing the efficacy of “enhanced interrogation” even though it hadn’t done so?

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Oscar perspective

[originally published on Straight Shooting]

Best Pictures ‘Argo’ is better than
The Broadway Melody, Cimarron, Cavalcade, The Great Ziegfeld, Gentleman’s Agreement, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, The Sound of Music, The Sting, Rocky, Gandhi, Driving Miss Daisy, Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Pictures ‘Argo’ can orbit with
Wings, Grand Hotel, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Life of Emile Zola, Mrs. Miniver, All the King’s Men, An American in Paris, From Here to Eternity, Marty, Gigi, Ben-Hur, West Side Story, Tom Jones, My Fair Lady, A Man for All Seasons, In the Heat of the Night, Oliver!, Midnight Cowboy, Patton, Ordinary People, Chariots of Fire, Terms of Endearment, Out of Africa, Platoon, Rain Man, Dances With Wolves, Forrest Gump, The English Patient, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, American Beauty, Gladiator, Crash, The King’s Speech

Best Pictures ‘Argo’ can’t touch
All Quiet on the Western Front, It Happened One Night, You Can’t Take It with You, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Going My Way, The Lost Weekend, Hamlet, All About Eve, On the Waterfront, Bridge on the River Kwai, The French Connection, The Godfather, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, Amadeus, The Last Emperor, The Silence of the Lambs, Schindler’s List, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Departed, The Artist

Best Pictures ‘Argo’ can’t see with an astronomical telescope
How Green Was My Valley, Casablanca, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Apartment, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather Part Two, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker

Best Picture nominees that lost (top shelf)
Grand Illusion, Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, The Maltese Falcon, The Magnificent Ambersons, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Blvd., Shane, Anatomy of a Murder, Dr. Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, Nashville, All the President’s Men, E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial, The Right Stuff, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Saving Private Ryan, Brokeback Mountain, Winter’s Bone

Best Picture nominees 2012: a ranking
Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Les Misérables

Copyright © 2013 by Richard T. Jameson

Oscar shows us its boobs: MacFarlane & Co.

God love Tom Shales and this Tweet last night:  “For the first time ever the Oscar show is worse than the Red Carpet crap that preceded it.”

For anyone who does not regularly rejoice in the work of the  former Washington Post TV critic and Pulitzer Prize winner, he blogs here.   For fear of suddenly sounding a whole lot smarter than I have a right to, I haven’t yet read a word of it, beyond his blog headline and this Tweet. Soon as this is posted I plan to luxuriate in Shales’  gentle, dove-like tones, since we seem to have seen the same show.

One of the hundreds of tidbits the Academy chummed to its ravenous readers was an interview with the show’s producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Chicago, The Bucket List, Footloose) who confessed that for years, they’d been dying to stage the Oscars since they’d  knew exactly what they’d do, “But no one asked us.”

Then, for better or worse, they were asked.

Let’s go with the best first.  The awards themselves, over which they had no control, were wide-ranging and generous (if your name isn’t Steven Spielberg.) It seems almost impossible not to love Ang Lee, people seem to beam in his presence, and he returns the favor. The whole theatre seemed to love his winning Best Director for Life of Pi, a seemingly impossible-to-pull-off, spiritually charged and breathtaking film.

Continue reading at Critic Quality Feed

2010 Academy Awards: finished business

Last week I told a friend I wasn’t anticipating Oscar night all that much this year. Then I immediately emended that: No, I was anticipating Oscar night all too well. There was little room for doubt who or what was going to win, and the outlook wasn’t prepossessing.

As I wrote here several weeks ago, the triple crown victory of The King’s Speech in the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild awards gave clear indication where Hollywood’s heart lay and confirmed that film as the favorite to win the Academy Award for best picture. By showtime Sunday night, most partisans of the heretofore presumptive frontrunner, The Social Network, had conceded the field and pinned their hopes on a best-director victory for David (“99 takes!”) Fincher over The King’s man Tom Hooper.

On Sunday night, Fincher lost; Hooper won. And that moment, well into the third hour of the awards ceremony, was when a reasonably pleasant evening turned glum.

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