All posts tagged: Academy Awards

Quest for the Best (Picture), Once Again

Has it really been seven years since we decided to try to catch the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards show?  Indeed it has. Truth be told, this has been an up-and-down process.  There are years when I’ll see 7 of the 8 or 9 films nominated.  Then, there are times such as last year when we took in four on one weekend…and that was it. This year was really different, in that I’ve seen all 8 of the films nominated, plus a few more that could have been in the running. 100 percent!  That’s a first. As in years past, I’ll provide the caveat that I’m no movie critic, so these are totally personal views without any understanding of the nuances of filmmaking. I’ll also list these in the order I ranked them, which is where I get the most comments. So, my best picture award would go to If Beale Street Could Talk.  Wait, you say, it wasn’t nominated!  Well, that’s not my fault; it should have been.  This was a beautiful …

Quest for the Best (Picture): The Best-Laid Plans Edition

Well, Candice and I were on a roll to get to all nine Best Picture nominees prior to Sunday night’s Academy Awards show.  But then two sold-out theatres (when we tried to see Fences and Lion), trips to Tennessee (both of us) and Florida (Candice), a board meeting, and a very bad head cold (the last two are mine) intervened. So the four I ranked on February 18th are the only ones we’ll see prior to the awards show.  I’m sorry we did not see the other five nominees, and especially Fences and Arrival.  This was an especially rich year for Best Picture nominees. Of the four that we saw, the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar is La La Land.  It is a delightful movie, but compared to the other three we saw, it is a lightweight.  What most reviewers note is that the voters love nothing better than to award good films about making films. In reflecting on the other three – Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight – I think …

A Quest for the Best Picture (2015 Edition)

As we entered our empty nesting period, Candice and I took the plunge in 2012 and made a pledge to try and see all of the year’s films nominated in the Academy Awards’ “Best Picture” category.  We (almost) succeeded – seeing eight of the nine 2012  nominees – and every year since we’ve taken on the same challenge.  While we seldom get to all the films (we generally avoid the gratuitously violent ones such as 2013’s Django Unchained), we’ve seen the vast majority and have really enjoyed talking and – in my case  – writing about them. This year there are eight nominees, and as we enter the final month we now have three under our belt.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful, lush, and very funny film by Wes Anderson, which we saw in March when it was first released. The acting by Ralph Fiennes as the concierge, along with that of the rest of the ensemble, is delicious while the plot is convoluted and crazed.  This is a very good film…but not …

Quest for the Best (Picture) Final Edition

In this final installment of thoughts from our unqualified but enthusiastic movie reviewer about the 2014 Best Picture nominees, I’ll provide thoughts about why each of the six pictures I saw could, should, or won’t win the Best Picture award. In alphabetical order… American Hustle – Great ensemble acting.  Any of the four principals would deserve an award.  And yes, I love anything that Jennifer Lawrence is in. Amy Adams is pretty amazing as well. But the story line doesn’t hang together for me. (When I read this NY Times article on David O. Howard’s filmmaking style, I realized why.) While American Hustle is one of the favorites, I think there are several better movies in the running this year. Gravity – After seeing this movie on the plane earlier this week, the Tina Fey line at the Golden Globes about the lengths George Clooney will go in order not to date any female his own age finally made sense!  Seriously, this is a terrific movie.  Clooney is Clooney. (These days, he appears to just …

Quest for the Best (Picture) Update

In our quest to see all the Best Picture nominees before the March 2nd Academy Awards show, Candice and I find ourselves well behind our pace of recent years.  We’re going to blame it all on February.  Have I mentioned that I really hate February? Why does this month even exist? But enough with the excuses…we’ve now seen four of the nine nominees.  I wrote earlier about the first two, so let’s focus on the most recent films we’ve seen.  Both were very satisfying. Philomena stars the incomparable Judi Dench who – as Philomena Lee – undertakes a search for a son she was forced to give up for adoption some fifty years earlier by the nuns of an Irish convent.  This is a deeply moving true story, that is lovingly filmed.  Steve Coogan, as the journalist Martin Sixsmith who uncovers Philomena’s story, interacts very effectively with Dench on the screen.  I won’t spoil it for those who have not seen the movie, but this is one I strongly recommend.  Philomena is a terrific movie. …

Quest for the Best (Picture), Year III

Yes, we’re at it again.  As has been the case the past two years, Candice and I are out to see all of the Best Picture nominees (or as many as possible) before the Academy Awards show.  We began this new tradition two years ago after we became empty nesters, and I have to say it  has raised my stock as a husband. One of my major failings in life before I came up with this brilliant idea was not making an effort to go to the movies. What can I say… However, we got a late start this year.  (Once again, the “sure things” we went to see early in the year – I’m looking at you Lee Daniels’ The Butler – didn’t make the final cut of the Academy.) So here it is February 1st – with the awards show just weeks away, and we’ve only seen two.  However, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the winner. If there is any justice in the world, 12 Years a Slave will win in a rout.  …

And the Winner Is…

Wow! What a great year for movies. On the eve of the Academy Awards, I’ve seen eight of the nine nominees for Best Picture.  (You can read my earlier posts here, here, and here.)  The only missing nominee?  That would be Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. I saw Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards with its similar fantasy-laden subject area and over-the-top, almost cartoonish violence a few years back, and I simply decided that Django wasn’t Best Picture quality in my book.  The fact that it is never mentioned in the top five contenders just confirms my decision. But this afternoon, I saw another controversial – but much more substantive – movie, Zero Dark Thirty.   Despite the controversy surrounding the movie, I’m here to say that it works on many levels and deserves the consideration for Best Picture.  Jessica Chastain is a real force, carrying the movie forward with her fine acting. In the end, however, I have to agree with Timothy Egan of the New York Times, who writes about the problems of  Zero Dark Thirty.  The lack …