25 March 2014

Adam Sandler and the Strange Legacy of Bulletproof

This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the airing of the Damon Wayans / Adam Sandler vehicle, Bulletproof (1996). I say that because there's no other reason I, or any other human being, would ever watch this movie. When discussing either the legacy of Damon Wayans or Adam Sandler, it's a mystifying entry. The plot isn't really engaging, the jokes aren't really uproarious, and it's essentially a misfired attempt to slap two big comedians into a buddy action flick. As I watched it, though, more and more my thoughts turned to Sandler and his potential as an action star.
A surefire recipe to be loved by no one.

Damon Wayans in the early 90s made a nice block of awful films in the wake of blowing up big on In Living Color. These included Blankman (1994), Major Payne (1995), and Celtic Pride (1996). I actually dig Blankman, and Major Payne is probably Wayans' most famous film role, but none of these are especially great, immortal comedies. In regards to Bulletproof, though, the most relevant of his films is The Last Boy Scout (1991), which is probably the most outrageous of all the Shane Black action films of the era.

Adam Sandler had a similar career at the time. He was known more for sketch comedy roles at the time on SNL, but had a string of tiny appearances in likewise high-profile but ultimately forgettable comedies like Shakes the Clown (1991), Coneheads (1993), Airheads (1994), and Mixed Nuts (1994) before his own signature film, Billy Madison (1995). The pairing of these two guys seemed like a no brainer.

Bulletproof is so weird, though. It's constantly trying and failing to be like a Shane Black film. It's got the Black Cop / White Cop dynamic begun with Lethal Weapon (1987), even though in this case Adam Sandler, though forced into an unlikely partnership with Wayans, is a criminal rather than a cop. Even their names - Rock Keats (later revealed to actually be Jack Carter) and Archie Moses are the kind of ridiculous action trope names that are completely ridiculous. The whole film is pretty bad, there's a couple goofy gags, James Caan is in it for some reason, but over all it's just bland.
I do want to see more of Adam Sandler brutally killing people.

But we still got to see Adam Sandler the action star. We see Happy Gilmore shoot a guy in the eye then immediately drop an F-Bomb. It's kind of awesome. Sandler plays the same kind of weird dumbass character he always did in this era, but he's shooting people and fighting instead of being a plucky but angry sports star. It's a shame that we never got to see more of this. Think of Sandler in a parallel universe becoming another Bruce Willis, cracking frat boy jokes as he crushes skulls. It's this strange juxtaposition that only seems weird because of how awful Bulletproof was. Because of its failure on every possible level. It gained no positive critical reception, even from its director, Earnest Dickerson, who has since publicly derided the film. It was a box office failure. And finally, despite its high profile stars, interesting play with their personae, and awful composition, it's been completely forgotten rather than relegated to cult status.

When considering this article, I thought also of something similar I wrote concerning the misunderstanding of The Cable Guy (1998) upon its release and its toying with Jim Carrey's public persona, which very nearly cost him his career, at least in comedy, until Bruce Almighty (2003). The thing with Bulletproof, though, is that it doesn't come at the expense of Sandler's persona. He's the same guy lost in another genre of film. With Wayans, it's less of a stretch with established roles in the superior but far goofier Last Boy Scout and even the similar crime elements of Blankman.

I'm just continually fascinated that Bulletproof exists. At least it was the obvious inspiration for La Roux and Raheem DeVaughn songs. Maybe not. I'm not recommending watching Bulletproof, but I want you to do something like picture Adam Sandler with Andy Samberg in Looper (2012) instead of That's My Boy (2012) and you'll get the point of this collection of thoughts.

21 March 2014

The Curious Halfbusters of March 2014

I came up with the cheeky term "halfbuster" a while back while covering a March War of the Months, when I struggled to come up with a term to describe studio attempts to launch a big tentpole picture at the dawn of Spring. Ever since 300 (2007) or so, March has tended to be this little Summer Preview-kind of month, where the occasional big film breaks and scores big. There's all these big-budgeted but really weird movies that come out here, usually not four-quadrant style pics, but big fantasy world-building fare like Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Hunger Games (2012), Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and almost every Zack Snyder film ever.

The current March, however, seems peculiar. At first glance you'd think we didn't even have any halfbuster at all. We do, but we just have three halfbusters so pathetic that they're on no one's radar. Quarterbusters, if you will. I'm always looking for a big film that captures national attention in a big way, and I'm even more curious when the formula fails for no discernible reason besides an arbitrarily poor buzz that gets rolling.

I'm thinking of a film like The Lone Ranger (2013). Why did The Lone Ranger fail so spectacularly in every possible way? It was a bust critically, commercially, and culturally, despite an incredible marketing effort on the part of Disney and the standard serious treatment of tenuous but recognizable material that most tentpoles receive these days. The mystique of The Lone Ranger's failure haunts me and probably deserves its own post someday, but there's another film this year that seems to fit a similar bill: Darren Aronofsky's Noah (2014).

I think the best way to judge whether or not a big blockbuster-style film will succeed or not is to test the knee-jerk reaction to its subject material receiving the huge budget epic treatment. What do you think when you hear that the Transformers would feature in a huge movie? Pretty awesome, right? You can immediately picture the clash and clang of guns and metal, and in many ways Michael Bay, though assuredly superfluous, was the perfect director to place every 12-year old boy's imagination on screen.

What about The Lone Ranger? It's tougher to picture exactly what that would look like. Same with Noah's Ark. Same with freaking Jem. It's difficult to estimate fanbases, but it's also difficult to picture what these films could be like, possibly just because although the source material is recognizable, there is some disassociation with it. In these three cases, for me personally, this disassociation is due to distances derived from living in a different time from when the source material peaked in popularity, observing the religion too casually to care, or not being the optimal gender at the time of its peak in popularity.
Noah is not entertained.

That's the major issue with Noah, the first film we'll talk about here. Does anyone care about the tale of Noah's Ark on the big screen that wasn't satisfied with Evan Almighty (2007)? I'm actually quite sure that no one cares about Evan Almighty, but it presents a really strange audience. Supposedly, according to early reviews, Noah does things like omit any utterance of the word "God" and serves more as a survivalist, environmentalist psychological thriller than a Biblical Epic. Who the hell is that audience? Me? Yes, I am interested in that, moreso than just hearing the words "Noah," "Epic," and "Movie" in the same byline. I'm not sure, however, that either casual moviegoers or religious fanatics would be pleased with the outcome. Still, it's a hell of a way to spend $125 million. Just like The Lone Ranger, though, this huge experimental blockbuster was made for no one.

There are two other halfbusters this year that are worthy of our attention. We mentioned 300 earlier in this article, and it's only natural that we see it's long-awaited sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) debut this year. The thing is, though, everything groundbreaking about 300 (in a money-making, industry-influential sense, certainly not in a cultural sense through fostering greater insight into truth or the human condition), causes its sequel to inevitably appear more like just one of its many many copycats aping its visual cues and subject matter this year rather than a worthy successor to its ideals. It's the kind of film that seems to have been created and released only in facsimile to its inspiration, an even more egregious filmmaking error than Oz the Great and Powerful's relationship to Alice in Wonderland was.

Lastly we have this strange movie coming out this weekend called Divergent (2014). I feel constantly blindsided by YA adaptation releases and I have no idea how to determine what the genuine articles are. Box Office Mojo's weekend preview does a nice job of delineating the tepid recent releases that have tried to get some of that Hunger Games and Twilight gold. 2013 saw no less than three terrible YA bombs each trying to become the next big franchise, including Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, as well as 2014's Vampire Academy. It's possible that these were more seen as all direct rip-offs of Twilight, especially the explicit use of vampires in a handful of these.
Ugh whatever

Where does Divergent fall, though? It's clearly some kind of Hunger Games knock-off, at least in the public perception, but rather than banking on Jennifer Lawrence, who has developed the rare talent to instantly legitimize anything she touches, it's banking on Shailene "Secret Life and The Descendants" Woodley, whose name I had to Google to verify its spelling. She's a lovely actress but I'm not sure she's carrying this one.

So this year we have a hollow sequel to the original halfbuster that will most likely be remember for its ship sex scene more than anything else, an intellectual, dark, epic Biblical adaptation that doesn't really appeal to the Bible belt, and a who knows kind of YA adaptation that could just as easily be forgotten as immortalized. The important thing to take away from this March is one simple fact: we aren't getting 300, The Lone Ranger, or The Hunger Games. We're getting mock-ups of these three. And none of those three were especially good anyway. It's an old mantra that the studio system seems allergic to hear - the real key to getting a big hit isn't to copy the past, but to push forward into the future. Isn't it more worthwhile to be the movie that everyone wants to copy rather than the copycat?

Divergent premieres today, Noah next week, and the atrocious 300: Rise of an Empire is in theaters right now. At least all three are better than Jack the Giant Slayer (2013).

14 March 2014

An Analyzation of the Targets of the Past Forty Years of Comedy Films

It's interesting to determine what spurs the conversation on the Internet. You'd think that in general, with instant and continual access of every bit of information known to humanity, we'd talk about everything all the time. Instead, there is a steady stream of contemporary events that inform pop culture discussion. This week, even though it hasn't really been a domineering critical or commercial success by any means, everyone seems to have either the revitalization or desolation of sword-and-sandal epics in the wake of 300: Rise of an Empire (2014). Likewise, a few weeks ago in the wake of the death of Harold Ramis, everyone couldn't stop talking about the monumental influence he had on the modern comedy, even if Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Doug Kenney, and John Landis are probably equally to blame.

Still, I was attracted to this piece by the New York Post, which essentially lamented the fact that the comedy films of old drove their satire through targeting venerable but corrupted institutions while the comedies of today only target poop and vaginas. While any kind of nostalgia-thumping like this is basically selective remembering (if you look at a list like this, most of the films we remember and talk about today are mostly satires - which is fair to say that they have perpetuated in our culture, but were far from the only films being produced or popular), it also drew me into a larger conversation - how do we judge the evolution of the modern Hollywood comedy film based on its target?

1970s: Institutional-Smearing Comedy

If we're looking at the big 70s films that we remember today - Robert Altman's M*A*S*H* (1970), a few Mel Brooks opuses (Young Frankenstein [1974] and Blazing Saddles [1974]), a few Monty Python opuses (Holy Grail [1975] and Life of Brian [1979], Burt Reynolds' role-defining Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Ramis' aforementioned Animal House (1978), and the greatest comedy of all time, Steve Martin's The Jerk (1979) - we do see a lot of busting on the stodgy and pompous institutions that control aspects of society, social customs, or even the acceptable narrative structure of Hollywood films themselves.

The target in a comedy is the butt of the joke. The Post piece suggests that targets in the 70s and 80s were great and powerful, compared to the crass subject matter of today. That's largely true. From the list above we see targets including the Korean War, racism, zealous religious followers, good ol' boy law enforcement, and academia. I'm for a bit of a loss, though, who the targets were for  Young Frankenstein, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Jerk. Do we have, respectively, Old Hollywood, English Legend, and uh, biker chicks?

The 70s were full of irreverence. As New Hollywood emerged through the collapse of the production code as well as the advent of modern blockbuster filmmaking, comedy reflected these thrown off shackles through its gutting of societal structure and thriving on high concept ensemble pieces. There's no central star in most of these films - it's more groups of people getting together and lampooning an established part of society.

1980s: The Satire Evolves on a Grand Scale

Comedies from the 80s explode a bit, though that may be due to the fact that as of late the 1980s have sort of been canonized as this decade where everything awesome originated - after all, the toys of the 80s are the biggest films of today. We have this strange adoration for the slick veneer of the 80s, even though it was really as shallow and money-driven as it's usually stereotyped. It still offered some of the best big-movies of its time - what other decade could we find so many forgettable Best Picture Winners and so many adored blockbusters?

When I think 80s Comedy my mind turns to Airplane! (1980), Caddyshack (1980), The Blues Brothers (1980), Stripes (1981), Vacation (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Ghostbusters (1984), This is Spinal Tap (1984), Back to the Future (1985), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), Coming to America (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), and Major League (1989). Who are our targets? Or another way we can look at it - who are our villains?

There is a bit of a mix here for sure. From this list we can see country clubs, Illinois Nazis, the Army, the police force, the EPA, and school administrators. There are, however, already a good mix of the kind of personal comedy that would define the Apatow era. Vacation and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles are both disastrous road trip movies where the greatest obstacles to the characters' final destination are the characters themselves. The high concept for Coming to America is an African Prince traveling to the United States to find a bride, but neither love nor Africa is really lampooned. Well, maybe the latter. Other films like Airplane! and This is Spinal Tap have achieved immortality through defying convention and digging more into specific characters with quick and dirty jokes than having a major target.

The 80s still evokes a lot of ensemble, but there's a bit of a paring down throughout the decade, so that eventually we see all these duos popping up. Doc and Marty, Neal and Dell, Eddie and Roger. Hell, Eddie Murphy's Black Cop / White Cop shtick defined a whole genre of buddy action films. There is still a lot of institution-bashing, but there is more introspection going on. More than that though, there are actually strong themes of convention shifting, whether it be from the improv-driven Spinal Tap, the animated Chinatown-esque Roger Rabbit, or the slapstick-or-bust rapidfire nature of Airplane!

1990s: The Megastar Era

These films keep paring down. From the 80s duos we see instead these big star-driven vehicles in the 90s, mostly for Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, or Ben Stiller. There is still this mixture of targets, though, and the most successful of these 90s films are those that emulate the standards of the 1970s. Our list of general 90s comedies we're still talking about includes, Home Alone (1990), Wayne's World (1992), Cool Runnings (1993), Groundhog Day (1993), Ace Venture: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb & Dumber (1994), Clerks (1994), Billy Madison (1995), Friday (1995), Tommy Boy (1996), Happy Gilmore (1996), Austin Powers (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998), There's Something About Mary (1998), American Pie (1999), and Office Space (1999).

Now, feel free to debate my selection here (Why for instance, do I feel like Tommy Boy is more relevant than Black Sheep [1995]? I don't know. It just seems to me based on no evidence that more people like it and it's a bit of a better movie. Ditto with leaving out The Mask [1994]), but I'd call these in general the crop of 90s Comedy Films that peaked commercially (sometimes critically), but everyone's pretty cool with still watching today. So, what kind of institutions are we still targeting?

Olympic bobsledding...and uh...school administrators and golf again. That's about it. Suddenly these movies are about one central doofus character, sometimes a duo again like Wayne and Garth or Harry and Lloyd. Gone are the teams or camaraderie, though it returned a bit with fare like Lebowski, Pie, and Office Space by decades' end. The 90s are probably our most vapid decade. It's fitting for a decade where we were on top. With a booming economy and a Cold War victory in hand, it seemed like for all our angst, our institutions seemed to be working - so why target them? We lost a bit of that critical eye, because we weren't in fact as angry as we probably should have been. We had a pot-smoking, saxophone-playing president and Arsenio had his own TV show. We're pretty close to that point again, so who knows how the rest of the 2010s will play out.

There is some saying that comedy fails during really good times, which is perhaps why when looking over this list you don't get quite the feeling as you do when checking out the flicks from the 70s and 80s. These are classics, but more in a really frat-y way, and even though There's Something About Mary is really just as classy as Animal House it loses some charm, maybe because Stiller somehow is less charismatic and more neurotic than John Belushi. Or maybe it is because the 90s asks us to question less. It's more complacent with its authority figures. EXCEPT for Adam Sandler movies - which is why in the 90s Sandler was really the most brilliant auteur out there and truly emulating Ramis' efforts a decade and a half earlier.

2000s: Character and Self-Reflexive Comedy

This is tricky, because as I pick the most representative films of the 2000s there is sure to be more debate over what has really had the most influence. Still, when I think of 2000s people still talk about today, I think The Replacements (2000), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Super Troopers (2001), Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Zoolander (2001), Old School (2003), Anchorman (2004), Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Shaun of the Dead (2004), The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005), Wedding Crashers (2005), Beerfest (2006), Borat (2006), Talladega Nights (2006), Knocked Up (2007), Superbad (2007), Tropic Thunder (2008), Pineapple Express (2008), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Step Brothers (2008), and The Hangover (2009).

Now, how come I can only name eight films from the 70s I'd consider relevant and twenty films from the 2000s? Well, time hasn't yet sorted out the best from the only very good yet. But to be honest, if you look at what these films are doing, you'll find a couple things that begin to circle back to what the 70s was doing - ensemble satires, with most importantly, the addition of a ton of character-driven comedy.

Ensembles are most visible in Wes Anderson, Broken Lizard, and Judd Apatow films. Even Will Ferrell comedies are pretty scared of leaving him up there alone to do Jim Carrey-like shtick. It's why the Ace Ventura-like extremely annoying character was brilliantly lampooned in a film like The Cable Guy (1998) - because in reality, no one could buddy with that kind of person and emerge with a complete life. Ferrell is much softer, and has made headway into these sort of buddy comedies reminiscent of the 80s. So, targets?

NFL Unions, family structures, highway patrolman, summer camps, male models, the fraternity system, local newscasters, racism, nerds, horror films, antisemitism and jingoistic beliefs, NASCAR, big budget Hollywood filmmaking, and anti-marijuana laws. I would contend that a film like Pineapple Express encourages questioning of authority at least as much as Stripes does. For the rest, the targets are smaller, more intimate. You can see a clear declining of really solid targets from about 2006 on. Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Hangover, again the largest obstacles characters face are themselves. These films really dig into interpersonal relationships across their ensemble as the cause of conflict rather than an outside antagonist. I do, however, want to focus on one more decade, even three years' worth, to at least suggest that we're starting to be encouraged to question again, perhaps because we're once again in a time of absolute shit.

2010s: What the Hell do We do Now?

We're far too close to the past three and a quarter years of film to really figure out who is influencing who and how this decade is developing. I can, however, give you three films that have succeeded in being just as subversive as anything the 1970s gave us. For better or worse, they are three Will Ferrell movies: The Other Guys (2010), The Campaign (2012), and The LEGO Movie (2014).

The Other Guys had a lot to say about the foreground and background characters of action films, but as per Ice T's narration, the core Madoff-esque scheme that drives the plot, and the end credits infographic, it's really taking a very sly dig at the financial industry under the silly sheen of a buddy cop comedy film. In an age where we're more ostrich-like than ever while getting screwed over a rapidly growing income gulf, it's startling that such a mainstream comedy featuring A-List actors of both comedy and drama would contain such a subversive message.

Likewise, The Campaign is one of the more underrated films of 2012 with its virulent but believable take on the rigors of political office-seeking. It offers a brutal glimpse into the insane lengths it takes to win one of these contests, the rapid reaction of middle America to slight changes in public figure perception, and of course, the vested interest of nefarious corporations looking out for not the country's interest, but their own. It's another film that strongly asks us to question everything about our electorate institution.

Finally, The LEGO Movie is probably one of the most subversive films of all time, as I've recently and neatly outlined here. It pleads for a line to be drawn between creative thought and stuffy mind-destroying cultural oppression. Its largest target is the banality and unoriginality of pop culture itself.

You know, we could also throw in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) for its succinct skewering  of the 24-hour news cycle, but that would be a little much, wouldn't it? It also features an ensemble cast and a tendency towards slapstick and silliness over crudity. So, why would anyone complain about this film? It's everything the 70s and 80s wanted to be. Which is why it's set in 1980. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are truly the Ramis / Murray of this generation. Actually, it's more like Ramis and Murray were the McKay / Ferrell of their generation.

I have a lot of confidence for the future of comedy. I'm not sure that institutionally-targeted comedy makes the best kind of film, or that satire is even justifiable in the sense that it leads to comfortable inaction rather than actual policy change. In the end, none of this really matters. As long as it's funny.

02 March 2014

Oscars 2014 - Live Results!

It's time now to test our rock solid predictions. Stay tuned all night to see our gut reactions to this meaningless ceremony and how much we predicted correctly! and incorrectly!

Best picture
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Captain Phillips
American Hustle
Dallas Buyers Club

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Actual Winner: 12 Years a Slave

You can tell with that little smile on Will Smith's face that it was all 12 Years. A great win for McQueen and yeah, Brad Pitt there, who can still crank out these prestige pictures while he makes ridiculous moneymaking flicks on his own. I only miffed on four categories this year, which officially makes me awesome. So I missed Costume Design, Animated Short, Live Action Short, and Feature Documentary. It was a pretty alright ceremony. Not great, but okay. That was fun. See you for more bullshit next year!
Accuracy: 20/24

Best actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale, American Hustle

Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey
Actual Winner: Matthew McConaughey

This was one of those categories where there really wouldn't be a bad winner. These were all pretty incredible. But this is McConaughey's night, and this was another award that was never really in doubt. It's a fitting capper to his recent resurgence and bold walk into relevancy. With True Detective taking off, this ain't gon' be the end, though, brother. That hero bit was pretty good. And I'm glad he got his catchphrase in there.
Accuracy: 19/23

Best actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Judi Dench, Philomena
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett
Actual Winner: Cate Blanchett

Great win for Galadriel herself, Cate Blanchett. This was never really a contest, although there was recently a smear campaign due to Woody Allen's alleged pedophilia. Whoopsie doodle. It's nice that none of that really matters. She also went with the "everyone else is great" route, which is a great touch of class. AND some very poignant comments on the fact that there aren't enough female-centric films and yeah, they make money.
Accuracy: 18/22

Best director
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron
Actual Winner: Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron is not at least a double Oscar winner. Which is awesome. A Black Best Director Winner eludes us, but at least we got a Mexican one. Gravity had incredible direction - I suppose the academy went for technical achievement over human drama this year, which is kind of the opposite from when Bigelow upset Cameron years ago. This is a nice reward for a directorial career that has gone pretty unrecognized by major awards. And I know have more predictions correct than I ever have.
Accuracy: 17/21

Best original screenplay
American Hustle, David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen
Her, Spike Jonze
Nebraska, Bob Nelson
Dallas Buyers Club, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

Predicted Winner: Her
Actual Winner: Her

Now, I admittedly changed this during my review of the screenwriting nominees last month, but I'm glad I did. It's awesome that Spike Jonze nailed this, he's really deserving for his vision that hasn't really been recognized by the Academy that much. Gladys, man. Gladys. I have now hit 16 correct predictions, which would tie the most I've ever gotten right at this thing (in 2012). I'm getting excited for this ceremony to no longer have excitement and for me to win out now.
Accuracy: 16/20

Best adapted screenplay
12 Years a Slave, John Ridley
Before Midnight, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater
The Wolf of Wall Street, Terence Winter
Captain Phillips, Billy Ray
Philomena, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Actual Winner: 12 Years a Slave

This is a great win amidst some difficult competition. No surprise, though. Ridley is giving a really honest and humble speech and may be my new favorite of the night.
Accuracy: 15/19

Best music (original song)
Frozen, "Let it Go" by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, "Ordinary Love" by U2, Paul Hewson
Her, "The Moon Song" by Karen O, Spike Jonze
Despicable Me 2, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams

Predicted Winner: "Let it Go"
Actual Winner: "Let it Go"

They did right to save Idina for the last performance. All these songs are pretty good, but no one matches the pipes or passion of Menzel. "Happy"  may be the only song that has gained actual Billboard traction, but "Let it Go" worked the best within its actual motion picture. I mean, Idina just singing there about frozen fractals didn't really make sense out of context. This is a great, if expected, win. Also that acceptance speech was the best of the night. I have matched my correct prediction total from last year. Hopefully this will keep rolling.
Accuracy: 14/18

Best music (original score)
Gravity, Steven Price
Philomena, Alexandre Desplat
The Book Thief, John Williams
Saving Mr. Banks, Thomas Newman
Her, William Butler and Owen Pallett

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Actual Winner: Gravity

Is that a reunion of the cast of the movie Stealth (2005)?! How exciting! Gravity has not really made these awards that interesting. Thank goodness for the strange does of quirk Ellen DeGeneres offers. What has been the biggest upset of the night so far? Best Documentary?
Accuracy: 13/17

*By the way, Ellen's Legendary Selfie broke Twitter.

*In Memorium Paul Walker #2Fast2Soon. Damn we had a rough year for losing people.

Best production design
12 Years a Slave: Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker
The Great Gatsby: Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn
American Hustle: Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler
Gravity: Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
Her: K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena

Predicted Winner: The Great Gatsby
Actual Winner: The Great Gatsby

So I should have went with this for Costume Design, too. Gatsby will be known as one of those pretty shitty films that had exceptional costume and production design. Multiple Oscar Winner. Won more than 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, or Her tonight. Fantastic. That ought to change but as it sits now...wow.
Accuracy: 12/16

*Whoa! Godzilla Snickers commercial!

*P!nk sings a dedication to The Wizard of Oz (1939). Time for another bathroom break. Or maybe just time to switch to TBS and watch a bit of Anchorman (2004).

Best film editing
Gravity: Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
12 Years a Slave: Joe Walker
Captain Phillips: Christopher Rouse
American Hustle: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Dallas Buyers Club: John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Actual Winner: Gravity

I'm kind of digging the layout of awards this year, nice grouping of bullshit awards first, then a nice run for Gravity on the technical stuff. This is also a great guarantee of Cuaron nabbing at least once Oscar tonight. He's halfway through becoming a rare individual to win two Oscars in one night.
Accuracy: 11/15

Best cinematography
Gravity: Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis: Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska: Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners: Roger Deakins
The Grandmaster: Phillippe Le Sourd

Predicted Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki
Actual Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki

From now on, this category will be known as "Best Shooter." For a major motion picture. As much as this award is entirely deserved and it's incredible to see Lubezki win, hearing Bill Murray sort of patch things up with Harold Ramis, acknowledging his long-estranged friend's work is pretty great. Gravity is starting to roll cray, but we predicted that.
Accuracy: 10/14

*What a ridiculous looking building. This is awful. That was a Daily Show level joke cut.

*uuuggghhhh initiatives. I want to watch Jennifer Lawrence try to eat some za.

*Okay, this pizza thing is really awesome.

Best supporting actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Predicted Winner: Lupita Nyong'o
Actual Winner: Lupita Nyong'o

Well-deserved and I'm happy now that 12 Years a Slave has this out of the way. Now we'll see if it can roll to Best Picture. I'm pretty curious considering how specific this role was, whether or not this win will really lift her career. I mean, what other slave-like roles are there out there? It will be nice to see if black actresses can actually win for playing roles that could be played by people other than black actresses. Still, groundbreaking in its way. Poor Squibb.
Accuracy: 9/13

*Jeez that was one legendary picture. Who was that black guy with the glasses that got in there, just some dude sitting net to Lupita?

Best sound editing
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
Lone Survivor
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Actual Winner: Gravity

The differences between these two awards always kind of perplex me. I'd say the mixing is a bit more sophisticated, considering it's more foley stuff. Gravity, you got that right. No surprises. Good for my batting average.
Accuracy: 8/12

Best sound mixing
Captain Phillips
Lone Survivor
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Actual Winner: Gravity

These guys all had multiple nominations this year, which is kind of cool and indicative that they're probably the best in the business. Gravity is cleaning up technicals so far, as predicted. We'll see if they keep rolling.
Accuracy: 7/11

*Time for a bathroom break during U2's crappy Mandela song. Mandela don't play dat shit.

*Quick shot to Amy Adams looking bored into her lap. Ditto, Amy.

Best foreign feature
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
Omar (Palestinian territories)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)

Predicted Winner: The Great Beauty
Actual Winner: The Great Beatuy

Let's stem the bleeding a bit. This was basically a no-brainer, having won the Golden Globe here, but I was still a little nervous. I wonder what this is about. That's literally been my only thought for the past few nominees. No one watched these. Who cares. Great job.
Accuracy: 6/10

*Kevin Spacey channeling House of Cards is a really zeitgeist-y moment.

Best documentary feature
The Act of Killing
20 Feet From Stardom
The Square
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars

Predicted Winner: An Act of Killing
Actual Winner: 20 Feet From Stardom

Shit. I don't really have anything to say. This is an upset for sure, but I really don't know what the hell any of these movies are about. Documentary awards outside of Man on Wire (2008) are always kind of bunk, anyway. Now this girl is singing. Wild. I'm wondering now, barely batting over .500 how this night is going to turn out...
Accuracy: 5/9

*Pregnant Kerry Washington wants pizza REAL bad.

Best documentary short
"Facing Fear"
"Karama Has No Walls"
"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
"Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall"

Predicted Winner: "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"
Actual Winner: "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"

Hell yeah! This boosts my accuracy so much. I'm pumped. I have no idea what this short is about, but some of these actually look cool. This is a kind of a bummer that the subject just died a week ago. At 110 years old. This makes the win that much sweeter.
Accuracy: 5/8

Best short film, live action
"Aquel No Era Yo" (That Wasn't Me)
"Avant Que De Tout Perdre" (Just Before Losing Everything)
"Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?" (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
"The Voorman Problem"

Predicted Winner: "The Voorman Problem"
Actual Winner: "Helium"

It's nice to now know that I can listen to Kate Hudson talk in Spanish forever. And jeez, why are these all foreign films? I am bummed about "Voorman." It's got such a cool name, when I say it, I feel like I'm driving a car.  It's so hard picking these ones. No one watches these ones. Maybe I'll get Documentary Short right and still feel like a brilliant pundit.
Accuracy: 4/7

Best visual effects
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Star Trek Into Darkness
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Actual Winner: Gravity

Absolutely. Virtual no surprise here, if Gravity was going to win any award this evening, it's this one. It set the bar so ridiculously high in a film that's way higher regarded by the Academy than anything else here. Now let's see if they can wrap up the rest of the technical awards.
Accuracy: 4/6

Best animated feature
The Wind Rises
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Croods

Predicted Winner: Frozen
Actual Winner: Frozen

No kidding. The way Novak built that up I thought it was going to be an upset for a second. The Wind Rises, possibly, honouring Miyazaki. Frozen was one of the best flicks of the year, though, and it made a literally insane amount of money. This was never going down.
Accuracy: 3/5

Best short film, animated
"Get a Horse!"
"Mr. Hublot"
"Room on the Broom"

Predicted Winner: "Get a Horse!"
Actual Winner: "Mr. Hublot"

These guys were wayyyy far back. "Get a Horse" was for sure the most widely seen and really innovative, but Hublot looks cool. I guess. I didn't see it. It is nice to see the little animator win, though. Even if this English is pretty rough. And Kim Novak looks spaced out as hell.
Accuracy: 2/4

*Wow, Harrison Ford could not have appeared less enthusiastic to be there.

Best makeup and hairstyling
The Lone Ranger, Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Stephen Prouty
Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

Predicted Winner: Dallas Buyers Club

No surprise here, but I was still jonesing for a Bad Grandpa win. That work needs to be recognized. C'mon! DBC really did nail this though, and had way more prestige than any of these other nominess.
Accuracy: 2/3

Best costume design
The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin
12 Years a Slave, Patricia Norris
The Grandmaster, William Chang Suk Ping
American Hustle, Michael Wilkinson
The Invisible Woman, Michael O'Connor

Predicted Winner: American Hustle
Actual Winner: The Great Gatsby

Second category, first miss. I think Gatsby was actually favored, but I bucked the trend, thinking that Hustle's pretty authentic wardrobe and lack of a nomination in hair and make-up would balance out here. Nope. This probably bodes well for me sticking to my guns for Gatsby for production design.
Accuracy: 1/2

Best supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto
Actual Winner: Jared Leto

Anne Hathaway's sparkly dress was completely hypnotic. I'm in a trance now. It didn't help that she was blathering about, well, I don't know what. This is no surprise but it still would have been a bit more fun if anyone else here won. It's nice that Leto found something a little more meaningful to ramble on about, even if it turned out to just be his mom. And the 30 Seconds to Mars shout out. Yeah he still kind of sucks. At least he rounded it out to actually mention AIDS sufferers at the end.

*I love that Pharrell is apparently really into this Ranger Rick hat thing as an integral part of his brand persona. That thing is as big as his whole head. What a ridiculous human being.
Related Posts with Thumbnails