Oscar wrap-up

March 6th, 2006

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Crash
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: George Clooney for Syriana
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener
Best Achievement in Directing: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Crash
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Brokeback Mountain
Best Achievement in Cinematography: Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Achievement in Editing: Crash
Best Achievement in Art Direction: Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Achievement in Costume Design: Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: Brokeback Mountain
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: Hustle & Flow
Best Achievement in Makeup: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Best Achievement in Sound: King Kong
Best Achievement in Sound Editing: King Kong
Best Achievement in Visual Effects: King Kong
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Tsotsi
Best Documentary, Features: Marche de l'empereur, La
Best Documentary, Short Subjects: A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin
Best Short Film, Animated: The Moon and the Son
Best Short Film, Live Action: Six Shooter

Here are a few thoughts I have on the Oscars, focusing, primarily, on the 78th annual awards given out last night.

Jon Stewart, though hysterical, is too...rough around the edges...for a big time award-show-hosting gig. His opening monologue received maybe three giggles from the crowd, and I think they all came from the same person. I do not think he had the mass-market appeal. I hate to say it, since I am such a fan of his work, but his show is most likely still on cable for a reason...
The crowd did warm up to him a bit as the night progressed, though a few of his jokes were met with chirping crickets. He seemed to begin a few of his speeches with unscripted remarks taking jabs at his being Jewish and a Jewish peer (Ben Stiller); it was those jokes more than any that were greeted with silence from the crowd. I wonder if anyone finally told him to just stick to the script.
Does anyone else think he has a pretty serious man-crush on George Clooney?

I had almost completely sworn off watching the Oscars. I was teetering on the edge when it became apparent that if a Peter Jackson movie is nominated in any category, it will win the award. "Congratulations, you have been nominated. So was a Peter Jackson movie, though. So I am sorry you do not have a chance at winning." Why do they torture the other nominees? Do they feel the need to humiliate them publicly? "Sure, we'll put your face on screen, but we both know you won't win." I guess before you know it the nominees in the category will be, "The people who worked on Peter Jackson's latest movie, and some other potentially more talented individuals, but we won't waste your time with their names."

In case you had not noticed, I am still quite bitter over three years of monopolized awards by the Lord of the Rings team. I did not feel the movies merited all of the awards they won. Some, sure. All, no. I still adamantly believe that the Academy voted for Return of the King for so many of the awards simply because Fellowship and The Two Towers won them. Return of the King was the best of the three movies, but it was also up against the most competition for the Oscars. Shame, really. I will try to get over it in time.

The Academy did redeem itself some in my eyes with voting Crash as the Best Film in 2005. Congratulations to everyone associated with that movie. It was truly one of the best movies I have ever seen, and definitely the best in 2005. I think that they really got one right in that category.

I had been too worried that Brokeback would take home the "important" awards. I had a bad premonition that it would receive 2 of 3 of Best Actor, Best Male Support and Best Picture (in no particular order). The only award I would have given to Brokeback was Best Female Support for Michelle Williams's performance, but I have not seen enough of the other nominated films to speak to that category intelligently. (You needn't tell me that you don't think I am talking about the other categories intelligently either...)

Even though I would have liked to have my cake and eat it, too, "life isn't fair" rings in my mind. My picks for the other awards did not turn out as I would have liked, but I rationalize that as political. For instance, I feel that Terrence Howard delivered the Best Performance by an Actor in 2005 for his work in Hustle & Flow. The movie, however, did not have the mass appeal compared to...oh, say a movie based upon Truman Capote. And since I am ever so conveniently on the topic of Capote, which was my 2nd place pick for Best Film, I think Phil Hoffman won Best Actor so the Academy could give recognition to the movie since it was not going to win Best Film.

That same line of thinking led me to the silly lesser-anticipated awards that Brokeback did take home last night. The movie that got that so much attention could not go home empty handed, so the voters gave it some pity awards.

I am glad to know that 36 Mafia has a hard time selling records, yet they can still get an Oscar. I guess the irony there is how their sales will go through the roof this week as a result of the award. Good for them, I guess. It really did take the show down a peg or two when the members of the group were accepting their statues and one had to be bleeped out, but I thought they were pretty gracious otherwise. Jon Stewart, if I can get back to him for a moment, really did not do a good job about hiding his reaction to the rappers for winning the award, which did not seem to be the most positive.

So I guess all listed above and the fact that I think more creativity went into Oscar commercials than Super Bowl commercials this year are how I feel about last night's 78th Annual Academy Awards.

March 2nd, 2006

S.W.A.T.

From the Main Menu select "Special Features". On the Special Features menu select the arrows signaling more features. With the top item highlighted (6th Street Bridge - Achieving the Improbable) press right, right, down, down. This will highlight the logo on Sam Jackson's hat. Or from your computer, use your mouse and hover over the logo, it should turn red. Selecting the hidden feature will take you to a video from the S.W.A.T. golf outing that has some pretty hilarious commentary.

S.W.A.T.

February 20th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0257076/

S.W.A.T.Two wisecracking battle-hardened veterans (Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell) team up with a pair of street smart rookies (Michelle Rodriguez and LL Cool J) to form the most freewheeling -- but effective -- S.W.A.T. team ever. Their first assignment: transport an international drug kingpin into federal custody -- after he's offered $100 million to anyone who will free him!

Colin Farrell is a former member of S.W.A.T. in L.A. and down on his luck when Samuel L. Jackson enters the picture. Jackson was asked to train and lead an elite team of S.W.A.T. in response to political pressure facing the police department. Jackson has always been the best, but he has never seen eye-to-eye with the powers that be; a trait he shares with Ferrell. He has Farrell drive him around town as he recruits his team before finally asking Farrell to join up.

I am, I believe, in the minority by making the bold statement that I am a Colin Farrell fan. He has done good work in Intermission and The Recruit and fantastic work in Tigerland. There were even a few familiar faces to accompany the stars above. I guess it can be said that it was nice to see Jeremy Renner surface after making National Lampoon's Senior Trip.

Do not misinterpret what this movie is. S.W.A.T. is a fast paced action shoot-em-up. In the event you are looking for story-line, move along; you will not find that here. If you want a good high-energy movie with a decent amount of shots fired, look no further. When you can appreciate this movie for what it is, you realize it was a good movie. This is not an award winning film, but it is a good movie with which to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon on the couch.

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Movie of the Month - March, 2006

February 20th, 2006

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-proof FenceRabbit-proof Fence -- featuring the Golden Globe-nominated score by Peter Gabriel -- is the powerful true story of hope and survival, and has been met with international acclaim! At a time when it was Australian government policy to train aboriginal children as domestic workers and integrate them into white society, young Molly Craig decides to lead her little sister and cousin in a daring escape from their internment camp.

Molly and the girls, part of what would become kown as Australis's "Stolen Generations" must then elude the authorities on a dangerous 1,500 mile adventure along the rabbit-proof fence that bisects the continent and will lead them home. As shown by this outstanding motion picture, their universally touching plight and unparalleled courage are a beautiful testament to the undying strength of the human spirit!

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February 17th, 2006

Evil Dead

There are two relatively easy to find easter eggs on this disc. If you select "Extras" from the Main Menu you will see the list of options with a skull on the top left and another on the bottom right. Both skulls contain hidden features. The top left is a panel discussion with makers of the movie at a screening from Halloween 2001 and the bottom right is a short make-up effects test. Access is simple; highlight the top menu item (Trailer) and move to the left and highlight the bottom menu item (Main Menu) and move to the right. Press select/enter to see the hidden features.

February 12th, 2006

Baadasssss!

From the Main Menu, highlight "Special Features" and press the right cursor three times. This should light the end of Mario Van Peebles's cigar. Pressing enter/select will play a clip with Mario and Melvin Van Peebles as Mario talks briefly about his perspective on making the film. This easter egg may also be selected (if you are watching on your computer) by simply using your mouse to click on the tip of the cigar.

February 2nd, 2006

Hustle and Flow

From the Main Menu, select "Special Features". Cycle to the bottom and highlight "Main Menu". Press to the left and you will see a necklace that says "D Jay" appear around Terrence Howard's neck. Press your enter/select button to see a short video of the character Skinny Black (Ludacris) as he "hunts haters" in the woods behind his house.

Living in Oblivion

February 1st, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0113677/combined

Living in OblivionSteve Buscemi is Nick Reve, film-maker, in this movie about making movies. Reve is the director of a low-budget independent film who spends as much time riding the wave of problems that arise on his set as he does filming. Give Buscemi the lead, sit back and watch. That should be the case in more movies, I think. Maybe he was just neurotic enough to play this part, or maybe he should just be considered for more roles because he is that good.
(Ok, it was probably a little of both.)

Surround Buscemi with Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, and Peter Dinklage and you certainly have a strange mix of actors perfect to portray the clash of personalities present on the set. It was the bizarre mix that I thought worked best in really making me feel uncomfortable for Nick Reve as he tried to make his movie. I liked the way everyone fit together while never being comfortable with each other...if that makes any sense.

Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Elf) made this movie for me. He took it from the bizarre to the laugh-out-loud-funny. His dead pan delivery is fantastic. It is a shame he had only a small role.

There was a healthy amount of swearing and enough (brief) nudity to watch this one without the kids. Check it out when you are in the mood for something a little...different.

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Movie of the Month - February, 2006

January 22nd, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0325710/

The Last Samurai
The Last SamuraiTom Cruise plays Civil War hero Capt. Nathan Algren, who comes to Japan to fight the Samurai and ends up pledging himself to their cause. Ken Watanabe (Academy Award Nominee) plays Katsumoto, a Samurai leader facing a vanishing way of life, whose destiny becomes intertwined with that of the American captain. Edward Zwick (winner of the National Board of Review's Best Director Award) directs this sweeping and emotional epic tale of the birth of modern Japan.
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January 19th, 2006
Secondhand LionsHub: Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.