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That’s a Wrap: The 85th Academy Awards

25 Feb

Let me put it out there: last night’s Oscar telecast was fantastic. A little long yes, a tad dry in parts, but overall, I found it to be funny and delightful. I was genuinely surprised that Seth MacFarlane did so well. He was charming and walked the line of cracking jokes at Hollywood’s big players and being respectfully that the he, the dude who voices a vulgar teddy, alien-like baby and talking dog, was hosting the Oscars.

Though there weren’t a ton of surprises, winner wise (see the full list here), there were many moments during the telecast that stood out to me. Here are some quick reactions:

  • I seriously loved Oscars tribute to music, especially the performances from Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miserables. What can I say? I love me some musicals. 

  • Singing and dancing by Channing Tatum, Charlize Theron, Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Godron Levitt was a definite hightlight, as was the riff on The Sound of Music. The opening monologue parts with William Shatner were not my faves.

Another area in which the show really shined was with the host of wonderful acceptance speeches. Jennifer Lawrence receiving best actress (at the ripe old age of 22, making her the second youngest actress to win the award and the youngest person to have been nominated for Best Actress twice!) really nailed her speech, despite taking a tumble as she walked to accept the award!


Other speeches that stood out were Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (surprisingly funny, and also history-making, as DDL is the first actor to win three best actor statues!) and Ben Affleck (not surprisingly emotional and poignant!) taking home best picture for Argo. He’s only the fourth filmmaker to take home best picture without being nominated for best director. Go Ben!

Another one for the history books was Oscar’s first tie since 1995 and only the 6th in Oscar history, when Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty both won for best sound editing!

What were your favorites moments from last night’s telecast? Were you a fan of Seth’s schtick? Sound off in the comments and check back in for more in-depth analysis later this week!


All Roads Lead to Oscar: 2013 Award Tallies

19 Feb

Here we are 5 days from Oscar night. All of the major awards leading up to Oscar Sunday have been handed out, which means we should be in pretty good shape to evaluate the trends and (hopefully!) see who is most likely to win.

OscarThis is definitely an interesting year for the awards. I feel confident in predicting that the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards are locked up (by Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway, respectively), but what about the other acting awards? And REALLY, what about best picture? Argo had been the clear front runner all awards season, but the snub of Ben Affleck in the Directing category throws a wrench in things. After all, the Best Picture winner and Best Director winner usually (but certainly not always) go hand in hand. In the last 10 years, the awards have been uncoupled twice, with Crash and Chicago (both had directors who were at least nominated for the top prize there).

I’ve tallied up the acting, directing and picture category from the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, and the various Guilds (Producer’s, Actor’s and Director’s). Do you think all of the eventual Oscar winners are represented below? See any chance for an upset, or is this race un-upsetable? Leave a comment below!

Best Picture:

  • Argo: Golden Globe (Best Picture, Drama), BAFTA, Producer’s Guild, SAG
  • Les Miserables: Golden Globe (Best Picture, Musical or Drama)

Best Director:

  • Ben Affleck: Golden Globe, Director’s Guild

Best Actor:

  • Daniel Day Lewis: Golden Globe (Best Actor, Drama), SAG, BAFTA
  • Hugh Jackman: Golden Globe (Best Actor, Comedy or Musical)

Best Actress:

  • Jennifer Lawrence: Golden Globe (Best Actress, Comedy or Musical), SAG
  • Jessica Chastain: Golden Globe (Best Actress, Drama)
  • Emmanuelle Riva: BAFTA

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Anne Hathaway: Globes, SAG, BAFTA

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Christoph Walz: Golden Globe, BAFTA
  • Tommy Lee Jones: SAG

A Man for All Seasons (Winner, 1966/39th Annual Academy Awards

19 Aug

When I saw this movie, I immediately thought maybe it has inspired one of my favorite Grease 2 numbers, Girl for all Seasons. Alas, I believe I was mistaken. Actually, A Man for All Seasons, which won the Oscar back in 1966, is decidedly not a light hearted, if somewhat terrible sequel; it’s more like the big brother to this year’s best Picture winner, The King’s Speech, but without a core friendship (actually replaced by some core hatred) and without being anywhere near as fun to watch. So…maybe all they have in common is an Oscar, some British thespians and a King. Close enough!

The man for all seasons in the title is Sir Thomas Moore, the Chancellor of England under the delightful and kill-happy King Henry VIII (or eighth, for you non-roman numeral readers). Why is Sir Thomas, played by Best Actor Oscar winner Paul Scofield, a “man for all seasons,” you may ask? No, he is not a four season athlete, but rather, according to the man who wrote the play the film is based on (also called A Man for All Seasons), that Moore is “the ultimate man of conscience and as remaining true to his principles and religion under all circumstances and at all times.”

In this movie, Moore’s man of all seasons-ness is put to the test. As apparently the only dude with any kind of sense of right and wrong, he tells Henry that it’s a bad idea to divorce his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, for his mistress, Anne Boleyn, without the approval of the Pope. It’s pretty clear (as history will show), that the Pope is never going to have this, which leads to Henry’s break with the church and the establishment of the Church of England, which Henry conveniently names himself head of and can do whatever he wants. Must be nice to be king.

This raises the question: who cares? If Henry wants to toss out the old lady and get a new wife, why does he care what Sir Thomas thinks? As the chancellor and a member of the Privy Council, More is the only one to refuse to sign a letter to the Pope urging him to dissolve the marriage (that conscience thing coming into play again). Then, when Henry takes it upon himself to form a new church, everyone in England must swear loyalty and recognize the king’s new marriage. Again, Sir Thomas refuses.

If you know anything about Henry VIII, you can likely piece together how this played out for good ol’ Sir Thomas. Spoiler alert: not well. King Henry is played by Robert Shaw, and is a delightful bi-polaresque mixture of batshit crazy and over the top ecstatic. Exactly what one would want in a King and total ruler of their country.

Crazy King Henry, before he killed a bunch of his wives

There are a bunch of other miscellaneous subplots around More’s daughter and her heretic boyfriend, all the other Privy Council members that hate Sir Thomas for being such a righteous jerk and not signing the King’s letter and various monologues about how moral Sir Thomas is, by Sir Thomas himself. I’m not going to call this my favorite Oscar winner to date, but it wasn’t half bad. It was definitely no Amadeus, so that’s something, I guess?

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • One of only 4 productions to win both the Best Play Tony (1962) and the Best Picture Oscar (1966). The other 3 are My Fair Lady (1957/1964), The Sound of Music (1960/1965) and Amadeus (1981/1984)
  • Paul Scofield won the 1962 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for “A Man for All Seasons” and recreated his role in the filmed production
  • Budget: $3.9 Million (estimate) gross revenue: $25 million worldwide

From Here to Eternity (Winner, 1953/26th Annual Academy Awards)

20 Jan

This Oscar winner was a lot of things for me: my first winner from the 1950’s, my first movie with an iconic scene (even though I didn’t know it from this movie) and my first winner which had a surprise (to me) Frank Sinatra appearance!

What From Here to Eternity was not: my first black and white movie (that would be It Happened One Night), my first winner based on a novel (The English Patient) or, unfortunately, my favorite Oscar winner I’ve watched so far, or anything even close.  And unlike some movies that I dislike or think are so-so, I can pinpoint my exact problem with From Here to Eternity…which shall be revealed further on (I can’t just blow my entire verdict in the second paragraph!)

So this movie follows Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (played by Montgomery Clift) after he transfers to an Army unit stationed in Hawaii several weeks before the attack Pearl Harbor. He used to box for his unit, but after almost killing a man, decides to stop boxing (which doesn’t seem illogical to me). But his Lieutenant really wants him to help the unit win the boxing championship, and is determined to make his life a living hell until he’s convinced to join the team. I guess he’s never heard that saying about catching more flies with honey, but I digress.

Here’s my biggest issue with From Here to Eternity: there’s a whole parallel storyline, that barely intersects with the one described above! It’s like watching two separate movies that intercut occasionally.  The other main story is the love affair by Burt Lancaster Sergeant Warden and the unit captain’s wife Karen, played by Deborah Kerr (these two are the one rolling around in the surf in this iconic scene:

From Here to Eternity won best picture, director, supporting actor and supporting actress, AND was also nominated for best actor and actress.  Clearly, they saw something I’m not seeing, because I really was not into this movie.  I thought the plot dragged a little bit and was a little convoluted, bouncing back and forth between the competing story lines. I might have to give From Here to Eternity another shot in a different mind set, but we’ll have to see.  From Here to Eternity is currently streaming on Netflix.  Have you seen it?  Do you have any wise words to illuminate the plot for me?  Please share if so =)

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • The now classic scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the rushing water on the beach was not written to take place there. The idea to film with the waves hitting them was a last minute inspiration from the director.
  • Shot in a mere 41 days and for only $1 million.
  • The last Academy Award Best Picture winner to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories. (It also received nominations for best picture, director and adapted screenplay, all three of which it won.)
  • The film helped to popularize Aloha shirts. (Thanks a lot, From Here to Eternity)

The Godfather Part II (Winner, 1974/47th Annual Academy Awards)

18 Nov

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted…but I’ve actually been watching this movie since October 3. Just kidding…but this is a really long movie, coming in at over 3 hours.  Of course, The Godfather Part II is also an iconic Oscar winner, and this was the first time I had seen it.  I know, I’m embarrassed for myself.

As is well known, this is a sequel to the 1972 Best Picture winner, The Godfather.  What you might not know (I didn’t, anyways!) is that part II serves as both a sequal AND prequel to part 1.  Far from being just a series of flashbacks, the movie showcases both the present day Corelone family, led by Michael Corleone (Al Pacino, back when he was hot) and Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro, taking over Marlon Brando’s role) from when he came to America and the founding of the Family.

As far as I’m aware, this movie is unique as far as sequels go for being a sequel and prequel in one (anyone know of any other movies like this?), and it’s also widely recognized as one of the greatest sequels of all time; in some cases, it’s even ranked above part 1!

Watching this movie, a lot of the same themes from the first one carried over; family, loyalty…and murdering people, that’s definitely a major theme too.  Which is how poor, stupid Fredo ends up: murdered.

Bad news for you Fredo, don’t mess with the Don!

I liked part 2; the flashback scenes were interesting, and Robert De Niro was great in this primarily non-English speaking role. Al Pacino was awesome, and I found myself empathizing with him, even though it was not cool when he smacked around Diane Keaton. Who does that?

But I do think part 1 is my favorite of the 2; while De Niro was great, Brando’s portrayal of the Don is iconic, and makes you look forward to each one of his scenes in the first movie.  I also found the plot of part 2 to be a bit convoluted at times; I would probably have to watch it a few more times to fully grasp all the nuances in the plot.

I definitely preferred the first part to the second; which is your favorite? Any votes for Part 3 (which I haven’t seen yet, but hear it doesn’t stack up by a long shot)?

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • To prepare for his role, Robert De Niro lived in Sicily
  • Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only two actors to ever win separate Oscars for playing the same character. Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather (1972) and De Niro won Best Supporting Actor for this movie, both in the role of Vito Corleone
  • The first sequel to win an Academy Award for Best Picture
  • Budget: $13 Million, gross revenue: $193 million+

Amadeus (Winner, 1984/57th Annual Academy Awards)

30 Sep

OK 80’s, I love you and everything, but we are NOT off to a good start with the Oscar winners here. Such begins my experience watching 1984’s best picture winner, Amadeus.

To be honest, I had never heard of this movie before I started Oscartini. And upon looking for it on Netflix, I thought it sounded promising based on the short synopsis:

F. Murray Abraham earned a Best Actor Oscar for his imperious performance as Antonio Salieri, a mediocre composer whose churlish young rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), wins immortality with his musical genius. Not happy to see his talent eclipsed, Salieri dons a disguise and deviously plots revenge, obsessed with muffling Mozart’s maddening laughter.”


Right?  Who doesn’t love devious plots for revenge and churlish young rivals?  I know this girl does!  But wait…what about that quip about the laugh?  How maddening is it?  Well, a quick YouTube search for “Mozart Laugh” turns up the perfect example:

And that’s pretty much what’s up with Amadeus.  This dude’s laugh will make you want to punch a kitten.  The end.

No, but seriously, there are a few positives from Amadeus.  For example, the Falco song “Rock Me Amadeus” was inspired by the movie.  Also, a young Cynthia Nixon has a minor role as a maid. AND, Ed Rooney is an Austrian Emperor.  Yeah…this is a tough one.  The movie is three hours of one guy (Saleri, played by the eventual Best Actor winner, F. Abraham Murray) trying to sabotage Mozart’s life and career in Vienna circa 1790. Three hours is long for any movie, but I found Amadeus to be unnecessarily long and convoluted.  The acting was above average (with both male leads having been nominated for Best Actor), but the story (which is told in flashbacks) meanders along at a painfully s-l-o-w pace. Just when you think the action is picking up, it’s interrupted by a host of unimportant details.

The music is, unsurprisingly, awesome, with several familiar Mozart pieces incorporated throughout, with The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni as standouts. The movie itself is an elaborate spectacle, as most historical films tend to be.  I could appreciate the costumes and sets, even if I wasn’t crazy about the story.

Clearly, I’m not seeing something that the Academy saw.  Not only did Amadeus win 8 Oscars, but it won a number of other prestigious awards around the world.  Anyone care to shed some light on the appeal of this movie?  Or have I (and that terrible clip) turned you off from ever seeing Amadeus?  If you are inclined to watch, it’s available for instant streaming on Netflix—good luck!

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • One of only 4 productions to win both the Best Play Tony (1981) and the Best Picture Oscar (1984). The other 3 are My Fair lady (1957/1964), The Sound of Music (1960/1965) and A Man For All Seasons (1962/1966)
  • Amadeus, The English Patient and The Hurt Locker are the only Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began being recorded in 1982.
  • Amadeus won four of the Oscars’ Big 5, with wins for best picture, actor, director and adapted screenplay. There was no best actress nominee from Amadeus.
  • Budget: $18 Million, gross revenue: $51,973,029

The Godfather (Winner, 1972/45th Annual Academy Awards)

17 Aug

So I’m mildly ashamed to write this: this was the first time I’ve ever seen The Godfather. But I’m a girl, so I guess it’s not THAT embarrassing. Seriously though, I’ve seen bits and pieces, and knew some basic references, which are now engrained in pop culture.  I already knew about the horse head, but this is where I learned everything  else I knew about The Godfather:

Ok, maybe that is a little embarrassing, come to think of it. But, good news? I am now of the camp that this is the most badass movie ever. Yes, ever. Without crazy special effects and a billion dollar budget, The Godfather still manages to own all movies, and has for almost 40 years. With a perfect 100% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and appearances on countless other lists (best movie of all time, most influential movie, blah, blah).

The movie is the original gangster movie; set during 10 years between 1945 and 1955, The Godfather follow the rise of the Corleone crime family.  Led by the Don (Marlo Brando, in an iconic role for which he won best actor), the movie is based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name. Interesting fact: though Puzo wrote two sequels to The Godfather, neither are the inspiration for the second 2 movies in the series.  However, Puzo did serve as a screenwriter for all three movies.

Me with "the don"...

...and Alyssa. She's his fave!

So back to the movie; the Don has his good son Michael, who stayed out of the family business, and his “family” son, Sonny, who’s lined up to be the next Don.  Of course, the best laid plans are never meant to be, and nothing turns out as planned.  With rival Mafia families, assassination attempts and a (gorgeous) side story filmed in Italy, The Godfather is proof that a gangster movie can be done right.  Personally, I found that this movie has a very human element; with the focus on family and doing right by your loved ones, you almost forget that you’re watching warring Mafioso factions—no small feat.

One thing that surprised me: there are a TON of famous people in this movie! Besides Brando, you also have Al Pacino (who was surprisingly hot as a young guy!), James Caan (who I ID’d as Buddy the Elf’s dad from Elf), Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton. I literally had no idea all these actors were in this movie. I think I was vaguely aware of Brando and Pacino, but surely not the others.

Next up: waiting for The Godfather part II and III (via Netflix, obv). ALL THREE in the series were nominated for best picture, with both part I and II taking home the statue.  I’ve heard that part II is even better than part I, but I’ll save the official Oscartini verdict until I’ve actually seen them both =)

Now, confession time: since I’ve professed serious ignorance about all the Godfather, can I get some affirmation from anyone else that “You’ve Got Mail” was how you were familiar with The Godfather? “Take it to the mattresses”?  It would make be feel better about my (former) lack of Godfather education!

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • There are approximately 61 scenes in the film that feature people eating/drinking, or just food.
  • The line “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” was selected by the American Film Institute on it’s list as one of the top 100 movie quotes.
  • Although it is now recognized as one of the most acclaimed and beloved films of all time, The Godfather only received three Academy Awards (best picture, actor and adapted screenplay)
  • Budget: $6.5 Million, gross revenue: $133 million+