And The 2014 Oscars Go To….

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2013 was a pretty damn good year for movies! And this year, there are 9 of them that have been chosen to represent for the right to be name the “Best Motion Picture Of The Year!” I can’t say that I have seen ALL of the films that have been nominated, but I have seen my share so I thought I would take a stab at who I think will be the big winners this year and which film I would pick to represent as the best of 2013. So…without further adieu…

Let’s just skip to what I think is gonna be a sweep in several of the smaller categories, shall we? Because I have a feeling, the sci-fi blockbuster “Gravity” is gonna clean house in several of them. So…”Gravity” takes BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS, SOUND EDITING, SOUND MIXING, ORIGINAL SCORE, EDITING & CINEMATOGRAPHY. So, right out of the box, that puts “Gravity” with 6 golden statues!

Okay…now with the rest…

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Although I WANT to give it to U2 for their song “Ordinary Love” from the soundtrack of “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” I think the film “Frozen” might sweep in and take this one with “Let It Go.” So…I’ll go with “Let It Go” and root for U2. And I won’t be upset if I got this one wrong!

COSTUME DESIGN: “American Hustle.” I mean…here you have 4 of the most recognizable actors in the business and I never once thought to myself, “Huh…Christian Bale looks ridiculous in a combover.”

PRODUCTION DESIGN: “The Great Gatsby.” I didn’t really care much for it overall as a film, but the production design on it is outstanding and possibly the only reason (other than Leonardo DiCaprio) to sit through its 2+ hour runtime.

ANIMATED FILM: “Frozen.” I haven’t seen it but the word of mouth (which is mostly from my daughter and her friends) is outstanding!

BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY BASED ON PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED MATERIAL: “12 Years A Slave.” Despite being an outstanding film, I don’t think it will win in many of the other categories and I see the Academy wanting to recognize it in some capacity so….here it is!

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “American Hustle.” Who is hustling who in this film? It’s a great script that carries through to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did everyone else. Other than possibly “Blue Jasmine,” I don’t think this one could be topped in this category.

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity.” Hands down. No question. It’s a done deal.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Having only seen 3 of the 5, I’ll go with who I would pick and that would be Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine.” But I have to imagine Jennifer Lawrence will get serious consideration also.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: I’ve heard Jared Leto is outstanding in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” but I haven’t seen it. So, until I do, I’m going with Michael Fassbender for his role as a plantation owner in “12 Years A Slave.” He’s also been a so many other films where he’s excellent that I think it’s time the guy got one…don’t you think?

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: THIS is a tough one! Here’s the deal…I HATED “Blue Jasmine.” And when I say HATE, I mean it in one of the nicest ways possible. Cate Blanchett is spectacular as a wealthy woman who is brought down to earth when her husband is indicted and sent to jail. Blanchett chews up the entire movie and I absolutely abhorred her character throughout the film. Then…you get to the end…and I found myself sympathizing with her and THAT is the sign of either A) a great actress or B) writing so amazing that the actor or actress can’t screw it up. So…which do I go with? Amy Adams’ character in “American Hustle” was dead on also (I even predicted her to win in my review of the movie) and I hear Judi Dench is also a possibility for “Philomena.” Well…I haven’t seen “Philomena” and “Blue Jasmine” was written & directed by Woody Allen. So…I’m going to go with my original first choice…Amy Adams wins for “American Hustle.” She is ultimately the absolute best in a role that I don’t think anyone else could have taken and made it what she did. Her performance is, quite frankly, the heartbeat of the movie and she deserves it!

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: I have to tell ya…Matthew McConaughey has had a pretty good year. And he’s nominated for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” So…I can see where he might end up taking this one. But I haven’t seen this film (but I DID see “Mud” and he was excellent in it!) so I can’t say if he should win or not. I also have not seen “Nebraska” and I hear Bruce Dern is extremely good and has also been a noted high-tier actor in Hollywood for years. So HE could also be in the running. But for MY money, of the 3 actors that I HAVE seen this year, Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is probably the best. He is almost gleeful in the way he takes this reprehensible character and gives him life. Plus…we all know Hollywood loves DiCaprio and would love to see him win his first statue so…there ya go.

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR: When voting for the best film, I would have to ask myself…”In 15 years, which movie would I WANT to see again?” In this case, it’s an easy answer. For me, there is only one movie that I HAD to see again. It was everything I enjoy about the movies and it was everything I could ask for in a 90 minute package. “Gravity” may not be the most thought provoking film of the past year, but it was definitely the reason I love to go sit in a dark room with strangers, munching on popped corn kernels and drinking soda. It was exhilarating, breathtaking and as entertaining as any film I’ve seen in years. So, despite the fact that there are so many great films in this list of hopefuls, my vote is for “GRAVITY.” I’ve seen it 4 times already and it is, in so many ways, perfect. It’s an A+ in a year full of A’s…and so it gets MY vote as the best of 2013!

2013 Summer Releases: Yes Or No

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The flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and my Summer Movie Preview edition of Entertainment Weekly has arrived in the mail. Looking ahead at what could be a very entertaining summer, I’m picking 5 movies I am TOTALLY looking forward to and 5 movies that I will probably suck.

YES!

1. Man Of Steel (June 14)
It’s another reboot of a franchise that has been lagging. Despite the fact that we were tortured with a remake in 2006 that failed to spark any audience and was considered a flop, DC Comics hasn’t given up on its tentpole character and apparently this may be the beginning of a future “Justice League.” film. After watching the trailers that have been coming out since last winter and with Zack Snyder directing this time, this has potential to be HUGE! Oh yeah…and the guy who wrote the latest Batman films is in on the action also (Christopher Nolan), so Supes has THAT going for him as well.

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2. Iron Man 3 (May 3)
I can’t deny…I am a SUCKER for all the super hero films and Robert Downey’s take on Iron Man is dead on. He IS Tony Stark and in the 2 previous IM films and last summer’s “The Avengers,” he is exactly what I see whenever I think of Marvel’s drawn character. Throw in a super badass bad guy, Ben Kingley’s “The Mandarin,” and what looks like an army of Iron Men and this movie looks like prime popcorn and soda material!

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3. Elysium (August 9)
Matt Damon & Jodi Foster team up with “District 9” director, Neill Blomkamp, to do a science fiction movie about the have’s and the have-not’s. Setting it far into the future, our world is split between the super rich & the super poor. The rich live on Elysium. The poor live on Earth. And when everyman Damon finds that he is irradiated, he decides to break into Elysium to find a cure for himself. Expect lots of action and plenty of thought-provoking modern day comparisons in this one.

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4. This Is The End (June 12)
A movie about movie stars playing themselves at a party at the end of the world? That’s the premise and I’m all in! Stars Seth Rogan, James Franco, Emma Watson and a cast of thousands! Ok…maybe not thousands…but it sounded good. And the trailer looks “SWEET!”

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5. The Great Gatsby (May 10)
This one could go either way. The trailer looks awesome and the cast is top notch (Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire), but there is something about so much green screen work that worries me. We all know the story about Jay Gatsby (considering the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been made into film 5 times prior) so you have to wonder if the guy who brought us the stylized remake of Romeo & Juliet can break it down in a new way. If it’s HALF as good as the trailer…I say yes. Either way, it looks like a MUST-SEE on the big screen!

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UM…NO.

1. R.I.P.D. (July 19)
It looks like a poor man’s remake of “Men In Black” with the 2 heroes being dead instead of alien chasers. A horrible premise is made even MORE horrible by the trailer with Jeff Bridges playing the crusty, old-timer part instead of Tommy Lee Jones and Ryan Reynolds as Will Smith. I say avoid this one like the plague.

2. The Lone Ranger (July 3)
Why, Johnny Depp? Why? From the first time I saw who was in this movie I thought…”What is up with that?” Then I saw that Depp was playing Tonto and NOT the masked man and I had to wonder…”What is up with that?” And then after seeing the trailer last winter and again and again since I’ve been wondering…”Why?” This looks like ANOTHER Will Smith movie from 1999 called “Wild, Wild West” which was a complete mess. No way I’m seeing this in the theater…

3. The Heat (June 28)
Sandra Bullock, try as she might, is NOT a comedian. Actually, as much as I WANTED to like her in “Miss Congeniality,” I found her stiff and boring. This movie looks a LOT like that one except you have Melissa McCarthy added as comic relief. I dunno about the whole “women can do comedy” thing (I thought “Bridesmaids” was ok…), but this doesn’t look funny at all. I imagine I’ll watch it when it comes to USA Network sometime next winter.

4. Planes (August 9)
I know my kids will WANT to see it, but I loved “Cars” so much and this looks like Disney is simply taking all of the Cars characters and throwing them into the air…literally. What was once a direct-to-DVD venture, the Mouse House has decided it needs to soak up more of your hard earned cash and so they’re putting this one in theaters. I say avoid it. You have been warned.

5. Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)
Six?!?! They’ve made SIX of these things??? Unbelievable. Vin Deisel could probably retire from making movies with the amount of cash they pay him to look muscled up for this role. Let’s see if I can get you the plot in 2 sentences or less: Bad guys are really good guys and they steal from the rich. Everyone drives fast and there are lots of crashes. Good enough? Yeesh.

MAYBE?

Here are a few flicks I plan on seeing. Dunno if they’re gonna be what I’m expecting but…I’m a sucker for blowing my hard-earned money in the theater air conditioning…

1. Star Trek Into Darkness
C’mon…it’s STAR TREK. The first one was damn good and the cast was dead on. Let’s hope the movie is as exciting as the trailer!

2. The Hangover Part III
The Final Chapter? I hope so. But despite the fact that II sucked, there is something about this that looks funny to me. They’re saying this one is darker. I’ll be the judge of that.

3. World War Z
It’s got zombies and Brad Pitt. What that means is anyone’s guess. It looks like a combo of “I Am Legend” and “28 Days Later.” Let’s hope it’s MORE like “28 Days Later.”

4. Kick Ass 2
I liked the first one and this one has Jim Carrey. So sue me. I’m in!

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Oscar Night Results!

20130224-203054.jpgLet’s just start by saying…the Red Carpet part of the Oscars is just ridiculous anymore. All the interviews with celebrities who are obviously not interested in talking, they’re all nervous, they’re all giggly and it’s just dumb. I don’t know how many hours E! broadcasts the “pre-show” but it’s just WAY too much talk about dresses and suits and jewelry and stuff that just doesn’t matter. We’re here to celebrate MOVIES…NOT clothing!?!?! Right?

Okay…I have THAT off my chest…let’s take a look at tonight’s big winners!

Seth McFarlane opens it BIG with a quip about making Tommy Lee Jones laugh. Good start! From there he seemed a little nervous but managed to work through it with a standard opening that didn’t really make any changes to what it normally happens at the Oscars. Then he did a hilarious spoof with Captain James T. Kirk that included a song about celebrity boobs, a sock puppet homage to the film “Flight” and a love scene with Sally Field which had McFarland dressing up like the Flying nun. All-in-all, this was his shining moment for the evening as the rest of the show he fell kinda flat. Not that he was the worst host of the Oscars ever, but he certainly wasn’t the best.

Anyway…let’s take a look at how my brother & I did compared to the results of our poll, shall we? Not necessarily in the order they were aired last night but more as we listed them in THIS post

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: I picked “Life Of Pi”, Frank picked “Argo”, the people (all 22 of you) picked Argo with 36.4% of the vote.

THE WINNER: “Argo”

  • Frank 1:
  • Alan: 0
  • The People: 1

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: I chose “Zero Dark Thirty” figuring it HAD to win SOMETHING, Frank picked “Django Unchained” and the people (21 of you) picked a tie between Zero Dark Thirty & Django with 28.6% of the vote.

THE WINNER: “Django Unchained!”

  • Frank: 2
  • Alan: 0
  • The People: 1.5

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: This was a toughie this year. I chose “Life Of Pi,” Frank picked “The Hobbit” and the people (20 joined in) picked “Life Of Pi” to take home the prize with 50% of the vote.

THE WINNER: “Life Of Pi”

  • Frank: 2
  • Alan: 1
  • The People: 2.5

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Frank thought he has this one in the bag picking “Les Miserables.” I had to agree with him, and 80% of you agreed with us. Well…we are suckers. 0 points for ALL of us…

THE WINNER: Anna Karenina

BEST FILM EDITING: We ALL picked “Argo” (38.9% of the votes!) and the Academy didn’t disappoint…

THE WINNER: “Argo”

  • Frank: 3
  • Alan: 2
  • The People: 3.5

BEST DIRECTOR: This was an Up For Grabs category despite what everyone thinks. Most were picking Spielberg to have this thing wrapped up but Frank & I disagreed. We took Ang Lee for “Life Of Pi” due to degree of difficulty, the people picked Spielberg with 58.8% of the vote. The people were suckered!

THE WINNER: Ang Lee, “Life Of Pi” 

  • Frank: 4
  • Alan: 3
  • The People: 3.5

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: I thought for sure this was gonna go my way! I picked “Wreck-It Ralph,” Frank chose the Pixar film “Brave” and the people were on Frank’s side. Guess you guys know your animated movies!

THE WINNER: “Brave”

  • Frank: 5
  • Alan: 3
  • The People: 4.5

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I HAD to believe the woman who went full nude was gonna wrap this one up but I guess I was wrong. I picked Helen Hunt to win for “The Sessions,” Frank picked Sally Fields ’cause she got fat in “Lincoln” and you, the people, took Anne Hathaway with 60% of the vote. Smart people!

THE WINNER: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

  • Frank: 5
  • Alan: 3
  • The People: 5.5

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: I went with the quietest nominee for his role in “Django Unchained,” Christoph Waltz. Frankfurter took Alan Arkin in “Argo” because he has an AWESOME first name. The people spoke and picked Arkin also AND Tommy Lee Jones in our 2nd People’s Vote tie of the night…not that this one mattered.

THE WINNER: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

  • Frank: 5
  • Alan: 4
  • The People: 5.5

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: EVERYBODY and their brother took Daniel Day-Lewis (90% anyway) EXCEPT for MY brother who went with Bradley Cooper?!?! Um…no.

THE WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

  • Frank: 5
  • Alan: 5
  • The People: 6.5

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: This was a tough one. Seriously, Naomi Watts was SO deserving of this award that it’s not even funny. So I took her. Frank thought the 6-year old was gonna win for “Beasts Of The Southern Wilds” and the people picked Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” because you are all sheep who follow the media too closely.

THE WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook.” This was EASILY the most disappointing choice of the night for me. Will she win another? Probably. Did she deserve it for this role? Nope. Nobody gets points…

BEST PICTURE: What a great year for movies! So many choices and so many times throughout the year there was Oscar buzz for ANY of the films nominated. I HAVE to believe that not getting a Best Director nod for Ben Affleck played into this decision, even though I was thought “Argo” was a genuinely entertaining movie. Anyway, I picked “Life Of Pi” to win, Frank & the People went with the hot ticket at the moment in “Argo” and you were correct!

THE WINNER: “Argo”

FINAL TALLY

  • Frank: 6
  • Alan: 5
  • The People: 7.5

And THAT’S what I get for voting with my heart instead of my head. Congrats to the People for winning this year’s Oscar Pick ‘Em competition! Maybe next year Frank & I will get this figured out…

Oscars

And The 2013 Oscars Go To…

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This year, my brother & I wanted to do something different. We’ve decided to allow you, the reader, the opportunity to chime in on who YOU think will be this year’s big winners! Of course, we will be voting as well and it will be fun to see who picks the right winners this year simply because, let’s face it, other than Daniel Day-Lewis, no one is a lock! Play along or don’t play along but either way…you can’t say we didn’t TRY to get you involved!

Alan: This year, I’ve seen a big chunk of these films (unlike last year where I’d seen maybe 2 or 3) so this time I’m going with who I think should win…not who I think everyone else will pick. Putting my skills to the test! Aaand I have no idea what or who my brother will pick but…that’s the fun of all this…right?

Frank: I have been slacking with my movie watching this year and since most of these films were only released within the last few months, I will be using alternative methods to determine the cream of this year’s crop (Magic 8-ball, consulting with 1-900 psychics, reading tarot cards, and Googling the heck out of each category).

Aaaaaaand away we go!

Alan’s Selection: Since I haven’t read ANY of these books, I’m sort of at a loss. However I am going to go with “Life Of Pi” due to the fact that so many have raved about how well this movie was transfered to the big screen and I have to agree…it WAS an awesome movie and the 3D was amazing!

Frank’s Selection: My heart says to go with Lincoln, but my brain says Affleck getting snubbed will generate some guilt voting for Argo. Normally a bad choice, but this time I am doing what my brain tells me! Argo wins the prize!

Alan’s Selection: I dunno what everyone likes about Moonrise Kingdom. I thought it was boring as any film this year. I’m going with Zero Dark Thirty on this one. It has been well documented that this movie was underway before they captured Bin Laden. I have to believe the Academy will see the masterful way the writers changed their original script and STILL made such an amazing movie.

Frank’s Selection: I think that Quentin Tarantino generated enough N-word buzz (Nostalgic) in his spaghetti western / revenge thriller that he wins this year. I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the film but the storyline was interesting.

Alan’s Selection: I loved The Avengers and it kicked butt this summer and made a boatload of cash for Hollywood. But despite that, I’m going against the jolly green Hulk on this one because of the masterful work Ang Lee did with Richard Parker and with the 3D effects in Life Of Pi.

Frank’s Selection: Has anything related to the Lord of the Rings ever NOT won an Oscar nomination? I really wanted to pick The Avengers (the end fight scene was AWESOME!) but its really hard to pick against a team that has won 17 Oscars, incuding 3 for visual effects. The Hobit reaches new heights with an Oscar win.

Alan’s Selection: I couldn’t care less about this category and, although I really liked Snow White & The Huntsmen, I HAVE to believe that the Broadway show, Les Mis, will be the one to take this award. So much grime and so many costumes…it has Oscar written all over it! So I’ll go with that and see if I happen to guess correctly.

Frank’s Selection: I have a time tested formula in determining Costume Design (patent pending) and it is telling me that Les Miserables is a lock.

Alan’s Selection: As much as I WANT to select Zero Dark Thirty, I am going to go out on a limb here and give it to Argo just because I figure the Academy HAS to give props to Ben Affleck’s little film that everyone THOUGHT had an opportunity for Best Picture. They’re both great films though!

Frank’s Selection: From what I hear they didn’t edit ANYTHING out of Lincoln, so that’s out. Hollywood is pissed torture scenes weren’t cut from Zero Dark Thirty, so that’s out. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo…..Oscar for Film Editing goes to Argo!

Alan’s Selection: This is a tough one. With the King of movie-making in the front-running with Lincoln, Spielberg is obviously in the running. But in this case, I’m going to say the Academy has SEEN something such as Lincoln before and they’ll go a different way. I like the idea that Life Of Pi director, Ang Lee, gets this because everyone knows it’s a pain in the butt filming on water AND it’s a damn good movie! Lincoln? Yawn.

Frank’s Selection: Where the hell is Affleck on this list? If I HAVE to pick a different director, I am going with Ang Lee. A fellow film buff told me that Life of Pi wasn’t supposed to be able to be made and he worked magic to pull it off. So, making the impossible magically possible is Oscar worthy.

Alan’s Selection: Pixar has a leg up with Brave but I’ve seen 3 of these and Wreck-It Ralph was one of my favorite films last year. So I’m going with Fix-It Felix and his good buddy, Ralph.

Frank’s Selection: Brave.

Now the BIGGIES!

Alan’s Selection: Admittedly, I have seen only 2 of these performances and I can’t say that either of them blew me away. So I’m going with the one who got naked and gave it all she had…literally. Helen Hunt plays a sex surrogate in The Sessions and I imagine the Academy will give her the statue for simply putting it all out there. if not, Anne Hathaway takes it because everyone loves a good music number…even if it DOES make you sad. I choose Hunt.

Frank’s Selection: I’ll say Sally Field wins the Oscar for packing on 40 pounds of crazy Lincoln weight for the role. Thats dangerous at her age and shows dedication!

Alan’s Selection: Truthfully…this is the toughest of ALL the categories. I WANT to say Alan Arkin here. He was a big part of why Argo was so entertaining and he’s a Hollywood staple. However he doesn’t have nearly the screen time that Christoph Waltz does in Django Unchained and so that is why I’m taking Waltz over Arkin in a battle of some pretty heated competition for the statue in this category!

Frank’s Selection: If Tommy Lee Jones wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor then he deserves an Oscar for every damn film he has ever been in (including Batman Forever!) because he has the played the same character with the same gruff attitude throughout his career. I like the character but if it’s the best of the year, that is sad. Another apology to Affleck as Alan Arkin wins an Oscar.

Alan’s Selection: This isn’t even close. Give it to Day-Lewis as our 16th President.

Frank’s Selection:  Wolverine isn’t supposed to sing and dance, so Hugh loses. From what I hear, Daniel Day-Lewis deserves an award for staying awake throughout this movie as the lead character, but I am in the mood for a long shot. I like Denzel but Bradley Cooper is a longer shot. So…there it is, Bradley Cooper steps up his game while working with a great director to win his only Oscar ever! (Ooooh, that’s predicting the future as well!)

Alan’s Selection: THIS is a heated race also! So many great performances and you have the youngest actress ever nominated in the category with Wallis (what a great performance!), one of the oldest in Riva and 2 hot new actresses who have been blowing audiences away ever since they hit the scene not so long ago (Lawrence & Chastain). But in this case, I am going with Naomi Watts. Her performance in The Impossible is one of the reasons I love that film so much and the fact that it’s not up for Best Picture blows me away.

Frank’s Selection: Quvenzhané Wallis becomes the youngest winner for Best Actress! Probably not, but it would be a good storyline and I am giving her my vote.

AND NOW…THE BEST OF THEM ALL…

Alan’s Selection: This IS a tough year to call! My HEAD says Lincoln. As boring as I thought it was, everyone else seemed to love it and you have Spielberg at the helm so…it’s in the running. I wouldn’t mind if Beasts Of the Southern Wild won. It was a great movie but it has lost some underdog steam since a few months ago. Django was probably not as well received as Tarantino’s previous films so I don’t think it’s gonna win. I didn’t see Les Mis but I heard mixed reviews. Amour will probably win Best Foreign Film but it hasn’t been seen by enough people to win Best Picture. Silver Linings Playbook probably has a better shot than I give it credit for but I didn’t think it was all that. Argo has already won a Golden Globe and EVERYONE knows you never win BOTH a Globe and an Oscar. So this leaves me with 2 to choose from…effects-laden Life Of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty. ZDT was, I feel, too similar in some ways to Katheryn Bigelow’s previous Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker. So…with all that being said…and with the movie that I thought was the best of last year not even in here (The Impossible)…I’m going to go with Life Of Pi as the upset winner for Best Film of 2012. It probably won’t happen…but what the hell.

Frank’s Selection: Of all the movies (and trailers) I have seen, Silver Linings Playbook deserves the Oscar the most. Django Unchained should not be on this list, and I just realized I totally snubbed Lincoln. Shoot, maybe I should think this over…..

To really capture my decision making process stare at at the screen for 5 minutes without blinking….

……Remembers a fat Sally Field pick from earlier…….and decides to go with Ol’ Trusty…Argo (AKA: We’re really sorry Ben!!!).

And The Winner Is…

Ah…Oscar night! So much glamour and glitz and it all boils down to just good movies. That’s all we really want. And there were many to choose from this past year. 2010 wasn’t really a year to remember so much as it was a year to enjoy really good film-making. Will I remember any of these films in 20 years? Probably not. However I DID enjoy most of the films I saw and I was pretty confident going into our annual competition that I had made some good choices right up to the second the music started. So here’s how it broke down…

Right out of the gate, Art Direction won me a 1-0 lead with “Alice In Wonderland” bringing home the prize. I have to admit…I was surprised. But whatever gets me rolling! Frank tied it up immediately though with “Inception” winning Cinematography (which it should have won). Then the BIG win was for Melissa Leo as the mother in “The Fighter.” Not only did she win me a point, but she also managed to cuss really loudly in front of the stiff Oscar crowd. I’m sure THAT acceptance speech won’t be rerun every year in the “memories of Oscars past” video…

Neither of us got the Animated Short winner “The Lost Things.” We never win that one anyway…and then we BOTH picked “Toy Story 3” for Best Animated Feature! But THAT was a gimme. So I’m up 3-2 when we both picked the winning Adapted Screenplay with “The Social Network.” Luckily I managed to squeak out a point by picking Original Screenplay with “The King’s Speech.” Now I’m up 5-3!

“In A Better World” won best Foreign film. Not a surprise there because frankly…neither of us care. But then another biggie pick goes to me as Christian Bale steals away the Best Supporting Actor award from Geoffrey Rush. Sorry Frank…it WAS a better performance! My lead is up to 6-3.

Buuut then it was down as Frank got points as Trent Reznor trotted up to take the Golden Man for “The Social Network” and he also guessed correctly (no matter how much I agreed) for “Inception” in Sound Mixing. But then we both picked up a point for picking “Inception” for Sound Editing and then there was a commercial break so I could lick my wounds, even though I still had a scant 7-6 lead at the halfway point.

Ok…breathing easy now because now we head into achievement in Makeup. With only 3 possible winners, I HAD to take this one! Right? Of course! “The Wolfman” helps me regain my 2 point edge. Then Costume Design went to “Alice In Wonderland” and it didn’t matter because we both picked “The King’s Speech.” Aaaand that will be the last time I ever listen to my brother. “A period piece ALWAYS wins!” he says. Well…maybe not. I’m up 9-7 and hangin’ on by my fingernails (of which I have none because I’ve chewed them all off by this point…).

Returning from the commercial break, “Strangers No More” won Short Documentary,”God Of Love”  won “Short Film and “Inside Job” managed to keep our winless streak intact in this segment as it won Best Documentary. We BOTH left this segment licking our wounds with no points won and with me still up 9-7.

Oh look! Billy Crystal! NOW this thing is heating up! He is, as always, top notch in his delivery and very funny! Okay funnyman…get me some more points here! Well…Visual Effects is unfortunately NOT gonna get anyone points because we both chose “Inception,” which won easily over its competition. So how about Film Editing? Well…neither of us picked that one as “The Social Network” wins. *sigh*…I’m still up 10-8!

Best Original Song category up next and they all kind of suck but we both picked the only sure thing and it wins for category staple, Randy Newman, and the Toy Story song, “We Belong Together.” So I STILL have that narrow lead heading into the bend which is Best Actress & Director but I think the worst I can do now is a tie…

So now Best Director. This is an interesting category because all of these film-makers are deserving but Tom Hooper takes it for “The King’s Speech.” So Frank wins another one and my lead is whittled down to one again, 11-10. Damn. Getting a little too close for comfort. C’MON NICOLE KIDMAN!!!

So here we go…Best Actress. This is gonna decide whether it’s a tie or a win for me. So sad that it comes down to this because if given a 2nd chance, I would have probably picked Frank’s choice, Natalie Portman. Not that I thought her performance was all that great…but the buzz has just been so loud. But there hasn’t been any big surprises tonight so…maybe this is it? Envelope please?

And…it will go down as a tie this year. Natalie Portman wins! And with both Frank & I picking Colin Firth for Best Actor and “The King’s Speech” for Best Picture, I’m going to bed because, quite frankly…those 2 are a lock.

Goodnight all! And after 3 years, Frank has yet to beat me…just sayin’…

Popcorn & A Soda Annual Oscar Showdown III

FRANK: Going into this year’s Oscar extravaganza I took a trip down memory lane, rereading our picks from the past two years when I remembered….Alan has me down 2-0!!!??? What the hell is going on? I had to close the lid on my laptop before my kids saw this embarrassing fact (I told them I was scouting for sitters). There is no way he pulls a three-peat on me! I grabbed a bag of Funions  and a case of YooHoo from Walmart and set in for some cinema cramming. All I can say now is no one in America is rooting for “Inception” as much as ol’ Frankie here! It is always fun doing these but this year I kick Alan’s ass…….

ALAN: I think the past 2 years speak for themselves. There’s a REASON I’m 2-0, baby brother. And it’s because I am much more in tune to what the Oscar voters want in a great film. Well…that AND I’m a really good guesser! So let’s get to it, shall we? Our 2011 Oscar Showdown begins…NOW!

Actor in a Leading Role
Frank: Colin F..Fi..Fir…Firth was b..b..b..badass in the “The Kings Speech”! OK, that was mean but still very true. Watching one of the most powerful men in the world quiver at the thought of speaking in public would usually make me giggle but Mr. Firth had my stomach turning with his. It was truly painful to watch and yet I enjoyed every minute of it.

Alan: I have to agree with you there. Firth does a great job and Oscar voters LOVE to vote for an actor who plays someone who has to overcome some kind of disability. If there is a lock this year, this might be it.


Stop Looking At Me Like That!!!

Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan: This one is going to Christian Bale as druggie brother Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter.” I admittedly have not seen “Winter’s Bone” or “The Town” so I can’t speak for those 2 actors but Bale puts on an Oscar caliber performance in this excellent film.

Frank: Christian Bale was a great crack head in “The Fighter” but his portrayal only looked Oscar worthy because it was next to the shit performance of Marky Mark Wahlburg. Geoffrey Rush delivered a stellar performance beside what we agree with as the best Leading Role of 2010! In short, Christian Bales character was nothing more than an extended scene from “Batman Begins” where he pretends to be intoxicated and an asshole to end his birthday party.

Actress in a Leading Role
Frank: One hour and eight minutes into “The Black Swan,” Natalie Portman won an Oscar, giggitty. I very rarely base Oscars on lesbian sexual performances (That’s how I pick my babysitters) but I had to make an exception this time. Natalie really sells the scene and I know Annette Benings character from “The Kids Are All Right” would agree.

Alan: Oh I remember the days when I would have picked a winner strictly for her sexual prowess in a film but in this case, YOU LOSE! I’m going with Nicole Kidman (who herself had some sexual energy going on in Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” in 1999) in a role that I haven’t even seen for 2 reasons: Kidman is a fantastic actress and because her role is that of a heartbroken mother in “Rabbit’s Hole” and everyone knows that Oscar is a sucker for a woman with woe. Other than that, I would go with Benning. She’s a safe bet and “The Kids Are All Right” is a meaty enough role.


Somebody needs to get out in the sun a little bit…

Actress in a Supporting Role
Alan: This is a tough call but I have to give the statue to relatively unknown actress Melissa Leo for her portrayal of a mother who loves her kids but has no clue in “The Fighter.” She’s just the right amount of redneck in the role and even manages to create a sympathetic character out of one tough nut in this role.

Frank: Hailee Steinfeld, also an unknown, was great in True Grit and delivered dialog like an old veteran.

Animated Feature Film
Frank: “Toy Story III” wins and anyone who disagrees has no soul.

Alan: It has nothing to do with soul. It’s Pixar. ‘Nuff said. “Toy Story III” wins easily.

Art Direction
Alan: This isn’t a lock for any one of these films. I really am befuddled on my pick because I can see any one of these taking this one home but I guess I’ll go with “Alice In Wonderland” just to be different (even though I thought the movie kinda sucked). Tim Burton always brings a visionary approach to his movies and no matter what I thought of the film, it was still pretty to look at!

Frank: I wasn’t all that impressed with the performances or storyline of “Inception” but the visual effects and epic scenes were amazing! Anytime you can make a scene comprehensible when it takes place in 5 locations at once your doing something right.


Where is this? Jersey?

Cinematography
Frank: Just from the sheer size of some of the sets and scenes “Inception” wins for best Cinematography. I know that’s two in a row for “Inception” but it was the most visually striking film of 2010 for me.

Alan: I can see where you’re coming from on that pick Frank however I have to admit, as inconsistent as I found “The Black Swan” to be, the camerawork was pretty damn good. I’ll give this one to Matthew Libatique just because…

Costume Design
Alan: I know you are gonna pick the lone period piece in here because that’s what Oscar loves and ya know what…you are correct. “The King’s Speech” will win this one simply because it’s the obvious choice and because no one really cares.

Frank: I was hoping something involving the Renaissance period would be nominated to make this an easier pick but we will deal with what we got. “The Kings Speech” had some royal costumes and it was a period piece, so it pretty much has this one in the bag.

Directing
Frank: It seems ironic to me that I keep saying “The Kings Speech” over and over and over……… Oh, yeah it wins for best Directing.

Alan: Wow. This might be the TOUGHEST pick this year. All of these films have been mentioned (and are nominated) for Best Picture. This doesn’t mean that the director of the Best Picture wins the golden man though. And this time…I think that is the case. I pick Darren Aronofsky for “The Black Swan” mostly because he has been deserving of the statue for a while now. Otherwise…this is a pick ’em!

Documentary (Feature)
Alan: GAH! I haven’t seen ONE documentary this year and the only one I have heard of is “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” so I will go with it and hope it has enough street cred to get it to the finish line…

Frank: I am picking “Exit through the Gift Shop” because of the impact it has had on me and my family. It really ushered in a new era on the way we think and process our options in culinary and religious matters. ‘ETTGS’, as is known in our house has taught my children the value of hard work, and has taught my wife the joys of patience. Just kidding, I haven’t seen it and my pick is pure strategy.


I had no idea this film was a documentary on Eminem!

Documentary (Short)
Frank: “Killing in the Name” has nothing to do with Rage Against the Machine and yet, that is why I am picking it. It’s kind of like betting at a dog track…”That one reminds me of my old dog Trixie!”

Alan: Eh…uh…hmmmm….”Poster Girl?” Sure…why not?

Film Editing
Alan: I really liked the editing done in “The Fighter.” I’m a big fan of a strong combination of handheld and steady camerawork and the editing in this film was so good you hardly noticed when it bounced between the two.

Frank: This choice really had someone between a rock and a hard place. I am picking “127 Hours” for staying smooth while rarely leaving a crevice.

Foreign Language Film
Frank: “Biutiful” because Alan said he heard good things about it. I can’t help it; I rarely watch Mexican made movies – unless I am scouting for babysitters.

Alan: Well dammit! That’s the last time I give away my picks Frank! Ok…yes…it is the only foreign film I’ve heard about also and the fact that Javier Bardem is nominated for Leading Actor must say something about this film…right? But screw that! I’m gonna go with “Dogtooth” and hope for an upset. Just trying to make it interesting at this point…


The Lonely Guy

Makeup
Alan: So underrated yet so very important. Why are there only 3 nominees in this category? Who knows. I’ll go with “The Wolfman” for fun. It’s a crappy movie but there were a lot of dark scenes that had to require all kinds of cakemix…er…makeup…

Frank: I am picking “The Way Back” because “The Wolfman” was the worst movie of the year and since Benicio Del Toro already looks like a monster it doesn’t deserve an award for pasting some fuzz on his head.

Original Score
Frank: Ooooh, if I pick anything else my buddy Tony won’t speak to me again. I gotta go with Mr. Reznor and Atticus Ross for their work on “The Social Network”.

Alan: And I’ll go with “Inception. Hans Zimmer knows how to hit all the right notes and the Academy will want to give this excellent film something just because it’s not gonna get much else.


For Tony.

Original Song
Alan: Is there any doubt that the frontrunner is a song from Pixar by Randy Newman? C’mon…THIS is a lock! “We Belong Together” wins in a landslide…

Frank: I totally agree Alan, “We Belong Together” takes the gold! Great song and it deserves to win.

Short Film Animated
Frank:”The Gruffalo”? Why are we even picking these since we don’t watch them? If they had an Anime category we wouldn’t bother, would we. I am proposing a new rule for 2012 – “no dumb shit”.

Alan: I don’t think this is dumb. As a matter of fact, I really enjoy the shorts they put at the beginning of each Pixar film. It’s one of the little perks! So I’ll go with “Day & Night” just because it’s Pixar and everyone knows Pixar wins EVERYTHING!

Short Film Live Action
Alan: Ptttttth…who knows? I’ll go with “Wish 143” because it sounds like it might be decent. It’s about a girl who….eh…no one cares.

Frank: “The Confession” because it caught the tigers toe.

Sound Editing
Frank: “Inception” is going to win something sound related, so I am gonna let her ride………….

Alan: I agree but I’m looking for points…so I’ll go with “Tron: Legacy.” Dunno why, but I think Disney sneaks up and bites ya on this one bro. (Probably not…but ya never know…)


Wait…did you hear that?

Sound Mixing
Alan: Aaaaand now I’ll go with “Inception.”

Frank: …….…..”Inception” again………….

Visual Effects
Frank: ……..apparently I only watched two movies this year, “Inception”…….

Alan: As awesome as the tsunami was at the beginning of “Hereafter,” I wouldn’t call it an effects-laden film. So because of that, I’m also gonna give this award to “Inception” for its awesome slow-mo effects, cities folding up and crazy “aerial” sequences.

Adapted Screenplay
Alan: Yeah…this one is probably a lock…”The Social Network” is the best in the bunch, followed closely by “127 Hours.”

Frank:……..and once again.”Inception”! What, it’s not in this category? Well give me a minute to think. Hang on. One more second. OK, I am going to say  “The Social Network” because it will not win Best Picture.


For Frank, it’s a lot like rolling the dice…only different…

Original Screenplay
Frank: If you nominate it I will pick it (Frank sounding eerie from a field of corn)..”Inception” wins again!

Alan: With its convoluted storyline, you might think “Inception” wins this hands down. However I’m gonna argue that the voters find it TOO confusing and pass on it, giving the Oscar to “The King’s Speech.”

Best Picture
Alan: I was gonna go with “Winter’s Bone”…then thought differently of it (just kidding!). With so much being written about “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” as the frontrunners, it would be easy to pick either of them. Both have won tons of awards and are poised to take home this prize as well. But something tells me it’s not that cut & dried. “Speech” is easily the most Oscar friendly and is an easy movie to watch. It’s very entertaining and well written. But so is “The Social Network.” However…when I look back at all the movies I’ve seen this year and which one I’ll want to watch again at some point, I think there’s only one that I would pick…and that is “Inception.” It’s unique and thrilling and smart. But it IS hard to follow. And that’s why it won’t win. Confused yet? So am I. Because of the way the voters tend to vote, I pick “The King’s Speech” as the winner of the year’s Best Film. But in MY book…”Inception” is the one I’ll remember from last year.

Frank: I watched “The Social Network” soon after it came out and was honestly surprised at the hoopla it was receiving. It isn’t a special story, the acting is just mediocre and when Facebook eventually goes the way of MySpace people are going to wonder what the hell they were thinking by nominating this thing. Honestly, people are saying that this movie belongs on a pedestal with the great cinematic features of all time! No way this happens. I like to think some movies play more than just an entertainment role and have the ability to show us and future generations something special. Alan is right that “Inception” will have a higher replay value than “The Social Network”, but in time its effects will dull and the shine will where off and then what is left? A Best Picture has to have staying power and “The Kings Speech” has just that. “The Kings Speech” wins Best Picture for being more than just the news of the day or pretty to look at.