Posts Tagged ‘Argo’

And, The Oscar Picks Go To….

Do you prefer to call them the “Oscars” or the “Academy Awards”?  I like using both.

While I’m much better at predicting weather, I always like to make my picks for the award shows.  The People’s Choice Awards, the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Country Music Association Awards are the easiest to predict since they’re mostly based on popularity, or so it seems.  I’m horrible at picking Grammy Award winners.

Tonight is the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre) in Los Angeles, California.

I’ve never watched “Family Guy” or “The Cleveland Show”, but I still want to see “Ted”.  So, I know little about host Seth MacFarlane except that’s he’s supposed to be funny and that’s he a trained pianist and singer.  I ordered his debut album, “Music Is Better Than Words”, because I love his voice.

music is better than words

Back to the Oscars, yesterday, Ray and I sat down and picked our winners independently of each other.

My advantages are (1) I keep up on pop culture and entertainment (2) I read the bible of the entertainment world, “Entertainment Weekly”, and (3) I put more thought into it.  On the other hand, my disadvantages are (1) I keep up on pop culture and entertainment (2) I read the bible of the entertainment world, “Entertainment Weekly”, (3) I put more thought into it, and (4) to some extent, I have been influenced by other people’s thought processes.

Ray’s advantages are (1) that he’s goes by his gut feeling and (2) he has to listen to me quote “Entertainment Weekly”.

So, while I picked “Argo” to win Best Picture, if it does win, it will be a rarity because only three times in the history of the Academy Awards has a movie won for Best Picture if the director wasn’t nominated.  And, Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director.  The last movie to win Best Picture without a Best Director nod was 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy”.

In all honesty, I wasn’t influenced by this, but it’s adorable.

Goldens Pick Oscars

While I really think that “Lincoln” will win Best Picture, I’m going for an “Argo” upset.

And, for Best Actress, I think it’ll come down to Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), but I picked Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour).  I would be so thrilled (and shocked) if Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) wins and becomes the youngest Best Actress winner ever.  Riva would become the oldest Best Actress winner if she gets the Oscar.

May the best man (or woman) win in the Oscars and the Oscar picks.

Anthony

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Weekend Oscar Battle: “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Les Miserables”

There are nine movies nominated for “Best Picture” in this year’s Oscar race.  After going to the movies yesterday for a double feature, I’ve now seen five of the nine.  Interestingly enough, the only one of the nine that I really have no desire to see is “Django Unchained”, but I’ll check it out when it’s released on DVD.

With popcorn and Coke Zero (with a splash of Cherry Coke) in hand, we grabbed our seats for “Zero Dark Thirty”.

zero-dark-thirty

This Kathryn Bigelow-directed spy thriller, which is nominated for five Oscars, takes us along on the painstaking search and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The movie begins on September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Those attacks led to the murder of more than 3,000 Americans and kicked off  “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.”

While a very talkative movie, Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, who was also at the helm of the 2010 Oscar winner, “The Hurt Locker”, gives you a thorough history lesson that didn’t make it feel like you were in school.

When we first see Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain, she’s a quiet, mousy CIA agent observing torture techniques to get information on al-Qaeda.  As the search for bin Laden drags on for almost ten years, we see her become a confident, assertive agent that gave the government the ammunition it needed to convince the president to order the U.S. Navy SEALs to go in and take bin Laden out.

The movie is being criticized in some circles as being pro-torture.  Yes, we see several scenes of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, starvation, physical abuse, and psychological torture with one prisoner being naked in front of his captors.  While the scenes were tough to watch and you did feel compassion toward the Middle Eastern detainee being interviewed, the reality of the situation is that 3,000+ Americans were killed and the U.S. needed information to prevent another 9/11 attack.

Jason Clarke was superb as the aforementioned interrogator.  The acting in the movie is top-notch.

The movie is more than 2 1/2 hours long, but once the order is given to storm bin Laden’s compound in Pakistani darkness, you’re sitting on your seat and you hold your breath to see how the operation will go down.

GRADE:  B+

les mis

As most of you already know, “Les Miserables”, or “Les Mis” is now a movie and Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel about Frenchman Jean Valjean, who served 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed starving relatives..

Once Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from prison, he breaks his parole and a police inspector, Javert (Russell Crowe) dedicates his life to track down Valjean and put him back in prison.  In the course of redemption, Valjean becomes a factory owner and the mayor and he rescues the child, Cosette, of one of his dying factory workers, Fantine.  (That’s not a spoiler if you know anything about “Les Mis”.)

Hugh Jackman received a Best Actor nomination and Anne Hathaway is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her heartbreaking performance of poor, dying prostitute Fantine.  Although her time in the movie is limited, when she performs “I Dreamed A Dream”, I was ready to give her the Oscar right then!

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were amazing as the lying, cheating, unconscionable Thenardiers.  Their comic relief was needed in a very bleak and depressing movie.

Now, since this is a musical, I have to mention the singing.  Instead of singing along to pre-recorded tracks and lip synching, the actors were required to sing live with piano accompaniments.  The orchestra was added in post-production.

Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks (adult Eponine) were spectacular and Amanda Seyfried (adult Cosette) is just as captivating as she was in “Mamma Mia”.  Hugh Jackman has done many productions that required singing, so he did a great job, too.  I was also pleasantly surprised with the singing voices of Eddie Redmayne (Marius) and Aaron Tveit (Enjolras).  Even Oscar winner Russell Crowe, while not a spectacular singer, was acceptable.  Let’s just say he’s no Pierce Brosnan in the “Mamma Mia” movie!

However, singer Adam Lambert of “American Idol” fame was very critical of the singing in the movie.

Adam Lambert

While I like Adam and I have his latest album, I thought that was a little harsh.  I mean they all can’t be “American Idol” winners.  Oh wait, neither were you!

The “Les Mis” soundtrack is the #1 album in America and, in just the first ten days of release, it has already outsold Adam’s last album, “Trespassing”, in the U.S., which was released eight months ago.  And, yesterday, it was reported that Adam Lambert was dropped/parted ways from his label.  So, I guess he shouldn’t be too bitchy about the singing in “Les Miserables”.

My favorites numbers in the movie for those that have seen it are:  “I Dreamed A Dream” (Hathaway), “Master of the House”  (Bonham Carter, Baron Cohen, & Cast), “ABC Cafe/Red and Black” (Redmayne, Tveit, & Students), “On My Own” (Barks), Russell Crowe’s final song (giving you the title would be a spoiler!), and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (Redmayne)

While “Les Mis” was nominated for eight Academy Awards this year, after seeing the movie, I’m very shocked that director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech) was snubbed for a Best Director Oscar nomination, along with director Ben Affleck of “Argo”.

“LES MIS” EXTRA — SAMANTHA BARKS “ON MY OWN”

GRADE:  A-

Random Thoughts 2012 Recap, Part Three

Okay, new blogs start tomorrow.  This is my final installment of the recaps of my “random” blogs from 2012.  Those are the ones where I talked about multiple topics in one blog.  Basically, it was whatever was on my mind that day!  To read the individual blogs from this fall, I’ve made it easy.  Just click on the title once you’ve opened today’s blog.

September 15, 2012

In this blog, I covered Osama bin Laden, 9/11, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Argo”, “Lincoln”, freaky fish, Asian carp, bananas, and marriage equality.

I’m Having More Random Thoughts

September 27, 2012

My random thoughts on this day included Ohio and the presidential election, heavy rain expected in Houston for my vacation, our fish pond and raccoons, “The Impossible”, Christmas, Reba and “Malibu Country”, “The New Normal”, “Elementary”, and new music from Calvin Harris.

A Buffet of Thoughts — A Little of This & That

November 10, 2012

In this blog, I put the elections into perspective and behind me and I covered the top-selling artists in English music history, how many people believe in God, Christmas cards, and featured new music from Reba McEntire.

My Early November Random Thoughts

November 15, 2012

In this blog, I talked about Channing Tatum being named the “Sexiest Man Alive”, Christmas, Christmas music from Rod Stewart and Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.  Also, I blogged about “The Campaign” and “Arthur Christmas”, bigotry, Madonna, and PSY.

I’m Thinking About Christmas & Much More Today

December 6, 2012

Christmas was on my mind in this blog, along with human rights, Hillary Clinton, the lack of snow, my sister, Tammy, Shania Twain in Las Vegas, Britney Spears and will.i.am, Christmas decorating, Ke$ha, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and “Love Actually”.

Random December Thoughts

December 15, 2012

And, finally, Christmas, “Dexter”, marriage equality, killing camels, ice, snow, winter, and the fish pond were on my mind in my last random blog of the year.

I’m Having More Random December Thoughts

Anthony

Random Thoughts 2012 Recap, Part Two

Here’s another round of the random blogs that I posted this summer that covered multiple topics.  To read each random blog, I’ve made it easy so you only have to click on the highlighted title inside the blog.  Have a great Saturday.

June 21, 2012

You Know What I’m Thinking?

In this blog, I talked about classic rock and kitchen renovation, causes of death in the United States, the summer drought and being ready for fall and winter, Olivia Newton-John, my future pick hit from Chris Wallace, and chocolate wine.

July 10, 2012

I’m Thinking About These Things Today (And You May Agree or Disagree)

In this blog,  just ten days before the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting spree, I said “guns don’t kill, people do”.  I know that guns caused the actual deaths, but there was a person behind them.  Sadly, when I wrote this segment of the blog, I referenced the Tucson, Arizona shooting and I had no idea of what would happen later in the month.  And, now we have the fresh, sad memories of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  You might find the reading interesting and I welcome your feedback.

I also referenced work and seniority, which is another ill-fated topic since I’m no longer there.

There were also random thoughts about Hank Williams Jr. calling President Obama “Hitler”, food, the remake of “Steel Magnolias”, Carrie Underwood, and the music of Laura Pausini.

August 7, 2012

My Wandering Mind — Here’s What I’m Thinking About

The heavy topic on my mind here was about returning soldiers and the demons they face, which leads to more suicides.  I also touched on human rights.  On a lighter note, I had random thoughts about “Dexter”, fall, food, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Artpop”, Lady Gaga, “The Paperboy”, “Lebanon”, and the music of Demi Lovato.

August 26, 2012

Oh No, He’s Thinking About Random Things

Topics here:  nuclear power plants, healthy eating and cheesecake, bigotry, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, fall, Thomas Roberts’ upcoming marriage, hot new music from Zedd and Madonna, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Argo”.

One more coming tomorrow.

Anthony

Anthony’s 2012 Favorite Movies

I love lists.  I love reading them and I love compiling my own.  When I sit down each December to put together my favorite movies and compact discs of the year, I consider anything that is new to me that year.  So, yes, a movie that was released in the past may make my Top Ten list, even though it isn’t “new”.

Here is my list of my favorites movies I saw in 2012.  I encourage you to check out the trailers for the movies that are not mainstream or blockbusters in the United States since you may not have heard of them.  And, some of them may be a little scandalous depending on your sensitivities!!!!  🙂

Before I get to my Top Ten, here are ten others that barely missed out!

#20

The Descendants

#19

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

#18

Drive

#17

The Ides of March

#16

The Skin I Live In

#15 Movie

Jitters

#14 Movie

The Men Next Door

#13

Worldwide Box Office:  $22.8 million

#12 Movie

Worldwide Box Office:  $247.9 million

#11 Movie

Worldwide Box Office:  $56.4 million

#10 MOVIE

Worldwide Box Office:  $28.3 million

Worldwide Box Office:  —

Worldwide Box Office:  $1.1 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $295.1 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $159.8 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $116.7 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $151.1 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $6 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $114.9 million

Worldwide Box Office:  $1 million

 

There you have it — my favorite movies.  What are your favorites movies you saw in 2012?

Anthony

Oscar Is Tempting Us Into Movie Theaters

Going to the movies these days is not a cheap date.  By the time you buy two tickets (even at matinee prices), a large popcorn, and two large sodas, you’re looking at over $30.  I guess that’s not really all that bad for two hours of entertainment, but what if the movie is disappointing.

Prior to last night, I’ve gone to  the movies seven times this year.  I saw “This Means War”, “Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter”, and the original “Halloween” in the cheap theater.  As for first run movies, I saw “Dark Shadows”, “Magic Mike”, “Argo”, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.  I really hope that when the Oscar nominations are announced in January that we hear “Argo” and “Perks” among the nominees.

oscar-statues-02

When we get to November and December, we start seeing movie companies baiting Oscar.  The superheroes and the serial killer/slashers are replaced by more thought-provoking theatrical releases.  I saw one of those movies last night.

Lincoln

LINCOLN”

“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor goes to [sound of opening envelope] Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”.  There’s no need to draw this until the Oscars on February 24, 2013.

When the Oscar nominations come out in January, we’ll be seeing this movie nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay (Tony Kushner), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), and likely nominations for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field) and Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones).

Much of the 2.5-hour-long movie takes place in January 1865 as the Civil War rages on and President Lincoln works behind the scene toward getting the 13th Amendment passed that would end slavery.  (In case history was your weak subject, he was assassinated in April 1865).

While watching the movie, I didn’t see Daniel Day-Lewis portraying our 16th president, I saw Abraham Lincoln!  Day-Lewis, who has already won two Best Actor Oscars for “My Left Foot” (1989) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007), was mind-blowing and has a very good chance of picking up his third Oscar.

I could have sat there for another two hours watching him play Lincoln.  You could see the heartbreak he felt about losing one of his sons and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that died in the Civil War, and his quest to ensure that slavery would be abolished.  But, Spielberg and Kushner also gave us a chance to see Lincoln’s fun side when he would tell stories and jokes.

Sally Field definitely took advantage of the stories we’ve read about Mary Todd Lincoln’s unpredictable and unstable personality.  While going off the deep end in some scenes, she was very much in touch with the politics that her husband was dealing with and you could tell how much she supported him in other scenes.  Portraying both sides of Lincoln definitely raises Field’s chances for a third Oscar.

After the big vote about the future of slavery and the end of the Civil War, we see President Lincoln walking down the hallway and down the stairs at the White House.  If Steven Spielberg had asked me, I would have faded from that scene to the last scene of the movie of Lincoln giving a speech that led into the credits.  I would have cut out the five minutes or so of the movie (two scenes) that Spielberg left in there.  I won’t say what those two scenes were, but the movie didn’t need them.

But, who am I?  He’s Steven Freaking Spielberg!

GRADE:  A

“RISE OF THE GUARDIANS”

This Thanksgiving, many people will park themselves at the table or on a couch watching parades and football, while others will go shopping for “Black Friday” bargains.  Many will be heading to the movies and feasting on “Lincoln”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”, “Life of Pi”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Red Dawn”, and “Rise of the Guardians”.

Rise_of_the_Guardians_poster

However, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Gretel and I have a date to see “Rise of the Guardians”.  (If we can convince Ray to go along with us, we’ll wait until the weekend of Thanksgiving!)

Why not hangout with Jack Frost and the Guardians (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman) all in the same movie as they fight off the evil Pitch, the Nightmare King?  Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law voice the main characters in this $145 million dollar fantasy movie.

It looks fun and there’s even Oscar buzz for this movie for Best Animated Feature.

There are three other movies that are on my list to see this holiday season, but one will not open wide until January 11, 2013, although it opens before Christmas in New York City and Los Angeles.

“ZERO DARK THIRTY”

ZeroDarkThirty

This is the follow-up to Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”, which also won “Best Picture” and “Best Original Screenplay, along with three other wins.  It follows the hunt to eliminate al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain.

It’s being billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.”

“THE IMPOSSIBLE”

the-impossible

Another touching movie that I want to see is already getting award season buzz.  “The Impossible” follows one family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left around one-quarter of a million people dead.

It stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.  The $45 million movie has already made its money back since it was released in some foreign markets in October.  Most of the $46.3 million that the money has made is in Spain.

I know the movie opens December 21st in the United States, but I can’t confirm if that’s limited or wide release.  (I’m leaning toward limited.)

“LES MISERABLES”

les mis

And, finally, on Christmas Day, the movie adaptation of the successful stage musical, “Les Miserables”, opens across the country.

Watching a movie about a man who goes to prison for stealing bread and a poor woman who is ridiculed for having an illegitimate child and forced into prostitution!  What a depressing way to spend a glorious holiday that already depresses many people!

This movie has OSCAR written all over.  It’s directed by Tom Hooper, who also directed the Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech” and stars Hugh Jackman (“Real Steel”, “Swordfish”, and the “X-Men” series), Russell Crowe (“Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind”), Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”), Eddie Redmayne (“My Week With Marilyn”), Sasha Baron Cohen (“Hugo” and “Borat”), and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech” and “Dark Shadows”).

What movies are you excited about this holiday season?

Anthony

Wallflowers Do Blossom!

Thirty years ago, in high school, I was a wallflower and Ray was outgoing and fun (and he’s the one that went to a Catholic school)!   A wallflower is a loner or a shy person that doesn’t socialize or participate in activities at social events.

The only thing that I took part in during high school was reciting the creed in a Future Farmers of America (FFA) function my freshman year, only because it was required as part of the initiation process and then I opted out of FFA my final three years of high school.

The only things I thought about in high school were making straight-As and becoming a weatherman.  Look where both of those things got me.  🙂  Luckily, in college and beyond, I blossomed from an introvert to a very outgoing, public figure.

That is a good thing because I feel that confidence is something that I want to instill in my 11-year-old daughter, Gretel, as she goes through those ever-changing, drama-filled teen years!

Thursday night, Ray and I went to see the movie, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” (now playing at the Rave Cinema in Davenport, Iowa, and in more than 700 theaters across the country).  And, it’s definitely a movie I suggest to parents with kids in  junior high or high school.  We may have forgotten just how bad or stressful high school really was and that it wasn’t always a blast.


The movie is based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky.  Luckily, when the movie was filmed last year in and near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the author also wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

“Perks” follows Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, who’s biggest role has been playing demigod Percy Jackson in the series based on the books by Rick Riordan.  The first movie came out in 2010 and the sequel arrives in theaters next fall.

Charlie is a shy teenager beginning his freshman year of high school and he’s already counting down the days until he graduates from day one.  He writes letters to an anonymous person to express everything that happens in his life since he doesn’t feel that he can talk to his family.  His closest relative is his Aunt Helen and we see her in flashbacks.

At school, he develops a rapport with his English teacher, Bill, played with quiet subtly by Paul Rudd.  Bill encourages Charlie to read many classic literary works to expand the young man’s intellect.

In shop class, Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), a senior that is taking the class with the freshman because he’s such a cut-up that he can’t pass the course and move on.  We also learn that Patrick makes jokes about everything because he’s harboring his own secrets and heartbreak.

Last year, Miller starred in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, which is still one of my favorite movies that I saw earlier this year.  He was even nominated for his performance in that chilling, psychological thriller that was grossly passed over by moviegoers and the Academy Awards.

The third of the major stars of the movie is also the biggest star in the movie.  Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movie series.  This is her first starring role since leaving Hogwarts behind.

All three actors are very believable and you feel their joy and their heartbreak throughout the 102-minute movie.  You’ll laugh and you’ll want to cry and you’ll be thankful that you survived high school.

The movie follows Charlie as he meets Patrick and Sam (Watson) at a football game and he mistakenly thinks that Patrick and Sam are dating.  Actually, they’re step-brother and sister.  Charlie writes about going out afterwards to a diner with Patrick and Sam, a ride through the tunnel that becomes a focal point of the movie, Patrick’s love affair, Charlie getting his first kiss and his first relationship, and his falling in love with Sam.

The funniest scene in the movie is when the group attends a party and Charlie samples brownies at a stoner’s house.  While the laced treats allow Charlie to be honest with his feelings, it also hints at the darker past that haunts the quiet teen.

There’s also a Christmas scene in the movie and I definitely have a weakness for movies that feature my favorite season.

“The Perks of Being A Wallflower” is a powerfully charged, must-see movie this fall.

Along with “Argo”, it goes to show that Hollywood does produce some quality offerings.  Now, bring on “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty”.

GRADE:  B