Friday, February 28, 2014

Tis The Oscar Season

[Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue featuring several nominees.]
In 1997, the year when "The Ship of Dreams" dominated the Academy Awards, I have my first memory of being crazy about Oscar.

I remember it fondly; I adored Titanic, and here it was nominated for a zillion awards. I was quickly invested in all this awards show business.Obviously all the movies (aka the one) I loved, were the most worthwhile. Look! That stack of winning gold statues proves that point!

L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting, and the slew of other terrific nominees from that year were still a little over my head, but I had seen one whole nominee, it was winning everything, so that's all that mattered. 

Seventeen years in, the tradition of tuning in for the Oscars has continually meant an event involving food, family, and friends. Definitely a holiday of sorts for film freaks or anyone using it as an excuse to have a grand ole time.

Over the years I've definitely done better than my 4th grade self and try to see as many nominees as possible.  Last year I caught 7 out of 9 Best Picture contenders, even committing to crying and being depressed about Amour the night before the awards were handed out. 

This year has been the worst in recent memory. Five out of nine - that's bad. 

Back in December you couldn't find someone more jazzed to check out these critically acclaimed wonders in the theater. In the end, film fanatic me lost out to cheapo me. Somewhere in the last month I just decided to give up, since most of the potential winners will be rent-able, a more economical option, soon. 

Not making it to 12 Years A Slave (the most likely Best Picture winner) is my only regret. That one has been on my list to see since the fall, and I just didn't make it happen. 

There were many favorite things to be found in the nominees, even if you didn't have time to see them all:

American Hustle

Fashion. Music. Acting. Those words completely sum up the American Hustle experience. 

Do I completely remember the story? No, but that's not important when several scenes look like a  1970's music video, that follows with Jennifer Lawrence blowing up a microwave and then freaking out about nail polish.

Go in expecting to be entertained and you will.

Captain Phillips

While this is a jolting, exciting, and completely captivating movie, it's a tad too long. For a portion in the middle I just wanted it to end. Stick with it because Tom Hanks in the final moments is something you won't forget.

Dallas Buyers Club

Perfectly embodying a set of heartbreaking characters makes Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto too good to lose. For McConaughey this would be a glorious end to honor the crazy amount of creative roles he has taken on in the last two years - Killer Joe, Mud, and The Paperboy, just to name a few. 

Alright, alright, alright.


As Sandy Bullock floats through space, the dialogue is mighty iffy at certain points. 

Then an asteroid collides, and the terror in the beautifully orchestrated moment happening in front of your eyes will take your breath away. If Best Picture means, "most extraordinary movie going experience" there is nothing that could top Gravity now or for years to come.


Merely hours ago, I was finally sitting down to watch this one, and I am still basking in being completely enamored with this family, who goes on a little road trip to pick up a (potential) $1 Million  sweepstakes prize.

It's a simple story where every single actor on screen is perfectly cast for their role. Each person who walks on screen is better than the one before. 

June Squibb and Bruce Dern are nominated for their roles, and are naturally lovely, but it's Will Forte who made the biggest impression on me. He is far from SNL, but, just like other comedians before him, he is equally masterful at playing a compassionate, regular guy. That is a stretch coming from MaGruber.


If I know one thing, it is that there is nothing that makes me happier than watching crazy lady characters on screen. For that reason alone, no one deserves that Best Actress more than Cate Blanchett. 

I know, I know, I too feel sketchy supporting Woody Allen productions (the director behind her Blue Jasmine performance) , but I can't forget about that lady talking to herself on a bench. 

The Great Gatsby Costuming

I may be the only fan of everything Gatsby - I still even praise Leo's performance. At least the extraordinary costumes and production design are being acknowledged. Not even the fashionistas in American Hustle can beat the roaring 20s glamor. 

"Let It Go"

I don't know what to do with myself when I actually make correct predictions. Halfway through Frozen, when "Let It Go" cues up, I turned to my dad and said, "this song is going to be a hit." 

Since then, the Idina Menzel original is topping the charts (currently at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100), Demi Lavato released the sub-par version that is also available on the soundtrack (ahem. why?), and endless covers are on every corner of the internet. 

I do declare that I will not get sick of this song.

Before Midnight

The Before Sunrise, Before Sunset,and Before Midnight trio, to be blunt, could be really boring. Over the years as I rented each one, I have found that there is nothing more enamoring than simply watching Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawk walk around. What other movie has been able to accomplish that?

Here's hoping the trilogy ends with a win in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Each line feels entirely natural, one in particular was my favorite: "I fucked up my whole life because of the way you sing."
If you haven't already, give these movies a chance sooner rather than later. 

That's it for the 2013 movie season y'all! Don't forget everyone, Bette Midler is performing for the first time on the Oscar stage. If that doesn't make your night, I'm not sure anything will. 

Well, Ellen DeGeneres is hosting again! I hope she does more vacuuming.

Have a fun day, enjoy, and don't lose too much money in all those high stakes Oscar Pools.

Until next time.

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