Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscars Predictions

First, the picks in the big 8 categories. The first line is who I would pick, the second is who I think will win, and following that are who several Oscars and movie experts think will win (not all of these experts have Screenplay picks on record:

Now my randomish picks for the other 16 categories:

Animated Feature Film- Rango
Art Direction- Hugo
Documentary Feature- Undefeated
Documentary Short Subject- Saving Face
Cinematography- War Horse
Costume Design- The Artist
Film Editing- Hugo
Foreign Language Film- A Separation
Makeup- The Iron Lady
Original Score- The Artist
Original Song- "Man or Muppet," The Muppets
Animated Short Film- Wild Life
Live Action Short Film- Raju
Sound Editing- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Sound Mixing- Hugo
Visual Effects- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Oscars Update 4

Here is the final version of the Best Picture scorecard. The preview post with picks and such is coming in a couple hours. First some thoughts on "War Horse" and "Hugo":

-"War Horse" was mediocre. Maybe I would have been more impressed if I hadn't seen it on Broadway, but this seemed basically the same level of quality at a much, much lower level of difficulty. I could see maybe a cinematography award, but not much more than that.
-"Hugo" was entertaining, but not much plot. I certainly enjoyed it, but I question if the exact same movie of the exact same quality would be up for awards if it was directed by Joe Smith instead of Martin Scorsese.

The scorecard:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscars Update 3

Here is my third Oscar movie update. The final one will be posted Sunday morning, followed by my picks. The remaining movies I have left are "War Horse" and "Hugo."

Some thoughts on the movies I watched last week:
- "The Help" is very well acted, but it drags. I'm also an Emma Stone fan, so I may have been a bit biased, but any movie that gets 3 female acting nominations and none are for Stone has to be pretty well acted.
-"The Tree of Life" is garbage. Just a waste of my afternoon. At different points in the movie I wasn't sure if Sean Penn was playing Brad Pitt's father, brother, or son. Also there were dinosaurs. Like Terra Nova, but less interesting.
-"Midnight in Paris" was fun. It's not a great movie, but it is an enjoyable one. In my mind, it was "Bill & Ted's Neurotic Adventure" for adults.

The scorecard:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In Defense of Glee's Winter Finale

WARNING: This might spoil anything and everything that has ever happened in Glee, as well as some things from Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, The West Wing, and Brothers & Sisters. Consider yourself warned. Because you were probably planning on catching up on Brothers & Sisters this weekend.

Glee isn't good.

This isn't news. Most of the third season has sucked. Most of the second season sucked. If we're being honest with ourselves, a good deal of the first season sucked. Basically ever since we found out that Tina was faking her stutter, Glee stopped being the show that the early airing pilot showed the potential of, and started being a show for overdrama, caricatures, iTunes sales, Nazi hunters, ginger supremacists, single-person marriages, attempted baby theft, crazy titled pamphlets, an overnight Broadway show about April Rhodes, silly celebrity cameos for competition judging, crack house field trips, magic legs, Gwyneth Paltrow singing Cee Lo Green, and spiked slushies. Also that Rocky Horror Picture Show episode happened. And Tina stopped getting any lines. For all we know, she's stuttering again.

And Glee had more of that random shit last night. Blaine rapping,  Sue's random pregnancy, the vampire judge, the out-of-nowhere reemergence of The Troubletones, and Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell brainstorming absurd ways out of Rachel and Finn's wedding. That stuff was awful. That's not what I'm defending.

So Glee is not usually very good. One area where that is not true is sexuality. Whether with the initial Kurt coming out story (remember when Mercedes had a crush on him?), Kurt and his father, the Karofsky bullying arc, or the Santana/Brittany stuff, sexuality storylines have been one of Glee's strong points. Even the fact that Rachel has 2 dads is treated with stereotypes, but also as no big deal.

The (spoiler) Karofsky suicide story last night was pretty spot on. I'm not defending that either. It doesn't need defending. There is no need to. Even the reviews harshest on last night's episode were pleased with the first 15 minutes or so of last night's episode.

No, what I want to defend is the twist. The last few minutes. The (SERIOUSLY, THIS IS THE SPOILER) truck that literally drove right into Quinn Fabray as she texted Rachel.

Quinn was an important character to some of the early arcs of Glee. She was Rachel's rival, Finn's girlfriend, Puck's baby mama, and the reason Santana and Brittany are in the Glee club. She was essential to season one.

Quinn was not essential to season two. She got engaged to Sam at one point. She ran for prom queen against Lauren Zizes and we learned she had some weird backstory where she was fat which never came up again. She sang that awful version of "Afternoon Delight" with John Stamos and Emma. Don't these people watch Arrested Development?

This season, Quinn has been a disaster. Her major story arc involved her plans to mess with Shelby's apartment, call child protective services, and attempt to steal her baby. Seriously. That's a thing that happened. Over several episodes.

Then Quinn decided to apply to Yale.

Then Quinn got into Yale. Early decision.

From the pilot of Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore expresses her desire to attend Harvard. It's what sets the series in motion. It's the first sentence of the second paragraph of her Wikipedia bio. When Rory got into Harvard and Yale and decided to go to Yale, it was based on long-built characterization.

When Quinn applied to and was admitted to Yale, it was just a thing that happened.

Quinn serves no purpose anymore in Glee. And Diana Agron is a good enough actress where she deserves to get out of this show if she's just going to hang around as a 5th or 6th female character and get a storyline once a season, when Sugar or Becky aren't available.

They could send her to Yale. She could pop up for cameos once in a while, but no longer be part of the show. It wouldn't affect anyone else at all.

Or they could kill her.

In the season five finale of Grey's Anatomy, they killed off George O'Malley. He wasn't sick, in fact another character with supposedly incurable cancer looked like she would bite the dust in that episode, but she survived. In the first half of the season five finale, George was fine. At the halfway mark he made a major career decision (joining the Army). Then he got hit by a bus. And that was T.R. Knight's last appearance on the show.

George had served his role. He was essential in the storylines of Meredith, Izzy, Callie, Bailey, and Lexie. They could have sent him off to the military and let Knight return if he ever wanted to. But it would not move the story forward for the other characters at all.

Grey's best echoes the opportunity Glee now has. They had set up the potential other death, but did the surprising thing instead. And now it sets things up.

There is not a single character who would not be affected by Quinn's death. Rachel's guilt. Finn and Sam thinking about what could have been. Brittany and Santana losing their best friend. Puck, losing his ex, telling Shelby and eventually Beth. Sue, reacting to the death of one of her prize Cheerios just a year after losing her sister.

The West Wing killed off Mrs. Landingham out of nowhere (she had just bought her first car and got into a car accident) and it changed President Bartlet and Charlie for the rest of the series. While Brothers & Sisters took a huge downstep (and then was canceled) after killing off Rob Lowe's Senator McCallister, its because they did it the wrong way. Instead of letting the audience feel the fallout and see the characters respond to losing someone in their family, they skipped to a calender year after the crash.

So the fact that Quinn's accident is out of nowhere is not a problem. Introducing a sudden, shocking scenario may actually let Glee finally have some interesting storylines again. They just have to follow through, and kill Quinn Fabray.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some Thoughts on Gary Carter

Hall of Fame Catcher Gary Carter passed away today. He was 57.

I never saw Gary Carter play. He left the Mets when I was one year old, he retired when I was four.

I never got to see Gary Carter play, but I'll never not see the highlights. The Mets have never won a World Series in my life, but even once they win another, the highlights from '86 will always be around.

There is no player in baseball, not now, not that I can remember, who ever looked like he was enjoying playing as much as Gary Carter looked like he was enjoying playing.

I'm young. I'm only 23. No player I've ever really rooted for, none of my favorite players, have ever passed away. Sure, there are players who were Mets when I rooted for the Mets- Jose Lima, Geremi Gonzalez- by no real player who I rooted for. So I can only imagine what fans of the '86 team are feeling like. But even as someone who never saw him play, I feel great sadness. Gary Carter was a great Met, a great baseball player, and by all regards a fantastic person. He will be missed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oscars Update 2

I've now seen 4 of the nominated movies, with 3 more coming this upcoming holiday weekend, and the final 2 on Oscar weekend. One thought on the film I watched this weekend: 

-While I thought Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was overly emotional- its not a 9/11 story, and if his father had died in a tragic car accident the story would be the same, but using 9/11 adds pre-cooked emotion to the story- I thought some of the acting- particularly the non-Oscar winners (yet) fantastic. Viola Davis, who I hadn't realized was in the film, was terrific, and Max von Sydow did better silent acting than anyone in The Artist.

Now, the chart:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Oscars Scorecard

Over the next few weeks, I will be watching each of the nine Oscar nominated best pictures.* For each I will fill out the following rubric.

*except for Moneyball, which I saw in theaters when it came out.

Acting- Self explanatory. How good the acting is.
Production- All production aspects (special effects, music, etc.)
Script- How good the script is.
Oscarness- How well it fits into the type of movies the Oscars normally award.

Each will be graded out of 10. The 4 will be added up and have an overall score out of 40. 

So far:

I'll make a new post after I've seen a couple more movies.