So once again we have survived.

A thread for Oscaring

honorblade

For those who it’s not against their religion, here’s where we can discuss the Oscar business. Sorry for the crappy photoshop work, but it’s the idea that counts. Here are a few thoughts before this year’s awards.

I have a tradition of writing down my predictions for the major categories the night before the nominations. I’m never dead on, but usually do decent. This year I wrote down:

Picture: Boyhood

Director: Link

Actor: Beetlejuice

Actress: Julianne Moore

Supporting Actor: Just Kidding Simmons

Supporting Actress: Arquette

Original Screenplay: Budapest

Adapted Screenplay: Inherent Vice

Actually those are pretty good, I guess I stick by those. Luckily I didn’t write down the animated feature because I would’ve written LEGO MOVIE. I’m iffy on the screenplay guesses, but going based on those categories usually being the hippest (for example, remember when DJANGO UNCHAINED actually won?). And picture could go to BIRDMAN and actor could go to Redmayne (who really is impressive, showing a personality and wit through this difficult physical performance). But I was guessing Mr. Keaton because I suspect the Academy shares my love for him and happiness in him make movies again and also they tend to love movies about actors like Stephen King loves stories about writers.

I’ve seen alot of people saying this was an amazing year for movies. There were tons of them that I liked, but I’m uncharacteristically non-committal about a favorite. Maybe JOHN WICK. And I really liked WHIPLASH and BOYHOOD and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and the two Marvel movies. And INHERENT VICE is a possible #1 but it’s so dense I chose to not even write a review until I see it again, so who knows?

I did end up seeing all the best picture nominees. BOYHOOD would make a fine best picture, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime approach to a movie and I walked out of there amazed. Good for ol’ Mr. Slacker pulling off something like that. BIRDMAN OR could definitely get it, and I wouldn’t really agree with that, but it’s a good movie and certainly a great achievement for all the actors and technicians involved. And some of you made good arguments for it having more substance than I gave it credit for. I loved WHIPLASH, it’s so effective as a musical thriller that it somehow slipped into best picture nominees, that’s cool. I liked SELMA alot too, it’s more of a traditional “important” movie but it’s really well done and, yeah, actually very timely in the importance category. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is a great piece of movie-making in the Wes Anderson tradition, although I would like to see it again to truly judge it because on one viewing it was his movie that I felt the least connection to the characters. Including the ones with little kids or cartoon animals as the main characters. AMERICAN SNIPER. (I wrote too much about that already.) THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING is not my type of movie usually but I enjoyed it, yes it’s technically a biopic but it’s mostly a relationship story about a very unique relationship. And IMITATION GAME is my least favorite of the bunch and the most traditional Oscar bait type movie with a whiff of bullshit about the way they depict some of it (for example I have a hard time believing that after they broke the code they figured out that a ship was about to be attacked and they personally had to make the decision of not intervening). But also it’s not that bad and the point at the end about how many lives he saved only to be treated so shoddily, and the implication that any number of people who have been persecuted might have gone on to do great things, is well taken. So I’m okay with it.

So there you have it. BIRDHOOD will sweep, BOYMAN possible dark horse candidate. Various jokes about the Sony hack and filming a movie for 12 years, maybe something about drums. Today we call them computers.

Have fun guys.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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36 Responses to “A thread for Oscaring”

  1. I actually don’t have a favourite this year, because I haven’t seen any of them. (There are way too many old movies to catch up with first. Why can’t they stop making movies for a year or two?)
    Well, I saw HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON TOO and I guess it will take away the animation Oscar for being a popular kids movie with enough mature moments about shit that kids don’t care about, although I don’t think it’s THAT good. It kinda feels like a long buildup to a final act that never happens. THE LEGO MOVIE really was robbed.

  2. On a random sidenote: I hope Eddie Redmayne wins, just so that people will finally shut the fuck up about “The Norbit effect” and JUPITER ASCENDING ruining his Oscar chances.

  3. I’m glad somebody else thought INHERENT VICE was (maybe?) the year’s best. Seems like everyone just got confused and ignored it.

    It’s the first movie in maybe a decade that I left the theater and immediately resolved to see again as soon as possible.

  4. Next year it will be 12 years since the last BLADE-movie. If they manage to release it next year, it´ll make it academy award worthy since….well 12 years in the making, motherfuckers.

  5. The Original Paul

    February 22nd, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Ok. I think I’ve made my position on the Oscars clear in previous years’ posts. I would be happier if they weren’t a thing, but since they are, I try to ignore them. Here’s all I got.

    This is a list of films that I managed to sit through for their entire running time: TRANSFORMERS. THE CELL. BURIED. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D. MOVIE 43. MOULIN ROUGE. AMERICAN PIE 2. And although I know I’m in the minority opinion on these ones, OUT OF SIGHT, CASINO ROYALE, YOUNG ADULT, and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3. As much as I hated the experience of watching every single damn one of these movies, I sat quietly through them. I might have been slowly losing my will to live during them, but I still got through them.

    In over twenty years of fairly regular moviegoing, only two films have ever got me to leave the cinema halfway through. The first was BAD BOYS 2. The second is currently a favourite among betting shops to be crowned the BEST PICTURE winner of 2014. Yep, as much as I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as any of the films I’ve listed above, BOYHOOD was the one that broke me. I couldn’t take it any more. I couldn’t take the stupid montages of the boy doing “boy stuff”. I couldn’t take hearing how he hadn’t done his homework, for the fiftieth time. I couldn’t take the constant torrent of awful “period” pop music, almost all of which was the kind that was overplayed until everybody hated it then consigned to the junkheap. Until this film brought it back, for some reason. I couldn’t take the sheer pointlessness of the whole thing, the fact that it was so goddamn obvious that nobody involved had a clue where the story was going or what they were trying to say. Although that’s being too kind to it ’cause nobody involved with this thing had anything interesting or insightful to say. I couldn’t get past the disconnect between the “natural” tone and the fact that pretty much every major decision by the adult characters in this movie was the kind of thing that people only ever do in movies.

    Yeah… I get why people respect BOYHOOD as a technical achievement. I can’t comprehend why so many people actually seem to like it. And unless GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL pulls out an upset, which I hope it does if the Oscars have any credibility at all left ’cause I kinda loved that movie, we are probably going to see the worst BEST PICTURE winner in living memory. Worse than THE READER. Worse than FORREST GUMP. Way worse than TITANIC. I haven’t seen CRASH but I can’t imagine it could be any worse than BOYHOOD. Right?

    Ok… that’s over. Now onto the happy. See KINGSMEN: THE SECRET SERVICE. And try and see it without reading any reviews of it, because trust me, there is stuff in that movie that you absolutely do not want to be spoiled. I had one major problem with it, which I’ll elaborate on if Vern does a review (and if any film deserves a Vern review, it’s that one), but it did not stop me from enjoying this film for the batshit craziness of it. Oh, and Colin Firth gives a middle-aged gentleman-badass performance that pretty much outdoes everything Liam Neeson has ever done. If you ever wanted to see Mr Darcy take out entire roomfuls of people using hand-to-hand combat, this is the film for you.

  6. FORREST GUMP would merit so much more of it’s hate if it was anybody buy Tom Hanks in the lead. He’s so damn charming in the role it overcomes any of it’s failings, perceived or otherwise.

  7. FORREST GUMP is a movie that constantly has to take shit for being a big Oscar winner, that I will defend till I’m dead. (ANNIE HALL is a movie that constantly has to take shit for being a big Oscar winner, that I will defend till I’m dead or it’s clear that the accusations against Woody Allen are true.)

    Anyway, I play with the thought of making another Oscar live webcam chat tonight. I did it a few years ago with Google+ Hangouts. This year I might move over to Tinychat though, because you don’t have to make an account to participate. What keeps me away from it is that I don’t have anybody to root for this year and that it starts at 3am in my timezone. Last time was fun though. When was it? 2010? 2011?

  8. I actually don’t mind FORREST GUMP. I can see why people don’t like it, and I’m not exactly fond of its politics. But it’s never bothered me that much, and I remember enjoying it the last time I watched it (which to be fair was pretty long ago).

  9. Should be a fun ceremony. Too bad I don’t much care about any of the 2014 releases being celebrated. Among these nominees, BIRDMAN was the most interesting film I saw; it was clever and thorough in a way I’ve never experienced watching a staged narrative about the nature of staged narrative and characters exploring what it means to be characters. Norton’s line about Carver losing a slice of his liver for every page written or whatever and the tantrum ending in acting with the chicken (since that’s the only thing that was real) was one of the best scenes of the year. All the actorly actor stuff was great, especially if you have a lot of actor friends in real life who go to acting classes & auditions all the time and talk about motivations and penetrating 4th walls etc.. I’d like BIRDMAN overall a lot more if the people and their whiny self-important voices weren’t quite so hard to tolerate up close for 2 hours. What they were doing and saying was fascinating, but I didn’t want to be forced to be in the same room with them for too long.

    The best male performance I saw last year was Yayan Ruhian in THE RAID 2.

    Tom Cruise’s performance in ALL YOU NEED IS KILL: EDGE OF TOMORROW: LIVE.DIE.REPEAT.: PORT OF CALL: HOW NOT TO COMPETENTLY MARKET OR TITLE A GREAT MOVIE is being taken for granted, like much of his work. The visual editing of EoT is also magnificent, but skillfully spliced & paced action-comedy that involves nebulously shaped alien creatures and an ambiguously heartbreaking time travel romance narrative doesn’t seem to be en vogue this year among the awardsy tastemakers.

    The best female performance I saw last year was Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley, a BBC production that aired in the UK last summer and now is also available to stream as a “Netflix Original” somehow. Do they know what “original” means? Anyway, it’s six hour-long episodes, a lot of wrenching drama and a lot of great cliffhanging suspense and some hard-to-believe coincidences but even if the story doesn’t kick you in the yarbles with its excellent writing I think we all still have to agree that Lancashire’s character “Sergeant Catherine Cawood” is a total fucking badass. Everyone compares HV with Fargo and FARGO, and that’s fair. This British series (subtitles highly recommended) is my favorite of the batch. That winky Minnesota-accented black comedy morality tale stuff is worth a watch, but it doesn’t have Sgt. Cawood.

    Eva Green is getting no respect now, but hopefully we all remember how gleeful the reviewers were when 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE was a new release — even those who hated the movie enjoyed what Ms. Green put out there. I, for one, will not forget what she did for our entertainment just because time has passed and more “respectable” movies & performances have been released in the interval. You’re all ingrates.

    In conclusion, this guy is underrated as a comedian and film critic:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6tp5LVNTr0
    (skip to the 3:30 mark if you have no patience)

  10. The Undefeated Gaul

    February 22nd, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Paul – seconded on Kingsman, holy shit was that a fun film. But please… please tell me the major problem you had with it was not the butt joke? Please? That nonsensical discussion has been done in every comment thread of every review of Kingsman that has appeared online, hoping it skips this one!

    If your problem is about anything else, then I await your argument with anticipation.

    On-topic: haven’t seen any of the Oscar nominees but made my predictions nonetheless. Looking forward to the 5 minutes spent tomorrow morning checking how many I had right.

  11. Paul – Give BOYHOOD another shot. You gotta see the end. He gets older. (spoiler)

    Mouth – I vote in this thing called the Muriels and I was embarrassed because I really haven’t seen any of the acclaimed female performances this year, and had to mine from what I had seen. And I had Eva Green on there. Then when I was voting on the 10 best cinematic moments or scenes I had to narrow down 3 possibilities from 300:RofE, and started wondering if I was a fraud for not having it in my top 10 movies.

    (I went with the horse jumping from boat to boat over kissing the severed head and the sex fight.)

  12. As easy as it is to criticize the Academy, I actually think there are some strong nominees this year. Despite Paul’s animosity towards Boyhood, I thought it was genuinely one of the best films of the year. (Although, I agree with Paul that the use of Coldplay to open up the film was kind of obnoxious). Birdman may have been messy in parts, but it had a tremendous amount of energy. And I know that everyone loves the Lego Movie, but I thought The Boxtrolls was far and away a better animated film (of course, it won’t win). Overall, this was a tremendous year for film, nominated for an Oscar or not. I honestly could not keep up with everything, and I’ll be sifting through the offerings of 2014 for a long time.

  13. 1995 was a long time ago, when our mega friend won his best actor award. Would love to see more dramatic turns from Cage like in last years JOE. His performance in that deserved a nomination, even as Best Comeback From A Wayward Talent. Best Cage DTV Award 2014, if there were such a thing, would go to TOKAREV, since it epitomizes what we love about latter day Cage – an interesting performance with gravitas and some forays into mega, wrapped in a basic crime/revenge story. Most In/Ins-ane Cage Performance would be for his crusader in the otherwise terrible OUTCAST. Haven’t seen LEFT BEHIND or DYING OF THE LIGHT yet.

  14. Alright that makes me feel better, Vern, sorry about the libelous ‘ingrate’ smear.

  15. The Original Paul

    February 22nd, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Gaul – yeah, the butt joke kinda didn’t fit. But the problem I had wasn’t that so much, it was a more general thing. I’ll go into it if (when?) Vern reviews it. Anyway, despite that one problem that I had, it was a ridiculously fun movie with some great performances. And just seeing Colin Firth out-badass Liam Neeson is worth the entry price alone.

    Mouth – as much as I share your love for Yayan Ruhian, Uco and Rama just owned that movie. Honestly I think THE RAID 2 would be one of the best martial arts movies ever made, if not THE best, in my estimation, if it hadn’t have been for the fact that Ruhian is wasted in two fight scenes where I can’t tell what the hell is going on. Especially the one inside the nightclub. I thought getting the film on DVD would make the shakycam and editing less bothersome, but if anything being closer to a smaller screen just makes it even more obvious that you can’t tell what’s happening. Such a damn frustrating movie. So much great about it, but so many action scenes that just did not work.

    Vern – I’m probably not taking your advice on BOYHOOD, sorry. (The last time I revisited a movie on you guys’ advice, I pretty much didn’t come back to the site or post anything here for a week afterwards. And I don’t even want to go into that movie, I spent the best part of two months bitching about it here at the beginning of the year and I don’t want to go back to that again!) But I do like the “spoiler alert”. That gave me a chuckle.

    And it goes without saying that I’m on the EDGE OF TOMORROW love train. But a blockbuster movie has to make more money than God to get onto the Academy Awards’ radar, and should preferably take place in the past rather than the future – or at least an idealised fantasy version of it. Look at TITANIC, GLADIATOR, or RETURN OF THE KING. Anyway, EDGE was an awesome movie, probably the one from this year that I will rewatched more than any of the others. Already have, in fact.

  16. Yay for “Citizenfour” best documentary win.

  17. CJ Holden: you got your wish!

  18. Yeah, now I eagerly await the million tutorials about how “The Norbit Effect” doesn’t exist. Ah, who am I kidding. We all know this won’t happen.

    But hey, maybe more people will check out JUPITER ASCENDING now!

  19. Woah, BIRDMAN beats BOYHOOD? That’s the big surprise for me here. BIRDY has some real strong points, but man, it’s also pretty messy.

    Glad to see WHIPLASH get some love, even if its mostly in technical categories.

    On the other hand surprisingly little gold for AMERICAN SNIPER.

    Nothing as shocking this year as robbing THE ACT OF KILLING last year. Kinda annoyed by IMITATION GAME’s script win, which is about as bland as you can get especially compared to the literate boldness of INHERENT VICE. Also not in love with the Eddie Redmayne win. It’s a real solid performance and quite a startling impersonation, but the movie was too lackluster for it to really resonate with me. In a world with any justice, Jake Gyllenhaal would have won three best actors for NIGHTCRAWLER and his two roles in ENEMY. Since that wasn’t going to happen, I’d have preferred Keaton have it; as problematic as I find elements of BIRDMAN, he’s fucking electrifying in it.

    Overall, though, a decent slate of solid, interesting films.

  20. Is it really such a big surprise that BIRDMAN won? Over the last months it won pretty much every big award and people seemed to talk a lot more about this one than BOYHOOD.

  21. The ceremony’s Death Reel remembrance segment was too swift and non-colorful to be too much of a bummer or an inspiration this year, but the names that most stuck out to me were

    William Greaves (responsible for at least one rewardingly frustrating work that stands as one of the most meta-experimental, expansively self-recursive film projects of all time, way ahead of its time)

    and H.R. Giger (a dominant cinema auteur who operated in the guise of mere below-the-line artistic contributor).

  22. Thoughts:

    Okay, so much for my rule about the writing categories being hipper than the rest. IMITATION GAME was actually the most bullshitty Oscar bait movie of all of them, that was a very poor choice. But oh well. I’m really not outraged about any of this. BIRDMAN OR’s not my favorite but it’s very well directed, so that’s fine. And honestly I think BOYHOOD will be better remembered as a really unique indie movie than if it had to live up to being best picture.

    I would’ve liked to see Keaton win, but Redmayne was good and seemed to appreciate it.

    I liked Chris Pine’s crying. Sensitive man. I respect it.

    Imagine how much we would’ve hated that performance if it was Macklemore doing Common’s part.

    I never really dug John Legend’s singing, but he’s very suave and gave an A+ speech. My respect for him went up.

    I guess Neil Patrick Harris isn’t gonna be America’s Sweetheart anymore. His reliance on purposely bad puns was kinda weird, and his being a nerd for magic killed him because he put so much buildup into that lame “predictions” joke. But I think otherwise it was a good production. The opening number was better than usual, the sets were nice, the best song performances had good sets and gimmicks and stuff. Especially the Lego one.

    Scarlett Johansson’s new hair is pretty badass.

    I think it’s interesting that Inarritu, Cuaron and Del Toro are known for their friendship, now Cuaron and Inarritu both have best director Oscars and a couple of Oscar nominated movies under their belts. But Del Toro is the better known one and it’s hard to imagine him ever making an Oscary movie. Though he would make a great speech if he did.

  23. Oh, and I was glad that the STILL ALICE clip didn’t reflect my experience at all so I didn’t have to pull a Chris Pine.

  24. Lots of people said BOYHOOD was a shoe-in so it was surprising that it lost, it was also very disappointing how not great Neil Patrick Harris hosting was, especially after Ellen DeGeneres exceptional job last year.

    Overall I really enjoy watching the Oscars, this year’s was not terrible but was pretty middle of the road, oh well, there’s always next year.

    @The Original Paul – AMERICAN PIE 2 was pretty crappy, but the “lesbian” scene did provide a good time for young, sexually burgeoning me.

  25. I was very happy to see Cave Johnson himself go home with the gold though.

    “I don’t want your damn lemons! I’m the man who’s gonna burn your house down… with the lemons! I’m gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!”

  26. I should note that when I talked about Tutorials about the Norbit effect earlier, I obviously meant EDITORIALS. (It was early in the morning for me.)

  27. And Vern, I wouldn’t rule del Toro as Oscar winner out yet. He may be the one of the three who is totally unashamed of his love for pulp and popcorn, but he tackled Oscar subjects before (Like in his several times nominated PAN’S LABYRINTH) and I can imagine him directing at one point some costume drama biopic or something like that without any fantasy elements, that will woo the academy.

  28. I was predicting a Boyhood win, but never underestimate the Academy’s love for movies about movies, which Birdman is even though it’s also about a play.

  29. BTW, am I the only one who noticed that those Razzie assholes seem to become more and more irrelevant every year? I remember a time when those shitroosters and their personal vendetta against easy targets made big headlines, but since a few years, only the most clickbait depending tabloit sites (With some sad exceptions of actually pretty good sites) seem to really care about them.

    It’s not all bad these days.

  30. CJ – yeah i totally didn’t hear one thing about the Razzies until this morning. I actually forgot about them (in fairness I somehow didn’t know the Oscars themselves was on until yesterday afternoon either – i thought they were like two weeks from now or something). Re: the “winners” – kind of dumb Kelsey Grammer won worst supporting actor for Transformers 4, he’s actually pretty good in it (and Expendables 3 too)

    Speaking of me being out of the loop, I literally never heard of “Mr. Turner” until the show last night. I actually had to rewind like, “what movie was that?” It’s kinda cool that a movie I never heard of, that’s not playing anywhere near me, that I’ve never seen a commercial for, that didn’t get any Golden Globe nominations, ends up being up for 4(!) Oscars.

  31. for the record, I’d recommend MR. TURNER as a good antidote to the usual pandering Oscarbait biopics. It resolutely avoids turning the life of J. M. Turner into any kind of pat narrative. There’s no flashback to one time in his childhood that explains everything. No overarching conflict. Just the day-to-day of this guy’s life, which is mostly solitary and not especially eventful. He can be kind of funny and charming sometimes and also kind of an ass other times, the movie makes no judgement about him nor does it try to explain him in any way; you can just watch the magnificent performance from Tim Spall and draw any conclusions you might if you so desire. It’s also sometimes heartbreakingly gorgeous in a totally unpretentious way, capturing the grandeur of Turner’s beloved seascapes without needing to seem clever about it.

    I thought it was magnificent (albeit perhaps a tad fatty towards the final 30 minutes) but be warned: it really is almost completely free of narrative and incident. You’re either going to find it a wonderful, honest, immersive look at a life without eyes clouded by Hollywood pandering… or…. you’re going to find it 2 and a half hours of watching paint dry, sometimes literally. But even so, you’d still have to like it better than fucking THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

  32. Mr. S – thank you for the shout-out to Noah on your list. It’s an incredible film for all the reasons you described – I think we all would have given it brownie points just for its sheer audaciousness, but it goes one step further by actually being really good, with an incredible central performance that reminded me why we liked Russell Crowe. Plus the “evolution” sequence is absolutely mind-blowing.

  33. Vern, why haven’t you seen and reviewed Kingsman? It seems like a natural fit.

  34. I enjoyed the movie, but I wouldn’t say Millar and Vaughn’s smug brand of nerd wish fulfillment is really up Vern’s alley. He didn’t really care for the KICK-ASSes and KINGSMAN is very much coming from the same headspace.

  35. Caught THE MINGSMAN last night. Man, what a great time at the movies. Even better than FURIOUS 7 in my opinion. Because the action is pretty sick and slick. Creative camerawork and energy in every frame makes this the best actionfilm I have seen this year at the movies. It is genuine hilarious, especially for us Swedes.

    You could argue that the postmodern self awareness is annoying, but what can you do with genre tropes that in this day look dated and silly.

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