Category Archives: Oscar!Watch!

Oscar!Watch: 2014

Holy crap you guys — I might actually be able to see all the movies nominated for the Top Eight this year.

I happened to look for the first time today – because, thanks to the United States Government and my income tax refund – I might actually have money for the first time in a while to spend on things other than bills, food, and shelter, and also thanks to the Olympics, I’ve got an extra week that I don’t usually have in which I could ostensibly catch up, and while I’m thanking people, I guess I should sort-of thank my job that is conveniently across from the Nickelodeon, which is the art-house cinema in Portland, making it super-convenient to leave work and walk across the street to see a 6:15 show of something.

But seriously, as I looked at the list — and what I do is I break out the Top Eight categories (Picture, the four Acting categories, Directing, and both Screenplay categories) and then map out where the nominations fall (American Hustle was nominated for practically everything, Before Midnight only got one nod) — and that determines what movies I need to watch.

This year, the Top Eight are completely covered by twelve films.  And I’ve already seen two of them!  I only need to watch ten movies!  And three of those are on Redbox already!

After I complete my Hannibal rewatch (OH CRAP I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO TONIGHT), I can TOTALLY get those ten movies done!  Hell, I’ll even throw in Frozen because apparently it’s the best Disney movie since Beauty and the Beast!

The only one I’m ‘iffy’ on is Blue Jasmine, and that’s because it’s Woody Allen’s latest, and I’ve never been a huge fan of Woody Allen, and with the latest news, I feel really icky spending a dollar to watch a film he’s made.  I … I don’t know how I feel about that.

(maybe I’ll just use my free coupon I usually get on Blue Jasmine and drink a lot – maybe that will help the confused feels I have towards the situation)

So anyway – stay tuned, because after the Hannibal rewatch (CAN I WATCH SIX EPISODES BETWEEN NOW AND THURSDAY I THINK I CAN I THINK I CAN) and catching up on Sherlock (“A Scandal in Belgravia” is TOTALLY my new favorite, and I can hear my dad saying “It’s ‘A Scandal in Bohemia,’ what the hell are they doing”), I do have a couple of Insomniac Theatres to catch up on (which will make Jeremy the TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope much happier than he currently is), and I’m going to try and end this paragraph without any more parenthetical phrases by saying that there might also be another That’s What She Read Tie-In, plus more on the list.



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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!


Running Commentary to the 85th Annual Academy Awards: By Alaina

On another, more private blog, I used to write commentaries on the Oscar ceremonies.  Nowadays, I believe the term would be ‘live-blogging,’ but honestly, this is just a string of time-stamped comments I make about what I see on-screen.  Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m not; but this is what happens in the moment when I watch the Oscars.  It’s tradition; now it’s tradition here.

Read it, don’t read it; the decision is entirely up to you.  I only leave you with this: ARGO FUCK YOURSELF.  \o/

It’s 8:21 and I am awaiting tonight’s ceremony with what can only be described as dread. I can only stand Family Guy about half the time; I’m not sure I could stand him for what is most likely going to be four hours of hell. Good thing I didn’t kill myself doing the Oscar!Watch this year, huh?

Aw, man! Iron Man 2 is on FX. I could be watching that instead!

8:30: All right, this is going to — wow, he, just goes right into the monologue? Seriously, no big number? Actually, that’s a point in your favor.
—– Hey, Robert Downey Jr!

—– Also, Seth MacFarlane: did you just utter Ron Jeremy’s name in your monologue? Not sure if that’s a sign of uphill or downhill movement on your part.

8:34: And here’s the moment where Seth starts to realize that this is not his crowd.

8:35: At least Seth is sort of aware that he’s way too controversial for this.


8:38: … This is almost too meta for me.

8:39: And nine minutes in. That’s a new record for me to hit the mute button. And actually, this is a PERFECT opportunity for me to bitch about why I am so ambivalent about Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy, and everything else. You know what would have made this “We Saw Your Boobs” joke slightly better for me? YOU ONLY NEED ONE CHORUS FOR THE PUNCHLINE. You really don’t need to list off every damn tit you’ve seen in the past forever. When the chorus of dudes came out and backed Seth up, I was all, MUTE BUTTON. Because you’re going to keep singing about boobs, and the JOKE. IS. OVER. MOVE ALONG.

8:42: Here’s my favorite part of this so far. In the Camera Three shot, you can clearly see Gary Busey laughing his head off, and Helen Hunt and Samuel L. Jackson are in the front row, and neither of them are amused. It looks like Helen hasn’t smiled since she was forced to on Mad About You.

8:44: It’s too bad that Seth can be such a dick sometimes. He has a very nice voice. And DAMN! Who knew that Rita from Arrested Development could dance!?

8:45: Actually, I would have totally watched Flight done with sock puppets. Honestly, there are TONS of movies I’d watch if it was redone with sock puppets. HEY – THAT’S HOW I’D WATCH SHAWSHANK.
—– See? Even Helen Hunt’s laughing at the sock puppets!

8:47: Harry Potter’s so short! Poor kid.


8:52: Holy shit, that was quick. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. My guess it goes to either De Niro or Tommy Lee Jones. (Although I love the idea of Alan Arkin winning. ARGO FUCK YOURSELF!)

8:55: WHOA, SERIOUSLY? Christoph Waltz won that out from under De Niro! I don’t think ANYONE was expecting that!
—– I’m … strangely okay with it? Because I love hearing his voice? But I was shocked.

9:01: Melissa McCarthy, WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?!

9:02: I have watched a ton of Oscar ceremonies. This is the first one that I absolutely hate.

9:03: BEST ANIMATED SHORT goes to “Paperman.” Yay! I totally teared up when I saw it in at Wreck-It Ralph.

—– Anyway, what I was saying was, I swear they should just name it the Pixar Awards. And I don’t even want to get into the whole frouferah about the different directors and shit.

9:08: Life of Pi, man. I just keep thinking, “Fuck! I keep forgetting about the goddamned tiger!”

9:11: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
—– Seriously, it’s this and the James Bond retrospective that is keeping me tuned in.

9:12: BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY. If Skyfall doesn’t win this, I’m going to go kill someone.
—– SON OF A BITCH. SKYFALL WAS MY FAVORITE MOVIE LAST YEAR. Who the fuck is that stoned Gandalf-wannabe taking the award for Life of Pi? I mean, he seriously looks like he just got off the bus from HippieVille. He must REEK of pot.

9:15: This is such a shitshow. Holy shit, such a shitshow. I love how RDJ is all, “Screw it, let’s just get it done.” I love these men, but this show is awful.
—– Samuel L. Jackson: “I’m a superhero and I can’t get the damned envelope open.” LOVE HIM.
—– BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: What the fuck, Life of Pi, did you bribe people!? IT WAS THE AVENGER’S ONE AWARD.

—– Keith Urban is embarrassed on your behalf.

9:20: Shit, I keep forgetting, I paused a bunch of times — I can fast-forward through the commercials!

9:23: BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Hoop Skirt Rule continues with Anna Karenina.

9:24: BEST MAKEUP: When did they start looping “hairstyling” in with this category?
—– I would HOPE Les Miserables would win. I mean, look what they did to Anne Hathaway?

—– WAIT. You’re honoring James Bond — AND DANIEL CRAIG ISN’T THERE!?!?!?!?! WHAT THE FUCK, ACADEMY?!

—– You guys don’t understand! Goldfinger was my favorite movie for the longest time! I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Goldfinger and the song. This is amazing.
—- Also, Shirley Bassey’s still got it.

9:33: I am just going to end that by saying that I am TOTALLY watching Skyfall before I go to bed tonight, because what the fuck — WHY DON’T YOU ACTUALLY HAVE JAMES BOND THERE?!

9:36: Seeing Kerry Washington on stage just makes me want the next episode of Scandal RIGHT NOW. I’m not sure how or when I got completely addicted to that show, but honest-to-god, sometimes I find myself watching that before Vampire Diaries. It is good and HOT, TOO.

9:41: It’s hysterical to me that Liam Neeson is considered a ‘Modern American Superhero’ when he’s IRISH.
—– ARGO FUCK YOURSELF!! <– What I will be saying EVERY TIME someone mentions Argo.
—– “When the Levee Breaks.” One of the best songs in the rock and roll canon. Used brilliantly in the film, and I fucking love that song anyway.

9:42: Wait a sec — Joseph Gordon Levitt was in Lincoln?

9:46: Every time Seth MacFarlane’s on stage, I just get more and more awkward.
—– Ben. You could have come up with a better comeback than that.
—– Oh good, my beer’s still cold. Thank god for small miracles!

9:47: Lana? Lana. Lana?



9:53: Wow, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain present the BEST FOREIGN FILM award? That’s a step in the right direction! (I mean, Jennifer/Sydney Bristow’s been EVERYWHERE.)
—– Well DUH Amour is going to win Best Foreign Language Film. I mean, come on.

9:56: John Travolta?! He’s not dead?

9:58: TRAVOLTA: You do NOT pronounce the “les” in “Miserables.” It’s “LAY MIZ ER AHB.” Oy.

10:00: You gotta give it to her: Catherine Zeta-Jones could *maybe* give Bebe Neuwirth a run for her money. Maybe. Though probably Bebe would be able to take her in a brawl.

10:01: Dreamgirls. Or as it’s known in my house: Twitter break.

10:03: Damn. That didn’t take as long as I’d thought.

10:05: Look, I was never a big Les Miserables fanatic. I knew the story, I knew it was a big hit, but when I saw the movie, I had no idea that “Suddenly” wasn’t part of the original play.
—– And I didn’t think Russell Crowe was all that bad! Give him some slack everyone!

10:10: Oh man — I was hoping Seth MacFarlane would be saying “Benedict Cumberbatch” as one of the stars of Star Trek. SHERLOCK FOREVER

10:11: Oh, shit. They brought out a digital bear. Jesus Christ.
—– Boston Accents represent! o/
—– “I’m really good at sex. I can bring sodas and snacks and soap, and stuff! Please?” That should be my pick-up line from now on. And I can do the Boston accent, too!

10:14: … I just want Skyfall to win something, you guys! Honestly, I’m a little nervous about the song. Not about its awesomeness (it grows on you, especially after you’ve seen the movie and seen just what the song is about) — but I’m nervous that the Academy is just going to be a fucktard and fuck the movie over somehow. Like giving it to “Suddenly” from Les Miserables. And giving Best Picture to Les Miserables because they suck. Things like that.

10:17: WHOA. THERE’S A TIE AT THE OSCARS?! I mean, a statistical tie, not a bowtie … you know, forget it.

10:18: Who’s that dude in the audience?! He looked like Sean Connery from thirty years ago!

—– Sorry. I have an unqualified attachment to that damn car.

10:21: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA You are NOT pulling the “Where did the Von Trapp Family Singers Go” prank on Christopher Plummer, are you? He’s going to kneecap you so hard … But very excellent attempt at being able to make that joke. Kudos.
—– Re: the only compliment you’ll get from me tonight: Your own words, actually.

10:23: What did I tell you, MacFarlane? YOU DON’T MESS WITH CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER.
—– And now, we come to the Anne Hathaway Teary and Attempting to be Funny Joke Speech. MOAR BEER.
—– I think she did okay. Humble enough with just a touch of pride: “It came true!” That’s the new “You like me, you really like me!”


10:30: President’s Speech. Bored now.

10:32: Sandra Bullock just shooed Seth MacFarlane off the stage. Can we keep her?
—– BEST EDITING. If Argo doesn’t win this award, there’s an issue with the system. Seriously. That movie was tight.


10:39: Seriously. I know there was some flack when it was initially released, but once you’ve seen the movie, you recognize just how perfect “Skyfall” is for the movie.

10:43: Nicole Kidman: you look AMAZING.

10:47: Harry Potter and Bella Swan together? FANDOMS ARE EXPLODING
—– Also, Kristen Stewart looks like she just climbed off of the Snow White and the Huntsman director, took a hit of *something,* and then said “Oh shit I’m supposed to present like right now!”

10:50: Normally you’d be correct, Seth MacFarlane, but in the past, they’ve used Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and/or Selma Hayak to present the Foreign Film Award. But since you gave that to Garner and Chastain … looks like it’s the Governor’s Award.

10:53: I’m doing a quick tally in my head. The writing awards, acting awards, director, and picture — that’s all that’s left, right? Plus the death reel? OH JESUS AND I’M BACK ON LIVE TV This isn’t going to end until midnight, is it?

10:57: Wait a sec — they gave the Death Reel to the Cloonster? They’re not going to have someone singing over it? OH THANK GOD!!!
—– … I almost thought Ernest Borgnine was Emperor Palpatine. I feel like a jackass now.
—– NORA EPHRON. DEAR GOD, I didn’t forget, but it hit me again.

—– Insight Into Alaina: I do not associate this song with the movie. I associate this song with Gilda Radner and a worn-out recording of her standup my mother used to watch when I was little. She played this song on the piano and sang along. The performance was a goodbye to comedy, as she was undergoing treatment for cancer at the time. So while Babs is singing about Marvin Hamlisch, I’m sitting here crying more tears for genuinely funny lady Gilda Radner.

11:04: Also — and maybe this is the female comic writer in me — but I would have liked to see a little more tribute to Madame Ephron.

11:09: Is Renee Zellweger filming another Bridget Jones movie? Because she looks absolutely fantastic.
—– BEST FILM SCORE. I honestly don’t know. I mean, give it to Skyfall, because it’s the best movie, but y’know … whatever.
—– How many Chicago cast members does it take to open up an envelope? (It went to Life of Pi. Again, whatever.)

11:11: Make a wish! I WISH FOR THIS THING TO SPEED THE FUCK UP. Because I just realized that we haven’t even given the Best Song award yet! OH WAIT HERE IT IS
—– If this doesn’t go to “Skyfall,” I’m going to flip the table. Not even joking.

—– And the winner for best speech goes to: Adele.

11:18: Seth just said that the Acting awards and the Best Picture awards are coming up. It’s like they don’t even want to award Best Director.

11:23: Writing Awards. This is the latest these have been presented, yes?
—– BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY. I hope this goes to Argo, but who knows?
—– ARGO FUCK YOURSELF!!! That’s amazing!! I am getting better hopes!
—– Awwww!! Good Will Hunting shout-out!

11:26: BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY. Hmm… what was the — oh man, they’re not going to give it to Tarantino, are they? That would make him insufferable.
—– Dammit. Now I’m going to *have* to watch Pulp Fiction, aren’t I?
—– I love that Tarantino is basically saying “I’M AWESOME” in his speech, isn’t he?
—– HE WALKED AWAY, AND THEN CAME BACK. I have to give Tarantino something – he’s got balls.

11:32: Also: Tarantino played McKenas Cole on Alias. Jennifer Garner was in Alias. So was Bradley Cooper. Jennifer Garner is married to Ben Affleck, who cast Victor Garber in Argo. Victor Garber was also on Alias. What I’m saying is, ALIAS WAS THE BEST FUCKING SHOW OF ALL TIME.

11:33: Best Director. Does anyone give a fuck? I mean, honestly.
—– This had better be like Brokeback Mountain/Crash again, okay? ARGO HAS TO WIN BEST PICTURE.

11:40: BEST ACTRESS. I … I don’t know, honestly. But the 9-year old (I’m not going to attempt to spell her name) is freaking adorable.
—– Oh! Bonus!Liev Schrieber!

11:44: Jennifer Lawrence, Classy Broad: She just wished Emmanuelle a happy birthday. I mean, come on. That’s fantastic. Katniss Everdeen for the win!

11:48: I love Meryl Streep’s glasses.
—– Wait, did she even open the envelope? I mean, I’m not contesting, but I never saw her open the damn thing.
—– Congratulations, Daniel Day-Lewis! Someday I’ll watch one of your movies. You seem to be a funny guy.

11:51: Daniel, I like Bradley Cooper. But I don’t think he’s better than you. I mean, I went to see The A-Team. In theatres. I paid actual money to see that.
—– I know that this isn’t that, but I seem to be getting some strange Eve Harrington vibes from Daniel Day Lewis’s speech. I mean, he’s just praising everyone with a brief paragraph, just like Eve did when she won her Sarah Siddons Award.

11:53: JACK NICHOLSON!! That’s what the Oscars have been missing for years!
—– Wait — Michelle Obama’s presenting Best Picture!? SHUT UP!

11:55: Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to finish writing this paragraph, and then I’m putting my laptop on the table to avoid dropping it. I’m rooting for Argo, and if it wins, I’m going to go fucking insane. If it loses, I may throw something. So … Caroline’s going to a safe place until the winner is announced.

12:02: I am so happy right now. I love that the Academy didn’t fuck Ben Affleck. I never thought I’d be so proud of Ben fucking Affleck. He won proudly, with emotion, clearly did not have a speech fully prepared, and was gracious. I just want to hug him.
—– And I did kind of want him to drop the Oscar and yell ARGO FUCK YOURSELF, but what are you gonna do.

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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Oscar!Watch!


Alaina Rants On… The 2013 Oscar Nominations (and the Oscars in general)

Before I get into this, I’ve got a metaphor I want to use, but I want to make sure it lands.  Has anyone out there watched How I Met Your Mother as much as I have?  If not, let me attempt to make my metaphor make sense.

[I’m going to warn you, this is much like my Stories That Go Nowhere [TM]: long and involved backstory with little or the wrong kind of payoff.  You have been warned, but I’m not backing away from this.]

See, in the episode entitled “Old King Clancy” (a personal favorite), Robin admits that she’s performed a dirty sex act with a celebrity back in Canada.  She won’t tell The Gang Minus Ted any of the story unless they are able to guess.  Cue the inevitable long list of Canadian Non-Sequitors [“Rick Moranis; The Reverse Rick Moranis; Antique Judaica.”  “No.”  “GAH.”]  Robin finally tells them that The Frozen Snowshoe asked her home to have her look at Harvey’s Trays, and then she was to perform the Old King Clancy on him (which is apparently like the Sacramento Turtleneck, but with maple syrup).  I echo Lily’s thoughts by saying that I don’t know what any of those words mean.

And then Barney says (and this is my punchline):

“Canada.  You did it again.  You even found a way to ruin *this.*  Why!  Why do we let you be a country?!”

And that, my friends, is how I felt about the 2013 Oscar Nominations.  Why.  Why do we even let you people do this to us!?

Because clearly, I love movies.  I wouldn’t devote a blog to my attempts to watch them if I didn’t.  I love the genre, I love the art and technique and style and dedication that go into making them.  And yes, I must give the disclaimer first-off that I realize there are some movies that strategically strive to be considered “art” and are therefore, less accessible than others, and there are others that are made simply for the attempt at a paycheck.  This rant is … well, not completely about the different levels of film-making that is occurring out there today, but it’ll probably intersect at some point, so … caveat everyone.

I think my largest problem with the Academy Awards at this juncture in time is that the entire Oscar production – the nominations, the rotating host, the gravitas that is attached with being nominated and, of course, winning – is made out to be the most accessible awards show — it’s never been called it to my knowledge, but a good shorthand would be America’s Award Show — but really, they’re not.  We the audience are made to believe that the nominated movies are the best of all the movies that have been released this year and everything else that we saw in the theatres that we may think are better are in fact, only slightly okay.  “No, I don’t care how much you loved Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock; clearly, Will Tippin in a football movie was better than that.”

Let me back up.  I have been watching the Oscars since Titanic came out.  The 1997 Oscars was the first one I watched, and the first time I attempted to guess the winners.  Thanks to James Cameron and the killing that that movie did on the box office, I got a lot right.  The five Best Picture nominees were: Titanic, L.A. Confidential, As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, and Good Will Hunting.  That year I was … y’know, I turn thirty this year?  I’m not doing the math.  But anyway, I was clearly in the PG-13 arena and had only seen Titanic and As Good As It Gets, but I had heard about the other three.  In fact, since that time, I have seen … okay, only L.A. Confidential and that was years ago, but my point is that I, a 14-year old girl (damn. I did the math) with limited spending income, had seen two of the Best-Picture-Nominated movies and had heard of the other three.  The Best Picture nominees were accessible to everyone.

The following year — just to further illustrate my point — the five nominees for Best Picture were Saving Private Ryan, Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, Life is Beautiful and The Thin Red Line.  Now being 15, I hadn’t seen those due to sex and/or violence, but again, I had heard of those movies.  I think I ended up seeing parts of at least four of those movies during various classes throughout the rest of high school and/or college.

The following year, the fucking Sixth Sense was nominated.  For Best Picture.  Do y’all remember that?!  The only reason I’m mentioning that now is that it completely illustrates my point: a movie that practically EVERYONE saw, so much so that the twist ending was even at that time, a punchline.  (And still continues to this day — just last night I tweeted to my friend Sarah, who was punishing herself for some reason watching The Last Airbender, which she didn’t realize was directed by M.Night himself: “It’s an M.Night Shyamalan joint.  If Bruce Willis ain’t dead and it’s not Earth all along, it’s not over yet.”

Sometime around 2003, 2004-ish, we started to see a trend of less accessible, more art-housey films get nominated alongside tentpole films.  The Best Picture nominees one year were Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Far Side of the World, Mystic River, and SeabiscuitLost in Translation I still find to be completely overrated, but amongst the other titles in that category, it’s clearly the art-house sneak-in.  All the acting nominations came from little-seen films, like Thirteen, The House of Sand and Fog, 21 Grams, and of course the stupid exception is Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean.  I mean, I don’t even know why he was nominated for that.  I still don’t.

And then, we come to 2004.  The 2005 Academy Awards bestowed gold upon Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Ray, Finding Neverland, Sideways, Vera Drake, Hotel Rwanda … a lot of films that didn’t necessarily get wide releases.  Now, I cannot in good faith sit here and proclaim that Million Dollar Baby didn’t deserve the award, because it’s number 40 on my list.  But when I look back through the movies that were released that year, and I see Mean Girls (which honest-to-God, should have at least earned a screenplay nomination), Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and movie of my heart, Anchorman?!  Okay, yes, I still don’t think Anchorman would get nominated in any sense of the word, but let’s say I had watched Million Dollar Baby.  Given the choice to rewatch either that or Anchorman, I’m going to go with the Ron Burgandy story, duh!

So for a few years, art-house movies dominated the Oscars.  Occasionally, we’d see a bigger-named movie (Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.), but for the most part, the Academy Awards started veering towards the lower-budget, emotion-heavy Sundance purchases.  And you know, I was kind of okay with that – if that was the direction the Academy Awards was going, then fine.  Be all art-housey and hipster and whatever, leave me my Anchorman and joy.

And THEN, in 2010, the Academy decided to increase the Best Picture nominees to up to 10 from the 5 that had been allowed for almost all of eternity.  The producers or executives or whoever was in charge (heretofore known as ‘they’) claimed it was because they wanted to make the category more accessible, and inclusive, and give more films the opportunity to be named a Best Picture nominee.

In reality, it was because the ratings for the Academy Award telecast had been slipping sequentially for the past … actually, I would like to give a quick shout-out to Wikipedia for helping me with all of this information.  Thanks guys!  But anyway, the 2009 Oscars achieved a record-low of 31.7 million viewers, or an 18.6% Nielsen Ratings Share.  Even so, the ratings had steadily declined by at least one million each year since … oh, would you look at that.

Year Ceremony Viewers
(in mil.)



Best Picture Winner



Seth MacFarlane  




Billy Crystal The Artist




James Franco & Anne Hathaway The King’s Speech




Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin The Hurt Locker




Hugh Jackman Slumdog Millionaire




Jon Stewart No Country For Old Men




Ellen DeGeneres The Departed




Jon Stewart Crash




Chris Rock Million Dollar Baby




Billy Crystal LOTR: Return of the King




Steve Martin Chicago




Whoopi Goldberg A Beautiful Mind




Steve Martin Gladiator




Billy Crystal American Beauty




Whoopi Goldberg Shakespeare in Love




Billy Crystal Titanic

[Yeah, bitches, I made a chart!!]

But as you can CLEARLY see above, there is a direct correlation between Academy Awards Ratings and the Movies Nominated for Best Picture.  The year the Academy decided to recognize Titanic as being worthy of Best Picture was the same year that EVERYONE saw Titanic.  A fair amount of people also saw either Shakespeare in Love or Saving Private Ryan, so the audience wanted to see who won.  Fast-forward to poor Jon Stewart’s second year hosting, which suffered from having both very obscure nominees (from a general audience member’s perspective) and also, political fatigue.  Steve Martin’s first year also suffered from coming approximately six months after 9/11, so clearly, real-world stuff affects fake-world stuff.

So anyway.  In 2009, Academy Awards President Sid Ganis announced that ‘they’ would be increasing the Best Picture nominees to up to ten, “in an attempt to revitalize interest surrounding the awards” source.  No, Sid, that’s not why you did it.  This was blatantly in an effort to increase ratings.  Which, fine, whatever you think works.

Now, I was sitting there in 2009, and my first thought was, “Shit!  I’m going to have to see even more movies now!”  Because I am, first and foremost, a masochist.  But since that was announced in June of 2009, and I had six months to think about stuff before the actual nominations were announced, I also got secretly excited.  I hoped — hoped — that that would mean that there would be more accessible pictures nominated.

That was the year that The Hangover was released.  And it was being lauded as being an extraordinary, new comedy.  Different, unabashedly raunchy, and loved by millions.  It was an R-rated crowd-pleaser, the likes of which film hadn’t seen, practically ever.  And I was excited, because for once, there was a chance that an actual, honest-to-goodness comedy might — might — be nominated for Best Picture.

And that had been my point for years prior.  While the Golden Globes are a horrible excuse for an awards show, with only slightly more gravitas than winning an Emmy, at least they know enough to award both a drama and a comedy as Best Picture.  Comedy and drama make up our daily lives, and I felt that only one side of that coin had been represented in the past ten years’ worth of Oscar ceremonies.  Because not counting Little Miss Sunshine, a black comedy at best, the last outright comedy to be nominated for Best Picture was The Full Monty, in 1997, the same year – you guessed it – Titanic won.

So when the Best Picture nominations came out, and not one of them was for any type of comedy?  I was sorely disappointed.

And look, I recognize that I am not an Academy member, and that there are rules and processes in place.  I just learned this this past week: a film cannot be named a Best Picture nominee unless the total nominations for that category it receives equal 5% or more of the total nominations submitted.  So, fine.  4% of the people liked The Hangover, and it lost its place to District 9.  And last year, at least Bridesmaids got recognized for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it was just a push towards Equal Opportunity.  (In many different ways.  Not to say I didn’t like the movie and was ecstatic that it earned two nominations.  Just … it still feels a tad slap-dash and not very authentic.)

I think, finally, we come to this year.  There were a lot — a lot — of good movies released this year.  Sadly, one of them got upstaged by the events surrounding its midnight release, but there were others that I felt deserved recognition.

Joss Whedon made a supremely amazing superhero movie, that managed to make the comic book fans happy and not too nitpicky, while introducing others to the genre.  The Hunger Games had amazing cinematography and art direction, but didn’t get nominated for anything?  And while I’m flipping ecstatic that Skyfall got nominated for cinematography (eat THAT, Pierce Brosnan!!), where was Javier Bardem’s nomination?  For ONCE, there was nuance to a Bond villain!  Okay, fine.  The Best Supporting actor nominees are all unique, special snowflakes, and — hey, all of you guys have won Oscars before!  That’s not helping my argument, but …


And look, I am not Mr. Affleck’s biggest fan by any means.  I like him, but I’m not exactly going to run out and watch every movie he’s ever made.  Loved him in Mallrats, Dogma and Chasing Amy.  I saw The Town; it was okay.  Still haven’t seen Shakespeare in Love or Good Will Hunting, but they’re on my list!  I think his high-profile romances soured me, but not because of him, because of the media swooping on every shit he took with J.Lo and everything else.  I never really had anything bad to say about him.

But Argo — holy shitsnacks.  That was the best movie I have seen in a very long time.  As director, he was able to create tension in a story where you knew how it ended.  I went to see it about three weeks after it opened, and my theatre still applauded when the plane took off.  I remember looking at Amelia and saying, “I take back almost every bad thing I’ve ever said about Ben Affleck.”  It was phenomenal, and I can’t stress this enough – a huge surprise that it was that good.

So for him to be snubbed, to me, seems really, really shitty.

And sure, maybe, the guy who made Beasts of the Southern Wild did a really good job.  And maybe, Silver Linings Playbook redeems David O. Russell more than I Heart Huckabees ever could.  But … the Affleck, man!  I can’t — I can’t get beyond that.

So, thanks, Academy Awards.  You finally did what not many people could do.  You turned Ben Affleck into a platform for me.  I am now pissed off at you, the Academy Awards — you that has ran my Februarys for the past five years, and my winter seasons for even longer than that — over Ben Affleck.

And I’m looking at the rest of the nominees, and I’ve never heard of the majority of them.  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  Was that a direct-to-Redbox release?  AmourLife of Pi?  You nominated The Life of Pi?!

Brad: We should go see Life of Pi.
Me: Why?!
Brad: Well, we should bring flasks.  It’s this year’s The Tree of Life.
Me: You don’t want to go see The Life of Pi with me.
Brad: Why not?
Me: Because you’re going to be subjected to me shouting, every damn time Pi turns around and sees the tiger, “Fuck!  I keep forgetting about the goddamned tiger!”
Brad: [laughing]
Me: And then, just to mix it up, when he’s feeding the tiger: “Tigers love pepper.  They hate cinnamon.”

Seriously, guys – never go to the movies with me.  I’m an asshole.

I keep thinking that there has to be some sort of middle ground.  A place where movies that deserve recognition can go to be rewarded.  The Oscars has clearly not learned anything from the past few years, and are sliding more and more into art-house territory.  Which is fine.  You can totally do that, Oscars.  Just stop marketing yourself as the People’s Award Show.  Which in reality, I don’t think you’ve actually said, but let’s put it this way: you’re making it a lot easier for the Extreme Conservative Right to point to you guys and say stuff like “Hollywood Elite.”  And this is a point I haven’t made yet: I live in Maine.  Some of those movies were never released here!

So this year, I’m hanging up my “I’m Going To Watch Ever Movie And Take Notes” hat, and instead, continue to watch Archer and see if Captain Hook ever leaves Storybrooke, Maine and travels to Yarmouth on Once Upon a Time (IT CAN’T BE THAT FAR, RIGHT?  HE’S GOT A SHIP, THERE ARE RIVERS).  If I get up to it, I might — might — hold my own Award Ceremony, one that reflects the true artistry in the movies that EVERYONE — or, at least, a SOLID MAJORITY OF PEOPLE — has seen.

(PS, I will be seeing Silver Linings Playbook, because I have to see what the fuck Will Tippin did to fucking get nominated for Best Actor.  I mean, what the shit?!)

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Alaina Rants On, Oscar!Watch!


Movie Dump: Oscar!Watch 2012, Part One

I’ve really got to get my butt in gear with these movies, especially since I’m going to be in Annapolis all next week without access to a Redbox or a movie theater (I’m guessing my hotel won’t be within walking distance of a Cinemagic).  So let me get everyone up-to-date with the movies I’ve been watching as I get ready to finally dig into Attack of the Clones.

Moneyball: A movie about money, balls, but no acting

Moneyball, for those keeping track, is nominated for Best Picture; Best Actor (Brad Pitt); Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill); and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It was the movie that began Oscar!Watch for me.  And I have to say, I am unimpressed.

Now, I am the epitome of Playoff Fan when it comes to sports.  I had no idea Gronkowski even existed until I watched the Patriots play the Broncos in the playoffs.  And the only reason I watched that game was because I enjoy making fun of Tim Tebow and asking him where his god is now.  When it comes to baseball, I enjoy watching the Red Sox, and if there’s nothing else on, I’ll tune into NESN and watch whoever they’re playing.  Do I know all the players?  No.  I know Varitek and Papelbon and … Big Papi?  Does he even still play?  But look, a) of all, if one of the players has been traded or went to another team in the past five years, please don’t feel the need to correct me because I really don’t care that much, and b) of all, have I mentioned that I don’t really care?  I’ll watch the Sox play the Yankees, because there are days that it feels like it’s a requirement living in Maine to root against the Yanks, but I do have to agree with my friend Sarah (who happens to be a true-blue Yankees fan) that rooting for the Red Sox against the Yanks is no longer rooting for the underdog.  The Sox are just as highly-paid as the Yankees, and — being from Boston — they still manage to fuck up occasionally.

Moneyball is an attempt to show that there could be a chance for a lesser-paid team to win the Series if, instead of buying people, you buy the people who can get on-base.  I can sort-of see that.  The theory is interesting to me, at least, and it interested me enough to get a copy of the book Moneyball from the library.  (I haven’t started reading it yet.  What?  I’ve been busy.)

Brad Pitt plays the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, and they are a notoriously under-paid franchise.  What was really interesting to me about the saga of the 2002 A’s is that, it wasn’t until the following year (2003) that I started to get into baseball, and the team I followed for a while was the A’s.  So as I’m watching the story of the streak of 20 straight games won, I was wracking my brain, trying to remember if I had watched that.  Turns out, I was a year late and a dollar short.

Anyway, back to the acting.  Uh, what acting?

"Seriously? How did we get nominated, again?"

Because all I saw were Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill playing themselves, except Brad Pitt chewed tobacco and Jonah Hill didn’t swear as much as he usually does.

Do I think Moneyball was a good movie?  Yes.  Do I think it will win Best Picture?  Hell no.

Bridesmaids: If Only Comedy Was a Legitimate Expression of Art

At least, it doesn’t seem to be recognized by the Academy as art.  Speaking as someone who will occasionally get laughs from co-workers and friends with her witty remarks and deftly-maneuvered pop culture references, I heart comedy so much I wish … I wish so much, you guys!  I wish the Golden Globes weren’t so out-of-touch that they saw The Tourist as a comedy last year.  I wish critics and reviewers and members of the Academy didn’t think comedy was low-brow, or somehow less emotional than drama.  I wish people saw laughter as a higher-valued commodity than tears when award season comes around.  I wish … I wish I could call War Horse by its actual title instead of Warm Horse every damn time.

But mostly, I just wish that, some day, a true, honest-to-goodness, laugh your ass off-funny movie could potentially win Best Picture.  Because look, there are a lot of good movies out there, and there are a lot of dramas with touches of humor to them (we call those “directed by Wes Anderson”), and there are a lot of dramas that do make you feel good, and there are also a lot of movies that legitimately deserve the title of that year’s Best Picture.

But let me ask you a rhetorical question that I’m hoping doesn’t paint myself into an argumentative corner once answered: look at your personal list of Top Ten Movies in the History of Ever.  Is there a comedy on that list?  Are there days when you’re feeling down and you just need to laugh, and you go to that comedy over your number one, which could potentially be something dramatic, depressing, yet uplifting as Shawshank Redemption?  Is there a movie that you find yourself always quoting, whether in conversation, emails, or just sending a long list of quotes back and forth to your bestie via text?

Because look: I rate my Number One Favorite Movie of All Time as Die Hard (which I almost spelled Dire Hard, and now I feel the need to write that), because no matter what time it’s on, what channel, what time of year: if I find it on TV, I am watching it to the end.  Even if I have a doctor’s appointment that I am late for.  (You can’t break Bro Code Rule 84!)  And yes, it’s an action flick, but it’s also funny.  When I am feeling depressed and need a pick-me-up, I’m going to defy my own rule and come out with the fact that I will pop in Sunset Blvd late at night, and watch it with the lights off.  Because a) of all, I defy you to watch Sunset Blvd in the daytime or with lights on; even though there are no ghosts or anything, it is a scary movie.  But most importantly b) of all: I don’t care how depressed you are.  When you watch Sunset Blvd, you are at the least comforted by the fact that, no matter how bad things are going for you or how badly you are feeling, at least you’re not a crazy woman who shoots her gigolo in the back as he’s trying to leave you because he’s not in love with you.

But the movie that I will race to if I need to laugh my ass off, or if Kerri and I get into a texting war, is Anchorman.  And look (and no, I’m not going to apologize for bringing out this reference): sixty percent of the time, it works every time.

"This is worse than when the raccoon got stuck in the copier!"

Oh right, I’m supposed to be talking about Bridesmaids.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am."

Yes, Melissa McCarthy: you are indeed awesome.  Melissa’s character was the best part of Bridesmaids.  And while I’m excited that it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay (an honor that never went to The Hangover, though that film did win the Golden Globe for Best Comedy), I know it can never win that award, because the script is covered in Kristen Wiig.

Look, I have Kristen Wiig issues.  And while she was extremely palatable in this film, there were moments that screamed of Penelope, or Gilly, or any of the other hundreds of characters she’s played on SNL where the joke stops being funny about three seconds in, but they have to keep it going for another five minutes and they are, without a doubt, the longest five minutes of your life.  Moments in the movie that I can point to and say “See?  That’s Wiigness right there” are: The never-ending, one-upping toast at the engagement party; while it was funny, the multiple drive-bys to get the cop’s attention at the end; and the trashing of the bridal shower.

But Melissa’s character was awesome.  Funny, but also the get-a-grip friend that Kristen Wiig’s character so desperately needed.  I hope that she is able to ride the wave she’s on right up to the podium to collect her Oscar, because unless the women of The Help knock it out of the park even further, this one will be a tough one to beat.

The Descendants: Or, Never Go See Movies With Your Parents

Especially movies where a family has to deal with the death of a mother.  Cheating bitch of a mother, in this instance, yes, but she’s still dying.

"Yeah. Wow. Astoundingly bad call, Patterson."

I mean — anyway.  The best part about this movie is that it is totally Clooney’s Oscar to lose.  I’ve never seen him like this — a father, a husband, with actual emotions.  So kudos to Alexander Payne for getting Clooney to cry and make me sympathize with him so strongly.  And I love George Clooney.

I also really really really want this movie to win Best Adapted Screenplay, because one of the writers is Jim Rash, who plays Dean Pelton on my beloved show, Community.  And there’s no real way to describe who Dean Pelton is or the appeal he holds, so let me just show you a couple of clips (because there’s no way at this point to make this post any shorter, so I should just stop trying):

(which you can’t watch without the end, which is PRICELESS — skip ahead to 2:47):

Okay, seriously?  If you can watch those three clips and not be intrigued by Community, then I’m sorry, you have no soul, and we can no longer be friends.

But how awesome would it be if Dean Pelton won an OSCAR!?

The Ides of March: “If his father is dead, I’m out.”

Those were the immortal words spoken by my roommate as we watched The Ides of March last week.  There’s a scene where Clooney’s assistant campaign manager (Ryan Gosling) is told his father is calling.  Amelia, being the West Wing connoisseur that she is, immediately went to the flashbacks of “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen” where Josh joins the Bartlet campaign and then has to leave on the night Bartlet goes to the convention because his (Josh’s) father has died.  Being the Josh fangirl I am, the only thing I remember from those episodes is Josh up against the wall, trying to keep his intestines inside his body where they belong.

The good news for those following and caring is that Ryan’s character’s father doesn’t die, so it doesn’t reek of prime time Sorkin.  The bad news is that the movie’s okay, but probably not good enough to win Best Adapted Screenplay.  And I’m not saying that just because I want Jim Rash to win so badly it hurts sometimes; I’m saying that as someone who liked the story, but doesn’t think the writing of the screenplay is exciting or special enough to win an Oscar.

The Tree of Life: Or, Did I Accidentally Take Acid Last Night?

The answer, for those keeping track (and cops), is no, I did not take acid last night.  But I can only assume that an acid trip would look like The Tree of LIfe.

Amelia: What’s The Tree of Life about, again?
Alaina: Remember that trailer we’d keep seeing when we went to the movies last year, with Brad Pitt and the redhead and the kids and a lot of shots of water and desert and really loud opera playing in the background?
Amelia: Yeah — oh yeah, that’s the movie?
Alaina: Yeah.
Amelia: But what’s the movie about?
Alaina: I have no fucking idea.

And after watching it, I still have no fucking idea.  I think it’s about a family with three sons, and one of the sons dies off-screen and I don’t think it’s ever said how he dies, but it’s also about the beginning of life and the end of the world, and also Brad Pitt plays an emotionally abusive father but he’s not aware of his abusive tendencies, but also and most importantly, there were dinosaurs.

"What am I doing here in this movie?"

I swear to god, I did not find a random picture of dinosaurs from another movie to put in there.  That is a legitimate still from The Tree of Life, and the one that made me sit up in bed at 2 in the morning, making me ask “Did I drop acid by accident, like that one time I watched Aqua Teen Hunger Force because I was too lazy to change the channel and was really confused?”

I know why it was nominated — it was too ‘arty’ to not be nominated for something.  But will it win?  Maybe Best Cinematography.  But Best Director and/or Best Picture?  Hell no, it won’t.

There.  I feel accomplished.  Now I can go do other stuff, like scrub the bathroom or do a load of laundry or something like that.  Or, I can go watch Jane Eyre so I can return that to the Redbox too.

Or I could just pass out on the couch getting caught up on Conan.  Yeah, that’d also work.

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Oscar!Watch!


Oscar!Watch 2012: I have to watch THAT?!

Two very important things happened today: 1) I had a hot stone massage pedicure, and it was HEAVEN.  It was so much HEAVEN, I almost just spelled that HEAVAN.  And 2), the Oscar nominations were announced.

Oh, and there may have also been a State of the Union Address.  Whatever.

Obviously, the Oscar Noms is the most important of the important things that happened today.  I believe I’ve mentioned in the past that every year, I attempt to watch all of the movies nominated for the 8 major awards (Picture, the four Acting awards, Director, and the two Writing awards) so I can make educated guesses as to who will win and lord it all over everyone else.

So when I read the nominations, I was filled with both glee and dread.  Glee because HOLY SHIT Melissa McCarthy was nominated for Best Supporting Actress!?  That accomplishes TWO major things: a funny woman was nominated for being funny, and also, Bridesmaids was the first true comedy in YEARS that was actually recognized by the Academy for being FUNNY.  What have I been saying for YEARS?  FUNNY MOVIES ARE AWESOME TOO.  In fact, the argument could be made that my love for comedies is what caused me to start this blog because if I hadn’t spent all my time watching Anchorman for the frillionth time, I would probably have seen a lot of these freaking movies by now.

ANYWAY.  Here’s where the dread comes in:
Oh god — I have to see Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?  And The Help? And Warm Horse?  I HAVE TO GO SEE WARM HORSE?!

[PS.  Dear Jimmy Fallon: I heart you so much.  Because now, every time I see the commercial for War Horse, all I can do is mutter “Warm Horse.”  So yes, I’ll be the idiot in the theatre making jokes about the boy is now being played by a puppet to avoid crying at the fact that the horse is DYING.  Oh, right, spoiler alert; sorry.]

So anyway, regardless; whatever.  Don’t be surprised if I end up talking about the movies as I see them — and god bless Redbox, because without that little DVD magic machine, I’d be screwed six ways from Sunday, and none of them good. 

Although, as John reminded me:
John: You know, Weevil — you doing this Oscar!Watch would be more meaningful if you had seen some other movies.  Like Braveheart.
Alaina: It’s on my list!  Right after Warm Horse.

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Oscar!Watch!