2019 Oscar Predictions

In lieu of show notes for Ruminations Episode II, here are my predictions for tomorrow night’s “Blah-scars” ceremony:

Best Picture
Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Original Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Foreign Language Film
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Original Score
Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Documentary Short
Black Sheep
End Game
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons

Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns

Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star Is Born

Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Film Editing
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Animated Short Film
Animal Behavior
Late Afternoon
One Small Step

Live Action Short

Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots

Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Featured Image credit: 1956 Green Book cover, New York Public Library. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ruminations Episode II: The Blah-scars

We were planning on letting the Disney episode sit for a while before recording a second episode. However, we decided at the last minute to rant a little bit about the 8 Best Picture nominees before the 2019 Oscars this Sunday renders them moot. Apart from one movie that the both of us really enjoyed, the nominees are overall quite blah. Hopefully, the ceremony will make up for their mediocrity. (HA! Couldn’t keep a straight face there!) Of course it won’t!

The 8 nominations are (in order of discussion):

A Star is Born
The Favourite
Bohemian Rhapsody
Black Panther
Green Book

2019 Oscar Predictions

Continue reading

Ruminations Episode I Show Notes

For ease of discussion, we each compiled an individual ranking from best to worst and then took the average of each film to create a single master list:

Rank Master Chris Steven
1 Aladdin (1992) Aladdin Aladdin
2 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Hunchback of Notre Dame
3 Beauty and the Beast (1991) The Lion King Beauty and the Beast
4 The Lion King (1994) Beauty and the Beast Pinocchio
5 Cinderella (1950) The Little Mermaid Alice in Wonderland
6 The Little Mermaid (1989) Sleeping Beauty The Lion King
7 Sleeping Beauty (1959) The Black Cauldron Cinderella
8 Pinocchio (1940) Cinderella Emperor’s New Groove
9 Hercules (1997) Hercules Hercules
10 Mulan (1998) Mulan Sleeping Beauty
11 Alice in Wonderland (1951) Tarzan The Little Mermaid
12 Tarzan (1999) The Princess and the Frog Mulan
13 The Black Cauldron (1985) Pocahontas Pocahontas
14 Pocahontas (1995) Pinocchio Tarzan
15 Emperor’s New Groove (2000) Robin Hood Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
16 The Princess and the Frog (2009) Lilo and Stitch The Princess and the Frog
17 Robin Hood (1973) Dinosaur The Great Mouse Detective
18 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Emperor’s New Groove The Black Cauldron
19 Lilo and Stitch (2002) Alice in Wonderland Robin Hood
20 The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Lilo and Stitch
21 Zootopia (2016) The Fox and the Hound Wreck It Ralph
22 Peter Pan (1953) Peter Pan Zootopia
23 The Fox and the Hound (1981) The Jungle Book Ralph Breaks the Internet
24 Wreck It Ralph (2012) Zootopia Bolt
25 Dinosaur (2000) 101 Dalmatians Tangled
26 Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Oliver and Company Peter Pan
27 Bolt (2008) The Great Mouse Detective The Fox and the Hound
28 101 Dalmatians (1961) Wreck It Ralph Fantasia
29 Tangled (2010) Ralph Breaks the Internet Dumbo
30 Dumbo (1941) Bolt Atlantis: The Lost Empire
31 Fantasia (1940) Dumbo Frozen
32 The Jungle Book (1967) Brother Bear 101 Dalmatians
33 Brother Bear (2003) The Rescuers Dinosaur
34 Frozen (2013) Fantasia Brother Bear
35 Oliver and Company (1988) Tangled Meet the Robinsons
36 The Rescuers (1977) Frozen The Rescuers
37 Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) Lady and the Tramp Fantasia 2000
38 Lady and the Tramp (1955) Fantasia 2000 Lady and the Tramp
39 Fantasia 2000 (1999) The Aristocats The Jungle Book
40 Meet the Robinsons (2007) Bambi The Aristocats
41 The Aristocats (1970) Meet the Robinsons Moana
42 Bambi (1942) Moana Oliver and Company
43 Moana (2016) Atlantis: The Lost Empire Bambi
44 Home on the Range (2004) The Sword in the Stone Big Hero Six
45 The Rescuers Down Under (1990) Home on the Range Home on the Range
46 Big Hero Six (2014) The Rescuers Down Under The Rescuers Down Under
47 Treasure Planet (2002) Treasure Planet Treasure Planet
48 The Sword in the Stone (1963) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
49 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
50 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) Big Hero Six Winnie the Pooh
51 Winnie the Pooh (2011) Winnie the Pooh The Sword in the Stone
52 The Three Caballeros (1944) The Three Caballeros The Three Caballeros
53 Saludos Amigos (1942) Saludos Amigos Saludos Amigos
54 Make Mine Music (1946) Melody Time Make Mine Music
55 Melody Time (1948) Make Mine Music Fun and Fancy Free
56 Fun and Fancy Free (1947) Fun and Fancy Free Melody Time
57 Chicken Little (2005) Chicken Little Chicken Little
    • SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS: We mentioned the seven little Oscars Walt Disney received for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Here he is presented the awards by Shirley Temple.
    • THE SWORD IN THE STONE: Madam Mim toys with young Arthur and scares him by pulling her face and turning it into a pig, which Disney pays homage to in Princess and the Frog when the alligator Louis puts willow tree leaves over his face.
    • WINNIE THE POOH: The best scene in either “Pooh” movie (pun intended) is when Winnie trips out on bad honey in the Heffalumps and Woozles sequence. This scene also hearkens back to when Dumbo accidentally gets drunk and hallucinates “Pink Elephants on parade.” The Baksun song, from the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh, is arguably the only memorable piece of it–in fact, it was the only scene we could remember!
    • THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: Check out this video of the Disneyland dark ride “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” where you, your family, and Mr. Toad get to be damned to Hell with a smile! Quite possibly the best scene from any of the World War II era films is the famous Headless Horseman chase which ends in a flaming pumpkin being thrown at a terrified Ichabod Crane.
    • WWII ERA FILMS: Here’s some backstory on the Good Neighbor Policy mentioned when discussing Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros from NPR. For more information, you can always check good ol’ reliable Wikipedia. Here is the beloved Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros at the Mexican Pavilion in EPCOT, enjoyed best over a margarita from La Cava del Tequila. In Make Mine Music, a whale sings opera. (It’s exactly how it sounds.) The Fun and Fancy Free intro includes Jiminy Cricket, bringing the movie some sense of continuity…but that’s about it.
    • CHICKEN LITTLE: Chicken Little SUCKS, end of story! (If you want tangible evidence, brace yourself and check out the alien chase scene from the 2005 abomination).
    • MULAN: Here is some backstory on the legend of Mulan. Some highlights: Mulan embarrasses her family and herself with the matchmaker and she goes to the shrine of her ancestors and sings “Reflections.” She then meets Mushu, who tries to overcompensate for his small stature. In this last clip, the hulking mass Shan Yu and the Hun army fight Captain Shang and Mulan.
    • HERCULES: Phil the satyr–who is a mirror image of his voice actor Danny DeVito–sings “One Last Hope” while training Hercules. The fast-talking Hades erupts in anger at henchmen Pain and Panic wearing Hercules’ merchandise. Later, in one of the most quotable scenes in the movie, Pain and Panic, in the guise of two children, trick Hercules and get him to fight the Hydra by pretending to be trapped under a boulder.
    • PINOCCHIO: We mentioned Pinocchio‘s diverse and terrifying villains. Here the overweight Italian caricature Stromboli threatens to use Pinocchio as firewood and babbles in 40s’ era Disney dialect “Italian.” In one of Disney’s scariest moments, the evil Coachman’s face contorts into a demonic visage while declaring his diabolic plans for the boys he’s kidnapping. The oily Lampwick transforms into a donkey in traumatizing fashion before Pinocchio’s eyes on Pleasure Island. The film’s final villain, the giant whale Monstro, sneezes out and chases Geppetto and Pinocchio.
    • SLEEPING BEAUTY: Maleficent, the self-declared “mistress of all evil,” transforms herself into a dragon, fights Prince Philip, and becomes Disney’s villain poster child all in one fell swoop. Prince Philip places the film in the 14th century when talking to his father. We also mentioned that Disney used music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty as the basis for its film’s music, and here is a blog post by Floyd Norman, one of the film’s animators, on that subject.
    • CINDERELLA: A particularly cute scene in Cinderella is when the mice introduce Gus Gus to Cinderella. Disney’s most evil housecat Lucifer maniacally sits on Lady Tremaine’s lap as she snaps at Cinderella. He later chases and tries to eat Jaq and Gus who are acquiring pieces to make Cinderella’s dress. We erroneously called the Duke a viceroy or captain; here, he discovers Cinderella and finally finds the owner of the lost glass slipper.
    • THE LITTLE MERMAID: Ursula sings “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and makes a deal where Ariel signs over her voice to the sea witch. She then, in true Disney fashion, transforms herself into a giant octopus and is then impaled by Prince Eric. We mentioned the controversy surrounding Ariel’s plot line–a quick Google search brings almost 2 million results–so have at it, if you are so inclined. We’ll end with a short tweet from conservative columnist John Podhoretz about The Little Mermaid‘s impact.
    • THE LION KING: First, that opening. We (well, Steve) mentioned how Black Panther is essentially a live-action Lion King (which is funny as Disney is currently making an all-CGI “live-action” version to be released later this year). Scar prepares his Nazi-like hyenas for his usurpation of the kingdom which culminates in him revealing his true intentions as he whispers “long live the king” when killing Mufasa. In the film’s lightest moment, Simba grows up to song (becoming Matthew Broderick) in the famous “Hakuna Matata.” Later, the heavenly ghost of Mufasa appears to Simba in the sky reminding him who he truly is–the music is chill-inducing.
    • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: The Beast erupts in anger at Belle and gives her some warm advice that she should “Go ahead and STARVE,” a favorite scene of Chris’s from his childhood. The dinnerware come together to console a crying Belle by singing “Be Our Guest.” (Remember, it all takes place on the table!) After a few drinks, the towns people sing a raucous song about their local hero Gaston. We also mentioned the innovative use of computers in the artwork for the Best Picture-nominated film, so here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.
    • THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME: Hunchback begins with its goosebump-inducing opening number, “The Bells of Notre Dame” (which also serves as the ending to our episode.) Quasimodo watches the city streets of Paris by moonlight as he sings the heartfelt number “Heaven’s Light.” This quickly leads to the diabolical musical number of “Hellfire,” sung by Judge Frollo in front of a raging fireplace as he lusts after Esmeralda. (This would also be a good time to mention that Chris was incorrect–and face palmed hard–about Maleficent being the only Disney villain to ever say hell, as Frollo sings an entire song about it!) Lastly, Hugo the gargoyle, voiced by Jason Alexander (much to Steve’s chagrin), sings “A Guy Like You” to make Quasimodo feel better.
    • ALADDIN: Aladdin shows Jasmine “A Whole New World” in one of Disney’s most romantic scenes. The film’s superb villain Jafar reaches his serpentine zenith as he transforms into a giant cobra, Chris’s favorite scene in any Disney movie. During the fight scene, Genie turns into a cheerleader, not-so-secretly rooting for Aladdin. All of Robin Williams’ impressions and their inspirations in Aladdin can be found in this video. Also included here are two articles about the dispute between Robin Williams and Disney that Steve sort of mentioned but failed to expand upon–we had no idea a Picasso painting was involved until compiling these notes. Lastly, Chris compares his loyalty to Aladdin to that of Davy Jones’ loyalty to Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End.
    • THE BLACK CAULDRON: We have linked a decent Slate article on the making and box office failure of The Black Cauldron. (The only caveat is that Chris strongly disagrees with the author about the Horned King being a poor villain, because you know, he’s great!) Here is the Horned King’s first appearance, where he reveals he wants to resurrect his dead soldiers as “cauldron born” and ultimately desires to be worshipped as a god among men (See? So cool!) He later terrorizes his minions as he makes his dramatic entrance into the banquet hall of his castle. The only other Disney villain that could arguably be labeled as equal to the Horned King’s sheer evilness is the demon Chernabog from Fantasia, who summons the forces of darkness in the epic scene “A Night on Bald Mountain.”
    • ALICE IN WONDERLAND: Alice stumbles upon a Caterpillar smoking a hookah, who impatiently asks her who she is. She is later greeted by the delightfully mad Cheshire Cat who gives her dodgy advice.
    • THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE: There is a documentary titled The Sweatbox that covers the history of the scrapped, much darker version of The Emperor’s New Groove called Kingdom of the Sun, but Disney seems to not want it available to the public. A version on YouTube that we had saved for these notes has already been removed for copyright reasons.
    • THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: The “Disney Renaissance” Era-esque The Princess and the Frog opens and closes with the great musical number “Down in New Orleans.” Dr. Facilier also takes up the mantle of great villain songs when he tricks Prince Naveen into making a deal with him and his “Friends on the Other Side.”
    • ZOOTOPIA: Judy Hopps plays “Try Everything” by pop star Gazelle (aka Shakira) as she travels to Zootopia for the first time, similar to how we both have played this incredibly catchy song many times since first hearing it. After she becomes a cop, she is put in charge of parking meters and has a particularly rough day giving out tickets on the city streets of Zootopia–a truly laugh-out-loud moment.
    • Two final notes from Steve: first, he would like to link to the show notes of an episode of the great culture podcast The Weekly Substandard from March 2017, as his email on the WWII era Disney films was featured (and also read in the episode.) Last but not least, here is the first ever blog post “Flipp” wrote on this site, way back in the summer of 2014–a post that never got a follow-up for a variety of reasons. Guess what it was about?

Image credit:
Fireworks show over Cinderella Castle at closing hour / Disney World, Orlando 2010 / © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ruminations Episode I: The Best and Worst of Disney

Welcome to the debut episode of “Ruminations,” a podcast on movies, politics, and religion, discussed over a glass–or three–of some type of adult beverage. In this inaugural episode, co-hosts Chris and Steve (previously known on this site as Flipp) discuss the 57 animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. This conversation has been 5 years in the making, as it was the summer of 2014 when Chris and Steve began a chronological journey through Disney’s official filmography, starting with 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This endeavor finally came to its conclusion last fall (December 2018, to be exact) with the release of Disney’s most recent movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Stitcher

For ease of discussion, each co-host compiled an individual ranking from best to worst; a combined average was then taken to create a single master list. The master list’s Bottom 10 and Top 10 will be highlighted specifically in this episode. For additional notes, and movie clips, follow the show notes link below. For now, please listen and enjoy!

Rank Master Chris Steven
1 Aladdin (1992) Aladdin Aladdin
2 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Hunchback of Notre Dame
3 Beauty and the Beast (1991) The Lion King Beauty and the Beast
4 The Lion King (1994) Beauty and the Beast Pinocchio
5 Cinderella (1950) The Little Mermaid Alice in Wonderland
6 The Little Mermaid (1989) Sleeping Beauty The Lion King
7 Sleeping Beauty (1959) The Black Cauldron Cinderella
8 Pinocchio (1940) Cinderella Emperor’s New Groove
9 Hercules (1997) Hercules Hercules
10 Mulan (1998) Mulan Sleeping Beauty
11 Alice in Wonderland (1951) Tarzan The Little Mermaid
12 Tarzan (1999) The Princess and the Frog Mulan
13 The Black Cauldron (1985) Pocahontas Pocahontas
14 Pocahontas (1995) Pinocchio Tarzan
15 Emperor’s New Groove (2000) Robin Hood Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
16 The Princess and the Frog (2009) Lilo and Stitch The Princess and the Frog
17 Robin Hood (1973) Dinosaur The Great Mouse Detective
18 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Emperor’s New Groove The Black Cauldron
19 Lilo and Stitch (2002) Alice in Wonderland Robin Hood
20 The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Lilo and Stitch
21 Zootopia (2016) The Fox and the Hound Wreck It Ralph
22 Peter Pan (1953) Peter Pan Zootopia
23 The Fox and the Hound (1981) The Jungle Book Ralph Breaks the Internet
24 Wreck It Ralph (2012) Zootopia Bolt
25 Dinosaur (2000) 101 Dalmatians Tangled
26 Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Oliver and Company Peter Pan
27 Bolt (2008) The Great Mouse Detective The Fox and the Hound
28 101 Dalmatians (1961) Wreck It Ralph Fantasia
29 Tangled (2010) Ralph Breaks the Internet Dumbo
30 Dumbo (1941) Bolt Atlantis: The Lost Empire
31 Fantasia (1940) Dumbo Frozen
32 The Jungle Book (1967) Brother Bear 101 Dalmatians
33 Brother Bear (2003) The Rescuers Dinosaur
34 Frozen (2013) Fantasia Brother Bear
35 Oliver and Company (1988) Tangled Meet the Robinsons
36 The Rescuers (1977) Frozen The Rescuers
37 Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) Lady and the Tramp Fantasia 2000
38 Lady and the Tramp (1955) Fantasia 2000 Lady and the Tramp
39 Fantasia 2000 (1999) The Aristocats The Jungle Book
40 Meet the Robinsons (2007) Bambi The Aristocats
41 The Aristocats (1970) Meet the Robinsons Moana
42 Bambi (1942) Moana Oliver and Company
43 Moana (2016) Atlantis: The Lost Empire Bambi
44 Home on the Range (2004) The Sword in the Stone Big Hero Six
45 The Rescuers Down Under (1990) Home on the Range Home on the Range
46 Big Hero Six (2014) The Rescuers Down Under The Rescuers Down Under
47 Treasure Planet (2002) Treasure Planet Treasure Planet
48 The Sword in the Stone (1963) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
49 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
50 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) Big Hero Six Winnie the Pooh
51 Winnie the Pooh (2011) Winnie the Pooh The Sword in the Stone
52 The Three Caballeros (1944) The Three Caballeros The Three Caballeros
53 Saludos Amigos (1942) Saludos Amigos Saludos Amigos
54 Make Mine Music (1946) Melody Time Make Mine Music
55 Melody Time (1948) Make Mine Music Fun and Fancy Free
56 Fun and Fancy Free (1947) Fun and Fancy Free Melody Time
57 Chicken Little (2005) Chicken Little Chicken Little

Episode I Show Notes

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90th Academy Awards: Ranking & Predictions

It’s Oscar Night! Before I get into my predictions, I want to triumphantly say that I’ve watched the most movies before this year’s ceremony than in any previous year. Overall, I’ve seen 22 of the nominated movies, 12 in this past week alone.

I’d rank them as such (with the 9 Best Picture nominees in bold):

  1. Darkest Hour
  2. The Post
  3. The Disaster Artist
  4. Mudbound
  5. The Greatest Showman
  6. Get Out
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  8. Blade Runner 2049
  9. Beauty and the Beast
  10. The Boss Baby
  11. Heroin(e)
  12. Icarus
  13. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  14. The Shape of Water
  15. The Big Sick
  16. Dunkirk
  17. Baby Driver
  18. Logan
  19. Lady Bird
  20. I, Tonya
  21. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  22. Phantom Thread
  23. Call Me by Your Name


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

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

Timothée 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.

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

Supporting Actor
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

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

Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Original Screenplay
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

Animated Feature
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

Animated Short
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Best Documentary Feature
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Documentary Short Subject
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Best Live Action Short Film
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

Film Editing
Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Original Score
Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

Original Song
“Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair
Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul

Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes


Featured image CC0 via Pixabay

2018 Golden Globe Predictions


Best Picture — Drama

Call Me by Your Name


The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture — Comedy or Musical

The Disaster Artist

Get Out

The Greatest Showman

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread

Tom Hanks, The Post

Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Meryl Streep, The Post

Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Steve Carrell, Battle of the Sexes

Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy

Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Willem DaFoe, The Florida Project

Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All The Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Hong Chau, Downsizing

Alison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Director — Motion Picture

Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World

Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture

Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game

Best Motion Picture — Animated

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner



Loving Vincent

Best Picture — Foreign Language

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)

In the Fade (Germany/France)

Loveless (Russia)

The Square (Sweden, Germany, France)

Best Original Score — Motion Picture

Carter Burwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water

Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread

John Williams, The Post

Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Original Song — Motion Picture

“Home,” Ferdinand

“Mighty River,” Mudbound

“Remember Me,” Coco

“The Star,” The Star

“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman


Best Television Series — Drama

The Crown, Netflix

Game of Thrones, HBO

The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu

Stranger Things, Netflix

This is Us, NBC

Best Television Series — Comedy

Black-ish, ABC

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

Master of None, Netflix

SMILF, Showtime

Will and Grace, NBC

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Big Little Lies, HBO

Fargo, FX

Feud: Bette and Joan, FX

The Sinner, USA

Top of the Lake: China Girl, Sundance TV

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander

Claire Foy, The Crown

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Deuce

Katherine Langford, 13 Reasons Why

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Kevin Bacon, I Love Dick

William H. Macy, Shameless

Eric McCormack, Will & Grace

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Comedy

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Alison Brie, GLOW

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Issa Rae, Insecure

Frankie Shaw, SMILF

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Jessica Biel, The Sinner

Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan

Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies

Jude Law, The Young Pope

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks

Ewan McGregor, Fargo

Geoffrey Rush, Genius

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

David Harbour, Stranger Things

Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan

Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Alexander Skarsgaard, Big Little Lies

David Thewlis, Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us

Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies

Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies

25 years/25 films

Around 1 in the morning the other night on Twitter, I came across this article in which a few of the AV Club film critics compiled lists of their favorite movie of the year for each year since they were born. Instead of going to bed like a normal person on a work night, I proceeded to sacrifice much-needed sleep for what one could say was a masochistic, utterly pointless cause: I had to make my own list, right then and there.

Why, you might ask?

Because there are few things in life better than making movie lists and ranking movies, especially in new and creative ways.

It’s just science. 


My list of my 25 films for 25 years on this earth:

1992 – Aladdin
1993 – Jurassic Park
1994 – Pulp Fiction
1995 – The Usual Suspects
1996 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
1997 – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
1998 – The Big Lebowski
1999 – The Mummy
2000 – Gladiator
2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2005 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
2006 – Casino Royale
2007 – Sunshine
2008 – Gran Torino
2009 – Inglourious Basterds
2010 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I
2011 – Drive
2012 – Les Miserables
2013 – The Wolf of Wall Street
2014 – Edge of Tomorrow
2015 – The Martian
2016 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

What does this list say about me? Generally, it says I like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, sci-fi epics and black comedies, and movies with great music, especially French-themed musicals. It also made me realize that I like more movies from before I was born than came out during my lifetime. This is especially true when considering my favorite movies from the last decade or so; these years simply pale in comparison to years that came before, and it was a struggle to think of a film that was truly a favorite of mine after the year 2009.

The first decade and a half of my life did have some intense competition though, so I wanted to also include 5 honorable mentions of movies that are nearer and dearer to my heart than many of the others on the list that just missed out. And let me say, 1999 was a squeaker:

Office Space (1999)
The Matrix (1999)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
The Departed (2006)
Atonement (2007)

What does your list look like?


Featured image: Ba’Gamnan, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

2017 Oscar Predictions

Another year, another Oscars ceremony. After last year’s #OscarsSoWhite debacle, this year’s nominees include many non-white actors, actresses, directors, and movies. That being said… this year’s movies were sort of under par. Maybe I’m just not enlightened enough for this world, but out of the 9 Best Picture nominees, I can say I’d watch one, maybe 2 of them again. The rest… once was more than enough. Especially La La Land. I didn’t hate the clear frontrunner, but I do hate the hype it’s received. 14 nominations? And a guaranteed 6-8 wins?? Nah.

Here are my picks for tonight’s Oscars.

Best Picture:
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”

“Manchester by the Sea”

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis, “Fences”

Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director:
“Arrival,” Denis Villeneuve
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle

“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan

“20th Century Women,” Mike Mills

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Hidden Figures”

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Land of Mine”
“A Man Called Ove”
“The Salesman”

“Toni Erdmann”

Best Cinematography:
“La La Land”

Best Costume Design:
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”

“La La Land”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”

“Suicide Squad”

Best Original Score:
”Jackie,” Mica Levi
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz

“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Best Animated Feature Film:
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”

Best Animated Short Film:
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

Best Documentary Feature:
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”


Best Documentary Short Subject:
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best Film Editing:
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”

Best Original Song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls”
“City of Stars” from “La La Land”

“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”

Best Production Design:
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land”


Best Live Action Short Film:
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La femme et Le TGV”
“Silent Nights”

Best Sound Editing:
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”

“La La Land”

Best Sound Mixing:
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Best Visual Effects:
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“The Jungle Book”

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

2017 Golden Globe Predictions

Tonight is the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards. I haven’t seen too many of the nominees this year (I know, bad cinephile, right? Between transitioning jobs, commuting to work, and diligently following the political cluster-you-know-what since November, my movie/TV intake has been quite low), but I have been following critics and have some inklings as to how tonight will go. My plan is to watch most of the nominees in time for the Oscars in February. As of this writing, I’ve only seen Hacksaw Ridge (great), Arrival (good), and La La Land (good).

The only thing I am certain of about the broadcast is that there will be PLENTY of jokes at the expense of, and much ire directed toward, one Donald J. Trump.


Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Manchester by the Sea

Comedy or musical
20th Century Women
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

Actor, drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Actress, drama
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Actor, comedy or musical
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Actress, comedy or musical
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Supporting actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Supporting actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Foreign language
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Animated film
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as A Zucchini

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Original score
Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Johann Johannsson, Arrival
Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch, Hidden Figures

Original song (songwriter’s award)
Can’t Stop the Feeling! (from Trolls)
City of Stars (from La La Land)
Faith (from Sing)
Gold (from Gold)
How Far I’ll Go (from Moana)


The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This Is Us

Series, comedy or musical
Mozart in the Jungle

Actress, drama
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

Actor, drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath

Actress, miniseries or TV movie
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation

Actor, miniseries or TV movie
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
John Turturro, The Night Of
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Supporting actor, series, miniseries or TV movie
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Supporting actress, series, miniseries or TV movie
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld

Miniseries or TV movie
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Actress, comedy or musical
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Actor, comedy or musical
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Featured Image: jdeeringdavis, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

2016 Emmy Predictions

The Emmy’s are always so difficult to adequately predict because their categories and rules keep changing year in and year out, but here goes nothing…

Outstanding Drama Series
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Americans (FX)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Mr. Robot (USA)
Homeland (Showtime)

Outstanding Comedy Series
Veep (HBO)
Transparent (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Modern Family (ABC)
Master of None (Netflix)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
black-ish (ABC)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot (USA)
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline (Netflix)
Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime)
Taraji P. Henson, Empire (Fox)
Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)
Anthony Anderson, black-ish (ABC)
William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth (Fox)
Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish (ABC)
Laurie Metcalfe, Getting On (HBO)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

Outstanding Limited Series
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
Fargo (FX)
American Crime (ABC)
Roots (History)
The Night Manager (AMC)

Outstanding Television Movie
All the Way (HBO)
Confirmation (HBO)
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (PBS)
Luther (BBC One)
A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Bryan Cranston, All the Way (HBO)
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (PBS)
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
Cuba Gooding, Jr., The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
Idris Elba, Luther (BBC America)
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager (AMC)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
Kirsten Dunst, Fargo (FX)
Kerry Washington, Confirmation (HBO)
Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (HBO)
Lili Taylor, American Crime (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Matt Walsh, Veep
Tony Hale, Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Judith Light, Transparent
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
Maura Tierney, The Affair
Constance Zimmer, UnREAL

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Jesse Plemons, Fargo
Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
Sterling K. Brown, People v. O.J. Simpson
David Schwimmer, People v. O.J. Simpson
John Travolta, People v. O.J. Simpson

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Melissa Leo, All the Way
Regina King, American Crime
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel
Jean Smart, Fargo
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Max von Sydow, Game of Thrones
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Mahershala Ali, House of Cards
Paul Sparks, House of Cards
Hank Azaria, Ray Donovan
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Tracy Morgan, Saturday Night Live
Larry David, Saturday Night Live
Bradley Whitford, Transparent
Martin Mull, Veep
Peter MacNicol, Veep

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Amy Schumer, Saturday Night Live
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Laurie Metcalf, The Big Bang Theory
Melora Hardin, Transparent

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Laurie Metcalf, Horace and Pete
Molly Parker, House of Cards
Ellen Burstyn, House of Cards
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Margo Martindale, The Americans
Carrie Preston, The Good Wife

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle)
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Documentary Now! (IFC)
Drunk History (Comedy Central)
Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
Portlandia (IFC)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Outstanding Reality Competition Series
The Amazing Race (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Top Chef (Bravo)
American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)

Outstanding Host for Reality Competition
Ryan Seacrest (American Idol)
Tom Bergeron (Dancing With the Stars)
Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night)
Steve Harvey (Little Big Shots)
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (Project Runway)
RuPaul Charles (RuPaul’s Drag Race)


I’ve refrained from writing this post for months, unsure of what exactly to say and afraid of the backlash. However, with the release of its Blu Ray and DVD, I finally want to publicly say, completely forward and without nuance…

I did not like Star Wars: The Force Awakens

george bush shoe

Now, I didn’t hate Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I will gladly admit that I was brought to tears of utter joy by its initial trailers (that music!) and was fairly entertained by many parts of the movie, especially the scenes involving Han Solo. However, I wasn’t swayed emotionally one way or another by the movie as a whole. My one word response to the film as that final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams” was…


But then I let the dust settle. I watched the film again, a few days later, and while I enjoyed myself slightly more, I also hated the parts I disliked the first time upon seeing them again. If anything, my opinion got a little worse. This, combined with the outrageous level of hype and love shown for the movie by practically everyone has made me want to go all Kylo Ren on my computer. I’m all for being excited by a new movie, especially a new Star Wars movie. But once that movie is viewed by millions of people, I would hope and expect legitimate criticism, not blind loyalty and exclamations that because it is Star Wars and  because it wasn’t made by George Lucas, therefore it has to be the GREATEST  STAR WARS MOVIE SINCE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. (The same crazed, irrational fervor surrounded the most recent Jurassic Park film, which was awful.)

I find that statement (about Force Awakens being the best since Empire) extremely wrong because it begs the question that Return of the Jedi isn’t good. I have also come to like Episodes II and III, and to me, both of these prequel films are worth more than The Force Awakens ever could be. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

george bush shoe

The Good.

  • Han Solo. Harrison Ford was great. His old Han was so much better than his old Indy. This was incredibly surprising because it’s basically a fact that he likes Indiana Jones so much more than Star Wars (hello, Indy 5!!) His interactions with Chewie and Rey were hilarious and sweet, and he got his wish that Han would be killed off, albeit 32 years later…
  • BB-8 because he was cute and reminded me of my cat.
  • Finn’s fight with that Stormtrooper (named by the Internet TR-8R), and the Resistance’s surprise attack on the First Order. That was an exhilarating scene, and that is probably the highest praise I have for anything involving the production of the movie.
  • Rey’s vision when she picks up Luke’s lightsaber because it reminded me of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • …and when she uses the Force to get his lightsaber in her fight with Kylo Ren. (Again, just like in the trailers, it’s John Williams’ use of an OLDER theme that sells it for me.)
  • That final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland that circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams.” And I actually liked that Luke was in it for less than 30 seconds and remained speechless. It (and this is the only thing, really) made me want to see Episode VIII.

The Bad.

First and foremost, The Force Awakens was not written well. In fact, I’d say it was written fairly poorly. For all the hype surrounding the knowledge that the writer of Empire and Jedi (and Raiders of the Lost Ark) was returning after three straight George Lucas-penned screenplays, Lawrence Kasden failed to impress me. In fact, some of the dialogue was so wooden and flat at times that I actually missed the nostalgia of the Prequels and their clunkers. The plot of Force Awakens was a reboot/remake of A New Hope with some Empire beats thrown in for good measure. The Snoke scenes should have been mysterious and engrossing but instead seemed like transplanted Thanos scenes from the various Marvel movies; they just didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. And the rules of Star Wars were seemingly thrown out the window… How did Rey manage to use a Jedi mind trick if no one ever taught her what it was, and after the film made it clear that she didn’t even know Jedi were real? Usually, McGuffins are simple and subtle enough where their existence in the story isn’t brought into question… Except the plot device that drives The Force Awakens made no sense. Why was there a map to find Luke? He’s not an object. He’s a person. Who leaves a map when they don’t want to be found? And how could no one figure out from either piece of the map (in BB-8 and in R2-D2) where it led? Most the the plot points in this movie just seemed like sloppy, lazy writing.

The movie itself started out on a terrible footing. The opening scene was filled with as much exposition-heavy dialogue as anything in Phantom Menace, and was awkwardly staged and awkwardly filmed. The dialogue never got better after that, with constant references to the Resistance and First Order throughout, but without any clarification or history to give the audience a clue as to what was going on. Expositionary dialogue is a necessary evil, especially in a sci-fi world, but it is at its best in small doses. When it consumes a film and also confuses more than it than explains, the movie suffers greatly. I still have no idea what was going on; the only clarity in the film was that we’d all seen the plot and characters and beats before… in the Original Trilogy. Disney played it safe (you could argue killing Han wasn’t safe, but as it was long overdue and foreshadowed heavily, it was also the easiest shock they could go for while not doing anything too controversial), and as they pleased the most Star Wars fans because they went in the opposite direction of the Prequels, they largely succeeded. Two billion dollars is worth a lot more than my petty criticism.

The Ugly.

But the worst two aspects of The Force Awakens weren’t deus ex machina Force tricks or the random CGI bartender who could have easily been a person in a mask or the lack of a noticable original score… it was the characters of General Hux and Kylo Ren. Both villains were clearly based on Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader, but lacking their gravitas or imperious nature, they were laughably bad. It was as if J. J. Abrams REALLY wanted to impress Star Wars fans so he cast the two nerdiest, unassuming fans who came up to him at whatever convention he was attending to play the two villain roles, and then felt bad about his choice after seeing their acting but convinced himself that no one would ever notice because STAR WARS IS SO COOL.

Anyway, Hayden Christensen has been called wooden…out of his league… a terrible actor (among many, many worse things), but Kylo’s temper tantrums and moody attitude made Christensen look like Laurence Olivier. I know for a fact that statement will anger some people, but not once during Awakens did Kylo Ren make me feel anything at all other than annoyance. Even when he killed Han, it was broadcast a mile away because no one in Hollywood knows anything about subtlety, and I was more peeved at the story-telling than at the death of my favorite Original Trilogy character. And then he lost in a fight to a Stormtrooper-dropout who spent the entire movie getting beat up and a girl with no Force training (who obviously has a major connection to the Force, duh, I know!!! but still. Sloppy writing: it happened because the plot needed it to happen). Like I said, laughable.

And then there’s Hux. I don’t know who gave the okay to have the main military leader SCREAM to his troops with the most cliched, unoriginal dialogue imaginable, but I bet they  thought they were doing something really friggin’ clever. I hate comparing things to Hitler, but I bet they figured their military general would give off a Hitler vibe if he yelled with the burning hatred of a thousand suns at his troops.

Except they cast a Weasley, so he gave off a Weasley-trying-to-be-Hitler vibe, and it was one of the worst acting performances I’ve seen in a mainstream movie in ages. (To get political for a moment, Hux is the Hitler that everyone thinks Trump is/will be.) Give me Hayden yelling about slaughtering Sand People like animals any day. Where is Dexter Jettster’s buttcrack when you need childish, idiotic filmmaking? Oh, right… It was in a better movie.

george bush shoe

I am excited for Episode VIII. I want to know what happens next in the Star Wars universe. I want to see Rey’s journey. I want to see more of BB-8. I want to see Luke speak and be an Obi-Wan Kenobi to our new Jedi hero.

And I want to see LANDO. Please, Disney. At least bring him back in the next go round. He can even drink some Colt 45 on set. It’s gonna be great!

For everyone who loved The Force Awakens, I seriously am happy for you. And slightly envious that I can’t, so enjoy your Blu Ray and deleted scenes for me.




Christie’s Soliloquy

I had some fun with Chris Christie’s facial expressions during Trump’s Super Tuesday speech last week… The editing’s not perfect, but I think the lyrics and tone fit almost perfectly with nuances (or lack there of) in the New Jersey governor’s face.

2016 Oscar Predictions

For the first time in 3 years, I’m heading into the Academy Awards without having seen all of the Best Picture nominees. Luckily, I’ve seen all but one of them (Spotlight), which means I’m not going in totally blind.

Before my predictions, I just want to say that in addition to the 7 Best Picture nominees that I saw, I also watched Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Out, and Creed, all up for at least one Oscar outside of the Best Picture race. I would rank these 11 films as such:

  1. Creed
  2. The Martian
  3. Mad Max:Fury Road
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Room
  6. Spectre
  7. Inside Out
  8. Bridge of Spies
  9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  10. The Revenant
  11. The Big Short

In a perfect world, Mad Max will win all of the undercard awards as well as Best Director and Picture, but we do not live in a perfect world. Instead, these awards will mostly belong to The Revenant, though if there is to be an upset, The Big Short will be walking away with these awards. To both: yuck. The night will be an overall win, however, if Sly Stallone walks away with that Best Supporting Actor Oscar. (Yes, this is more important than Leonardo DiCaprio getting his…)

Anyway, here are my predictions for the 88th Academy Awards:

Best Picture

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Director
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

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

Best Animated Film
Boy and the World

Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent

Son of Saul
A War

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn, Nick Hornby

Carol, Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, Drew Goddard
Room, Emma Donoghue

Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight, written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina, written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Straight Outta Compton, screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman

Carol, Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams

Best Cinematography
Carol, Ed Lachman

The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario, Roger Deakins

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Song
“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song 3,” Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til it Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best Documentary (Feature)

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Costume Design

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Ave Maria

Day One
Everything Will Be Okay

Best Short Film (Animated)
Bear Story

Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow 

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Lasy Day of Freedom

Best Film Editing
The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Cheat and Scoff

*To the melody of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”*

I do what I want
Secretive and corrupt
That’s what Republicans say
That’s what Republicans say
I’m attacked, no matter what I do
By a vast right wing conspiracy
At least that’s what Democrats say
That’s what Democrats say
But I keep cheating
Can’t stop, won’t stop cheating
It’s like I got this mantra
In my mind, saying “2016’s gonna be mine!”

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff, cheat and scoff

I never miss a chance
To cheat and get ahead
And that’s what the media doesn’t see
That’s what voters don’t see
I’m laughing to myself
I planned it all from the start
And that’s what Americans don’t know
That’s what Americans don’t know
But I keep cheating
Can’t stop, won’t stop cheating
It’s like I got this mantra
In my mind, saying “2016’s gonna be mine”!

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff, cheat and scoff

Hey, Barack Obama
Just think while you’ve been inept, dumb, and wrong about many
Of the difficult problems in the world
You could have been cheating to get ahead, like me!

9/11/12, Benghazi was attacked
GOP’s like, “oh my God!”
But I’m just gonna cheat
And to Trey Gowdy over there with his email-finding snare,
“Terrorism? Emails? What difference does it make, make?”

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff


2015 Oscars: PREDICTIONS!!

Update: After tallying up everything, I was 17 for 24. In the end, the Academy really didn’t like Boyhood. Thank God.

Here are my predictions for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards:

Documentary Short Subject
Perry Films, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Wajda Studio, Joanna
Warsaw Film School, Our Curse
Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, The Reaper (La Parka)
Weary Traveler, White Earth

Short Film, Live Action
Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, Aya

Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, Boogaloo and Graham
Hu Wei and Julien Féret, Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan EichenbergerParvaneh
Mat Kirkby, director and James Lucas, The Phone Call 

Short Film, Animated
Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees, The Bigger Picture
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper
Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, Feast 
Torill Kove, Me and My Moulton
Joris Oprins, A Single Life

Best Documentary Feature
Last Days in Vietnam
Finding Vivian Maier
The Salt of the Earth

Best Foreign Film
Wild Tales 

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6 
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Song
Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley, and Nick Southwood, “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
John Legend and Common, “Glory” (Selma
Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, and The Lonely Island, “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
Diane Warren, “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)
Glen Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)

Best Original Score
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner

Costume Design
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods

Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

Makeup and Hairstyling
Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy

Production Design
Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts, Mr. Turner
Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock, Into the Woods
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis, and Paul Healy, Interstellar
Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald, The Imitation Game

Sound Editing
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, American Sniper 
Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock, Birdman
Brent Burge and Jason Canovas, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Richard King, Interstellar
Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro, Unbroken

Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X Men: Days of Future Past
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Film Editing
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman 
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game 

Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman 
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher

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

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

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

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

Best Director
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman 
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Picture
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
American Sniper


2015 Oscars: Best Picture Nominees!

The 8 movies nominated for this year’s Best Picture Oscar make up a curious group of films. They’ve showcased extraordinary feats of cinematography, editing, acting, and perseverance. A few character actors finally got their time to shine, and a few historical figures in science, war, and civil rights were finally given proper representation on the big screen. Some of the films have elicited absurd amounts of controversy, whereas others have received absurd amounts of praise. My opinion on a few of these films is quite high. On others, I am mostly indifferent. One, I outright dislike, and it is certainly NOT one of the best films this century, Mr. A.O. Scott, thank you very much!

Without further adieu, my take on this year’s Best Picture nominees:

81. Boyhood

Okay. I respect the dedication put into this movie. I happen to really like all but one of the other Richard Linlater movies that I’ve seen (that is, the 3 Before movies, School of Rock, and Bernie; I hated A Scanner Darkly), and I went into Boyhood with extremely high expectations. But 2 hours and 45 minues of nothing was NOT worth my full price ticket at a New York City theater, and watching it a second time completely killed any positive inklings I may have had toward the movie from that first viewing. By the end of the film, I absolutely HATE the brooding, moody, confused hipster that main character Mason has become. And since his poor childhood is the product of all the people around him, I hate them all, too. When you look past the gimmick that was shooting the same movie over a 12 year span, you realize that the film’s writing is not too great, and the acting is actually kind of dull; Patricia Arquette will win Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mason’s mother, but it is more of a consolation prize in my opinion for showing up for the same gig for 12 years in a row than for any sort of profound acting chops on her part. As someone has said, if Boyhood had been shot in one year instead of 12, no one would give a flying bleep about the film, especially due to its lack of story and its crappy, unlikeable characters. And yet it’ll probably win Best Picture. This coming after the fact that Linklater’s immensely-better Before Midnight wasnt even nominated for Best Picture last year just proves that there is no justice in the world for a film curmudgeon like me.

12. American Sniper

American Sniper
I already wrote plenty on Sniper (see previous post), but I still don’t see a reason for all of the controversy, let alone all the hype. While the movie was definitely emotional and worth seeing once, Bradley Cooper’s bulked-up physique was honestly the most impressive part of the film. I guess one positive about the movie was that the entire time, I kept thinking, “How the hell did 84-year-old, senile, grumpy Clint Eastwood direct something so intense and big?” The fact that the finished product hit all the right emotional chords can be attributed to the skills of Eastwood as a director.

133. The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne was Oscar-worthy as British ASL-stricken scientist Stephen Hawking, though the movie itself wasn’t anything that special. It told a decent, if certainly unconventional love story, and featured some beautiful music, but it still didn’t do that much for me. It was worth seeing once, but Best Picture worthy? Not having it.

6. The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game:
I really enjoyed The Imitation Game the first time I saw it. I loved the British World War II setting, the Desplat score, and the way the story was edited together, with its three timelines and its use of WWII-era newsreels and stock footage. However, the second time I watched it, I wanted to go to sleep. While still in no way a bad movie, it just didn’t seem like anything special upon a second viewing. I love Cumberbatch in almost everything he’s done, but I wasn’t THAT impressed by him as Turing, and Charles Dance literally walked off the set of Game of Thrones, took off his armor and removed the crossbow bolts from his chest, and put on a British Naval uniform. How can that be a bad thing, you ask? It shouldn’t have been, but Lord Tywin popping up in the middle of a World War II biopic just seemed out of place to me. Also, upon second viewing, the ending, while sad and emotional, seemed like it was a little too on the nost in its political messaging. The on-screen text that makes up the film’s epilogue focused more on Turing’s sexuality than his impact on WWII, codebreaking, and computers. While not wrong in any way, this text attempted to make a film that tackled so many broad historical and social topics to be a lot more streamlined and political than it actually was.

127. Birdman

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
I very much enjoyed Birdman the first time I saw it, though, like with Boyhood and The Imitation Game, my enthusiasm for it lessened quite a bit after seeing it again. The amazing feat of Emmanuel Lubezki to make the film appear to be one long take wore a bit thin the second time through. The use of long takes of course made the superb acting stand out even more, as Keaton and Norton and Stone had to memorize large amounts of lines and blocking at a time, though, again, if the movie were filmed conventionally, would its dialogue and plot hold up? Probably not. Michael Keaton deserves the Oscar for his performance, but the rest of the film is a bit too eclectic and schizofrenic for me to outright love it. The drum score drove me a bit insane (as was the point, I think), and the ending really didn’t make any sense at all, no matter how you looked at it. Unquestionably, my favorite part of such a stylized and wonky film was the fleeting moment (probably a mistake that couldn’t be covered up due to the use of long takes) when Zack Galifianakis forgot what movie he was a part of for a split second and reverted into his Hangover schtick by calling Martin Scorsese “Martin Scorseez.” Simply amazing.

8. Selma

I didn’t expect to like Selma and I wound up loving it. Again, I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but it was worth seeing once and actually left an emotional impact on me, unlike a few of the movies I’ve already mentioned. David Oyelowo was fantastic as Dr. King, and his speech at the end was one of the more inspirational scenes in a movie this past year. I’m extremely happy that the movie remained apolitical for almost the entire time, though the reference of Ferguson in the John Legend/Common song at the end pulled me right out of the historical period of the Civil Rights movement and brought today’s divisive, nasty political maelstrom into a film that, for almost its entire running time, had been above such pettiness. Plus, since the events in Ferguson couldn’t have happened before filming started, it made its inclusion in the film seem even more shoehorned in. Why must everything make a statement, no matter how unnecessary? Why can’t we ever appreciate something in its original context, and not in comparing it to today?

53. Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel
With a film that takes Lord Voldemort himself and makes him into a heroic, comic lead character, uses miniature scale models of majestic hotels and icy mountainsides, features an eclectic group of the quirkiest actors around, such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, etc., and switches between 3 times periods, each represented by a different aspect ration, all while accompanied by a whimsical Alexandre Desplat score, Wes Anderson has finally become mainstream. The Grand Budapest Hotel was by far one of the best films to come out last year and the first of these eight Best Picture winners that I could easily see myself watching again.


As I said in my last post, a movie that can make me angry enough to feel it in my stomach, that can shock me to the point where I’m yelling “Oh my God” out loud, and that can make me jump out of my seat in triumphant joy is really something special. Whiplash is that type of movie. J.K. Simmons, the Yellow M & M and the Farmers Insurance guy, J. Jonah Jameson and Juno’s father, is the band instructor from hell (not to mention an extremely relatable character to terrible people I’ve experienced in real life), and will deservedly walk away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Miles Teller is awesome as a drum student worked to the point of exhaustion, with sweat, blood, and tears literally staining his drumsticks and the heads of his drums, and he reportedly did a lot of his own drumming on the film. The climax, a whirlwind of sound and close ups, is one of the best-edited sequences in a movie in a long time. Whiplash is definitely a painful and exhausting movie to get through, but, oh, is it worth it! And it is my favorite Best Picture nominee by a substantial margin from 2014.

May the best film win (though it probably won’t).


2015 Oscars: 2014 Movies Ranked!

With the Oscars coming up this Sunday night, this is my ranking of the 38 movies that came out in 2014 that I watched between January 2014 and February 2015. I still have not seen Still AliceWild, or Two Days, One Night, three movies that have actresses up for Best Actress, nor PTA’s Inherent Vice, up for Original Screenwriting, but I’ve watched mostly everything else worth seeing. (Sorry, The Judge).

I wish I had more time to see a few more non-Oscar movies before compiling this list, such as Calvary, Only Lovers Left AliveMr. Turner, Under the Skin, and Godzilla, but alas, I ran out of time. I’ll get to them eventually.

I will follow up this post (BEFORE THE OSCARS, I PROMISE) with one focusing just on the 8 Best Picture nominees. I have a lot to say about a few of them, so I’ll keep my comments on them in this post relatively brief.

Anyway, since I like stream of consciousness rants, here we go, from worst to best:

  • North Korea, why didn’t you bomb us for The Interview?? We certainly deserved it, and not because it showed us killing your leader. It was just an affront to the art of cinema.
  • I don’t know what Noah‘s production team was smoking. I sort of get that they wanted to make the movie feel like it was both ancient and futuristic/alien at the same time… but could their costumes have been a bit more…um, biblical? And not like they bought them at Target and made them frayed and dirty?

  • How did Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, and A Most Violent Year get ANY critical praise at all this year?ZzzzzzzzzzzzzZzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzz
  • Here we go. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past were all critically acclaimed blockbusters…and were all completely blown out of proportion by fans and critics alike. While none of them were bad movies, per say, they were in no means that special either.
  • I was terrified of The Babadook until I actually watched The Babadook. If that makes any sense at all.
  • I wish I remembered Joe… I liked it and thought it was decent in the moment, but thinking back on it, I can only remember the earlier Matthew McConaughey version called Mud. Hell, the same kid was in both movies!!

  • I’m sorry, but due to my sister, I… I… (I feel like Squidward being unable to say his apology to Spongebob aloud here) I…oh, hell, I happen to enjoy One Direction’s music (THERE, I SAID IT), and thus, their concert movie, Where We Are, was definitely worth my time. As it was a concert movie, though, and had no plot, it therefore ranks below most of the other movies I saw from 2014.
  • Jersey Boys and American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s decent efforts from 2014, were enjoyable and (from what I can tell) faithful adaptations of their source material, while being a bit under par from his normal quality output. Jersey Boys had the perk of being partly shot and set in the town next to mine (though maybe being associated with Belleville, NJ, is really not that much of a perk at all), and who can beat the music of the Four Seasons? American Sniper was certainly emotionally draining, but it was in no way worth all of its hype or derision at all. That being said, Bradley Cooper’s chest deserves its own Oscar category.
  • Annabelle was a fairly straight-forward horror movie in terms of plot and character archetypes. That being said, it certainly had me on the edge of my seat at times and even caused me to yell out loud in the theater. As a lover of Mad Men, I loved the film’s setting. And after seeing the immensely superior Rosemary’s Baby for the first time a week or so later, I could tell that much of the film’s aesthetic and setting owed itself to Polanski’s seminal film. My only major complaint, which is actually my only complaint with Annabelle‘s 2013’s predecessor, The Conjuring, a movie I absolutely loved, was that the Annabelle doll was just too damn scary – absurdly so – before even getting possessed!! It was laughable to me that no one in either movie questioned why any doll like this should even exist, let alone be allowed to reside in someone’s house – AND IN A BABY’S ROOM, AT THAT!

  • The music was the best part of The Theory of Everything. Sorry, Eddie. You did a good job, but your movie just felt like an alternate take on A Beautiful Mind.
  • Ida: beautifully shot, subtly acted, and almost silent. I like when modern films are shot in black and white, and along with The Grand Budapest Hotel, this was the second film I saw that was shot at a 1:33 aspect ratio. And plot-wise, what could be better than a Polish nun-in-training learning that she’s actually Jewish from her Communist official aunt?

  • Apart from a strange modern coda that didn’t really fit the rest of the movie, Dracula Untold was an exciting, medieval actioner with vampires that actually lived up to their mythological reputation. Is it bad that I enjoyed this box-office flop much more than the “Big Four” blockbusters that I mentioned above. Is there something wrong with me, or everyone else?
  • I definitely cried at The Fault In Our Stars and thought there was genuine chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, even though I could barely stand a chapter of John Green’s book. I guess that says something about the acting, no?
  • The Imitation Game: very good World War II biopic the first time, a bit tedious and preachy the second. More on this in my later post.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was at times the most entertaining of the three Hobbit monstrosities and also – by FAR – the most offensive. Nothing in the Star Wars prequels, not even Jar Jar Binks, is as absurd as Legolas (might I remind you that Legolas HAS NO RIGHT EVEN BEING IN THESE MOVIES!!) defying gravity in slow motion to run up falling rocks mid-fight as if they were a staircase.
  • I love James McAvoy normally. I REALLY love James McAvoy as a psycho, vulgar, druggy Nicolas-Cage-in-Bad-Lieutenant police detective. Jim Broadbent and Imogen Poots also make Filth a film that is definitely worth seeing, if for sheer shock value.
  • Overall, I wasn’t too impressed by the plot of Nightcrawler, BUT Jake Gyllenhaal made up for the script’s shortcomings with a performance for the ages. His gaunt, sunken, wraith-like Leo Bloom is the 2010s’ version of De Niro’s Travis Bickle, except even more reprehensible.

  • Intersteller was a much longer, mainstream version of Danny Boyle’s superior Sunshine, one of my favorite movies from recent years, though going in, I expected it to be a lot worse than it actually wound up being. I thought most of it was completely preposterous, especially the end, but the acting, visuals, and music sold the movie as a whole for me. And is it just me, or am I the only one who can’t take Matt Damon seriously? I know he was Jason Bourne and all, but all of his Jimmy Kimmel appearances are too much for me to handle. So the big reveal/cameo/twist with Damon made me laugh, not gasp.

Sunshine & Interstellar

  • Can they make a mid-quel to a film that’s already a prequel, mid-quel, and sequel to another film? Because I think Eva Green’s Artemisia NEEDS her own movie. Most of 300: Rise of an Empire was pretty mediocre, the expected stylized schlock of the first 300, but there’s a reason this was close to being in my top 10 for the year.

  • Snowpiercer is one of the more bizarre but welcome additions to the science fiction genre, and totally worth downloading late one summer night last year. Tilda Swinton makes the movie, in case you haven’t heard by now. And poor Chris Evans can’t catch a break with cold substances… first Sunshine, then Captain America, now Snowpiercer
  • Mitt was a great 22nd birthday present, so thank you, Netflix. For anyone interested in politics, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent, this documentary was an intimate portrait of a man running for President, and, in stark contrast to how he carried himself outwardly during the 2012 election, it actually showed that Mitt Romney was a man.

  • A quarter of the way through The Lego Movie, I was seriously confused about all the hype. Halfway through, I was enjoying it but only thought it a cute little Disney knockoff, a Wreck-It Ralph-lite. Three quarters, and I was eating my words, mind completely blown. Please, experience it for yourself. The ending is so worth the time and enduring that annoying song.
  • If Tom Hardy had simply used the Welsh accent he used in Locke as his voice for Bane in the awful The Dark Knight Rises, then he would have been absolutely terrifying, not the Darth Sean Connery laughing stock he wound up being. Also, to have an entire film set in a car and consist of only close ups of a single actor’s face, his dashboard phone menu, and of the exterior of his car, and STILL be as engaging and as morally profound as Locke says something about Hardy’s acting and the film’s writing.

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virture of Ignorance) is a gimmick. But, unlike Boyhood, it is a gimmick that actually works, though I enjoyed it significantly less the second time viewing it. If the film were not shot as if it were done in a single take, the movie would of course be lessened, but its acting is still superb enough to carry it past its cinematography.
  • Selma, a movie I expected to be super preachy, would up being one of the best historical dramas I’ve seen in a while, and apart from the mention of Ferguson in the end credits’ song (my one complaint about the movie), it remained pretty apolitical the entire time. Oyelowo, Wilkinson, and Roth were all eerily close to their historical counterparts.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my favorite Wes Anderson movie (that probably goes to Rushmore or Moonrise Kingdom), but it is his most lavish and grand and possibly his most zany, and fairly perfect in its composition (literally), and it certainly deserves all the praise it’s been getting.
  • I miss Roger Ebert. I didn’t agree with him politically really at all, and even disagreed with him on a number of film reviews, but he was my go-to movie critic, as I’m sure he was for millions of others, before a movie came out, and if he didn’t like a movie, he was usually in the majority. Life Itself is a must see doc. It is terribly sad at times but also incredibly life-affirming and uplifting, and overall one of the most wonderful films I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Very few things have ever made me laugh as much as the end credits sequence of 22 Jump Street. Add in Ice Cube’s explosion during dinner and Channing Tatum’s realization over why Ice Cube was so angry, and you get my favorite comedy of the year. Yes, it was better than the first movie. By a lot.
  • A movie that can elicit anger that hurts my stomach, shock that makes me yell out loud, and triumphant joy that makes me jump out of my seat is something special. Whiplash is that type of movie.
  • Gone Girl lived up to its expectations, which was a thriller about bad people in an awful marriage doing twisted things to one another. I read the book after seeing the movie and Fincher and the film’s cast really did do the book justice. And I really hope Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris references how his dalliance with a woman did not exactly end too well here…

  • I did not have any more fun seeing a movie in 2014 than when I saw Edge of Tomorrow in theaters over the summer. What could have been another crappy, forgettable, video gamey, generic science fiction/alien invasion/action/disaster movie wound up being an emotional, well-acted, and surprisingly hilarious and fresh take on the genre. This Groundhog Day-meets-Starship Troopers-meets-Minority Report mashup reaffirmed that Tom Cruise can be a very good actor when given good material, and that badass female characters are so much cooler than badass male characters. If Eva Green was awesome in the mediocre 300 sequel, Emily Blunt was incredible in a film that will actually be remembered in a few years!

– Flipp

American Sniper, Selma, & Boyhood and the Let’s Get Offended at Everything! Awards

Okay. After watching Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, I have now seen all 8 of the films nominated for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award. And I wasn’t going to wade in on any of the controversy surrounding it, but this little tweet from The Interview‘s own Seth Rogen set me off just a bit:

He was comparing Sniper to Inglourious Basterds‘ film-within-a-film “Nation’s Pride,” which was about a German sniper’s heroic three day stand in a bell tower against invading American forces. However, commissioned by Joseph Goebbels in the universe of Tarantino’s film, it is first and foremost propaganda, with the German solider Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) playing himself in the movie, like real-life American soldier Audie Murphy did in To Hell and Back after returning from World War II. Rogen later backtracked, saying he had simply been “reminded” of “Nation’s Pride” while watching Sniper, and that he actually liked Clint Eastwood’s film. Clarification or not, however, his original tweet was one more comment in a maelstrom of controversy surrounding the movie and is still a valid point for discussion.

Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) starring in his own film, “Nation’s Pride”

So while, yes, similarities can be made between “Nation’s Pride” and American Sniper, in that they are both about snipers who killed upwards of 150-200 enemy combatants in war and were deemed heroes afterwards, they are in no way the same movie. I simply do not understand the outcry over American Sniper. I happen to be a conservative individual, but apart from (film) Chris Kyle being a Texan who took great pride in serving his country, I cannot – for the life of me – see any sort of conservative slant to the movie. Yes, Kyle killed people in the line of duty, and while many of these deaths are brutally depicted on screen, he never gloats about them. At one point, he clearly has a nervous breakdown after coming seconds away from killing a kid with an RPG (the kid puts the weapon down and runs away), and his demons follow him home. He is distant with his wife and his kids between tours of duty and then when home for good, and prone to violent reactions to seemingly-ordinary things like dogs barking or drilling sounds. The film does not delve too deeply into his PTSD, but it acknowledges its existence, as well as showing other veterans with loss of limb or other forms of psychological problems. Heck, his own brother, also serving in Iraq, curses the sand beneath his feet before heading home after his own tour of duty. 

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper

If anything, American Sniper showed a horrifying conflict in a horrifying and extremely realistic light. Complaints against it claim that it didn’t show Americans committing war crimes or that it failed to humanize the Iraqi insurgents killed by Kyle, especially the enemy sniper with whom Kyle faces off in an Enemy at the Gates-type snipers’ dual over the years, or the fact that it did not outright condemn the Iraq War itself like many previous Hollywood films had done, but this movie particularly was not meant to show all of that. It was about Chris Kyle, his drive and his dedication to his role as a U.S. soldier, and his role as a husband and father.

Personally, I was not blown away by the movie, just as I was not blown away by 2012’s similarly-themed and -plotted Zero Dark Thirtythough I did like Bradley Cooper’s portrayal and believe the film earned its many Oscar nominations. And I certainly think any outrage over the movie is complete and utter nonsense.

That being said, I also find the other side of the aisle’s (that is, my side’s) complaints against the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma to be just as unfounded. I actually thought it was one of the better movies nominated for Best Picture this year (I liked it more than Sniper), and apart from the use of “Ferguson” in the Common/John Legend song “Glory” that accompanied the end credits, I believe that it avoided taking political sides and approached the topic of Civil Rights objectively.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma

Selma, as well as American Sniper, has been charged with historical inaccuracies to the point of mudslinging and uproars on either side of the political spectrum as their respective horse in the race comes under fire from the other side, but The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have somehow seemed to creep by scot-free of any major criticisms, even though liberties have certainly been taken in their adaptations to the screen as well. Is it simply because they aren’t focusing on such volatile subjects as Civil Rights and the Iraq War that people haven’t been outraged over them? Or can people just not put aside their views for two hours and try to watch two fairly objective movies in an objective light?

I’ll admit, that’s a lot easier said than done, as I panned Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which attempted to tell a fictional story in a realistic way. Even though I appreciated the concept of filming the movie over 12 years and the work put into making it over that time, I did not like the actual movie, mainly because I could not stand the main character and the liberal slant to his worldview. Why would anyone laud how this kid grew up? He went from a cute little kid to a complete asshole, and it took 3 long hours for me to watch it happen… However, I am not outraged by the movie; I just didn’t like it. And I will leave it at that. If anyone wants to see it and love it – and hell, a lot of people have as it will probably win Best Picture – then so be it.

American Sniper and Selma were the anti-Boyhood. These two films had STORIES. They told actual stories about flawed characters that WE STILL CARED ABOUT, not idealistic impressions of them, and didn’t forgive or gloss over their characters’ flaws for the sake of having a happy “Hollywood” ending. They told historical events realistically and objectively, and for that reason alone, the should be seen by everyone. Many people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around that.

To come full circle, Seth Rogen… shame on you for speaking negatively (consciously or subconsciously) on another film after that train wreck of a…what? – it’s certainly not a movie – you call The Interview. I didn’t think I could like and enjoy a film from 2014 less than I did NoahAnd nothing I’ve seen in years is as bad as your buddy James Franco’s Gollum impression. 


2014 Golden Globe Predictions

Edit 3: Overall, 9/25. I should never actually gamble. However, I am happy with most of the outcomes of the evening, although I’d rather Birdman had won for Best Musical or Comedy, and while I didn’t necessarily care for Boyhood, I’ll admit that its feat should definitely be recognized. On the TV end, I really overestimated the love for True Detective, which was all but shut out by Fargo (YES!) and The Normal Heart. And I guess Amazon is the new Netflix, with 2 wins for Transparent vs. 1 win for the latter company (Kevin Spacey for House of Cards’ second season). Also, who has actually seen The Affair?? Yeah, me neither.

Edit 2: NEW CATEGORY!! The “George Clooney Award for Being George Clooney” with the only nomination and winner… George Clooney

Edit 1: With less than half of the show left to go…. my ballot is coooompletely off. More to follow afterwards…

Tonight is the 72 Annual Golden Globe awards! Super comedy duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return as co-hosts, and with many close races that will serve as a possible preview of February’s Oscars, it should at least be an interesting night. 


Best Drama

  • Boyhood √
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Comedy

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel √
  • Into the Woods
  • Pride
  • St. Vincent

Best Director

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ava Duvernay, Selma
  • David Fincher, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood √

Best Actress in a Drama

  • Jennifer Aniston, Cake
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice √
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon,Wild

Best Actor in a Drama

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • David Oyelowo, Selma
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything √

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy

  • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman √
  • Bill Murray, St. Vincent
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
  • Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy

  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes √
  • Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
  • Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

(Really, HFPA? This is by far the most bizarre category of the night.)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood √
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash √

Best Screenplay

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman √
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Force Majeure Turist, Sweden
  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem Gett, Israel
  • Ida, Poland/Denmark
  • Leviathan, Russia √
  • Tangerines Mandariinid, Estonia

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Book of Life
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 √
  • The Lego Movie

Best Original Song

  • “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
  • “Glory” from Selma √
  • “Mercy Is” from Noah
  • “Opportunity” from Annie
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Best Score

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything √
  • Gone Girl
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar


Best TV Comedy or Musical

  • Girls
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent √

Best TV Drama

  • The Affair √
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards

Best Actress in a TV Drama

  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Ruth Wilson, The Affair √
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

Best Actor in a TV Drama

  • Clive Owen, The Knick
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards √
  • James Spader, The Blacklist
  • Dominic West, The Affair

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Gena Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin √
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

  • Louis CK, Louie
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Ricky Gervais, Derek
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent √

Best Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Fargo √
  • The Missing
  • The Normal Heart
  • Olive Kitteridge
  • True Detective

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman √
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O’Connor, The Missing
  • Allison Tolman, Fargo

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Martin Freeman, Fargo
  • Woody Harrelson, True Detective
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo √

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey √
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie

  • Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart √
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Colin Hanks, Fargo
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan


My Year In Pop Culture

Happy New Year, everyone!! My goal for 2015 is to blog more. Seven posts in 5 months is not too great, though I’d say it’s a decent start for someone somewhat lazy like me. So here’s to a year of at least  14-18 posts!!

Anyway, 2014 is over and I consumed a LOT of media throughout the year. Taking a page from Steven Soderbergh, I tried to keep track of everything new that I watched (and, as time went on and I found myself commuting to New York City two days a week, of all the books I read as well) in 2014.

My year in pop culture was as follows:

114. Rosemary's Baby


  1. American Hustle
  2. Hugo
  3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  4. Braveheart
  5. Don Jon
  6. Her
  7. Frances Ha
  8. Frozen
  9. Inside Llewyn Davis
  10. Saving Mr. Banks
  11. Dallas Buyers Club
  12. Blue Jasmine
  13. Pineapple Express
  14. Raising Arizona
  15. Leaving Las Vegas
  16. Mitt
  17. The People vs. George Lucas
  18. Best Worst Movie
  19. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  20. Lost in Translation
  21. Juno
  22. Oslo August 31
  23. Eyes Wide Shut
  24. Captain Phillips
  25. All Is Lost
  26. (500) Days of Summer
  27. Filth
  28. Friday the 13th Part 3
  29. The Cable Guy
  30. Punch-Drunk Love
  31. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  32. Iron Man 3
  33. Thor: The Dark World
  34. Magnolia
  35. 42
  36. Great Expectations
  37. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  38. Philomena
  39. Nebraska
  40. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  41. Moulin Rouge
  42. Hard Eight
  43. Lolita
  44. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
  45. Gods and Monsters
  46. Barry Lyndon
  47. The Master
  48. Bottle Rocket
  49. The Reader
  50. Prisoners
  51. Mud
  52. 300: Rise of an Empire
  53. Grand Budapest Hotel
  54. That Guy…Who Was In That Thing
  55. 8MM
  56. Snake Eyes
  57. Point Break
  58. The Kids Are All Right
  59. Serpico
  60. Dog Day Afternoon
  61. Noah
  62. The History of the World Part I
  63. Joe
  64. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  65. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  66. The Fault in Our Stars
  67. Sex Drive
  68. 22 Jump Street
  69. Jersey Boys
  70. Arthur Christmas
  71. Edge of Tomorrow
  72. America: Imagine the World Without Her
  73. Legend
  74. Saludos Amigos
  75. The Three Caballeros
  76. Make Mine Music
  77. Fun and Fancy Free
  78. Melody Time
  79. Battle Royale
  80. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad
  81. Boyhood
  82. Bernie
  83. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  84. The Family Man
  85. The Lego Movie
  86. The Ides of March
  87. Life Itself
  88. Snowpiercer
  89. Doubt
  90. Guardians of the Galaxy
  91. Good Will Hunting
  92. 12 Angry Men
  93. Jackass 3D
  94. Unbreakable
  95. The Serpent and the Rainbow
  96. The Skeleton Key
  97. The Sword in the Stone
  98. The Jungle Book
  99. Robin Hood
  100. Bonnie and Clyde
  101. The Princess Bride
  102. The Last Detail
  103. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  104. The Horror of Dracula
  105. Shadow of the Vampire
  106. Insidious
  107. M*A*S*H
  108. Exorcist II: The Heretic
  109. The Exorcist III
  110. Cool Runnings
  111. The Last Picture Show
  112. Annabelle
  113. Gone Girl
  114. Rosemary’s Baby
  115. Poltergeist
  116. Trick ‘r Treat
  117. Exorcist: The Beginning
  118. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
  119. John Carpenter’s The Thing
  120. All the President’s Men
  121. Nightcrawler
  122. Suspiria
  123.  [REC]
  124. Dracula Untold
  125. Interstellar
  126. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  127. Birdman
  128. Deliverance
  129. Antichrist
  130. The Help
  131. One Direction: Where We Are
  132. Ida
  133. The Theory of Everything
  134. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  135. Foxcatcher
  136. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  137. Home Alone

24. The Leftovers S1


  1. Doctor Who S4
  2. Sherlock S3
  3. Doctor Who S5
  4. Doctor Who S6
  5. House of Cards S2
  6. Hannibal S1
  7. Mad Men S2
  8. Mad Men S3
  9. Mad Men S4
  10. Mad Men S5
  11. Mad Men S6
  12. 30 Rock S5
  13. 30 Rock S6
  14. 30 Rock S7
  15. Mad Men S7P1
  16. Hannibal S2
  17. Game of Thrones S4
  18. Fargo S1
  19. True Detective S1
  20. Broadchurch S1
  21. The Legend of Korra S2
  22. 24 Live Another Day S9
  23. Doctor Who S7
  24. The Legend of Korra S3
  25. The Leftovers S1
  26. Twin Peaks S1
  27. Castle S1
  28. The Legend of Korra S4

12. Legion


  1. Preacher: Book One by Garth Ennis
  2. Difficult Men by Brett Marton
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
  4. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  5. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  8. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  9. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
  10. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  11. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. Legion by William Peter Blatty
  13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I will have another post breaking down the 30 or so films released in theaters in 2014 that I saw before the Oscar Nominations come out on January 15. Overall, 2014 was an okay year for new movies (at least, according to this film curmudgeon over here): I liked a few, and hated a few, but most movies fell into a big ol’ MEH category. But I digress. Some notes on the various forms of entertainment I absorbed this year:

  • I really like Gillian Flynn’s writing style. Gone Girl and Dark Places were both fantastic, and I can only hope her first novel, Sharp Objects, is just as deranged. Did I say that? I meant good.
  • My last spring break as an undergrad consisted of me binging the HELL out of Mad Men and 30 Rock, and both shows quickly shot up my list of favorite shows ever. Don Draper and Jack Donaghy, you make me regret going into a profession where I can’t wear tuxedos after 6 PM or drink whiskey midday while doing business in my midtown Manhattan skyscraper…
  • After previously seeing Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, I rounded out the Paul Thomas Anderson oeuvre with Punch-Drunk LoveMagnoliaHard Eight, and The Master. So, for a short while until Inherent Vice came out, I had a perfect PTA score.
  • I watched 7 documentaries in 2014, and I can say great things about all of them. Life Itself and Mitt were both extremely charming, and Best Worst Movie made me appreciate the horror that is Troll 2 so much more than I ever did before. The People vs. George Lucas got me angry at George Lucas for messing up Star Wars and then made me feel sad for judging the man who created Star Wars in the first place, which is quite the feat. But Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures takes the cake for my favorite doc and one of my favorite films that I saw all year. I have so much respect for that man, and really wish he made a few more movies before he died.
  • And speaking of Kubrick, Barry Lyndon may’ve been 3 hours long, but I enjoyed all 3 picturesque hours of it. The same goes for Eyes Wide Shut, about which I can’t help but agree with critic Jeremiah Kipp: “Misunderstood as a psychosexual thriller, Stanley Kubrick’s final film is actually more of an acidic comedy about how Tom Cruise fails to get laid.”
  • Apart from a two-minute window at the end that involved skeletons in a pool, Poltergeist was a huge, huge letdown. How it makes any “Best Horror Movie” list is totally beyond me. However, the same cannot be said for that other horror film to come out in 1982, John Carpenter’s The Thing. Those special effects, my God… I’ll take that over computer effects ANY day.
  • The 6 Disney films made during World War II, Saludos AmigosThe Three CaballerosMake Mine MusicFun and Fancy FreeMelody Time, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad, are all one big blur to me. That’s, what…? about 7 1/2 hours of my life I will never, ever get back. Thank the good Lord for Cinderella, a film that brought Disney back to life.
  • Carrie Coon wins for my favorite female performer of 2014, as she was great in two of my favorites of the year, as scene-stealing Nora Durst in The Leftovers and as Ben Affleck’s grounded sister in Gone Girl. A close second is Cate Blanchett, winning her Oscar for Blue Jasmine and playing Galadriel in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I will forever watch whatever they next appear in.
  • Tom Hanks’ last five minutes in Captain Phillips should’ve won an Oscar in 2013, and he wasn’t even nominated. By far my favorite male performance of the year. In TV, I’d say Peter Dinklage for his rousing speech while on trial in Game of Thrones. Oh, and speaking of Game of Thrones
  • …poor, poor Oberyn Martell. Seven months later, and I’m still cringing. (His final words though are quite quotable. “YOU RAPED HER! YOU MURDERED HER! YOU KILLED HER CHILDREN!” served as a good intro for when I FINALLY saw The Princess Bride for the first time later in the year.)
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic was abysmal, but The Exorcist III was a scarily-good successor to The Exorcist, though it was much more of a religious-themed procedural than an outright horror movie. (Its book version, Legion, was my favorite book of the year, but more on that in a bit…) The two prequels, Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist, were actually not that bad. The former was much more of a modern horror movie with a sillier plot, whereas the latter was much better acted but was much slower and had an awful exorcism as its climax; altogether, they were marred by terrible special effects and felt like two vastly-different, inferior halves of a whole, superior movie.
  • WHAT happened to The Legend of Korra? After a wonderful first season, seasons 2 through 4 were uneven, silly, and offensive to my senses as someone who enjoyed Avatar: The Last Airbender. That is not to say that the last three didn’t have any great moments (they had plenty, and, overall, 3 was very good), but still. Giant anthropomorphic kites? Jinora, the Deus Air Machina? Meelo in general?? And then the ending of the finale that everyone is praising, but was almost certainly just tacked on for the “Children’s Show Political Statement of the Year” award? And to top that all off, an Avatar in Korra (who had potential, mind you) who couldn’t even Avatar correctly after 4 friggin’ years!!! Ugh. Bad tastes all around.
  • And while it may not have been the BEST SHOW EVER like previous seasons, it was absolutely wonderful to see Jack Bauer once again grace my television screen in 24: Live Another Day after a 4 year absence. Oh, how I missed him!! Hopefully, it won’t be the last we ever see of him, but if it is, it was a much better send-off than the original finale from 2010, and the image of Jack throwing Evil Catelyn Stark out of a window in cold blood rivals any of the Jack Bauer Moments from 24‘s original run.
  • Thank God for Good Reads. After having it recommended to me over the summer, I increased my reading output from 2 books through July to 14(!!) by the end of the year. My commute to New York helped, but still. It gave me a purpose to sit down and start reading again. After all, I do love keeping track of movies and books with lists…
  • My least favorite movie of the year was probably M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. How anyone can still let this man get behind a word processor, let alone a camera, is totally beyond me. Noah and Her also drove me a little insane inside as well. And let’s not even talk about Jackass 3D (which I was forced to watch at a friend’s house. Pleeease don’t judge me.) 
  • My least favorite TV show had to be the second season of Korra (see three bullets above for reasons why) followed immediately by the second season of House of Cards – how do you squander so much promise, especially after that first episode?? My least favorite book was Tom Perrotta’s day-in-the-life of those dealing with the Rapture novel, The Leftovers, which unfortunately was because I read it shortly after watching and loving its vastly different, superior HBO adaptation…
  • …which brings me to my final note, my three favorites in their respective mediums: Rosemary’s Baby for movies, The Leftovers for TV, and Legion for books. All three had religious themes (albeit dark, disturbing religious themes) and I guess having that description alone already piques my interest beyond most other premises. It just so happens that their execution and delivery exceeded my expectations in all three cases.
    • Rosemary’s Baby has quickly become one of the more disturbing movies that I have ever seen, and some of its images and dialogue are seared into my brain. I watched it in a college class and there were snickers during the finale when the film’s antagonists proclaimed their love for a certain devil figure, but I was anything but laughing. I was immensely impressed by the acting and Polanski’s direction, and am still surprised by the amount of violence, sex, and nudity in it. Compared to, say, Bonnie and Clyde, another film from the late 60s that was super controversial when it came out, it actually lived up to its reputation for being risqué and ground-breaking. It is certainly a movie I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
    • I mentioned above that I enjoyed The Exorcist III, which was William Peter Blatty’s own adaptation of his Exorcist sequel, Legion. As I did with most of the books I read this year, I picked Legion up AFTER having already watched its film adaptation. And while I know the studio insisted Blatty call his film The Exorcist III and even tacked on a somewhat pointless exorcism scene to the end of the movie (that still wasn’t that bad to derail quite a scary little flick), Legion was vastly different from its movie version, even though Blatty wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. While the film was a procedural with horror elements and that added exorcism scene, the novel was a procedural with horror elements…and a LOT of philosophical and religious discourse. For a Jewish detective, Lt. Kinderman, certainly did a lot of hanging around with Catholic priests and discussing of the Catholic faith, and spent a lot of time chasing religious murderers and ruminating on the nature of good and evil and man’s purpose in it all… Oh, I loved it. And the actual conflict of the book had a much more low-key, emotional resolution than its bloody, excessive film counterpart. Kinderman is now one of my favorite literary characters. Mr. Blatty, any chance you can add a third Kinderman novel to your works?
    • And that brings me to The Leftovers… I still honestly can’t put my feelings about the show into words. I’ve wanted to blog about 15 different things regarding the show and the book (more on that in just a second) frequently since July when it premiered, but I couldn’t put any of my thoughts down on paper. I’ve just never been as emotionally affected by a show as I was with The Leftovers. The show’s ability to get into the heads of the characters and to play with structure certainly helped make its depressing and bleak themes and setting radiate beyond what we saw on screen. I loved the pilot, but it was the third episode that followed Christopher Eccleston’s Reverend Matt Jamison around as he fought to save his church from foreclosure that made me realize I was watching something I’d never seen before. And then Carrie Coon, playing Matt’s sister Nora, had her own, solo episode and stole the show out from under what was already an amazing cast. No, not all the questions raised were answered, and a vast conspiracy seemed to be hinted at towards the end of the show, but that’s what Season 2 is for. The main arc featuring Justin Theroux’s family reached an apt conclusion by season’s end and that was fine with me. Its book counterpart never reached the scope of the show and answered even far less questions, which actually begged me to ask, “What was the point of this book?” And apart from the initial premise, a few character names and one or two scenes here and there – including the final scene of both the show and the book, the two forms of The Leftovers were entirely different entities. And the book didn’t have Max Richter’s hypnotizing score or Coon or Eccleston or Amy Brenneman (who is also superb in an almost entirely-silent role) or the sheer violence that opened up episode 5 or the stolen Baby Jesus, or the packs of killer dogs and their mysterious hunter, or Garvey’s crazy father, and so on and so forth… Therefore, I was severely disappointed by Perrotta’s novel and came to love the show even more while reading it. I can’t wait for Season 2 and I hope it’s just as thought-provoking and mysterious as the first.

Oh, and the sleeper hit of the year that probably had a major impact on my subconscious and might have actually changed my life? A crappy little comedy I saw at 3 am one summer night on Spike or FX or something called Sex Drive.


Jurassic World: Standing on the Shoulders of Geniuses

Over the last few blog-less months, I have had numerous ideas for posts, but I haven’t been sold on a compelling-enough idea or subject to actually sit down and write.

Thank you, Jurassic World, for helping me overcome my writer’s block…

If you only need to know one thing about me, it is that Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time. I watched it more than any other movie growing up and loved everything about it. I became obsessed with dinosaurs like any other 4- or 5-year-old boy, but it was more than just finding the dinosaurs cool or scary or awe-inspiring; the filmmaking itself attracted me, even as a kid. The acting, the dialogue, the quirkiness of Jeff Goldblum, the Britishness of Richard Attenborough, John Williams’ majestic score, the way Spielberg keeps the audience in the dark by lingering on Sam Neill’s and Laura Dern’s surprised faces rather than the dinosaurs they are seeing for the first time, the kitchen scene…. the movie is etched in my brain. I even blame Jurassic Park for my bigotry towards those in the “blood-sucking” law profession! (Sorry, but you don’t leave two children in a car when a T. Rex is on the loose, no matter how badly you “gotta go”…)

Jurassic Park‘s two sequels, 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s Jurassic Park III, are both…well, they’re both quite bad. I did enjoy them to a point as a child, but over the years any sort of warmth that I had towards them has all but cooled.

What did San Diego ever do to you, Spielberg?

Can "Jurassic World" be worse than this? Probably...

Can “Jurassic World” be worse than this? Probably…

However, both sequels, while sorta-kinda-really sucking, still managed to share some similarities with the first film. From Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill returning in The Lost World and III, respectively, to the use of John Williams’ music, to similar shot composition and locations, to a reliance on animatronics and models in addition to some(!) computer-generated imagery, the sequels still contained a little bit of what made the first Jurassic Park film so great.

Jurassic World though…

Based SOLELY on Jurassic World‘s first trailer, this third sequel, coming 14 years after III and 22 after the first, looks like an alien trying to assimilate with something that has been familiar to us for decades…

Actually, as a good friend pointed out to me yesterday, it is literally Alien-in-Jurassic-Park.

A genetically-modified creature (so it’s not even a real dinosaur, just some monster?) escapes from a fully-operational theme park containing dinosaurs. And these dinosaurs include seemingly-trained velociraptors (WHAT?). Add in Chris Pratt (I guess he’s better than Shia LeBeouf), B.D. Wong (the one returning cast member from any of the first three Jurassic Park films, so a silver lining, I guess?), and a TON of crappy CGI (dinosaurs, dinosaur-monsters, dinosaur-shark-monsters, as well as locations, scenery, and backgrounds), and you get….whatever the hell this is.

It’s certainly not a Jurassic Park movie.

It’s as if Hollywood took a page out of John Hammond’s book….

Just because you have the power to do something, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD DO IT.

Take it away, Ian Malcom:

And I thought I was a bit put out by Star Wars: The Force Awakens… At least that film might not be the most disappointing “unnessesary-sequel-to-a-beloved-movie-from-Flipp’s-childhood” that comes out in 2015 now. Sheesh.



Oh Captain, My Captain!


Yesterday, Sunday, September 28, 2014, will be a day forever etched in my mind and the minds of thousands – even millions – of fellow Yankee fans, and a bittersweet day in baseball history: it was the final game in the storied 20-year career of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

What can I say about Derek Jeter that hasn’t already been said about him by countless others, especially over the last few weeks as this season, and thus his career, grew closer to its end? What can be said that hasn’t already been said over the last few days, since he did the unthinkable (except, as it’s Jeter, was it really THAT unthinkable?) and turned his final Yankee Stadium at-bat into a walk-off win.

As one of my best friends wrote on Twitter soon after:

The game-winning RBI single to end Jeter’s Yankee home career (not to mention has actual final at-bat 2 games later in Fenway, an RBI infield single), was just one amazing, miraculous, can’t-make-this-crap-up! play in a whole career full of ’em:

The home run for HIT NUMBER 3000; Jeter ends his career with 260 home runs and never hit more than 24 in a season. HOW could he be only the 2nd player out of the 28 to reach the milestone to do this, especially when 4 of them also hit over 500 home runs?

It’s just one of those things…

THE DIVE against the Red Sox in July of 2004, still the greatest game I have ever seen. If I remember correctly, he played the next day against the Mets.

His game-winning home run in the 10th inning of Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, just 2 months after the September 11 attacks, that tied the series at 2 and earned him the name MR. NOVEMBER.


The fact that he won 4 WORLD SERIES before the age of 27.

The fact that after being taken out of his final game after his final hit, FENWAY PARK chanted a Yankee player’s name and gave him a standing ovation…

I just got goosebumps writing that sentence.

Derek Jeter, one of the most stoic, most selfless, and classiest players of his generation, and one of the greatest leaders in sports, especially evident when compared to the antics of the Ray Rices, Ray Lewises, Ben Roethlisbergers, and Alex Rodriguezes of the athletic world, will sorely be missed.

As a player.

As a role model.

As a person.

What a career.

– Flipp

My 2014 Emmy Predictions

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in “True Detective”

These are my predictions for tomorrow night’s Emmy Awards. It should be a big night for Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Fargo, to say the least. I am not familiar with some of the shows nominated, such as The Good Wife or Orange is the New Black, the latter of which is up for a multitude of awards and will probably win for Best Comedy Series. In cases like that, my predictions/thoughts will be based on the general consensus that I have gathered from friends and family who have watched these shows as well as from reviews and thoughts of critics online.

My predicted winners are in red and any additional thoughts of mine will be underneath each category in green.

Writing for a Comedy

David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes
Louis C.K., Louie
Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan, Orange Is the New Black
Alec Berg, Silicon Valley
Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, and Armando Iannucci, Veep

Directing for a Comedy

Iain B. MacDonald, Episodes
Paris Barclay, Glee
Louis C.K., Louie
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family
Jodie Foster, Orange Is the New Black
Mike Judge, Silicon Valley

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: His Last Vow

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart

I would really, really, REALLY like Allison Tolman to win for Fargo. She went head-to-head against Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman and was equal to, if not better than them a majority of the time.

Allison Tolman, Fargo

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, American Horror Story: Coven
Noah Hawley, Fargo
Neil Cross, Luther
Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart
Steven Moffat, Sherlock: His Last Vow
David Simon and Eric Overmyer, Treme

Hawley wrote all 10 episodes and completed the absurd task of creating a TV series based on one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of all time that can be called a masterpiece in its own right.

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, American Horror Story: Coven
Adam Bernstein, Fargo
Colin Bucksey, Fargo
Stephen Frears, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
Ryan Murphy, The Normal Heart
Nick Hurran, Sherlock: His Last Vow

Fargo‘s pilot was incredible. 

Writing for a Variety Series

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Fallon has been absolutely wonderful since taking over for Jay Leno earlier this year. He is a breath of fresh air in the late night talk show universe.

Guest Actress in a Comedy

Natasha Lyonne, Orange Is the New Black
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Joan Cusack, Shameless

Guest Actor in a Comedy

Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Steve Buscemi, Portlandia
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Gary Cole, Veep

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Tony Hale, Veep

Directing for a Drama

Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire
Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad
David Evans, Downton Abbey
Neil Marshall, Game of Thrones
Carl Franklin, House of Cards
Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective

Gilligan and Fukunaga both did amazing jobs on Breaking Bad and True Detective, respectively, but it is Marshall and his 50-minute Battle of the Wall that served as the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones who deserves this directing award.

Writing for a Drama

Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad
Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones
Beau Willimon, House of Cards
Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective

Walley-Beckett’s “Ozymandias” is one of THE great TV episodes of all time, and this award is a no-brainer, even considering Vince Gilligan’s ability to tie up all loose ends in one of the neatest series finales of all time, “Felina.” 

Guest Actress in a Drama

Margo Martindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Kate Mara, House of Cards
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Jane Fonda, The Newsroom
Kate Burton, Scandal

I mean, she poisoned King Joffrey. Give her ALL the awards.

Guest Actor in a Drama

Paul Giamatti, Downton Abbey
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Joe Morton, Scandal


Supporting Actress in a Drama

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Supporting Actor in a Drama

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Peter Dinklage’s speech at the end of “The Laws of Gods and Men” is one for the ages.

Television Movie

Killing Kennedy
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
The Normal Heart
Sherlock: His Last Vow
The Trip to Bountiful


American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde
The White Queen

Variety Series

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Please not SNL. I’d rather Bill Maher won over SNL.

Reality Competition Program

The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

Lead Actress in a Comedy

Lena Dunham, Girls
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Lead Actor in a Comedy

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc,, Episodes
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Lead Actress in a Drama

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Claire Danes, Homeland
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Kerry Washington, Scandal

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
Idris Elba, Luther
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow

Can there be a tie? Martin and Thorton were both exquisite in Fargo, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with the actor who had to show a much greater range, and that was Martin Freeman as the loser insurance salesman-turned-murderous creep.

Lead Actor in a Drama

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Hey, if Jeff Daniels won last year, maybe he can upset again this year…right? I think I’d throw my computer at my TV if that happens. While I would love Jon Hamm to FINALLY win an award for playing Don Draper, this race is definitely between Bryan Cranston and Matthew McConaughey. Cranston was perfect in the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad, especially Ozymandias,” but McConaughey has the story and the hype and the momentum (AND THE OSCAR) behind him. Purely the fact that Craston already has three Emmys for playing Walter White says that McConaughey will get it this time. And poor Woody. He was great in True Detective too, but not existential meltdown-good.

Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Ah, screw it. I said Orange might win above but I think Louie could manage an upset. Let’s go with that. 

Drama Series

Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

The final award of the night is definitely between Breaking Bad and True DetectiveGame of Thrones was great (and my personal favorite of all the shows nominated), but it wasn’t as good as past seasons and some rare “off moments” (coughincestrapecough) soured its overall taste in my mouth. Mad Man was the same as ever, slow and smoldering with some awesome moments to close out the season, but its time in the Emmy limelight has clearly passed – any chance at another win will have to be next year for its final season. I have not seen Downton Abbey so I cannot say whether it has a chance or not for myself, but I did see House of Cards, and this season was… well, it was quite bad. (Thanks for taking Hannibal‘s spot, dude…)

Last but not least, I would much rather have had True Detective in the Miniseries category as it will not have the same cast next season, just like Fargo and American Horror Story. Also, while I really enjoyed True Detective, especially the performances from its two leads and the long take at the end of Episode 5, I felt it was a lot slower than it should have been, and its ending – which I happened to love – divided a lot of people who had been watching the show from the beginning. Breaking Bad had the more perfect eight-episode block, and I personally have never been more engaged by a show than when its final season aired last summer. The time in between episodes seemed insurmountable!  From Hank confronting Walt early on, to Jesse’s betrayal, to the cut-to-black in the middle of a climactic gunfight in the desert… those cliffhangers caused me heart problems! The final four episodes, “To’hajilee,” “Ozymandias,” “Granite State,” and “Felina,” will be studied by filmmakers and storytellers alike for years to come. THAT is how you end a television show.

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias”

– Flipp

A Brief Post on Robin Williams

I don’t entirely know what to write on the subject and there has been plenty already written about it over the past two days; all I can say is Robin Williams was truly one of the funniest and most talented actors and comedians around, able to put a smile on people’s faces even when he could not manage one himself. His suicide is a sad, sad thing, and while countless other, smarter people can write about his depression, past addictions, and other demons, I would just like to say thank you to the man who played a large role in my childhood with his manically enthusiastic performances in Aladdin, Jumanji, and Flubber, and who taught me the lessons of perseverance, individuality, and sticking up for what is right in one of the most hauntingly beautiful films of all time, Dead Poets Society.

Now, any line from Dead Poets Society is worth quoting, but I will end this very brief post with this monologue (powerfully used in a recent iPad commercial) from one of Mr. Keating’s English classes:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

O Captain! My Captain! Rest in peace.

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