21 May 2019

Summer Jam 2019 Week 2! Where You Take Your Horse?!

We're a day behind, but still on track! Maybe. Summer Jam is of course still a thing and here we are counting down the hottest, most intriguing tracks of the second or third week of May 2019! Let's dive into this mess:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Earfquake" by Tyler the Creator



T the C just dropped IGOR which is solidly trending right now and could have a nice summer. I post a lot of Tyler the Creator songs on here because they tend to tickle my fancy, but he seems to avoid mainstream buzz, perhaps because he's totally bonkers. Still, he remains popular amongst the youth in this splintered media landscape. There's good vibes right now and "Earfquake" is kind of a whack, very un-"Yonkers" kind of track, but that might be a good thing.

"I Don't Care" by Bieber & Sheeran

These two putzes teamed up to make an attempt at a meme video, and it's largely successful. There's enough goodwill between these two crooners that this could surge this summer, although this is also totally exactly like every Sheeran song ever. Bieber has lent his voice more to EDM and DJ Khalid tracks lately, so this sort of stands out for him. This point is, if this track takes off I'm going to have to look up the title each and every week because I will absolutely not remember.

"Middle Child" by J. Cole

J. Cole is back again with one of the greatest songs of the moment and of his career. J. Cole was such a joke so recently, now he's laying down tight rhymes over sick beats. This really isn't that hot on the Hip-Hop scene, but still one of my favorites right now.

"ME!" by Tay Sway and the Lead Singer of Panic! At the Disco

This is starting to feel like a track that might be around for a while but never overpowering. It also feels very much in the model of five to ten years ago - a pleasing pop track designed by studios for a happy traditional release. As we move forward this suddenly feels so antiquated. It's enjoyable, though, and already has enough traction to move forward, but probably not on top.

"Bad Guy" by Billie Ellish

This is a really new artist who has dropped a bunch of intriguing tracks, and there's a combination of irreverence and intensity here that's most intriguing of all. The beat is sultry and engaging, with a raspy fray voice that filters over its most boppy moments. It's more original than most pop stuff out there and could remain for a while on these hot summer nights. I get the feeling that Billie Ellish is a new Kat Dahlia or Skylar Grey or something, though. In the moment, not to rise beyond her year.

"Don't Call Me Up" by Mabel

This week turned out pretty pop-centered. Back in the day this was all Katy / GaGa / Ke$ha wars. Oh how we've changed. I really enjoy how this song drops its beat, but it's also one whose title I totally had to look up. Mabel, Billie, all these artists are pretty good but I don't know if they have staying power in this new landscape. That also goes for

"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

First of all, check out this little history of this song, which is mind-blowing. Somehow it's totally possible to just make a song and self-promote it up to the #1 spot in the country. Of course, that's all the more to do with how much this song nails its hip-hop / country appeal, which is perfect. It really hits a sweet spot between earnestness and parody that fits 2019 so well. This is #2 this week because #1 was just in my head more, but I think this is just beginning its mainstream run.

"Sweet but Psycho" by Ava Max

Yeah, I don't know, but this totally earwormed me this week. I kept thinking she mentioned "George Micho" or something but I guess not. This dug into my soul and stayed there all week. This is more than this track deserves because it's totally not a #1 Summer Jam, but definitely this week - and that's why we have 17 of these! Stay tuned all summer!

Next week...

I really enjoyed Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" but it's been out for a year? If that track continues to surge I may not be able to ignore it. I'm also eyeing just about all of IGOR because with a Spotify-fueled world singles just don't matter any more. Logic and Eminem teamed up for a great all-white rapper track and the Jonas Bros are still hanging around. There's a lot of directions this Summer may be pulled!

13 May 2019

Summer Jam 2019! Week 1! Let IT BEGIN!!

Welcome to the 10th Incarnation of Norwegian Morning Wood's Summer Jam Countdown!

Posts here have been so spotty lately. The Summer Jam will fix all of that! Probably. Each and every week until Labour Day we'll list off the Top Eight HOTTEST Jams in the Good Ol' Us of America and then tally up WHICH track is the final, ultimate Soundtrack to Summer 2019. It's going to be a good one. I can feel it. The media landscape isn't fractured!

Hot Jam of the Week: "Picasso" by Hopsin



I just searched for New Music, this jam popped up and I dug it. Is Hopsin a new hot artist on the Hip-Hop scene? The Travis Scott of 2019? Time will tell, but this is actually a bumpin jam, pretty brutal, clever, and a sick cutting beat. It's good enough to be the HOT ONE this week!

"Please Me" by Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B

An ancient song, but still hanging around this week - the second, much worse collabo between Bruni and Cardo does its job and is an earworm enough to be enjoyable. I naturally subconsciously searched for "Please Please Me" because of Johno and Pauli.

"Break Up with your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" by Ariana Grande

Ariana continues to dominate 2019 with every single thing she does, although this is a little bit of a lesser work compared to "Thank U, Next" and "7 Rings." It's the kind of bold, aggressive song that takes on a weird connotation after her series of high-profile relationships (chronicled with a little more tact in "Thank U, Next"). It's still a catchy jam, but it's pathway to the Top is probably over.

"Middle Child" by J. Cole

Did anyone else pick up on the moment when J. Cole became one of our best current rappers? He has a slew of hits, or at least songs lately, but this is chief among them. It's incredibly listenable in the background but also has significant lyrical weight when you sit down and contemplate it. Basically, a perfect rap song. I'll take it. A little old by Summer Jam standards, but it'll do.

"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

How did Billy Ray Cyrus earn a #1 Billboard Single and it not be the year 1990? This is a solid jam that has set the streaming world on fire. Since I am old man in my 10th iteration of this insane list, I haven't gotten up on streaming yet. Still, I'll acknowledge this because it doesn't matter what old men say - just what Old Town Roads say. And they say...hotness. Also this video is tight.

"Sucker" by Jonas Bros

I didn't know that the Jonas Bros were still a thing nor that this track was a Jonas Bros track but I actually dig it. My pop knowledge is insane that it actually reminds me quite a bit of Fifth Harmony's "I'm in Love with a Monster" from a few years back. That's really a guilty pleasure song.

"WOW" by Post Malone

This is somehow one of P.M.'s best tracks. His flow is stellar as always, but it's the throbbing beat and weird dancing beard man that push it over the edge. It's such a devil may care video that fits pretty well with the post-modern musical landscape. The post-malone musical landscape, if you will.

"ME!" by Taylor Swift ft. Brendan Urie

Tay Tay deserves more credit for slight reinventions of herself as the years go on. She seems less about petty weird jealousy and fake feuds with Katy Perry than actually making some mature music these days. This track was everywhere this week and I think could last a bit. It's far too early to proclaim a Summer Jam Winner. Yes, it is. But on May 13, 2019 this is what we got. That's actually the point of this countdown, Robert.

Next week...

Oh, we'll have more. This is a solid list for right now but the ebbs and flows of our fickle musical landscape will morph and change until our destinies are fulfilled! To September!!

19 April 2019

First Impressions: Captain Marvel

Listen, I'm not a fan of this once a month blogging thing, either. I need to get my act together. I saw Captain Marvel (2019) last month! Let's talk about that! SPOILERS forever!

By this point we need a lot of context. As Marvel Movie #21 there is inherently a lot of background to understand, but for how much people tend to gripe about this, Captain Marvel largely stands on its own, with little bits to discover as treats, not detractions. Considering how every other major studio has fallen on its face when it comes to shared cinematic universes, it's impressive that Marvel continues to actually restrain itself for stand-alone adventures. Of course Infinity War (2018) is something else entirely, but let's keep it to the Captain here.

Bring back Phyla-Vell!

The structure of the film exists in this weird limbo where we start en media res, somewhat eschewing a typical superhero origin story and making that origin more the driving mystery of the film. This ends up being a little choppy and haphazard, but if they had done anything any other way they'd be criticised for ripping off Doctor Strange (2016) or Iron Man (2008) or Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), or anything else they've done. There's not really a way to win this argument with people who aren't fans of these movies.

Captain Marvel largely succeeds as a film. Every character has a successful arc, action scenes are well-choreographed, and there are some engaging scenes at heart. It doesn't quite stand out as one of the greatest superhero films ever, but it's certainly an enjoyable time at the cinema. Let's talk about the cast.

Brie Larson is okay as the eponymous Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers of Earth who ends up a space commando for the Kree Empire. She can act, but the film tends to waddle the line of whether they want her to be an irreverent goof like Chris Pratt or a genuine badass like Chris Hemsworth (at least in the early Thor movies). We've seen that we can have both in THOR: Ragnarok (2017) and in Robert Downey, Jr. in everything, but the writing isn't quite as crisp here.

What's more powerful is what Cap'n stands for, and as there should be, there's a heavy feminist message here. The scene where she keeps getting up time after time should be immortalized forever as both an astounding character moment and a powerful statement for her gender. Even the end when she faces off with Jude Law who is still trying to bring her down to his level is a satisfying moment of a woman instead claiming her own destiny in her own way.

That being said, the film does creak a little bit into distaff counterparts rather than true feminism. Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman (2017) worked in part because she was a fierce warrior who also fought with love and compassion in ways that the cold, battle-hardened men couldn't. Marvel is feminist because the protagonist taking action is a woman, not because she's really doing feminist things. This is a tricky landmine to navigate. There are some moments that stand out, like her and her fellow fighter pilot not being allowed to fly male missions or the crude biker wanker who disrespects her. Still, part of it feels like cool girl wish fulfillment.

Speaking of that, why does every single Marvel superhero need a black best friend? It's kind of crazy at this point. Not only her fellow pilot, but Sam Jackson features more prominently here than in any other Marvel film, which was great to see. Marvel seems to stealth infuse different genres into its films lately, and this was totally a 90s buddy cop movie. Jackson's presence even gave it a Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) vibe, except you know - in space. In the way that some prequels tend to find a need to over-explain everything, there was also remarkable restraint here. The big thing is how Sam Jackson loses his eye, and having it scratched out by a kitty/space monster is pretty damn fitting.

On that 90s note, this also could have been a pretty heavy-handed nostalgia trip, but it's never very overwhelming. We aren't constantly reminded that it's the most Extreme Decade ever. Sure there are Nine Inch Nail shirts and Blockbuster Video, but it's not crazy. In fact, the Blockbuster really works because we have no frame of reference for the time period when Captain Marvel is flying around shooting folks in space. It instantly places us in time in a meaningful way. As for how that stacks up in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, I don't really care. It doesn't matter. This is a fun movie.

Some of the music choices were weirdly on the nose and tonally off. It's almost as if they were going for a 90s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) soundtrack? "I'm Just a Girl" by No Doubt fit pretty solidly with Carol first really unleashing against her former Kree Commando colleagues. "Come As You Are" by Nirvana was super weird during the big moment when she's confronting the Supreme Intelligence, once she was revealed as the real villain of the picture.

One thing I was really excited about was that the villains weren't just doppelgangers of the hero. For how great it is and how amazing Killmonger is, Black Panther (2018) still beefed this. Every damn Marvel movie does. Instead we get the shape-shifting Skrull as who we THINK are the villains, but then it turns out that they're just like, the Mexicans of the Universe trying to find a new home. The immigration stance is not exactly obvious, like many things in this film - just the right touch. The real bad guys are the Kree, which we should kind of know from Ronan being insane and trying to destroy the Nova Corps in Guardians, but the switcheroo still largely works here. Everyone has a finely crafted motivation.

It also gives this idea that Captain Marvel is really special. There's no one like her in the Universe. Finally we had a real comic book origin - an experimental hyperspace engine explodes in her face. BAM you got superpowers now, girl. It's a totally un-recreatable accident. Because it actually doesn't matter how you get your powers, what matters is how it pushes the character underneath. Carol is manipulated, lied to, shackled, and space hypnotized or something. She also loses her space alien woman mentor, just like Steve and Tony. There's not really much re-inventing the wheel here, but nice to see Annette Benning playing a role worthy of her talents, as well as women helping women.

This film plays with what is good and evil in really interesting ways. You get the sense that Carol would be on Cap's side in CIVIL WAR (2016), trusting individuals and independence rather than shady government oversight. The comic nerd in me kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with the Skrulls, though. The Skrulls are like the ultimate bad guys! They're never good. Real jerks. Super-skrull is actually one of my all-time favourite supervillains. We can hope and dream about him fighting a Marvel Fantastic Four one day. I just don't think his powers would make much sense otherwise...

But we ARE actually now set up for a Secret Invasion. That's a thing. And there were all sorts of Super-skrulls with like, combined powers of Dr. Strange and Iron Man for some reason. This nerdiness actually took me out of the movie because I got so caught up in waiting for the moment that Ben Mendolsohn betrays Sam Jackson and Brie Larson again. That never came, which I thought was super weird, but everyone else enjoyed it because it's just a good movie. The sneaky Skrulls matching up against the might of the Kree reminded me of the only other Marvel movie to actually have the villain's powers complement and nullify the hero's, which was Iron Man 3 (2013). See? I told you we couldn't do this without context of the 20 other marvel films.

As far as Marvel films go this is solid, but not completely mind-blowing. Everything largely works and it's fun to see more of the cosmic side of things from a non-completely insane perspective. Brie Larson ought to have a large role in the upcoming Endgame and we'll see how all this crap sorts out!

25 March 2019

First Impressions: VICE

Hey.

We're still alive. Sort of.

I apologize that this blog has fallen quite a bit - there has been a lot going on in life that this has been pushed more towards the outside. But we haven't had a month go by in ten years where we haven't posted, so let's try to avoid that with a totally timely appreciation of the movie VICE (2018).

I saw VICE on Christmas Day. I hope to crank these out a little quicker, and we'll see how much of this I remember. It ranked in the Top 10 in a disturbing Adam McKay trend of writing really solid movies that are assembled together half-hazard as hell. Let's dive in with a solid speck of SPOILERS to discuss this three-month old movie.

Fool me once shame on you...heh...can't fool me again!

VICE centers around Dick Cheney, played here by Christian Bale in what's on the surface a phenomenal body transformation. Bale did real skinny for The Machinist (2004) and The Fighter (2010) and then real jacked for each Batman movie, it's about time he showed us he can just go old and fat as well. Sure, he paunched for American Hustle (2013), but this is impressive. Further than cramming McDonalds into his mouth, Bale also nails the voice, demeanor, and attitude of our 46th Vice-President. At this point we can say that he lost the Academy Award to Rami Malek, but the Academy seems to be awarding young male actors over older counterparts these days. To be fair, Rami's performance in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) was also amazing.

Bale is the big centerpiece performance. Now that that discussion is out of the way let's talk some of this film's actual merit. Like I said, director Adam McKay in his foray into dealing with serious political subjects through an irreverent lens has earned him critical applause, but I'm more stricken with how much he seems to have departed his style. Step Brothers (2008) and The Other Guys (2010) are completely bonkers movies filled with over-the-top characters, but directorially they're laser-sharp. A big reason these films work is from how grounded and assured the plots are. Despite heavy improvisation, everything gels and moves forward.

The Big Short (2015) and VICE disregard this for some reason. They are full of abrupt shifts in tone, plot, and setting, the former acting more like a series of interconnected vignettes rather than an in-depth look at the housing crisis. VICE is better - there is a core biography and a consistent running theme at its heart, but it blasts around like a crazy person. Some work, others fall flat. The Shakespeare scene really took me out of the picture, but the fake credits mid-way was brilliant. Regardless of what stuck and what didn't though, I'm still struck that McKay was never this meta-goofy in his straight comedies. I would rather see his full wit and satire on display than resorting to gimmicks.

The rest of the cast shines. Amy Adams is fine as Lynne Cheney, especially in one scene where she lowest common denominator campaigns for her ailing husband, where she riles up conservatives is easy to point to as an early origin of Republican fear-mongering. This is of course a little dubious, though, and the satire worked a little better when it was idiot Ron Burgundy creating the 24-hour News Cycle in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). When McKay applies false or stretched facts to real figures it lessens the satire. This is also Adams and Bale's third collabo after The Fighter and American Hustle, which is bizarre.

Sam Rockwell is fine as George W., although it feels like a missed opportunity not to cast his muse, Will Ferrell. That might have been distracting, but as the film attempts to make a statement about the W presidency, his role isn't all that significant anyway. Rounding out the cast is Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld, who is brilliant and somehow disappears into the role. I wish Carrell would get more serious looks as an actor, especially when he's having fun like this.

Let's get into the real meat of this film. One thing McKay lacks is subtlety - he flat out says in the beginning that the film attempts to scrutinize one of the most inscrutable political figures of our time, and wants to expose and examine Cheney for the crook and war criminal he is. Where the film succeeds the most is how it tries to show how Cheney was able to grab power, transform the Vice Presidency, and how smart and slimy politicians manage to weave their way around the law and Constitution to do just about whatever they like. Since Cheney won't fully admit to anything...ever...it's hard to know, or perhaps ever know how much of this film is true.

VICE also attempts to pin a lot of Trump-ism on Cheney, from his aforementioned fear-mongering wife, to investments in FOX News, to diving into an America-first never-ending war in the Middle East. Most of these issues and developments are too systematic and complex to pin on one man, but I give McKay credit for trying to connect some dots. Again, some of this is too forced to sustain credibility.

I also wish the film had come up with some way to decipher why Cheney did all that he did. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of discerning motivation throughout the whole movie. It's hard to understand why he kept pushing so hard beyond early scenes with his wife pushing him to be less of a drunken Wyoming idiot, and hinting that he simply likes to manipulate people and play the political chess game. My thoughts traveled to Errol Morris' The Unknown Known (2013), which attempted to understand Rumsfeld through a series of interviews. That film also ultimately came up with nothing. Is it as simple as oil profits? It's like our turn of the century leaders were Die Hard villains - yes, it's that simple. Money.

Why did I rank a movie this sloppy so high? There was lot here that stuck with me. Beyond Bale's instantly inconic Dick performance, I've dwelled on this quite a bit in the past three months, which is more than most films. I think often of the silent, thoughtful man in the room lying in wait as the true danger, while the more blustery politicians wear their intentions on their sleeves. I think of Cheney's coin toss decision to join the Republicans. I think of the fact that he was the rare Republican in support of gay marriage, which he seems to abandon to fully ingratiate himself in the conservative cause by the films' end. I think of the final shot, the least subtle in film history since The Departed (2006), that lingers on his black, diseased heart - suggesting that the subject of this film is literally heartless. That heart of course belongs to our narrator in a scene that I figured out right before it happened, but too late to not be shocked by the sudden impact and implication. Even though it reaches, it's also a film entrenched in modern politics.

It might be because I came of age around the 2000s, but the Bush Presidency and origins of the Iraq War also fascinates me. At the time what was presented to us seemed so simple and the depth of the lies revealed afterwards, along with the complete failure of anyone to take action is mind-blowing. There is an astounding lack of accountability and I fear that Trump mostly exists so that we may look back fondly on the Bush Era. VICE does help remind us that all these people are unambiguous war criminals and like the greed-driven banks in The Big Short, completely fine with destroying the country they serve for their own personal gain.

I'm excited for all the Trump movies that will come out over the next twenty years.

24 February 2019

NMW's 91st Annual Oscar Live Blog

I can't believe I've been doing this live blog for 91 straight years. In times past we've done...really...really bad here. Let's go at it again!

Supporting Actress:

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

Predicted winner: Regina King
Actual Winner: Regina King

Score: 1/1

Yay! Got one right! I haven't seen this movie. I've been really out of it. Regina King has been at this for a long ass time and done all kinds of work, both random, animated, shitty, and brilliant. It's a nice win here.

Best Documentary Feature:

Free Solo, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Hale County This Morning, This Evening, RaMell Ross
Minding the Gap, Bing Liu
Of Fathers and Sons, Talal Derki
RBG, Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Predicted Winner: RBG
Actual Winner: Free Solo
Score: 1/2

I understand this as a documentary on the Millennium Falcon. This looked like it could be picking up steam the last couple weeks and it's exciting to win here. RBG seemed more popular and timely, but I actually just read the National Geographic article on this climbing dude and it seemed amazing. Totally crazy, but amazing and fascinating. Rough losing this for my total score, but what can you do. Jason Mamoa and Helen Mirren need to team up on a rom com or buddy cop flick.

Makeup and Hair:

Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Predicted winner: VICE
Actual Winner: VICE
Score: 2/3

I knew this was basically a lock to help my average. Yay VICE! Although it's worth it to hear Aubrey Plaza's Border story. Border is a really weird movie, by the way.

Costume Design:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mary Zophres
Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter
The Favourite, Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns, Sandy Powell
Mary Queen of Scots, Alexandra Byrne

Predicted Winner: Mary Queen of Scots
Actual Winner: Black Panther
Score: 2/4

It's actually a fantastic presentation choice to play Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tee Henry's speech as totally straight while going nuts with costumes here. That'd damned rare. Reminds me of Ben Stiller as AVABAR (2009).

I can't believe Black Panther won this. It might actually roll tonight. Man, this always goes to some stuffy period piece that no one has ever seen. Of course, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) pulled this off a few years ago. The costumes in BP were notable and distinct enough to actually make a great impact in the final fight and helped a ton in knowing what the hell was going on. This is solid. 

Production Design:

Black Panther, Hannah Beachler
First Man, Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
The Favourite, Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
Mary Poppins Returns, John Myhre, Gordon Sim
Roma, Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Predicted Winner: Panther
Actual Winner: Panther
Score: 3/5

BP seems to be forming a little roll here. Yay for Hannah Beachler, not enough Black Women have Oscars behind the camera. Is this a great moment for Black Artists or Superhero movies? This looks good for Marvel, too. Good looks all around. It's totally bizarre that this C-level superhero of all people ends up the highest-grossing, most lauded Superhero film ever.

Cinematography:

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

Predicted Winner: Cuaron
Actual Winner: Cuaron
Score: 4/6

Heh, it's pretty clear that the "present awards off camera" controversy is way more pertinent than the "Kevin Hart unapologetically hates gays" controversy. I guess this is just easier to laugh off. This is Cuaron's first step towards grabbing four distinct Oscars tonight, but I'd say this is the only one he really deserves. Roma is unspeakably beautiful, but also the most boring film of the year.

Sound Editing:

Black Panther, Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Warhurst
First Man, Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
A Quiet Place, Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
Roma, Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Predicted Winner: First Man
Actual Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
Score: 4/7

Hrmm...could this mean that BR looks good for BP or BA nod? Looking back on it, I think I picked Bale over Rami for spite because for some reason I'm not into a stilted performance in a shit film made by an unrepentant rapist director. Oh well. I need to learn. I thought Black Panther might have gone for this, the way it began to march on technical awards. This has just been such a First Man - type category. Oh well.

Sound Mixing:

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Predicted Winner: A Star Is Born
Actual Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
Score: 4/8

My underrating of Bohemian Rhapsody is coming to a head. This usually goes to a musical-type film, and yeah, it must have been tough syncing up Freddie Mercury's vocals with Rami Malek's acting. Right. If there was any doubt that no one actually cares about A Star is Born, this is it.

Also, clearly popular films are winning, we do not need a specific category.

Best Foreign Language Film:

Capernaum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

Predicted Winner: Roma
Actual Winner: Roma
Score: 5/9

I don't know what would have happened if Cold War or Shoplifters had won. It's like when Toy Story 3 (2010) was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Animated Picture. Like, obviously it's winning this. I forgot - this means that Cuaron could grab five separate Oscars tonight. I kind of want that to happen now. Did he make five distinct speeches?

Film Editing:

BlacKkKlansman, Barry Alexander Brown
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Ottman
Green Book, Patrick J. Don Vito
The Favourite, Yorgos Mavropsaridis
Vice, Hank Corwin

Predicted Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
Predicted Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
Score: 6/10

It seems like no one has a good speech ready this year. Where's Jimmy Kimmel to ease our nerves? It should be pretty much understood that Ottman saved this movie after Singer abandoned it. Deserved, for once and Rhapsody is looking pretty good to do some great things tonight.


Supporting Actor:

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

Predicted winner: Mahershala Ali
Actual Winner: Mahershala Ali
Score: 7/11

You know, this ceremony can move along pretty fast when they ditch all the crappy pizza and fan stunts and other bizarre montages and ode to Musicals or whatever. It's not that hard to do, people. Let the nominees do their thing and trust them for being entertainers. This is actually a pretty compelling category this year. Richard E. Grant is such a creepster on screen but seems like he's having so much fun this season. Adam Driver needs an Oscar eventually. Sam Elliott's time might be up. This was totally a lead role, but since Ali is black, it's supporting. Green Book might do some things in this ceremony yet.


Animated Feature:

Incredibles 2, Brad Bird
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda
Ralph Breaks the Internet, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Predicted Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Actual Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Score: 8/12

Yeah! I can't believe Spider-Verse pulled this off! This is great that Phil Lord and Chris Miller actually have an Oscar now! This was one of my favourites of last year and is a totally underrated, phenomenal achievement.

Animated Short:

"Animal Behaviour", Alison Snowden, David Fine
"Bao", Domee Shi
"Late Afternoon", Louise Bagnall
"One Small Step", Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
"Weekends", Trevor Jimenez

Predicted Winner: "Bao"
Actual Winner: "Bao"
Score: 9/13

Wow, I actually got this one right! I'm gonna have to go back and see how often I pull this one off. Ahh - this is the third time I've gotten it right in my ten years of doing this - including two years in a row! Now that's something!

Best Documentary Short Subject:

"Black Sheep", Ed Perkins
"End Game", Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
"Lifeboat", Skye Fitzgerald
"A Night at the Garden", Marshall Curry
"Period. End of Sentence.", Rayka Zehtabchi

Predicted Winner: "End Game"
Actual Winner: "Period. End of Sentence"
Score: 9/14

I...I really should have picked this one. It's not about grammar, but about Indian women on periods or something, but it's all kinds of awesome.

Visual Effects:

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

Predicted Winner: Thanos
Actual Winner: First Man
Score: 9/15

Ugh. I should have known. This category has been really wonky lately. They tend not to reward any mocap achievements and actually steer clear of blockbusters. Only two superhero films have won ever, those being Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Superman (1978). Yeah...Keep in mind that no Transformers or Planet of the Apes movie ever won this award.



I haven't talked much about other presenters or musical performances, but hot damn, just give GaGa the Oscar now.

Best Live Action Short Film:

"Detainment", Vincent Lambe
"Fauve", Jeremy Comte
"Marguerite", Marianne Farley
"Mother", Rodrigo Sorogoyen
"Skin", Guy Nattiv

Predicted Winner: "Marguerite"
Actual Winner: "Skin"
Score: 9/16

Meh, this was suddenly kind of looking like it would go "Skin"'s way. Alright. Sounds good. Whatever, Short Films.

Original Screenplay:

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

Predicted Winner: Deb and Tony
Actual Winner: Green Book
Score: 9/17

Suddenly I'm taking a deep dive. A deep deep dive of wrong predictions. I thought this would be the one category to go to The Favourite to make up for losing everything else, but it looks like Green Book is earning that distinction instead. I'm okay with the director of Dumb & Dumber (1994) getting an Oscar. This has been a weird trend lately, joining Spike Jonze and Adam McKay as these once weird comedy guys suddenly pulling it together.

Adapted Screenplay:

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

Predicted Winner: Spike
Actual Winner: Spike Lee!
Score: 10/18

Let's start talking worst scores ever. 2010, my first year doing this, I batted 0.500, and have had years where I got 13/24. It's real fun for Spike to win and to have Sam Jackson present it! Man I love Spike Lee. Go Knicks!

Original Score:

BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
Black Panther, Ludwig Goransson
If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Predicted Winner: Black Panther
Actual Winner: Black Panther
Score: 11/19

I'm remembering how much I enjoyed BlacKkKlansman's score. As for ME, I'm pumped to have called this one as well, and maybe I won't totally be in the craphole. Black Panther is having a fantastic night.


Original Song:

"All The Stars" from Black Panther by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
"I’ll Fight" from RBG by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
"The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
"Shallow" from A Star Is Born by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
"When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings" from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Predicted winner: "Shallow"
Actual Winner: "Shallow"
Score: 12/20

I know he's been in a ton of other movies, but it's actually a little weird to hear Chadwick Boseman not speak in a Wakandan accent. Does anyone know which country the Wakandan accent comes from other than general African? Lady GaGa is now an Oscar winner. I don't think she'll pick up a twofer tonight, but this is damned fun. If I win out, I'll end with 16, which beats my average. To be honest, all these major categories could go any way.

Damn, Jennifer Hudson is really into this speech.


Why is the whitest woman of all time talking about BlacKkKlansman?

Lead Actor:

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


Predicted Winner: Bale
Actual Winner: Rami
Score: 12/21

Should have called this. I really just wanted Bale I suppose. But more and more the last few weeks this seemed like a given. Probably my least favourite actor and performance of the lot.

Lead Actress:

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


Predicted Winner: Glenn Close
Actual Winner: Olivia Colman
Score: 12/22

Man I'm pumped for this. But dammit Glenn Close. I knew Glenn Close was totally overrated and Oscar doesn't care about career achievement awards anymore.


Director:

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

Predicted Winner: Cuaron
Actual Winner: Cuaron
Score: 13/23

So, Mexican directors have won five out of the past six Best Director awards. Has anyone else noticed this? Cuaron is fantastic, this movie sucks, but it's nice to see him honored. Now we'll see if he can pull of Best Picture as well. And I'd still like to see Spike or Yorgos pick something up one day.

Best Picture:

Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

Predicted Winner: Roma
Actual Winner: Green Book

Uhhh....okay. Really? Why? After all the success of Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody? After all the early hype and zeitgeist of A Star is Born? After all the critical acclaim and praise for Roma? After the more cutting and cunning BlacKkKlansman? This is damned baffling. The only thing I can really say is this is a movie that white people felt damned good about voting for.

Didn't like, a lot of people hate this movie? Like, including the family of the guy it's based on? At any rate, this makes five years in a row where I have failed to predict Best Picture. Have we really had that much nonsense? Yeah, in a sense. Spotlight (2015) is a good movie but still feels like it didn't have momentum, I was on the wrong side of the La La Land / Moonlight (2016) kerfuffle, and I still can't believe that shitty fish-fucking movie Shape of Water (2017) won.

Julia Roberts seemed to not know she was supposed to end the show. What a forgettable ceremony.

FINAL SCORE: 13/24

Great. Grand. Same score as in 2015 and 2017. A very average year. Time to move on with my life and start a blog about baseball or something instead.
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