Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Moneyblog: 2011 Oscar Predictions (February 26, 2012)

This Sunday, February 26, the long Oscar season comes to an end. (Sorry, Razzies, but in moving your ceremony to April 1, you blew it. No one cares now.) With the exception of Saturday night's Independent Spirit Awards (which you can see on IFC at 10PM), all of the nominations have been made and all of the awards and accolades have been given out. Billy Crystal will host the 84th Annual Academy Awards on ABC with red-carpet coverage on about four networks all throughout the day. It's time for me to make my final decisions and predictions for who I think will be taking home the gold.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Best Picture nominees, "War Horse"

We've spent the last week or so looking at each of the nine nominated films for Best Picture. The Oscars are coming this Sunday, and my predictions will be announced either tomorrow or Thursday. I'm still working on a few categories and doing my best to see as many clips and films and shorts as I can. In the meantime, we've looked at eight of the Best Picture nominees, and we have one left. I was doing these in no particular order, but as it turns out, the ninth and final film is the last one alphabetically. Apropos of nothing but ironically, it was the first one announced the morning of the nominations. The film is "War Horse".

Best Picture nominees, "Moneyball"

As passionate as I am about movies, I am equally as passionate about baseball. Sure, I love tennis and I love football and I love hockey, but nothing comes close to baseball. So you can bet that after I read Michael Lewis's famed baseball book "Moneyball" last year, and soon afterwards learned of the movie coming as well, I was eagerly anticipating this one. The question was whether or not the movie would work, because the book contains a LOT of analytical and statistical data that would not transmit into making an interesting movie, which would mean the movie would need to "Hollywood it up", so to speak. I was thrilled to find that this film not only did work, but delivered one of my absolute favorite films of 2011.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Best Picture nominees, "The Descendents"

Some years ago, there was always a front row seat during the Academy Awards that had Jack Nicholson in it. This would mean he'd appear on camera frequently during the broadcast, and it also usually meant he'd be the butt of a few jokes from the host as well. Nowadays, the "Jack seat" is the "George seat", because every year, George Clooney is in that front row somewhere. What helps his cause is that every year, he seems to be in the mix with nominations for acting and/or directing and/or writing and/or producing. This year is no exception as he has two nominations. One is for his screenplay (with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon) for "The Ides of March". The other is for his lead performance in the film being discussed here, "The Descendants".

So what are these Oscars anyway?

OK, so you've obviously ascertained by now (if you didn't know it already) that I'm a ridiculous moviephile, and I'm an especially hopeless nerd when it comes to the Oscars. However, beyond the obvious major categories that are pretty self-explanatory, some of the other categories are a little less understood. What is the difference between an "original" screenplay and an "adapted" screenplay? Why are there two awards given for sound? What in the hell is "cinematography"? I've been asked those questions several times over the years, and sometimes even I have a hard time giving a concrete answer. So here, for those who may be interested (such as my wife, who's asked me the second and third question I listed above at one time or another), I felt it would be a good idea to clear the air and explain what these categories are exactly honoring.

Best Picture nominees, "The Tree of Life"

I tried. Honestly, I tried.

This movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received an equal amount of raucous applause and lustful boos. A friend of mine who works at a theater told me she gave out over 50 refunds to the film in its opening weekend because people kept walking out, not comprehending it and liking it even less. I'd read critical praise, and just as much vitriol.

But it's up for Best Picture. I did want to see it and give it a chance.

I walked out after 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Best Picture nominees, "Hugo"

Martin Scorsese is known for a great many things in relation to the movie industry. He is known for being a heavy proponent of the classics and of movie preservation. He is known for having an encyclopedic knowledge about movies. He is known for being a hardcore fan of seeing a film widescreen, even at home, as the film was meant to be seen. He is known for his own films, often filled with a lot of graphic language and violence to get across stories of the "mean streets". The last thing even he expected to wind up known for is a family film, with no language or violence, and in 3-D to boot. Yet here we are. "Hugo" is nominated for Best Picture and, in fact, scored a total of 11 Oscar nominations, more than any other film this year.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Best Picture nominees, "The Artist"

The last time a silent movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture was, in fact, the only time a silent movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture. That was back in 1929 when the awards were first presented, and the movie was "Wings" (which, incidentally, has just been released on DVD for the first time). The last time a black-and-white movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture was 1993's "Schindler's List". It is very possible on February 26, both of those statements will need to be amended. The frontrunner right now is a black-and-white silent movie called "The Artist".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Best Picture Nominees, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

The most polarizing and most surprising of the nine films nominated for this year's Best Picture Academy Award is the film we're covering in this blog entry, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close". The subject matter is still a difficult one for many people to want to see in movies, plus the critical and public reception to the film itself has been rather in-the-middle. When the Oscar nominations were announced, the Best Picture nominees were not announced in alphabetical order, which was rather odd. In what would seem to me to be a pretty blatant move by the AMPAS to give us a shocker, this film was the final nominee announced, and it received several screams of joy upon its announcement in the auditorium. It's also received quite a number of "SMH"'s within the social media outlets since then, which would make one wonder, how did the nomination happen? We'll try and decipher that somewhat after a brief summary of the film. [As always, some spoilers will likely lie ahead but I'll do my best to not give away the major plot elements.]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Best Picture Nominees, "Midnight in Paris"

We're taking a look at each of the nine nominated films for Best Picture in this year's Oscar race, taking place in 13 days. For our next film, we have the first Best Picture nominee for Woody Allen in quite some time, "Midnight in Paris".

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Best Picture Nominees, "The Help"

We're getting back to blogging, and ideally staying with it this time. It shouldn't be difficult for me right now, because we're in the throngs of my absolute favorite time of the year. The Oscar race has been on for awhile and the event is 17 days away. Normally I do either or both a blog with my predictions, and a blog with my show recap and review. This year, I'll be presenting both of those, but in doing so I'm also going to cover each of the nine nominees for Best Picture individually, but in no particular order. We'll start today with a film that was released this past August into theaters: "The Help".