Who Are You (Oscars 2017 Edition)

Friday 3 March 2017

First, you’re Warren Beatty.

A few moments earlier, someone handed you an envelope. You didn’t really inspect the envelope, but if you had, maybe you would have noticed that printed on it were the words “Actress in a Leading Role,” not “Best Picture,” the award you are presenting. The nominees have been reviewed, and now you’re opening the envelope. And now you’re a bit confused. Because the card inside says, “Emma Stone, La La Land,” and you know that doesn’t make sense for a Best Picture award. Those awards go to the producers. Emma Stone is an actress.

You know this isn’t right. You know something has gone terribly wrong; this isn’t the way the world is supposed to be. But you have the power to right this wrong. You have the power to avoid what is to come – a disaster, a situation that extends far beyond yourself. You aren’t fully responsible for this problem, but now you’re a part of it, and you have a part to play in fixing it. There may not be one right way to move forward, but avoiding the problem, choosing to ignore it, transferring it to someone else, hoping it will go away: that would be cowardice, and that is not you.

Now, you’re Faye Dunaway.

You don’t understand why Mr. Beatty is taking so long looking at the card and doesn’t just get on with it. The show’s been going on now for more than four hours; get it over with already.

He then turns the card to you.

And of course it says “La La Land.” You don’t think twice about the other words on the card, you just blurt it out. You voted for it, after all. And so did so many friends you know, white and older though they may be. But still. Who wouldn’t want to be taken back to the Hollywood of old, when everything was glamorous and golden? Who wouldn’t want to go back to the days before identity politics, before #OscarsSoWhite and #BlackLivesMatter? Who wouldn’t want to “Make Hollywood Great Again?”

Now you’re Brian Culliman.

You hear Ms. Dunaway say La La Land – and you know that’s not right. That’s not right at all. In fact, you and Martha Ruiz are the only two people in the world who know the truth, who know that Moonlight, not La La Land, was voted Best Picture. You look in your briefcase and pull out the envelope for Best Picture. You realize your mistake: you had given Mr. Beatty the wrong envelope, a duplicate from the previous award.

But now it’s been a full minute, and you’re still not on stage. You’re still not using your body to shut this thing down, to correct this wrong. You’re implicated in this, big time, and you realize it now. You’ve discovered your place is the system, your role in the injustice, and you know you need to take action. But you don’t want to rock the boat too much, to cause a commotion. You don’t sprint out on stage with the envelope, call a halt to things right there and then, before the speeches can be given, while the rightful winners marinate in the sting of defeat. It’s more important for things to be proper—or as proper as possible, given the circumstances—even if that means extending the suffering of those who’ve already been suffering far too long.

Now you’re Fred Berger.

You’re holding a golden Oscar statue tightly in your right hand, a statue you’ve dreamed of winning your whole life. It’s been 90 seconds since Faye Dunaway called out the title of your movie, a movie you spent countless hundreds of hours pouring your time and soul into, a movie with six Oscar wins before this one. Your co-producer Jordan finishes his speech, and Marc, your other co-producer steps forward to begin his. And you start to notice the commotion next to you on stage. You try to stay in the moment, but it’s impossible. Someone in a headset comes up and inspects Jordan’s envelope, the one Mr. Beatty had opened just two minutes ago. You see Emma Stone’s name on it, and you know it’s all a mistake; you didn’t win at all. It’s the wrong envelope, obviously. But that’s not the problem, for if your movie had actually won, no one would be on stage, trying to fix this.

But then Marc says your name, beckoning you to take your turn at the microphone. You know you don’t deserve this moment. But you step up and start talking anyway. They called your name, your movie’s name, after all, and the show must go on, right? You’re caught up in the moment, sure, but you still know this is wrong. Why not sit back, for just a moment, to let things get straightened out? You’ve had you turn at the Golden Globes and too many other award events to count. Would it be so hard to step back and share the spotlight?


In the end, they got it right, but why did it take so long? Why didn’t Warren, or Faye, or Brian, or Fred – YOU – why didn’t YOU stop it sooner? Why didn’t you step up when you had the chance? You had the power and the opportunity. You have the power, and the responsibility to make change happen, to right the wrongs of the past and of the present, so they don’t continue to be wrongs into the future.

Now you’re you.

But who are you? And who are you going to be?

eric’s Oscar preview

Saturday 6 March 2010

Usually I’m totally on top of the Oscars, but this year (perhaps because I’ve found it hard to be in one place for more than a few weeks at a time the last 3 months) I’ve been lagging in my movie viewing.  I wasn’t able to make it to any showcases of the nominated short films like I did last year, and as you’ll see, have a surprisingly small percentage (in my mind) of nominated films that I’ve viewed.

That being said, I couldn’t let the Oscars go without a mention and some thoughts and predictions, so here you go.  Click here to see a complete list of nominees.  Check out the IMDB Road to the Oscars section for other insight and information on other awards shows.

Before I hit the Oscars, though, I want to tell you about another great awards show you shouldn’t be missing — though it has already taken place — the Independent Spirit Awards.  For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been more smitten with indie film than “Hollywood” film, to be sure, and while you won’t see movies like Avatar or Inglourious Basterds featured there, there are tons of amazing movies you might otherwise miss if you weren’t privy to independent film, so check it out.

Best Picture
This year they went with 10 nominees in the Best Picture category, so maybe it’s understandable that I couldn’t keep up!  I have seen 5 of them so far (and hope to see a few more sometime soon, I just wasn’t giving myself a Oscar awards deadline) — The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious, Avatar 3D, and Up (the only one I saw on DVD).  From what I’ve heard, it’s a two movie race between the big (Avatar) and the small (Hurt Locker).  While I won’t be upset if either of those takes the award, I think my vote would go to Avatar.  While the visual effects were truly amazing, the story was what drew me in and made it worthwhile.  I’ve heard it’s too similar to Dances With Wolves, and if I had seen that movie, maybe my vote would be different, but for now, I’m sticking with Avatar.  The Hurt Locker is a pretty amazing movie, too, and the scope of the two films is so different that it’s really hard to pick — thus, I’m excited to see who it is!

Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
While a lot of people try to see the best picture nominees, I usually seek out the nominees in this category (and the next one on my list here), and I’ve been particularly disappointed I have only seen 4 of the 10 total nominated films in these two categories (2 in each category).  That being said, I don’t know how good my thoughts can be, but I’ll try anyway.  Original Screenplay will likely go to Hurt Locker (it would be my vote), if only to make sure it gets its due if Avatar is the big winner.  Adapted Screenplay is a bit more tricky.  Without having seen An Education, I would be fine if that won, and then the two I’ve seen were Up In The Air and Precious.  While both of these were great movies, too, I might have to go with Up In The Air because (from what I hear) there was a bit more adapting done to make it work, and it’s probably the only place it will be recognized.
–Perhaps my biggest beef is that (500) Days of Summer wasn’t even nominated! — though it did with Spirit Award, so that made me happy.

Best Documentary
This is the other category of films I try to get myself to, and perhaps 2 of 5 isn’t bad when many of the movies are very selective in where they’ve played.  I did see the two apparent front-runners, The Cove and Food, Inc., both great in their own way, revealing things people should know about the a wider audience.  While I’d love for Food, Inc. to get out to a wider audience, The Cove was such an excellent “caper” of a film, getting such amazing raw video in secret, that I have to pull for it.

Best Actor
Is there any doubt this is Jeff Bridges award to lose?  He’s won (nearly?) every pre-Oscars award he could, and I think his performance was great.

Best Actress
I’m usually horrible at seeing the movies with the nominees of this category, and this year is no different.  I’ve only seen Precious, and Gabourey Sidibe gave quite the amazing performance, and I’d probably vote for her.  However, the debate has been going over two veteran actresses, Sandra Bullock and Ms. Oscar herself Meryl Streep. I’m kind of rooting against Bullock simply because it seems the only reason she’s getting looked at is for playing “against type,” which really means simply you dug yourself into a type in the first place and now, look, you’re changing!  If Sidibe doesn’t win, how about another young actress, Carey Mulligan (An Education)?

Best Director
In another Avatar/Hurt Locker competition, it’s ex-spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow.  I truly think Bigelow’s achievement in directing is the best, but watch out to see if Quentin Tarantino‘s fans could pull him through for Inglourious Basterds.

Best Animated Feature
So, I’ve only seen Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Both were great in their own way, but Up was such a roller coaster of emotions and drama, it read like any live action film (perhaps that’s why it also finds itself in the Best Film category).  Either could win and I’d be happy, but it seems to be Up’s trophy to lose.

Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor
The final two categories I’m going to profile also seem to be locked up, with Mo’Nique getting the nod for Precious (another “against type” billing?) and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  In a rare achievement for me, I’ve seen ALL the actresses in this category and NONE of the men.  Of the nominated women, Mo’Nique’s performance is definitely tops, and for the men — well, I just can’t say.

I hope you enjoyed this rundown.  Check out the Oscars live Sunday night, 7 March on ABC, and of course, coverage to be found elsewhere, too:
Entertainment Weekly
Yahoo! Movies
ABC News

a little diversity anyone?

Wednesday 17 February 2010

I came across this article about two weeks ago:
Vanity Fair’s “New Hollywood” issue completely lacks diversity

Basically, a Vanity Fair cover dedicated to new, young, Hollywood talent had a bunch of think, white women.  (See the link for a picture.)  This critique mentions a few women that could have been options to get some diversity (such as Precious star Gabourey Sidibe), and while that may be true, let’s put the blame where it really needs to go: Hollywood.

If you take a look at Hollywood and arrive at the conclusion that it’s a divers place, you must only be watching Madea movies (or other Tyler Perry fare), because that fact is, Hollywood is far from diverse.  Just take a look at this year’s Oscar race.  In the big four acting categories and directing, you have a predictable bunch: Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Penélope Cruz (Nine), and a trio from Precious (Sidibe, Mo’Nique, and Lee Daniels).
(For multiple lists on the diversity found in Academy Award nominations and winners, check out this list of lists on Wikipedia, including a list of black nominees and winners.)

But should I be so surprised?  TV and film have longs catered to white, middle-class America, and unless we as viewers demand something else, don’t expect much to change.

my favorite movies of the 2000s, #15 and #16

Thursday 24 December 2009

Don’t worry about the time of year — I plan to be here every day until I finish!

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

(links take you to previous blog entries on these movies)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
This is not a feel good movie.  That’s likely why it didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the Oscars (it was passed over for a Best Picture nomination).  It’s the tale of a couple (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) who settle for the suburban dream lifestyle in the 1950s instead of the more adventurous lifestyles they’ve envisioned and which would probably best suit their personalities.  I was really taken in to the world of this movie — a sad, disturbing world of disappointment and forfeited dreams.  I’m not much one for “suburban living” anyway, so maybe that was part of the reason this dark movie really took me in.  In any case, it’s a good tale calling for us to recognize and think about our true dreams and aspirations, realizing that certain decisions could make us living miserable and disastrous lives.

#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
This is not your average movie musical.  John Cameron Mitchell plays a transexual rocker on a personal journey to find herself/himself, looking to reconcile a past relationship and zee‘s own personal history, began as an off-Broadway production by Mitchell and Stephen Trask.  (Can you see why it was “off” Broadway?)  The movie contains some great songs and shares a story about a population that doesn’t get much into the mainstream spotlight.  You certainly need to be open to this kind of story, but if you are, I think you’ll enjoy a movie really about finding yourself when everything in your world has been turned upside down and you don’t know what to believe anymore.  I just watched it again recently and it held the same punch as when I first saw it three years ago.

my 2008 oscar picks

Saturday 23 February 2008

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I totally L-O-V-E love the Oscars, so I thought I’d share with you who I think will win (different from who I’d choose — maybe that’s more a post for post Oscar night). And if you still want to get in the action and it’s no past 4PM Eastern, you still can. And if it’s too late, try not to forget next year :)

And while you never know exactly what order they give out the awards in, I guess I’ll guess that, too! Play along yourself, and see how well I do! Let me also tell you just how many films I saw in each category, too, while I’m at it. And if you’re really good (at math or something like that) you might even be able to figure out some of the movies I didn’t see based on how many of each category I did see.

Looking down on my list, I’m a bit disappointed in a few things: compared to some other years, I don’t know if I did as good of a job getting to movies. I could have easily seen all the Best Picture nominees, but got lazy with Michael Clayton. Except for my refusal to see Russell Crowe in Master and Commander, this will be the first time in many years since I haven’t seen all 5 Best Picture nominees before Oscar night.

I only saw 5 of the 10 screenplay nominees, a number I will hopefully add to post-ceremony, and a sad number for the writer I claim to be. I am happy that I got to see all the short animated and live action films (today, actually, I went to see them @ a theater in DC), but there was no documentary shorts program to see, which was very disappointing (maybe after the ceremony). And only seeing 2 of the 5 documentary features, I also feel like I’m missed out on something. I can always saw I’ll get to them, and others, on video/DVD, but that rarely happens, especially with the plans I have in the coming months before the next batch of Oscar films hit the theaters this fall. And it also looks like I neglected the foreign films, but as someone said, the good ones actually didn’t get nominated, so I don’t blame myself in that category too much.

Enjoy my picks!

Actor in a Supporting Role (2 of 5)

Art Direction (2 of 5)

Costume Design (2 of 5)

Actress in a Supporting Role (2 of 5)
Cate BlanchettI’M NOT THERE
actual winner — Tilda SwintonMICHAEL CLAYTON

Makeup (0 of 3)

Visual Effects (0 of 3)
actual winner — THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Music (Original Score) (1 of 5)

Short Film (Animated) (5 of 5)
actual winner — PETER & THE WOLF

Short Film (Live Action) (5 of 5)

Sound Mixing (1 of 5)

Sound Editing (2 of 5)

Film Editing (2 of 5)
actual winner — THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Documentary Short Subject (0 of 4)
actual winner — FREEHELD

Documentary Feature (2 of 5)
actual winner — TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (3 of 5)

Writing (Original Screenplay) (2 of 5)

Foreign Language Film (0 of 5)

Music (Original Song) (1 of 3 movies, 5 total songs)

Animated Feature Film (1 of 3)

Cinematography (3 of 5)
actual winner — THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Actress in a Leading Role (2 of 5)
Marion CotillardLA VIE EN ROSE

Actor in a Leading Role (1 of 5)

Directing (3 of 5)

Best Picture (4 of 5)

join me at the oscars

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Since people who aren’t me usually don’t care about the Oscars until they actually happen (if they care at all), I figured I’d repost this a few days before the big event to give you the opportunity to once again challenge me to pick the winners of the 2008 Oscars, since we now know the show will actually happen!

Go to the Oscars website and sign in or sign up so you can join the “Predict the Winners” game. (Your name and password would be for any of the following, if you have them: Disney.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABC.com, ESPN.com, DisneyShopping.com, Go.com, Movies.com, FamilyFun.com). When it asks you to pick a group name, search for “Anyone, Really” and join that group. I hope to see a lot of you there! (And it’s nice to put your name in the entry name in some way so we all know who is who. :) )

And if you’re in DC and want to join me for the evening, do let me know — I’ll supply the popcorn and television!

oscars 2008

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Just a few minutes ago, the nominations for the 2008 Oscars (films “released” — that’s a whole ‘nother story — in 2007) were announced @ a press conference in California. As has been true for me for the past 6 or so years (I don’t think I got to last year, actually), I’ve woken up early enough to watch the announcements live, preparing me for the coming month-plus until the actual awards show. In this part of my life, I like to be one of those who is “first to know,” as may be the case for you in some other part of your life.

Now, one may ask (and I sure do), why have the Oscars (formally the Academy Awards) become such this big aspect of my entertainment life? I suppose it first and foremost has to do with my love of movies, which began many years ago, and the fact that the Oscars are said to be “the most prestigious prize in motion pictures.” From a young age, I started looking at what made a “good” movie by what was nominated for or won an Oscar. I remember watching The English Patient for a movie report in 10th grade while others were probably watching movies like Jerry Maguire or Independence Day and getting Shakespeare in Loveto watch with my mom and brother and being a little embarrased at the nudity that came with it (though, as my mom said, it was OK and beautiful in that setting — thanks mom).

Since those days 10 or so years ago, I still enjoy watching Oscar nominated movies (I’ve already seen 3 of the 5 nominated for Best Picture), especially those nominated for Best Documentary, but my movie viewing habits have gotten a little more independent than the Oscars, leaning — when I get the opportunity — more toward those movies nominated for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, which can be seen on IFC the night before the Oscars. (Anyone with cable want to invite me over? Rainn Wilson of “The Office” and Juno will be hosting.) And calling myself a “writer,” too, I’ve always enjoyed watching those films nominated for best screenplay, which is especially fun since the Oscars gives me 10 movies in 2 categories (original and adapted) to choose from.

I’ve also enjoyed watching the ceremonies for many many years, too, and love it when Billy Crystal hosts. The status of the Oscar awards ceremony this year, scheduled for 24 February is, of course, up in the air because of the continued Writers Guild of America writers strike. While I would love to see things settled so that a “normal” ceremony can go forth, I don’t want the writers to settle for less than they’re asking for or have them strike a deal just so the show can go on. If all I get are the movies and no ceremony to go with them, I can live with that. (Speaking of the strike, I was joking with someone that this would have been a good year to be out of the country — a shortened TV season, the prospect of no Oscar ceremony — you wouldn’t be missing too much in the entertainment world, unless, of course, you’re an American Idol and/or reality TV fan, in which case you’re probably in heaven.)

And before I go, I’d like to invite you to “Pick the Winners” of the Oscars with me in an online competition. Go to the Oscars website and sign in or sign up to enter the “Predict the Winners” game. (Your name and password would be for any of the following, if you have them: Disney.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABC.com, ESPN.com, DisneyShopping.com, Go.com, Movies.com, FamilyFun.com). When it asks you to pick a group name, search for “Anyone, Really” and the password is “movies.” I hope to see a lot of you there! (And it’s nice to put your name in the entry name in some way so we all know who is who. :) )