« January 2013 | Main | March 2013 »

February 2013 Archives

February 25, 2013

Surprises at the Oscars

Oscars acting winners

Considering that just about all of my picks for last night's Oscars were wrong, I thought there were a lot of surprises in the winners. My favorite movie, Zero Dark Thirty, was shut out of every award (besides that tie for Sound Editing,) so though I didn't agree with many of the winners, at least the awards got spread around a bunch of different movies, with no clear overall winning movie. If a piece of conventional rom-com mediocrity like Silver Linings Playbook can win a major award (Best Actress), at least a great movie like Django Unchained can take two (Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay.)

Same thing goes for Life of Pi, a visually beautiful and technically amazing movie that was pretty thin on every other aspect of moviemaking. Was Ang Lee the best director of the year? Probably not. But I take great comfort in knowing that a (generally) wonderful director like Ang Lee now has two Best Director Oscars, and Ben Affleck has zero.

Speaking of which, I wonder if Argo would have become such a popular choice for Best Picture if Affleck had been nominated for Best Director, and the Academy hadn't been driven to reconsider its lukewarm response to the movie when the nominations were decided? The directors' branch of the Academy, who shut Affleck out, wasn't nearly as impressed with the movie as the Academy as a whole was. Either way, whenever two different movies win Best Picture and Best Director (like when Crash won Best Picture,) it usually means they got at least one award wrong. In my opinion, both winners this year will look pretty questionable in the future--I just can't accept a movie that stars Ben Affleck winning Best Picture. He's gotten to be a pretty good director, but he's still so flat and unbelievable on screen.

As for Seth MacFarlane's hosting job, I liked the song and dance numbers intended to appeal to the geriatric viewer, but too many of his jokes were mean. If a joke is mean but really funny, that's one thing, but most of his jokes were mean and not nearly funny enough. (Gawker cut his jokes into one video.) The one exception was the video of him propositioning Sally Field in the green room, and I mostly liked it because of how game and funny she was. "I've got a bottle of wine and some Boniva, we'll have a great time" was his best line of the night (starts at 0:42 in the Gawker video.) I admire Sally Field for doing a skit that hinged on her admitting she had no chance of winning an Oscar this year, something I can't imagine hardly any other actor doing.

I was happy to see Quentin Tarantino get an Oscar for writing Django, but did you notice that instead of praising his cast, like most people would do, he pretty much said that he deserved an additional Best Casting Oscar for the amazing job he did casting them in his movie? Considering he didn't get his first choice cast members in many, well-publicized cases, maybe some of the credit should have gone to the actors.

My favorite comment about the night was Matt Singer's tweet: "Silver Linings Playbook is a movie made entirely of Oscar clips." Which describes why I don't like that movie better than anything I've come up with yet. The best suggestion I heard was from a friend who pointed out how much more awesome it would have been during the In Memoriam tribute (which included MCA!) if Barbra Streisand had sung "Sabotage".

February 20, 2013

Oscars picks

Oscars Ballot by a famous director

Every year around this time, I post my picks for who will win at the Oscars. This year, Hollywood Reporter offers a far more entertaining variation: a famous unnamed director's picks with running commentary. It's not just that I agree with just about all of this guy's selections, but also that he's a riot, unapologetic and blunt.

This guy, whoever he is, has been in the business for a long time, long enough to still be mad that "Live And Let Die" didn't win Best Song in 1973. He knows what he's talking about, and he isn't about to cast any votes for Michael Haneke because "he just hates human beings, and I happen to be a human being and don't like being shit on." He also spins his iPhone to decide between ParaNorman and Wreck-It Ralph. I love it.

So go ahead and read his votes--I'll include some choice comments from him along with my own italicized picks below. Add your own picks in the comments--I have doubts about a lot of my picks, and there should be some good surprises on Sunday!

Life of Pi
Lincoln [It's just cynical enough to be taken seriously, but still a feel-good movie about America's moral correctness]
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Django Unchained [Mr. Famous Director: "basically just Quentin Tarantino masturbating for three hours."]
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Miserables
[Note: Nate Silver says Argo is a shoo-in. I'm biased against it because I didn't like it, but it's won the most awards that Academy members vote on, and it's all about the magic of Hollywood and movies, even non-existent movies. Silver's probably right.]

Michael Haneke (Amour)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) [No one else has a serious chance. Do you think the loser-reaction camera will cut to Ben Affleck, who wasn't nominated, when they announce the winner?]
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
[Mr. Famous Director would have voted for Kathryn Bigelow. I love this guy!]

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) [inevitable, and deserved]
Denzel Washington (Flight)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) [she might be my favorite actress working today. If she doesn't win this year, she'll win soon. I'd be happy for Emmanuelle Riva to win it, too]
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) [this is my favorite category this year. Mr. Famous Director says people in Hollywood don't like TLJ because he's a "bitter guy". If he's right, it will probably go to PSH]
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln) [Mr. Famous Director: "she's playing an annoying character, and she is rather annoying, plus she's about 20 years too old for the role."]
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) [a really weak category, but Hathaway's got it. I predict her acceptance speech will be the most irritating of the night]
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

The Pirates
Wreck-It Ralph [I flipped my phone]

Austria: Amour [Probably the only award it will win]
Chile: No
Canada: War Witch
Denmark: A Royal Affair
Norway: Kon Tiki

"Before My Time," Chasing Ice
"Pi's Lullaby," Life Of Pi
"Suddenly," Les Miserables
"Everybody Needs A Best Friend," Ted
"Skyfall," Skyfall [If Adele is nominated for something, Adele wins]

Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina)
Alexandre Desplat (Argo)
Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) [It's going to get a lot of the technical/art direction kind of awards]
John Williams (Lincoln) [Mr. Famous Director: "John Williams has enough f---ing Oscars."]
Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

John Gatins (Flight)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty) [A really tough category--every nominee has a strike against them or isn't beloved by the Academy. I don't see an obvious winner, but it's probably either Mark Boal or Flight]
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Michael Haneke (Amour) [Mr. Famous Director: "There's only so much diaper-changing that I can tolerate."]
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)

Chris Terrio (Argo)
Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
David Magee (Life of Pi)
Tony Kushner (Lincoln) [Lincoln's going to be the big winner overall]
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
The Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man
[Mr. Famous Director: "In order to win, you usually have to make a film that makes people feel absolutely great or makes people feel like they want to slit their wrists."]

Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina)
Robert Richardson (Django Unchained)
Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln)
Roger Deakins (Skyfall) [About time!]

Anna Karenina [All aspects of the Art Direction were fantastic]
Les Miserables
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman
[Mr. Famous Director: "This always goes to the nominee with the puffiest dresses."]

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit
Les Miserables
Life of Pi [It was all CGI, but it looked great]

Hitchcock [Mr. Famous Director: "Anthony Hopkins just looked like a man in a fat-suit."]
The Hobbit
Les Miserables [MFD: "I think they did a good job beating the shit out of Anne Hathaway."]

William Goldenberg (Argo)
Tim Squyres (Life Of Pi)
Michael Kahn (Lincoln)
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers (Silver Linings Playbook)
Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg (Zero Dark Thirty) [I'm not good at teasing out stuff like this, and even I noticed the editing was fantastic]

Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Les Miserables [All that live vocal recording seems impressive, right?]
Life of Pi

The Hobbit
Life of Pi [It really looks great]
The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

February 11, 2013

Gay panic at Downton Abbey!

Thomas at Downton Abbey

Last night's "Downton Abbey" double-header was two solid hours of PBS period melodrama that really made me long for regular commercial breaks. The main storyline centers on Thomas, the scheming secretly-gay valet who this week ignores his finely-tuned gaydar and make a play for James, the handsome, straight footman. He decides that the best, least creepy way to assess James's interest is to sneak quietly into his bedroom at night and immediately start kissing him, even though James is not conscious. It all goes very wrong, and a talky, beautifully-costumed gay panic ensues.

Of course, every single resident of the house, upstairs and downstairs, finds out immediately, and everybody has their own reaction. None of the women are shocked or even particularly surprised. Most of the servant-class men (who I guess, besides Thomas, are all straight) are horrified and filled with moral outrage, and there's talk of calling the police and throwing poor Thomas in jail. (The weirdest thing about all this is how quickly Thomas shifts from an unrepentant, manipulative embodiment of evil to a misunderstood, pitiable lost soul, unable to find love in this cruel world. Or maybe it's not weird. Maybe it's just bad writing.)

But the best reaction of all is Lord Grantham's, who gets the best line of the night. After Bates relates the whole story to him, Lord G responds, "It's not as if we didn't all know. If I'd shouted blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone hoarse in a month."

Haha! The boyish homoeroticism of the elite British boarding school is always good for a punchline. But this is the conservative, xenophobic, anti-20th century Lord Grantham. The same man who looks like he ate a bug if he's in the same room as a Catholic, and just last week tried to bust up a genteel ladies' luncheon because the cook had once turned a few tricks. Why does he react so breezily to the news that his gay valet is sneaking around initiating make-out sessions with the sleeping footman?

I think Lord Grantham is an upper-class moral relativist. Anything that elite aristocratic Englishmen like to do is OK by him. If half of the future House of Lords tried to get busy with a teenage Lord Grantham, then who is he to criticize Thomas? The guy's probably just trying to better his position and aspire to the values of the upper classes. Lord Grantham is actually cooler with it than any other character on the show.

Next week, Lord Grantham starts Yorkshire's first chapter of PFLAG.

February 1, 2013

Goodbye, 30 Rock

30 Rock Finale

30 Rock Finale

Last night's "30 Rock" series finale was pretty much perfect. It was a satisfying close to a great show, and it was the funniest episode in a while. I couldn't ask for a better ending, except I'm sad to see it go.

You know who I'll especially miss? Jane Krakowski. We'll get plenty of Tina Fey doing funny things for years to come now that she's a big successful star, Alec Baldwin will continue to pop up in all aspects of New York cultural/political/tabloid life, and Tracy Morgan and Judah Friedlander will be back doing stand up and wacky animation voiceovers. But from now on, every time I take a low-volume shower with Ed Begley, Jr., I'll shed a silent tear for Jenna.

One upside: "Community" is showing up right on time to fill the Thursday 8pm slot and absorb some of our emotionally fragile rebound love.

About February 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in February 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35