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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Should Gravity Be The Favorite To Win Best Picture?

With the Academy Awards just a few days away, it seems that the winner of the major categories are already set. All of the the pre-award shows like the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and BAFTAs have already taken place, and all of the Guilds like the Screen Actors Guild and the Director's Guild of America have all cast their ballots. Based upon all of the build up and hype, 12 Years A Slave is predicted to win Best Picture and Alfonso Cuaron, the director of Gravity, is predicted to win Best Director.  You can check out all the odds at

However, in the history of the Academy Awards, it is extremely unlikely that the Best Picture and Best Director are not from the same movie. Since 1983 (the past 30 years), the director of the Best Picture winner has not won Best Director six times. Here are the examples:

The Top 10 Best Oscar Nominated Films Currently Streaming on Netflix*

10) The Artist (2011)
Directed By: Michel Hazanavicius
Won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Score, Best Costume Design
Nominated For: Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Production Design

Brief Description: While The Artist was able to dominate the 2012 Oscars because 2011 was an extremely weak year for films, and this was a film destined to be Oscar bait and appeal to the old fogies of The Academy, it's is surprisingly warm, engaging, and delightful.I wanted to hate this movie when I saw it in the theaters, but I couldn't. While I would have rather seen Moneyball win (or Drive at least get nominated), there should be no problem with this win.

9) A Fish Called Wanda (1998)
Directed By: Charles Crichton
Won: Best Supporting Actor
Nominated For: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay

Brief Description: The plot is not important. Just take my word for it, you'll love A Fish Called Wanda because it's wonderfully irreverent.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Top 10 Best Documentaries Currently Streaming On Netflix*

10) Young@Heart (2007)
Directed By: Stephen Walker & Sally George
STARS: 3 out of 4

Brief Description: A group of senior citizens stay young by singing modern songs in a choir.

9) Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012)
Directed By: Nat Segaloff
STARS: 3 out of 4

Brief Description: This film follows a handful of Bronies- adult, male fans of the young girl cartoon My Little Pony- as they head to New Jersey for the first annual Broni-Con

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Picture

- 12 Years A Slave
- American Hustle
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Gravity
- Her
- Nebraska
- Philomena
- The Wolf of Wall Street

SHOULD BE HERE: The Place Beyond The Pines

This was a decently small film that was released in April of 2013 by an Indie director. Granted, the names attached like Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendez gave it some credibility to the outside world, but still, I get why it wasn't nominated. Being "good" doesn't cut it- you have to be able to promote and network as well. Despite that, The Place Beyond The Pines was excellent. In this year of mediocre films, The Place Beyond The Pines was one of the best of them. I don't want to give anything more away about the plot of the film, because it's best knowing as little as possible about it going in. I was initially off put by the 140 minute run time, but I promise you, it's worth it.

Now, out of the films that at least had somewhat of a chance to be nominated but was not, Friuitvale Station was the best of them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 15 Best Oscar Winning Performances of The Past 15 Years

15) Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)

Category: Best Actor
Year: 2001
Reasoning: Maximus' most memorable line from the film is after he has slain another opponent in the Colosseum and he screams, "Are you not entertained?!" We were all entertained by Crowe's performance, and the Academy was as well. Crowe plays a war hero who gets captured as a slave and is forced to win the hearts and minds of the people by winning in "cage matches" in the Colosseum in order to take down the Emperor Commodus played by Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix.

14) Reese Witherspoon as June Carter (Walk The Line)

Category: Best Actress
Year: 2006
Reasoning: Joaquin Phoenix was really good as Johnny Cash, but Reese Witherspoon was amazing as June Carter. I think Phoenix is an incredible, incredible actor, but Witherspoon blew him off of the screen every time they appeared together. It also helped that Phoenix was doing an imitation of Johnny Cash, whereas Witherspoon WAS June Carter. Who knew the ditz from Legally Blonde had it in her?

Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Director

- Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
- Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
- David O. Russell (American Hustle)
- Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)

SHOULD BE HERE: Spike Jonze (Her)

Her is one of the best films of the year, and when you make one of the best films of the year, you deserve to get a Best Director nomination. Sure, it's mainly bolstered by Spike Jonze's amazing script, but his script in the wrong hands is easily nominated for a butt load of Razzies. Plus, Jonze deserves a nomination solely for making Joaquin Phoenix lovable and easy to root for.

Monday, February 17, 2014

13 Best Oscar Nominated Performances of 2014


Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Actor

- Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
- Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
- Christian Bale (American Hustle)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

SHOULD BE HERE: Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

The hipster in me wants to say Michael B. Jordan for his work in Fruitvale Station, but Phoenix was just too good to ignore (unless you're the Academy of course!). Phoenix has been doing such outstanding work recently, that he's bordering Daniel Day-Lewis status for excellence.

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

Nick Davis tweeted recently:
This year's Best Picture nominees covered 16 of the 20 acting nods, the most since 1943. Pic, Dir, Acting races comprise of only 11 titles.
This inspired's Grantland's Oscar expert Mark Harris to write an excellent article about how expanding the Best Picture race has hurt the chances of outsider nominations. As a casual movie goer, I do my best to see all the Oscar nominated films that I can, but as a result, I fall victim  to what Harris talked about in the article- I really only see the films that "I have to see". As a result, when I'm searching through films to watch between January and March, I really only watch films that have multiple Oscar nominations.

Films like Blue Jasmine and August: Osage County make up 40% of these two categories, but they have only one other Oscar nominee among them outside of these categories. Needless to say, I missed both films because I feel I could (and both look boring anyways).

Basically what I'm trying to say, is that I have not seen many of these nominations, and for that, I apologize. Every year the Female Acting categories are easily my weakest category to write about, and this year is no exception. 


- Amy Adams (American Hustle)
- Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
- Judy Dench (Philomena)
- Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
- Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

SHOULD BE HERE: Scarlett Johansson (Her)

Screw Hollywood and their pompous attitude against solely voice acting. Her falls apart without Johansson's terrific performance. And if Hollywood thinks anyone can do voice acting, think again. Johansson actually replaced Samantha Morton after director Spike Jonze realized Morton was not right for the part. What Scarlett Johansson did with her voice alone was better than what most actors did with their entire body in 2013.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actor

- Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
- Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
- Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
- Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)

SHOULD BE HERE: James Franco (Spring Breakers)

Franco might not have gotten a nomination anyways because I can't imagine many people in the Academy even saw (or attempted to see) Spring Breakers, but since his performance as Oscar host a few years back was so bad, he's probably never getting a nomination again. It's a shame too, because when he actually tries and doesn't mail in performances, like when he portrayed the gangster Alien in Spring Breakers, he can be the best actor on the planet. James Franco has the acting chops to fill the void that Philip Seymour Hoffman has unfortunately left behind, but only if Franco continues to make bold and wonderful acting choices like he did in this Harmony Korine picture. James Franco is easily the best part of this pretentious film, and probably did some of, if not THE best, acting of 2013.

However, out of the actors that did have a legitimate shot, I think either Will Forte or Stacy Keach (mainly Forte) from Nebraska should be here. It's crazy to me to think that very few people other than Will Forte could have done what he did.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Screenplay


- Before Midnight (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater)
- Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
- Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
- 12 Years A Slave (John Ridley)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Terrence Winter)

SHOULD BE HERE: The Place Beyond The Pines (Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder)

The main reason The Place Beyond The Pines is such an excellent film was because of the script. The style used throughout in combination with the unconventional story telling makes this script easily one of the best of the year. I could go into all sorts of detail about how great the script is, but then I'd ruin the movie for you. Just go rent it now.

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Documentary

Luckily, 4 out of the 5 nominees in this category are currently streaming on Netflix. Not only is this good for me, because that means I can (decently) accurately judge and write about these films, but so can you if you so choose! The 5th film (20 Feet From Stardom) is available to stream/rent via Amazon.

- 20 Feet From Stardom
- Cutie and The Boxer
- Dirty Wars
- The Act of Killing
- The Square


I thought Blackfish was the 3rd best film of 2013. The movie digs deep into Sea World (and other amusement parks like it) and how they treat their animals. I am certainly not one of those people who you would call an animal lover in the least, yet I was up in arms about the horrible treatment of whales and dolphins after seeing this film. This documentary is captivating, informative, and riveting. It is also currently steaming Netflix as of this writing, and this is the first film mentioned in the article that I would watch (spoiler alert: really the only 2013 doc I've seen worth watching).