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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Farewell To Parks and Recreation

The first season of Parks and Recreation, which thankfully is only six episodes long, is horrendous. It's still close to being unwatchable to this day. Having left The Office midway through its run, writers Michael Schur and Greg Daniels tried to create a second version of that show with Amy Poehler taking on Steve Carell's role. It was a disaster. I started watching Parks and Rec when it originally aired because the trailers looked funny and I was excited to see a vehicle for former SNL alum Amy Poehler. Then I quickly bailed after seeing the final results.

Despite the train wreck that was Season One, NBC, for some reason, greenlit the show for a second season. I did not watch it, but my roommate at the time did. He gave the show another chance and tried to convince me to do the same. I was rightfully skeptical at the time, but he did just get me hooked on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I watched Episode One of Season Two and from the beginning moments where Leslie Knope starts rapping The Fresh Prince's "Parents Just Don't Understand", the show that we all know and love not only stopped being bad, but became one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. The show has never looked back since, and I was hooked.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Does The 2015 Academy Awards Say About Future Oscar Predictions


In 2013 and 2014, the winner of Best Director and the winner of Best Picture came from different films. In 2013, Life of Pi's director Ang Lee won Best Director defeating the hypothetical nominee Ben Affleck. We'll never know if Ben Affleck had received an Oscar nomination if Argo still would have won Best Picture, but since the Director's Guild of America Awards gave Affleck a nomination (and eventual win), there was clearly strong support for the film and the director before and after the Oscar snub.

In 2014, 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture yet its director Steve McQueen lost to the eventual winner- Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron. Neither win was a surprise as both 12 Years A Slave and Cuaron were each the favorite to win their respected categories before the 2014 Oscars.

In 2015, I think we were conditioned to have some sort of split with many predicting Boyhood's Richard Linklater to win Best Director and Birdman winning Best Picture. I think that was a condition of the past two years and not seeing the broader picture. Almost always, the Best Picture and Best Director come from the same picture and that held true for the 2015 Academy Awards.

Further, do not doubt the DGA! Not only are they an incredible predictor of who will eventually go on to win Best Director, but they also are a great predictor of Best Picture as well. Birdman was both the DGA and the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) Award winner, which means it was going to win their respected Oscar statutes.


A lot of people expected The Grand Budapest Hotel and Wes Anderson to win the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award; however, I correctly predicted Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Birdman to win. Hotel had won the BAFTA (a terrible predictor) as well as the Writer's Guild of America Awards (a great predictor); however, Birdman was not nominated for a WGA Award. This isn't terribly surprising, as many people (seemingly) can write a great script without being a member of the Writer's Guild.

Again, the biggest predictor of a screenplay award is if the film wins Best Picture, which means one should look heavily at the DGAs. 2015, probably more than any other year, shows us that the film that wins Best Picture will have a trickle down effect for other categories.

Still, the WGA is an incredibly reliable predictor of a Best Screenplay Oscar win. Graham Moore and The Imitation Game won the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay and it also went on to win the Academy Award. I don't fault anyone predicting the WGA winner for Best Original Screenplay, Wes Anderson, would go on to the wins the Oscar, but the use of common sense (Anderson not going against Inarritu at the WGAs) in conjunction with other factors (Birdman's DGA and PGA win) to predict correctly.

Also, for the past four years, the winner of Best Original Screenplay was for a writer who also directed his picture. That would have held true for Wes Anderson, but it also is still true for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

10 "Quick" Reactions to the 2015 Academy Awards

1)      Birdman tied The Grand Budapest Hotel in terms of total Oscar wins with four. Birdman took home the big three (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay) and well as Best Cinematography (which any cinephile knows is also another huge accomplishment, but we’ll get to that in another bullet point). After its SAG, DGA, and PGA win, Birdman and its director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu became the favorite to win the biggies and considering how creative and unique Birdman is, it’s not hard to see how these wins aren’t well-deserved. I personally did not like Birdman, but I respected the hell out of it and I’m not terribly bummed that it won.

2)      Inarritu's (and others) win for Birdman’s screenplay will be considered an upset by many as the general notion was that Wes Anderson and The Grand Budapest Hotel was going to take the category. However, if you followed me and my advice, this Birdman win should have been expected. Since the film was projected to win Best Picture, it was the favorite (by me) to win Best Original Screenplay as it’s tough to claim a film is the very best without its screenplay also being the very best. If only people listened to me more.

3)      As mentioned earlier, The Grand Budapest Hotel also won four Oscars (Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Make Up and Hairstyling, and Best Score). While all technical awards, Wes Anderson films, especially Hotel, tend to be grand productions so it’s not surprising it won so many technical awards. Again, this is another film I didn’t care for (I actually hated it), but the sets were remarkable, the costumes really were outstanding, and they did such a great job making Tilda Swinton look like a completely different person that I didn’t know she was in the film until much later.

4)      Alexandre Desplat was nominated twice in the Best Score category (for his work on Hotel and The Imitation Game) but since voters only see the name of the movie when they vote, many people thought (including yours truly) that Johann Johannsson would win Best Score for his work on The Theory of Everything. This was one of the few upsets of the night, but an overall well-deserved win by a talented composer. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Final Predictions for the 2015 Academy Award Winners


BEST DIRECTOR: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)
BEST ACTOR: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, et al (Birdman)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)


BEST ANIMATED PICTURE: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Friday, February 20, 2015

Do The Oscars Have A Race Problem?

Soon after the Academy Award nominations were announced, the hashtag #OscarSoWhite started trending on Twitter. It was not difficult see why. All 20 of the acting nominees were white, all 5 directors were either White or Hispanic, and 7 out of the 8 Best Picture nominees featured a predominantly White cast. So what gives? What’s with all of the white-washing?

The first discussion topic regarding race at the 2015 Oscars starts at Selma. Selma is a film directed by a black woman, written by a white man, starring a black man, in a cast that’s predominantly black. Selma was nominated for Best Picture, but other than that, its only other nomination came in the Best Original Song category. People cry out that Ava DuVernay failed to receive a Best Director nomination and the Selma’s star David Oyelowo failed to receive a Best Actor nomination. For some reason, people aren’t clamoring that Paul Webb, the film’s screenwriter, deserved a nomination, but that’s for another topic I guess. Anyways, if DuVernay and Oyelowo earn a nomination, is there discussion about race and the Oscars over? That seems to be the next logical step in people’s arguments, right?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Picture


- American Sniper
- Birdman
- Boyhood
- Selma
- The Imitation Game
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Theory of Everything
- Whiplash


Recently I wrote about why Edge of Tomorrow should have received a Best Picture nomination, Action flicks and superhero flicks can be good and there's no reason we can't say they're one one the 8 to 10 best films of the year when they're done properly. Star Wars was nominated for Best Picture in 1978. The Dark Knight may not have earned a Best Picture nod, but its snub was the main reason The Academy changed how voters choose the Best Picture nominees. Frankly, the way Hollywood is leaning with more emphasis on Marvel and DC properties and less emphasis on "prestige" films, the Academy might as well steer into the skid.

However, there's no way on God's Green Earth that a film like Edge of Tomorrow or Guardians of the Galaxy was going to get a Best Picture nomination in 2015. A film that actually had a chance to earn a nomination was Dan Gilroy's dark and twisted thriller Nightcrawler. The acting in the film was spectacular, the story was so complex, layered, and nuanced, and it sucked you in from the get go. Just an incredible film and a perfect movie to speak to those 30 and under- which of course is not in The Academy's wheelhouse which is why it didn't receive a nomination.

Click here for my full review of Nightcrawler

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The 14 Best Films of 2014

Only about 6 weeks ago I posted my list of the 10 Best Films of 2014 with the caveat that I had not seen many films (especially many Oscar contenders). I openly admitted that the first few films on that list (mainly Veronica Mars, Wish I Was Here, and Fury) would not make my true Best of 2014 List. I still stand by those selections as films you should eventually see one day, but I was correct in that they did not make my final list. I have seen a considerable amount of films over the past few weeks and many of them are worthy on making my final year-end list.

In the end, I think 2014 ended up being a pretty good year for films. We had quality prestige Oscar-worthy films, classic summer Blockbusters, and delightful Indies. We still haven't had that Holy Shit Movie since The Social Network (only Drive comes close) and we certainly didn't get that film in 2014. But the fact that I needed to expand this list beyond 10 films should tell you something about how good and deep 2014 ended up being for movies.

Similar to my 14 Best T.V. Shows of 2014 list, the number of films in relation to the year may seem gimmicky, but I assure you the number of films I will choose to discuss mainly relates to the quality of good films there are to discuss. Before I write a post like this, I type up all of the films I plan to write about into my iPhone. I initially only wanted to do a Top 10 list, but I had considerable trouble narrowing down the list into only 10. I`could choose to leave off films I discussed in my initial Best-Of Year End list, but not only would that be a disservice to certain films, I use these posts as reference points in later years. Eventually, I was able to pair down my list to 13 solid and worthy candidates- none of which I wanted to leave off of my list. I did add a 14th film because "The Top 13 Films of 2014" doesn't flow quite as nicely, but like I said, all of these films are worthy of being considered the best of the best.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Director


- Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
- Alejadro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)
- Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
- Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
- Morton Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

SHOULD BE HERE: David Fincher (Gone Girl)

James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, recently ripped the Best Director nominees, mainly the fact that Bennett Miller earned a nomination for Foxcatcher yet the film itself didn't get a Best Picture nomination. He had this to say about that selection:

The director has creative control of a film... although there are some great films made without great directors, it is impossible to distinguish that without being on the inside.

It's an extremely valid point, and frankly probably the correct outlook, but I also think how good the screenplay is factors a lot into how good a movie is. A great screenplay can make an average director look great (we'll see an example of that below) and a great director can make a terrible screenplay a palatable movie. That's what I think is the case with David Fincher and Gone Girl. I think the story is so bonkers and bat shit crazy that this flick would have been awful in the hands of a lesser director. In fact, if almost anybody else but Fincher directs this film it doesn't become the national sensation it did.

There's a baseball statistic called VORP: Value Over Replacement Player. Basically, this statistic measures how good a baseball player is compared to an average one at the same position. Mike Trout- the reigning AL MVP and best outfielder (and player) in the game- has an extremely high VORP because he's so much better than just an average outfielder. The reason I bring up this up is because that's how I look at some categories and nominations. In this case, Fincher's VORD (Value Over Replacement Director) is extremely high because almost no one else could have made Gone Girl. Only Fincher could have told a story as bananas as Gillian Flynn's story was and turned it into the really good movie it turned out to be.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Using Oscarmetrics To Win Your Oscar Pool

I'm a huge proponent of using numbers to analyze sports data in football and baseball, and that carries over into how I predict Academy Award winners. I use numbers to analyze data in order to seek the truth. You can claim emotional reactions, but at the end of the day, numbers never lie. That's why these numbers are going to help you predict the winners of the 2015 Academy Awards.


BEST PICTURE: Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, John Lesher, & James W. Skotchdopole)
BEST DIRECTOR: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

WHAT DO THE OSCARMETRICS SAY: Whether you want to claim that the Director's Guild of America (DGA) awards (12 out of the past 15 years correct) or the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) awards (11 out of the past 15 years correct) is the best predictor on who will win Best Director and Best Picture, Birdman won both major guild awards this year. Further, a film winning both the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Award is extremely common- 62 out of the 86 previous award shows had that happen. This makes sense because the reason a film is good is because of the director and the way you know a director is good is because of how amazing the film is,


BEST ACTOR: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

WHAT DO THE OSCARMETRICS SAY: All four of these actors not only are the favorite to win their respected category (which always helps), but these people have won BOTH a Golden Globe and a SAG award for their work. The percentage of the people who have won both awards since 1994 (the first year the SAG wards existed) that also went on to win an Oscar is just incredible. Listen to this: 100% (14 out of 14) of the Best Actor nominees, 85% (11 out of 13) of the Best Actress nominees, 90% (9 out of 10) of the Best Supporting Actor nominees [1], and 92% (11 out of 12) of the Best Supporting Actress nominees [2] who won both a Golden Globe and a SAG award also went on to win an Academy Award. It's extremely rare that a person wins both a Golden Globe and a SAG award yet doesn't take home the gold. Bet on the boring.

[1] Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) won the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe and Oscar, but won the Best Actor SAG award
[2] Kate Winslet (The Reader) won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe and SAG award, but won the Best Leading Actress Oscar.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Movie Look Back: American Sniper

When I write movie reviews, I prefer to write them with some sort of broader context. Movies are never seen in a vacuum, therefore discussing the film beyond the film can be helpful. When I initially reviewed American Sniper, I bunched it with another 2014 “prestige” war film, Fury, and called it the death of war films in cinema. Obviously I was being hyperbolic, but since Black Hawk Down, there hasn’t been a straight forward war film I’ve enjoyed- especially one regarding any of the Gulf wars. I was not a fan of American Sniper and I expressed my dislike of the film in my review. I saw the film Friday night of its release and posted my review of the film soon after. Since then, for better or for worse, discussion of the film blew up.

First things first, I stand by my negative review. What other people have thought and Box Office success doesn’t change my feelings and thoughts of the film. The only thing that has changed is my knowledge of what everybody else thought about it. That being said, I have had weeks to reflect on the film which allows me to speak more concisely and accurately. Writing a review after watching a film can turn the review into a jumbled mess, but days and weeks pondering the film allows me time to gather and collect my thoughts.

The biggest fault with this film is Clint Eastwood’s direction, in particular his need to film things quickly and under-budget. Eastwood is notorious for not filming multiple takes and for purposefully excluding scenes from the script. The perfect embodiment of how Eastwood films his movies is the fake baby controversy that dominated your Facebook news feed for a day. Eastwood had intended to use a real baby, but when neither of the child actors to play the baby were available, he used a fake baby. The use of a fake baby was obvious to me as I pointed it out in my initial review, and it would have been noticeable to Eastwood had he looked at his dailies and what he shot. However, since Eastwood doesn’t like to reshoot and Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper did a good job in that scene, Eastwood said "Eff It" and left that scene in his film.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Matthew Vaughn and Kingsman in a Post Dark Knight World

In a recent issue of SFX magazine, director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class) ranted against action movies being "Nolan-ized". He stated:

"People want fun and escapism at the moment. Look at the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I think Nolan kick-started a very dark, bleak style of superhero escapism, and I think people have had enough of it."

I think it's funny how we all tend to "blame" Christopher Nolan for the serious brand of superhero and action movies we seemed to have gotten in the 2000's thanks to the incredible commercial and critical success of The Dark KnightNolan takes all of his films and the world his characters inhabit very seriously. The funniest moment in all of his films is probably the scene in Inception where Joseph Gordon-Levitt steals a kiss from Ellen Page. It’s chuckle-worthy, but it shouldn’t be the most hilarious moment of a 9 film span. The word “gritty” gets thrown around so much that it seems to be a law that you must use it when describing a Nolan vehicle. But that’s Christopher Nolan for better or worse, and we all seem to take him for better.

Monday, February 9, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Actor


- Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
- Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
- Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
- Michael Keaton (Birdman)
- Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

WHO SHOULD BE HERE: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

I get so incensed whenever I see this category and I don't see Jake Gyllenhaal's name listed. He was so fucking good in Nightcrawler that every acting performance this year (and especially those in this category) is ruined for me because it's not as good as Gyllenhaal in this film. Seriously. his biggest "problem" for not getting a nomination is that Nightcrawler is a film that speaks to Generation X and Millennials and the voting branch of The Academy is full of old farts who still wish Gone With The Wind was playing at the cinemas. Truthfully, I should stop expecting this branch as a whole to start making correct decisions, but I unfortunately care too much and snubs like this unnecessarily upset me to no end. Jake Gyllenhaal gave the greatest acting performance since Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight and gave a performance no other actor could do. Gyllenhaal not only had to have you root for this villain he plays but suck you into a pretty twisted tale and make it believable.

I'm just glad someone else is on my side in this imaginary war.

Click here to read my full review of Nightcrawler

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Birdman Is Now The Favorite To Win Best Director And Best Picture

You should have listened to me. I told you and you didn't listen to me. I told you a few weeks ago when Boyhood was the favorite to win Best Picture and Richard Linklater was the favorite to win Best Director that you should place your money on Birdman and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Now that the Director's Guild of America (DGA) and the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) have voted Inarritu and his film as the very best of the year, we now have our Oscar favorite in the Best Picture and Best Director category.

For all of the talk about the SAG awards and the Golden Globes, and even the BAFTAs, the DGA awards are the single best predictor on who is going to win Best Director and Best Picture. Since 1999, the winner of the DGA's film has gone on to win Best Picture 12 out of the 15 times. Out of three non-predictive years, two of those instances involved Ang Lee (2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and 2005's Brokeback Mountain) with the other instance involving last year's Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. However, in 2013, Gravity never felt like the front runner as the Best Picture Oscar was always 12 Years A Slave's to lose. Plus, 2005's Best Picture winner Crash is considered the biggest Oscar upset of all time.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why You Should Care About The Academy Awards

I care way too much about the Academy Awards. I get legitimately upset when an actor like Jake Gyllenhaal does not get a Best Actor nomination for his work in Nightcrawler. Not just write-in-all-caps on Twitter upset, but actually upset because I take it as a personal slight. I understand in the grand scheme of things that this type of stuff does not matter. Genocide exists, America’s economy is still not doing great, there is still an inordinate amount of gender and racial inequality, but I still get upset at The Academy Awards. They matter to me. I know that I care about films too much and I watch too many films than I care to admit (or rather freely admit). I write about films, I talk about films, and sometimes I can’t even enjoy a simple film because I have to over-analyze it. It is this love and passion for what filmmakers do that cause me to unnecessarily care about what The Academy does and does not do. Even if you do not share the same passion that I do (which frankly you should not), you should still care about The Academy Awards.

No other award show has an impact over its medium than The Academy Awards do over films. The Academy Awards have an incredible impact on not only the habits of movie goers, but also the types of films that get made. Many roles that actors choose to take or projects that producers choose to undertake are the result of trying to win an Academy Award. You may not care about who wins an Academy Award, but actors, directors, and producers certainly do. There is nothing more prestigious than having that advertisement say “starring Oscar nominated So And So”. It brings instant credibility to your craft and eternal gratification for yourself. Sally Field famously said while accepting her Best Actress award for her work in Places of the Heart “You like me! You really like me!”. More recently, Matthew McConaughey wiped away 10-15 years of terrible work by winning an Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. While of course actors would also like to get paid, and the pool of actors starring in a superhero franchise seems to be growing exponentially, the old adage of “one for me, one for the studios” still seems to hold true. Whether studios keep this mindset to appease the actors or the other way around, there’s no denying that actors still chose “juicy” and “challenging” roles- which translates to “attempting to win an Oscar”.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Actress


- Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
- Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
- Julianne Moore (Still Alive)
- Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
- Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

WHO SHOULD BE HERE: Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)

Recently I wrote an article about how Oscar nominated female performances come from bad movies. We shouldn't need to watch bad movies in order to see a great female performance. Obvious Child is the perfect example of a film that is not only enjoyable to watch, but also has an Oscar-worthy performance by stand-up comedienne Jenny Slate. While Slate's Donna Stern is an up-and-coming stand-up comedian and therefore isn't melodramatic or serious all of the time (although Slate does give a good cry when the script needs her to), this is the type of performance that anyone can relate to. It's the sort of nuance performance that seldom gets recognized, but is the performance The Academy really should be praising. Even better, those who watch Obvious Child "just to watch Slate's performance" will be treated with a lovely Indie date night flick.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actor


- Robert Duvall (The Judge)
- Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
- Edward Norton (Birdman)
- Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
- J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

WHO SHOULD BE HERE: Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

It's absolutely insane the snobbery The Academy has for actors who don't appear on screen. The Academy declared a film like The Adventures of Tintin was not eligible for the Best Animated Picture category because there was too much motion capture to the animation, yet those actors aren't deemed to be good enough to be eligible in the acting categories. Good acting is good acting no matter what medium you're using. Andy Serkis not only deserved to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actor back in 2011 for his work as Caeser in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but he deserved to win. The depth to that performance was incredible. Scarlett Johansson was so fantastic in Her that you actually believed the relationship the characters Theordore and Samantha had that she also deserved an Academy Award nomination. Johansson's performance also proved that not everyone can do great voice acting as she famously replaced Samantha Morton in the film.

The work that Toby Kebbell did this year and what Andy Serkis did prior is just so insanely good. These actors did more than just sit in a booth and record lines; these actors were doing the grunt work having those white bubbles taped to themselves while they actually acted their asses off. Just because VFX was used later to scrub out the actors doesn't lessen the emotional connection they forced you to have with these characters. Kebbell played Koba in the film and was the defacto bad guy. However, Koba was more than just evil, he was a character who felt genuine and passionately about how the leadership should be run and did what he had to do to advance his goals. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn't the critical and commercial success that it was without the acting of Toby Kebbell.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actress


- Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
- Laura Dern (Wild)
- Kiera Knightly (The Imitation Game)
- Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
- Emma Stone (Birdman)

WHO SHOULD BE HERE: Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

I really want to nominate Missi Pyle for her Nancy Grace-esque portrayal in Gone Girl and her personification of everything wrong with the 24/7 news media nowadays, but it's tough to justify a nomination for a role as small as hers. So instead, I'll go with the great Tilda Swinton. Snowpiercer is a science fiction dystopian action piece from South Korea helmed by a first time director. Despite the individual city critics praising the film and Swinton (and rightfully so), I can easily see why The Academy didn't nominate Swinton. I wonder if they even saw the film. If films like Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler can't get a Best Picture nomination, then there is just no way a film like Snowpiercer would garner any nominations from an elderly trending Academy. However, if Oscar voters would have seen Snowpiercer, then they would have seen a tremendous performance by an Oscar winning actress. Swinton plays a politician in charge of keeping down the poor, and her job of both being a master of propaganda as well as saying what she can to stay alive after the poor revolt is the work of a true master.

Click here to read my full review of Gone Girl

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Screenplay



- Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, et al.)
- Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
- Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman)
- Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

WHAT SHOULD BE HERE: Selma (Paul Webb)

Paul Webb first deserves all the credit in the world for calling his script Selma as opposed to obvious "King", or really anything involving Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's name. The film is not a true biopic of Dr King's life, but rather it just focuses on a certain time in his life protesting in Selma, Alabama. The title tells us this right off of the bat. One of the many problems with Lincoln was that the title lead us to believe we were getting an Abraham Lincoln biopic, when in fact we were just getting a perspective of Lincoln's life trying to get the 13th Amendment passed. There are a lot of similarities between Lincoln and Selma, but like most things, Selma stands head and shoulders above Lincoln. Further, Webb does a fantastic job of telling the audience the certain grunt work it takes to start a revolution, and by doing so, he not only created an entertaining film, but he managed to do so while only focusing on one major character. It's really hard to create a good film while writing so many two-dimensional characters as Selma had.

Lastly, I have no idea why Selma would have been considered an original script. I understand that Paul Webb didn't work off of a particular book, movie, or newspaper article, but he also didn't write this entire script from the top of his head either. Webb almost certainly looked through historical documents in order to tell even a half-accurate story. Movies like Nightcrawler and The Grand Budapest Hotel are works that are solely the product of a writer sitting down in a room and using their creativity to craft stories and characters. Webb had to do a touch more work than that.

Click here to read my full review of Selma