Category Archives: Oscar!Watch!

Oscar!Watch 2018: My Predictions

Can Alaina finish writing this post in an hour, giving her plenty of time to return the last few Redboxes, grab dinner, make plans for Tuesday, and get her home in time for 8:30?



Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: The Big SickGet OutLady BirdThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is a packed category. I enjoyed all of these movies to decidedly different degrees. I have a feeling that The Big Sick may replace When Harry Met Sally… as my favorite modern rom-com. However, as much as I would love to see Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon win an Oscar for not only their first screenplay, but also for telling us the story of how they fell in love, I have to put Get Out as the winner here. Jordan Peele did something amazing with Get Out and I think this is where the Academy will reward it.

(I said the same thing last year about Moonlight – Before the ceremony, I figured this is where the Academy will throw the token black guy an award, giving the Best Picture Oscar to the white feel-good story. PROVE ME WRONG AGAIN, OSCARS, I DARE YA)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Call Me By Your Name; The Disaster Artist; Logan; Molly’s Game; Mudbound

I have only seen Logan and half of Mudbound of these nominees. I have no fucking clue, because I hated Mudbound so much


The flames should have at least lit up the nighttime scenes, you’d think.

Look, someday, when I’m not under a time crunch of multiple things, I will rant heavily about the half of Mudbound I watched and the synopsis I read. So, y’know, a traditionally awful rant.

Who’ll the Oscar go to for this category? Who the fuck knows. Probably Call Me By Your Name, because reasons, but I’m going to toss my hat behind Logan, just for funsies.

(I really liked Logan; I’m mad I didn’t watch it before now. I hope it wins. But it’ll probably go to the one that will ruin peaches for a lot of people.)

Best Director
Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread; Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water; Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird; Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk; Jordan Peele, Get Out

Oh, Phantom Thread. Oh, Phantom Thread. What a fucking weird movie. You think you’re watching this movie about a naive girl who gets swept up in the drama and fashion of Reynolds Woodcock, who probably has the word “supergenius” stitched onto his business cards. You kind of wait for Woodcock to get rid of the girl (Alma), but then Alma turns into some sort of Munchausen monster and poisons him with mushrooms so he’ll take a fucking break, then when he recovers he proposes marriage and she accepts, and then their relationship reverts to the hell it was, and then she poisons him again and he likes it, what the fuck

Like, what the fuck

I also fell asleep during Dunkirk and didn’t finish watching it (time crunch! It’s one of the Redboxes I need to return!), so that leaves me with Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig, and/or Jordan Peele.

Can … can Greta and Jordan tie? I mean, that would be awesome?!

Honestly, I don’t think Greta Gerwig’s going to win here, which would be a damn shame. Lady Bird is a beautiful movie, and deserves a lot of recognition. I think the Academy will reward Jordan Peele for writing, not directing, which again, damn shame. So I’m going to give the Best Director award to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape Of Water, another gorgeous movie with a lot of moving parts and stellar performances.

(But if Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele steal it from del Toro, I’ll be ecstatic)

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Mary J. Blige, Mudbound; Allison Janney, I, Tonya; Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread; Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird; Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Props to Mary J. Blige for doing a fine job in the bits of Mudbound I watched; she is definitely not the reason I hated the movie. Lesley Manville was my favorite part of Phantom Thread. And Octavia Spencer is a goddamned delight in everything she does. But this category comes down to two mothers: Laurie Metcalf’s mother to Lady Bird, and Allison Janney’s overbearing mother in I, Tonya.

This is a tough category. I love Allison Janney and have since she was Julia Stiles’s counselor in Ten Things I Hate About You. And she was great in I, Tonya. She’s also won this category in all award shows leading up to the Oscars.

But Laurie Metcalf’s performance in Lady Bird was wonderfully understated – she didn’t have the big role to throw herself into like Allison Janney did. She had to portray a real person, not a caricature of a real person (not to take away anything from I, Tonya, because I fricking loved that movie) – I don’t think I’m explaining myself right, and my self-imposed time crunch is not letting me take the time to do better.

Can Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf tie? Is that allowed?

I’m going to give the slight edge to Allison Janney in I, Tonya, but only because she’s won all other award shows for this role. If —

I just realized I originally wrote that as Allison Janney in Lady Bird. *sigh*

ANYWAY. I also want Laurie Metcalf to win, and maybe she’ll surprise people? I don’t know, that’d be cool.

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project; Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water; Christopher Plummer, All The Money In the World; Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Honestly, I would love to see Christopher Plummer win for taking over Kevin Spacey’s role in nine days of filming, but that’s because I’m a petty af bitch (I take after my grandmother in that way), and I think that would just be delightful.

Sam Rockwell will win for his role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouriand I am conflicted as fuck about it. I enjoy Sam Rockwell a lot – not as much as my brother-in-law, who has actually watched Moon, but that’s another story. And I think he’s deserving of an Oscar. And this role was great, and he was able to do a lot in it.

But his entire character is problematic.

He is introduced as a drunken cop, yelling at a black man(*) who’s doing his job and painting the billboards. I comes out not much after that that Rockwell’s character was caught torturing a black man in custody. And the journey that Rockwell’s character (I can’t remember his name, I’m not really sorry) never addresses the racism. It’s just a piece of him, but he’s able to grow and help Mildred (Frances McDormand) and be somewhat redeemed at the end for most of his dickery?

Problematic, my friend.

(*) portrayed by Darrell Britt-Gibson, who also plays Shitstain on You’re the Worst, and if I haven’t forced you to watch You’re the Worst, please decide to take that up next, okay? Look, Shitstain doesn’t say much in this clip, but I promise you: Sam and his entourage (including Shitstain and Honey-Nutz) are some of the BEST parts of You’re the Worst.

Looking at just the acting piece of it, yes, Sam Rockwell will win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but please read this article from The Belladonna who goes into a bit more depth on how … icky, I guess is the word I’m looking for, that Three Billboards can be. And I’d like to say that I was mildly aware of the problems before I watched Three Billboards; during Three Billboards, I forgot about the problems. Then I got out of the theater, and the problems came back.

Best Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water; Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Margot Robbie, I, Tonya; Saorise Ronan, Lady Bird; Meryl Streep, The Post

Dear god, did I love I, Tonya. It’s an excellent movie. And I thought maybe Margot had a chance.

Then I watched The Shape of Water, and Sally Hawkins jumped to the top of my list. Her character, Eliza, is a mute, and communicates by touch and ASL. She is so good in that movie that you forget that she is not mute in real life.

Britney can attest to this: walking out of The Shape of Water, I turned to her and said, “Frances McDormand had better be fucking amazing to beat Sally Hawkins.”

Reader, she was.

Problems with Three Billboards aside, Frances McDormand has a fantastic performance, so I’m going to go with the flow and say Frances McDormand will win Best Actress again, this time for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Best Actor
Nominees: Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name; Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread; Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out; Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour; Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

I don’t have a lot to say about this category. Gary Oldman will most likely win it for Darkest Hourbecause like Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand, he’s also won all awards leading up to the Oscars.

But dammit I want Daniel Kaluuya to win here!

Best Picture
Nominees: Call Me By Your Name; Darkest Hour; Dunkirk; Get Out; Lady Bird; Phantom Thread; The Post; The Shape of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wow, I’m on Best Picture already? Good for you, Alaina!

Let me eliminate the following: Call Me By Your Name (I didn’t see it, but it’s won nothing except critical accolades leading up to the Oscars); Darkest Hour (I fell asleep during it); Dunkirk (I fell asleep during it); Phantom Thread (what the fuck, man); and The Post (It just didn’t have enough momentum).

So we’re left with Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

As late as last Thursday, I was fully behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for Best Picture, mainly because I enjoyed the movie slightly more than The Shape of Water (no, I don’t know why – maybe it was something they pumped into the theatre; maybe it was the reclining chairs).

The Shape of Water is a stunningly beautiful film, with achingly wonderful performances from every character – even the fish dude! There’s a musical number! It’s a romance with a happy ending! This movie has everything, and has won a lot of Best Films leading up to the Oscars. says The Shape of Water will win Best Picture.

But dudes .. Get Out! It’s a great movie! It taps into the zeitgeist! It’s funny! It’s a horror film! It says something about race that is hard for a lot of people to deal with (holy shit, this anonymous Oscar ballot) but says it well and jesus christ, can this please win Best Picture? PLEASE??!?


Best Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Best Adapted Screenplay: Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Logan
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water (but this could also go to Jordan Peele for Get Out which would be awesome)
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Picture: … how about The Shape of Water, because it’s statistically likely, but I really really really want it to go to Get Out

Dammit, I forgot to see how long it took me to write this. But it’s done before 7, so, VICTORY

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Posted by on March 4, 2018 in Oscar!Watch!


Oscar!Watch 2016: My Predictions

Two completely true statements:

  1. I am going to post this before Chris Rock takes the stage on Sunday evening .
  2. I will not bitch about The Revenant any more than I already have.

Two of those statements are a complete falsehood.


Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton

Of this group, I was unable to see Straight Outta Compton. But that’s okay, because it’s not like it’s going to win, right? #OscarsSoWhite, amirite?

Of the four remaining, I feel Spotlight is the clear front-runner. Bridge of Spies was okay, but it was full of long spots and the dialogue was a bit preachy at times — although that could just be the tried-and-true combination of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Inside Out was cute, but cute doesn’t win awards (or so I’ve been told). That leaves Ex Machina, which was interesting, but probably a little too out-there, sci-fi-ey for a majority of Oscar voters to pick it.

I’m going to talk about Spotlight some more coming up, but regarding its screenplay: it is tight. The dialogue is natural, the characters are clearly defined, and there is not a single sour note throughout. Unless a miracle happens (more on that later), this may be Spotlight‘s only win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room

I gave myself an extra challenge this year – because I’m a masochist, and apparently, a bit of an asshole?: I wanted to read the books that the adapted screenplays were adapted from. I don’t know why I wanted to do that this year as opposed to other years — maybe because this year the nominees were all books first, and they were all available at my library too? I dunno. But I managed to see all the films nominated in this category, AND I read all the books except Carol, because the only Patricia Highsmith novels my library has are a couple of lesser Ripley novels. Come on, Yarmouth Library!

Anyway. I’ll go more into each book as I review them over on That’s What She Read — and when I do, I’ll link the reviews back to here, but let’s face it, those reviews probably won’t be published until April, at the rate I’m going.

In comparison to the films, however, I feel The Big Short is the standout. The Big Short was written by Michael Lewis, who comes from the Wall Street world. The book was … well, it was as easy to read as something that deals with such heavy, cumbersome, hard-to-understand-for-the-average-layman concepts as it does. The character pieces were great – the character Steve Carell plays in the movie was fascinating, even in book form. I guess the best thing I can say about the book is: I brought it to the gym with me, and when my elliptical workout ended, I was surprised, because I had been engrossed in the story.

But what the film does that the book can’t, is focus the story truly on the people who went after the big banks, and also find ways to visually explain the concepts being talked about. And they were able to do that while being funny. And not, like, making the tragedy of the housing market crash funny; but they brought humor into it, which made the story that much more relatable.

I mean, we all lived through that shit time, right?

As a bonus: if The Big Short does in fact win, that means that Anchorman will have been retroactively written by an Oscar winner. And if that just doesn’t fill my tiny heart up with joy.  ❤

Best Director
Nominees: Adam McKay, The Big Short; George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant; Lenny Abrahamson, Room; Tom McCarthy, Spotlight


Okay, so, here’s the thing: y’all know how I feel about The fucking Revenant. I do not want Alejandro G. Iñárritu to win this. He doesn’t deserve to win for this. It’s a shit show. He’s a jackass auteur who is so proud of being “arty” that he holds his audience hostage while he … well, actually, I’ll let Jack Hamilton of Slate tell you:

Iñárritu makes films for the movie-going equivalent of what Gob, the magician brother from Arrested Development, refers to as “how’d-he-do-dat”s: people impressed by trickery who don’t bother to notice that said trickery isn’t performed in service of any ideas. Birdman was shot in a flamboyant, faux-single-take style that was impressive in a showy, obvious way, but to what ends? The technique added nothing to the film’s thematic cohesion or narrative invention; it merely distracted from how little of either the movie contained. Similarly, The Revenant’s visual inventiveness is spectacular but pointless; it’s a movie that’s only interesting when no humans are speaking or even on screen.

But seriously, folks: if you want to read an excellent article that encapsulates some of my rage about the fucking Revenant, read the full thing: “The Revenant is terrible“. You will not be disappointed.

Unfortunately, because the Oscars are so far up both Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio’s asses — seriously, the Academy is practically the double-headed dildo Iñárritu and DiCaprio use to fuck themselves raw while they’re both rewatching the scene where Leo cuts into the horse like a Tauntaun — Iñárritu will most likely take home his second award for The Revenant. But literally anyone else on that list should get it. I would love to give this to Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, because again, that movie was amazing. My top choice for best director would be George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, because that movie was a fucking spectacle of awesomeness (visually, conceptually).

None of those stunts were CGI, people. I mean, come on!

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight: Rooney Mara, Carol; Rachel McAdams, Spotlight; Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl; Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs.

I did not get to see Steve Jobs; nor did I want to. Kate Winslet got nominated because she’s Kate Winslet, and with the exception of The Holiday, she gets a nomination for everything she does. While I adore Rachel McAdams, her character in Spotlight wasn’t strong enough to win here; and I want to point out, that is through no fault of McAdams. Jennifer Jason Leigh was very much touted at the beginning of awards season to pick this award up, but the shine has fallen off of The Hateful Eight — another movie I didn’t get to see.

That leaves the award to go between Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander. Before seeing The Danish Girl, I was thinking it should go to Mara, because while her performance is amazing, I would also like to point out that Rooney Mara’s character has more screen-time than Cate Blanchett, who is playing the title character, and was nominated for Best Actress. God, I fucking hate the Oscars sometimes.

And while I liked Ms. Mara’s performance (Carol was good, but not transcendent), in the end I’m leaning towards Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. The love she had for her husband, even as he transitioned into Lili, never wavered, and I thought her character was just … full, if that means anything? Ms. Vikander’s character, Gerda, was allowed to have wants, and needs, separate and above from what her husband could provide for her, and she worked to achieve those goals. She should have also been submitted in the Best Actress category, is what I’m saying, because again, she was the female character with the most screen time in that film, and her role was not merely to support Eddie Redmayne.

Ugggh, Oscars; being #sowhite is NOT your only problem.

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, The Big Short; Tom Hardy, The Revenant; Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight; Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies; Sylvester Stallone, Creed.

This is the only time I will say anything positive about The Revenant (aside from the cinematography, which, while not a category I perform Oscar!Watch for, I do believe The Revenant should win for that):

Tom Hardy should win Best Supporting Actor.

No, wait, hear me out! He was, aside from the aforementioned cinematography, the best damned thing about that accursed movie. His character actually had dialogue! His character had goals he wanted to achieve that were not merely revenge! His character had agency, and purpose! He had a fucking character to portray, is what I’m fucking saying.

But because the fucking Academy loves rewarding old people who don’t deserve jackshit, Sylvester Stallone will win this. AND YET PETER O’TOOLE ONLY GOT AN HONORARY AWARD. Fuck, Stallone won an Oscar for Rocky! Does he really fucking need one for goddamn acting?!

No, you know what? Fuck him. I’m going to enbolden Tom Hardy‘s name here and say he should win, because he fucking should win, goddammit. Don’t nominate the one white guy in Creed and then give that same fucking white guy the Oscar to ameliorate your sins, Academy. Why don’t you do the right thing for fucking once and reward an actual goddamned performance in a film and not just throw gold away in the name of nostalgia?

Goddammit, I have a lot of feelings this year.

Best Actress
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Jennifer Lawrence, Joy; Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years; Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn.

Brie Larson has won every award she can leading into the Oscars; this is no longer a contest. She has won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors’ Guild, and BAFTA. She will win for Room here as well, and deservedly so.

(If you have not read Room, I highly recommend you do so. You should also watch the movie, after you read the book.)

Best Actor
Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant.

I mean, does it even fucking matter?

But here, read this article, “Why Leo winning an Oscar would be bad for acting,” and then after you go see Room, let’s you and I talk separately about how Jacob Tremblay is the TRUE Best Actor this season:

During the course of the film—which we’ve repeatedly been told was shot under very difficult weather conditions and in harsh terrain; filmmaker suffering is part of this narrative now, too—Leo wades and swims in icy water, crawls across hard tundra while dragging an injured leg behind him, eats raw bison liver, sucks the marrow out of the vertebrae of an animal skeleton, etc., in the name of survival, but also in the name of Art. “Just about every awards body has drunk the ‘Revenant’ Kool-Aid, buying into DiCaprio’s endless boasting about how super-hard the movie was to make,” wrote Matt Prigge, who agrees with me that Leo should not get an Oscar because it would reinforce poor messages.

Best Picture
Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight

I have, for once, watched every single one of these movies. Let’s knock some out first.

Room and Brooklyn, while definitely worth watching (Brooklyn was so sweet! I did not realize I was going to like it so much when I went to see it, and I’m so glad I did. Seriously, pick it up from Redbox when you get a chance, it’s lovely), will not win. Bridge of Spies was nominated only to make sure Steven Spielberg didn’t feel ignored; we do not want to goad him into making a fifth Indiana Jones movie.

Now, for Mad Max: Fury Road. I liked it; I really did. I did not like it as much as My Dear Friend Sarah, and I’m not sure why that is. I guess I’m trying to figure out why, even though I liked it, I don’t think it’s worthy of Best Picture.


Mad Max has a great story. It metaphor’s a lot of attitudes that are prevalent in the world today. It stars Charlize Theron as a kickass, amazing soldier, who takes no prisoners, yet masterfully shows both wartime strategy and empathy for others at the same time. It is gloriously feminist, stuck in a horrible, misogynist world. The visuals are phenomenal; the stunt work is mind-blowing.

Do I think this won’t win because it’s so, for lack of a better phrase, “genre”? It’s not really science-fiction, but it feels like it’s the Academy’s bone-throwing nominee — much like District 9 back in 2009. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see this for the first time in a theater; I Redboxed it. Maybe that lack of overwhelming scope limited my reaction? Would I feel different about the film if I had seen it on the big screen? Maybe. If it manages to win Best Picture  I’ll be totally okay with that choice, even though I want another film to win more.

That leaves The Big Short, Spotlight, The Martian, and The Revenant. All of these movies have won a Big Award leading up to the Oscars; The Martian picked up Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, but its momentum has slipped. As much as I want it to win, I don’t think it’s going to make it. But man, do I want it to! Here’s the thing with The Martian: you feel so good after watching it. It’s heartwarming, and uplifting, and — and just goddamned wonderful. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s at Redbox now – go get it.

Spotlight won Best Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, which is the SAG’s equivalent of Best Picture. **This is what comes from getting distracted: Just hours ago, Spotlight also won Best Picture at the Independent Spirit Awards. That’s two, baby! And again, Spotlight was fantastic. I bought it on DVD today because I wanted to watch that back to back with The Martian because I’m not sure which one I liked more. Like with The Martian, we’ve got a team of professionals who care so much about their job. They want to do it right. Unlike The Martian, the story Spotlight tells is true. And it’s scary; in case you don’t know, it’s the story of the Boston Globe‘s uncovering of the Catholic priest abuse scandal in Boston. And the story wasn’t limited to Boston; it uncovered the scandal on a global level, and I’m not making a pun because the name of the paper is the Globe — the scandal stretched back to the Vatican. Similar scandals were uncovered in Portland, a city I’m currently fifteen minutes from.

But it reminded me of what journalism should be. When I first went to college, I wanted to be a journalist. Well, I wanted to be an on-air newsreader, actually, but in order to do that you had to graduate with a degree in journalism or television communications. And TV communications was still a relatively new degree back in 2001 when I started college.

Oh shit. It’s my fifteenth high school reunion this year. Jesus Christ.

Uhhh, anyway. Ten days into my freshman year, two planes hit the Twin Towers, and the face of journalism — especially the face of on-air news journalism — changed forever. While that was not directly the impetus for my decision to leave Franklin Pierce College and change my major, watching Spotlight reminded me that, at one point, I did have the desire to pursue journalism, and Spotlight showed me that, at one time, journalism was a revered career with wide-reaching potential for change. And as once-reputable news sources now scramble over each other to find the people who yell the loudest and sound bites are taken as the word of God, I just have to wonder if we’ll ever see a return to investigative journalism as demonstrated in Spotlight.

I think I may have talked myself into believing Spotlight is my choice for Best Picture, but I’ve got one more point to make.

The Big Short. While I enjoyed it, I did not like it as much as Spotlight, but don’t think that’s a detriment; it’s a different animal. In Spotlight, a team of people band together to reveal corruption to the world in hopes of changing things for the better. In The Big Short, a team of people band together to reveal corruption to the world … in hopes of proving those corrupt people stupid and, therefore, making a lot of money. And while The Big Short has an underlying feeling of joyous disbelief (“I can’t believe this is happening; I can’t believe we’re getting away with this”), it doesn’t exactly leave you with a feeling of hope, whereas I did get that feeling from Spotlight.

But what The Big Short has going for it is: it won the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Picture.

The winner of the Producer’s Guild Award has gone on to win Best Picture for the past nine years straight.

The last time the Producer’s Guild and the Best Picture Oscar split was in 2006, when the PGA went to Little Miss Sunshine, and the Best Picture went home with Martin Scorsese of The Departed, which also … which also …

Which also starred Leonardo DiCaprio.



To recap:

Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (but it should go to George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road)
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Supporting Actor: Tom Hardy, The Revenant (but it will probably go to Sylvester Stallone for Creed)
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (if it doesn’t go to Leo? We’re all doomed.)
Best Picture: The Revenant (but it should go to Spotlight, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu should just go straight to hell.)

Good luck, and may God save us all from The fucking Revenant.

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Oscar!Watch!


Alaina Rants On: The Revenant

So yes, I’m doing Oscar!Watch again this year. And The Revenant – along with The Hateful Eight — was a film I really didn’t want to go see. For many reasons. Number one, I’m not a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. Second, the idea of watching a man stumble through a Canadian wilderness for two and a half hours in a pageant of violence really doesn’t appeal to me. Third, Leonardo apparently got raped by a bear – ain’t no one wants to sit through that, no matter how inaccurate that statement actually is!

When it comes down to it, the biggest problem I had with not wanting to see this movie was the Leo Factor. I don’t have anything against Leo; I’m just not a fan girl. After the hype wore off, the second time I went to see Titanic, I was the jackass in the back rooting for the iceberg. I didn’t watch Romeo + Juliet until I was well into my twenties – also, I know how that play ends, and it’s not romantic in any sense of the word. The next thing I saw him in was Catch Me If You Can, where he actually played a human being.

But over the past couple of years – mostly beginning with Inception, probably – something in Leo has forced him to only choose movies where he thinks he’s going to be nominated for something. And with The Revenant, his decision-making process has officially crossed the line from “merely tedious” to “fucking insufferable.”

The entire time I was watching The Revenant, I felt like I was being held hostage. I felt that Leo’s performance – if one can call it that, and I’ll get to that in a second – was him screaming without language, “LOOK AT ME ACT THIS IS ACTING I’M EATING A RAW BISON LIVER THAT BEAR RAPED ME THIS IS ACTING CAN I HAZ OSCAR NOW PLZ”

Fucking insufferable. Yeah, Leo, you acted cold. Guess what? It was cold where you were! Good job pretending to be cold while you were actually cold! Oh, and you were wet, too! Forgot about that river scene. Good job pretending to be wet and cold while both things were actually happening to you!

Because look, the character of Hugh Glass wasn’t really a character. Or, rather, he was a character in a movie; that doesn’t mean he had characterization. He was a role. He was a body. He grunted and occasionally said words, mostly in pain. So thank you, Leo, for impressing the audience with your ability to remember when to vocalize pain!

I actually have a lot of the same opinions as A.A. Dowd over at The AV Club – you can read the whole review here, but I do want to quote this bit:

His ageless baby face concealed behind a bushy Grizzly Adams beard, DiCaprio has been hired to endure endless Method-actor torments, to crawl screaming through the mud, to bloodily reenact the tauntaun scene from The Empire Strikes Back. What he hasn’t been hired to do is play much of a character; though The Revenant supplies Glass with plenty of wordless dreams, spiritual visions, and flashbacks to his dead loved ones, his family life remains as abstract as his psychology. He’s more macho concept than man.

Because yes, there was nothing there behind the beard. I maintain that this role wasn’t made up of acting; sure, he wore a costume and had makeup and facial hair, and he was where it was cold and he fucking crawled at one point(*), but it’s not like he brought a personality to life. He was showing us the personification of survival-in-order-to-achieve-revenge, that’s it. Unlike his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street – there, true, he was portraying another person found in history, but Jordan Belfort had a goddamned personality. For better or for worse, like him or lump him, Leo actually had to act in that movie.

“Is he really going to crawl the rest of the fucking way? Oh my god, he actually is. He is literally crawling on his hands and knees in hopes of winning his Oscar. F you, Leo.”

I maintain that he probably should have won for The Wolf of Wall Street; it was just Leo’s bad luck that Dallas Buyers Club came out at the same time, and the Academy decided to reward McConaughey for losing a ton of weight. Apparently, Leo didn’t take that in the same stride that a normal person would, and he decided to go all out: “I’m going to find the worst situations to emote in and FINALLY SHOW EVERYONE I’M NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE.” That’s when The Revenant came along, and the rest is history. Fucking insufferable history.

Congratulations, Leo, you succeeded. You held numerous audiences hostage with your “acting,” and look, at this point? Dear Academy, for the love of all that’s holy, please give him the Oscar. Give him his ransom. I don’t think he deserves it, mind you, but maybe if he finally wins the fucking thing, then he can go back to his models and his environment-conscious shit and leave us the fuck alone. Who knows? Maybe he’ll make a comedy next, now that he doesn’t have to try for that stupid gold statue?

“I hope Leo finally wins his goddamned Oscar for this – he needs to stop acting in these kinds of films. What’s wrong, Leo? Can’t be funny until you bear-rape your way to an Oscar?”

I should stop using the term “bear rape.” But I can’t. I know that’s not what happened, and I know it implies that Leo is victimizing himself in order to win his Oscar. But – well, I guess I’m done talking about that scene and Leo, so I’ll move on and stop talking about it.

The other thing I needed to rant about with this movie: why I didn’t like it. Yeah, Leo was a big part of it, but there was more than that. And I need to talk to a couple of people about why it’s okay that I don’t like it, and dear Those People? It’s not because I’m a girl.

When I heard The Revenant was coming out and the whole situation around the film – Leo’s “performance,” which I maintain isn’t really a performance, just a struggle to survive against nature – it’s a metaphor, not a performance! – I gritted my teeth and groaned, because I knew I was probably going to have to sit through it for Oscar!Watch. Then I heard that the director, Alejandro G. Innaritu, and his cinematographer made the decision that they were only going to film using natural light.

That naturally brought up (heh – “natural” — sorry, everyone) one of my favorite plotlines from Arrested Development, wherein Gob wanted to write a letter and Michael was going to give him the touch lamp, but then Gob fucked Kitty and didn’t get the information Michael wanted, so

Michael: Great. Good, good, good, Gob. Well, you just lost the touch lamp.
Gob: What? No! Mike, come on!
Michael: Yeah, the deal’s off, forget it. I’m gonna use the touch lamp to set the mood in the conjugal trailer —
Gob: DON’T
Michael: — when DAD’S NAILING MOM.
Gob: NO! DON’T, MICHAEL – you are FILTHY.

And then later, Gob is able to write his letter, but because he didn’t have the touch lamp, he had to write his strongly-worded letter lit by nothing but natural light.

Ever since hearing about the cinematography decision, all I could think of was Gob and his selfishness. Innaritu wanted to do something different for his next movie – because one-shot takes are so Birdman, let’s switch things up a bit. Basically, Innaritu decided to make this movie in the most fucking difficult way possible – shooting on location, lit by nothing but natural light. Do you know what that means? It means the shoot was excruciatingly long, because they could only film for about an hour each day – that’s a lot of wasted hours at a remote location. Why would you do that to yourself, to your actors, to your crew, unless you were a severe dick? To me, that is the ultimate in “suffering for art,” but it becomes so fucking insufferable that it circles right around to “martyring for art.”

I mean, you can’t spell “martyr” without “art,” I guess?

Regardless of my selfish need to find a pun between “art” and “martyr,” I can’t think of another way that that shoot could have been more fucked up for such a stupid reason – you can’t tell me that there aren’t other ways to achieve that level of lighting. Basically, they were arting for art’s sake, and while I can appreciate art, to me, that decision just seems dickish. I can’t explain it any other way; it’s just dickish.

So between the filmmaking aspect and Leo’s hostage situation, by the time The Revenant was released, the entire film had a distinct masturbatory sheen to it. Instead of Vaseline, the lens was covered in jizz – the jizz of both Innaritu and Leonardo DiCaprio, all being able to exorcise their demons in a vanity project jack-off for the ages.

Y’know, that actually brings up a good point that I’ll digress from where my tirade’s going for a moment, because this touches upon the big “controversy” within the Academy. I put finger-quotes around controversy up there because that’s the word some outlets are using, but it’s not a controversy; it’s a goddamned systemic problem that needs to be addressed, and that problem is representation. Much was made over the fact that all of the acting nominees were white. I agree that there is a problem when Michael B. Jordan doesn’t get nominated for Creed, but Sylvester Stallone does. (NB: I have not yet seen Creed, but I’ve seen The Expendables. Sylvester Stallone doesn’t deserve an acting Oscar, you fucks.) It’s great that Innaritu was nominated for Best Director, but where are the other Latino nominees? Oh, there aren’t any, because studios don’t really fund or buy films from minorities. What about the women? Where are the women writers, the women directors?

“This whole thing is a vanity project. So was Angelina Jolie’s Beyond the Sea (or whatever it was called). Why is this being rewarded where Beyond the Sea was panned as vain, indulgent, and not good?

Because Angelina Jolie is a woman.”

I had read this article in Rolling Stone, and the article attempts to get to the bottom of why Angelina Jolie-Pitt, a proven filmmaker, is not finding the respect she deserves for her film. Is it because for the first time, she is directing herself? Is it because it also stars her husband, Brad Pitt? Is it because she’s going outside of the studio system and making a movie she wants to make? Is it because she was first labeled as an actress, and now she’s trying to be a director?

Here’s what the author of that article, David Ehrlich, had to say about “vanity projects”:

For example, rather than describing this personal project as “a movie for which Angelina Jolie-Pitt courted embarrassment by exercising the artistic freedom with which our ticket dollars have empowered her over a 20-year span of consciously supporting her career,” you can just say “By the Sea is a vanity project.” How convenient is that?

Using that logic, The Revenant should also be called a vanity project. But it’s not. Vanity projects, when released, are almost always now panned and vilified. But aren’t all films, in some ways, vanity projects? So why does Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s movie, which she directed and starred in, making editorial and cinematic decisions and overall succeeded in manifesting her artistic vision, automatically get put under the title of “vanity project” whereas Innaritu’s movie, which he wrote and directed, made editorial and cinematic decisions and overall succeeded in manifesting his artistic vision, get nominated for awards?

Dicks. That’s why; dicks.

And since we’re talking about gender equality, can I take a moment to talk about one of the lines in the script? So, the plot of The Revenant goes like this: group of fur traders get ambushed by Native Americans (the Ree, but the Pawnee also play a role in the trade relations; and let me tell you, every time I saw Pawnee I expected Leslie Knope to show up and I am severely disappointed); a group of like 10 men manage to get away. While this group is hiking to a fort, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) gets mauled by a bear. The gang try to carry Glass, but it’s the 1830s, there’s no such thing as airlifting. One of the men, Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, who, as of right now, is my personal front-runner for Best Supporting Actor), offers to stay behind with Glass to ensure he gets a proper burial, because there’s no way Glass is going to survive. Also staying behind is Bridger and Glass’s half-Pawnee son, Hawk. Bridger is off getting water and Fitzgerald is getting tired of waiting for Glass to die, so he waits for Glass to blink and then he tries to suffocate him (it’s a whole big thing, I’m not getting into it). Hawk comes upon them and tries to stop Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald kills Hawk in front of Glass.

Fitzgerald then tells Bridger a yarn about the Ree approaching, so they leave Glass to die, burying him alive. Glass survives, and then treks (according to things I’ve read) like, 200 miles to reach the fort in order to get revenge on Fitzgerald for Hawk’s death.

When Glass and Fitzgerald are in their final battle, Glass explains why he wants revenge:

Glass: You killed my boy.
Fitzgerald: Or maybe you should’a raised a man … instead of some girly little bitch.

And Glass goes beserk and starts chopping Fitzgerald with an axe.

WHY THE FUCK IS THAT LINE IN THERE. There was no previous characterization of Hawk to indicate that he was any more feminine than the rest of the men in the camp. He was younger, and he was “other” in that he was the result of a white-Native American union, but he wasn’t feminine. What was that line trying to show – insensitivity of the 1830s man to different displays of manhood? I just – GOD, that line pissed me off! In short, that line is indicative of such a larger problem society has that I guess I hoped for better in an Oscar-nominated movie? I don’t know, I’m just angry at it.

Speaking of being angry; I don’t have a better segue-way for this, but it needs to be said.

I didn’t want to see The Revenant almost as soon as it got noticed, mostly for the reasons enumerated above. My Dear Friend Sarah saw the movie last weekend, and described it as “a protracted fucking misery.” That only served to reinforce my original opinions, because as we’ve come to see, Sarah’s usually spot-on with movie recommendations. If she thinks something’s a protracted fucking misery, chances are I’m not going to enjoy it either.

But guys, I’m a masochist and a completist. If a movie has been nominated for an Oscar, I am going to make every attempt to go see it, even if I think (or know) I’m not going to like it. I’ve sat through Boyhood, 127 Hours, The Tree of Life, and I wasn’t looking forward to any of those. But I did it. Hell, I paid actual night-time show money to see 127 Hours in the theatre, and I can’t stand James Franco’s choices almost as much as I can’t Leonardo DiCaprio’s choices.

So I was glad that Sarah’s opinion reinforced my own, but it wasn’t going to stop me from seeing it.

And then, I talked to a male friend of mine last Monday. He had also seen The Revenant, but he thought it was very good.

Dude: I thought you were going to the movies.
Me: Yeah, I was going to go see The Revenant, but then I decided not to.
Dude: Oh, it’s really good!
Me: I know, you said. I’m torn, because I trust your opinion, but my friend Sarah, she saw it this weekend, and she hated it, and I trust her opinion as well.
Dude: Well – I don’t want to say this, but –  y’know, you’re girls… and … it’s kind of violent.

And I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to that remark at the time — mainly because I was tired. But now that I’m awake, I’m woke as fuck.

How DARE you insult my — and Sarah’s — intelligence by saying that we probably didn’t like The Revenant because we’re girls. You having the magic ‘Y’ chromosome does not give you access to a higher understanding of film and experiences, and the fact that you fucking went there is now retroactively pissing me off.

Because my ovaries and uterine lining have absolutely fuck-all to do with my dislike of the film. The level of violence had no fucking effect on me. You know why? If I didn’t want to see something, I fucking looked away; while Leo was holding us hostage with his “performance,” it’s not like he was sitting behind me holding a gun to my head to force me to watch every blessed second of his screentime. And to be honest? Watching the CGI bear rip Leo to shreds, or watching Leo tear into raw bison liver, or Leo and Tom Hardy fighting to the death by the river at the end of the movie – sure, those were all violent, gory scenes. You know what they didn’t hold a candle to?




And what the fuck is a “guy movie,” anyway? Die Hard? Oh look, that’s one of my favorite movies. Same with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Same with The Usual Suspects. Look, movies that star only men and deal with great gobs of violence are, at times, my jam. But you know what makes me like them? The storytelling. The arc of the hero versus the villain, whether that villain is nature or an exceptional thief who is moving up to kidnapping or the fucking Nazis – that’s what gets me to like a movie.

Get me involved in the story; make me root for someone. Give the hero some spark of life or personality or, god-fucking-dammit, anything. I got fuck-all from The Revenant in that department.

That’s why I didn’t like The Revenant. That’s why I wrote in my notebook two hours in, “Please God, make it stop. Just end this. Please get me out of here.”

I didn’t like The Revenant because it was boring. I didn’t like The Revenant because it had an aura that reeked of “trying too hard to be arty.” I didn’t like The Revenant because no one had any fun on that movie at any time; judging by the tone, I’ll bet there wasn’t even joking off-screen. There wasn’t a single spot of hope or joy or anything positive in that movie, and that WILL affect my opinion.

So FUCK YOU, DUDE. I can’t wait to see you in person so I can demand an apology from you, because seriously, the only effect my being a girl had on my experience of watching The Revenant was that I could wipe the haze of testosterone from the film and see it for what it actually is: a fucking jizzporium of awfulness.

In conclusion: please, give Leo the Oscar. Free the hostages. Let our people go. Just — make it stop.

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Posted by on January 24, 2016 in Alaina Rants On, Oscar!Watch!


Oscar!Watch 2015: My Predictions

Oscar!Watch 2015: My Predictions

You guys, someday I’ll get back into this, I promise. Maybe next Friday night, I’ll kick off Movies Alaina’s Never Seen 2: The ReDeepening. I mean, I barely cracked anything open last year, and here it is almost March. Maybe I just need to schedule it or something. Not Thursdays, though; Thursdays are gonna be real busy next month. Between Trivia Nights and The Princess Bride Quote-A-Long, I’m pretty much booked solid. Plus my birthday, which is also a Thursday.

But y’all didn’t tune into this because this blog is called Diary Entries Alaina’s Never Made. Y’all hopefully clicked whichever link brought you here because you’re curious as to whether I think Will Tippin’s gonna win an Oscar. (SPOILER ALERT: Not this year, Will.)

This is the part where I’d roll out a cute Photoshopped banner, but I don’t have Photoshop on this netbook, so here’s the MS Paint reenactment:


Heh heh heh, I’ve missed this. (Also, I’m gonna make a Tom Collins.)

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Birdman; Boyhood; Foxcatcher; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Nightcrawler

This will be the first match-up between Boyhood and Birdman, so let’s get some stuff out of the way regarding these two first.

Birdman was the first movie I saw during the Oscar!Watch Official Period (the day the nominees are announced through the day before the awards ceremony), and I still don’t know how I feel about it. There were parts of it I really, really liked; and then there were parts that I didn’t like as much. Being a person who identifies herself as the modern-day, female version of the great Addison De Witt (or at least a person who aspires to be the modern-day female version of Addison De Witt), I can pick a Chekov’s Whatever out at the most normal of times, but in Birdman, there was a Chekov’s Whatever that was not only gift-wrapped, but the wrapping paper had written all over it THIS WILL PLAY A MAJOR PART LATER PAY ATTENTION TO THIS SEEMINGLY MEANINGLESS PROP. And if there’s one thing I abhor, it’s lazy writing. But at the same time, the writing didn’t feel lazy; because all of the action takes place in a theatre, I start to think, “maybe Innaritu meant to make it look lazy, to make a point on how people rely on such tropes, where they could be creative and find another solution to their problem.”

Basically, Birdman has kept me thinking about it, and I saw it almost six weeks ago.

Boyhood, on the other hand … I realize the movie took twelve years to make, but was I the only one who felt the movie was twelve years too long?

So I’m going to give a slight edge to Birdman for its creativity. Of these nominees, the only film I haven’t watched is Nightcrawler, How did I enjoy Foxcatcher and/or The Grand Budapest Hotel? Well … Grand Budapest is classic Wes Anderson, and obviously the film made an impression, seeing as how it was released in February 2014. But do I think it’s better than Birdman? No. Will I be surprised if Boyhood wins? No, but I don’t think the writing was very strong.

I MEAN THERE WASN’T EVEN REALLY A PLOT although I guess that life itself doesn’t really have a plot BUT STILL

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: American Sniper; The Imitation Game; Inherent Vice; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash

Of this list, I have seen only The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. Full disclosure: I really had no interest in seeing American Sniper. As much as I love Bradley Cooper (and it’s a lot – again, I saw him as Will Tippin on Alias … oh shit, fourteen years ago?? I have got to stop counting things), I couldn’t stomach the thought of sitting through a two-plus hour movie extolling the virtues of blind jingoism. So I passed. Inherent Vice came up to one theatre in Maine, I think? And I could have seen Whiplash, and I still kind of want to, because I love J.K. Simmons, but I just never somehow made it.

So of the two movies I’ve actually watched in this category, I’m going to go with The Imitation Game, because I like how the flashforwards were woven between the main plot, and really, I just liked the story better.

But honestly, this category’s kind of a crap shoot.

Best Director
Nominees: Birdman; Boyhood; Foxcatcher; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game

Guys, Richard Linklater directed Boyhood over twelve fucking years. If you think the Oscars aren’t going to award that level of tenacity, then you clearly haven’t been watching the same self-masturbatory award show I’ve been watching for the past …. mumblemumble years.

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Laura Dern, Wild; Keira Knightly, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Let’s get two people out of the way first: Meryl Streep is not going to win her next Oscar for playing The Witch in Into the Woods. She was fine, but the Oscars aren’t going to give Meryl Streep a Best Supporting Actress Oscar; it’s just not done. Two: Keira Knightly is fine in The Imitation Game, but she didn’t blow me away.

I liked Emma Stone’s role in Birdman, but it’s her first nomination. While the Academy has been known to reward first-time nominees fresh out of the gate — and nowhere is that more apparent than in this category in particular — I don’t think this is the right time for her to win.

That leaves Patricia Arquette and Laura Dern. I loved Laura Dern in Wild – between the subtle direction, the writing, and Reese Witherspoon’s guiding hands, Laura Dern’s character’s presence is felt in every frame of the film, and most of that can be attributed to her portrayal. Having said that, Patricia Arquette has won nearly every award leading up to this, so I’m going to go with Patricia Arquette to win, even though I really didn’t like that movie or her character, and if I’m wrong and it goes to Laura Dern, just be aware that I will be celebrating.

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Robert Duvall, The Judge; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Remember, I haven’t seen Whiplash, and I also didn’t catch The Judge. Let’s be real, Robert Duvall isn’t going to win here. Of the three films I’ve seen, I’d give an edge to Edward Norton because I really liked his character (although if Mark Ruffalo wins, I wouldn’t be mad), but let’s be real, J.K. Simmons is going to walk away with this, based on all the other awards and buzz he’s won.

Best Actress
Nominees: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Reese Witherspoon, Wild

One of the reasons I’m not as huge a fan of The Theory of Everything that I’d like to be is because I feel the movie was based on a book written by Jane Hawking, but she’s a supporting player in the life of Stephen Hawking. Fucking Hollywood, man. Anyway. If anyone thinks they’re not going to finally give Julianne Moore the award she should have won by now, then you really haven’t been watching the Oscars. And unlike Kate Winslet’s pity Oscar for The Reader, Julianne Moore will have earned it for Still Alice.

Best Actor
Nominees: Steve Carell, Foxcatcher: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything.

Hey look, a category where I’ve seen all the movies!

Let’s take this in alphabetical order. Now, I love Steve Carell; I was addicted to The Office when it was on, and while I would love nothing more than to see him win an Oscar — and I do believe he will, eventually — I don’t think he’ll win it for this film. Unfortunately, there were a couple of lines that he said as DuPont that could have almost just as easily come out of Michael Scott’s mouth, and if I noticed it, I’m sure some other people did as well. Not saying he wasn’t great; because he was. He just wasn’t good enough.

Bradley Cooper. Beautiful, amazing Bradley Cooper. Little Will Tippin, all grown up. Sure, he’s getting some buzz for Chris Kyle, but there was, unfortunately, a dark side to the real Chris Kyle, and that political-ness (meaning outside the Oscars-politics) is going to keep Bradley from winning here.

Benedict Cumberbatch will not win an Oscar for this. Sorry, fellow Cumberbitches. Maybe next time.

And that leaves Keaton and Redmayne. As much as I would love to see Michael Keaton win for Birdman — and if he manages to upset, I’ll be dancing — I have to admit that Eddie Redmayne‘s performance should win. I mean, the physicality of the role alone was astounding.

Best Picture
Nominees: American Sniper; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash

Honestly, I think it comes down to Birdman and Boyhood again. Between buzz and backlash, the only films that are still being talked about as having a shot at this are those two. And I think it’s going to come down to which card the Academy wants to play here: reward a film that tries to generate or answer questions about everyday life without really accomplishing it, although managing to achieve something … ineffable; or it’s going to be Boyhood.

My preference is to have Birdman win, obviously. I think it’s possible; but I also think it’s entirely possible and most likely more probable to have Boyhood win. It’s a coin toss.

I’m going to give Boyhood the edge here, because if anyone has the opportunity to give the Oscar to a movie that is deserving of it, because it engages us in actual, artful conversations about both life and art, the Academy is going to fuck that opportunity up royally and reward the bloviating, emotional claptrap option instead.

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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Oscar!Watch!


OscarWatch! 2015



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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Oscar!Watch!


Oscar!Watch 2014: My predictions

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I have a couple of hours in which I can make my lunches for the rest of the week and start getting caught up on Bates Motel before season 2 starts tomorrow night (I’M AWARE I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH CONSUMING MEDIA).  Also, people are probably sick of Oscar nomination posts, so – short story stays short.

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: American Hustle; Blue Jasmine; Dallas Buyers Club; Her; Nebraska.

This and Adapted Screenplay are some of the hardest categories to guess, especially in a year with such quality.  I feel that screenplays should be read in order to be judged, but as a consumer you can only see the interpretation of those words on-screen.

Now remember, I have seen neither Her nor Nebraska.  If I were to judge simply on the three I have seen, my gut instinct is to give it to Dallas Buyers Club because the movie has great characters and a message about AIDS, which Hollywood has championed since AIDS was a terror in the United States (I’m not saying anything about how it’s still a terror in Africa but a lot of Americans choose to ignore that plight; look at me not saying anything).  I think Blue Jasmine also has a fantastic character in Jasmine, but I think the Academy will reward Cate Blanchett for her acting rather than Woody Allen for his writing (and look at me not saying a word about Woody Allen!  I’m all sorts of not saying things right now!).

But I think American Hustle will walk away with the award, because it’s going to get shut out of its other nominations.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Captain Phillips; Philomena; Before Midnight; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street.

While I think Before Midnight was an amazing film (I am definitely adding Before Sunrise and Before Sunset to my List) and wish it would win, I think 12 Years a Slave is going to win this one.

Best Director
Nominees: David O. Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street.

This is a hard category to guess.  I mean, aside from throwing out Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street.  They’re great movies, but 12 Years a Slave has a great reputation coming in tonight.  They may give it to David O. Russell, but that’s also a long-shot; he may be enjoying a wealth of love right now, but there are still a lot of people who remember how difficult he was when he directed Three Kings, and no one dares mention I Heart Huckabees, however good it is.

And then there’s Alfonso Cuaron.  He could take it for Gravity (and has already won the DGA, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA for it).  And the movie is stunning, and a testament to direction in a highly-technical medium.  The Academy could reward the movie here (and in the technical fields).

I could go both ways: I think 12 Years a Slave is a masterful work in directing not only characters, but characters in a space and time.  The long takes that Steve McQueen employs certainly contributed to the tension and emotional resonance of the film.  But Cuaron does the same in Gravity.  (Didn’t they split the DGA?  Am I making crap up?)  (It tied with 12 Years a Slave for the Producer’s Guild Award; my mistake.)

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to give a slight edge to Cuaron and Gravity, but if Steve McQueen wins, that will also be awesome.  Because if either of them win, it will be a first: either the first Latin American Best Director, or the first African-American Best Director.

So basically, don’t let Marty Scorsese win again, okay?

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska.

Lupita Nyong’o, y’all.  Not even kidding.  If Jennifer Lawrence wins it again, it’s because we’re too enamored of her to recognize an amazing performance.  If anyone but Lupita wins this, it’s a travesty of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny proportions.

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

I am going to give a very strong recommendation to Jared Leto, who was amazing (and, most importantly, unrecognizable) in Dallas Buyers Club.  However, if Michael Fassbender wins, I won’t be mad.  If Jonah Hill wins, I’ll be highly amused, but also not mad (he was surprisingly not Jonah Hill in the movie, so I’ll be okay if he wins).

If they give it to Bradley Cooper, however, they’re morons.

Best Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County.

I really really really want Amy Adams to win (she was the best part of that movie, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there were an Award for Best Performance by an Inanimate Object, her double-sided tape would win hands-down) – she’s been nominated six times and has yet to win.  She’s turning into the female version of Peter O’Toole, and y’all know how I feel about that man.  (OH GOD THE DEATH REEL IS TONIGHT I WON’T BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT GUYS)

But it’s probably going to go to Cate Blanchett, because she did an amazing turn as a modern-day Blanche DuBois.

(PS – everyone go see A Streetcar Named Desire if you have a chance.  And I’m not talking about O Streetcar, either.)

Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Chiwetel Ejiofer, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

This is probably one of the two hardest categories for me to judge.  Because if it were up to me, I’d want to give it to Leonardo DiCaprio because he’s never won, but I also want to give it to Chiwetel Ejiofer because he was amazing, but I also want to give it to Matthew McConaughey because he was also amazing, and also, I want him to say “all right, all right, all right” when he wins.

So really?  I have no idea who’s going to win tonight.  No clue.  It could be either of those three men and I’ll be happy.

It’s a first, but I’m not going to predict.  Well, that’s not true; I predict the winner will not be Christian Bale, and it won’t be Bruce Dern, either.  There.  How’s that?

Best Picture
Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street.

I’m going to cross off Her, Nebraska, Philomena, Captain Phillips, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  That brings the field down to the following four: American Hustle; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; and 12 Years a Slave.

Dallas Buyers Club will be rewarded on its performances, not as an overall picture (it’s missing the crucial Best Director nomination [although recent years have split the winners {see Ang Lee winning for The Life of Pi last year but Argo winning Best Picture, although that’s because the Academy was a circus of douches and didn’t nominate Ben Affleck for Best Director}]).

That leaves Gravity, American Hustle, and 12 Years a Slave.  And again, I don’t know!  I think it depends on how the other awards shake out.

For instance, they could give Best Directing and Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave, and I’d be okay with that.  Gravity would leave with a bunch of technical awards, and American Hustle would win Best Original Screenplay, and all would be fine.

But they could give Best Directing to Alfonso Cuaron, which means that then they’d give Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave because duh.

But they could give Best Directing to Steve McQueen and then give Best Picture to American Hustle, because it has the word American in the title.

I think I’m just going to go with 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture because I really don’t know.  It seems the most logical choice.

So to make a long story short (too late!), here’s my official list:

  • Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity [or Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave]
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Best Actor: Fuck if I know.  Someone male.
  • Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Please remember that my predictions should not be the basis for any last-minute Oscar Pools, and if I sweep, I get a portion of the profits.  Please send all checks to Alaina c/o Movies Alaina’s Never Seen.  Thank you.

Happy Oscar Day!  And may the odds be ever in your favor.


Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!


Oscar!Watch 2014: Twelve Years a Slave

I just came back from one of the more surreal movie-going experiences of my life.

I drove up to my hometown of Brunswick to see 12 Years a Slave — it’s only showing at the Eveningstar Cinema, a little one-screen theatre that not only every small town should have, but if you’re ever visiting in Maine, please take time out from your vacation to see a movie here.  There is only one screen, so you’re at the mercy of what they’re showing, but if you get there early enough, you can grab one of the couches (yes, couches) that make up the front two rows — and they’re still far enough away from the screen that you won’t hurt your neck.  The popcorn is freshly-popped, and you have to pay three bucks for a soda, but it’s a soda in a bottle and not a piddly-assed small cup that the chains give you.  They primarily show limited runs of arty films, but it’s worth it; trust me.

And right now, it’s the only place that’s showing 12 Years a Slave at a reasonable time.  I also made the decision, in full disclosure time, that I was not going to break my neck to catch either Her, NebraskaAugust: Osage County, or Philomena.  I’m sure they’re all fine films, but let’s be real: they’re probably not going to win any awards.  All I have left to watch is Dallas Buyer’s Club, and I bought that on DVD so I didn’t have to drive to Massachusetts, and I’ll watch that tomorrow afternoon.

So back to my 12 Years a Slave story.  I enter the theater, and aside from three Bowdoin neurology students or whatever, I was the youngest one there.  And everyone else in the theatre was easily over fifty.  Not that there’s anything wrong with fifty – my parents, my faux parents, and one of my best friends are all over fifty.

Oh, I should mention before I get any farther: here lie spoilers.  Spoilers be ahead.  If you want to see 12 Years a Slave knowing nothing about it beyond its title, for the love of God, stop reading here.

Also, I’m going to talk a lot about slavery, history, and perception.  I am going to give this disclaimer up front: I don’t know what to think.  I have a lot of questions going around in my head, and unfortunately, I’m sure that none of them are politically correct.  But I’m going to try to … if not answer them, at least come to some sort of .. consensus isn’t the right word.  Rationalization isn’t right either.  Look, I’m just talking some shit out, and I’ll be honest, I’m most likely talking out of my ass.  Please don’t be offended, but also, if my essay-slash-question-slash-whatever inspires you to comment, that’s great; but I don’t respond to anger.  I will not be talked down to, and neither will I be yelled at.  If you want to be responded to, please just be nice.  Because there is a difference between “freedom of speech” and “intent to offend, insult, and/or harm.”  And that’s it for my soapbox (for now).

So anyway, here’s what happened: at every instance of violence, someone would gasp.  After Solomon was beaten for doing exactly what he was told, he flipped and started beating his overseer.  The overseer and two of his friends had Solomon strung up and was almost killed when the foreman saves him.  However, Solomon must still be punished (as a slave cannot beat his overseer), so his toes are allowed to touch the ground, but he is not removed from the tree until the end of the day.  For the rest of the day, he is just about two inches away from being lynched.  We see the other slaves and members of the plantation go about their business: tending to the laundry, picking vegetables for dinner, putting the horses away.  And always in frame is the image of Solomon struggling to keep himself from strangling.

The woman sitting behind me chose that moment to say, “This is a bleak movie.”

I am very proud of myself: I greatly resisted the urge to turn around and ask her what she expected.  I mean, when you go see a movie titled 12 Years a Slave, did you think it was going to be a happy film?  Did you think that the worst was going to be like the first five minutes of Blazing Saddles?

And the film didn’t ease up from there.  Solomon attempts to coerce a man who appears sympathetic to his plight (remember: Solomon, a free man from Syracuse, was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  He has no way to prove his freedom) into mailing a letter to notify his family and friends.  Instead, the man tells Epps, the slave-owner, and pockets Solomon’s money.  Luckily, Solomon is able to escape being killed as he insinuates that the other man (who is a white drunkard on hard times) is just trying to stir up trouble to be hired as an overseer.  When we learn that the drunkard has ratted Solomon out, I would say half the audience gasped and/or sighed in disgust; how could he do that?  How could he take his money and not help Solomon?

And it’s a great thing that we were all cursing the drunkard — I mean, with our twenty-first century eyes, it is very easy to say that that’s not what we would have done; we know better.  We know that slavery was wrong, and if we had a slave come to us in the middle of the night, swearing us to secrecy and then paying us money just to deliver a letter, what would we have done?  We would take the money, protect his secret, and mail the letter.  Hell, we probably wouldn’t even take his money.  We would just help him, because we are honest, forthright people.

But back in Louisiana in the 1840s, slaves weren’t people.  Slaves were just the equipment needed to get the cotton picked, or the church built, or the railroad tracks laid down.  And if a slave came up to you and you saw money in his hand, and you’re a white man with no job and a crippling addiction to whiskey, what would you do?  You’d pocket the money and then try and get in good with the slave-owner; maybe he’ll reward your loyalty with an overseer position.  And the slave would be dead; it’s no worse than needing to buy a new hammer, after all.

The final breaking point of the film is the brutal whipping scene.  Epps is infatuated with Patsey, a slave who can outpick every other slave on Epps’s team of cotton pickers.  Epps’s wife knows of his infatuation, and won’t give Patsey any soap in the form of passive-aggressive retaliation.  Patsey used her free Sunday to go to a neighboring plantation in order to get soap. There are multitudinous reasons why Epps doesn’t believe Patsey, but the end result is a four-minute-long take wherein Patsey is stripped naked, tied to a post, and whipped – first by Solomon, but when it appears he is not whipping her at his full strength, Epps takes the whip and beats the poor girl.

The audience is subject to one of the most emotionally-violent scenes I can remember: we see Patsey’s tears, Epps’s brutality, and blood spurting off her back from the whip.  Finally, the punishment is over, and Solomon unties Patsey; the soap she so brutally won drops from her hands.  She never let it go throughout the duration of the beating.

When Patsey is laid on a table and the other slaves take the time to clean her wounds, her back is a maze of welts and sores.  At the sight of it, the woman behind me starts sobbing.  Outright wailing.

Now, I have been to many movies, and I thought there was nothing more awkward than seeing a movie with friends (or your parents) and finding moments where tears roll down your cheeks.  Like seeing Brave, or Up, and just being punched in the gut with ~feels – what do you do?  You sniff and pretend you’re having an allergy attack.  Or you yawn loudly, struggling against the impulse to sniffle, and pretend you’re wiping your eyes because you’re tired.  Everybody, I’m sure — unless you have a heart of stone — has had those moments.  How do you keep your friends from seeing you cry in public?

Well, God bless this woman, because she did not have any conscious ability to mask her emotions.  She was bawling.  She could not control herself.  And I felt sorry for her, and I wished I had tissues or something to give her.  But all I could do — all I did — was continue to face forward and try to watch the rest of the film.

Please note – I was not angry at her emotional response.  I was just … awkward.  It’s not like having teenagers sitting behind you talking and texting throughout a movie; this woman was overcome with emotion, and she just couldn’t help it.

But at this moment, I’m not sure why she was crying.  I mean, I get that it was a visceral reaction on her part – she was clearly overcome by the imagery of the violence, and she probably couldn’t disconnect that what she was seeing on-screen was a woman acting underneath pounds of putty and dyed corn syrup.  I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I’ve worked backstage on a production of Macbeth that had enough fake blood that Buster Bluth would have killed multiple hookers.  (That’s an Arrested Development reference.)  I’m able to disconnect and see the “movie magic.”  It’s possible that she couldn’t, and that’s totally fine.

Because here’s my big question: was she crying at the movie, or at the realization that all this happened to real people?  I watched this film, and while I learned about slavery in school, it was all in abstract terms.  Slaves were lynched; slaves were raped; slaves were treated worse than property.  It doesn’t register as you’re learning about these events what they mean: it means that people were lynched; people were raped; people were treated worse than property.  I mean, in this day and age, we were taught that slaves were people and slavery was a disgusting blemish on American history (that isn’t too pristine to begin with, but that’s a whole ‘nother essay for a whole ‘nother time).  But depending on where you grew up and when, you may have been taught that the Civil War was actually started over tariffs and taxes and not slavery.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what triggered this woman to start bawling.  I just wonder: is it the movie, or the realization of history?  Because I have a feeling that there are probably many more people who had almost the same reaction, but they’re going to blame the movie: “Oh, that movie was so violent.  I can’t believe they showed that!”  “Can you believe that character wouldn’t help Solomon?”  “Why wouldn’t anyone cut him down from the tree?  That was a horrible scene!”

But what those people forget is this: this was based on a true story.  While the events we’re seeing may have some poetic license taken, the likelihood that these scenes actually happened to slaves is very, very high.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they absolutely did happen.  Maybe not to the real Solomon or the real Patsey, but I am sure that there were slaves that were beaten to death for worse infractions than leaving the plantation on their free day to get soap.  I know that female slaves were raped by their owners.   I know that there were some slave-owners who owned slaves out of necessity; they were equipment, but they were also people.  Those owners provided a place of worship and a hammock to sleep in, and protection from the elements.  There were also men sympathetic to the plights of slaves living in the South, who would help a free man that had been kidnapped into slavery.

I know that when I watched the movie, I was horrified that these events happened, and we were only seeing the reality of it now.  And I think that scared some other people in the theatre with me tonight.  The thought that there were human beings not even two hundred years ago that were treating slaves with such violence; it’s disgusting that that’s where parts of this country came from.

And through this film, those once-abstract constructs became realThat man was lynched.  That woman was raped.  Those people were thought of as property.  People owned other people.

So why is she crying: is she crying at the horrible plight of millions of people who populated this country?  Or is she crying because one film dared show the reality of that plight?

I don’t know.  I’m not a psychiatrist; neither am I a scholar.  I’m just a lazy slob who watches entirely too much television.  I’m not trying to find the answers of the world; I’m just trying to make sense of a crying woman where sense probably can’t be made.

I hope she finds peace.  I hope she goes home and puts in a movie that will comfort her.  I hope a lot of things.

Here’s what I know:

12 Years a Slave will win Best Picture*, and Lupita Nyong’o will win Best Supporting Actress.

*unless Dallas Buyers Club blows me away.  But I’ll know more about that tomorrow.

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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!